Tag Archives: garden

New residents!

Although these guys (canadian geese) are actually regular and they come back every year.

The first year we were here, they were only two and they successfully raised a chick (they used to go for morning walks in the field opposite, saw them most mornings on my way out to work 🙂 ), then last year three came back to the pond, I’m assuming it was mum, dad and offspring not quite yet old enough to be on his own…? And this year I think I counted five!

These two are obviously keen for some more privacy and have moved to the new pond across the drive 🙂 ❤

pair of canadian geese in garden april 17

I also spotted ducks, who were there last year but only two of them, a pair. This year we had three to start with (two males and a female) and now another female has joined them, so two pairs! Hopefully lots of ducklings, I’ll try to take some pictures…

Oh, AND the woodpecker was spotted twice over the last couple of weeks, after a few weeks of no sighting, so he/she is definitely still around! Will also try to take another shot. It always goes for fat balls in the bird feeder so will keep putting them out through the summer, keep crows and magpies away, and hopefully he/she will bring his/her chicks!

Exciting times, I 💚 spring!! ☀ 🌱 🐥

Brox

PS: and lots of baby 🐑 every where as well, so cute! Considering getting a pet sheep 😀

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The system works!

A bit of background, there was an abandoned foot/boot tray in the garden (maybe not the official term, the kind of tray used to clean boots/wellies on farms) which had collected rainwater, dead leaves, etc. and kind of looked like a little pond (despite being very shallow).

I know insects are attracted by it and I seem to remember having seen a bird drinking from it. Having found a couple of frogs and toads under the vegetation by the hedge line a few meters away, I thought that maybe these lovely creatures would appreciate an area of still shallow water that they could use for whatever purpose. So I “decorated” this little tray by putting stones around it, letting the grass grow around and gracefully placing a few stones and branches in and across to act as islands and bridges.

My other half, despite finding the whole thing amusing, actually helped with dressing the pond (now officially the “frog pond”), but never really believed it would ever work. As a matter of fact, since last spring, as far as we are aware, one frog was spotted swimming in it… and also our dog who likes to use it in the summer to cool down in between chasing balls and sticks…!

No need to say I had slightly given up on the idea that I had created some sort of amphibian all star resort… until yesterday morning, when walking past I spotted something in the middle of it that definitely wasn’t there last time. It rained a lot the day before (and I mean a lot) which is maybe what triggered the animal(s) to lay, I don’t know. But all I really care about right now is that my pond is being put to good use by those it was created for! Can’t wait for spring 😀 😀

Brox

img_1539

2 weeks on, the embryo in each egg has substantially grown in size, and is also starting to change shape, to become longer with discernible head and tail ends …!!

Exciting!!

 

And another week or so later, we have… tadpoles!

They’re really starting to take shape now, much longer with a more define head (and eyes!), they are swimming outside the egg for most of them, although all the eggs have now more or less combined into this jelly like mass…

 

I asked my friend, who knows most things about living things, and is really into conservation, whether I should give Nature a helping hand and put a little net to cover the pond and stop birds from eating the little fellas. She said not to, some will be eaten by water beetles, others by dragonfly larvae, others by the others (yes, they are cannibals :s ), and the rest will survive to replace their parents…

Just as Nature intended, She knows best!

 

A month on, the little fellas are clearly developing into amphibians. Their head definitely resembles more that of a frog and not of a fish anymore… Their belly area is a lot more bulgy. Some have grown quite a lot in size. They are still feeding of plant debris, although some should soon start developing teeth… ! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Gardening and PPE

PPE as we know stands for Personal Protective Equipment, and in this instance doesn’t necessarily mean hi-viz jackets, hard hats and steel-toe caps.

Nothing more in fact than a good pair of preferably long gardening gloves. You would wear them of course if you were pulling brambles of nettles, or cutting roses, basically working with anything vegetal having the potential to sting you, cut you, scratch you and so on…

Well I would strongly suggest you wear them all the time, when doing any type of gardening, even if just picking your lettuce, especially – especially – if it is very sunny!

As it turned out, the day after I picked my vegetables, I noticed some red patches on my forearms. Didn’t think much of it as I had been working with nettles, until it started blistering that same evening. And the blisters got worse by the next day, were sore, swollen, more came out… So went to the doctor’s as you do, and I have what’s called strimmer’s disease or phytophotodermatitis (also known as parsnip burn, which is what caused my reaction). Other plants and fruits such as carrots, celery, parsley, wild parsnip, wild carrot, giant hogweed, limes and figs are also known to trigger the reaction.

Mine is quite bad, nothing that a good dose of strong steroid cream will not sort, but still it’s not pleasant!! And very unsightly.

So if you’re going to be in a garden for some time and it’s sunny, forget about your looks and your tan (😳), think about your skin and protect your hands.

In short, wear gloves and maybe even long sleeves.

You learn something new everyday 🙂

Brox x

Not bad for a morning’s work!

Spring onions, potatoes, the last of the lettuce (hallelujah!) and a show-winner of a courgette.

Probably another courgette to pick in a day or two (and more to follow), some of the peas are nearly ready too 🙂

I’ll plant another row of potatoes before the end of the week, and hopefully another one in 2-3 weeks time, weather dependent.

The parsnips are doing well, and the only spinach plant left still manages a few leaves.

Huge improvement on last year’s crop, fairly happy with that, can’t wait for dinner!

Brox

Surplus rocket and what on earth to do with it

So if, like me, you were pretty keen on starting your vegetable garden, but sensibly only planted the stuff that you’d eat, and were likely to buy the most at a supermarket, then you’d have gone for the fairly safe, easy, good-chance-of-success peas, courgettes, spuds, spinach, broccoli, onions… and salad, of course.

We all know that salad grows quickly, and unlike parsnips for example or onions, which once they’re out of the ground, they’re out of the ground and you have to store/prepare them, with lettuce you are guaranteed a continuously fresh supply throughout the whole summer. And let’s face it, you don’t really eat that many potatoes and parsnips in summer do you? Nothing better than a good homegrown garden salad. Refreshing, healthy, low calorie, versatile… And so good in sandwiches, yes it is!

What most people don’t realise (because you have to see it to believe it) is in which quantity the stuff grows. The incredible volume of leaves that those little plants can produce. In such a short amount of time. And because you want variety, just one type of lettuce would be boring, you tend to plant several kinds of lettuce, like six different varieties for example. And you are aware that you don’t necessarily have green fingers, so you want to maximise your chances. And so you sow the entirety of the seeds that the little bag you got from the garden centre holds. The whole several hundreds of them. “Well with a bit luck, we might have a plant or two”.

Two weeks later, you can hardly see the rest of your garden. Hopefully your lettuce bed is a bed of its own, otherwise I suggest you invest in a machete if you want to check how your runner beans are doing. And if you don’t have runner beans, I would invest in a machete nonetheless. You’ve made a few tasty dinners with your homegrown rabbit food, but everytime you cut some out, more comes. Much, much more. To the point when another couple of weeks later, your machete is blunt, you’ve had salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day, your neighbours are hiding from you, in case you want to give them yet some more “organic produce from your garden that you grew yourself”, and you are still not making a dent into this dense forest. You are seriously considering (re-)inroducing rabbits (or, worse, slugs!) in your garden.

And then, when all hope is gone, and you’ve practically turned green, the plants flower, the leaves become uneatable, and the plant slowly… well dies.

Hallelujah!

In hindsight (wonderful thing we all know), two or three rows with two to three different varieties each would have been more than enough for just the two of us. As it turns out, the horse doesn’t particularly like lettuce…

Lettuce is very satisfying to grow as a first-time veggie grower, but it is also its downside. You cannot really keep it that long, can’t freeze it… We were lucky in a way that three varieties came out first, with the spinach (also great raw in salads), we managed to get through two of them, froze the spinach. What we were left with whilst the other three were growing, was the rocket. Huge quantities of. Not my favourite but still not worth wasting.

So I searched the forums, and this lady had a great idea, make pesto with it. Eureka! Easy to make, great to store, and ideal for a quick satisfying pasta-pesto.

All you need is garlic, oil, pine nuts, parmesan and some seasoning if you like. And the green stuff (rocket in this instance, could be any kind of lettuce I guess, wild garlic, herbs…) Oh and a blender (solar powered 😀 ).

Mix it all in, give it a whiz, et voila. I then scooped the mixture into a couple of small muffin baking trays (size which I’d say makes a portion for two people), and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, I put all the individual portions into a freezer bag. Use it as and when needed.

Quick, easy, healthy, versatile… All that a salad should be… 😀

Brox x

Homegrown… can food get any better?

We all agree there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed, well there is also nothing like eating your very own homegrown, handpicked food.

So last night we had barbecued marinated wild rabbit (recipe here, no picture sorry, too busy eating! this marinade really is yummy) with our homegrown garden salads (the rabbits had some too) and this morning breakfast with cereals and fresh garden berries (raspberries, red and white gooseberries). Delish!

And none of it is grown using any pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers… just a good dose of rain and sunshine, some elbow grease, and a real strong will to eat and live healthier.

I mean, can it really get any better…?

lookafteryourplanetblog_berry_breakfast

Brox

DIY kitchen compost bin

This is more a “this is what you can do” as opposed to a tutorial. And also, although firstly described as an alternative to an outdoor compost for those who do not have a garden, due to its size I find it better suited as a transitional container that you keep in one place until full, and empty on the compost heap every so often; if I lived in a flat and intended to compost, I would look t build something a bit more appropriate in a wooden crate of plastic box.

DIY Kitchen Compost Bin - Tools
What you need

The list is fairly simple:

  • an empty tub of your favourite freeze dried coffee (if you work in an office they are bound to have one there)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • newspapers
  • screwdriver

All I did was lining the outside, underneath and inside (sides only) with newspapers (use glue). Inside on the bottom I left some loose bits of newspapers, so they can be changed every so often (if they soak up any liquids). I then “drill” a few holes in the lid (simply by driving the screwdriver in).

Note that I use a degradable plastic compost bag in my bin. If you don’t I would probably put more newspapers at the bottom inside and maybe use a carbon filter that you can stick on the inside of the lid if you are worried about smell.

I find this bin fit neatly in my cupboard under the sink, there is a top shelf in there, and this happens to go right where the sink is 🙂

Take care

Brox

Hmm… Strawberries!

So after the rather cold month of May, and June as well actually, although it really has started to warm up the last couple of weeks, time to start eating the produce of the garden!

And the first ones to come out were the strawberries (can’t complain). Completely organic, no fertilizers, no pesticides or other chemicals (the slugs can vouch for that), they taste so good!

The crows think the same  too, and it is very much first arrived first served. Haven’t had time to put the owl out yet. In fact I haven’t really kept on the top of my gardening duties, and it looks a bit of a mess (hence the lack of pictures).

But the spinach have come out, the potatoes have grown as well (above ground anyway), I have a couple of courgette plants, and I can see a few carrot and parnsip tops. Oh the peas! They look lush actually. Maize unfortunately…

I enjoy my new hobby so much, I’d recommend it to anyone. Even if you don’t have the space, I’ll add the link to a few articles about growing in pots, vertical gardens…

And before we go… 🙂

Did you know…
…strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside. Strawberry plants are runners, and are not produced by seeds. They have an average of 200 seeds per fruit and are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family.

Nutritional highlights

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavanoids which makes strawberries bright red. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. Their fibre and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect. Leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.

The vibrant red colour of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

Can’t get enough…!

Brox