Too cold for Romance!

Well the beast from the East has certainly left it’s mark here 1000ft up in the Welsh mountains. Snow drifts aside I’ve put my back out trying to rescue my onions! ( as you do, so annoying as life is on hold a bit till I can move!) Well I had a feeling we were in for some pretty bad weather, as some frogs and a badger gave me a tip off ( we didn’t run out of toilet roll and milk, I was prepared.)

A few days before the first snowflake as I ran past a badger set I knew. It looked the same as it had the week before, no sign of life.Leaves and twigs still covered the entrance. Also badgers usually spring clean and there were no scuffle sign or chucked out old bedding. The badger was still asleep.

Closer to home a lot of romantic intentions were definitely on hold! A nearby pond only a few days previously had been a buzz or a croak of activity. Frogs had begun to noisily hang out there. The sound is amazingly loud, like chainsaws! Then all of a sudden, nothing. No frogs, no noise, surprisingly no frogspawn either. They must have sensed the bitter temperatures to come, which can kill the spawn, and have hopped off to hide for a while.

Meanwhile my garden took huge snow drifts, as high as my polytunnel. It’s going to put my planting behind schedule, especially with my bad back! Never mind, it should all catch up. If March comes in like a lion it should go out like a lamb. Here’s hoping for a good summer – but only the birds will know that………

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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!

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.

Moon washing 

The moon calendar suggested that today was a good day to work in the greenhouse, so I did! I cleared out a lot of bits and bobs that had taken over from making wreaths in early December. As it was so sunny I also threw a soapy cloth about the windows. Much prefer greenhouse window washing than the house, but it is a bit lower to the ground. I quite enjoyed it but the dog soon got bored!

I planted a pot of garlic in the greenhouse in the autumn ( not moon guided) and it seems to be looking quite happy, hope it appreciates the view now you can see through the glass!

I’m Tune with the Moon 

So after a strange year in 2017, where I did manage to grow quite a bit, but didn’t manage to document it! I’m trying again. This year I’m going to try and plant in tune with the moon. I did try this method years ago and I do believe it works, I just found it too constricting with the time I had. In theory now I have more time. ( ha ).

  1. So far this year I haven’t really been in the garden as I’ve had to reclaim my house after Christmas! However I did attend a local foraging walk a few days ago. Didn’t actually forage anything to eat, but I did bring back some mistletoe. We have unsuccessfully tried to grow this here a few times, but if at first…….and all that. So at the weekend we went up our field and tried to graft it to a couple of wild crab apple trees we have. The moon wasn’t quite right but my husband was available and I don’t like heights! So we squashed some berries in little flaps we cut and then put some first aid tape round some , now we wait. Although we can’t eat mistletoe it might be a handy swap crop.

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!

 

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

frog

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