If I was honest, we’ve neglected it because we have been so busy and found no time to spend out there. As a result, we’ve had interesting things growing (without any help from us I hasten to add) but we haven’t really had any veg or produce from the ground behind our home and I miss that.
There is nothing more tasty, satisfying and relaxing than harvesting a few salad leaves, tomatoes and courgettes for your supper. Especially after the rigours of a long and stressful working day.
Our fence desperately needed replacing recently so on the back of that, and a bit of welcome good weather, we decided to revamp the garden and do things a bit differently this time. The mess and damage that the new fence inevitably made was the prefect excuse to tackle things differently and set it up in a new way.
We’ve tried things in certain spots, we’ve tried things in pots and we’ve tried a raised bed but my sister bought me Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Gardener which I love. I then bought her Edible Garden book which has so inspired me and talks about exactly the kind of gardening I have been looking for and didn’t have a name for it……
It just makes so much sense.
We don’t want regimented lines of carrots really (although we have done that) and we don’t actually have time to manage that kind of garden anyway. Plus we don’t really want to see great swaths of precious tasty soil left with nothing growing in it when the weather is rubbish and you are stuck in doors looking out waiting for things to change.
So what is polyculture?
In the true sense of the word, it means ‘growing multiple crops in the same space’. The best example is how the native americans used to grow corn that had beans climbing up the stems and courgettes growing around it’s feet. The three plants develop and produce at different times so the space is very efficiently used to great benefit.
Perfect for a small victorian terrace garden in London.
Alys Fowler follows these principles but not to the letter and the result are stunning and very productive.
Aside from the sight of it being wonderful, the advantages are numerous and there are many publications that explain this.
So with that in mind, we have started out with a nearly blank canvas (I couldn’t bear to uproot my rhubarb and herbs etc so they stay put) and will see what we achieve be it successful or otherwise.
There will be some mistakes and I am already undecided about a few plant combinations but it’s very exciting and it has got me making lists, sketching out plans and scanning all my back issues of Country Living for more plant ideas.
This recent hot weather is really tough on dogs and it is so sad to hear that there are still people leaving their dogs in cars to die or walking them on hot tarmac until their feet burn and blister.
Our old boy, Hamlet has always loved the sun and used to spend hours on the lawn lapping it up. (He may have been a lizard in a previous life).
He still enjoys it but he certainly gets hot and the heat that we have been getting have seen him struggling. He has a heart murmur too so we have to be quite vigilant and not let him get over hot. he has had odd little funny turns in the past which may be related to his ticker, heat and dehydration so we do as much as we can to try to prevent repeats of these.
In order to avoid the heat of the day I’m getting up at about 5.30 to walk them and JC has been hosing them down to cool them off when it is particularly bad. I’m not sure they actually like this ‘shower’ but it certainly makes them more comfortable as it evaporates out of their coats.
When faced with the prospect though, they don’t seem to appreciate the benefits and they have been known to hide. Max definitely does a runner when he sees the hoes or the tin bath.
They even hide after they have been drenched (although I’m not sure what they think that will achieve). Bless!
Ice cubes in their drinking water have helped and getting them to lick ice cubes instead of gulping lots of water is great for keeping them hydrated without the risk of them throwing it back up.
Max isn’t great at doing ice cubes and tolerates them in his water but Hamlet likes to have them thrown for him to catch and crunch.
He’s quite an enthusiastic little dog (read bonkers!!) whether it’s going out, chasing a ball or catching a treat so catching ice cubes brings a bit of a wild look in his old eye.
He would stand there waiting for them eternally I think.
As always, hugely entertaining and endlessly funny.
This weekend of blistering temperatures and the threat of summer actually arriving, has reminded me of a weekend we were lucky enough to disappear on recently.
It was a gloriously sunny and fun weekend in the peak district to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in far too long.
We booked a cottage that catered for all our needs, that was in a rural location but also close to the amenities of a little market town called Wirkworth.
We did brilliantly well with our choice and the cottage was amazing. Recently converted from a barn just next to a very pretty public footpath, it afforded us quite a lot of privacy but the occasional distraction from passers by; especially since Max decided to greet each and every one with his big bark!!
It was just what we all needed. We went with absolutely no expectations and found it completely charming and far better that we could have hoped.
We had good weather, gorgeous surroundings, great company and enough beer to kill a man. What else do you need?
Everyone mucked in, there was lots of booze drunk, rubbish spoken and food eaten and it couldn’t have been better.
Mostly we just chilled out at the gorgeous, gorgeous and perfectly appointed cottage. We played cards around the garden table or set up tennis (for the more energetic amongst us), we read, we chatted (a lot!!) and thoroughly relaxed.
When we did venture out (we were very tempted to stay put but really felt that we had to see more than the wonderful view from the barn garden), we were just as happy with what we found and some of it came as a complete surprise.
We had briefly passed through Matlock Baths on the Friday night as we arrived, so we decided to go and wander through this sleepy little ribbon town on Sunday morning. We would grab a coffee, maybe an ice cream and enjoy the peace and quiet of the riverbank walk and it’s pretty shops. It should be pretty quiet leading up to lunchtime.
I think we were the only people in the whole county who DIDN’T know that every Sunday, Matlock Baths is overrun with bikes and scooters of all shapes and sizes as well as the diverse collection of people that ride them.
Every single parking space along the length of the village has 2 wheels parked in it and even the station car park was struggling to accommodate the 4 wheels that had chosen to visit at the same time.
JC got some cracking shots of some of the bikes (clearly someone’s pride and joy) and the irony of the huge, seemingly out of place, ‘think bike’ sign wasn’t missed on us – you really couldn’t help thinking about bikes since it was practically all there was as far as the eye could see.
Once we thought about it, it made sense that this funny little place couldn’t sustain about 8 fish and chip shops a greater number of cafes and 2 bike wear shops without something spectacular like the sunday pilgrimage to contribute to the coffers.
Everyone was clearly happy and there was a nice vibe.
Not remotely what we had expected but quite wonderful all the same.
We eaked out as much of the weekend as we could and didn’t leave until the latest possible (our booking was until monday am but we all had to get back for work!! boohoo) with another walk to check out the local station of Wirkworth and the sweet town centre itself.
These small towns are clearly affected by the out of town supermarkets and the change in our shopping habits but it is hanging on in there. Like all small market towns, it has it’s problems but it is surviving. It has retained its charm and there are a handful of brilliant little retailers as well as decent pubs and I hope it lasts.
We are going to make this little weekend an annual event now because we were so taken by the place and the surroundings. We’ll be booking it well in advance so we aren’t disappointed.
I’m looking forward to it already!!
there aren’t many types of weather that will keep us from going out for a relaxing walk on a weekend and this weekend was no exception.
There had been threats of wind, rain and sleet and we did get them, but what a sight to see when you are battling through them!! The most enormous and gorgeous rainbow popping out of some trees in the distance.
I have to admit that we did take shelter at one point because the sleet was vicious and was just about taking skin off but whilst we sheltered, the world did it’s amazing thing and created the prettiest and most colourful ‘thing’ ever.
I love rainbows; I’ve had the science described to me a million times but they are quite simply magic!
The weather over the christmas and new year holidays has been mixed to say the least.
We have had snow, rain, fog and freezing temperatures that have given us a winter colder than any in a 100 years. Quite a variety.
Yesterday heralded a slight change and we have a glimpse of some very welcome sunshine to help start the new year off well.