Planning veg and feeding a vegan

chicken and soil, plantingSo yesterday I decided it was spring. I can’t believe this year, the sun has come out waking the spring flowers and then next day temperature goes down to -10°C, again and again. So I started indoors and planted more veg, re-planted most of my geraniums and other indoor plants. I ordered 15 bags of soil from the local flower shop. Can’t believe I haven’t done that before, not owning a car I’ve been time and time again on my moped. My plan is to add 2 more planting frames for vegetables in the impossible patch. I have now given up any hope for getting rid of the weed and instead covered the whole patch with black cloth. I reckon I will need at least double the amount of the soil I ordered now that I’ve started using the bags… With a vegan teenager in the house I now feel much more prepped for growing veg, so my plan is to be self sufficient over summer at least. The chickens are helping with loads of chicken poop but they have started digging up all my spring flower bulbs which have left me covering all the flower beds with netting. I love them to bits but they are such a pain sometimes.

No pain no gain

3 litres of hard earned berries

3 litres of hard earned berries

apple af blackberry jelly, a new favourite!

apple af blackberry jelly, a new favourite!

fruit leathers going in for 12 hours or so

fruit leathers going in for 12 hours or so

blackberry jelly and marmalade

blackberry jelly and marmalade

I picked three litres of blackberries yesterday morning. Started off in the nature reserve finding a few but as I ventured further into the woods I found loads! Strange that they seem to mature faster under the trees than when they grow on a field, you’d think direct sunlight would turn them black faster but seems to be the opposite. Most of them I found lifting the branches and in denser vegetation. It was all very painful. Even with wellies and a thick jumper my jeans were covered with blackberry needles and my hands cut to bits. Worth it though! Today I used some for an apple and blackberry jelly, a blackberry marmalade and yummy fruit leathers. I halved all the recipes because I wanted to make sure they were good enough before making plenty but now I wish I would have doubled them. The plan is to use the preserves for the opening of the gallery in two weeks. I’m going to order the best cheese in the world and serve with homemade crisp bread and husbands sourdough bread. After all the jamming I decided to do something about the surroundings of the gallery and dug and tugged up all the nettles under the x-mas trees by the road. It took quite some time and I managed to burn myself in all imaginable places plus a few more and covered my hands in blisters. Planted lots of narcissus bulbs so at least it will look nice in spring before the nettles grow back…

a mountain of pain

a mountain of pain

Silly Silkies

Rhubarb jungle

Rhubarb jungle

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Vibrant colours!

Vibrant colours!

Not a bad view from the bedroom

Not a bad view from the bedroom

It’s hard to get anything done with the cute little chicks around but the beginning of the day was very productive. I emptied the compost completely and filled it with new sticks, dried grass and old veg and fruit. It was very wet, from now on I will try to pay the compost more attention, stir it more often and chop up everything I put in there. The rhubarb has grown like crazy the last week! Picked 2kilos and made lemonade but it hardly showed that I had picked any. The garden is so beautiful right now. There are tulips popping up everywhere (even better when you don’t remember planting them) and both the pear tree and cherry trees are in bloom. The little chicks finally dared to go out! I think it’s really a bit early for them but both Bugget and Otilia are very good at protecting them and are constantly on the look out for dangers. Esme is the only hen that seem to notice the chicks, I’ve seen her pick at them but then she gets corrected by the mums. Is there anything cuter than a chicken? Don’t think so. Me and my daughter sat with them in the hen yard for ages watching and taking turns picking them up. We’ve named one so far, Punken(punk). Punken sat on my daughters lap and suddenly crawled up her sleeve! The little yellow one fell asleep in her hand. When we came back out after lunch they were still outside. Turns out the chicks could get out but for their life not find a way to get back inside. Bugget and Otilia had collected them under a piece of netting that I’d cleared out of the henhouse earlier, perfect protective mothers. They tried running in and out to show the chicks how but the chickens still tried to jump up the hatch hitting the wall instead of walking up the right way. Silly silkies! I’ll have to broaden the hatch ladder today.

Punken found a safe place

Punken found a safe place

Wet business

Scruffy also wanted to join in to lay an egg on top

Scruffy also wanted to join in to lay an egg on top

A very rainy day and I ended up spending it in the garden. Cleared out the henhouse and gave them fresh sawdust. Even when it’s raining they go out, all huddling together by the house and as soon as the rain eases up a bit they run out and start digging. Well not all of them, now Bugget has decided to join motherhood with Otilia so they are both looking after the soon-to-be-chickens. I am a bit worried because there is an egg thief around. Twice I’ve found a broken egg on the lawn. Pretty sure it’s either the magpies or crowes so today I secured the hen yard a bit better and covered the whole yard and house in net. Although if I want the hens to go in and out freely there is no great solution to stopping other birds as well. Hopefully Bugget and Otilia won’t let anyone near their eggs.
After that I took on the veg patch. Decided to try something new in my war against the weeds. I covered the ground with newspapers, old sawdust and hen droppings and then soil on top. I will keep adding compost, soil and grass cuttings. Not foolproof there either but at least it looks a lot better and will set the weed back a bit.

layers

layers

Plant and seed exchange day

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Tina Jerkenstam’s and Lars Bjärkling’s creative plant climbers

IMAG1235 IMAG1245 IMAG1247 IMAG1248 IMAG1263 IMAG1265 IMAG1239Success! Wow so many people showed up! If I had to make a guess, probably around 100-120 people.  It’s been sunny the last week but today overcast, still lucky because it started raining literally five minutes after closing. I had invited a friend who is an artist and who shares the same love for gardening to join me. She and her partner makes these very original plant supports(and fantastic artwork see more at her website! )which you can use for plants to climb on or even indoors to hang jewellery or scarves etc. As soon as we opened there was a storm of people with bags full of plants to swap or just leave behind because they had to many. For fairness I put a maximum of 5 eggs a person but they still sold out straight away. Lots of nice conversations during the day, new friends and new exciting plants! I baked the last cake this morning and almost all of the cakes were gone by the end of the day. It was quite windy and a cold breeze went through the barn but I had put some old windows up to stop the wind and all the chili plants had a place where the pigs used to live. Behind the wall with a heater and extra light lamp. Now I find myself swamped with even more plants though so will do a re-run in a few weeks when the weather is a bit warmer. Also for next year I’m planning to put tables up for everyone to rent so that they can sell or swap their own plants. There was some confusion about how the whole day works and I found many people being a bit conscious about what they could take or not. Now I’m stood in front of a new problem, where to put everything that people left?? I counted on gaining space not loosing!

Doors to the past

Pidgey and Esme wanted to help

Pidgey and Esme wanted to help

Compared with the original wood...like the finest mahogny as my neighbour said

Compared with the original wood…like the finest mahogny as my neighbour said

Doors to the past

Doors to the past

Started 6.30am baking a cake and carried on pretty much without a break until now. I cleared out the barn. Well, the part with the new floor is very tidy but the rest has collected a lot of stuff over the winter, bikes, garden furniture etc. Not to mention the mess I’ve made with my newfound hobby carpentry… All the old doors and windows that I’ve saved were taking up a lot of space and then I realised that it would save a lot of room, and cover up the only very ugly wall, to just spread them out next to each other. Looks great! I know I could sell them for a lot of money but I never will, they all have their own individual story. A very original story I heard today from a neighbour, another neighbour told me a while ago but no one I told seemed to have heard of it so I had my doubts. Apparently where our road begins used to be called “Hor-gabet”, translated to English(from broad island dialect) it means The hookers mouth. Charming. Although where my neighbour house is there used to be Gårda bar, a drinking hole, so it actually makes sense. Oh well tomorrow I’m bringing some culture to Hor-gabet. After a lot of carrying, sweeping(amazing to think I have a hundred year old dust up my nose) and planting I only have some more baking to do and then my head will hit the pillow. Oh! One great thing today was trying a blog tip (thank you Instructables.com!) about ageing new wood. In autumn I built a stand for the extra light for the chilies. Carrying it out to the barn felt kind of wrong because it looked so new compared with everything else in the barn so I brushed it with tea and vinegar. What a change! A great result, now this I will do again. The only drawback is the smell of the vinegar after a few days with rusty nails. Well I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a very busy day so off to bake and then bed.

Re-charging batteries

Aaaah lovely sunshine again. I spent the morning warming up on the steps outside after my morning swim in the sea. Pidgey came running up and wanted to sit on my lap(well that could be an overstatement, she comes running up going baaaah-caacka and stares at me, I pick her up, she looks terrified but very quickly relaxes). She really enjoyed soaking up the sunshine and fell asleep. Woke up on and off and made some noises but absolutely no attempt to run away. Me as a very restless person find it very hard to sit still but as soon as the sun shines I feel drawn to the stairs and it’s like re-charging a battery. Half an hour will do it, I feel like a brand new person. There were some really strange sounds coming from the hens around the corner. I lent over carefully not to wake Pidgey and found all the other hens sand bathing and sun bathing in my flowerbed… My attempts to keep them out to at least get to see some of the spring flowers seems to be useless. Whatever the hens don’t dig up the deer take care of.  In the end my mum showed up and I had to wake Pidgey. Finished painting my bench/outdoors sofa, second coat. Hmm one of the hens got to close to the new painted sofa. Tidied out the basement for a visitor who didn’t show up, but anyways good that I had it done. While I was painting my mum started clearing the closest flowerbed and after she left I got hooked. I had bought three garden magazines but ended up doing this years first gardening instead of reading. The hens were a great help! They followed my digging eating every little and big worm and spider they could find, happily clucking away. Not long ago I read an article about another hen owner. In the article they asked her what surprised her most with getting chickens. Her answer was -I never thought I would love them so much! That would be my answer as well. In the beginning I thought they were a bit creepy but now I love them as much as my other pets. They all have their own personalities. Plus they give you eggs. Now we are over-flowing. I sell two packets a week to regular customers and hand a lot out to neighbours but still we have plenty left.

Pidgey in her sunny glory

Pidgey in her sunny glory

fantastic gardeners

fantastic gardeners

Oh! I heard white is the new black!

Oh! I heard white is the new black!

Wasabi asleep at my daughters lap

Made me think of Wasabi, our first cockerel who we hade to kill off, asleep at my daughters lap