Muddy Boots ‘Wild wood’

One of the reasons that I haven’t been blogging as often this year is because I am busy training to be a Forest School Leader. I am loving the process and the whole concept of Forest School. I have always felt very at home in the woods and am loving introducing other people to this gentle way of interacting with each other and the natural world and seeing people appreciating the wonders of our natural environment.

Yesterday I ran my first ever Forest School taster session. It was so much fun! Ten families enjoyed a morning in the woods, making nature crowns, reading The Gruffolo, making dens for woodland creatures and Gruffolo caves for themselves. We rounded off the morning with hot drinks made on the Kelly Kettles and a picnic in the dappled shade of the hazel trees. I will be taking bookings soon for my regular Forest School sessions which start in September. I am loving my career path right now!

Here are ten photos from the day. IMG_7174 IMG_7170 IMG_7179 IMG_7224 IMG_7222 IMG_7238 IMG_7223 IMG_7211 IMG_7196 IMG_7185

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.

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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!

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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!

QUOTATIONS

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.                 treeyopermacultureedu.wordpress.com

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. http://deepgreenpermaculture.com

APPLICATION

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.

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CHALLENGE

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.

 

 

Beltane

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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

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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

 

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan Cornwall

We had a fantastic day at The Lost gardens of Heligan. I had read a couple of books about these gardens. They were abandoned for many years and became overgrown and like a jungle! It must have been so exciting for the garden restorers to hack their way into the undergrowth and rediscover old paths, fallen down greenhouses and wonderful planting. The gentle Cornish climate and the unique aspect of the site makes it suitable for semi-tropical plants, so it really feels like another world. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. We spend a fun few hours constructing elaborate dens out of ropes, branches and tarpaulins. So much fun, especially when it briefly rained and we took shelter in our dens to eat lunch. The kids will always remember that adventurous pack up! The walled productive gardens were something special. Every fruit, vegetable and herb imaginable planted out in the longest rows I have ever seen. It looked beautiful.

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There was lots of plants, flowers and sculptures. You got a map and compass at the beginning to help you find treasure. There was also a vegetable garden that grew lots of vegetables in long long rows. My mummy loved it there. There were two sculptures and one of them was a face and another was a person lying down and they both looked really weird! They were made out of stone, plants and rocks. I quite liked the look of them.    Miss E age 8 

We build an amazing den and ate our packed lunch in it while it was raining. We walked over a high up bridge. It was high and a bit scary.                                                        Miss C age 4 

I spilt a whole bottle of water over myself in the vegetable garden so we had to go home  Master S age 1

 

The Botanical gardens – Leicester

We love to visit the Botanical gardens a few miles from our home. It is a beautiful garden with university buildings, a cafe, open spaces for the children to run around it, a large pond and a sculpture park. The double boarders are full of herbaceous perennials and look stunning in the summer months. I suspect there is a bee hive or two somewhere near by as the flowers are always covered in bees on sunny days.

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In the summer there are millions of bees and wasps. I think they like the bright flowers. There are lots of sculptures there on the grass. My Daddy did a sculpture project there once making things out of wood. There is a pond with fish in it.  Miss E Age 8

I like running down paths and blowing bubbles. I do like the pretty flowers. Miss C age 4

 

The Eden Project Cornwall

We camped close to The Eden Project for our summer holiday in August. We loved it there so much that we visited twice in ten days. It was lovely seeing so many people exploring ideas about sustainability and gardening. However the site does tend to get very busy, so a good tip is to arrive just as the doors are opening at 9.30am. Not too difficult a task when you are living in a field with children who wake up at the crack of dawn! We had been before about ten years ago soon after it opened, so it was great to go back and see how much the plants had established and the site had expanded. We had a buy one get one free ticket from Gardener’s World magazine, which made it a very good value family day out. Highly recommended.

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The Eden project was really fun, but Coco was scared of the dinosaur. I thought the dinosaur was lovely, it had a baby one that walked around on someones hand everywhere as well. There was a bare-foot walk that I liked. I found a big fat caterpillar on our walk. Miss E aged 8

I didn’t like the dinosaur, he was scary, I did have a dream about him once.                     Miss C age 4

 

Early morning edges

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Good morning all. I have been up since 5am today with wide-awake children. Not my favourite way to spend a cold, dark, rainy saturday morning! But rather than being annoyed, I decided to use this unexpected ‘edge’ of my day to do something productive.

I have sorted through hundreds of photographs from gardens I visited over the summer. Doing so has taken me back to the sunny happy days of the summer adventures we had as a family. I will be sharing some of these garden photos on my blog over the coming few days. Have a lovely and produtive weekend. xx

 

My garden in September

I started keeping this garden diary in September 2013, so this post marks one whole year of recording my garden every month. I find it interesting to look back and see the changes to my garden throughout the seasons and note the progress made and challenges fought in making my garden as productive as possible. I hope to keep up this regular blog post for a while yet. I hope to get a chance to take some picture of my garden in the snow! I wonder if this winter will provide that opportunity? I am grateful to have such a lovely garden that can provide my family with fresh, organic and seasonal produce. I am also grateful that my children get the chance to run around, play in the brook, climb the trees, keep chickens, enjoy playing with neighbours and generally get muddy!

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Harvesting Since my last post I have harvested food from my garden as follows; Figs, beetroot, courgettes, loads of tomatoes, purple beans, chilis, one tiny aubergine, lots of runner beans, blackberries, cooking apples, eating apples, a couple of grapes and a handful of yellow raspberries. In addition to this, we have returned from trips to the school garden laden with yet more runner beans, plums, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and courgettes. The figs are over now, but they have been wonderful this year. The apples tree however have been far more stingy with their fruits this year. We normally like to press our apples for juice or cider, but we didn’t have enough this year to make borrowing a press worthwhile. So we gifted our apples to a neighbour who has promised us a few bottles of homemade cider in return.

Planting. I have sown some winter salads and Pak choi in the greenhouse. I have planted out the red and blackcurrant cuttings that have been taking root since last winter. I have also popped in a few more strawberry plants here and there. I spent a careful few hours planting out winter carrots and beetroot seedlings, such fiddly work. The chickens later broke out of their area and rampaged through the garden, scratching up and eating all but a few of my newly planting winter crops. I was not best pleased and just can not find time or energy to re-plant them.

Thinking. I can feel the shift in the seasons this week. Mornings are darker and beginning to feel chilly. I have searched out the children’s slippers and my dressing gown. We have had a couple of misty mornings. My walk to school was decorated with jewelled spider’s webs yesterday. I do enjoy autumn, especially all the celebrations associated with fires and tasty food. I like lighting the log burner and feeling cosy in the evenings, but we have not had to do that yet. We try to wait until November rolls around before heating the house.

Feeling My daughter’s birthdays beautifully bookend the summer. C at the end of May and E at the end of September. We celebrate Miss E’s 8th birthday next weekend, then autumn is allowed to begin!

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Weather stats

Thursday 18th September 2014

A foggy morning becoming brighter as the day goes on

Sunrise 06:43 Sunset 19:13

High 23 Low 15

 

My garden in August

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Harvesting Since my last garden update post in mid July we have been away from home a lot. We have spent some time at our cabin in the woods and have been on a camping holiday to Cornwall. So this blog space and our garden have been rather neglected I am afraid. The garden has however been getting on pretty well without us. It has produced; runner beans, plums, tomatoes, chilis, figs, cucumbers, courgettes, parsley, celery and purple climbing beans. The fig tree in particular has been fantastic this season. We dug it up and brought it with us when we moved here six years ago, it must be about 10 years old now and is really hitting its stride! Its only six-foot tall but has produced around 40 figs so far with loads more to come.

Planting I have pulled up some of my tomato plants now. They were a mixed bunch this year, with some performing brilliantly and others never really getting going. I have taken out anything that hadn’t yet produced much fruit as well as a few that had exhausted themselves already. The outdoor toms did better than those in the greenhouse, probably due to water I should think and we seem to have avoided blight so far. The plants in the raised beds are still doing well, so I have left them to see if many more toms ripen before the weather cools down too much.

Thinking I am planning on planting some winter lettuces and pak choi in the place of the tomatoes in the green house. I’d also like to crack on with my autumn/winter garden over the next few weeks. I will have more time available for this once the girls return to school. September always feels like a fresh start, a new school term is a good time to begin a new regime at home too I always find. So I have began making a meal plan every sunday night. My aim is to do another one of my Permaculture Diploma design around healthy lifestyles, I am taking an online health and nutrition course currently and thinking carefully about what my family eats.

Feeling I am holding on tightly to the last weeks of summer. I do love the autumn but am always very sad too to let summer go. The last few weeks have turned colder with a slight autumnal nip in the air occasionally, this fills me with an equal dread and excitement! We are packing in the park visits, garden visits, BBQ’s and parties outdoors while we can. I am not quite ready to pack away my sunglasses and hunt out the woolens just yet.

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We had a party last weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We shared the party with our next door neighbours. We took up some fence panels and enlarged the child-sized gate that connects our two gardens. We had a fantastic day, with around 100 friends and family coming and going all day from 3pm – 2am! We made extra seating out of tree trunks, made a firepit for an evening bonfire and our talented musician friends entertained us in the wee hours with firelit acoustic music. It was such a wonderful day. I just wish I had taken more photographs! Here are some from the set up.

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IMG_3924You just can’t beat a glitter ball in the trees!

Weather stats

Friday 29th August 2014. breezy with isolated showers and sunny spells.

High 18, Low 13

Sunrise 06:09  Sunset 20:00