Our grassy meadow (previously our lawn!) has had it`s Autumn haircut. We left it a few days for the wild flower seeds to drop before raking up what was left to ensure we don`t increase the fertility of the soil. We took the opportunity to plant lots of native bulbs in the shorter grass and hope to get a wonderful early spring display. The mushrooms have popped up in the shadier areas of the grass for a bit of autumn interest, and after an amazing walk by Loch Tummel where we found a huge variety, the children are really interested in finding out more about them. There is a big difference in the types we find in my horses field to what we see in the garden and locally around the lanes. Time for a trip to the Library to find a mushroom identification book. This website has well structured information but do take care handling and eating mushrooms you find in the wild.
I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks planning improved succession planting in our flower borders, we are continuing our big move around and took the opportunity to really review what is working hard for us and what isn’t giving enough to us and the wildlife. Our herb area (pictured at the top) is going to move to the larger bed by the house to give us easier access and reduce our dependence on any purchased herbs. The children have really enjoyed lifting and dividing plants and have helped with potting up lots of smaller bits for the plant share group. We have been fortunate to get things in return including some extra raspberry canes… oh dear, looks like we will need to expand the fruit and veg patch again!
Luckily for those raspberry canes, we have finally lost our two very old rotten sheds. They have been on life support for about 5 of the 6 years we have been here, and they had also served the previous owner of the house well. So, we went shed shopping and are now the proud owners of one BIG (sustainably sourced) shed with no holes or rot. My Daughter has been “helping” to dismantle the old ones (at a safe distance) by sorting through all the timber. Most of it is unusable but some of the pieces we have recently used to patch sad areas is in good nick, so will enter our wood store for using another day. This leaves us a decent sized area where we can grow more food, hurrah. Losing a shed also gives us a much improved space for the cold frames. I have big plans for growing herbaceous perennials from seed in Spring 2022 so this will help these thrive in their early days.
In looking forward to 2022, our veg seeds have been purchased, swapped and saved, assessing what we like to eat and can grow well in our conditions. We continue to prioritise things that are hard to buy without packaging and that have big carbon footprints. The things for us that come up time and time again are salad and kale like crops, I just hate buying plastic bags full of leaves flown into the UK that last 3 days in the fridge and then go slimy. Hettie is currently enjoying running out most days to pick a handful of “dragons tongues” for her school lunch sandwich (red veined sorrel). They have enjoyed lifting the root veg and particularly enjoyed “Mermaid Parsnip” (pictured) who was promptly turned into roasted parsnip crisps.
One thing we can get locally in plentiful supply through foraging and from local farms are berries, but we still grow them as the children have an insatiable appetite for them. One of our winter projects is making some of our berry newer varieties a supportive frame. I’m sure some of the pieces from the shed will be of use for that project. By putting a larger focus on growing at home, letting the children lead with choosing seeds, preparing the soil, sowing and then harvesting, we have really noticed a massive increase in the variety of what they will eat. They prefer raw fruit and veg, and get turned off quickly if we try to boil or bake anything, but this year my daughter has been tempted by many new vegetables that we have grown. She has chosen some tasty looking purple carrots for next year as her next project. The only incident we had with grabbing and munching anything out of a garden was our neighbour bringing round some large green chilis which my three year old mistook for long mild peppers that my mother in law had brought up a few weeks previously (ouch).