Saturday, 9 September 2023


I'm posting here for the first time in soooooo long in the hope of reaching anybody who may like to donate to a charity fundraising challenge I'm taking part in.

During the month of September I am walking, at least, a mile everyday to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I'm doing this whilst going to visit friends, checking on our sheep on the farm or even walking around Abersytwyth, like today. On my Giving Page you can see my daily progress of how far I've walked and how much money I'm so grateful to have raised already!

I'm sure everybody has had some experience of cancer, I lost my dad to it and now my father in law was diagnosed nearly five months ago, so please consider donating to my page today and help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

You can visit here to visit my Giving Page.

Thank you for reading this.


Friday, 1 July 2022

Ooh, here I am! Preparing, Budgetting, Getting Your House in Order.

It has been soooo long since I wrote here, therefore expect a bit of a ramble!

To be totally honest I have taken to Instagram like I never thought I would, to the point that I have to have a little break here and there, but that is the only social media I use so I guess that's ok, or that it what I'm telling myself.

I have time to write this blog post just now as the boys are on an inset day and, obviously, still in bed at 8am!

So, I read a post of IG this morning about how a person came to cook, preserve and in turn prepare for life's situations and it made me think about why I do what I do now.

When we moved to Wales nearly 8 years ago I definitely wanted a garden to grow our own and we have one. I dreamed about a polytunnel/hoop greenhouse after seeing the landscape around us peppered with them - and we finally got ours in May 2020 after the first lockdown. 

Whilst at home with my parents I learned to make random things like bread sauce from scratch but really can't remember being in the kitchen with my mother teaching me to make or bake much, for various reasons.

Then when I was living in my first flat I started baking and cooking more. Flash forward a good few years to when I married Jon and we had our boys. I use to bake still and enjoyed making the baby food, I rarely bought it.

When we came to Wales life just required me to live my kitchen life differently; that may sound really daft but I came to the house with expectations of cooking and baking on the Rayburn we were lucky enough to have in the house, a country style, open kitchen demanded, yes, demanded I changed the way I cooked, made and baked!

My mum always made chutney but I never saw her water bath it to make it shelf stable; I now make that recipe, with a few tweaks, in the Autumn months.

I can remember always loving seeing pantrys full of lovely edibles but had no concept of how they got onto the shelves. I even remember seeing an episode of A Woman of Substance YEARS ago where there was a scene in a shop which sold fresh baked and made things, a vision I love to this day! 

I wanted a pantry like that and gradually I practised the technique of water bathing to get some things on my shelves. In the back of my mind I sort of knew about pressure canning and then learned more after I had read about it during WW2 and found wonderful #womenwhoprep on IG with all the skills I wish I had.

With the onset of the pandemic I began being more prepared for life situations that might occur and in October 2020 I started to keep extra things in at home, not just food but toiletries, day to day stuff. It is normally the woman of the house who is the #keeperofthefood and #keeperofthehome so do this for your family but get everybody else on board. When my husband and I started talking about this I didn't realise he was on the same page already! Around this time I began thinking about pressure canning myself as with water bathing you can't can meat or many vegetables. IG is full of glorious photos of lovely stocked pantries of home grown or preserved food and I SO wanted to be a member of the canning club.

I finally bought my Presto 23 pressure canner in April of this year and I 💓💓💓 it. After folowing YouTube videos asking for advice etc, including my bestie Tracy over at Our Smallholding Adventure , I am finally getting very comfortable with it and have canned meat and complete meals; I still water bath food such as some rhubarb I acquired with apples for pie filling; I just LOVE going down to the cellar and looking, sometimes stroking, my jars - I know!

All this is part of the being #preparednotscared scenario, which I have talked about before, but with the end of the pandemic came the economic crisis we are now experiencing. Food security is something which is very important just now, but also the war in Ukraine has brought issues with food supplies AND energy prices and along with the cap, of course, things are very difficult for a lot of people.

We are lucky that our energy tarrif is fixed until August next year but I will put some money aside for when it changes as it is likely to be quite high. We are lucky that with the Rayburn we spend less on warming the house and heating water in the winter as it does both things for us - an emersion can apparently cost approx. £300 a year - and we have two log burners. We are currently re stocking the woodpile for when the fires are lit in around October.

In the garden and polytunnel we grow vegetables and some fruit and i'm really trying to use things from there and not buy where I can. I don't have anywhere near as much space at Tracy, check out her set up, but I'm not buying potatoes, onoins or salad at the moment. We have tomatoes coming along with peas, beans and some other things as well as crops that won't be ready for a few months yet. My IG account - livingthegoodlifeinwales will show you MY set up!

We hope to start raising some of our own meat soon with turkeys on the agenda, and hopefully pork and lamb, as these are the most expensive part of our food budget but we recently lost our chickens to a fox attack so I am unfortunately buying eggs just now,😡 something Tracy is DEFINTELY not doing just now.😂

So, people often ask is it too late to start preparing, stocking up, changing habits whatever you want to call it and the answer is no. Start making small changes now, buy one extra of things you and your family eat when you go shopping - and that it is something you eat is the important thing to remember, if you don't eat tinned tuna DON'T stock up on it. Try to think about unnecesary spending, we can waste money on lots of weekend coffees and snacks when we need to go to town, so we try and go early before lunch or after so we are not tempted.

There are so many people out there doing their best for their families and sometimes it is the little things that help. I have my banking on my phone, wish I had done it earlier but never thought I would do, but it tells me my bank balance when all the expected bills have gone out so then you can budget with the remaining funds, I find it is starting to help me. Check out Tracy's stories for ideas other people are sharing on this subject.

There are loads of other things I could have included here but would hate to bore, get in touch if you want to chat. 

So remember, be #preparednotscared, #getyourhouseinorder and #tightenyourapronstrings and if you've stayed to the end of this, 👊, well done!

Lou. x

Sunday, 23 January 2022

I'm Prepping, Are You?


It's ages since I wrote a post here, to be honest I'm thinking of giving it up completely.

I've started to really prefer Istagram and it's kind of about that I'm writing just now.  

In October last year I came across an acount called @thispreparedlife and it lead to all manner of things.

Prior to that I had been keeping a store of food in the cellar but not to any large degree but wanted to make more of an effort with it.

Allison who has the account I just mentioned is one of an amazing band of #womenwhoprep and are proud to consider themselves #thekeeperofthefood or #keeperofthehome.

They talk about the reasons they are preppers. Now I know what you're thinking, possibly, that preppers are all just waiting for the apocalypse. Well, it depends what your apocalypse is....

It could be a major power cut, outage as they call it in the States, hurricane or forrest fire, tornado, economic issues, job loss, pandemic?! - anything which directly affects you and your family that could make it difficult to get food supplies, heating/light/energy for your home, whatever.

Well, if you think about it some of you many remember your grandparents growing their own fruit and veg during the war perhaps and preserving some of it. This was done when we were unable to get a lot of our food which was imported due to the ships being attacked. They were not preparing, they didn't have a choice but you can see the connection.

I am aiming to have for me and mine a stock of 6 - 8 months worth of food in the house, when I start the coming growing season I aim to preserve in one way or another a good amount. We've just invested in a new chest freezer and a vacuum food sealer and I'm almost decided to buy a pressure canner in the summer. I'm assured this will be a game changer when it comes to preserving and every time I think about it I'm a little more keen on the idea, if a little scared. I already water bath can some things but the pressure canner will open up lots of new avenues including meat and vegetables other than tomatoes.

So, people often ask how to start preparing for 'whatever' and the answer given by Allison is that the only wrong way is not to do it at all.

Prepping should not be out of fear, you prep for a reason and it is never too late to start.

These are just my thoughts from things I've leart from these amazinf women and I just wanted to share. 

Check out Allison's IG account and she has a fantastic podcast, too.



Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Covid, Random Thoughts, Body Image and Mental Wellbeing.

First of all, hope you are well and that things are on the up, vacciniations, relaxing of restrictions and if you are coping with the changes or just looking forward to things seemingly, really getting back to normal in some places.

I have mixed emotions at the moment regarding the way rules are soon allowing people to mix a lot more freely. I was shocked the other day aa cases are really coming down in number in comparision to how we were in the beginning, looking at huge nunbers back then.

We will continue to take precautions for the foreseeable. Our boys are looking forward to seeing their friends outside of school soon so that is something we have to consider.

Following on from the above I was having random, positive thoughts this morning.

I have struggled in my aim to lose weight during lockdown due to not being able to attend my usual organised support group. Since lockdown, and before really, I have lived in my work clothes which I wear for jobs around the house, working in the garden and sometimes going shopping especially to places like the farmers' co-op for animal feed. The only other clothes I've generally worn have been my jimmers when I relax in the evening. Both of these manage to cover my body quite well so I don't have to think about how unhappy I was with my body.

But today for some reason I woke up and suddenly thought to myself that I can look/ feel nice even though I'm not totally happy with my body shape whilst feeling positive about myself, too.

Therefore, today, after I bathed and washed my hair I dressed like I haven't for some time around the house, even though I still have jobs to do. This has really given me a boost and I've ticked so many things off my to-do-list already.

This week is mental health awareness week and today I'm feeling really good. Just goes to show that small things can made a huge difference to day to day llife.

I hope you can find just a small thing this week to help improve your mental wellbeing.xx 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Who Am I?

I watched a film recently and at the end the main character was asked - "who are you?". 

For some reason this made me think about who I am; I've changed as life for me has changed so I found myself writing this. There is probably more I could write but this will do for now.


I am 52 but sometimes I feel like a lot younger.

I'm a wife, mum, sister and aunt but now and then I feel like a little girl.

I like to talk, to people when I go shopping, to Jehova's Witnesses at the door now and then, even though I'm not religious, but I'm more than happy to spend my day without talking to anyone at all.

I like to be organised and a day doesn't pass without me writing a to do list, but I can procrastinate and waste some serious time on doing nothing much. I'm able to get my head together and have half a day's worth of jobs done in a couple of hours if I have to catch up.

I make commitments to goals or challenges but I can find any number of excuses not to work on them.

I look at women whom I admire or am a little envious of and then think "I'd rather eat cake!".

I don't have many friends, don't feel sorry for me - even though I can talk; Jon is the only friend I need in a crisis or at any other time, but I'm loyal to the friends I do have whether I've known them for 5 or 25 years.

I'm not a supremely confident person but I can complain about anything, better than most.

I love to spend time in the garden growing vegetables but doubt myself a lot if things are not going the way they should.

I like to cook, love to bake, but I'm happy to accept my husband is a better cook than me - trained chef!

I didn't suffer from any form of anxiety until about three years ago; I'm a lot better now but still have the odd wobble. Now I have more empathy with those who struggle with their mental health.

I'm more strict with our boys than Jon at times. I expect them to do their bit around our little homestead, as does Jon, but they are wonderful boys and I'm so proud of all they do and are capable of; I know they will do fantastic things as they get older.

Our family, the four of us, is THE most important thing to me, and Jon. I would give up everyone and everything in order to protect, save or make decisions for their benefit.



Thursday, 11 March 2021

Book Review - A Definite Recommendation. Grounded by Liz Zorab Of Byther Farm.

was so keen to read Grounded as Liz lives in a similar part of the world to myself and I have thoroughly enjoyed it; the forward was also written by Huw Richards and he brought Byther Farm to life before I'd read a word!

Liz has such determination and grit in achieving her goals and I loved the idea of putting your back to the task whilst facing the achievemnent. I particularly loved her honesty in that, even now after the farm is establshed in so many ways, she still has doubts about her gardening abilities - I am jam packed full of those so just great to read that.

Liz shares the personal obstacles she has overcome and explains how the farm plus working/living in line with the seasons has bolstered her health. By giving herself the permission to take the time to recharge herself has been so very beneficial, something we could all try at times.

I was so impressed with the size and success of Byther Farm in what to me seems a short amount of time so that inspires me to push myself a little. However, I know the work needed was hard to reach those goals and I loved that I would also read about a task or project and think to myself "oh, I could do that" but also thought at times "I'm glad I do that already".

The hints and tips throught the book, often in side boxes to the main text, were numerous but I especially liked the outdoor sink area with the recycled water system. Ideas for perenial veg were wonderful as the book is not so much a "how to" rather than this is what did or didn't work, try this, work with what you have, experiment and was also a good introduction to permaculture about which Liz is very passionate.

She, like myself, acquired her polytunnel some time into a new growing year not getting the full benefit until the following year; fantastic to hear ideas for something that can help in real time

Altogether I found this an inspirational book, it made me smile, made me think and encouraged me in my plans for my own garden. Thank you Liz.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Here Comes The Sun - for a good few days!


So it looks as if there is light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic. I hope you are all getting your vaccinations at the right time, though don't get me started on our little story of that. Let us stick to the rules for a while longer and you never know where we might be for summer!

I didn't used to watch a lot of YouTube but my very good friend Tracy has her own channel over at Our Smallholding Adventure and is collecting new subscribers all the time. She told me about various interesting channels, as I have shared here before I think, but there is one I have told her about recently and want to do so here. I actually came across her via the channel of Liz Zorab who can be found at BytherFarm. If you don't know Liz she lives in Monmouthshire, Wales and has a fantastic growing space and is a keen permaculture fan. I need to learn more about that! She has also just written a book called Grounded and you can find out all about it and order a copy from here as well as other well know online platforms.

Anyway I digress! This new channel belongs to a lovely lady called Lorella in Missouri in the US and her channel is Lorella Plan Bee Orchard and FarmThe first video of hers I watched can be found here after Liz talked about it on her channel. It is a wonderful intorduction to Lorella's sense of humour, charachter and way of thinking as she and her husband work their homestead. 

I enjoyed it because she talks about being overwhelmed by stuff! including tasks in your garden. Production not perfection, being honest about what can achieve and bascially not beating yourself up if everything does not go quite to plan. I took a lot away from it about being overwhelmed by things.

As I worked outside yesterday in #mylittlepatchofparadise I couldn't help thinking of Lorella's words. I'd been putting off dealing with my raised beds and garden areas in preparation for the new growing season because I thought it was going to be a big task. However, as the sun shone down and I gradually took off my coat, scarf, waistcoat and hat in the, almost, Spring weather, I realised taking one thing at a time did make things sooo much easier. I know this isn't rocket science but sometimes you just can't see the wood for the trees. 

I'de been fettling in my poly house, sooo loving being back in there since it was recovered, and was getting ready to plant the last of these onion sets plus the red ones in pots.

had already managed to do some planting of onions and finished mulching one bed with a little bought but mainly my own compost. Go me!

The next job I have looked at I don't know how many times. This planter had some peas in last year and when they finished I just took them out and left it; it isn't as if it's even that big a space! So as I headed to sort out the raised bed NEXT to it, stil in ignore mode, I remembered I had actually moved a couple of weeds from it so I thought COME ON, DO IT with Lorella in my head saying break down those tasks. 

I actually cleared it quite easily and I'll be growing Butterbush butternut squash in it this year. I also cleared around the base which helped me see the blackcurrant bush next to it was still alive. Bonus! 

I felt I had achieved so much even though it only took me about 15 minutes; I moved onto the other bed and got that finished, too.

Lorella also talked about honesty regarding your garden; don't strive for perfection but production - I think that is going to be my new mantra. 
It's important to realise you can't do everything, hence breaking down those jobs or projects into small bites.

Thanks so much Lorella.

The good weather is set to contine for a few days yet as we come into March, even though the mornings are still a little chilly. This morning Jon and I walked the fields and found 2 new borns and we finally have a girl - 11 boys and 1 girl now. Here you can see the frost.

We checked on a mum and her twins in the barn, too, and she was stamping her foot at me protecting her young as I took the photo!

I took this lovely photo of Jon, with Belle in the distance, as we walked in the early morning light and the moon was amazing!

He has become such a wonderful shepherd in the last couple of years and I am so proud of him. Our dream is to have our own farm but that is a dream unfortunately.

I'd love some of you to let me know about any YouTube channels you like, find useful or just watch for fun. Do comment here.

Take care, stay safe,

Monday, 8 February 2021

Just A Hi There And Hello!

Hello. I hope you're all keeping well and safe. Here in Wales we have two more weeks left of our current lockdown and the boys are obviously still learning from home. However there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for when they may return, virtually crossing my fingers.


The weather is bitterly cold as I type this, early evening Monday, but thankfully no snow.

Even during inclement weather I love my growing space here in #mylittlepatchofparadise as I like to call it. Since the beginning of the month I've been taking part in #mymonthonthontheplot on Instagram, posting a different photo each day to do with my growing area and seeing what other people have been gettng up to, really good fun even when our gardens don't necessarily look their best at this time of the year.

This year I have my poly house back - woop woop, re-covered at the beginning of November after I'm not sure how long. I have my  Feel Good UK polytunnel which we managed to buy, install and start using in May last year. My outdoor beds and other growing spaces are great as they are made from sleepers we found whilst clearing the jungle of a garden we had when we arrived here. I also have bathroom 'items' that would have just been thrown out, an old chimmney plus a LOT of tyres which Jon acquired along with a big old wooden crate.

Currently the main bed, which is 17 x 6 feet, has had a visit from a mole or two! 

Here it is in a previous years from a couple of angles.

This is worrying me as I went into panic mode when I first saw them; my mind is thinking I won't be able to grow anthing if I don't get rid of them and I will have failed my family in my aim to provide as much fresh food as I can for them. Then yesterday I was watching an episode of 'The Wartime Kitchen and Garden' ; this was to help research the next post on my WW2 blog Put That Light Out! Anyway, what should I see but Mr Hobbs laying a trap for a mole which one of the land girls knew had got into her veg patch. I know some gardeners prefer not to use traps but needs must. I'll look for the run and hopefully put the trap in at the weekend with a little help from Jon.

I still wouldn't consider myself a confident gyo-er, but I am very enthusiastic! This year I'm growing something for the first time - dwarf borlotti beans - as I love the idea of drying them to keep for use in stews next winter. Not sure how many plants I'll need to save a couple of jars - anybody with any advice on that please?

I'm also growing something in the same place this year; I don't go for massive plot rotation plans as I am a no dig gardener and a big fan of Charles Dowding, My sweetcorn grows best in one specific bed, right outside the poly house where it gets very good sun so that's where it will go! Anyone else a no dig fan of CD?

This has just been a nice little ramble before I REALLY have something to show when sowing soon starts. 

Hope you've enjoyed it.

Bye for now and stay safe,


Friday, 29 January 2021

This And That - Outdoors and In.

 Hello, I'm celebrating! 

This is because my laptop is now my own again as my youngest has bought himself a new device and therefore no longer needs to use mine for his homelearning, hurrah! This celebration comes in the form of a new blog post.

This is a little ramble about what's happening here on our little homestead, also know as #mylittlepatchofparadise, from the end of last month and into February. February! How did that happen? Also I'm talking about jobs and this 'n' that around the garden in the coming weeks.

February is a wonderful month really. Even though we are still having some wet and chilly days, with it comes the promise that Spring is just around the corner. It's also the time to be chitting seed spuds, if that is your thing. Not everybody bothers as you can see in February's issue of Grow Your Own magazine; Blake and Laura debate whether it's a necessary job to do. I always chit mine, I'm still waiting for my Charlottes to be delivered, as I think those early shoots give them a little kick up the garden path to a good start and a hopefully healthy harvest! 

As for existing plants/edibles and in garden, the frosts in the coming months need to be prepared for so make sure you have your closhes, fleece etc ready; our last frost should be in April, fingers crossed.

In February you may be able to spot Wild Garlic underneath hedgerows and in woodland and be lucky as English Country Life to have been to pick some already. (You can find them on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram plus their YouTube channel here with oodles of help and advice for the smallholder, budding or experienced.) If you are forraging for it always be careful to only take a small amount; we're lucky enough to have a good clump growing in the garden. 

However, last year we lost most of it to the chickens and orphan lambs nibbling away at it. This year I think I will take up and re-locate it to somewhere safer!

Whilst out forraging you may be lucky enough to spot the odd primrose or catkins on the Hazel branches and of course snowdrops are for a lot of people one of the first signs of Spring not being far away - their nick name is flower of hope as they bring that hope of lighter and brighter days to come.

Each month no-dig guru Charles Dowding - find him on Twitter, Instagram and here, too - has a column in Grow Your Own magazine dispensing help and advice so here are a few snippets ready for next month. At this time of the year he says it is too early to start tomatoes and best to sow them in the 3rd week of March to be kept on a warm windowsill then be planted out under cover in May. It is worth remembering that seeds need more heat when germinating than seedlings need for growing; windowsills are a great place for the first 7-14 days after you've sown your seeds.

Lambing is not far off now. We had the lambs scanned and we hope for 26 singles and 17 twins, no empty ones. 

In January Jon refurbished a trailer incase we need to transport ewes from the fields down to the barn should they be in trouble.

We have medecine, injections, tube feeders etc. ready if we have any mums or their lambs needing help. All set but fingers crossed for not too many problems.

Indoors now. I've never made Seville marmalade before - I normally go for a much easier 
all-in-one method which I took from I don't know where! I decided to give it a go and used the recipe, complete with this YouTube video, from Pam The Jam Corbin. I'm going to be honest and tell you I needed to do the dreaded "re-boil" as it didn't set the frist time! Consequently my batch is a good thick preserve but I'm very pleased with myself as we have a jar in the fridge and five more to add to the cellar stores. (An embarrasingly small store but you have to start somewhere.)

I was determined to start the year off with a bang and I will, hopfeully, continue to make and store as much as I can from things I've grown.

My new blog, Put That Light Out, is so much fun. I'm reading my books for research but also enjoy watching some TV programmes, often on the Yesterday channel, plus YouTube videos
to give me more detail for my posts but also just to extend my interest I have in the 1939 - 45 period.

To finish up, the weather here today, Friday, is damp and miserable. We've had snow this month

and the forecast says we can expect more this weekend....It won't make much difference as in Wales we are now into another three weeks of lockdown. We just continue our usual routine; I shopped on January 22 so I won't be going again for a week of more except our local fruit and veg cabin and meat deliveries from the butcher in the same town if we need them.

I hope you are all excited about the sowing and growing season being around the corner. By tomorrow it will be 5pm when the sun is setting so the days are defintely getting longer; before we know it we will be in our gardens, poly tunnels and greenhouses until all hours! My last post was about my own plans for next month and I'd really love to hear about what you have planned for the coming weeks and months. You can find me on Twitter @Goodlifeinwlaes and Instagram @livingthegoodlifeinwales.

Take care everybody and stay safe.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

What a Sow and Sow - February.

Hello there, before I begin here is my usual greeting at the start of all my posts, just incase this is your first visit, so best wishes to everybody as we are once again in lockdown and hope you are coping well physically and mentally.

Right it's January 18th today and, as is the norm, I'm not getting up to much outside in the garden. Having said that I have begun some work in the polytunnel which is adding fresh compost in a couple of places. I also gave my compost 'daleks' a bit of a turning but if you have seen my recent super professional, 🤣 ,YouTube video you'll know I explained my plan of making two compost bays out of pallets. I really would like to get these made as soon as possible; Jon has access to as many pallets as we need so we can hopefully get this done by the beginning of next month.

Ok, seeds. These are the things we like to eat and that I hope to grow this year!

I may sow some Early Nantes carrots in the polytunnel in a container this month. However next month will begin the main sowing dates. As I said in my last post I'll be following advice from Charles Dowding and my polytunnel book; I've decided to keep sowing, keep sowing this year to make sure I have no gaps in the polytunnel or outside in the beds. I'm sometimes worried about wasting seeds but I often put things outside the front door in our egg house for people to help themselves to and hopefully I'll still be able to do that again should I still have some spare seedlings. During the first lockdown I enjoyed swapping lots of things, including plants, via our community Facebook page. 

Right February will begin with the following: (MS stands for multi-sow)

Turnips (MS) Purple Top Milan, the classic variety.

Spring Onions (MS) Ishikura, a mild flavoured bunching variety.

Khol Rabi Delicacy Purple tasting similar to stems of broccoli which I love in soups or stir fry.

Cabbage Greyhound, an early variety with pointy heads to harvest  from June/July.

Cauliflower All The Year Round, such a versatile seed.

Broccoli Matsuri F1 which is a compact variety, may be easier to protect from pests.

Aubergines Black Beauty which I'm trying really hard with as never been successful and so want my own ratatouille!

Salad leaves of various sorts, whatever takes my fancy really and these will go direct into the polytunnel near the door again so they don't get to hot.

Peppers including a Romano red one and one called Etiuda Orange, possibly a third that I may have ordered - more of that later.

Basil Red Leaved which is so very tasty and Sweet Green as it never fails.

I have some herbs in pots in the polytunnel ready to plant out when the weather is right.

Tomatoes are something I'm determined to keep improving on after last year's better efforts - 
Maskotka a bush variety to grow in pots, some outside and in the polytunnel.
ILDI F1 a lovely, small yellow plum type needing some support.
Marmande which are a large, fleshy, late maturing bush variety.
Big Mama Plum Large are good for soups, sauce and salsa - these I hope to have a go at bottling if I get enough!
Tumbling Toms which are not frost hardy so will be in hanging containers in the polytunnel.
Maghrebi are a fleshy, blight resistant variety.
Should be something to suit everybody out of that little lot.

In pots, not sure of the name but red, I have 60 sets in the poly house. Of those 20 are looking good but not so sure about the others. Here comes the order issues, I received an email the other day saying my order of Vulcan Spring planting onions are on their way! I don't remember ordering them but they may be a replacement as I've had a few issues with orders recently! Some space will have to be found for them along with something else. My seed spud order came but only half of it was right. I expected a 1st and 2nd early order but got the first and then some maincrop ones. I'd decided not to grow the latter as I just don't have room for the plants when they get to the full size and they are the only things I really like to rotate and that doesn't work well for me - where they'll go I don't know, probably growing bags as I do luckily have some of those in the poly house.

The MS items are the only things I will have tried this method with so far along with the leeks I'm still harvesting and we're really enjoying those in soups and pies just now.

Still on the subject of orders, I have coming in the next month or two Rhubarb crowns of  Temperley, an early harvesting variety and I'm also very excited about establishing an asparagus bed so have three crowns of Mondeo variety arriving in March - work to be done on the bed for those.

Flower wise I'll sow some marigolds to pop in between the tomatoes plus they look pretty. I have annuals outside the poly house and various perenials and others in the planters outside the Airbnb rooms.(Funny describing them as such seeing as we're not intending to take any guests throughout 2021.)

So that is my plan for February so far, quite a lot of work but I'm really looking forward to it. The weather here in Wales is quite wet and miz right now and I'm only inclined to get outside if the sun is shining a little bit, guilting me to get my wellies on and so something! I love it when I get out there, though, and here's why.

I'll keep you up to date when I get started but would also love to know if you are growing something for the first time and how you get on with it.

Bye for now, 


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.

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,

Friday, 1 January 2021

2021 - A Fresh Start.


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


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,