Thursday 30 April 2015

Five On Friday

This week I wanted to share 5 Kitchen to Garden tips, cheap and easy to help your garden be more productive and bloom.

Egg Shells
Dried and crushed egg shells, I dry mine in the bottom oven of the Rayburn but you could pop them in the bottom of the oven when you have finished cooking, I crush them up and keep in a container, they then get worked into the soil were tomatoes and peppers grow, the calcium released by the shells helps fend off blossom end rot, leaving some on the surface of compost can help deter slugs and snails too.

Banana Skins
Banana skins chopped up and buried near the roots of roses and sweet peas, the peels potassium will give the plant a nutritional boost and help the resist disease.

Citrus Peel
Any citrus peel, Oranges, Lemons, Limes or Satsumas, scatter these on your borders and beds were you have freshly dug soil or just sown seeds, the smell deters cats from using it as a toilet, you have to keep adding fresh peel as the smell dissipates after a few days or rain.

Coffee Grounds
picture courtesy of google
Spent coffee grounds are great scattered around lime hating plants, such as blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, the grounds are rich in nitrogen which helps plants covert sunlight to energy and lower the PH of the soil, if you are not a coffee household, those fancy coffee shops often give the spent grounds away free just pop in and ask.

Tea Bags
Something I have a lot of tea bags as I am a tea drinker, tea needs to be broken open and the spent tea tipped out, dig it in around plants, it will help nourish the plants and help retain moisture, you can just put the tea-bags down complete and then over time pick out the bags, spent tea is very good at encouraging earth worms.

Many thanks to Amy for running the five on Friday, you can pop over to her blog from the link on the side bar and visit others who are taking part.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Normal Service Resumed

I am back to my normal self now, I have spent the day sorting out samples that came from the shop, pictures on my craft blog, I have also been packing boxes with stock ready for the sale in the village hall on Saturday, Its very difficult deciding what to take as there is so much stuff.

We had some rain overnight, well it was a cracking storm we had, thunder, lightning, hail and rain, at last I have some water in the barrels.

Not really done anything outside today apart from the usual animal feeds and checking the greenhouse and poly tunnel and raised beds.

Kara managed to walk as far as the post box today, she hasn't done that in a long time, Kara's health is declining she now has three large tumours last week the vet told me she may have anything from a few weeks to a few months, she is not in any discomfort She spends a lot of time sleeping and has very little energy.

I don't think I have told you about Sol his real name is (xyol) were do they get these names from, anyway Sol is another retired pensioner from Dogs for the Disabled he is a black lab and 8 years old, Martin has met up with him and collects him on Friday. He has been trained to a different standard from Kara as he was a partner to an Autistic child, unfortunately the parents split up and couldn't afford to keep the dog any more so he is coming to us.

Thats all from me today sorry no pictures 

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Time Spent In The Kitchen

Trying to shake off the doldrums I spent the morning in the kitchen
First up was some Peanut Butter
 I do like peanut butter, this is a staple I now make it cost me 95p for 441grm to make my own
I have mentioned before how easy it is to make, some roasted salted peanuts throw them in the food processor and blitz them down add some sunflower oil small amounts at a time while continuing to blitz until you get the texture you want I also add 2 tsp of sugar, that's all there is to it. I usually buy the value peanuts.
Next up in the kitchen was some yogurt
I use a Bio Culture to make the yogurt
They cost £2 a sachet that makes 1lt of yogurt (7 pots) 1 pot I keep back for making the next batch and continue like this for 4 months, making a batch a week so roughly works out roughly 2p a pot add on the cost of milk 25p 1lt yogurt works out 7p a pot, that's a good price for Bio Yogurt.
Now I don't like plain yogurt so I made some Blueberry sauce to go with it
Each of these pots is 2/3 servings, I used frozen blueberries, 2 cups of frozen fruit to 1/2 cup of sugar and a dash of lemon juice simmer together for 10 mins do not boil. (can be frozen)
I did buy in some frozen raspberries as well roughly it works out approx 17p for a double serving of fruit sauce to go with the yogurt, this yogurt and fruit sauce taste like the fruit corners you get, that cost more than 31p for 2.
My last bit of time spent in the kitchen was spent  making Wild Garlic Pesto
  A bunch of wild garlic a small bunch of parsley from the garden a hand full of pine nuts and a few splashes of olive oil, all blitzed up together put in a jar and is now in the fridge, I will use some this week end with some pasta that we will have with some salmon.

I did spend a bit of time in the greenhouse as well
potting on squash and pumpkins, the melons need a bit longer before they move on likewise with the cucumbers. I also planted out the peppers and chillies in the poly tunnel. 
I have candled the duck eggs in the incubator 5 out of the 6 look viable but will give number 6 another check at the week-end before discarding.
A good productive day all round.

Monday 27 April 2015

A Nothing Sort Of Day

Got up this morning and felt down in the dumps, I didn't sleep well so much to think about, so much to do, Martin brought some more of the shop stock up at the week end, it looks so overwhelming seeing it all there, I have at last booked a stall a the village sale this Saturday to try and move some of it on, I have also started listing some on my craft blog.
I didn't feel like going to the craft group this morning so headed into town to do a monthly shop £49 this time, and to pick up the bits I needed for the watering system.
On my way back I spotted these
Wild Garlic there was masses of them just down the road from me, I picked a small bunch and intended adding them to some mince for dinner, but come dinner time I couldn't be bothered to cook, settled on a sandwich and yogurt instead, I will cook tomorrow and use them then.
I got the watering set up for the tunnel another job off the list.
We have had a couple of showers not much just short showers.
That's it for today a few things got done.

First Harvest

Yesterday I harvested the first of the veg grown on Welsh soil 
Purple Sprouting Broccoli and it was lovely served with 

 some of our own home reared welsh roasted pork.
Any veg that was harvested last year was grown in containers and brought with so this is a bit of milestone, there is more purple sprouting broccoli to come as well.
We had a lovely sunshine day again yesterday we are still needing the rain they keep telling us is coming but seems to miss us.
The day was spent finishing off planting the tomato plants in the poly tunnel
21 in total, 3 different variety's, Black Russian, Pink Vine and Beefsteak, next will be the peppers and chillies that are at the stage of re-potting so they will go straight into the ground in the poly tunnel.
We also got the border on the other side all done 
 So its all ready for growing now,
 this week I will work on the path and connect up the watering system,
Martin got the Dandelion wine done
 It now sits and ferments and then clears.
My early Blueberries are in flower
I have planted this one in the ground, the big terracotta pot it was in broke, so I dug a big hole and filled it with compost suitable for the blueberries I am hoping it does well as I have had this bush for
for many years now, I had intended to build a bed specifically for the blueberries but that has been put back for now.
Still lots of seeds coming on in the greenhouse, I will be glad when the young plants are planted out looking after baby plants is a lot of work.
The squashes need potting on again, the nights are far to cold for them to go out, same with the sweet corn and beans, peas will be out by the end of the week I hope.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Auctions and Crayfish

This morning being the last Saturday of the month we paid a visit to the poultry and dead stock sale in Llandeilo Thanks Bovey Belle I finally made it, I had marked it on the calender so I didn't forget.
Some of the hundreds of poultry there was there

I didn't buy any poultry on this visit although I was was very tempted with the pheasants 
There was loads of eggs for hatching and young chicks.
We had a good mooch around the car boot as well and I bought
a lovely set of bellows for £3.50 my last ones the bellow part got torn and I have been on the look for some more since we moved.
There was loads of interesting things for sale in the dead stock auction but I remained restrained.
We stayed to watch a bit of the poultry auction then decided to leave as we were not buying on this visit, but we will be back now we know the set up.
When Martin arrived home last night he brought me these 
We are now into Crayfish season he took the trap back with him last week and set in the place we are allowed to, 10 crayfish in this haul, our biggest was 66, so tonight we are having Crayfish and stir fry.
I have been unpacking more shop boxes today that Martin brought up with him but did have time for a quick visit around the veggie garden, the Parsnip have surfaced along with first of the potatoes, Beans are up as well, Pumpkin and Squash are pushing out there true leaves, Basil and Coriander are up as well, everything is really up and running now, tomorrow I am picking our first crop of purple sprouting Broccoli our fir veg grown here, we will be having it with some of our home reared pork.
I has remained dry today although overcast, Martin has been working on jobs outside I feel like the pressure of getting things done is finally lifting and we can spend a bit of time going out and about.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Its All Go Go Go

The Asparagus crowns arrived I had the bed ready for them 
the asparagus crowns get planted on a ridge
All in bed now
The other end of this long permanent raised bed has some Globe artichokes
I ave grown them all from seed and they are just starting to get there true leaves
There is also a row Jerusalem artichokes I brought half a dozen tubers with me when we moved
They are also starting to put on some growth.
The Oca will also be planted out in this bed 
They are just starting to pop through but wont be planted out until end of May.
I have started planting in the Poly Tunnel
Some f the tomatoes are ready to be moved on I have taken the bottom off there pots and planted in them like that less root disturbance, they are about a foot tall now and starting to send out side shoots, behind them is a couple of rows of potatoes they were left over from the main planting, I have also planted a grape vine in the corner there is one planted at the other end as well, the roots are under the edge of the tunnel so are outside.
I have put together a run and fixed it on to the outside brooder
The ducklings have now been moved out there, they still have the heat lamp inside the brooder but now have the option of going outside, the run has been netted, the reason they have been moved out is because they are starting to smell, and the smell gets worse as they get bigger.
Today I also started Martins Dandelion wine for him
 2lt of dandelion flowers
Pour on 4.5lt of boiling water stir and cover leave for 2 days, Martin will do the next stage on Saturday. Starting it on St Georges day means its ready to drink Christmas day.
It has been a scorcher of a day again, we haven't had rain for weeks now, the grass has stopped growing out in the field, I have extended Odd Jobs area with some hurdles to give him access to some grass, We swapped his paddock with the girls the other week end as they were down to nothing and he had plenty, the grass was growing then, I have moved Nick Nack into another paddock to give his a rest, now we just need the promised rain to green everything up, 
I have been getting on top of the weeding and getting Lily bulbs plants and some Day Lillie's, I have also been sorting out hanging baskets, its a busy time.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Hello Its Kara Here

Hello again bloggers, Its Kara here
It's been 6 months since I last spoke to you, I have been so busy doing lots of things
I have been to the seaside with the humans and had a lovely time, we have been to the seaside a few times I really like it there, I can swim in the sea I am a good swimmer, there is lots of interesting smells and lots of doggy friends.
I have been making lots of friends here too at my new home
There is my friend Kasey from next door who comes to visit me
Yesterday this funny rock thing turned up the lady human was really happy and was talking to it, the rock thing doesn't play and doesn't make any noise, I keep barking at it but it dosent pay any attention to me, perhaps it will want to be my friend too.
This little bundle of energy came to visit and it ran round and round, its only a baby and cant bark yet I showed it how to bark and it run away to to hide behind its human I think I scared it.
There is my old friend Lambert we often have a chat through the fence, I like Lambert he does funny things like running up to the posts and hitting his head on them, he also broke his house twice and the man human who made it for him wasn't pleased.
This is one of my babies, there are three of them and they are always happy to see me they have funny little squeaks, I really want to play with them but the lady human doesn't let me, they arrived one day, there is this strange box on the sideboard and one day there was this squeaking and when they lady human opened it there was my first baby it was very exciting then a few days later another baby arrived in the box, I was watching the box after that  and it happened again it must be a magic box, there hasn't been any more but I keep checking the box as it is still there making a humming noise.
The lady human keeps telling me that soon I will have a new friend and he is going to live here with us for his retirement, I go outside and look but I cant see him coming yet, I bark for him and I cant hear him bark back, he must be coming from a long way. I do hope he is nice when he comes and wants to be my friend too. I like having friends.
A little while ago the lady human took me to see the dog doctor, he is a nice human I was a little poorly I was left with him I didn't mind I went to sleep and had some really funny dreams, but my humans came back and collected me, I was feeling very strange and I was all wobbly
 There was something wrong with my foot, for a long time I had to keep going back to the dog doctor and he would look at my foot and put new wrappings on it, I didn't feel well at all, my humans were very sad about it, when the wrapping was taking off for the last time my toe was missing I don't know were it went perhaps it was taken away with the wrapping very strange, I am making sure I don't lose any more toes and count them every day.
I have had a lovely retirement but I am getting so very tired now
I like to sleep in the sun when I can, I will sleep anywhere I can,  I cant get around the big field anymore with the lady human when she feeds all the animals I lay in the grass and wait for her and its really hard walking to the post box my lady human can get there and meet me on her way back.
The Man Human still comes to visit and he likes to play with me, I like it when he sits on the floor and I can lay there and sleep with my head resting on him.
Yesterday the lady human  took me to see the nice dog doctor again, he was feeling me all over and looking in my mouth and eyes, when was talking to my lady human she started crying and was very sad, I put my head on her knee an wagged my tail but she still cried.
When we got home she gave me some chew treats I must have done something really good.
I need to go and have a another nap now in the sunshine perhaps I will lie in the straw I like to sleep on the straw its really comfy, its hard work this retirement take care bloggers.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

The Most Exciting News Ever

Today something wonderful happened but I am not telling you until the end of the post

First things first, yesterday I had the tree fellers round

At the end of our private drive is a big Ash tree and you can see in the photos the problem we had with the telephone cables, they were getting tangled up in the branches, the tree needed cutting back before it came in leaf ad even more so before the cables got damaged.
They took off the troublesome branches, we now have a nice pile of logs to lay down for seasoning.
While they were skimming up trees I got stuck into painting wood preservative onto boards
There are 10 of these boards and they are to box in the bottom of the fence.
I have also been getting more of the fence done, I got more done today and will get more done tomorrow I hope.
I also got some wood chipping done.
With all the hedge trimming we have done we have stacks of brush, we have been burning some and it seems endless even putting it through the chipper seems to take for ever, we could do with hiring one of those big chippers to clear the pile.

Now for my really EXCITING news
This afternoon while I was in the greenhouse there was a commotion in the ducks run, the drake was running up and down creating a fuss, so I went over to see what the problem was.
You could have knocked me over with a feather I couldn't believe what I could see.

Had come home
For those that don't know last August a month after moving here Flash my much loved tortoise who is now 19 years old went missing, I thought we would never see him again, I spent days looking for him so did Martin and our neighbours, it wasn't time for him to hibernate so I couldn't understand how he could have vanished, there he was today walking across the duck run.
He is now enclosed in an area and this week end we will be making him a large enclosure, he was happy to tuck into some cucumber this afternoon no worse for wear after his adventure he is now tucked up for the night in his little shelter.