Demolition Derby

I do love my new husband, and there are not many things I won’t do for him. However climbing up on a rickety old roof to look at a rotten bit of wood that he’s just been smacking with a crowbar is one step too far.

I have always been the office girl. I google the best places to find things and then send him on a mission to collect the lovingly sourced hunks of plywood and roof felt. Bet he’s glad he settled for me, eh?

I am terrified of heights, I’m not going to lie. So I always knew that the roof repairs would have to wait until the light of my life felt energetic. Or until he got bored of me saying how ‘cold the allotment is’ and how ‘lovely it would be to be able to have a cup of tea in the dry’.

Well yesterday was finally that day.

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I finished work a little early so I managed to get there just as the sun was going down (4pm?! Christmas is coming…) and found MrT up a ladder ripping bits of roof off.

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He had already managed to get the old rotten sheets off and cut himself on the old felt, so all was going well.

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Until he found this.

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“Come up and have a look” he said.
“Don’t worry, its safe” he said.

So I climbed up the ladder and stood on a beam, and I am telling you now – That wasn’t safe.

So I swiftly climbed back down and watched him adoringly, giving helpful advice like ‘be careful’ and ‘don’t fall off’.

I was on screw patrol, and would pass up hardware and hunks of wood salvaged from the old chicken run so that he could add a few more beams to the ever wobblier roof. And he was doing really well until it got so dark he couldn’t see the ground!

So ‘we’ gave up for the night and went home for chicken nuggets. Success!

He is back up there today (bless his little heart) to board out the roof and get it as secure as possible.

It’ll probably be down to me to felt it tomorrow since the days are so short now, but hopefully I will be a bit less of a cry baby about it when I can’t see the ground through the cracks in the beams I am standing on!

Summertime update

Spent a lovely few hours down the plot with MrT this evening.

Its been super busy recently with our friends’ wedding coming up but thought i would show you all how its going!

Starting with the sunflowers for the top table display

My lemon cucumbers are looking fab…

And make great additions to drinks!

The greenhouse is starting to look like a forest

And the courgettes have gone from tiny to huge in a few days

The pumpkins are like triffids in the sun

But the onions are as big as they are going to get i think

I plaited them up so that i could hang them to dry in the sun without the Rottie Beasts eating them all!

Lots of planting over the next few weeks to try and get the winter greens in, so i will keep you all in the loop when i can.

So proud of 2018 so far, even if i have spent most of the time and effort working “behind the seens” on the bramble control situation!

Think i deserve that cider…

Say hello to my little friend…!

So today my friend came to The Goose Roost to help out and get her little patch of land ready for her wedding flowers.

Meet Rachel!

We had to check the chicken run before doing anything else, as unfortunately two doors down lost 4 overnight to MrFox and had to dispatch another thanks to a bitten leg and foot. Luckily ours are safe, but i will pop back when MrT gets back tonight (11pm ish) and take the dogs up to wee everywhere…hopefully that’ll keep them at bay!

He has got babies living on the wasteland (the fox not MrT!) so i dont blame him for being hungry, but i do wish they would only take what they eat, not kill several!

But anyway…back to our wedding workout. The area was pretty clear. It wasn’t all that great to look at at first though!

Her little area!

Rach is having a beautiful cobalt blue and sunflower wedding, so we want to make sure that the flower heads are ready for the end of July!

What she doesn’t use of this plot will be grassed over to create a lovely seating area for the summer, and to also keep the weeds down for another year until we cultivate it.

Half way through

We arrived at about 3pm to gloom and grey clouds, but luckily the weather stayed dry for us.

We managed to get it all dug over in about 2.5 hours and ready to rake and sow grass seeds later in the week.

Done!

Shes a good grafter and we had a good natter while we did it! Even managed time to have a luke-warm cup of hot chocolate. I must remember to take mugs next time….

Sowing sunflowers

Next stop was to pull up the few weeds in the greenhouse and sow the seeds. While she did her sunflowers (several varieties and all gorgeous!) I sowed some marigold seeds. Its way too cold this year to sow them direct, plus it means that we will know what is a plant and what is a weed. Thats always a bonus.

Very technical

I heard that marigolds are good to distract nasty bugs from eating you veg, so hopefully they will be around every bed this season. I had awful problems with ‘friends’ last year.

Look at those strawberries though…

It was Rach’s first time planting anything really, so a good opportunity to sound like i know what I’m talking about. In actual fact i just pulled up weeds and filled up a watering can, but we wont tell her that will we?

All in!

How beautiful is this looking!

I can’t wait to see things staring to sprout. We saved some seeds to sow more in a week or two so hopefully at least something will have flowers on for The Big Day.

Ready to be raked

Productive afternoon to say the least!

Makes me want to paint over that red though…..

When it rains, it pours

Cold and wet day down the lottie today, but the hens were happy and the blossom is out!

Rosmary flowers

Apple blossom

Cherry blossom

Strawberry flowers

Pear blossom

Strawberrys

The hens were treated to another hay bale today to try and soak up some of the rain. The old stuff i dug out i put around my berry canes. Hopefully this will be a wonderful manure for them! I love raspberries and am hoping for my first home-grown crop this year.

Hopefully a bumper crop!

The rain them started belting down, but as i was already up there i wanted to finish up. I covered much of the top end of the bed in weed membrane as the same sun that has helped my plants grow has also helped the weeds, and i wont have time to get it all perfectly dug over like the spud bed.

Weed membrane, trying to battle nettles!

All home and clean now, but my boots have seen better days! Poor things have got so many holes in now, they definately arent waterproof any more!

Ready for a nap!

Back off up there tomorrow to get some sunflowers in for my friends wedding… lets hope its drier!

Have you heard my under construction joke? It’s not done yet.

Two days off in a week, means two demolition/fire/destruction/smashing jobs done in a week.

I should have known really when the sledgehammer ended up in the boot of the car that something dramatic was about to happen.

This ‘building’, or ricketty pile of bricks, is built in the most inconvenient place in the allotment. It blocks access to a good 20sqm of space which could otherwise be useful.

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Very inconvenient old walls

I mentioned my wish to have this *eventually* removed to MrT a while ago.

So while I was planting my spuds, MrT was making some smashing and grunting noises around the back of my greenhouse. I would have been worried if I couldn’t hear his grumbles.

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Smashing away

 

He didn’t move anything, he just wacked it.

 

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Gone!

We did, however, find out that those walls were supporting my greenhouse… Bugger. Now thats got to come down to as all of the wood is rotten and its being held up by its shelving!

Soon enough he had got it all down and stacked up the bricks nice and neatly while I finished putting my spuds in.

Just out of curiosity, who mounds theirs up and who doesn’t?

I just dig a hole, push my shovel forwards so that it makes a deeper hole, drop my spud in and then removed the spade and fill in the hole.
I don’t bother mounding them up unless a spud sticks above the surface and always seem to get as much of a crop as everyone else.
I also don’t faff about with worrying which are First, Second or Main crops. I just plonk them all in and harvest them when the plant tells me they need harvesting.

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Spuds are in

I have put 6 rows in, some of red King Edwards and some of Maris Pipers. I am waiting on the complaints and criticisms of the other plot holders on my site about my lack of lines and mounds, but to be honest the less work the better.

At least I got to use my adorable signs that I bought in the sales last year!

Wilkos Signs

A day of good and bad… and its only 9am!

We lost one of our chickens this morning… poor girlie.

We think she may have had a sour crop, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help her. She had been very quiet all day, sitting in the coop, but having been broody for a week or so we thought nothing of it. When I went in to feed and water though it was obvious she wasn’t very well.

We put her into the spare coop we call the ‘recovery coop’. Its bright pink and lovely and warm and quiet. We gave her lots of clean bedding and water with Apple Cider Vinegar, and ‘burped’ her as best we could. She seemed a little perkier before we left and was snuggling up into her bedding, but unfortunately she was gone by this morning.

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Itsy, Bitsy and Small…

We did have three new arrivals today!

Welcome Itsy, Bitsy and Small.

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Itsy

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Bitsy

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Small

These three ladies have come to join my current boy and two girlies. They are a bit bigger than the resident 3, even if they are a lot younger.

The resident quail came from a facebook friend who needed to get rid of them quickly. They knew I rescued my dogs and ex-batts so contacted me. They knew I wouldn’t say no, so they ended up living with us! They were very, very scared, and unfortunately 4 soon became 3. We think they are much older than we were told, but we don’t mind. They have only laid 3 eggs since we have had them, but winter was hard this year and it is only just beginning to warm up.

The new three are Jumbo Coturnix Quail, and are adorable! They are very inquisitive and active, and are already braver than my other three. The man says they have already started laying, which is brilliant for MrT’s cheffy antics!

I hope they settle in wonderfully and that they will have a lovely happy life with us.

MrT The Pyromaniac!

I leave him alone for ONE DAY and he sets fire to the plot!

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Fire Bug

He went down to fix my shed roof, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough roofing felt left… things look a lot smaller when they are higher up!

So he saw a big pile of scrap wood and decided to ‘get rid of it’ for me. What a diamond.

I decided that i would pop down in my lunch hour to see how it was going and treated my little worker to a chippy lunch. So civilised.

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Rest Break

He is a good egg though, and by the time I finished work for the afternoon he had done so much hard work!

I know it doesn’t look like much, but he has managed to clear our so much rubbish and has even discovered a concrete path and plinth which appears to have once had a shed on it.

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Proud little man

Sadly all of those nettles and weeds behind him are part of the abandoned “wildlife plot” next door. This is great for hedgehogs, but is awful for us to try and keep the weeds away and the foxes out of the chicken coop. His next job will be to build a nice pallet fence to keep out all of the big brambles and make it look a bit neater.

That big brick structure is connected to our old rotten potting shed (which we will one day repair!) and it blocks off a nice big space behind it.

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So much wasted space!!

This will be all knocked down as soon as MrT gets himself a sledgehammer and will hopefully be the site of a new brewing shed for those cold winter days when a bacon cob is required.

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No more stings!

He has managed to clear the path around the back really well, and has dug up tonnes of broken glass which seems to have been dumped inside the old (now demolished) air raid shelter.

Now its just a waiting game for his next few days off to get smashing and crashing his way through that old building!

Why didn’t anyone laugh at the gardener’s jokes? Because they were too corney.

Morning All!
I hope you have all managed to get out and make use of the first proper sunshine of 2018?

Over the weekend, I had such plans for the allotment… I managed to get one thing done.

Oh well, slowly but surely eh?!

This is what it looked like on Friday evening, before my big Saturday Blowout;

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Photo quality is shocking, but this is how it looked

I had aimed to get that first (very large) bed dug over, all the roots removed, and my spuds and onions in. I also wanted to get that big bonfire burned, and string up my wires for my raspberry canes.

Unfortunately, my plot is covered in perennial nettles and bindweed, as well as a carpet of bramble roots which seem to sprout up new shoots if the roots are cut! Its a nightmare!

So when MrT headed off to work, out came my trusty fork and off I started. I found several garlic cloves which were sprouting up well. These must have been left over from last year, so I carefully uplifted them and stored them to replant when my clearing was done.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

It was 17 degrees on Saturday, which for an April weekend I didn’t think was too bad! What I didn’t realise was that my little blonde self was getting sunburned… again. Not a good look. You’d think i would have learned by now.

So I kept on trudging through.

Lunch Break

Stopped for lunch. maybe a third of the bed is dug here

It took me over 2 hours to do a third of the bed. This was going to be a long job. I stopped for lunch and a cuppa, only to find that my trusty camping stove had given up the ghost. The gas was still working but the spark that lit the stove was gone. So no brew for me.

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Every line of digging created a barrow full of roots!

At this point, I really wasn’t hopeful that i would be able to get my spuds in, let alone the bonfire built. Everything was taking much longer than I thought! The only saving grace was that doing it this way once over would save me the constant weeding that would’ve been caused by rotivating.

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Bonnie was loving the sunbathing time though

People kept taking a wander up to see how it was all going, and as lovely as the encouragement was I really did just want to get on! I was starting to get really tired and frustrated but I wasn’t going to let it beat me!

And I finally got there!

I’m not going to lie, I almost collapsed in a pile of shakey limbs and tears, but I was so proud of myself.

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You can’t see how big it is here!

The photos really don’t show the enormity of it, but it’s 25ft by 29.5ft. Also known as bloody huge!

I managed to get in my onions and garlic, but at this point I just really wanted a massive pile of cheese on toast so the spuds would have to wait until Sunday.

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Little did I know it would rain all day Sunday, so I stayed in instead.

I am certainly not a wet weather gardener!

Spiced Marrow Cake

Yet another glut of marrows, they seem to be never ending!

These were supposed to be Courgettes, but since we went away for a week I’ve come back to some serious monsters.

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Its huge! 

Now what to do with them?

We tried a bit of the old roasted marrow, but it’s not particularly flavourful and MrT got all cheffy on me about it. So while he went off to work in his baking hot commercial kitchen, I pottered about my own little ‘Heart of the Home’ and came up with this spiced marrow loaf to get rid of the glut.

Four cakes from one big marrow

Four cakes from one big marrow!

It freezes really well and is great with an afternoon tea in the sunshine or as a quick sweet treat. It a lot lighter than you’d think it would be and is super easy to make, just mixing and baking.

They also make great gifts wrapped up in paper and with a nice ribbon, but that far too pretty for me and my parchment and string did the job!

Marrow Cake

Wrapped up, although not for long!


Ingredients;

2 hen’s or duck’s eggs (mine came from my ex-batt girls, so super fresh)
200g of caster sugar
100g of softened butter or “baking spread”
3-4 drops of vanilla extract
300g of marrow, well grated skin and all
300g of self-raising flour
1tsp of baking powder
1tsp of cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger, whichever you fancy (I use cinnamon)

How To;

Grease your loaf tin and add in a rectangle of baking paper in the bottom, overhanging the sides to make your loaf easier to lift out.
Heat your oven to 180°, or 160°fan.
Mix together the butter and sugar until it is light and creamy.
Add the eggs, vanilla and marrow and mix well until combined.
Add the baking powder and spice to the flour and combine.
Gradually stir this into the wet ingredients, being careful to work it as little as possible. It should look like a dough.
Plonk this into your greased and lined tin.
Bake for about an hour, but keep an eye on it after 50 minutes. It should be golden brown and a skewer/knife should come out clean.
Let it cool down in the tin a little bit, until it pulls away from the sides.
Use the paper tabs to lift it carefully out of the tin.

Let it cool fully and enjoy!


These cakes are a great way to use up courgettes and marrows, and they can be frozen after cooling. Simply bring it out a few hours before you need it and let its thaw thoroughly before enjoying.

You can also add other ingredients; nuts, raisins, sultanas, all work great in this loaf!

We like to eat it with a good spoonful of my Marrow Jam, and a nice cuppa. It store really well too so you can easily wrap it up and take it down to the allotment again.

Perfect for a sunny afternoon.