Wednesday 30 August 2023

Hello! Sneaking in with my August ups and downs just at the last minute. If I am going to be honest with you, it has all been a bit of a blur. I can't remember what we have been up to but I know we are all happy, alive and enjoying time together. As ever, in the latter part of the Summer holidays, I am yearning for my own routine to be back in place. On the other hand, it is nice to carve out some time to spend with my teens before they return to school and now college.

Stressing - about making hay. It has been so hard to decide when to cut and dry our hay. You need about a week of dry days to make it and of course we keep having little (and big) showers which means we had to keep turning it and hoping it wouldn't get wet again - it did. When you bale hay you can't let the baler pick up any green growth from the field because it will cause heat in the centre of the bale. This can make them 'go off' inside or in a worse case scenario, combust in the shed of over time. In the end we strung out the hay making over about 10 days and had to leave quite a bit on the field to avoid picking up any green. Hay is money in the shed for small holders because it feeds our sheep over winter when the grass is not growing. If we didn't cut hay we would need to buy sheep feed every month but we got there in the end. Usually, we sell our excess hay to people with horses but this time we had to keep every bit. A little inside farming knowledge for you there!

Eating - steak. I hardly ever buy steak but now that everything else on the plate comes from our garden I thought I would treat everyone.

Emptying - my yarn basket. I love doing that at the end of a project. I like putting all the stich markers away, putting the needles back in the case and starting a fresh. I have some yarny things to share next time.

LOVING - my gladioli which have bloomed in the last week. They are truly magnificent. I used them in my big yellow jug to enter the floral class at our local show. 

Winning - the show champion cup again for the third time! I have now volunteered to be show chairman next year so I won't be able to enter any classes but I can still join in the fun.

Picking - so many vegetables to get three the same size that I had to make Glutney. It is a superb chutney recipe that uses what ever fruit and veg you have in gluts.

Hosting - an afternoon tea for friends to celebrate my blokes 50th birthday. We had cake, scones, tea, bubbles and great company. My friend Beth let me pick some of her dahlias for the table spread. I have moved them to the window now we are back to normal.

Leaving - you with the obligatory farm photo. Time for a sit down and a relax. I really need some relaxing time.

Thanks for dropping in. Jo xxx

Friday 25 August 2023

Lots To See

My three word gardening post finds us in the height of food production but slowing down on the flower side. I find it really tricky to have late summer flowering in the borders. I must look up how I can change this for next year.

There are however enough blooms to pinch a few for my table vase challenge. It has been going well this year and there has not been a day when I haven't had flowers in a vase on the kitchen table since XXXX The pink selection is from early August: pink roses, the first of the cosmos, cerise godetia, Gaura stems, a knautia scabious and the fuzzy flowers from a shrub called Sorbaria which I really grow for the foliage.

Things are a bit hotter last week with mini Rudbeckia, honeysuckle from the hedge, the my ever flowering Alstromera and some wild yellow toadflax.

This week I have more scabious, some sweat peas, fairy rose and a few rejects from Beth's wedding cutting sessions. I watch her cut from the field she uses at the farm - then I go out and pick up all the ones on the floor with bendy or short stems. I guess flower farmers only select the best blooms but the rest are good enough for me!

Most of my patio pots are fading now but I have one with a stunning Fuscia in which is adding a splash of colour amongst the herb pots.

Veg wise we are still eating lettuce. I have been quite good at successional sowing this year with hardly a break between varieties. We are on butterhead lettuce and sorrel leaves for salad at the moment. I sowed some more today and also ordered some winter salad seeds to try and keep going.

In the greenhouse things have improved. The peppers have been potted on and this has helped them to bulk up on the fruits.

Other improvements include reducing watering frequency on the tomatoes which has stopped the rot I was getting on the bottoms of the fruits. I have removed most of the leaves now so that the sun can get to ripen the trusses.

I had a few tomato plants I couldn't fit in the greenhouse so I took a punt and put them outside. They have fruits - fingers crossed for some sunshine to ripen them. On the down side lots of my veg has mildew due to the damp weather. Courgettes always look a bit sad towards the fruiting part of their cycle but the courgettes keep on coming...of course they do!

We are onto Autumn Bliss raspberries now. I highly recommend this variety, it is prolific and the fruits are fabulous to eat or freeze.

In other areas of the garden I have some new favourites. These Asters are showing their pink petals which are brightening up the front of my studio. I was given the seeds by my aunt and I am glad I spent the time pricking them out.

To complete today's garden tour lets move the front of the house. The hot bed is still looking good and the grasses are doing quite a bit of the heavy lifting here.

I have started a gravel garden around the edge of the main bed. I don't want to do lots of watering especially if the weather is going to be so erratic - I thought I would choose plants that don't need watering. It looks a bit bleak so far but as the plants spread, seed themselves and naturalise I think it will start to frame the border nicely. They need watering at the moment to establish root growth but by next year I should be able to let them do their thing.

Keeping the bed hot and fiery are the rudbeckia and a second flush of flowers on my golden celebration rose.

On the wider scale of being a small holder, Bloke has cut his hay but he is nervous. The forecast continues to warn of showers and that is no good for drying hay. Hey ho!

That was more than I thought! Hope you are enjoying the garden, maybe eating the fruits of your labour or just sitting a while with a cuppa in your favourite space.
Jo xxxx

Saturday 19 August 2023

Mini Holidays

OK so the weather is pretty rubbish here in the UK but we have still been out and about. 

My childhood friend lives in Bath and asked if we wanted to stay at their house while they were away on holiday so the girls and I packed up for a weekend in Bath. My oldest girl remembered bits of the city from a visit when she was about four - it is amazing what kids can remember isn't it?


It was a lovely time spent shopping, eating, visiting the Kaffe Fassett exhibition in the Victoria Gallery and of course the obligatory visit to the Roman Baths.

On the way home we called in at Dyrham Park on the outskirts of Bath and again Heidi had some flashbacks. It was a much slicker National Trust experience than when we went 12 years ago. The gardens were wonderful and although the youngest, Megan, doesn't really enjoy this kind of outing, she loved taking photos which she really excels at.

The following weekend we went to Gwatkins Down on the Farm music festival in Hereford. It was a mixed experience for us all. Most of the music was a bit on the heavy/punk side but it was nice to just hang out and enjoy a bit of camping, a few ciders and some lovely food.

We took the dog which meant we enjoyed a 3 mile walk in the morning to investigate the colourful field we passed on the way to the event. It was a sea of roses!

The music wasn't for him so we tucked him up in the van before heading back the main barn in the evening. He was beside himself with excitement at how many other dogs were there and he had a run around the camp field with a couple of friendly retrievers.

We love visiting other places but nothing really beats getting back home.

Been anywhere this August?
Jo xxxx