We’ve finally had a run of good weather which means time to get in the garden before the rains descend again! This week’s big win was constructing the new raised bed and polytunnel. This one is much taller than last year’s, about four foot as opposed to two, so I can use it for some larger crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and chillies.
The cover really made a difference with last years herbs and chillies, but was far too small for the chilli plants. This year I’m using the smaller covered bed for soft herbs. This weekend I split up one supermarket plant each of basil, parsley, and coriander and potted them into place. I hope I’ve not done it too early and the cover will protect them from the colder nights and frost, but time will tell. There is also spring planted garlic in this bed. I find autumn planted garlic doesn’t work very well here and tends to rot before it gets going so I’m hoping the drier weather will work better.
I have three other beds in use at the moment with shallots and more garlic. It will be interesting to see how the garlic fares in a covered vs uncovered bed.
I also managed to get my first potatoes in! L-R (so I remember!) are Charlotte, Jazzy, and Ratte. I have more to plant out but I’m trying to space them out a bit to avoid a glut. I’ll have to keep an eye out for growth for another month or so and cover them up if it looks like frost might be on the way, but I tend to find they’re better protected in bags rather than in the ground.
It looks like good weather for the rest of this week so hopefully I’ll be able to get out for an hour or so each day to start getting things in order. I have to admit it doesn’t look too pretty out there at the moment!
My boxy is coming on at a glacial pace but at least I’m on to the neck and shoulder shaping now (not that you can really tell).
To round off the weekend I took a trip to visit my favourite sheep in the village! I hope you had a good weekend where you are!
What a difference a week makes. This time last week we were being battered by storms; this week it’s beautifully sunny and dry. While it’s is good for gardening it does mean the knitting/spinning has taken a bit of a back seat this week.
I made a start earlier this week on planting some early seeds. I usually just throw seeds in any old compost and hope for the best, but this time around I’m trying some woollen seed compost. I usually lose a few seedlings to collapse so I’ve also tried topping off with Vermiculite to see if that helps with damping off. So far I have sown chillies (Jalapeños), leeks (Lancelot), spring greens (Summer Jewel), and cucumber (F1 Baby). The greens are already coming up after only a few days on the windowsill.
Outside I made some progress with the raised beds. I am dismantling one of my older beds and reusing the planks to add a bit more depth to the existing ones. I’ll definitely get another year out of these, maybe two if I’m lucky. I’m replacing them slowly with some more substantial beds which can come with additional hoops for adding a polytunnel. I don’t have the space for a greenhouse, but last year this worked really well with the softer herbs like basil which don’t always work great in my garden.
Once I’d finished with some of the reorganisation I planted up a bed of spring shallots (Meloine) and some garlic (Picardy Wight). I’ve never had much luck with winter garlic so I thought I try this. I’ve sown some in an open bed and some under the polytunnel to see which works best.
It’s not all been hard work this week. There is progress on my endless stockinette sweater (honest!) and I’ve made time for some spinning. I have a better set up with my wheel now so that it’s easier for me to just jump on for an hour in the evening without it being a faff getting myself set up. I have my silk spinning class tomorrow and Tuesday so I’ll try and post something about those later in the week. I’ve also been making notes about my Down breed study so I’ll try and post an update on that too. I spin a lot of Merino and BFL and I’m finding the liveliness of the Downs a bit of a challenge!
Oh and I made the next step in the kitchen project and actually managed to get some people out to take a look at it. They’re going away to mock up some designs and get some estimates together. They’re so busy they won’t be able to do it until next year, but I suppose that gives me plenty of time to save up if I fall in love with something expensive.
I finally finished my first bobbin of singles from my 12 Days of Christmas spin. At this rate I should have a finished yarn by the summer! I’ve also been making progress on my Boxy but there still isn’t much of interest to see there either.
In spinning news I reactivated my School of SweetGeorgia account this week as I’ve got more time at the moment to dip into some of the workshops. I’ve been wanting to get started on a breed study as I have box of breed specific fibres in my fibre stash so I took a look at the Spinning Sheep Breeds workshop with Rachel Smith. The workshop covers four breed types: fine/medium wool, long wool, Down and Down-like breeds, and primitive breeds. There’s an overview of each breed, followed by tips on preparation methods and three or four examples of spinning fibres from each category. I’ve made a start on Down breeds because I have very little experience ofthese. I’ll be using a mix of commercially prepped fibre and some fleece samples I have. I also booked on to an online silk spinning workshop being run by Katie Weston of Hilltop Cloud so I’m looking forward to that at the end of this month.
Sadly this weekend the weather has been awful so there has been no activity in the garden. I have, however, made a start on chitting my potatoes. I have somehow managed to end up with all second earlies so if I’m not careful I will end up with huge glut of potatoes at the same time. I’m going to try and stagger the planting a bit if I can to try and get around this, and I might try leaving some in the ground a little longer and experiment with using them more like a maincrop. The varieties I’m using this year are Charlotte, Jazzy, and Ratte. My new raised bed arrived this week so I’m hoping the weather will clear up enough later in the week for me to get that in place but it doesn’t look great for the rest of the week so maybe it will have to be a crafting week.
Just a quick update from me this week because although I’m still sticking with crafting each day, neither of my main projects have much to show for it! My Boxy sweater is around the seven inches mark (only nine to go before that starts to get interesting!) and I’ve finished my first bobbin of my 12 Days of Christmas. I’m not actually sure why it is taking me so long, I don’t feel that it is any thinner than usual but it seems to be slow progress.
In non craft news I have started the job of getting quotes for the kitchen. One of the companies I’d like to use can’t even come out and quite for the job until well into March! Still this is all an opportunity to save up a bit more in case I fall in love with ridiculous kitchen additions I didn’t know I needed.
I’ve also managed to spend some time drawing up some planting schemes for the vegetable beds. It’s a bit tough trying to maximise use of limited space but I think I’m getting there. I’ve cleared out one of the beds ready for planting my spring shallots in the next few weeks and next weekend if it’s dry I’ll clear the potato bed so that is ready to go. I’d better get those chitting, too. Last year I had quite a bit of success with shallots, potatoes, and courgettes. My tomatoes and peppers were the usual disaster, this is the last year I’m going to attempt tomatoes I think. I’m adding some fancier squash this year and probably sticking more to root veg and brassicas which suit the climate here a bit more.
Since there is nothing to really photograph for this week I thought I’d go and take a photo of my favourite sheep in the village, but even they were hiding! So here’s one of my favourite spots to pause for breath on my run!