Friday, 15 January 2021

My Little Patch Of Paradise.

Hello there. I'm here and we're back in lockdown, again! For fear of sounding like an old record I hope you are staying safe and keeping sane. I'll leave it at that.

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As is my want with my posts I start I rarely finish them without some sort of interruption, like a day or two. My husband quite often tells me I try to do too many things at once, the same as when I try to carry too much if tidying up or putting away the pots - I do drop things! We're currently on day two!

Anyhow, I'm here thinking about the outside of our little homestead, my little patch of paradise althoug it isn't looking much like right now! We have had our polytunnel since April 28 2020 so I didn't have time to make the best of it but I was however quite pleased with some of the results; amongst others we had salad leaves all Summer into Autumn, a fabulous amount of kale even though only I eat it but hope to change that. My point is that I want to get it up and running as early as possible to maximise the space over this year.

Currently it is home to the following:
-    20 or so dwarf peas Meteor
-    spring onions
-    a variety of salad leaves
-    a small amount of garlic and onions left over from the ones planted outside
-    10 or so khol rabi
-    three small broccoli with teeny tiny heads
-    2 small kale 
-    pots of parsley, oregano and lemon balm 
-    sweet peas

Some of these are seemingly in suspended animation but look fairly healthy. I hope that once the weather starts to warm up a little next month they'll kick back into life. Something which has come back inside are the strawberry plants; these are about seven or eight I think which were runners off those I cleared out at the end of summer. I gave them a tidy up and have hopes they will develop nicely -  they are called Delizz which are a late fruiting variety.

So looking towards sowing and growing for 2021 I'm not keen on starting many things too early in the year, but I may put some Nante carrots in later this month as these will possibly give us a small crop before those outside. Mainly I'll begin next month when I'll be doing my best to follow Charles Dowding and his sowing schedule with more multi-sowing than I tried last year. My polytunnel book by Joyce Russell says peppers and chillis do well in an unheated polytunnel so I'm crossing my fingers for those to crop this year as I've never done well with either; the latter will have to be a mild variety with more flavour than kick! Any suggestions?

A job for in the polytunnel before much else is to clear some un-successful turnips out; shame about those as I love cooking with them. (Since beginning this I've had another look and there may be a couple growing better. Anyhow, they'll eventually come out and all along the back wall I'll add fresh compost and that is where the tomatoes will be this year. I think they will get more light there due to the way the polytunnel is positioned  to the rising and setting of the sun. I have compost I bought some time ago, which is great seeing as we are in lockdown and cannot get any unless buying feed or bit and pieces for the sheep or chickens.

I'm aiming to do a post by the end of the month about my sowing plans for at least the next two or three months, wiggle room allowed obviously, but I've also set myself a little challenge; check out my freind Tracy over at Our Smallholding Adventure, along with her YouTube channel, as she absolutely loves a challenge. Mine is simply to make a YouTube video where I speak as I'm not keen on my voice when it is recorded but I'll do my best; I want to show the growing area, polytunnel and poly house, oh prepare for some work in progress shots! No point not being honest, real life is what you get in my garden. I'm not good outside in the bad weather but I really am looking forward to sharing my plans for when I'm up and at it when a little of the warm Welsh weather returns.

Aaaah, I knew I'd sneak some in-house stuff in! I have some Seville oranges and will next week be turning them into marmalade to add to the stores of preserves I have in the cellar, some made by me and others gifts. My first time of making it so wish me luck; I'm a nervous preserver but very keen to have a go at things. 



NEWSFLASH - In my last post I showed photos of inside the polytunnel and poly house but I have just uploaded that video I talked about and you can find it here.. I watch a lot of YouTube and people are soo good at it, like Tracy and also Hugh and Fiona over at English Country Life. Me I managed to film the whole 11 minutes in portrait only realising at the end. Duh! Hope you still like what you see!

Bye for now,
Lou.xx

Friday, 1 January 2021

2021 - A Fresh Start.

 Hello! 

This is my first post since December 7! We enjoyed our quiet Christmas the same as we always do, so no change for us really. New Year's Eve, too, was quiet as normal - just the Hootenanny with a glass or two of bubbly then to bed.

To hope the coming year of 2021 will be an improvement on the last is an understatement for most people and for those I feel so sorry for all the loss, heartache, difficult times and challenges they have had to face. However I am and will forever be full of gratitude for our being safe on our little homestead, Jon still being able to go to work, our boys carrying on with their schooling at home (though challenging at times, too) not missing going abroad and just happy to be where we are on my little patch of paradise.

I wish everyone a healthy 2021 and look forward to sharing all your, and my, doings in the coming year, be it your sowing n growing, baking n making in the kitchen or craft projects.xx

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Anyway, onwards.This is the view which greeted me at the back door this morning. We had a good covering of snow yesterday and a little more over night but the brightness of the day had already begun to melt it; beautiful sky anyhow.


Yesterday and today I took a few photos inside and out, in the poly tunnel, the garden and the poly house. However, the first photo is of the man who came to scan the pregnant ewes on the 30th. We had a fantastic result as out of  43 ewes we had 26 singles and 17 twins! Fantastic.


Back to sowing and growing. I have very little growing but here goes!

These are my leeks; I haven't harvested any from these tyres but plan to do so soon. I did take up a few from one of the other beds as they were the only thing in it and I wanted to cover it with some mulch; I'm going to try those this evening; they;re more like baby leeks but...


The onions are still coming along nicely...


and in the top of the toilet I have some annual flowers peeping through...trying to grow quite a few flowers this year for a change. Ooh, that reminds me I must make sure I've Marigolds on the list to go with the tomatoes...


plus the bulbs I planted last year appear to be coming to life once more.


Talking of coming back to life the Stellata Magnolia is showing some buds and ...


on the ground beneath it I think are the beginnings of the daffodils!


I don't have much going on the poly house but these are the red onion sets I planted a good while ago and so far 20 or so of them are springing into life;I intend to plant these out in February.

In the poly tunnel the sweet peas are doing ok, need to check when and where I'll plant those out. I was just way too late last year and I had none so fingers crossed I'll get a much better result this year.


I have a few pots of herbs just pootling along which are two pots of  Champion Parsley, some Oregano and then there is Lemon Balm. I'm still hoping to make a good herb 'garden' in the tall planters outside this year.


I'm very pleased that the three broccoli plants seem to be in suspended animation along with the dwarf peas and salad leaves. Apologies for the green algae stuff on the surface; need to clear that off.




So, that was the show now for the tell! 

I've made my list for seed sowing and I've been really thorough, I think, to really try and not have empty beds outside from about July/August time which is what usually happens.😖 Going to keep sowing and keep planting out to try and avoid that hungry gap.

I'm going to do my best to make the most of the poly tunnel as we were already getting on for half way through the year when we bought it in 2020, sounds weird saying that already. I have plans for starting things in there are well as seeds for germination then to be planted in the beds and areas outside.

As we're not intending to take any Airbnb guests for the whole of 2021, this gives us the chance to do some projects in the garden when we don't need to worry about there being some mess and upheaval. A lot of clearance needs sorting around the beds and tyres as I'd eventually like to have membrane and pea gravel down to make the area a lot more tidy.

I'm really quite envious of people with big compost bins so that's something I have room for and Jon has access to any number of pallets we need for the job. 👍

I'm sure there are lots of things I want to do, would like to do, need to do but we'll get to that at some point.

That is about it for me. I can't wait to hear about your plans for inside and out over the coming months so why not drop me a line in the comments? 😊

Bye for now, 

Lou.xx



Monday, 7 December 2020

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

 


Hello all.

I'm in red type mode because here at Bronllan we're in full Christmas mode and there will be no apologies. I'd just like to say I hope you're all still keeping safe still social distancing and wearing your masks. The news of the vaccine is fantastic and a real positive thing but it is not going to solve things over night so we need to persevere and keep going a bit longer. Christmas and all that comes with it will be very different this year but I hope your are able to still do your shopping, maybe supporting some local businesses, and see your nearest and deastes somehow, in person or by the power of zoom.

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So, I thought I'd share how things are shaping up for Christmas on our little homestead.

This year I wanted to make my front door wreath out of totally natural elements so I headed off to meet Jon at the sawmill on my way back from Aber at the end of November to collect some fresh moss and left it to dry in the cellar for a few days.

We normally put up the tree over the first weekend of Decemeber but due to the way the weekend fell this year we were up and decorated on November 28th! That day I managed to get quite a lot done, with lots of cheery Christmas music on in the background, obvs!


After the tree I began with the other decorations which I like to have around the house; this is how my kitchen table looks at this time of the year! I have lots of tags, chains and hanging decorations I've made over the year and love using these along with new ones I make.





I began with the wooden box which was made for us, the actual box, by Jon's very creative cousin. It now sits on the kitchen side table which I can see from my reguralr spot at the table.


I sooo love my baking bench at this time of the year with lights and homemade chains of vintage paper. I whipped up a couple of batches of pastry for the fridge ready for mince pie making; I always use Mary Berry's recipe with orange zext and icing sugar and it never fails.

A couple of days later this is now the hall way looked. I made this star from some of the ceiling we had to take down in the living room when we arrived at Bronllan five years ago. It was sort of wattle and daub with the thin pieces of wood between the beams; I hope you know what I mean but this is a fabulous memory of our first Christmas and I hope to keep it for a long time.


It is decorated with had made tags, 


the old church shelf underneath it has this mixed media decoration of mine and the wonderful felt gnome made by the wonderful Maryline of Rural and Rustic.


In the kitchen I got down to the first three dozen mince pies. 12 went straight in the freezer, as usual, as that way we will always have a few for emergencies....



This sign I made a couple of Christmases ago but thought for this year it needed a bit of a make over. My very creative youngest added the decorations on the lower part and Jon did some new outlining. I love it!


In this photo the sign is leaning against our beautiful vintage sideboard which turns into our lovely drinks bar over the festive season. You may be able to see my bottle of Advocaat from which I am already enjoying a Snowball here and there, complete of course with a couple of Marachino cherries, would be rude not to!



After a little walk around the garden I brought in some greenery to go along wit the moss and the front door wreath was completed.




Over the next couple of days more decoations went up




and more pies were in the planning, of course.

We're really feeling very festive now. Presents are being wrapped, but not under the tree just yet, and although the family we were hoping to have travel to us for a few days are now not able to, we will enjoy our wonderful family time together. There's still quite a lot to do, such as very important jobs of printing off our A - Z game we play every Christmas Eve, buying presents for playing bingo on Boxing Day and lots of other things on my Christmas Planner which will gradually get crossed off one by one to ensure nothing is forgotten and that we have a joyous time.

I hope your plans are coming along well for however you plan on spending the festive season.

Bye for now,

take care

Lou. xx




















Sunday, 22 November 2020

Inspiration, we all love a bit of that!

Hello there. How is everybody? 💖 Not wishing to sound like a broken record but we are just keeping on keeping on here, except for the fact that my youngest was sent home on Monday. A classmate tested positive and he has to isolate but is returning to school on Wednesday, something he is VERY pleased about as he is not a big fan of online learning!

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Saturday.

I'm in the living room, no woodburner lit yet so have an extra layer on, but having some ish-quiet time with a brew and a biscuit. The weather outside is miserable as sin, the dog is asleep in the kitchen, Jon has popped to Aber for dog food (missed off my shopping list yesterday) the boys are upstairs putting up Christmas lights and Aled Jones' dulcets are wafting down the stairs, don't ask, as I sit here and write my blog post.

This morning I came across a note scribbled in my Household Notebook about sowing some tomatoes which can be grown outside. I've never been brave enough to do this because my efforts growing toms have never come to much with those IN doors, although this last year I did have better results in the poly tunnel. So this coming growing season after feeling inspired by my good friend Tracy of Our Smallholding Adventure, as usual, I've decided to give it a go. She's always very enthusiastic when it comes to growing tomatoes, most things really, and tries so hard sowing early, different varieties etc. So as well as trying some outside I'll be sowing a good variety of this very useful fruit - yes I think we all know tomatoes are a fruit not a vegetable!😄

So here are the sowing choices I've made for next year.

IDI F1: Quite a tasty variety I found this year and great to add some different colour to a plate. They are small, yellow and pear shaped, an indeterminate, vining variety and produced by the RHS and Mr Fothergill's.

Tomato F1Tumbling Tom Red : Next year will be the first time I've grown tumbling tomatoes, these seeds are from Simply Seed, and thought I would have them in a hanging basket in the poly tunnel as this variety is not frost hardy.

Maskota : This is a cherry variety by Mr Fothergill's, the seeds of which I was given by a neighbour. Now these were not a real success last year however I'm trying with them again which gives me the chance to grow at least one variety outside. These are also a bush type and ideal for pots, tall ones as they can tumble.

Big Mama F1 : I so do want to grow some big plum tomatoes to make sauce, my dream is to have jars of them in my cellar store room. These are said to be good for sauces, soups and salsa and they skin easily after par-boiing; wish me luck with these seeds from D T Brown.

Maghrebi : These are from the Heritage Seed Library and originate in Morocco They are said to be blight resistant and work well fresh, cooked or pureed. 

Marmande : From Kings Seeds these seeds produce large, attractive fruits which mature slightly later so you can hopefully extend your growing season. They are bushy and don't require side shooting. I hope to do better with these next year.

I'd be interested to know if you're growing anything different or special next year - inside or out.

Inspiration also struck after watching  on Homesteading Family on YouTube who are based in North Idaho in the States- I was put onto them by Tracy! In one of their many videos Carolyn the lady of the house talks about home management including about turning from consumers to producers. Now I think this is pretty much the main idea of those who own or wish to own a smallholding or homestead depending on your description of choice, see my blog post wth some of my thougts about that here.

Obviously we'll still be trying in what will be, amazingly, our 6th growing season to provide as much food as we can; with the advent of my poly tunnel I hope to improve on my harvests as we will have 4 extra months at the beginning of the year compared to last. I'm constantly learning when it comes to sowing and growing and I know those who have been doing it much much longer than me are also still learning and I think that's just great. When it comes to indoors and providing food I think next year I'll try having a couple of days a month to batch bake and make in the kitchen. This will cut down on buying certain things like snack biscuits but also to have meals and dishes to just take out of the freezer when at times we need to make things easy for ourselves or we are busy. We plan on getting a bigger downstairs freezer for the cellar room next year so I'll surely have space. 

Inspiration also came from Hugh and Fiona over at English Country Life on their latest YouTube video. Suggestions were given for books as Christmas presents for those who wish to learn about or gain more information about smallholding and all it can bring. I will now be asking Santa for a copy of this: 


I really want to up my game next year and I think this could be the book for me. Funnily enough Tracy has this on her list, too. You get the feeling we are a couple of peas in a pod!

....Life continually gets in the way so I'm now finishing my little ramblings on Sunday morning at the kitchen table. I've already fed the chooks, lit the Rayburn, put a wash load on, put another load to dry and had my first coffee. Jon took Belle out first thing and I can hear the kettle boiling for a second cup as we've now had breakfast and he and the boys are on a shed clearing out day.

I'm continutally inspired, like lots of people, by lots of people and I'm sure you are, too. 

Please leave a comment if you have time as I'd love to hear about how you are inspired along with any plans you have for the coming growing season.

Bye for now, 
Lou.xx





Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Poly House, Crafting and Christmas.

 Hello.

I'd hoped to get this post published on Monday when here in Wales we came out of our circuit breaker. I'm hoping people will not see this as a time to celebrate the end of restrictions but to instead keep asking themselves what they can do to keep the virus at bay and from spreading.

Also in the news this week there has been real progress with vaccines. It is said there is a chance of maybe two being available by the Spring; this is wonderful but in the meantime we need to keep up with the rules:

                                                HANDS                  FACE                SPACE                                              
Moving on. Here on our little homestead we're been cracking on with jobs and the most exciting one is the re-covering of the poly house. I'm not sure how long it had been in such disarray but it is months. 

The job was started last week, in the wind and rain.




Because of the weather this last week we had to wait until Satruday morning to start again so Jon fetched new battens and he and the boys set to work et voila!! 

I am absolutely chuffed to bits that it is useable again and in the afternoon I set about tidying up, putting all the pots above the door where they belong and gave it a good sweep out. 








I'm sooooo looking forward to getting back to doing inside outside jobs again, but also to just spending some me time in there with a brew, thinking about the sowing and growing I'll be able to do in there in the coming months.

I didn't actually wait that long to get in there to do something as on Sunday I planted 62 red onion sets in individual pots! 


I had ordered variety Electric but I was sent a replacement vairiety called Roelin which I'm asured is a suitable substitute. They are Autumn planting ones but I just thought I would experiment and plant them like this and then put them out later, just because....

I received a fairly big order of seeds last month which I talked about on my last post and I'm hoping for that my last order, I think, will arrive in the next couple of days. (Post man has just been so won't be today!) I'm waiting for the following:

courgette Gold F1
tomato Big Mama F1 
cucumber Diamant (gherkins)
Nasturtium Alaska
sweetcorn Swift F1

I've been getting back to a little more crafting after taking a break after finishing my mammoth project of my festive journal. You can see a flip through of it here on my YouTube channel. This shadow box is something I've been working on for a while until I had the special lights. You can see how it makes such a difference to the effect.



We're really looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year, even though it will be a little different. We normally love having friends and neighbours round on Boxing Day, kitchen table heaving with food, treats and a few glasses of bubbly but we won't be doing that this year. It won't stop us having a lovely family time, though, as we always do and a part of this is me decorating in my own, special way which I can't WAIT to do. 

With the cake already sitting in the cupboard waiting to be fed, which is normal at this time of the year, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


I know some people don't like to think about  Cristmas too early but I'm just thinking what the heck. The turkey is ordered, there is mincemeat in the cellar store room from last year waiting for the first lot of mince pies and even a box of crackers we didn't get round to pullng and our youngest has got his music playlist sorted. Doesn't seem to be a way of stopping the festive juggernaut and frankly I'm not too concerned in doing so, but I do draw the line at Christmas songs being played before December 1st. 

And to that, in the words of the fabulous Matthew McConaughey, I say "alright, alright, alright"!

Ok well, enough of my ramblings. Today is Jon's birthday so better get that cake iced.

Take care of yourself and each other.

Bye for now,

Lou.xx


Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Simply Sowing And Growing.

Hello all.

Here is the usual opening to my post. Things are constantly changing all over the UK with the pandemic so with best wishes all I can say is I hope you're staying safe and doing what you need to in order to continue as best you can under the circimstances. 

I was trolled on my Twitter feed the other day; accused of being selfish and middle-class, hiding away from the virus just because I said I was extremely grateful I had somewhere I could keep safe with me and mine, soooooo I'm just keeping on keeping on. 

Today I've had a couple of exciting deliveries. The first thing was my order of seeds from the online company Simply Seed, the postage for just seeds is a flat rate of £1.39 and the prices of the seeds is very reasonable.

The seeds I have ready for next year are:

Carrot Autumn King 2

Leek Mussleburgh

Leek Tornado

Beetroot Bolthardy

Radish French Breakfast

Cucumber Femspot

Tomato Tumbing Tom Red

French Bean Montano

Turnip Purple Top Milan

Khol Rabi Delicacy Purple

Salad Leaves Musclun Mixed

Butternut Squash Butterbush

Courgette Sure Thing

There are a couple that I still want but will hopefull get them soon.


Only issue is that I got a little excited and ended up ordering three packets of Bolthardy Beetroot, two types of leek and two packets of Radish French Breakfast!😂 Never mind!

The other delivery was the polythene covering for the poly house and my boys have been removing the batons for us to, hopefully, get it on over the weekend weather depending. 

Woop woop!

And then yesterday I took a little look around the poly tunnel.


I have a few flowers on my Meteor dwarf peas which is great. No idea when I might get pods on them; the things in the poly tunnel are a bit experimental - Tracy over at Our Smallholding Adventure knows all about that.

The carrots I have sown, two lots, are germinating and I may get some through in who knows! 


Very pleased that my sweet peas have popped up.


I also wanted to share some photos of the delicious Cawl we had for tea last night. It was made from the left overs from our Sunday roast. 



The meat was from a lamb Jon butchered; a long time since he used his chef training to that degree. It was delicious, served in wooden bowls as dictated by tradition, along with some of my homebaked bread and Welsh cheese.




Well, that is all my ramblings for now I think. The weather is blustery but bright here today so not unpleasant, especially with the Rayburn warm on my back.

Take care,
bye for now.

Lou.xx