Saturday, June 28, 2008


AAAArgh!!! Doctor Who!!!!!!! No!!!!! He can't POSSIBLY REGENERATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh woe is me....................

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Feeling crafty...

Recently I seem to have lost interest in my archaeology course (although I shall persevere) and have been indulging my fibre fetish instead.

Here are some felty things I have made since getting my massive box of wool tops.

Also, a couple of months ago, Bob Flowerdew wrote an article for KG mag about alternatives for plastic baler twine, one of which was strips of phormium leaves. I just happen to have a garden full of phormium, so I tried this out and tied up some loose shoots on the espalier apple trees. It worked, coz the stuff it really strong!

After that though I thought about using phormium for other things, and so I tried weaving's the result of my second attempt.
The garden is looking lovely. I love it. The front garden (which is mostly flowery stuff, but with herbs and veggies and fruit squeezed in) is looking particularly lovely. It is a complete unorganised mess, but is so colourful that I can't help but love it.
Here are some piggies that we saw today, down at the farm shop. I have no idea what breed (Oxford sandy and blacks, perhaps? I don't pretend to know anything about pigs) they are, but they were gorgeous. There were 11 little piglets in total, all trotting around in a whopping great pack...until it got too hot, and everyone lay down for a wallow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Tomatillo That Isn't A Tomatillo

I am sorry, I have misled you.

I've written on here before that I am growing a tomatillo, but I was wrong. Same family, different species, though.

I'd been a bit suspicious as I had seen tomatillo seed packets going round garden centres and the thing on the front looked nothing like the thing I'm growing in the green house. Whereas the seed packet tomatillos looked small and bushy my one was a huge brutish monster already pressed against the greenhouse ceiling, and much taller than my mother and even my father by now. (The picture shows it when it was small and it is reaching for the skies).

So after a little research I have discovered that what I am growing is actually Physalis peruviana, the Cape gooseberry, rather than Physalis philadelphica, the tomatillo. Same family, different species.

I am slightly nervous now becuase even though my plant still hasn't show any signs of flowers, let alone fruit, I have read that they are poisonous when unripe, and that there are reports that unripe ones can even kill cattle. Picking them when unripe is just the sort of mistake that I would be likely to make, so I must be careful.

Everything else is going fine. There's been so much going on though that blogging about it just seemed like too much trouble. Suffice to say the following:
  • We now have four full sized hives on the go, having gone and caught a swarm
  • We now have a nucleus on the go
  • Two lovely new Hawaiian cross queens on the go

  • Daughter of the Grumpiest Queen Known To Man in the nuc
  • Having been to a disease recognition day with our regional bee inspector, my father is now the fount of all knowledge when it comes to bee diseases
  • We now have a small hive beetle trap to put into one of our hives, making us a tester hive (can't remember the jargony word...tester will do)
  • Mad rabbit number 2 has escpaed twice over the past week, and has decided to make a warren in my celery bed twice as well. I have no idea how she gets in, what with all my netting, staples and bamboo palisade. She may have to be locked up for good. Or roasted

Yes, she looks the picture of innocence here, but wait till her double chin is covered in the results of hours of hard work!!

  • Garden otherwise alright, millions of pea pods fattening up!

  • First courgette harvest! Small but succulent...

  • Went to Wales, spent a day out at the Gower peninsula...absolutely gorgeous!!
  • Chickens no longer broody. A brief spell in the broody coop (well, ok, it's a puppy cage really, but it worked) set them straight
  • We have at least one newt living in our pond!!!

Ahhh. It's a good life.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book Review: Scenes From a Smallholding by Chas Griffin

I found this book interesting, and quite a good read. Once I got into it (which I found a bit difficult to start was a bit wordy and the fact that it jumps backwards and forwards in time really annoyed me at first) I raced through it.

The book documents how the author and his family moved to a smallholding in West Wales, and tells of all their ups and downs, failures and successes. It is interspersed with magazine articles, too. The book is mainly anecdotal, but there are some gems of good advice nestled in amongst the stories, and it's quite funny, too.

One thing it made me realise however is that going down the route of selling produce to wholesalers and onto supermarkets or restaurants isn't something that I'd want to do, so if my family and I ever do become smallholders, we'd have to come up with a wizard idea of how to make any money. Also the fact that they started off with a cow, thinking that pigs would be too much work surprised me...I think that for me, pigs would be a large priority.

I'd definitely recommend this to any aspiring smallholder, or anyone interested in keeping livestock, growing their own veg, or renovating old houses. It's an interesting read. 7/10.