Friday, June 30, 2006


This year, there seems to be more time to sit in the garden and let the world go by. having talked about weather prediction I found a small book in the library and this is what it says about this time of the year.....

Calm weather in June, sets the corn in tune.

A dry May and dripping June, brings everything in tune.

July and August are some of the wettest months of the year in the UK ( thats interesting because I always looked at them as being hot and sunny!).

There was very little to say about the months probably because people were too busy harvesting.

However watch the following dates:

St Mary's Day on the 2nd July
It is said that if it rains on this day it will rain for a month.

St Swithins Day on the 15th July
Oh St Swithins Day, if thou'll be fair
For forty days shall rain nae mair
but if St Swithin's thou be wet
For forty days it raineth yet.

Just shows that my usual expectation of a warm and sunny summer are an illusion here. However, it will all be good for the garden and the harvest.

A nice suprise this year is that my purple sprouting broccoli which I planted in May is now in flower which usually does not happen. A surprise harvest, unusual for this season but then very welcome alternative to lettuce.

I have invested in a 5 year diary which will enable me to check how things compare year by year.

I am strawberry picking later today, some for freezing so we can use them in smoothies and winter fruit salads and some for jam making. I am very fond of strawberries in season.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Today, creative muse in the garden gave rise to a poem to share.

I give life to being alive in an indescribable way
I am energy in the current that flows between each of us
I gift my passion where my soul guides its necessity,
I flow with the current of love that holds my soul.
I float in the present, creatively alive, giving birth to colour
I see the gifts of nature in every encounter

I am one being, being one with all, yet authentically a part,
insignificantly one, yet at one with the universe
At peace…..being……alive in the present
I am for giving
A gift
A sense of compassion

I am stillness
I am peace
I am gratitude
©2006 All Rights Reserved by Angora

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I must get out more, obviously as I am getting out of practice. What happens when you only take your car on long journeys once in a blue get a speeding ticket. It was a hot day, I was tired and....on the way back from a lovely Spinning, Dyers and Weavers meeting and talk on Japanese textiles. Thats about the only long distance driving I do and it is about 15 mile away from home. Despite that, I must have missed the 30 mile per hour spot and passed it , as it says at 41mph. Probably not as fast as the man who raced past me some minutes before. Anyhow, the point I want to make is that in 25 years of driving this is my first driving offence, I used to do between 10,000 and 30,000 miles per year on business and now that I am downshifting, it appears I have been noticed for the wrong reasons....maybe it was my time to get unlucky on this or I am just out of practice noticing the yellow boxes in the hedgerow. The laws of probability obviously change when you diminish your driving distance. I cannot walk that distance so will try and share the journey with someone else. Expensive trip out. Kicking myself here while at the same time takeing responsibility as it was me after all. Cannot help muttering something unmentionable at the same time....I am no saint only human after all.

Monday, June 26, 2006


They seemed to as long awaited rain has fallen all night. On a small garden visit yesterday, my evening walk to catch the smells of honeysuckle and roses that pervades the air, I noticed 2 toads, venturing out.....a few minutes later it began to rain. I wonder whether its their idea of sunbathing...they must find it really hard when the sun shines constantly and there is not enough moisture in the air.
Today, the slugs are rejoicing as they can again slide easily over the paths instead of having to stay wherever they are due to dry conditions.
Both of course need each other. Slugs are toads food and I am quite happy to have them in my garden, shows signs of good organic wildlife that supports our soil.
Whatever they do, I like to watch them and notice. I am happy to share in the wonder.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

EGG ON TOAST -v- Breakfast cereals

The battle has been going on for months, whereby packets of cereal have been commanded by small people with commands such as :

Mum, can you buy this cereal, because it has a toy in it, and I want it.

This ploy has been declining, although it has been a slow process and made me aware of the amount of consumer messages my children unconsciously pick up from the TV. The tactics I used were not the same, no messages of what is bad in the cereal but rather of providing a gentle alternative to what was on offer.

  • I no longer shop with the children in the store.
  • I buy on line once a month and get it delivered at the house ( staple goods).
  • I shop locally and am reducing the amount of meat we eat.
  • We have chickens
  • We bake our own bread so I know what goes in it.

To my amazement, cereals in packets with bright colour and toys no longer have an appeal.

Today, my son said:

Mum, can I make myself egg on toast today.

This is an amazing statement for many reasons.

  • It voices a deliberate choice of egg on toast, a natural product with ingredients made at home or carefully sourced.
  • It seems to state a preference as to any cereals that might be on the shelf still.
  • The emphasis of ' can I make' means that he has chosen to make his breakfast himself.

These are small little triumphs in my mind, but I think I amongst the family had lost the ability to check what nutrition I need for my body today, what is available and how I can produce it with the resources available to me.

We have also changed from buying one sort of bread to producing 5 different loaves at home and we are still experimenting with more ingredients. Some come out fine, others not but then thats the fun of it all.

If you are interested in what is happening with food, you might want to check out the deliberate agrarian's article...but be warned it might scare you a little.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Havings just bottled 3 lots and 8 oz of green beans I thought I would share the recipe with you.


25 elderflower heads ( wash)
1.5 litres if boiling water
1.5 kg sugar
2 unwaxed lemons, sliced
2 oz ( 50g) citric acid

Disolve sugar in boiling water and leave to cool.Stir in the citric acid and add elderflowers and sliced lemons. Cover and leave for 3 days, stirring occassionally. Strain and poor into clean sterilised bottles and then seal. Store in a cool place.

I also put some in plastic bottles, leaving some headroom and put them in the freezer, keeping a bottle on hand for cool summer drinks.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Whilst at home, eating food in season and working in the garden, hands in the earth, I recognise certain rhythms that I have lost track of. The natural rhytms that surrounds us, the natural order and cycle of things and how I amongst many, have chosen to change these over time.

Years go by and we celebrate the start of a New Year in many different ways, depending on our culture. We know a new year starts, because our calendar tells us but previous civilizations did not have the comfort of yearly produced works that hang on their kitchen wall, they looked for other signs.

The seasons can give us an indication as to what is happening. We all know what spring, summer, fall and winter feel like.....although the effects of global warming are blurring distinctive boundaries that existed in the past. Traditionally, plants are sewn at certain times, and yet, this year spring was delayed and although the packet said my courgettes should be planted in April and May, the effects of a delayed spring showed on plants that would shiver and not thrive until their time for development was right to enable them to grow. Our wishes as consumers to eat strawberries all year long mean that these conditions for optimal growth have to be stimulated and replicated and the natural order of things disturbed. Of course, my strawberry season will be different to the zone you live in, and we might be able to trade and prolong our season, but that means that the strawberries need to travel and use different global resources.

Hence my wish to eat seasonally and to have a succession of fruit and vegetables that my body needs to live in the place I live in. I can prolong my strawberry season by having and indoor and outdoor crop but for the outdoor crop I need the plants to be pollinated by insects which will be at the mercy of the weather patterns.

I have lost the ability to read weather patterns as my ancestors did. There are many songs and rhymes in childhood that talk about when plants are planted and that knowledge has also been long lost, and maybe is not appropriate in a changing global climate either, as there is definitely a change happening.

I am starting a garden diary which will track the seeds I plant and whether this is the ultimate time to do so, trial and error will show whether I get it right or whether things can be improved. This could also track changes on a global scale in my local environment. If I had paid attention locally that the swallows came 3 weeks later than last year, I might have recognised that my planting schedule for optimum production in tune with nature would be 3 weeks late. From spending time with my cats on a daily basis, I can predict the amount of rain that is coming and its timescale. If my cats do not leave the kitchen, all gardening plans should be put on hold as it is sure to be cold and rain heavily. If they stay around the house, around the boundaries, I know that it is likely to rain that day and planting would be good no watering needed as it is coming later. I can only speak for what I find in my own garden and climate but apparently they have not lost the ability to venture our or not as the case may be, depending on what is in their awareness.

Again, when the swallows, meet and leave, I will know that fall is being announced. The quality of light changes, the plants all react to the seasons and I am not certain what makes me so confident that I can overcome all of that. I too need a time of hope and growth, of warmth and fun, of preparation of hibernation and a time of rest and reflection to observe the rhytms in my life. There are periods in our life childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, parenthood, middle age, and so on that each have a flavour, each bring us wisdom of another kind and we cannot spend all our time in childhood and ignore that we too are working towards reaping the rewards of what we have sewn in the past.

Its a reflection worth doing, finding your place in the sun now, seeing what it is you are wanting to achieve and working towards a happy harvest. I wish you sunshine, a good foundation to enable you to grow roots and reach your potential.

As for me, I am going to go out and survey what the garden tells me, bottle my elderflower cordial, enjoy my glass of fresh mint tea and pick a salad for lunch.

What are you doing today, what is your rhytm, what is natural for you?

Friday, June 16, 2006


Not lettuce this time but a lovely climbing rose which clambers in between the honeysuckle that currently perfumes the air.
Apart from being my own greengrocer this year, I also would like to grow enough flowers to bring natural scents into the house. Its a work in progress.....

Also installed now are 2 waterbutts to collect rainwater which will help us water the plants if we ever get a drought order and are unable to use the water from the water company. This is the beginning of water saving measures. There is another water butt to be installed near the patio, to enable us to water the tubs there. Phase one of water conservation. The next one is more complicated and requires some different equipment.
If you saw the programme about the Strawbridge family you might have seen that they managed to do a lot because they were able to invest a huge amount of capital into their venture. Here we only put in what we are saving in other ways, so its likely to be an organic process.
I managed to barter some more plants and have been given a small contract to grow seedlings for other people next year. Its a start.

Its important at this time to walk around the garden and look out for pests such as white cabbage fly, you will see small white dots on the bottom leaves, smallinsh larvae which if you ared not careful will end up being lovely caterpillars. They eat and strip your crop bear. Organic remedy for me is to pick the lower leaves and give them to the chickens. Then water and spray the plant and wants in between them. Its looking good.


Wow, time certainly flies....apologies if you thought I had vanished, its just that the garden really is vety enjoyable to be in, the sun is shining and I simply need to catch up with the planting.
This is a corner bed which is quite shady and in which I have chosen to plant the summer lettuces and some beetroot, hopefully both will flourish.
We are eating potatoes, peas and green beans now, some courgettes on the menu and I am hopeful that the succession planting will pay off.
I have discovered that we have a lot of elferflower in the garden and am going to try and find a recipe for elderflower cordial. Its very refreshing and a great thirst quencher in high summer when I can find another time to put my feet up and admire the garden.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


How can you make your laundry load lighter......and save on washing powder, water and electricity.....

  • Reduce the amount that needs washing.
  • Wear your clothes more often ( i.e. if it is not visibly dirty, smells put it away)
  • When tidying bedrooms, tell the kids not to just dump the clothes in the basket if they could be refolded and put away.
  • Kids have showers and sleep in clean bedclothes so new pyamas are not needed every day.
  • Give each person in the household a dedicated towel and keep a spare one, wash when necessary.
  • have less clothes in the wardrobe, less choice means less washing.
  • When you come home having worn your jacket or dress once, dont automatically put it in the washer, check that it is dirty......and if not....put away.

That should save on a lot of washing in the house......instead of 3 load per day we are down to 2 and am still working on reducing that too.

Monday, June 05, 2006

At work

There seems a million and 1 things to do in the garden at the moment, so there seems little time to post. I want to keep up with the garden at the moment as my meals depend on it. Still salad galore which is great, some new potatoes fresh to eat, strawberries at breakfast time and plenty of eggs. Next should be green beans to add a little variety and then I will be able to have nicoise salad:

bed of lettuce leaves
some tomatoes
hard boiled eggs
steamed green beans
cold cooked potatoes
1 tin of tuna
pour over vinaigrette sauce ( oil and vinegar)

enjoy with a chunk of home made bread.

Something to look forward to for a nice summer lunch in the garden.
I also spotted the roses are coming in bloom, white, red, pink and apricot. Its looking very pleasing.......when you get time to sit still.

The weeds are doing great to and thats where I am off to, to weed, hoe and find me some weeds to pull.

It may be a simple life, but it is hard work. Very satisfying though....

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Its that weather, you can see yourself with a refreshing drink in the garden. This is what the boys did yesterday:

  • Take 4 lemons, peel them in a bowl ,( the zest not the white bits,
  • add 100g or 4 oz of fine white sugar.
  • top up with 750ml boiling water.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is disolved.
  • leave to cool.
  • when cool, sieve out the bits of peel
  • add squeezed lemon juice
  • store in the fridge until ready to use.

PS you could add some sparkle in it by diluting with sparkling water when you serve.


Friday, June 02, 2006


Its lovely out here in the garden, my plants are bathing in the sun and so am I in moderation. The seedlings are continuing to grow and this morning, we had our granola with a sprinkling of strawberries from the polytunnel. The harvest is beginning to show, yesterday was my DH's birthday and we had some fresh potatoes, peas and some salad form the garden. I really love the idea fresh from fork to plate, gathering what is in the garden, cooking it and enjoying a burst of freshness and taste.
Today the boys spent some more time in the little pool they bought, a bit of sunbathing and working on the craft room. Its a new idea, more time, means we can do more arts and crafts and so we are dedicating a space to this. Its all taking shape and I feel as if I am beginning to live the downshifting life.
I also now receive the Countryside magazine which although from the USA is geared towards the homesteaders life style and the articles are pertinent to this way of life.
I remember the cold days in winter and relish the warm ones of summer. I am continuing to tidy up cupboards to make space for some of the canning I hope to do this year with whatever I can harvest from the garden and local farms.