Suddenly Everywhere is Green

Finally, I can see what has come back / survived and where the gaps are. It’s certainly an improvement on last year – much less bear earth, but still too much!

I planted out loads of garlic this afternoon. We were self sufficient for nearly a year last time. I’m aiming for the same this time round. I’m very late with it, but luckily I have found clumps I missed last year, so not as behind as I’d feared.

The tigernuts / chuffa seem to be germinating. They will need large pots as I have no room in the ground for them. Same goes for the horseradish plant I bought today – I hadn’t realized they were invasive. Thankfully, I have a few empty pots hanging about.

The young quince tree is blossoming and the apple trees aren’t far behind.

Listening to bird song as I type. Love this time of year.

Woodruff finally spreading to form a carpet in the shady end of the garden. Rhubarb, gooseberry and angelica well.

Woodruff finally spreading to form a carpet in the shady end of the garden. Rhubarb, gooseberry and angelica well.

Quince 'Isfahan'

Quince ‘Isfahan’

The ever reliable hardy geraniums.

The ever reliable hardy geraniums.

Apple blossom coming (Ellison's Orange).

Apple blossom coming (Ellison’s Orange).

Tigernuts and new horseradish plant.

Tigernuts and new horseradish plant.

Forgotten garlic growing amongst the wild garlic and sweet violets.

Forgotten garlic growing amongst the wild garlic and sweet violets.

Sorrel coming along nicely.

Sorrel coming along nicely.

The forest garden extension. I've only added garlic since my last post, but everything seems to be happy.

The forest garden extension. I’ve only added garlic since my last post, but everything seems to be happy.

Raspberries 'Autumn Bliss'. Should get a summer crop and an autumn crop thanks to L's clever pruning.

Raspberries ‘Autumn Bliss’. Should get a summer crop and an autumn crop thanks to L’s clever pruning.

Beautifully green, but I can't wait for some colour. I've tried and failed to buy heartsease - none of the garden centers seem to have them atm. Maybe it's too early? They look so pretty planted amongst the strawberries.

Beautifully green, but I can’t wait for some colour. I’ve tried and failed to buy heartsease – none of the garden centers seem to have them atm. Maybe it’s too early? They look so pretty planted amongst the strawberries.

 

 

Mini Forest Garden Extension Progress (finally)

Absolutely shattered, but glad it is basically done. The photos pretty much speak for themselves, but here goes. I’ve planted three silver birches, Gooseberry ‘Hinnonmaki Red’, a Honeyberry (blue honeysuckle – I suspect Blue Velevet because of it’s prostrate growth), Rhubarb ‘Raspberry Champagne’ and a Daubington’s Kale. Oh, and a grape, Frankenthaler, hopefully to be trained against the shed (cavary). (Not really sure how practical that is, but I’ve put it there for now). I need to buy another Honeyberry to complete ‘the bones’. Interplanting wise I’ve just popped in a few things from other places round the garden. A few alpine strawberries, some sorrel, ladies mantle and columbines. I need to have a really good think. Ideally I’ll fit in some perennial veg. Hopefully my new book, ‘Edible Perennial Gardening – Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces’ by Anni Kelsey will inspire me.

On the path behind I still have my old blueberry bushes. One is still growing strongly in a metal tub. The other is on it’s last legs in a wooden container, also on it’s last legs. I think they are around 13 years old now, so I can’t complain. I have numerous terracotta pots to fill. I want to get another two or three blueberry bushes. No specific plans for the others. Although, I might try some thymes in the strawberry planter. Maybe I’ll have more luck with them in that than I do in the ground?

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New Plants and a New Routine

The postman delivered some seeds to me today, or rather some seeds and some tiny tubers.

Kale 'Red Russian', Kale 'Nero de Toscana' and Cyperus esculentus (aka Chufa / Tigernut).

Kale ‘Red Russian’, Kale ‘Nero de Toscana’ and Cyperus esculentus (aka Chufa / Tigernut).

I was slightly taken aback by how tiny the tigernut tubers were. I knew they weren’t going to be big, but my goodness, I’ll need very good crops for it to be worth it :/ They are supposed to be very nutritious though and tick the primal box with an A*. (They are not nuts but tubers). I just hope they take to pots as I have nowhere for root crops now. (Haven’t even planted any Jerusalem Artichokes this year). I shall put the tubers to soak for 36 hours before planting (this method has proven successful for others).

I do hope the kales are a success as we are going through loads of the stuff. They will have to muddle on in my mixed west facing border. I shall place the ‘Nero de Toscana’ down the sunniest end and Red Russian in the shadier end, nearer the house (which casts a shadow).

This afternoon we popped to a local garden centre (Haskins) where I bought a young angelica replacement and two small thyme plants. Namely, ‘Common Thyme’ and ‘Doone Valley’. I hope these fare better than my previous thymes. I think maybe I need to use them more often – it might help stop them from going so woody.

Later on, in Wilkinsons, I spotted a reduced rhubarb plant (£2 from £4.50). I can’t see anything wrong with it. No leaves as yet, but I can see they are coming. It’s called ‘Raspberry Champagne’. It’s my third rhubarb plant, the others being ‘Victoria’ and ‘Timperley Early’. I like rhubarb not only for it’s edible stalks but also for it’s looks. I’ll pop it in the new forest garden extension.

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On Friday we went to an HE group, as we did the week before. This is quite a novelty for us as, with our severe nut and peanut allergies, groups have been out of the question. However, this group has a blanket no nuts or peanuts rule. Such peace of mind! The girls really enjoy it. There is always something cleverly crafty to do, plus kickboxing! I love it that they do anything from the delicate art of decoupage to kickboxing in one afternoon :)  There are other unstructured activities to choose from too. H spent most of the last session kicking a football around with a mixed age group. It’s wonderful how HE kids accomodate one another. Not something seen very often in school children. Well, not in my experience anyway.

Spurred on by the nut free group I have started organising fortnightly nut free play meet-ups. Always outside and informal – the kids soon find fun things to do with minimal or no lead from the adults. Den building and getting wet seem to be firm favourites.

AIP + Whole30 – Day 2

Last night (Day 1) was tough. I clearly have more of a chocolate and / or caffeine addiction than I’d realised :/

I don’t eat dark chocolate everyday, but now I think about it I would probably have some cocoa. Going to bed with out my cup of cocoa was not pleasant. I like my cocoa. It’s a routine dating back to my teens. I rarely break it.

To make up for no bedtime cocoa I drank water. Then a bit more water. I ended up drinking way too much water and kept having to get up for the loo! Then, at around 5am I woke feeling shaky and a bit light headed. Caffeine withdrawal? :/

However, by the time I woke up properly this morning I felt fine. No rash on my face either – this is probably not connected to the new diet – it’s been on it’s way out, thankfully! I managed not to feel too bad dishing up honey and yoghurt to my youngest child. I didn’t even feel tempted to lick the spoon. However, I didn’t fancy eating anything either, so didn’t until lunch. Pretty standard skillet – homemade burgers, sweet potato, finely chopped Brussel sprouts, onion and leek, plus loads of curly kale. All fried in EVOO.

Tonight is lambs liver – oh the joy :sigh: Actually, it wasn’t too bad last time. I very nearly liked it. Sadly, I can’t have bacon, but I’ll get some for the kids – H wants to wrap her liver in it. I don’t blame her – I’d do the same if I could.

I’m doing pretty well on my veg intake – I’d say I’m pretty near to my goal of three cups of leafy greens, three cups of ‘colourful things (berries, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc) and three cups of sulphur rich veg (cabbage family and alliums) a day. But, I need more variety. I also need to do more proper cooking rather than skillets and roast dinners. Be a bit more adventurous. I’ve bought myself a couple more books to help with that, ‘Well Fed 2′ by Melissa Joulwan and ‘Practical Paleo’ by Diane Sanfilippo. Both have AIP recipes and adaptation advise.

Hope I have a more restful night than last night. Thirty days suddenly feels like a long time.

Wordless Wednesday – Well, very nearly.

The gadren is springing into life and I’m slowing getting back on top of it.

It’s all looking rather tatty still – my ‘new’ extra chicken coop is still sat on the lawn and the dismantled Wendy house remains propped up against the garage. But plant wise things are coming along nicely.

We’ve finally made some progress with the forest garden extension. Although, the silver birches are still only heeled in and until they are in properly no inter planting can be done. Thankfully, I have lots of young plants I can move about. It shouldn’t take much to fill it.

Anyway, here are some assorted pics of the garden.

One of the young silver birch trees (Betula pendula)

One of the young silver birch trees (Betula pendula)

Rhubarb 'Victoria'

Rhubarb ‘Victoria’

Blackcurrant 'Ben Lomond' (Ribes nigrum 'Ben Lomond')

In the background the extended forest garden, yet to be planted up. In the foreground Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’ (Ribes nigrum ‘Ben Lomond’), sweet violets, wild garlic, alpine strawberries, plus a few others

Raspberries 'Autumn Bliss'

Raspberries ‘Autumn Bliss’

The weeping mulberry (Morus alba 'Pendula')

The weeping mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’)

Red currant, Medlar 'Nottingham' (staked), Blackcurrant 'Ben Lomond', Columbines, Alpine strawberries, wild garlic, Lemon balm, Rhubarb 'Victoria', plus others.

Red currant, Medlar ‘Nottingham’ (staked), Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’, Columbines, Alpine strawberries, wild garlic, Lemon balm, Rhubarb ‘Victoria’, plus others.

The wildlife pond.

The wildlife pond.

Red gooseberry surrounded by spring bulbs (now over), columbines, alpine strawberries and some chard - a survivor from last year.

Red gooseberry surrounded by spring bulbs (now over), columbines, alpine strawberries and some chard – a survivor from last year.

So good to see green again!

So good to see green again!

Rhubarb 'Timperley Early'

Rhubarb ‘Timperley Early’

The honeysuckle swag, finally beginning to 'swag' :)

The honeysuckle swag, finally beginning to ‘swag’ :)

Wineberry trained along the fence. Part of the unfinished forest garden extension in the background.

Wineberry trained along the fence. Part of the unfinished forest garden extension in the background.

Chives, Salad burnet and another straggler chard from last year. Vinca major flowering in the background.

Chives, Salad burnet and another straggler chard from last year. Vinca major flowering in the background.

Feverfew

Feverfew

Alchemilla mollis - one of my favourite plants.

Alchemilla mollis – one of my favourite plants.

Alpine strawberry

Alpine strawberry

Woodruff - looking promising. I'm hoping it will thicken up nicely this year.

Woodruff – looking promising. I’m hoping it will thicken up nicely this year.

For the first time ever the Honeyberry has flowered! Might have something to do with me having put it in the sun :blush:

For the first time ever the Honeyberry has flowered! Might have something to do with me having put it in the sun :blush:

A Lesson In Eating Seasonably?

The primal diet is still going well. No slip ups – not even tempted. The results are still there, and whilst I haven’t actually gained anymore weight I feel stronger, more solid.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing since my last blog post. I mentioned that I thought the birch pollen was getting to me. Well, now I’m convinced of it. The itching and the rash on my face has been pretty severe – to the point where I’ve been embarrassed by how I look and not wanted to go out (although I forced myself to). Although I have reacted before it’s never been this bad, not to birch anyway. K and I were thinking things through and it could be that I’ve just never been exposed to so much of it before. One of my new favourite walks I only discovered a few months ago – the whole area is thick with birch trees. So, maybe it was this that triggered it, but now I’m sensitised pretty much every outing ends in an itchy chin, at the very least! It seems to be dampening down now, but then I’ve avoided the walk in question and thoroughly wash off my face when I return from all outings. This seems to help.

Frustratingly, I seem to have now developed oral allergy syndrome (OAS) to fresh fruit! This is almost certainly connected to my birch pollen allergy (many fruits are cross reactive with birch pollen). I’ve never had OAS before and I’m hoping that this episode is just because I’m super sensitive at the moment, and that after the birch pollen season is over I won’t react. :fingerscrossed: The reaction is mild, just a very slight tickle in my throat, but followed by nasal congestion and the return of the cheek swelling (over my sinuses) that I’ve worked so hard to get rid of. Thankfully, it goes quite quickly with antihistamine. It feels very different to my serious allergies, so I’m going to retry the fruit (strawberries and apples) when they are in season over here. Maybe if I’d stuck to seasonal fruit this would never have happened. Lesson learned – eat the seasons!

That’s all for this blog post. I feel it’s all getting rather muddled – diet and food in with gardening / permaculture / home education / ponies :dizzy: So, I’m going to make all primal / AIP diet related posts completely separate from now on as the other topics muddle along together quite nicely. Whereas my ramblings on diet etc really need to be separate.