My garden 2015

You may remember this photographic post that I did last new year’s day.

My garden 2014 Here this this years version.

From the deck looking south down the garden

IMG_5032Winter solstice 2014 Dec 21st

IMG_5507Imbolc Feb 2nd

IMG_5801Spring equinox March 20th

IMG_6212Beltane May 1st

IMG_7067Summer solstice June 21st

Lammas Aug 2nd (Missed as away on holiday)

IMG_9020Autumn equinox Sept 23rd

IMG_9731Samhain Oct 31stIMG_0408Winter solstice Dec 22nd

The main food growing areaIMG_5182IMG_7073IMG_9018IMG_9733IMG_0409

The view up the garden to the house looking northIMG_5186IMG_5822IMG_6228IMG_7082IMG_9001IMG_9735IMG_0414


Winter Solstice

One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the Pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstice, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to.

December 22nd 2015- The Winter Solstice

IMG_0407The Winter solstice falls on Tuesday 22nd December this year. This is the day with the least amount of day light and the midday sun reaching the lowest point on the horizon all year. We like to string up fairy lights, cosy up in front of log fires, have a hot chocolate from a Kelly kettle in the woods and light and candles. These are our family traditions of lighting these darkest days of the year and marking the winter solstice and celebrating the exciting run up to Christmas day. (Just 3 more sleeps kids!)




Noticing how mild it is, 10 degrees C today! It doesn’t feel like Christmas!

Feeling relaxed, happy and grateful to be having lots of lazy mornings this week

Wishing for Santa to hurry up and come!

Eating a lovely breakfast of scrambled tofu with rocket and tomato on sourdough toast

Wondering if my homemade raw chocolates are set yet so I can do a taste test!

Wearing hybrid clothes today, jean-leggings and a jumper-dress hahaha

Watching Luther – I love him

Listening to the howling wind

Drinking, yep, drinking again after having a booze-free December

Planning what I need to cook today to take to various meets up we are invited to

IMG_0410 IMG_0411   IMG_0415  IMG_0418 The chickens are definitely the most interesting thing in my garden today!

IMG_0419 IMG_0420 IMG_0416There is not a whole lot growing at the moment, but the herbs and greens are still doing well. We’ve only had one very mild frost here so far this winter, so the garden is still full of green things but it is very muddy and wet.



Twelve Principles for twelve months – an update

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles.           I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the Principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time.

IMG_9734This photos shows a rainbow chard plant growing in my garden. It stays vibrant for months, the ruby-red colour shine out and draws my eye every time I walk past. I love the parallels in appearance with a tree. if you look carefully you can imagine the stem and branches. The stem is like permaculture principles, keeping us strong and nourished in all that we do.

Oh my goodness, I have been so rubbish at sticking to this aim. The last time I blogged on this subject was back in June. So here is an update about what I have done and what I should have done…

July and August. I allocated two months over the summer to look at the attitudinal principles; for example, ‘everything gardens’ ‘Yield is limited only by the imagination of the gardener’ and ‘the problem is the solution’ I confess that I skived off. I decided to take time off, concentrate only on vital tasks and enjoy time with my family. So I will return to these principles next year.

September. Each element performs many functions. 

October. Each function is supported by many elements. 


“Each element in the system should be chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible. Use relative location so elements with diverse functions have their qualities perpetuated”

“In a permaculture design, each element has many functions, the minimum being three. Having three or more functions helps create a stable and diverse food growing system because each element is connected together, making energy cycle through the system rather than being lost as wastes, i.e. food production can be connected to animal husbandry, composting, useful structures etc… This diverse food growing ecosystem is the opposite to a monoculture which only has one yield and is of little or no benefit to the surrounding eco-system.”

“In a sustainable design, important functions are supported by more than one element. The more elements there are to support an individual function, the more stable and safe the overall system will be in the event of any one element failing”



I looked at these two principles together as they are like two sides of one coin. I thought about my career path and how linked or otherwise the elements of it were. I looked at the functions of my career, what it does, (makes an income and gives me fulfillment) Then I looked at the elements, all the separate activities that I do. (Studying, teaching, training etc) I draw lines to link up these areas and created this crazy scribble below! In Permaculture we call it a ‘web of connections’ I discovered that all separate elements of my career are all very interlinked. I think this gives me meaning, cohesion and resilience. Pretty good I thought!



October is almost over so I will not be setting myself a challenge this month. I will however aim to complete this project over the coming months. In November I am looking at ‘Use biological resources’ and December will be ‘Small scale intensive systems’



One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the Pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstice, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to.


Tomorrow is Samhain, also known as Halloween or All Hallows Eve. Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the colder, darker part of the year.

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees.The earth slowly begins to die around us. This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.


So with the aim of completing unfinished tasks at the for-front of my mind, here I am today catching up on my blog! This year my blog and permaculture diploma have taken rather a backseat in my life. I have been busy building my business ‘Muddy Boots’ and studying for my Forest School leader qualification. I am writing permaculture diploma designs about both of these activities, so hopefully these colder months will see lots more blog activity beginning again.


Noticing how bare the trees are after two days of wind and rain

Feeling drained and tired after being ill yesterday with a sickness bug

Wishing that I could reach the end of my to do list

Eating a whole heap of pumpkin and squash while they are in season

Wondering if I can justify taking a midday nap to recuperate

Wearing for Halloween the kids are dressing up as a Gruffolo, a witch and a mummy

Watching The walking dead – so very very scary!

Listening to the rain falling

Drinking fizzy water with added probiotic to help the fight going on in my tummy

Planning a winter of working hard indoor and out

IMG_9745Our Cat Sol went missing for a week but he is home how and living the life of Riley.

IMG_9739IMG_9746IMG_9730I am border-line obsessed with Autumn leaves. I am that freaky woman shoving leaves into her handbag on the school run. They are just so pretty!



Mabon. Autumn equinox

IMG_8991A woodland Mandala that my son and I made today. We will be making more of these at my Forest school group tomorrow.

Today is Mabon the Autumn equinox. This is the point in the year when days and nights are the same length and from now onwards we have a little less daylight and a little more darkness. This pattern continues until the Winter equinox on 21st December when we reach the darkest day and then gradually begin to creep towards the light once more.

IMG_9020Note the new arrivals, two rabbits we brought for the kids at the beginning of the summer holidays. They are called ‘Monty’ and ‘Don’ after our favourite gardener!IMG_9018IMG_9006IMG_9001

Noticing A chill in the air early in the morning and in the evenings

Feeling exhausted after hosting a sleep-over party for 6 of my daughter’s friends

Wishing for a computer of my own so that I could work without constant distractions

Eating left-over vegan chocolate birthday cake

Wondering if the weather will keep on being kind to me

Wearing welly boots and wooly socks one day, sandals the next

Watching the leaves change colour by the day

Listening to bird song while I am working in the woods

Drinking Clipper organic decaf tea with almond milk and honey – I am super fussy now

Planning a period of quiet and reflection after my Forest school ends at October half term

IMG_9031 IMG_9012 IMG_9016 IMG_9015 IMG_9034 Pumpkins, squash and mushrooms – such signs that autumn is arriving.

IMG_9039 IMG_9040 I love calendula. It always amazes me just how many flowers are produced from a single plant. The flower in full bloom and the seed head shown above are on the same plant! I let it self-seed and have loads now from buying just one packed of seeds a few years ago.

IMG_9044 IMG_9027IMG_9026There is still lots to harvest in the garden. The plums, figs and blackberries were wonderful. We have had lots of apples too, the cooking apples will be ready in a few weeks so I am planning a big cook up to  make apple puree and freeze lots to see us through.


The Summer Solstice

One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the Pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstice, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to.

I appreciate that I am a few days late with this post, life has been a bit like that lately, sorry! Today’s post is about the Summer Solstice which was June 21st.


The Summer Solstice is the day of the year with the most hours of daylight and least hours of darkness. This day is thought of as the start of summer. Traditionally this is a magical time of year marked with lots of festivals and events. In my younger days we often used to stay up all night on the Solstice, watching the sunset, having a party all night then falling asleep after the sun rose in the early hours of the morning. One year we visited Glastonbury Tor and watched the sunrise from there along with lots of other festival goers and a cast of Druids. As the morning came we hopped into our beaten up old car and made our way to the Glastonbury festival to beat the crowds and bag a good camping spot. Arr those carefree days were so much fun, good times!

IMG_7067IMG_7073 IMG_7077IMG_7079

Noticing The light! It is light when I go to bed and light hours before I get up

Feeling Sore after running a full on 10 KM cross-country race at the weekend

Wishing That my bestie mate who is visiting from NZ could stay here forever

Eating Vegan goodies 90 % of the time and spicy paneer 10 %

Wondering If I can keep up the pace

Wearing Long dresses, floaty trousers and bare feet

Watching Orange is the new black season 3

Listening To our local heroes Kasabian (my daughter is their number one fan)

Drinking Home made elderflower cordial and fizzy water

Planning My first Forest School event this weekend then summer holiday activities!

IMG_7076IMG_7087 The roses have been amazing this June. IMG_7086 IMG_7084 Berries are forming, there will be less this year due to a hard prune over the winter. My middle child has taken to disappearing off down the garden and feasting on the ripe berries after school. I don’t think many will find their way into the house this year!

IMG_7083   IMG_7078 IMG_7080 IMG_7081  My neighbour and I made Elderflower cordial a few weeks ago, we need to make more!

IMG_7074 IMG_7072 IMG_7071 IMG_7070 IMG_7068 IMG_7089Fruits and flowers are coming on well, it’s looking like its going to be a good gardening year!


Twelve Principles for twelve months – June -Relative location

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles.           I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the Principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. June – Relative location

IMG_2167This image shows the importance of relative location in gardening terms. By placing my seedlings close to the chicken pen, I walk past them twice at day at least and can easily see which need watering, potting on or rescuing from a snail!


The core of permaculture is design, and design is a connection between things             Bill Mollison

Relative Location dictates the need for elements to be arranged so they can create functional interconnections.  It is wonderful for a landscape to contain numerous elements such as pond, chickens, and trees, but if these elements do not interrelate in a beneficial way then we have not designed properly.       

In Permaculture our primary concern is with the relationship between things, and how they interact, rather than with the things themselves. So, in Permaculture design, we focus on the connection between things, and by understanding the nature of the elements, and how they benefit each other, we can determine the optimum location for them.


Putting the right thing in the right place should be applied in all areas of people’s lives. Placing the tea bags and the mugs close to the kettle is one obvious application, as it having your herb pot just outside the backdoor. Relative location is a very important part of Permaculture design. Once you have decided on the elements you want to use, then consider the ways in which they connect together and how you could place them to make the greatest number of positive connections. I like to make a ‘web of connections’ as shown in the photo below. This example ended up begin rather too complicated, but you can get the general idea of how it works.



My challenge this month is to continue planting up my summer garden, considering where I place the plants and trying to make useful connections between them. For example. I have just one raised bed left to plant up now. Until yesterday it had the chicken run over it, I designed this to fit perfectly over the raised beds. Our broody hen, Aggie and her chicks have spent the last 6 weeks on this bed, turning over the soil and adding their manure to it. The chicks are now big enough to join their cousins in the main run and the bed is ready for planting into! Lots of useful connections made there in the placement of elements of my garden design. IMG_6246Here they are at about 1 week old. They are much bigger and beautifully feathered now.

My second challenge is to spend some time thinking about where in the house I work. We don’t have a spare room, so I work from home at the family computer in the living room. This works well if everyone else is out of the house, but more often than not I am trying to squeeze in moments to work while wrangling three kids. As I am sure you can imaging, interruptions are many and varied! My piles of papers get knocked over and used for paper aeroplanes or drawing of cats. The computer is pressed into action to watch Ceebies or Netflix and I am generally very frustrated with the situation.

Something needs to change and fast! I need a cheap ( ideally free) solution that still allows me to make useful connections with family life, but have a little more peace and quiet to work. Ideally I’d love to buy/build a summer-house and pop it into the garden to work in. But for the time-being it’s probably going to be a solution more like shifting the furniture around. I will keep on pondering on this problems this month and post again if I find a good solution.





One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the Pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstice, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to.

Today is May 1st, Beltane the half way point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the “symbolic use of fire” There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. The (often described as “the spirits” or “the fairies”) were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to protect humans from these beings, as well as from human witches who may try to cause harm. Beltane was a “spring time festival of optimism” during which “fertility ritual again was important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun”.  (Information from Wikipedia)IMG_6212


Noticing how my garden is growing and changing almost before my eyes

Feeling full of plans and energy for all aspects of my life

Wishing I could clone myself to tick more items off my to-do list!

Eating Clean and green (and lots of dark chocolate when no one is looking)

Wondering if we can afford to book a little summer holiday

Wearing sandles one day, woolly socks and welly boots the next

Watching Poldark

Listening to the chicks we hatched out two weeks ago cheeping in the garden

Drinking green smoothies and tea

Planning to start teaching photography again





My garden design – Tweaks


I have started this post with an image of a sunflower head as I think it fits well with my current activity of bringing all my ideas together in a harmonious way and looking to nature for inspiration.

To approach the ‘Tweak’ stage of my garden design, I revisited OBREDIMET.

Observations – I looked back at my notes for 2014. I walked around the garden and checked what needed immediate attention. I looked back over the monthly photographs I had taken of my garden.  See post here. I used my in-depth knowledge of my garden, its eco-systems and microclimates built up over the seven years I have lived here.  I looked back at my records of what I harvested from the garden and graded each crop and garden feature to access the effectiveness of my design. See more about this on this post

Boundaries– I looked at what did not work last year and needed changing. I looked at my available time, energy, assistance, resources and money to make changes. I considered the changing needs of my family, how they use the garden and what they like to eat.

Resources– I again looked at my blog posts planning the garden and read over my notes from last year. I looked at the flip-side boundaries and focussed on the positives of time, energy, assistance, resources and money I had available to devote to the design. I looked at the seeds I had left over from previous years. I looked at the garden vouchers I was given for Christmas. I looked at what I could propagate from existing plants in my garden.


Evaluation – I brought all of the above together and considered what my priorities were. I set myself aims for my garden in 2015. These are detailed at the bottom of this post.

Design – I looked back at my original design and created an overlay. I used a temporary pen to play around with fitting crops into spaces on the plan, using the tool ‘planning for real’ When I was happy with these I wrote them in with permanent pen. I used the Permaculture principles of ‘Least change for greatest effect’ ‘Creatively use and respond to change’ ‘ Apply self-regulation and accept feedback’ and ‘Observe and interact’

Implement – I will create an implementation plan over the next few weeks

Maintain – I will create a maintenance plan.

Evaluation – I will keep notes on the effectiveness of the design like I did during 2014 in order to evaluate it against my aims at the end of the growing season.

Tweak – I will tweak the garden again next year and continue this cycle year after year.

IMG_5497The original design

IMG_5495 The tweaked overlay

The overlay shows new planting plans for the annual vegetable beds and more focus put onto Forest garden areas. I looked back to my notes about which crops were best for the needs of my family and the environment of my garden. I have excluded lots of crops that don’t do well in my garden and plan to focus on a more limited range of crops this year. I have chosen crops we like to eat a lot of and those that taste better fresh from the garden. I also plan to use varieties that are not easily to purchase in the shops. I also plan to develop the forest garden areas.

IMG_5496This image shows the original design and overlay combined to show how the new and old designs work together.


Aims for my garden design during 2015

1. To develop the forest garden areas. I plan to re-read my books on Forest gardening and plan these areas carefully to be as self-sustaining as possible.

2. To focus more on perennial crops I have a lot of demands on my time this coming year which will take me away from the garden, so one aim for this year is to plant less annuals and focus more on perennials that will need less input from me to do well.

3. To ensure the chickens are safe and well cared for. To develop a new enclosed run area using the space behind the greenhouse that is currently neglected. A fox has moved into the area and took two of my chickens recently, so I am being far more wary about allowing them to free-range.

4. To experiment with new varieties of crops that I know do well in my garden.

5. To grow more edible flowers and salad crops.

6. To maintain and develop the good work I have started in the garden, especially with composting, mulching and water capture.





My Garden 2014

A view from the bottom of our garden each month of 2014













A view from the top of our garden each month of 2014