Home Craft, Storage, Writing

February Frost

Today we woke up to frost and snow, as I was pottering a few days ago I came across a flower press we had bought for our children, inside was a selection of well preserved flower heads, including a few lavender and crocosmia flowers, grass and ivy. I plan on buying a frame and working with my daughters to set them. I must admit I completely forgot about the press, so they have been left for a few years.

My selection of canvas arrived and as I began to search my tapestry books it became evident my daughter was keen to try, so after she had chosen a small sampler to try I drew it out and taught her to do a straight stitch. It turns out she is a natural and completed it with several hundred re-threads as she kept losing the yarn off her needle. It was nice to watch her work, I waited until later and chose a slightly larger project which I shall work on as an when I have a moment. The selection was of a variety of colours, types and sizes which will last me a long time. My compromise has been to use up wool that I have bundled from old projects, it makes a great texture to the project that traditional yarns would not give.

My seedling and onions are still growing, the moulds and fabrics are on their way but for now I will enjoy creating and adapting the sampler I chose! In the few moments I get!

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Propagation

GYO – Winter Planning!

Today (Monday!) was meant to be allotment day! however with a house full of colds and house bound children I have sent my husband to check the site, as we have not been for a few weeks. I have still some beans and peas to sow, I am building a book for my Son and daughter for choosing home tasks, with a little poetic narrative and visual prompts to support learning areas, I hope to use it through summer. I cannot type up any of my other work (Entertaining little gem…who is finally participating in daytime!)

So today I am nursing, reading and researching while I have a moment to sit! Waiting for fabric panels and moulds to arrive, hoping for a good report from the allotment…

The afternoon arrived with the news that my plot has needed a few things repairing but as the pictures show to say our last visit was before Christmas it is looking pretty good. The water tank is still half full, pipework intact the felt may require looking at to ensure it is all getting to the guttering, we collected a massive roll for £15 last year so as with the summerhouse the roof will be looked at on the next sunny day.

The fence despite its deep footings had required fixing again, however my husband secured it before we left to ensure our first visit is one of work and not maintenance;

Spring Jobs;

  1. Paint shed and fencing.
  2. Dig main land beds.
  3. Purchase scaffolding boards
  4. Find 15 slabs
  5. Remove rooted brambles
  6. Collect nettles for the water feed barrel
  7. Check compost in centre bin (2 years on)
  8. Cut grass and edgings
  9. Dig potato bed
  10. Clear winter plants

To mention a few, my decking board beds barely lasted a year so I have decided to make the three beds stronger and deeper to reduce weed growth and the longevity of the space. I hope to use the compost dug from the first year to fill the new beds as it has been left composting for two years now, it should be ready for use.

As my husband but spade to the ground which gave off a fabulous ringing sound, so I am at peace knowing that I can enjoy my work at home without worrying about preparing the space! The ground is frozen solid as the video of him raking showed, there was no need fretting not even a centimetre of movement.

My broad beans, Brussels and Brassicas are still growing on nicely, I will either have a harvest or extra seeds so, whichever I harvest it shall not be wasted. My new seedlings already for potting on in the kitchen are soon to be moved into a cloche outside, and I am looking forward to setting tomato seeds, Peppers and chilli’s this weekend. As I find these will grow well indoors until the frost clears, then they can be set outside in the green house when the temperature warms.

I have found our old supplier of manure who supplies 60l bags, donating a percentage received to our favourite horse charity, so when we can I will be collecting around twenty as I know a few people who will not get around to collecting their own! I shall enjoy trench manuring the bed for the pumpkin and sweetcorn bed, as that will be two years of nutrients into our main beds through crop rotation. It also builds up the soil levels from the first dig ensuring you do not have low ground beds.

My four raised beds are sat waiting for old crops to be removed and seedlings to be set in, along with our cloche beds these will allow us the ability to grow a variety of crops without the addition of covers and cloches.

On the restructuring of the strawberry beds, I plan to slab the area outside of the shed as it is the perfect place to sit and work. This bed has been broken due to the constant walking around and I would like a space for the children to sit and draw or paint while we are working on other areas. This space is south westerly so in the warm days we can set our parasol and ensure a space that they can sit out of the heat of the sun.

The joy of winter is preparing for another spring!…Another season of growing!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

Home Craft, Writing

Craft Blogs – A source of inspiration!

As a seasoned knitter, I have achieved satisfaction through many a successful completion of a great pattern, something that produces visually accurate copies of the original, for knitting my favourite designer is Alan Dart. I know that if I use his patterns, I can recreate the original to an excellent standard! My Halloween knit blog was to share the steps for a great finish; Halloween Knitting Project!,

And the following posts following the stages of the build;Knit – Sénor Skeleton – Part 1

Which took ten blogs to complete, If you access my knitting page on the site it links all of the related posts. You can find his patterns on his website; http://www.alandart.co.uk , with the wide range of patterns at very reasonable prices, it is easier to buy direct.

As I searched I found a few crochet blogs who carry my drive to share skills, and knowledge, thankyou Maddy for your tutorials I am sure I will be able to use them when I lose my way! search; Maddy crochets along with a few other who are adding their knowledge regularly! 

Quilts Beyond Borders; A few days ago I saw a collection of quilts, all beautiful and created for charity! I was inspired enough to purchase a £5 bundle of fabric with 50 pieces at 8 inch square it was enough to get me started, allowing enough for a few cot blankets, and hopefully a few pieces to make some autumn fruit as I have seen some amazing makes over winter!

Heidi Bears at www, ravelry.com;

So today is a day of wonder, as I have ploughed through the amazing craft and crochet blogs, with their super makes, envied at their successes I have found my call. Thanks to a skilful blogger, I have found my crochet guru, a designer really drives me to make!! Their are rare occasions when I find real inspiration but this designer creates such amazing jewels! Using the African Flower Design her patterns are geometric with beautifully accenting colours, her designs have excellent form balanced with the hexagon shaped flower pattern, I am in awe!..

I have discussed my envy at those who can follow a crochet diagram, as I am yet to find time or space to polish my most basic level of crochet skills. A few years ago I made nine toadstools, the tops were crochet and for speed I knitted the stems, they were well made but no genius required.

Winter night crocheting’s post on ‘My First Origami’ highlighted the creative brilliance in design, which being a novice has highlighted even further why I should try, try and try… so when I am next in need of a treat I will be choosing one of her amazing patterns. I feel I could knit very similar designs, but they do not hold the same colourful visual symmetry, geometric texture and quality that make this designers work sparkle!

So today I will be searching her site to see what gem I shall choose to make, which will be an eventual collection of six as I will want to make one for each of my children! Although I think it will take me a year to complete, it will be a great way to build my crocheting confidence!

So to the Author, thankyou for your post! without a comment facility I cannot tell you how amazing your Triceratops looks, I appreciate your sharing as I have found a designer that inspires me to learn…it will be hard to choose between the amazing patterns, I did find a few ready made gems in white, on a well known selling site but with the many projects already at work, I will wait until I have much less to do.

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Home Craft, Writing

The Green Man

So as I discussed in my Previous post I was looking in investing in a few moulds to attempt a new craft to add to the many others I have built while raising our children. I found a few collections on line and the first was a bundle of Green Man Mask ornaments, as I have always held a love of nature I felt a bundle of eleven garden moulds, including five green man designs and a few extra’s unknown to myself would be great as a first project.

As I have researched he represents the god of nature which was carried from pagan heritage, the face of a man covered in foliage is often found carved into wood or stones in churches and statues. Its presence in churches is down to the fact that most locations of modern worship were often sited on the ancient pagan ritual grounds.

The Green Man is believed to symbolise the cycle of life, death and re-birth. The symbol of Godhood within the male and its relationship with the transcendent life force our Goddess, the female expression of divinity. He is a Pagan symbol who heralds Spring after a long winter and the renewal of lush vegetation.”

I have found the historical narrative behind these symbols quite interesting but vague, however as a garden feature or ornament I felt they would be a good edition, something I can complete with a minimal outlay and have space to cast and dry already set aside it should not be too difficult to find the opportunity to play!

This will allow me to firstly attempt my new craft and more importantly try a few techniques to colour the casts or alternatively decorate them with acrylic paints! it was a £50 pound outlay but I feel few practices of each I will hopefully be able to make the money back, at around £5 per successfully decorated cast.

So Yesterday the sale completed and I was the winning bidder! So hopefully in I will receive them so I can see what else was present in the bundle, I found this bundle a few weeks ago but could not bid, so I was thankful they had been re-listed.

The more unusual casts caught my eye but I want a small selection of good quality cast that I can make a small stock of to sell, as my seedlings become ready.

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

ref;https://spiritofthegreenman.co.uk/green-man-legend-mythology/

Writing

Smallholding dreams!

As many who grow their own I do have dreams of the good life, self-sufficiency and using my creativity to build something for my family! An investment, some days I find somewhere that will do, but in reality it supports none of our current needs. Then there are the properties that have everything but without the room to grow!

I have found a place that already is growing in my mind, I can see its potential through the most basic of facilities, with room to grow a small business! Every second I view the lot I can see the space building and developing in my mind…  if we dug out a large area here, we could add the raised beds there!

There have been a few lately all local to schools, shops and health facilities which have given me the focus to dream a little… if only it was easy to relocate everything at the click of a button

So between the snuffles, nursing nights and family life, I can see the potential for my small holding dreams!

Happy Dreaming!

Cheryl

Allotment, Home Craft, Recycling

DIY – Toadstool Composter

Toadstool Compost Bin

You will need:

  • Black conical compost bin and lid.
  • Motorbike tyre.
  • Car tyre.
  • Red and white paint.
  • Large and small paintbrush.

To Create;

Step 1 – Ensure the tyres and lid are clean, this is easily done with a small hand brush and a hose pipe.

Step 2 – Add a base coat of red paint to the lid and tyres, once covered leave to dry and add a second coat as necessary.

Step 3 – Once they are all dry, place the motorbike tyre on the bottom with the car tyre on the next layer before finally replacing the lid.

Step 4 – using the tread of the tyres, mark evenly spaced circles around ten centimetres in diameter (a large art brush is ideal for this). Once they are dry  the circles can be filled with further paint, I used white masonry paint as it had a brighter finish and I felt would last longer.

The finished product was extremely satisfying, it makes a fabulous feature for a family garden, as a compost bin or filled with straw for a hedgehog house It still brings a smile when I see how fabulous they look several years on.

This method can be used to create hanging baskets and plant pots to set up turned on sticks, everything you need to create a unique space for your children to play in. I used materials collected from friends and family, using old house paints which had been set aside from previous projects.

Happy Creating!

Cheryl

Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Storage

GYO – Beans! Seed to table

So this week I purchased my first seeds and within the selection were our ‘Best of All!’, these beans are something I would sow now and put out in the greenhouse as the frost seems to be an indicator helping the seed germinate when the weather gets warmer. At £1 a pack they are very reasonable, as seedlings are £3 per tray of ten growing your own is far cheaper. Obviously if put outside they would be prone to damping off or being nibbled by pigeons or pests which is why they are put within the polycarbonate frame.

This will enable me to water as required, ensuring in April I will have some germinated seedlings to position at the bottom of my wire trellis or A-Frames. The seedlings are susceptible to being slugged so as I set the plants around a foot apart I add a ring of salt to the base until they are established and eventually mulch with straw to prevent the weeds taking over!

I tend to make a high structure for my beans, my A-frame being tied a few inches below the top of ten foot canes. These are around £3 for ten at Poundstretchers lasting several years if stored properly. I have added a few trellis arches to grow them up a variety of spaces and free up further space to climb small varieties of pumpkin.

The plants did not enjoy the heat of the past summer, so my main harvest despite early sowings were in August when the weather cooled and the rain finally began to fall. I find these can be a good crop, if you are lucky enough to save some for seed it could only cost you the price of your first pack, I saved a few of last years which I hope to sow. In the first year I purchased some green manure, I chose field beans as they can over winter, still having half a bag I will set these in after my potato crop.

Whatever varieties you choose for beans either dwarf or climbing they allow an opportunity to grow with your children, which is my plan for this weekend. So, as another round of colds, the frosty weather keeping us in! I shall be making time for them all to plant their own.

The fruit is set like tomato plants and sets from the flowers the plant produces, so once the flower is pollinated the beans will be produced, ensure the pods are mature before picking.

To save these crops, choose mature pods and set them to dry, once they are crispy store the seeds in a brown envelope or tin, away from any damp of moisture. These can be planted for an additional sowing that year or saved for the start of the following season!

There is never a bad time to sow magic beans… for little readers there is also a few books that companion the task, obviously Jack and the beanstalk, which has a great film for older children. Those lucky enough to be part of the imagination library may have received a book on peas, which shows their journey from field, factory, to supermarket, a highly enjoyable book to share! and the crops obviously grow in a similar habit!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Writing

Canva vs Creative Writing!

Yesterday was a day of preparation, last spring I completed my second body of work, accomplishing 60000 words of eco-fictional narrative was a little miracle! I have recently tried to transfer it to Canva which is an app to support self-publishing of E-books, it has great design packages to create you front cover design which I presume was designed to present children’s books, e-books or essays. As when I attempted to transfer my writing it notified me that their was a thirty page limit? This obviously was not good for a manuscript spaced  270 pages and at this point I paused!

And yet I persisted to add a further thirty pages setting myself for another week of resetting pages and uploading, until finally I resolved to a third proof-reading….All in the free time I manage, at the time a few hours on an evening!

You can apparently link the PDF downloads but by the time I had transferred the said thirty pages with the many glitches and crashes, I could have probably animated, designed, written and self published a children’s book. So disheartened at the incompatibility of the application, I resorted to choosing a photograph similar to one above and building my own in word. Again the writing structure restricted my ability to present it as I required, the software unable to restructure the one page I was left unsatisfied.

I have read many publishing and advice blogs, and received some valuable information but as this story will probably take four books to complete I am in no rush to put this first part out as I can see it taking a while to complete with satisfaction.

I am old school so I wanted to start handwriting the next chapter, only to realise I had another forty pages that I had already noted that required typing! So I resorted to reading! The great work I achieved is next time I have real time, I know I can type up my notes to the next book….Until then if anyone has any advice on Canva or other home editing packages or on Applications for presenting larger bodies of work I would be grateful for a point in the right direction!

Happy Creating!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Writing

GYO – Allotment 2019

As I watch the moon fresh against the clear blue sky, gradually sinking behind the snow covered roofs, above our silhouetted  garden I am in wonder at the vision, even more wonder at what has become of my camera? Why is it the best pictures are those missed, today I will have to make time to find it! Our garden looks amazing, the palms and fruit trees etched in snow, the palms drooping with the weight, and my tree fern which I froze my feet to fleece last night as the snow began to fall outside.

My Autumn garden looks like a selection of iced cakes, set out for a winter celebration and the only movement is that of the birds visiting the branch perches through the garden to pause. Our garden is an Oasis in the street somewhere they visit on there way back to the local forests. I put in the fruit trees a few years ago, mainly for the yearly fruit crop, additionally as a canopy from the blaze of the summer sun. I also had designs to bring the birds in, a natural visual for us to enjoy from our windows.

My previous posts I expressed that I did not need to plan my space as it was designated by crop rotation, although it is set I obviously can choose the crop placement around the various spaces on our plot. The visual layout which I built on Powerpoint as we did our first preparations in 2017, has been developed as we added to achieve a variety of growing spaces.

The current version is one prepared in October, I chose the spaces next crop by what has been planted last season. The areas unseen are the greenhouse and pumpkin bed, also the bramble spire is the centre of the wildlife garden which I chose to set in the compost area. This space is for flowers and shrubs that flower through the seasons, provide shelter for insects and butterflies in the long grasses and nettles, obviously nectar for pollinators.

So I have planned the changes of smaller spaces but my three main land beds are set by the planting of last years crops. I am waiting to trench dig my pumpkin and potato beds on our site, however at zero degrees I will save it for a warmer day! The brilliant blue skies are  a draw outside until you venture outside to feel the icy chill of winter.

I have set to plant the first peas and beans today, these along with other seeds sown will be a natural barometer to show when the growing season starts. So set in our small greenhouse they will appear when the temperature and light is at the appropriate levels for growth. These will hopefully be growing in the next six weeks, however the late drop in temperature may see them growing later, less in March and more in May.

So as much as I set seed, I am well aware successful growth is dependant on when the winter weather finally passes. Until then my Brassica plants will hopefully develop and I can plant them in ground protected and mulched from the frost.

I find this type of visual plan is more effective than a list, it allows me to set spaces to crops without the investment in apps or programmes. The spaces are easy to update and I can jot my planting times and sowing details in tables on additional slides. Also with the addition of photos I can document family visits, work and harvests in the same document to build a season by season log. This being the third year our 2019 plan and crops list is carried from last years lists, but only the varieties of crops are changed so the planting times are set to types of crops and not varieties.

All in All, my seed Barometers are set, our plans are made, so all we are waiting for is for germination to show the seasons beginnings!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Family Postcards, Grow Your Own, Propagation

GYO – Sowing and First Snow Day!

Yesterday I managed a visit to our local pound stretcher for essentials, returning with this years potato and onion sets, after searching I realised I had used the last of my cucumber and leek seeds, so after searching the racks I found some at two packs for a £1. Finally I invested in some peas and beans, at £1 per pack they will allow me to grow a few on in the greenhouse, so if I do not get there again I have enough to sow when the season starts.

I settled for King Edwards and charlotte potatoes to start with, I am also going to chit our Aldi favourites as they are really fluffy spuds. This will allow me at least 6 rows of potatoes for our front bed. I may visit the garden centre for a few Valor seed potatoes as my experiment last year was voided by the scorching weather.

The Peas were ‘Clevedon Wonder’, Beans were ‘best of all’ and I shall buy a few other varieties later on, I am tempted with a few ‘Giganties; but we shall see as I have some field beans to use up from last season. Whatever I choose I will ensure I use the seeds saved from last years as they were a very resilient crop.

I watched as my daughter skilfully began to fill two base trays and together we filled them with the onion sets, the previous years crops were taken and any left did not grow well, this years I will plant when growth is established. I am tempted to invest in a camera to see where the giant birds that take them are coming from!

Tomorrow I hope to spend an hour digging the trenches for the potatoes as the bed is already cleared and I can straw to ensure the weeds cannot benefit from the freshly dug earth. At £3 a Bale it is worth it as any walkways or planted areas covered in it produce very little weeds and greatly reduce the hours it takes to maintain planted areas. This will cover 75 percent of my land worked beds which and has allowed me to manage my plot with around four hours maximum on site.

Pre – Blood moon, I planted all of my onion and brassica seeds in the cups my daughter prepared so now I have a good selection to start including:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Spring onion
  • Leeks
  • Romanesco Cauliflower
  • Red Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas

The Sweet Peas were sown by my son…something we can grow on the side of our compost Bins for the Bees! I hope to collect the manure to fill my pumpkin trenches on Thursday! Which will mean all of my main land beds will be prepared or set by the end of this week….

As I type my allotment ideas are being quashed by snowfall, it looks beautiful but puts a dampener on tomorrows digging plans… I love snow days! It is falling fast covering our yearling German Shephard as she romps around the garden…. I hope we get snowed in!

In plan B; I will be with our youngest children watching the snow!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl