Rebellious gardening!

Well I have really broken all the gardening rules lately! I have so much to do and spring seems to be getting dangerously close, I really need more hours in the day ( and possibly some extra energy too! )

I wanted to transplant some raspberries to a new growing area, but the weather has not been on my side. Snow, hail, rain, freezing cold, which means one thing. Mud, mud and more mud! They say keep off the ground if the mud sticks to your boots. Well I’m sorry but I was up to my knees carrying on regardless! It was a moon fruit day and half term so I had assistance so I went for it, despite the snow and mud! Goodness knows if the poor raspberries will survive and grow, they nearly had my wellies planted next to them a few times too. I don’t think drying out is going to be a problem with this new patch either, in fact I am making plans to straw between the rows to try and soak up some of the excess. My daughter found the whole thing very entertaining anyway, seeing her mum sliding around knee deep in muddy puddles. Peppa pig would have been proud!

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More Polytunnel blues!

I’m still trying to sort my polytunnel out ready for spring. It seems to be taking forever. I’m just doing a bit at a time so I don’t throw my back out again! I found a huge ants nest in there whilst digging. Ants are a big problem for me in there. They eat crops such as strawberries and sweet corn and when you plant and weed they bite like crazy! Ouch. I’ve tried various gentle organic approaches over the years, but they still seem to like living there. Well I’ve dug up and moved as many as I can now, although they can go miles down, so I might have only scratched the surface. This year I’m hoping to install a new watering system to keep the tunnel from drying out. This might encourage them to move out. I managed to wash one side of the tunnel with a good dose of soapy water , but the temperature plummeted that night and it froze solid. It was really unbelievably beautiful though.

Polytunnel blues

I really have no idea what happens in my polytunnel over the winter! It just gets trashed! It looks awful, old plants and rubbish everywhere and you can hardly see out of the plastic. Every year I weed it, clean it out and wash it. However this year I’m taking more drastic action. The tunnel wasn’t overly productive this year and I have an incredibly bad weed problem that I can’t control. So I’ve decided to dig out all the soil from all the raised beds and start again. Well so far after 3 hours solid digging and at least 15 large wheelbarrows full of earth I’ve done half the tunnel! Yayee! The other half will have to wait a few days until my body has recovered! Tom and Barbara would be proud. ( showing my age here). I pulled the old earth up by my plum  tree and the birds had a great time pecking through. Unfortunately they were camera shy.

My poor body is aching a bit as earlier in the week the moon had said it was a good time to spread compost over the veg beds, so I did some of that as well. Hopefully this self sufficiency life will keep me fit for free!

Polytunnel blues

I really have no idea what happens in my polytunnel over the winter! It just gets trashed! It looks awful, old plants and rubbish everywhere and you can hardly see out of the plastic. Every year I weed it, clean it out and wash it. However this year I’m taking more drastic action. The tunnel wasn’t overly productive this year and I have an incredibly bad weed problem that I can’t control. So I’ve decided to dig out all the soil from all the raised beds and start again. Well so far after 3 hours solid digging and at least 15 large wheelbarrows full of earth I’ve done half the tunnel! Yayee! The other half will have to wait a few days until my body has recovered! Tom and Barbara would be proud. ( showing my age here). I pulled the old earth up by my plum  tree and the birds had a great time pecking through. Unfortunately they were camera shy.

My poor body is aching a bit as earlier in the week the moon had said it was a good time to spread compost over the veg beds, so I did some of that as well. Hopefully this self sufficiency life will keep me fit for free!

New year New plot

Spent quite a bit of time this weekend sorting out a new/ old plot. About 13/14 years ago we cleared a part of a field to try and grow fruit and vegetables. Not long after I had baby number 5 and life didn’t go according to plan, just for a change! The plot was neglected and became overgrown and quite a lot of rogue trees grew there. 

Now that life has moved on we are trying to reclaim this plot for feeding ourselves. We luckily persuaded a family member with a digger to push over the trees and my husband got busy with a chainsaw.

The large logs we kept for future wood burner, small stuff we campfired. The dog, wearing her new Christmas jumper had a great time sniffing round. My now teenage girl also enjoyed the fresh air and kept busy making fruit tea with the singing kettle on the gas ring and preparing vegan chocolate campfire bananas! Which we put on YouTube! Still loads of work to do, but at least we made a start and had family time as well.

RUNNING AND RECYCLING

Well it’s been an odd few weeks here in the mountains. I really don’t understand what happens to the time, it shoots by so quickly! I seriously need 48 hours in a day to get everything done! Sadly the garden has taken a slight back seat to running, as I desperately tried to get in as much training as I could for a half marathon. This all sounds so athletic I know, but although I do cover some miles, a runner I am not! I plod along like an absolute snail, my children can actually walk faster than my running pace, I also must confess to a little bit of walking during my runs, especially up my many many hills! If any Peppa pig fans are out there, I live in almost the same location, on a massive hill. You are either going straight down, or puffing straight up!Anyway, I’ve been out in all weathers, getting the miles in and then collapsing with no energy or time left to garden. The race day was lovely and sunny and I completed the 13 miles ( was it only 13 it felt a lot more!) with my friend Sally in just under 3 hours AND we didn’t come last! Which felt great as the last race we did, a 10k in the snow we were last and everyone else had gone home to get warm. Ours was the only car left in the car park, but we didn’t care as we had got a P.B!!!  Anyway enough of that, on with the garden. There has been a few developments, not just that a few things are growing, especially the weeds and I’ve managed to kill off some lovely tomato plants?!? I had an unexpected surprise when one of my daughters came home from uni for a weekend visit. Not wanting to miss out on such a great opportunity I wasted no time in sweet talking her to help with a particularly challenging job in the garden. A couple of years ago I was given some very large wooden crates that someone had had roof tiles delivered in. I thought and still do that they would be great to grow squash in. I sited them in the garden and had a go, but with little success. It was obviously the wrong spot, weeds took over, ivy clung to them and they were a sorry mess. As part of this years total garden makeover, they needed reciting in another part of the garden. This was too big a job for one, in fact it was quite a challenge for the two of us and in the end after he had stopped laughing at us trying to balance one on a wheelbarrow (with a flat wheel),  my husband joined in and helped! The crates were very attached to their old spot and needed a lot of persuading and chopping to get them to leave, then we had to tip them over and scrabble about emptying them of old nettle filled matter, and then try to move them to their new home ( they weigh a ton!) At one point I think my daughter was thinking exams and revision seemed quite an attractive option rather than some mother and daughter bonding in the garden! However we got there in the end, and I think they look great!

 

WEATHER BIRDS.

I love learning from nature, it has so much to teach us.I live underneath mountains, surrounded by countryside and I try to tune into my surroundings as much as I can.As a keen, if somewhat slow runner and also a dog owner I’m out and about everyday. One of the country sayings I was taught as a child from my parents was about the weather, and how you can tell what sort of summer we will have by how the birds are nesting. I have been observing how the rooks nest for years now and as a general rule the higher the birds nest up in the trees the better the summer will be. Last year the rooks built their nests very high up in very tall trees, this ment they thought the summer would be calm. If nest are high the eggs and baby birds are very vulnerable to being thrown out and killed if we have bad stormy weather. Last summer they were definitely right we had a lovely summer, I was outside with my smoothies most days! It wasn’t scorching as I live in the UK not the Bahamas, but it was lovely! If the birds feel the summer weather will not be that great and their offspring will be at risk they build their nests lower down in the branches to offer more protection.Out for a run this week I saw to my delight that the rooks are nesting nice and high.The nests they built last year they are just adding to and leaving where they are. I’m hoping this means more fruit on the patio! But I might have a brolly on hand just in case the birds are mixed up or teasing me

 

 

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Running, Raspberries and Rain.

I never seem to have enough hours in the day to achieve all I want to do. This has been especially true lately. I’m trying to train for a half marathon that’s happening in a few weeks time. I don’t mind getting a bit wet, drizzle does not bother me! However a torrent is another matter! It has been so wet I’ve struggled getting in the miles and when the sun does decide to come out it’s a real heartrending decision as to whether to run, or garden! So the running is behind schedule and so is the  garden!  This week we have had a few sunny spells and I have tried really hard to get back on track. I fitted in a few runs, not as long as I would have liked, but I got a few miles in. The new raspberry patch is now full. My body is aching a little as I had to dig up the canes and replant as quickly as possible. I will have to clear another small patch to plant the last few, so hopefully the rain will hold off. The raspberry canes are looking lovely, with lots of green leaves and shoots appearing, unfortunately now is thetime to prune them, so I will have to cut all the greenery off! Oh well, a gardeners lot I suppose!

 

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Budget Gardening.

As much as I love my garden I can’t afford to buy as much or whatever I want for it, especially now as I’m not working. Although this means I can realize my dream and spent my time growing things ( hopefully!) it does mean money is tight. Luckily I love a bit of bargain shopping and recycling. Without sounding like a total country bumpkin, I do love the odd trip to the big city! Our nearest very large town/small city is about an hour away (depending on whose driving!) and boasts  a Wyevale garden centre. I prefer this one to our close independent centre as it’s loyalty card scheme and vouchers are so much more rewarding. For the last few years I’ve mainly asked for either garden gift vouchers or packets of seeds for Christmas and birthday gifts and my family have obliged. This means I have got a little stockpile of seeds as they do have quite a long shelf life. The garden centre usually has a 3 for 2 scheme on seeds which is great, especially if you group the same price ones together and make several trips to the till to get the best deals. I always make sure I use my loyalty vouchers and any other ones they send me that are sensible. The spend hundreds of pounds and get 50p off ones never see the light of  day but money off own brand compost is usually a good deal. I don’t stick to a certain brand of seed either. This year the poundshop are offering three packets of veg seeds for a pound. They are selling out quick, but I managed to get, spring onions, carrots and parsnips, so will be giving them a try. I find Wilkos quite good for garden stuff too. I have one in a nearby market town, about a 35 minute drive away. Their seed trays were only 75p for three and are pretty robust so should last a few seasons. I save all my clear plastic food trays as tops for the trays to make mini greenhouses, and I start my outside onions and garlic off in toilet roll tubes. I also save large pieces of clear plastic and bubble wrap as extra coverings to keep my seeds and plants cosy. My daughter loves ice lollies so I save the sticks to make plant labels – use a permanent marker, pencil washes off! Markets are a good place for a bargain too. I got a couple of large rhubarb plants there recently that are growing really well. Much cheaper and bigger than the ones in little bags at garden centres that always seem to die on me! I’m a great one for buying things in end of season sales and keeping them safe till needed, and my biggest motto in life has always been,” Sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got!”   If you’d like to see some of my resent bargains check me out on youtube at, Rawfruitheaven.

Happy Gardening and Bargain Hunting! xxx

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RAIN OF THE FROGS!

This time of year, I love to see all the little frogs hopping back to their birth ponds to lay their eggs. As I’ve never been a great fan of the dark, which is the best time to spot them, I enlisted my husband and daughter to go frog spotting with me the other night in the rain. Wet weather brings them out as they sometimes have to travel far and the rain keeps them moist. Years ago people used to think it was actually raining frogs! The sight was absolutely amazing, frogs everywhere, the noise they make is deafening, like chain saws! However real life being what it is, (or my life anyway) as soon as I got my camera out, its battery died! So the following night, we tried again, with a fully charged camera this time. Not quite as many about but still fun. The noise was still incredibly loud, frogs everywhere, lots of croaking, I was expecting to see Rupert and a Beatle in the hedge! (Really showing my age here! My daughter hadn’t even heard of Rupert! Gosh I thought everyone knew his name!) The next day the ponds were thick with frogspawn, can’t wait to watch the tadpoles grow. If you’d like to see my dodgy camera work in the dark, creating my own frogs chorus, hop over to Youtube and find me at Rawfruitheaven.

Happy Frog Spotting x

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