Tuesday, 15 December 2009

paper wreath

made from used shredded paper - still looking ok in its 3rd year--

Monday, 31 August 2009

Been too busy to blog -review of August

Finding the time to do the stuff to write about and the time to write it seems to be a big challenge. The computer needed a complete rebuild too, and due to back up failure I've lost some (lots) of my photos as well.

Spent a lot of August, and a couple of days at the end of July staying with my friends at Steward wood helping out on a permaculture course. It was great spending time with old friends and getting to know new ones better. At the equinox I wrote a list of things I want more of in my life-

dark skies so I can appreciate the starlight and moonlight more.

Fire light and friendly faces.

music making, dancing, laughter and creativity.

I ticked a lot of my boxes while I was there. The non-chlorinated water was an extra bonus too and a dry skin problem I've had on my foot for two years has completely cleared up. Bathing in (and drinking) non-chlorinated water is the only thing I can think of to account for it. Haven't lost any weight - I thought the vegan organic diet and all the extra exercise might have let me drop a few pounds - guess the feeding was still too generous. I feel really blessed to have had such a great feeling of community there. Their people-care is great.

I followed the course with a week of camping at East Prawle, just looking out at the ever changing colours of the sky and water was great, though all the low level working of camping gives me back ache - I realise it's because I pick things up by bending at the waist (endgaining- it seeems quicker) but by the time I'd realised that's what I was doing the damage was done. Collected lots of seaweed for seasoning, ate limpets a couple of nights--still chewey though.

Been using the kelp as a skin-care thing, so may have to go and get more, and also look for some carrageenan which I didn't see. Got dulse, laver, sea spaghetti, and bladderwrack and sea lettuce.

Also a new favourite flavour -- rock samphire. Like strong salty thyme, with hints of lemon. I love it. DH and his mates reckon it tastes of shoe polish-- it maybe doesn't travel that well.

I've dried some of it too. Did wonder if it would respond well to lacto-fermentation as a preservation method. Might suggest it to some of my lacto-fermenting friends.

The allotment has been horribly neglected. The washing piles had reached new epic proportions when I got back (mount kiliman-washing), plus all the camping debris needing dried and put away. So we've had a busy week of housework, drying herbs, plus we won a deer in a raffle, so that needed butchered and frozen. And I have a deer hide. Torn beween trying to brain tan and keep the hair on - (don't have the brain and not sure if I can buy brain) or make raw hide to make a drum. My only experience of tanning so far is here, so this is a different bag of cookies, but I will have help this time.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


Ages ago, I talked a bit about "changing prevailing use patterns". The two photos above are the method I tried... and it's fairly successful. Blocking and screening the route off, so that using the step to get off the deck is the easy option has fairly well worked. Once you've gone that far then using the steps is the most likely way down, to where the compost heap is now.
Next photo is my proto-hydroponics system- started initially as a way to keep things alive while I was on holiday- it's going quiet well. The tomato (not shown in the photo) is growing one large fruit, the chives are going strong. The watercress is doing less well than expected and the lettuce are keeping up with their soil grown companions, though they started off doing better.
I haven't got round to fitting an airstone yet, I have been lifting the plants out and whisking the water vigourously with a balloon whisk. They haven't had much feeding either.

Here are the seedlings I've yet to plant out.

I got 2 and a half kilos of shelled broad beans from the plants at the allotment. Shelled them, blanched them, froze them. A week later the freezer went down in a lightning storm. It wasn't discovered till everything had turned to mush.

Friday, 3 July 2009

broadbean pate- tastes like summer

The quicker you get the broadbeans from the garden to the pot the better this tastes. This season's fresh garlic works best too:

Make a really strong french dressing with loads of garlic, and herbs and mustard to taste. Fresh garlic is great with this.

put the shelled broadbeans into boiling water and cook till tender, about 10 mins. When cool enough to handle pop them out of their skins, cover with the french dressing and lighly mash them together. Leave in the fridge for overnight and then use as a spread on crackers. Or hot buttered toast.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

allotment update

got back from holiday on Wednesday evening. Thursday was given over to unpacking and resting up. Got up to the allotment on Friday. The weather has been very dry so the weeds haven't gotten too out of control. Spent 4 hours weeding, lawn mowing and watering.
Graham on the next plot gave me some lettuces (enough for a weekend of salads) which was nice as mine have all bolted.

2 rows of my potatoes were looking sad and yellowish, but the next day they looked much recovered after copious watering. Also watered the allotment broadbeans. The pods are well formed but need to fill out a bit more.

The broadbeans in the garden are well above waist height and ready to pick. Will be making my favourite broad bean paté in the next few days, with the fresh garlic I harvested just before going away. Have also been eating raspberries (from home and graham's windbreak) strawberries, wild strawberries (from the lane), white and black currants (just a handful of each, but yummy), and gooseberries, (from the faithful old bush in the garden).

Isn't summer brilliant.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

garden views

The pond area is looking pretty lush at the moment.

Friday, 29 May 2009

table top

I finally finished mosaicing the top of my potting bench/ table.
and finished tiling the bathroom, but not finished grouting.

this sedum

This sedum is the one I'm using to try to outcompete the couch grass.

Friday, 22 May 2009

No photos

I haven't been adding photo's recently -- my phone, which was also my camera died.

The new phone has a camera- I just don't like it as much, just not used to it i suppose and so I haven't used it as much. I will try to get some photo's taken and some updates written.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Quick Update

Potato Barrel

is now full to the brim, have got another barrel to extend it a bit.

Poor Germination

May not be the only culprit - found a huge slug nestled in among the pots.

Hawthorn flowers

Fully opened in the lane by the 4th (almost 3 weeks later thatn the previous year)

Blackfly on Broadbeans

It might be the advantage of a really exposed windy site-- or I was a bit harsh on the mint deterrent---but the black fly have gone.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Happy Beltane

The may blossom is not yet on my local trees so (exceptionally late for them, in spite of the very warm weather) not really proper beltane yet.

Germination rates for my sweetcorn really disappointing (about 6 out of 30). In fact germination rates on all my stuff seem poor. apart from the broad beans, which germinated well but now have blackfly. . The mint does not seem to have deterred them and the nasturtiums (sacrificial) went in too late. They're very wee still to pinch out the tops. will try soft soap. Next year also try poached egg plant and summer savoury with them.

it's all a bit depressing. The broad beans (only 6 of them) in the garden still seem fine. ?.

Can't get the ground prepared quick enough either.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Changing prevailing use patterns

if I'm to protect my new wall from being knocked over before its even bedded in, I have to stop people and dogs from using it as a short cut to get down to the lawned area (aka the couch grass patch at the bottom of the garden).

I also want some shade on the deck so with a mixture of pots and my gabion basket screens, I've pretty well blocked off that route across the deck, at least to anyone with two feet. It does make it feel a bit smaller, but also more enclosed.

The next job is going to have to be extending the pond.

(photo to follow when the boys and their tent are off the deck.)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Rebuilt wall.

The stone seat/ retaining wall in my garden needed repaired. a combination of the dog, the boy, the weather and the previaling use patterns had all lead to a couple of sections of this wall being damaged and not very stable.
It was all planted with mentha, which has been doing really well there for years, but not a bit of remains this spring. I've lost a few things to the unusually cold weather this year, so it may have been that, though its a high maintenance plant, being so tiny and easily smothered.
Since I'm going to have replant anyway I demolished some bits chasing couch grass roots too, so I reshaped a bit too.
I think I might lift the pavement bit and spread the slabs out so that I have slightly bigger planting pockets.


I've been working hard on my garden.
Reviewing things that have worked and things that haven't.

My barrier mulch against the couch was a loser and hence the whole garden is having an edit as I try to dig it out by hand. I have traced roots as much as a meter long. I have moved, changed and rebuilt raised beds and retaining walls. The plan this time is that after removing every trace I can find, I will use strategic planting of some rampant sedums that appear to be beating it in their sections of the garden, though that might be temporary. The year before last I would have sworn that my long term mulching was winning the war.
I will continue to use sheet mulches, the removal of the roots is much easier where they have been in place.

Monday, 30 March 2009

A hard days graft up at t'allotment

At least dead-heading those dandelions means they won't seed!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Yield so far

I pot nettle soup

I jar dried dandelion root.

I Rhubarb Sponge

Much stronger legs and tummy muscles

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Surprise finds - country wines

Spring cleaning shake-up lead to clearing out the under the stairs cupboard. Among the finds were some bottles of wine that were put away when our kitchen was being refitted. One is some sort of ginger and parsnip concoction - which smells a little like wocester sauce, and might taste like a dry sherry, if only it didn't smell of wocester sauce. Anyway, its destined to be a cooking wine. I think it would go well in Chinese Style Stirfries.
Any way tonight I've discovered one that is very sweet and lightly fizzy. It's got a good body and a very clean taste with just a hint of muscadet to the nose. The only thing I can think it is is a primrose I made in 2002. That's about right for the other bottles I've found. I somehow don't think that the 2002 elderflower is going to taste this good

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

couchgrass mind map

the mindmap/permaculture connection

I'm reading Tony and Barry Buzan's mindmap book at the moment. Mind-mapping was one of the very first things we covered on my P C design course. Even though it was one of the first design tools into the box, it's not one I've used much.

I'm loving the book-lovely colour images of radiant and dendritic shapes-
I'm short of time for writing/blogging/gardening/learning/planning.
The book is full of exercises to try.

I think i'm going to try recording my thinking here using mind-maps for a while.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


Apparently there's been bad blight on the allotments for the last few years.
The plot just next to me admits to having not lifted his last year, too.

fortunately the main crop potato i've chosen has moderate blight resistance (Sante). Next year I'll look into sourcing Sarpo types.
my pink fir apples are more susceptible. hopefully the earlies should be out by then?

Have now read loads about blight, so with fingers and toes crossed that we're due a dry summer this year, I'm going to hedge my bets and grow some in the garden at home too.

also remember to look out for next year's potato day (it was january this year.)

yield is theoretically unlimited

Yield is theoretically unlimited. Or limited only by the designers imagination.

This is one of the attitudinal PC principles.

The year that I helped my friend Sue on her allotment, where we'd hoped for peas and beans, the bindweed strangled everything.

At the end of the season when we packed away the canes, I collected up the bindweed vines. This basket was my yield from those vines.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

how do you tell a plum from a pear when not in leaf?

Yesterday this search on google brought up no results, at least in the first 3 or 4 pages worth.
I needed to know because I came across some of the cheapest fruit trees I've ever seen on Saturday at £5.50 each. I've been wanting to put some kind of fruit tree in the garden for ages, toying with the idea of a very mini forest garden. Anyway, in what for me is a mad spending spree I bought a cherry, 3 plums and a 2 pears. I carefully stacked them out the back to await planting.
It blew up a hoolay that very night, "the wind blew as t'wad blown it's last" etc and all the labels blew off. The cherry was easy to sort out --paler bark and a much more delicate look all together. The other 5 bare root year old fruit trees were pretty much of a muchness. After careful studying I'm hopeful I've sorted them out. There was a very slight pale fleck mark running vertically on the bark of 2 of them and the other 3 seemed to be completely self coloured. So I've planted the 2 flecked ones (pears I hope) up at t'allotment, while the 3 plums are going to be trained against the fences in the garden. The cherry is going into a very big pot while I think about it.

I've been up the allotment in the dimsky 3 nights in a row now. The last two nights I've been there from just after 5 till 7o'clock. Even though it's been breezy up there both nights, I've been busy enough to stay warm. The view is phenomenal. The topsoil is 12-18 inches of really nice loam over a red clay subsoil. Things begin to recover a bit from the brutal strimmer haircut it had before hand over and I think I've got raspberry canes too. And one very neat row of oniony things. My body aches all over, but it's a muscular, I'm getting fitter type ache, rather than a my joints are going to catch fire or my tendons are getting shredded type ache (so far anyway).

oh also saw a very bright shooting star tonight. that or some space hardware dropping back to earth. It wasn't even properly dark yet and the moon was full. I must check if any showers are due.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Murphy bed part 4 (horizontal version)

This photo shows the single bed version. The "axle" part runs horizontally and in this verion instead of enclosing the whole thing in a frame the bed itself is open and the bolt mechanism goes through the headboard.
The headboard is attached to the wall (screwed to the shelves which are screwed to the wall.
At the bottom end a small end table fulfils the same function.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

obrredim? and the learning curve

Started looking up varieties of seed potato last night (see other post) and digressed into looking up fruiting hedges and I realised that I'm doing a huge amount of "research" . Hence I suggest that obredim needs another R. I've also gone back to edit this post to add in time as a boundary for the allotment plan.

Allotment rules about keeping weeds under control and a certain percentage "in active cultivation" mean I don't have the luxury of spending a year in the planning of my plot.
This learning curve is very steep. and so is the hill up t'allotment. the calves of my legs are killing me

Seed Potatoes-update

finally settled on (mainly due to availability when I'd finally decided)

arran pilot 1st early
Edzell Blue and Nicola (very small bags) 2nd early
Sante mc
pink firapple late main crop/salad

Sunday, 1 March 2009

allotment and obredim process

There it is then. So, obredim stands for:-


Careful observation has revealed a couple of rhubarb crowns and about half a dozen strawberries, so some sort of yield shoud be possible, (you can just make out one of the crowns in the bottom left quadrant of the photo). Picture is taken facing fairly well due South. Prevailing wind is South Westerly and those trees down the bottom (I'm told by John, my next door neighbour but one) cast shade about half way up in winter. The slope is fairly steep (still to figure out how steep). I want to find out the altitude too, cos its quite high up.


Well the actual plot boundaries are visible in the photo. The allotment rules are another set of boundaries to consider, the no sheds above 1.5m thing is a bit difficult when I live so far away and love drinking tea in sheds. Apparently getting much of a yield from certain crops might involve setting some serious boundaries for thieving squirrels and pigeons. Time is definitely a boundary issue, especially this year just getting it at the beginning of the planting season, and just when the home garden needs attention too. but also in terms of the time available for maintaining it.


2 tool storage cupboards 1meter high

pallet compost bin (contents not very composty, but not fully explored)

a bit of weed proof membrane

John, my friendly new neighbour.

John's hose pipe that will reach all the way to the water standpipe.

water available on site


seems an odd place to put evaluation, before design, but I suppose you evaluate what you've got so far, and what you've learned from other design tools/processes you've used before designing, and then since its a circular process, you end up back there again after



Maintain and then back to


Saturday, 28 February 2009

cataloging baskets

I don't have a complete record of all my baskets. Some of the more utilitarian ones just got (mis)-used till they disintegrated and may not even have been photographed. I even gave some away, without making any record of them. In case I'm ever a collectable maker (stranger things happen :) I think I should do some record keeping, so I'm going to try to get recipients to send home photos and to catalogue some of the ones around the house, and even to make a note of fallen but not forgotten ones. I know I should edit this photo but the sun is shining and I have an allotment to dig, and a dog to walk.

murphy bed part 3, the mechanism

OK. So this 6" coach bolt is the mechanism that the whole fold up bed project hinges on.
You need to drill a clearance hole that the bolt can just freely rotate in into the bed frame. On my bed that hole is 41cms up from the floor, and 41 cms out from the wall. Since the center of the 2x2 "axle" on the bed base itself is centered on 35cms from the outside edge of the base. this leaves me about 3cm of clearance from the inside edges of my frame at both the wall and floor edges, so the whole thing swings freely in the space.
To fasten into the "axle", start by drilling a clearance hole part of the way in. You want the screw thread on the bolt to start biting into the wood for the last couple of inches, so change down to a drill bit that's just a bit too tight to slide into without screwing for that last inch or so. Obviously you need to do the same procedure on the other side before trying to assemble it.
Balance the bed base on magazines to lift the bed base drill holes level with the ones in the outer frame. Use a washer either side of the outer frame (can be a bit tricky getting the inside one onto the bolt) and use a spanner or socket to tighten them into place. It might take a little bit of playing around to get the tension/centering between the two sides even. Remember to pull the mags out before you try to rotate it. :)
I'll do a couple of photos of the single bed version in a later post.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

seed potatoes, height above sea level

My seed potato buying trip before heading off to France ended up in a random grab of two small bags. The information I needed about the type I was buying (e.g. waxy or floury, blight resistant, etc)wasn't available in the store. here are some sesources to help with choosing seed potatoes. I am now off to make a more informed choice on what others to grow. chart from gardenorganic.org showing main characterisitics of various "tatties" The when's why's and how's of all things potato, from topveg. A bit about slug resistance, I think it came from a gardenweb forum If you have a problem with slugs eating your potatoes then there are anumber of Slug resistant varieties some of which we have tried and canrecommend (marked with **) for clay soil... Kestral** - second early (good keeper for a SE) Lady Rosetta - se Maritiema - se Romano** (red skinned)- early maincrop Hermes - maincrop Midas- mc Pentland Dell - mcSpey **(child of Kestral, very similar)- maincrop

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

broadbeans in yellow pages pots

Here are some more BB's in the yellow pages pots. Each pot is two sheets of yellow pages thick and uses no staples or fasteners. At planting out time the bottom of the "poke" can just be unfolded, although they might just disintegrate once they're in the ground anyway.

Monday, 16 February 2009

allotment panic

I have grown veg before, in fact I've shared an allotment before, and that might be the source of the panic... I know how much hard work it is but I still feel like a complete beginner. bought some seed potatoes, now chitting on the window sill, but still need more,

4 year crop rotations
companion planting, (savoury with broad beans)

should buy some lime for the brassicas.

made some nifty little root trainer pots out of old yellow pages and sowed my first lot of Broad beans.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

first ever basket

here's a picture of my first ever freeform basket. ( A fair old while ago now)

made from old drift wood, roots, bark and rusted curtain wire all found on a walk on the Shaldon side of the Teign, combined with some recycled wire that was dumped at my compost scheme. I had only just started my basketry love affair then and I hadn't much idea of what i was doing, so I soaked all the wood bits in linseed oil to make them pliable and set about joining them together with copper wire gods eyes. I called it "Sea Witch Cauldron"
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