A posy from my garden


Sweetpeas are one of my favourite flowers, mainly for their scent and the abundance of blooms. I have learnt to keep on picking and not let even one flower set seed until I want it to. That way the plant keeps on producing buds in its quest to reproduce!

I like to pick a bunch every couple of days during late June and July. Last year we had so many sweetpeas flowers in all shades from white through to pink and on to deepest purple. I saved the seeds and sowed them in spring. Its looking like another good sweetpea year!

Plant Love – Poppy

I think I have realised why Poppies are called Poppies. One day they are a mass of tightly closed buds, the next they literally “POP” open and reveal their vibrant flowers. The self-set flowers in my garden started popping open today and their scarlet, yellow and black centres looked just stunning in the morning sun. There are loads more buds to open so the garden should be dotted with red flashes for weeks to come. I love the dried poppy heads too, both in the garden and in a vase in the house. A good value plant!


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My garden in June


Harvesting I have been keeping track of what I harvest in my diary. I am easily reaching my goal of eating something from the garden at least three times per week. Quantities are small still, but sufficient to add to my weekly shop and save a little money. You really can’t beat the freshness, taste and crunch of homegrown produce. So far this month we have harvested; beetroot stalks and leaves, chives, onions, broad beans, basil, cucumbers, nasturtiums, oregano, lettuce, roses, mint, raspberries, corn salad, rocket, yellow and green mangetout and strawberries.

Planting I have planted out more salad crops, tomatoes, dill, aubergines, chilies and sunflowers. I have run out of room really for my crops but am still managing to squeeze in a few more pots each week into any available space.

Thinking I am writing this on the eve of the summer solstice. It’s always such an exciting night of the year. When my OH and I were younger we used to stay up all night and watch the sunset and rise. Once on our way to the Glastonbury festival we spent the Solstice night at Glastonbury Tor, napping in our car then climbing to the summit to watch the sun come up over misty Somerset fields. Good times! One year soon I’d like to camp out in the garden with the kids on Solstice, but maybe not this year, I need my sleep!

Feeling I LOVE this time of year and so am feeling pretty good. I am doing well with my healthy eating regime and finding my energy levels are improving noticeably as the days go on. There are only three weeks left of the school term, so I am trying to make the most of the remaining peace and quiet before I have all three kids at home all day everyday for 7 weeks! I am actually really looking forward to the hols and we have lots of exciting adventures planned.IMG_2152IMG_2159IMG_2163IMG_2169IMG_2165IMG_2167

The chicks are 6 weeks old now. We lost one early on, it died in the night. We think we have 2 boys and 3 girls. They are very friendly and beautiful. I will try to get some better photos and do a chicken update soon. IMG_2161

We have lots of fruit ripening, red currants, blueberries, plums, figs, apples and cherriesIMG_2164 IMG_2155 IMG_2181 IMG_2156 IMG_2170 IMG_2182

I have filled all the containers I can find with salads, tomatoes, cucumbers and chilies.IMG_2173 IMG_2174

Everywhere is green, growing, abundance! The polycultures are working well. I have lots of different crops growing close together. If any one plant gets out of hand, I cut it back and eat it, compost it or feed it to the chickens. IMG_2175 IMG_2158

The early summer flowers are beautiful; Calendula, geranium, clematis and foxglovesIMG_2179 IMG_2180 IMG_2191 IMG_2183


Weather stats Friday 20th June 2014. Warm sunshine with some patchy cloud.

High 21 Low 11

Sunrise 04:40 Sunset 21:32

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Patterns

“What are the current patterns of thinking, behaving and interacting? What spirals of erosion can I identify? What would a spiral of abundance look like? What patterns from nature, other people or different activities could help with my design? What patterns of success from other areas of my life could I translate into my design? ” L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012


Looby says that the Patterns phase represents the edge between what was and what we would like to be. It is where we reflect on the good and the bad from previous learning and begin looking to the future. So I shall start by briefly outlining how the group worked in previous years and the patterns of workload, attendance and session structure that I have noticed.

* Vicky had around one paid day every two weeks to dedicate to the planning and running of Muddy Boots. I helped out as a volunteer, running some of the sessions and helping advertise but I left the paperwork, budgeting and most of the site maintenance to Vicky. Lots of planning happened in April and May, prior to the group starting to meet. Week by week session planned tended to take around half a day for each session.

* For the first year we ran all the sessions, the second year we asked participants to get involved in running sessions but people did not seem keen to do this and only two sessions were run by people other than ourselves. I don’t think people had the confidence to volunteer to run sessions and it was a hassle for people so they found it easier to leave it up to Vicky and myself, we didn’t really push this but did feel rather disappointed.

* We advertised mainly through word of mouth, friends and friends of friends came along. This meant some sessions were rather quiet but we did have a core group of participants who attended regularly. Our largest ever group was 37 people, 20 was about average.

* The sessions generally ran along these lines. Arrive, introductions, story, activity, snack, songs, tidy up, go home.

I looked back to the 4 G’s group brainstorms to see what participants want to see kept/changes/improved for the group. https://nurturegreen.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/diploma-design-for-muddy-boots-helps/

I have thought hard about patterns in nature and decided that Muddy Boots should follow the patterns of the changing seasons. I intend to reflect this in two ways. Firstly in the session structure as shown in the photo below. With a few tweaks the structure of the sessions can reflect the ebbs and flows of the seasons and give a pleasing natural flow to our activity.


So our new session structure will run as follows; (SPRING) arrivals, exploring materials in free play, coming together, welcome, introduction to the theme and activity, (SUMMER) story, songs, activities, (AUTUMN) snack, chat (WINTER) forward planning and tidy up.

Secondly, what we focus on during the sessions should be related to the current season, spring, summer and autumn (no meetings during winter)


I am pondering the idea of keeping on meeting up over the winter too, maybe in other locations as well as at the allotment? That would solve the problems of having to draw together a new group every spring, but it would cause other issue too – more thought needed on this one!

Another pattern that I have implemented is the use of a theme to each session. The story, songs, activity and sometimes even food will reflect a theme. A welcome board showing the theme will be placed in a flowerbed to be seen by all participants as they enter the site.



A posy from my garden

IMG_2093My mum is suffering with a bad back at the moment. I picked her these flowers today to say get well soon. Roses, peonies and pink flowers that I don’t know the name of, can anyone enlighten me?

Small and slow

To create change in our lives, we need to implement that change in a way that is sustainable. We are all creatures of habit, good habits take time to establish and bad habits can be hard to break. So any changes you attempt should be taken slowly, step by step in order to give yourself time to adjust to the new ways and make them a long-term part of your life.

A crash diet may help you shed a few pounds quickly, but as I am sure most of us have found out to our cost, the weight soon creeps back on plus a little extra for your trouble! Likewise with exercise, a new craze may keep your attention for a brief while, but unless you can truly embed a new  routine into your life, it soon falls by the wayside.

So with the Permaculture Principle of ‘Use small and slow solutions’ in mind I have embarked on a number of changes this month.

1. Food I have signed up for a community coaching nutrition and lifestyle coaching 6 month programme. I have wanted to do something like this for a long time but always found it to expensive one-to-one. So this programme is great for me, as its 40 women sharing one coach and communicating over Facebook to support each other. I only started this on Monday, but am eating lots more whole foods and feeling good! I liked the fact that the course runs over 6 months and you can spend as much or little time on it as you see fit. I think I will be making some positive changes to my diet and those of my family over the rest of this year.

IMG_2082Green juice ingredients

IMG_2084Tasty juice

IMG_2085Last nights dinner. Mummy and baby portions.

2. Clearing the clutter. As I have mentioned many times, such as in the post bookmarked below, the constant tidal wave of stuff that clogs up my house and my brain really does get me down.


So to try to tackle this ongoing issue I have been going small and slow with my clear outs. My aim is to clear three places per week. By places I mean a single drawer, cupboard, toy box or shelf. I am trying to fill a bag from each of those places with items to be donated to charity, handed onto friends, recycled or as a last resort put into the rubbish bin. I have found it quite liberating. I have a long way to go yet, but as my house gets emptier, I think I will get happier and more relaxed.

3. Exercise My husband has recently turned into a bit of an exercise junkie. Its weird. We have been together for 16 years and he has never been in the least bit sporty before. Now he is running 9 marathons this year raising money for charity. I am very proud of him and have been inspired to join his in his morning exercises. (No way am I going running with him!) We are doing a few 30 day challenges this month. Each morning we do a number of sit ups, crunches, squats, the plank and leg raises. The number of repetitions increases by a few each day. I have been pleased to see myself improve already. As a rather unfit person, I am now doing 130 squats and a 90 second plank – amazing! To be honest I am not sure I will be able to keep pace with the challenge for the full 30 days but if not I will set my own challenges and keep on trying to improve a little each day.




100 things I love about Permaculture

I have reached my 100th post on this blog, that came around quickly! I have had a tough couple of days dealing with poorly children, being stuck in the house and incessant rain. So, to celebrate my centenary and to bring a little positivity back into my life, I have decided that today’s post will list 100 things that I love about Permaculture. Here we go….

I love the feeling of ‘wow, I am not alone’ that I got when I first heard about Permaculture

I love the beauty of nature’s patterns

I love making my life more sustainable

I love how broad Permaculture is

I love reading blogs about other people’s gardens

I love mulching

I love homemade elderflower champagne and apple cider

I love picking bunches of flowers from my garden

I love hatching chicks under broody hens

I love all the old farmers at the market

I love my aunt and uncles farm in Wales

I love sitting on my deck watching the birds

I love observing the changes in my garden day by day

I love waking barefoot around the garden in the morning dew

I love Permaculture magazine

I love the beauty of a perfect rose

I love Calendula

I love plants that have multiple uses

I love companion planting

I love how beautiful, vibrant and unruly a Permaculture garden looks

I love working with, rather than against nature

I love my compost heap

I love finding frogs, toads and newts in my garden

I love checking in the hen house for eggs

I love feeding my children homegrown foods

I love Muddy Boots playgroup

I love free woodchip

I love that more and more people are starting to realise the importance of Permaculture

I love the smell of Elderflowers in my garden

I love the idea of voluntary simplicity

I love lemon balm tea, fresh from the garden made by my daughter

I love my chickens and all their useful outputs!

I love that my wedding flowers grew in the same fields we got married in

I love how quickly comfrey grows and what a useful plant it is

I love eating tiny broad beans straight from the pod

I love watching my kids attempt to catch butterflies

I love my garden so much

I love that through Permaculture I have gained the confidence to try my hand at things I never would have dreamed of doing

I love volunteering in the school garden

I love our cabin in the woods

I love searching for Permaculture video clips on You tube

I love blogging

I love morning circles

I love taking photographs of plants

I love that my career path is taking an unexpected route and I am interested to see where I end up

I love buying second hand goods

I love that Permaculture has taught me to trust in natures way

I love the hierarchy of intervention

I love the first peas of summer

I love homegrown tomatoes

I love helping out on a PDC

I love the people care side of Permaculture

I love being challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone

I love that Permaculture takes me to my ‘edges’

I love taking photographs of interesting edges I find in nature

I love walking in the woods on my own

I love how integrated into my life my diploma is becoming

I love that I will be attending the convergence later this year

I love my Permaculture notebooks

I love that Permaculture pushes me to photographically record changes in my garden

I love feeling inspired by excellent teachers

I love how supportive my Permie friends are

I love the huge pile of gardening books next to my bed

I love visiting my tutor’s small holding

I love the magical experience I had at my first PDC session

I love being pushed to look at the world in a new way

I love the positivity of Permaculture

I love the Diploma Facebook group

I love the good friends that I have made through Permaculture

I love the idea of a herb spiral

I love reading and extending my knowledge

I love the deep integrations that Permaculture brings

I love that Permaculture has taught me to slow right down and observe

I love the dream that one day we will have our own small holding

I love meeting like-minded people

I love wild garlic

I love perennial plants

I love lazy gardening

I love my apple trees

I love all the small figs on my tree ripening by the day

I love that my garden will make a huge contribution to feeding my family this summer

I love having a bonfire

I love it when people enjoy being in my garden

I love holidaying in the UK and not flying anymore

I love learning from the experts

I love working on my diploma

I love that there is a spiritual side of Permaculture

I love observing the passing of the seasons

I love teaching kids about nature and growing food

I love guilding

I love making a special salad using as many leaves as possible

I love edible flowers

I love the summer solstice

I love Permaculture stalls at festivals

I love welly boots

I love getting rid of my unnecessary belongings

I love turning people on to gardening

I love being part of such an inspiring movement

I love that there is still so much to learn

I love Permaculture



Diploma design for ‘Muddy Boots’ – Limits

Identify the things that might block your path or keep it slow and small… an opportunity to recognise energy leaks, concerns, emotional ties and individual and cultural beliefs… Acknowledge these influences to design around them… Voice concerns and highlight potential problems…Begin putting strategies in place… what do I need to say no to? Recognise that limits will change over time.”                                                                       L. Macnamara in People and Permaculture  2012


I have considered ‘limits’ for Muddy Boots in terms of four specific areas; myself, others, space and resources. I asked lots of questions of myself without really feeling I had to strive to find the answers at this stage. It seems like a big long list of anxieties and questions, however it is useful to put them out here and get them out of my head!

MYSELF – Do I have sufficient time, energy, confidence and skills to steer this project on my own? Can I keep up the momentum for the group? Will my own children enjoy it or will they find it difficult with their mummy being so busy during the group sessions? Have I got enough support from other group members, other allotment users, my husband, my friends, the Permaculture community etc? Can I come up with fun ideas to keep everyone engaged? Are my ideas age appropriate? What about the safety aspect of using the allotment? Are we covered for insurance/ first aid/ theft etc? Is this too much pressure to place onto myself? What paperwork will I need to complete?

OTHERS – Will people want to come along at all? What would people consider a suitable donation to pay? Will people be willing to contribute in other ways, such as donating plants, seeds, compost, time? Will people want to participate in the running of the group? Should i set up a steering group? Will the people be nice and understand what we are trying to achieve with Muddy Boots? Will they expect too much? What if no one/ too many people come? How would I cope with that? Where and how should I advertise the group?

SPACE – Are the other users of the community allotment happy for us to be there, using the plot and making changes within the education space? Will there be an anti-youth feeling? Will Sue and the other major users feel that I am stepping on their toes? How will I manage these relationships? Will I be able to get the space ready on time for the first session? Will I be able to keep everything weeded and watered when I have very little time to actually spend down at the allotment? Can I ask the Tuesday group for help with this? Is the space safe and suitable for the group to use? Have we got the scope to develop as I would like? What about use of the sheds? Can I get keys’ cut? Am I happy to be the key holder? Do we need to contribute to the site insurance costs? Is there anything we can’t do on the site? Are there restrictions on the hours I can gain access?

RESOURCES – Do we have enough tools, plants, seeds, compost, toys, books, art materials etc? If not can I really expect them to be donated? Or should I try to fund raise? Can I get help with this? If other people are leading sessions can I ask them to be responsible for their own resources? Can I let go of the control and trust them to do this? Would it stress me out too much? Have I got space to store things at home? Or should I try to keep everything at the allotment in one of the sheds? Where can I find interesting resources and ideas for workshops?

How will I find the answers to these questions?……………………………………………..

This has felt like rather a negative exercise so I will end by looking at some of the positive outcomes of having, or conversely, getting rid of limits.

1. We only have a limited number of sessions, probably around 14 spaced every two weeks from May till October. So the project has a limited lifespan, although I’d hope to repeat it in years to come. This time limit should keep up energy levels and keep focus on achieving good results within a restricted time frame.

2. Each session is only 90 minutes long and the target audience is pre-schoolers. I need to keep both these facts in mind to ensure I am not overly ambitious in trying to achieve unrealistic results.

3. Muddy Boots is no longer managed by a company, it is managed by myself and the participants. So we are free to take the group in whatever direction feels appropriate. To be unrestricted and unlimited like this is great, unusual, liberating and should be enjoyed.

4. The garden space is limited with lots of uses required from it, so the parts we can actively ‘garden’ are limited. This should hopefully make it less of a daunting task if I do end up doing a lot of the maintenance work on my own.

5. Young kid’s imaginations and ambitions are unlimited by the constrains of society. I’d like some sessions to be very loose and take the lead from what the children express an interest in. This has already began to happen in one of the first sessions as explained below!


We try not to limit how the children interact with the planned activities. The idea was for a barefoot walk. The children were to hear the story ‘We are going on a bear hunt’ then walk barefooted around a path with different materials underfoot. When it came to walking through the water trough and feeling the cold water on their feet, a few children much preferred to sit in the water, it was a hot day, so who could blame them!

Twelve Principles for twelve months – June – Use small and slow solutions.

During June I shall attempt to reflect on the Permaculture Principle of ‘Use small and slow solutions’ This is one of the principles that resonated most strongly with me when I first heard it on my PDC in January 2012.

I have been a hugely impatient person all my life. If I have an idea, I like to put it action immediately. I hated to wait, so I was always dashing ahead of myself, like a bull in a china shop, making mistakes and muddling my was through. I feel that Permaculture (and maybe growing up) have taught me the benefits of stopping, thinking, planning and then acting. Have a cuppa tea, think, discuss, make plans, write lists then only spring into action when the ground work is completed and the time is right.

An example of  ‘Use small and slow solutions’ which is often quoted during PDC’s is that of planting a tree. Rather than planting your tree immediately, put it into a big pot, move it around your garden for a few days, weeks, months or even years, until you find a spot with the right aspect, soil, space and aesthetics. Previously I would be out in the garden repeatedly digging holes, uprooting my tree and wrecking my garden. Now-a-days, I aspire to using the pot method, although I do freely admit to still having an impulsive streak!


Food from my garden – May

This month I have been keeping a record of foods we have eaten using ingredients from our garden. I was expecting May to have slim pickings from our little patch of goodness. The quantites of veggies we picked were limited but we actually had far greater variety than I had expected.


In a previous post I mentioned; rhubarb crumble, salads, wild garlic, fresh eggs, mint tea and lemon balm tea.My eldest daughter has become a top-class herbal tea maker. I think in the summer we will drink these teas cold over ice too.


Throughout May we have also enjoyed mange-tout, radishes, fresh herbs especially basil, chives and oregano. Also ‘posh’ salads with calendula flowers, chive flowers, sorrel, numerous types of lettuces, beetroot leaves, pea shoots and a few small spring onions.

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One of my biggest crowd-pleasing dinners was pasta with homemade wild garlic and basil pesto. Here is the reciepe, I didn’t measure anything, so just use quantities you have to hand in this more or less balanced ratio.



Take a big handful of basil and the same of wild garlic and chop them up finely.

Grate about 150g of cheddar cheese

Using a pestle and mortar, bash up handful of mixed nuts (I used half salted and half plain) Pine nuts would be lovely in here too.


Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil and some black pepper.


Serve over hot pasta and let everyone help themselves! Yum!