Sunday, 10 October 2010


My (ellies) turn to post today!

Seren likes to wake up early ... REALLY early!  And while I very much look forward to the day we all sleep past 6 am, I secretly very much enjoy our early mornings together!  I lay in bed for as long as possible listening to the lovely happy baby chatter, and once that turns into not so happy grumbles, I drag myself out of bed and into Seren's room.

  I lift her out of the cot, and we open the blinds, she usually points at the streetlights and tells me "lights!" ... she loves her lights!  After a nappy change and perhaps a story or 2 (depending on how ungodly the hour is, I like to kill a bit more time before heading downstairs!), we head downstairs.  Now that its autumn and the mornings are dark and cold, our first task of the morning is usually porridge!

Seren sits in her high chair expectantly as I stir oats, maple syrup and milk with our homegrown berries over the stove!  She chirps in with the occasional impatiently yelled "YUMMUM!!"  When its cooked we usually enjoy it sitting on the living room floor, with the curtains open, so we can watch the day slowly wake up!  The rest of the morning usually entails Seren running around, pyjama clad and porridge faced, babbling, chatting on the "phone" and giggling, while I sip on my tea and we wait for Daddy to wake up.

We love mornings really!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cluck cluck!

We've always fancied having chickens for fresh eggs - so recently we set about converting an old bike shed in our garden into a chicken coop...

From this old shed... being cut down, fixed up and strengthened...

To treated, and moved to the back of the side garden.

Run in progress in the garage.
Once this work was done, we popped over to a local farm that stock a lot of poultry and came home with a French Black Rock (Benedict - "Bennie"), a Light Sussex (Florentine - "Florrie"), and a Magpie (Shelly).  Here's some picture of them arriving at their new home!

On the way home

Seren greats the new 'dog' with "woof woof"

Seren greeting them, whilst showing them it's ok to eat clumps of soil.
Exploring the run
They're 17 weeks old, all hybrids - with Florrie being a dual purpose (layer, and also a good eater!).  In the few days that we've had them it's been fun noticing their different personalities.  The black rock is so nosey, always coming to you first to see what's going on.  Whilst I was digging, she was out and about eating worms and what not from right under my spade (on the 2nd day we had her!)

Worm hunting!

A close up of Bennie

Florrie - a bit shy, but a real gannet.

Shelly - hopped on my legs whilst I was snipping some wire ends off the run.

Today we all went out to give them a bowl of rice with raisins, and oats - Seren took to them like a duck to water!  They didn't seem to mind being poked and screamed at in joy either!

Pictures are a bit grainy as they were all taken on my phone!  Whilst we were out there, we picked a load of yellow raspberries (All Gold) - they're quite mild tasting, but so fragile and break up into a juicey pulp in your hands if you're not careful with them.  I'll be ripping them out and replacing them with another autumn fruiting raspberry.. perhaps Autumn Bliss - I'm not sure yet!  Our Summer fruiting ones were amazing in taste, I'd fully recommend trying Glem Ample - thornless too, unlike these All Gold, which are a right pain picking.

Once we have enough we're going to make Jam out of them.
Washed and ready for the freezer

Fast forward 1 year...

...and here we are today.  We'd have a great harvest from the garden, plenty of fruit and veg - really pleased for being so new to it all.  We've also had our fair share of set backs too - relentless battles with snails and slugs, various diseases and some just all out failures (mainly as I always seem to bite off more than I can chew and couldn't keep up with the demands of the plants and Seren, plus the other jobs in the house we were doing - pretty much buying new furniture, furnishings, and having our bathroom redone).  A few good harvests have been parnsips, carrots and pumpkins!

50p piece next to 'Autumn King' - shall definitely grow these again!

50p next to this parnsip - doesn't look much but weighed in at just over 2lbs - plenty for a big batch of soup!
Ellie made some really nice (if I do say so myself) Jam with the Blackberries, Summer Rasberries and Strawberries (plus some shop-bought blueberries as we only got 1 berry from our three blueberry bushes!). A couple weeks ago I had a go at making Green Tomato Chutney, which despite burning the pan turned out quite nice!  Although I did cheat and use up some peppers, chillies and courgettes (some bought too) as I didn't have enough tomatoes!

From these... to...

this - not very green tomato chutney

Hello !

We thought it was about time that we sorted a blog out, so family & friends a far could keep track of our doings!

We moved into our current house back in September 2009, after selling our house when Seren was just 2 weeks old.  A month later, after living with Ellie's mother we (i.e. Ellie) decided that this was the house she wanted to live in.  With a 6 week old baby, we started out our journey as a new family in our new home.

Come December I (me.. Chris) wanted to get to grips with some gardening.  We'd had a taste of growing a few things in our previous house - mainly by buying plants from the garden centre, but this time around I wanted to do it properly.

Down the bottom of our garden, we had an area about 15' x 20' (in an arc-shape, not square unfortunately) covered with stone chippings.  I set to work creating some beds:

Building the raised beds!
After becoming a regular on some gardening forums I got a lot of the advice and help needed (by bugging the members there!) to start our growing our own fruit and veg!

To cut a long story short, after I had dug around 4' down through the stone chippings & finally filled the beds (went with the three larger ones in the above picture - still haven't used the small square ones) I became hooked on growing things.  Every south-facing windowsill in the house was over-run with pots of seedlings and one of the bedrooms had the floor full of pots too.  I soon ran out of (planned) growing space and put my name down on all the allotment sites around us.  

Come March/April we decided to fence in the garden that was around the side of our house:

Side garden as seen from Google streeview!
This would give me a lot more room to grow in, and also a site for a greenhouse (bad planning really - perhaps it'd have been better down the bottom of the garden, although I didn't want to have to fill in the holes I'd dug and shift almost 3 tonnes of topsoil/compost!)

Once the fence was completed I started to dig out the site for the greenhouse, as can be seen from the next set of photos.  It was a bit of a pain as this side garden is on a slope, and I wanted to try and drop the level of the greenhouse down so it was a bit more hidden from view.

Choosing the best orientation

Started to dig the site out

I'll finish this post off with some more photos to show you the progress made...

Site cleared, trench dug, base assembled

Base concreted in, leveled out and stabilising fabric down  
Pea gravel laid inside, and slabs laid to stop earth falling onto the greenhouse
Frame up, only the glass to go
Beds in the back garden
I'd also created another raised bed in the side garden, 10' x 3' - and then divided this into 1' squares, to try out the Square Foot Gardening method, it's worked quite well although I'll be moving this bed later on.  I created two further beds for fruit, and had put various pots and tubs of more fruit and veg.

I started a Picasa album with more photos in -