Saturday, 3 April 2010

Complete and utter chaos

- here tonight...... MrL has been stripping off the last bits of the wallpaper at one end of the kitchen; the dresser is dismantled and the dishes and things are all over the kitchen, and will be for at least a week until plaster is repaired, and the wall painted green to match the rest of it. I can hardly see the kitchen table..........
I can hardly see the bed either - the needle sorting continued on and I started on some other stuff that needs sorting and deciding what to do with. |The bed is piled with random stuff that will need to be sorted before bedtime, after I've fought my way to the kitchen sink to wash up..........
I'd forgotten about the paint sampling I'd done many years ago, just after we moved in:

It reappeared when teh dresser was moved; as it turns out, none of these was chosen, the kitchen is (mostly so far) a period green colour. Hopefully by this time next week, the *whole* kitchen will be the same colour.


About twice a year, I clear out and sort my main tools of the trade - knitting needles. A rainy Saturday saw me upstairs (with a rather nice Easter egg as an accompaniment!) I tend to amass various more pairs over the months, but I really don't need 5 paris of size 14s, or 32 assorted sock needles LOL.
Now all sorted, have a small bundle of vintage ones destined for e-bay (this could pay for more needles?), and a nice tidy basketful for myself, sorted into a rather beautiful turquiose sisal pot I got at the tip eysterday, a beautiful colour, and just the right size to keep my needly obsession in check, I'd like to think. I've kept only the paris, and no more than three of each size; I've sorted the crochet hooks, seem to have more than 20..........
I did come across a very old pair of bone needles I forgot I had, and a rather interesting long bone crochet hook, but I'll hang on to them. A good hour's work, very enjoyable, good chocolate and a desire to tackle the circulars

Friday, 2 April 2010

A quote for spring

If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.

Audra Foveo

Not only potatoes.................

This is taken from a local free paper, "The Visitor":

"I've heard it said in Dorset that Good Friday is the one day of the year when Satan can't tamper with the soil, so anything planted on that day will thrive. Gillyflowers sown at midnight are reputed to do especially well"

I know gillyflowers as dianthus or carantions, that family. Oddly enough, I icked up a packet of dianthus seed in the shop this morning, but decided against them - maybe I should have got them and gone out in my nightie................LOL

Potato planting

Good Friday is traditionally the day to get your maincrop potatoes in; times past, it was more often than not one of the very few days off afforded to most workers, and with the potato having becme such an important crop, it was vital that they got in the ground now. My maincrops are ready and waiting, but the ground is very wet today, so I'll see how it goes over the weekend. The first and second earlies went in a while back, and are well-mulched with a layer of old fleece and plenty of manure and home made compost (sheep's fleece, that is, some old and daggy bits I'd saved for garden use).
Planting potatoes isn't rocket surgery - put the potato in the ground, and it will grow, given sufficient moisture. Obviously, though, added manure, mulching and regular watering and feeding all go to growing a successful crop, and watching out for pests and disease, especially blight. I'm lucky to have had blight only twice in the 20+ years I've been growing them, so fingers crossed for this year. I'm not sure why that is, but it is.
There's no need really to chit your potatoes; some say it gives them a head start, but over the years I've found it makes no difference at all, and saves having eggboxes fully of seed potatoes gathering dust on windowsills until the chits appear. Neither do I cut them up, which is what some books and growers advocate.
This is how I do mine; soil is forked over with a hand fork, the potaotes laid on to it; add a layer of manure and mulching material, mixing it as you go, until the potatoes are several inches deep. If mulching material isn't too abundant, make a shallow depression in the soil and pop your tattie in there, then cover. Keep well watered, and the shoots will soon appear above ground. Protect from frost - a hard frost will set the growing back a bit, so cover with mesh, newspaper, net curtains or hay/straw. As the potato haulm grows up, keep mulching - feeds the plant and encourages more ptoatoes to form on the sides. First and second earlies are ready to harvest when they flower; maincrop are ready when they have flowered and the blossoms have died back completely and the haulms themselves begin to die back. When ready, forage for the potatoes gently - with a good mulching system, no digging is required usually - just pull it off/apart and lift out the potatoes. Use earlies immediately - they don't need to cure as do the maincrop. To do this, leave your harvested maincrops on the surface of the soil for several hours in the sunshine and warm to harden the skin , then sort and store as required. Any damaged ones need to be used immediately, only store the good ones.
Alternative methods are growing in containers and bags/sacks, etc, or in tyre stacks - all these work. We are having a challenge on the forum at the moment, to see who can get the most potato harvest from a single tuber planted in a pot - should be fun!
I try and grow some different varieties, and have a fondness for coloured ones - the purple skinned Arran Victory being one of my favourites, along with Shetland Black, Highland Burgundy and Edzell Blue. They need careful cooking, but the flavour is worth the extra effort required.
I don't have sufficient room to be in potatoes for the whole year, but they're always worth growing for the taste - a fresh potato that has been out of the ground for only a few hours with a dab of fresh home made butter and a light sprinkling of finely chopped mint is sensational, and there is little to match it.
How's your tattie planting going?

Picture is The Potato Planters by Jean Francois MIllet

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Unbought Rug Challenge!

I've just seen a picture of a rather nice rug, from a company who sell rug kits. I won't buy it, due to cost, and the make-it-myself ethic, but it would make a lovely rag rug, so I'm off on another one..........LOL
We all like rugs, I suspect; we have no carpets here, so rugs warm the floors, our feet and brighten things up. I like to have different ones for winter and summer, but now need a few new ones.
Click on the page above to find out more - will you join me? Shold be fun, and we can encourage each other along the way on our rug-along :)


"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”

William Shakespeare

One of my very favourite seasonal quotes. Sitting here this morning before the rest of the day gets going, it's very apt. The sun is shining, lighting up the buds on the trees and glinting and bouncing off the frost that descended last night; not too heavy, but enough to leave a chill lingering in the air this morning. From my window here I can see lots of new green shoots, ready to burst into full life very soon, the birds are doing their spring thing and all is well with my world.
I hope it is with yours too.:)

Remember, when it's raining, April showers bring May flowers, so look on the bright side

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

My book......................

Buckled under this morning and got down to it. By this time next week, I should have something ready and finished to send to a prospective publisher. I won't say any more,but they always say you should write about what you know lol

Watch this book-shaped space....................:)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A true story..............

I've just put this up on my Knitten blog, but thought I'd share it here for you all too.

I found out yesterday that someone will be here today or tomorrow that asked for a pair of gloves, which I hadn't even got around to starting yet. So, out with the needles and 4 ply yesterday, now up to the fingers on the first glove. I'd like to get them finished for tonight if I can, and hand them over then.
It reminded me of one of myfavourite family stories (I have a, this one about knitting.
My great grandfather had to go to a funeral, but the day before, discovered he either had no black socks, or they were unfit to wear, or for whatever reason the socks weren't available. Back in those days, it was completely unacceptable to wear anything but all black for a funeral, and just as unacceptable not to go, which he couldn't do if he didn't have the right socks.
Rock and hard place.
My great grandmother stayed up all night and knitted a pair of socks for him to wear, and he went to the funeral.
Now, even by my standards, that's going some!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Home grown bamboo canes

OK, so they'll never support a 6 ft row of runner beans, but they'll be grand for young tomato plants, peppers and chillies, giving the cucumbers a leg up, that sort of thing. These were cut about a month or so ago, and have been drying in the kitchen; they need to be trimmed now, then taken up to the greenhouse. The original plant came from the tip, and cost about 15p, I got two of them, but the second one isn't thriving as well as the one these were cut from. Another loop closed in the garden. :)

Radical homemaker - part 1

This is a term currently being bandied about the net, blogs, etc, so I thought I'd ahve a look into it and do some reading to find out what it's all about. seems to have sprung up around the book of the same name:
I must admit I didn't go further on that website, as I saw the "lectures/workshop" at the top - immediate turn off for me. I shan't be buying the book either - more radical to do your own thing I should think!
Anyhoo, it got me thinking, which is a good thing.
To me, radical means basic, back to the roots, the essential elements of. So, radical homemaking is going back to the essentials of homemaking, the basics, the nub,what it's all about, according to your own ethics and principles, circumstances, beliefs and ideas, wishes and how you want to live your life.
My life revolves around the home, that's how it's been for a long while now. I have worked in the past, whilst running my own home, and I continued to do so full and part-time for a while with two small children. So I know how it is.......... However, I'm where I am right now, so I'm looking at this from my current perspective.
I've always been seen as radical in the "not the norm", "anti", "alternative" sense of the word, and have been told so on many occasions. I have no beef with that, I"m who I am and I do what I do.
Self reliance, the principle around which I try to live is often seen as radical in that sense, but I'm at a loss to see why really. To me, it's perfectly natural to want to do things for yourself, be reliant on as few others as possible, do your own thing your own way, plough your own furrow. So I do.
This was brought into sharp focus the other night when MrL brought home a copy of something he'd done for one of his work colleagues. This colleague is considering getting a solid fuel stove, so he wrote out a diatribe on the pros and cons.
When I actually saw the following in writing, it clicked as to how we could be seen as radical in the stove department:
Stove does all hot water (immersion for emergencies only); heating - no central heating; all the cooking - no microwave,electric/gas oven or hob; all the clothes drying on pulley above - no electric tumble dryer; all the hot water for drinks - no electric kettle; all the toast, on a rack or fork over the flames in the firebox - no electric toaster.
Very different to most modern kitchens I should think, but it's how I want it to be. We are gradually wearing down our electricity consumption by quite a bit - good for resources, good for the planet, good for our pockets; we are able to run the stove on wood if we wish (going to change over completely in the near future I hope), so no reliance on others for fuel, we'll get our own (will need lots of forethought and organisation) - so, self reliance, monetary and planetary considerations all taken into account there, pretty fundamental, basic building blocks in the way I wish to live, therefore radical.
I am a radical homemaker!
More to follow......