Things Are Starting To Grow

Things are starting to grow at last on The Tiny Farm! Over the last few weeks, I have been slowly preparing and planting, just a little bit at a time, to try to get my Tiny Farm growing and this weekend it looks like some of that hard work might just pay off.

Grass June 14If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know that pretty much all of the grass rotted away over the winter and I have been struggling to get it to grow back. This week, however, we have had some progress and some small blades of grass are starting to appear in the section that I sowed a couple of weeks ago.

Grass Tray June 14Because I want to be able to use my washing line and have access to the planting beds, I decided against sowing the whole area for now. Instead, I planted some grass seeds in trays, hoping that I might be able to transfer them to the ground once the grass has established itself. The seed trays are currently in the cold frame and seem to be doing pretty well so far.

Potatoes June 14I also planted some potatoes in the main bed and some of them look like they are coming through already. I had to Google ‘potato plants’ to make sure that they weren’t weeds, but they look like the right leaves so fingers crossed they’ll produce some nice potatoes from late summer and into autumn.

Spring Onions June 14The spring onions are looking good too and seem to be about the only thing (other than the potatoes) that I’ve been able to plant without them being eaten by slugs. I’ve decided to plant a couple of pots of these every other week, so hopefully the first batch will be ready to eat soon. Maybe in another couple of weeks?

I also got some free vegetable seeds with the plants that I ordered the other week so I’m going to sow some of these this afternoon. There’s rocket, basil and a pack of sweet pepper seeds, so they should keep me in fresh salads through the summer, all being well.

How’s your garden doing? What veggies work best in your garden? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

A Quick Catch Up

It has been a while since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d better drop by for a quick catch-up, just to get things back on track, so here goes:

The Back Garden

I finally finished weeding and the back garden. It took a lot of time and some very strong weed killer, but it’s looking much better. Well, if dirt is better than weeds that is!

As well as planting some potatoes, I managed to dig out the cold frame and put it together without the instructions. I’ve no idea what happened to them, but it wasn’t too hard in the end, even though some of the green plastic things that connect the pipes together were broken – let’s hope for a wind free summer on that one!

The grass, or rather, the area that used to be grass, is pretty much just dirt now. However, I did manage to dig some of it up and plant some grass seeds, so hopefully that will help it come back again.

I also planted a couple of seed trays with grass seed and put them in the cold frame. Seems like a strange thing to do, I know, but I wanted to see if I could grow the grass in trays and then transplant it into the ground. It’s an experiment, so we’ll see.

The Front Garden

The front garden was also looking a bit rubbish so I weeded that too and ordered some plants from Suttons Seeds. They are pretty small and green at the moment, but hopefully they’ll bring some flowers over the summer.

I also cut the hedge yesterday, which was a pretty big job. It’s not a small hedge and, even with an eight foot ladder, I had trouble cutting the top of it. The main problem was that the front garden is on a very uneven slope, making the ladder pretty wobbly and a wee bit unsafe when balancing on the top rung with a set of sharp garden shears. Still, I managed to tidy it up a bit, even if the top is a bit spiky in places. Perhaps I’ll try again next week and see if I can cut a bit lower down.

So, that’s the update to get things back up to speed. Hopefully now that I’m getting back into the garden, I’ll start posting regularly again and may even have some progress pics for you next weekend.

Until then, happy growing!

Time To Get Organised

organiseI am a terrible hoarder. There’s no two ways about it. And that, along with the fact that I tend to procrastinate when it comes to housework, has left my little flat a little bit untidy to say the least.

In days gone by I didn’t really mind the mess, but after moving home last summer I made a promise to myself that I would try to take a more minimalist approach to living. Now by that I certainly didn’t mean that I would give up all of my worldly goods and comforts; I just wanted to make my life a little bit simpler by reducing the number of possessions that I have taking up space in my life.

Of course, being a self-confessed procrastinator, I haven’t done very much at all to achieve this goal. In fact, apart from a bit of recycling and one or two trips to the charity shop, I haven’t done anything at all since the Autumn.

But today all of that is about to change. Today I have decided to make a start and finally get my home organised!

must get organisedWell, I’m not going to do it all today. The mere thought of that would simply send me into a curled up ball of work avoidance. No, instead I have come up with a plan to make this whole de-cluttering lark a bit more achievable.

The Plan is to do a little bit every weekend. Nothing major. Just half and hour or so, starting with one box or one drawer or one cupboard at a time and finally get rid of some of the things that I no longer need or want. And the plan seems to be working so far!

Ok, I know, it’s only the first day, but here’s what I got rid of this weekend:

  • 2 bags of clothes for the charity shop
  • 1 bag of old teaching notes for the recycling
  • 1 bag of broken folders for the bin

Not bad for an old procrastinating hoarder like myself!

Gone To Pot

Gone To PotThe poor old Tiny Farm seems to have gone to pot over the winter. The grass has rotted away, the weeds have taken over and even the fence is falling to pieces. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The fact that the weeds are flourishing means that Spring has finally sprung and it’s time to start growing again. And, with a nice long Bank Holiday Weekend, I’ve got three days to get my garden in order, starting with today!

My first job was a fairly simple one. Cut back some weeds! With the entire garden, including the paths and what was once a patch of lush green grass having been overtaken by clover, native bluebells, green alkanet and just about every other weed and unwanted wild flower imaginable, this wasn’t going to be an easy task.

The bluebells seem to flourish in this area which was once a bluebell wood and, lovely as they are, they simply take up far too much space in the part of the garden that I want to use for growing food. So, instead of killing them off completely, which would be a real shame, I decided to cut the flowers for the house and leave the bulbs in the soil for next year.

Bluebells

The green alkanet, however, poses a much bigger problem. While the flowers are quite pretty in a nice woodland setting, these weeds spread and grow like crazy and, with their prickly leaves and deep roots are a real nuisance in the garden. Tackling these proved to be hard work and the roots were too deep to remove completely, but after a lot of digging and a good dose of weedkiller, hopefully that will be the last we see of it for a while.

By lunchtime, I had weeded more than half of the bed so, after tackling most of the green alkanet, I decided to use the weed killer on what remained. Not the most ecologically friendly approach, I know, but the weed killer I chose is about the most eco friendly one I could find that actually works – although we’ll see in a week or so if it has had any effect or not.

Weeding

I had to leave the garden alone for the rest of the afternoon to let the weed killer do it’s thing but tomorrow, all being well, I should be able to start planting some veggies in that nice clear spot. I can’t wait to get started!

 

Critters, Cold Frames and Compost

There’s not much growing in The Tiny Farm at the moment. The last of the original radishes finally succumbed to the same fate as the others and were munched by some kind of nocturnal tiny critter, leaving the original small bed completely empty, apart from the usual sprouts of clover. That stuff really does get everywhere!

The cold frame isn’t doing much either, apart from collecting water and sagging in the middle. Nothing much has sprouted yet, other than the mystery greens, which I hope will grow a bit bigger than they are at the moment.

Again, something seems to like the taste of them, so I replanted a few of them in a pot that the previous tenant left behind. I’m hoping that this might keep them out of reach of the pesky tiny critters.

As today was dry and fairly mild, I decided to get on with some weeding. I started with the border, which was starting to become a bit overgrown with weeds. It’s only a small area, so it didn’t take long, but as I was doing it I came up with an idea.

As you might expect, my small compost container is getting pretty full. Not only that, but it’s also fairly gross as it has become home to a lot of slugs and flies. So, I decided that, since I’m not going to be planting anything in the border until Spring, it might be a good idea to empty the compost bin and plant its contents there instead.

I think I mentioned before that my compost seems to smoke a lot when disturbed, and boy was this stuff smoking! True, most of the paper shreds that I had put in there still looked like paper, and there were some recent banana skins and orange peels that were still identifiable by sight (and smell!), but most of it seemed to be composting pretty well.

I noticed that right in the middle there was some powdery green stuff which seemed to be where most of the smoke was coming from. It kind of resembled mouldy bread, but with no actual bread remaining. I don’t know if that’s what it was or nor, but I’m wondering if perhaps the carbs in the bread are creating the energy to cook the compost more effectively. I’ve recently read that bread is not good for the compost pile as it attracts pests, but I guess we’ll find out.

Anyway, it felt pretty satisfying burying it and cleaning out the container ready to start again. I do love to compost!

In Other News…

Look what’s growing in my veggie patch!

6_Oct_2013_Mushroom

A Productive Day

6_Oct_2013_RadishesAfter planting my first seeds a couple of weeks ago, I have to say that I’m not too impressed with their progress so far. At first, things looked quite promising as the radishes began to grow little green shoots. However, this particular variety of radish must be quite tasty as most of them seem to have been eaten already!

6_Oct_2013_GreensThe mystery leaf salad garden was even less successful as only a few of the seeds seem to be growing – assuming that these are in fact my seeds and not weeds. Again, I put this down to the wildlife in the garden. Not the type that likes to eat their greens, but the large furry whiskered creature from the flat upstairs who likes to dig in that particular spot!

Thankfully though, after a few days of holiday from work, I have now trained my cat to chase that particular beast. She was reluctant at first, but once she knew I had her back, she chased it right over the fence.

ColdframeSo, in order to keep the beasts at bay while I am at work and the cat is busy doing whatever it is she does all day, I decided to invest some of my hard earned cash in a very cheap cold frame and get started on the larger bed.

It’s not the best cold frame in the world and I’m not sure how it will stand up (literally) to harsher weather, but at £14.99 it’s got to be worth a go.

So, with half of the larger bed weeded, dug, raked and topped up with some of the free compost that the former tenant left behind, I got to work with some planting.

6_Oct_2013_PlantingThe two rows on the left are Valdor Lettuce and Radishes, with the larger box containing some onion seeds and the smaller box sprinkled with more mystery leaf salad.

Hopefully things will start growing soon and, who knows, that first planting of radishes and leaf salad may still have a chance of making it to my plate in the next couple of weeks.

But, after a hard day’s work, here’s how the Tiny Farm is looking so far.

6_Oct 2013_Garden

Streetbank

Streetbank2

Images Courtesy of StreetBank.com

When I first thought of the idea of turning my home into a Tiny Farm, my main goal was to save money on food. After all, growing your own food has got to be a whole lot cheaper than buying it, right?

In the long run, it should be, but without any proper tools or equipment for digging and maintaining the garden, there is a real danger that the whole project could become a big money pit – and money is something that I really don’t have much of to start with.

StreetbankThankfully, however, I recently discovered my local StreetBank community, where neighbours can lend and borrow pretty much anything they like.

The idea is that everyone who signs up offers at least one thing that they can share with their community. These can be items like tools, books or even rooms to use; or they might be skills such as helping with homework, massage or IT support. Basically, it’s about sharing things with your neighbours rather than having to pay money for things that you may only need to use occasionally.

While I know that in the long run I will probably need to buy my own gardening tools, for now I can borrow most of what I need on StreetBank. And when I do  have some tools of my own, I will be able to share these with my neighbours too.

So, today I needed something to cut the grass in my back garden. It’s only a very small area of grass so a lawnmower would have been a bit excessive. Fortunately, I found a neighbour who was willing to lend me his strimmer for a few hours. And it worked a treat!

I don’t have anything like a perfect lawn as the grass is quite patchy and bumpy, but the strimmer was enough to take the height off it and, as an added bonus, provide me with some grass clippings for my compost.

The best part about today’s StreetBank adventure, however, was that I met a neighbour – a like minded person who believes in community and sharing with others. And that is something worth celebrating!

Have you used StreetBank? What items or skills would you be willing to share with your neighbours?

In Other News…

My Compost Is Smokin’

I first noticed some smoke from my compost when I gave it a bit of a stir last week. My first reaction was to Google “compost fires”, just to make sure that I wasn’t about to burn the house down. Thankfully, this is just part of the compost cooking process, so it’s all good. As long as there aren’t any flames.

Just to make sure though, I added an extra bowl of water to the mix.

Experiments With Seeds

My seeds arrived on Friday!  I found them by my letter box when I got home from work and was so excited that I could barely wait until today to plant them, but I did wait. And it was worth it.

I don’t have much in the way of gardening equipment, other than the end of an old hoe that I found in the outside toilet, so there was a fair bit of improvisation involved when it came to preparing the beds for the seeds.

I decided to start with some radishes and a mysterious mix of leaf salad. They are supposed to be fairly fast growing and ok to plant in September, so after a quick breakfast I got to work.

My main concern about growing food is that I’m not sure what the leaves are supposed to look like when they start growing and I don’t want to end up eating weeds by accident. So, I started today by digging out two small trenches for the radishes and filling them up with compost in the hope that this will help to limit the weeds.

Planting Radish Rows

The trench on the left has some good compost that I bought a week or so ago. It feels warm and damp to the touch, as opposed to the stuff that I found in the outside loo, which just doesn’t feel as good somehow. I’m not sure if it will make any difference, but I used it anyway in the trench on the right.

I decided to plant three rows of radishes, one in each trench and a row in the area in between – after all that digging, the soil felt pretty good and there’s about a 20 cm gap between them so it’s worth a try. It’s all a bit of an experiment, so we’ll see soon enough which row works out best in the end.

After digging out the trenches, I had a nice collection of stones and bits of broken rock, so I used these to mark out an area for the mystery leaf salad garden. By this point, my fear of eating weeds had been defeated by my eagerness to get planting, so I sowed my mystery seeds in rows and covered them with some of the old compost.

Planting Mystery Garden

I guess they won’t need a huge amount of space as the instructions on the packet say that you can sow them in borders.

Planting Day 1

Anyway, that’s today’s planting done. Tomorrow, I may invest in some better tools to prepare the larger bed for some lettuce and onions. But for now, I’m feeling pretty good about my Tiny Farm.