Muddy Boots garden re-design

I managed to take a few pictures this week of the site all prepared for my session. I am really pleased with the way it has turned out, the extra space is lovely and I’ve had some great comments from attendees. The den, sandpit, digging area and mud kitchen are being well used, so much so that I am having to reduce my ambitions for structured activities to be achieved each session, as the kids are not keen to be dragged away from these free-play activities!

Forest School skills day

This weekend I attended a Forest school skills development day in a local woodland. I have been to a few of these days before and always loved them. They are a great chance to spend a day in the woods, playing with new ideas, trying out unfamiliar tools and cooking lunch on a campfire. I learnt a lot from the other practitioners and have honed my skills at lighting Kelly Kettles in the pouring rain! The photos show a selection of the things that we got up to.

My Forest school sessions start after the Easter holidays. I will doing two weekly sessions for pre-school kids and their parents and a monthly saturday session for primary aged children. I am also doing two weekly allotment playgroup sessions and teaching photography every monday, so its going to be a busy few months leading up to the summer break! I can’t wait to get started. The build up is always hard, much of the work is front loaded, getting kit and sites sorted, advertising and administrating bookings and preparing my sessions. I enjoy every stage, but actually leading sessions is what I like best and its almost time now!


Emergency shelter out of a tarp


3 legged stool


Stick pictures frame, I thought these could be good for throwing a ball through too


rope spiders web


low balance beam


base camp set up to cook in


Wild garlic bread


Shave horse




Gypsy rose


Gear shelter


High shelter

Muddy Boots garden re-design CEAP. Plan a schedule of implementation,maintenance, evaluation and tweaks.


February Re-measure and photograph the plot Early feb
Spend a few hours up at the allotment doing observations, sketching and planning the new layout Early feb
Sketch out a base map and play around with possible layouts of the main features Early feb
Get quotes for all building materials and decide where to source these from. Early feb
Buy building materials for fence/gate/play kitchen Half term
Take down the south wall of the existing fence and put up new one Half term
Put in the new gate and tower posts Half term
Put the new bolts on the gates By sessions start
Research mud kitchen ideas and re-do this feature End feb
Clear the movable objects from the newly enlarged space so I can see the layout more clearly End feb
March Draw out my finalised plans Early March
Tidy the shed and do a stock check. Make a list of any equip or materials I need to buy for this seasons activities. Early march
Begin saving tin cans for the allotment planters Early march
Move the sandpit End march
Buy more sand and fill it up By session start
Mark out the triangular bed Early march
Make the willow den Mid march
Cut the grass/ rake over to clear debris Mid march
Buy the marine ply board for the blackboard/ painting board/ spotted board/ welcome signs End march
Install the blackboard/ painting board etc and paint them in situ End march
Define the boundary of the strawberry bed and apple tree guild bed End march
Buy more plastic plates and another thermos flask End march
April Drill holes into the tin can planters Early april
Install the tin can planters and plant up with pansies By session start
Select, print and laminate some photos or pics of fruit/veg/flowers to decorate the picket fence. Put these up with staple gun. By session start
Mow lawns again By session start
Test out gazebos and decide which one to use Early april
Gather ground sheets, blankets etc Early april
Take home and wash and return all snack and drink utensils By session start
Buy washing up liquid, tea, coffee etc plus sponges, wash up equip By session start
Final checks before first session on April 15th By session start



We spent three bright and cold days at the allotment over half term. We re-made the fence line and installed a new gate leading out into the wider community allotment.

Day 1 – moving the fence and beginning to re-install it. IMG_1235IMG_1233

Day 2 – completing the fence and putting in the gate


Day 3. Moving the blue planters, moving a cherry tree, making the triangular corner bed and beginning work on the mud kitchen.


The P of CEAP is for Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking.

But where is the actual design bit? This seems to come up a lot for me when using Permaculture design process systems. There is lots of detail about how to prepare for producing your design, but it never actually says “now draw your design” why is this?

So I have chosen to draw my design at this point in the design process. As at this point the space was more open and I could visualise the layout more clearly. I sketched out a rough plan for the new design while at the allotment and then worked more on the design at home.

So this is the design that I feel most happy with at the moment, but I am open to making more changes as the project rolls on and the space tells me what it needs. So I’ve kept the design loose, still using pieces of paper on the base map and not drawing it out in full yet.


UPDATE – Here is the final design drawn out and coloured in!


and a  close up to show some of the details.




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





Watching the Solar Eclipse

We took a little time out from my Forest school training course on friday (more about this soon) to watch the Solar eclipse. We noticed the temperature dramatically drop and the light slowly change to a weird dusk-like shade of blue. The sun looked hazy and the photographs that I took turned out very strange, with the sun looking not like a circle in the sky but more like it had been smudged and spread out in all directions.

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Spring Equinox


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 March 20th, Spring Equinox, the point in the year when hours of darkness and light are balanced. The midpoint between the longest day (summer solstice) and shortest day (winter solstice) This year the Spring Equinox co-insides with two other special celestial events, a supermoon and a solar eclipse.


Noticing more bird-song everywhere

Feeling over-whelmed by my to-do list but grateful to have such interesting things to do!

Wishing there were more hours in the day

Eating the first wild garlic shoots as they appear

Wondering when I will get around to planting seeds this spring

Wearing thermal leggings, thermal t-shirts and thermal socks

Watching Orange is the new black (again)

Listening To my neighbour’s music, son’s DVD, my kids rowing and wishing for silence

Drinking Not enough water and too many cups of tea

Planning My Outdoor playgroup activities

IMG_5815Yellow flowers on the Forsythia. Primroses and Daffodils are opening to splashes yellow around my garden too.

IMG_5829  The ornamental cherry tree is speckled with pink today. A few brave buds have opened their baby pink flowers and the rest are sure to follow suit as soon as we get a bit of sunshine. I cut some branches from this tree a week ago and brought them inside to hurry spring along a little. They opened within days and brightened up my kitchen just in time for mother’s day.

IMG_5823The first wild spring greens are appearing, nettles and wild garlic pop up around the margins of my garden. I love to eat both of these plants, yesterday I nibbled on a few garlic shoots straight from the earth, delicious, strong and a real sign that spring has arrived.

IMG_5822I have finally finished the new chicken run and the chucks are happy with their new spaces. I can now clear the paths and begin planting. I went mad with pruning last weekend and tidied up ready for spring. I love this time of year so much.



My garden in May

IMG_1565Apple blossom

Harvesting. We have eaten SO much wild garlic, its been such a welcome spring green but has now flowered and set seeds, so the leaves are turning bitter. So I shall soon leave the remaining plants to die back to feed us another year. I made wild garlic and basil pesto recently, I will blog about this soon, it was very tasty. We can harvest a salad everyday now should we wish to. We have radishes, various lettuces, parsley, basil and pea-shoots. We had some onions and mangetout from the school garden this week and rhubarb from our garden.

Planting I have been busy sowing seeds, potting on and planting out. There is always something to do in the garden and we have reached that time of year where it is difficult to keep up. My list of seeds that need sowing does not seem to be getting any shorter however much time I spend in the garden.

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Thinking. The weeds seem to grow a foot each time my back is turned, especially the bindweed, I am fighting a loosing battle with this tenacious monster, but I intend to keep on fighting! I have been thinking about getting some woodchip for months, to mulch some beds, cover paths and put inside the chicken runs. I was struggling to find anyone who would give me half a van load and I was reluctant to pay for it at the garden centre. Yesterday I saw a local gardener chipping wood on the street next to mine, so asked if I could have the chippings. She seemed very glad to agree to this and so now I have a monster load of woodchip covering my driveway. I also have a fractured finger ( but that is another story) so moving it is going to be a difficult and big job. Luckily my husband has promised to help me shift it over the weekend and my neighbour wants some woodchip too, so I should be sorted.

Feeling. I am feeling full of energy and ideas for the garden. I am, as always feeling frustrated by the lack of time I have to put these ideas into practice. However the kids love being outdoors, so I am practicing the ‘little and often’ gardening technique!  When they are happily playing, I grab a moment to myself pulling a weed, watering a pot or popping some seeds in.








Weather stats Thursday 15th May 2014

Sunny and warm with a small amount of cloud. Very still, bad for hay fever.

High 18, Low 12

Sunrise 05:09  Sunset 20:54






Chicks at 1 week old

All six chicks are doing well and the chicken co-parenting is happening, we are such a progressive, liberal household! The mummies took the chicks out for their first walk on grass today. They wobbled down the ramp and spent a few minutes outside the broody coop. Happy chickens!

In a few more weeks we plan to move them into a sectioned off area of the main chicken house run, to give them more space and freedom. We will wait a few months to introduce them to the big chickens, but they will be next door neighbours, so hopefully they will have plenty of opportunity to get used to each other.

More chick pics!

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Our chicks have hatched!

Six little bundles of fluffy yellow feathers have hatched! Not bad going really from nine eggs. The chicks all hatched within 12 hours, starting on Friday night. No late deliveries in the chicken world! They all seem to be doing well so far. The only complication is that Ethel has one chick, while Peach has five. We have put them into a coop together, as we know from experience that one chick alone does not do well. We are hoping that the hens will co-parent. Unlikely as this sounds, this happened for us last year, so fingers crossed it works out again. The kids, Joe and I have been trying our hardest to stay away and give them some peace and quiet, but they are very cute, so that is a hard task!

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IMG_1603Two of our hens are currently broody and sitting on fertile (we hope) eggs. They are due to hatch on Saturday or Sunday, so we are waiting on tender hooks for the sound of cheeping! We have hatched chicks twice before, with differing degrees of luck, so we will see how it goes this year.

We brought 12 French Wheaten Maran eggs from our local farmers market. One of the eggs was rejected by the hens, one broken and one was unfortunately cracked by another inquisitive hen. So we are down to 9 eggs, 6 in one nest and 3 in the other. Our grandmother bantam Ethel is sitting one the 3, she is so tiny that she could not manage any more! Peach, a partridge Wyandotte, pictured above is responsible for the other 6. Both girls are sitting well and seem to be taking their jobs very seriously. I shall keep you posted on progress over the weekend!