Harvest

imageApologies for  for a slight hiatus (since March!).  This summer has been about vegetable experiments: peas, lettuce, courgettes, cavolo nero, tomato hanging baskets, cucumbers, spring onions and some lovely onion squash. The squash are the lowest yielding but the most satisfying, with several fat, beautiful, orange fruits dangling from hazel wig wams.  I’m just waiting for them to cure in the sun before we can start eating…

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The joy of proper windows – by B

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So here are a couple of pictures of our first new timber sash window, well worth the three and a half year wait.  We had to replace the ancient UPVC window (with vertical lined frosted glass, limescale coating, blown seals and an upper pane with a permanent 2 inches of water inside) so that the bathroom could be fitted.  The old window made me sad every time I looked at it, and it wasn’t possible to see outside before.  Now I can look at the clouds while I’m in the shower.  And she’s made of wood!  And it’s so much warmer with no draughts (helped by the layer of solid wall insulation fitted underneath the tiles).

She is from Byng joinery, who fortunately are based a couple of miles away from us, and they use mass production methods you’d normally associate with UPVC to manufacture wooden windows.  I’ve had the rest of the house priced up but suffice to say it will have to wait.  This one cost about a grand once fitted – but that’s less than half the price of a bespoke wooden sash from an independent joiner (I got two other quotes), and the factory paint finish will last much longer.  The sash is so smooth!  I am going to get a half height glass screen to protect the lower half from the shower, but for now I just thoroughly dry the frame every time I shower.  I know UPVC makes more financial sense but I hate it so much I’d rather wait another five years for a full set of timber windows that will last, and not have all those horrid plasticky joins that collect dirt.  Is it possible to be in love with a piece of joinery?

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It’s not me, it’s you – by B

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I bought two maidenhair ferns, assuming that my houseplant-killing skills would come into play as usual.  It seems it might be more than a lack of green fingers.  I put one in the bathroom, where it gets a bit of direct sunlight, and another on the landing, where it’s in permanent shade.  Which one do you think is which?

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Did you guess?  It was the shaded plant that appears to be thriving.  Both have had the same amount of water and came from the same shop on the same day.  Every day is a school day – maidenhair ferns really do like the shade, and it does really pay to place plants where they will be happy and it’s not my crap gardening skills that kill things off.  Now to try and revive the failing specimen…

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Fresh and light – by B

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I’m glad the days are getting longer. While we wait for spring I’m forcing a few paperwhites in an old vase in some aquarium gravel (leftovers from mum’s Christmas present of several new vases and lots of jam jar single bulbs for our new year party guests).

On the left is a flamingo and hedgehog snow globe – the prototype from my daughter’s Alice in wonderland craft party.  The versions the kids created had at least 6 animals and 3 colours of glitter apiece: restraint is not a familiar concept to 5 year old girls.

And I really need a new phone these crap quality photos have to stop!

 

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A year later… – by B

image.jpgBelated merry Christmas! I’ll be packing this away again soon so thought I’d better take a crappy phone picture and post before it’s too late after forgetting last year. The kids seem to like the random selection of wooden decorations, beads and baubles, and haven’t noticed that many of them are old and nothing to do with Christmas. And no expectation of daily chocolate either (yet). Lots of festive fun and visiting hasn’t left much time for posting as usual I’m afraid. But as it’s only me, N and Sabs who read the blog I hope you’ll forgive me! X

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Changing season – by B

We’ve had a wonderful mild autumn with lots of woodland walks and nature collections, picnics, comfort food, trick or treating and the start of school for the big small person (and unfortunately lots of boring evening working for me, but hopefully will have a doctorate by Christmas).  And we’re halfway there with the bathroom refit.  I’ve just been painting the bottom of a brand new claw foot bath with Rustoleum, which felt a bit wrong as it is so pristine and new and expensive.  I had to go back to Pinterest for some visual reassurance before I made the first paint stroke!

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Broomfields Farm is a local apple and pear grower with a farm shop, cafe and garden centre, fantastic at this time of year with the enormous apple boxes, forklifts, and pear orchard (complete with pickers’ ladders) next to the car park. A bag of 20 ‘too small’ but perfectly formed apples is £1 – much better than the funsize apples from halfway round the world in the supermarket, and I wish I was always organised enough to shop local.

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Blanc y verde dahlia (in the raised bed) has really come into its own in October. Nice and compact with unusual lime and white blooms.

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Me and the kids planted up these Aldi grape hyacinths a few weeks ago. I’ll bring them indoors when they start budding (I honestly have no idea when that will be!). And I’m loving my new watering can, which was £7.50 in Wilkos sale.

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The view from the back of the garden – apple tree leaves turning, some sweet peas still holding on, purple pompom dahlias of unknown variety (i.e. not what it said on the packet) doing beautifully, and my (still empty) but beloved big pots in the background.

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A year in the newbie cutting patch – by B

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April I think – pretty bleak and not much going on except for the existing Stoke Edith Pippin Apple tree sapling

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May – Apple blossom and seedlings

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May again – the raised bed from the back of the garden

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Early July – sweet peas, poppies and pinks in bloom (and a new fence that needs a bit of sun bleaching)

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August – add Ammi Visnaga into the mix

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September – Ammi and dianthus finished, more than made up for by cosmos purity and leaning tower of echinops. Dahlia blanc y verde just coming into its own back right (not sure if it will do much this year before frost sets in). Scabiosa and poppy still throwing out a few flower spikes.  I’ve also stuck in some achillea and honesty seeds which are coming on nicely and should bloom next year/the year after.

This was a bit of a Christmas money experiment. It has helped me to understand the natural patterns of different annuals, perennials and even biennials. There is still a lot to learn, and I haven’t cut as many flowers as I’d expected (still got 2 kids under 5 and I’ve been working and passing a PhD viva in the gaps in between so forgive me) but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process this year.

In late winter the long-anticipated hornbeams are going along the back fence to improve the badly-overlooked-garden issue, and (perhaps the following year) the shed and decking will move to accommodate a second raised bed for edibles.

We we grew tomatoes last year and I had been regretting not doing so this year but the weather was not good for outdoor ripening so I doubt we’ve missed out.

in further news I’ve been planting 4 aldi clematis (at £1.80 worth the risk) and lots of grape hyacinths in pots with the kids. We’ll see if they play ball in the spring.

And the dining room is full of bathroom suite bits and there’s a timber box sash waiting to be fitted in the upstairs bathroom so there will be some more indoor house news soon I hope…

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