January

25th January - Snow is so very beautiful and I love watching it fall in thick, fluffy chunks, covering everything with a pristine white blanket. There are people who enjoy playing in it, making snowmen, skiiing down the hill, sledging or just throwing snowballs at each other but I am not one of them. Not for me. I enjoying walking in it, with the strange, almost eerie silence it brings, with that weird groaning squeak thick snow makes under my boots. more to my liking

This morning I spent a very happy hour in the sunshine, doing exactly that, as well as photographing the evidence of others who had passed that way earlier. The snowmen were the most obvious and they certainly made me smile. Look at the photos below though to see who had also been around!

I have not needed to harvest anything this week: plenty to eat here at home already, so instead of Harvest Moonday I am going straight to....

Out On The Plots This Week:

I managed to cut off at least two thirds of the Honeysuckle from that archway, leaving plenty of stems to re-grow in the Spring. Although the arch s at a wonky angle, it is quite secure, and without the huge swathe of \honeysuckle reaching across the top, shoud stand up to the rigours of the Winter alright now.

I also pruned the new Autumn Raspberries, which are in the bed alongside as an addition to the Forest Garden. I hope they grow some nice strong stems in the Spring.  I have some Wood Anemone corms coming, and I thought they might fare well alongsde the arch too

 

There is always something needing cutting back, it seems. I tackled the huge stems of the  Monkshood plants next to the small brown shed, reducing them down, to allow space for the comign year's flowering stems. This uncovered a surprising amount of growth on what was a tiny Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) Abi planted alongside the shed some years back, and now I have space to work, I can add some wires onto the side of the shed and train the stems along them. I thought it had given up the ghost completely, so it was a nice surprise to see it actually growing.

Nettles had encroached across this bed, and took out as much as I could... those roots are very persistent...because amongst them were lots of Primrose plants, full of bud. Some have even managed to flower under the snow now!

The Tamarisk tree above them is now pruned back off the boundary fence, which will stop me catching my hat on it, and a new branch of the Fig tree which was growing straight out over the grass at ground level has been removed. It all looks really neat and there is space for those last few Allium bulbs to go in during the week, when the snow has gone 

My new best friend helped of course, fossicking about, enjoying all the grubs and bugs my efforts turned up, singing away quietly in the sunshine and generally having a good time. I just hope that a mate is in the offing and that they will use the new nestbox that is going up on the shed behind the branches of the Fig tree, just for them. That would be really lovely

An early morning walk round out site showed up animal footprints everywhere, especially Rabbit prints, which definitely indicated which plots they trespassed on! The snow was beginning to thaw, but I took some photos to share with you.

Dog prints were everywhere, as my friends' dog Jasper ran about in his usual boisterous way, fortunately not obliterating all the other prints as he do so.  His footprints help show the differences between those of a Dog and a Fox..much longer and slimmer feet with outside toes in a line with each other ... and a Badger.. claws all pointing forwards from a large flat foot. 

This is probably the print of a young Badger we have seen in the Hazel copse occasionally, come out for a midnight foray, whilst the Fox was hanging out near the Sports Club buildings, perhaps hoping for a Rat for his dinner

  • Dog

  • Fox

  • Badger

Knowing where the black Cat likes to sleep, I looked round that area and sure enough found where he had jumped over a low fence and ran across the path into some shrubbery... no claws visible on his round-shaped feet

Muntjack Deer are seen regularly in and around our site, so I guess these deer-like prints, which were quite small, were made by them, and the funny liitle feet must surely have been a Grey Squirrel running across the grass

  • Deer

  • Cat

  • Grey Squirrel

Rabbit tracks, as I said, were frequent, but one lot along a grassy section had the prints of a large bird through them. We see Herons most days, stalking along the verges looking for Frogs and other small animals, so it seems logical that these large prints were left by one

You can compare their size and shape with the tracks left by a Pheasant... the drag marks are from its long stiff tail...  more than twice the size

  • Rabbit

  • Rabbit and Heron

  • Pheasant

Brown Rat

These small prints were on my plot, going through to my neighbours' as well too. I spotted some in the snow on the top of one of my pallet bins and realised they were likely to belong to Brown Rats, the little scuff mark along the middle being made by their tails

What was heartening is that there were not too many around, which is good, as some Winters we seem to have dozens and they can spoil a lot of crops

The surface of the snow had frozen too hard for small birds like Robins or Dunnocks to leave any prints, and despite me searching, I couldn't see any made by Field Mice, probably for the same reason, although Jasper's nose convinced him some had been about!

This morning's walk proved to be an unexpected treat, a happy hour in the sunshine looking for animal tracks. Not quite what I had planned but enjoyable nevertheless

At Home This Week:

The Ailsa Craig Onion seeds and the Oarsman Leeks have germinated, and there are lots of lovely little green elbows poking up now. The Early Jalapenos are true to their name and are also up. I hope the Padrons follow soon, as well as some Aubergines

The seedlings will have to leave the warmth of the propagator very soon, as there is not enough light on the windowsill for them so they will otherwise  get too lanky. I shall need to tur up the greenhouse heater a bit for them ... this is where a heated mat woud come in handy I think, but I don''t have one... but I expect they will manage

The Emerald Isle Aubergine seeds arrived, and are already sown, and as Globo seed seems unavailable I sowed the old seed I had and will just hope for the best. They have only been in a week, but by this time next week I'd expect some action if they are actually still viable

Moving those seedlings will free up some space in the propagator for the two things I have currently on top of the fish tank indoors, so that they can get some bottom heat. 

My daughter sent  me two stems of Lemon Grass, which have ben duly trimmed down a bit and are sitting in a little glass of water, and covered with a polythene bag to keep the humidity up,  in the hope that they grow roots. Hers certainly have done, a whole bunch of roots in fact, so I am hoping mine do the same!

There is also a tray of newly sown seeds of Living Stone Succulents that belongs to my youngest granddaughter. She sowed them on Saturday but forgot to take them home with her, so these are really only a temporary fish tank lid resident. 

The snow in the garden was certainly beautiful, but in today's sunshine most has now thawed, which I am sure the birds appreciate. 

Jobs for the Week:

- sort the greenhouse so that the Onion seedlings etc can transfer down there

- plant the Allium bulbs aat the plot, plus the Lily bulbs I have discovered in a bag, already sprouting (Ooops)

- attach wires to the brown shed and ties the Chaemoneles branches to them

- put up the Robin nest box on the shed, and one in the woodstore on the other plot

- check over the seed list to see if anything else needs to be sown already ... thinking perhaps early Mangetout or Peas for the polytunnel, and the second lot of Broad Beans this time for outside. Theycould go in the greenhouse with snappy trap protection. Sweet Peas too

- and the Lettuce still to prick out if the weather is suitable

I hope you haven't suffered from floods or freeze and aare staying well

I shall be back next week, possibly with roots on the Lemon Grass, who knows?

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

18th January - Last week I felt very low, with it being the anniversary of beloved Abi's death, the Wintery wet weather,  needing company and hugs,and of course we are all still in Lockdown.

However, onwards is the way and the arrival of my seed Potatoes cheered me up a bit, a glimpse of the future in a brown cardboard box!

 

Harvest Monday saw some veg on the table, with  the fattest Leek I have ever grown. A more usual sized one is alongside for comparison. They are destined for Salmon and Leek Quiche and kind of Carbonara-style Pasta dish

I also pulled up another of the glorious Swede, this one so big I couldn't even cut it in half, but luckily my son could.. plenty to share! I do like cooked Swede mashed with butter, and it was especially good s a side to Toad-in-the Hole in Friday

And the Mooli despite growing flower stalks now, and still very tender inside. I cooked  aVegetable Biryani yesterday with cubes of Mooli, Swede, Parsnip, Carrot atogether with chopped Runner Beans and Sweecorn, both from the freezer, plus sliced Onion. It reakly was quite good! (forgot to photograph the Parsnip though)

 

 

The last of this week's harvests isMicrogreens. My youngest granddaughter Rowan sowed the mix of seeds I had thought too old to risk on a main sowing this year. The tray was put in the propagator, which was not strictly necessary, but as there was space I thought it might as well be used, and it hastened things on nicely

Three days later, little green leaves were unfurling, and  at the end of a week there was enough to cut and eat in an egg sandwich. These first shoots were Brassicas, including some nice spicy Rocket and the pretty pink stems of Red Kale

The tray had a gentle water, went back in the propagator, and this morning I saw lots of new shoots, mainly from the Beet family this time... Beetroot, Chard and Perpetual Spinach were all thrown in, so it look like we shall be havng a second cutting when Rowan is back next weekend.

JUst a footnote to this: The Courgette seeds germinated in five days ... which of course if I had been waiting for plants they no doubt would not have done... and they were good and crunchy BUT also tasted quite bitter. Next time we shall leave them out!

Definitely worth the small effort, to get something edible from what might otherwise have been discarded.

Out On The Plots This Week:


The miserable weather kept me indoors for three days , so I didn't get all that much done until the weekend, when I weeded out two more of the paths between beds on #146. No woodchip at present, but they are certainly better without the weeds poking up.

The best bit was sitting  by the shed in the sunshine, leaning against that sun-warmed wood, soaking up with heat and just relaxing. It is not all about hard graft!

I did prune out some of the old growth from the Summer-fruiting Raspberries in the fruit cage though and finished cutting out the darker, less prolific branches from the other Blackcurrant bush. I realised there is actually a third bush too, grown where a long branch rested on the ground long enough to grow roots. It needs moving really so I shall have to see where there might be space: they do grow pretty big!

This morning my plot neighbour Gary repaired the damage recent winds had caused to the ancient wooden arches, tightening all the nuts on the joints so they don' tcollapse inwards again. I cut a massive amount of old growth of the Honeysuckle on one, but it still looked no different... I can see this being a long job!

 Thank you Gary, for bringing your tolls down specially to do this for me.. much appreciated

In The Polytunnels This Week:

I spent some of the time at home while it was raining planning out what I shall grow in the tunnels this year, whereabouts it will be growing and how many plants I shall need. This should help avoid having far too many plants for my needs, and then having them crammed togather in the greenhouse at home wihtout enough space for them to develop healthily.

I know, and you probably to too, that this never works 100%, as I always sow a some extra seeds "just in case" and then end up with a few surplus plants, but that is fine: there are always willing recipients of these. However, in some years I have ended up with more than double the number of Tomato plants I need and far too many Cucumbers etc, and it has been difficult to raise these tender offerings to a size that growers can safely plant straight out into their veg beds and keep them in good condition. Not everyone has frost free under cover space! 

So, I vow to try even harder on this front, especially as it is uncertain when and how Lockdown might be lifted, making it even more difficult to share extra plants with others.

One person there is never any issue ot share plants with is my plot neighbour Jane. We both understand how to maintain Social Distancing,, and have agreed spots in which spare plants can be left for each other. she passed on some extra Mizuna seedlings, yesterday, which are now planted out in two rows in one of the tunnels, in a space that will not interfere with future planting plans too. I shall photograph them for you for next week: camera batteries fail at awkward moments don't they? 

At Home This Week:

This is where there has been some action. The main priority has been to sow seeds of crops needing a really long growing period: Aubergines, large-sized Onions, Chillies and some Leeks, all of which are now basking in the heat of the propagator on the kitchen windowsill

 

Unfortunately I was unable to find anywhere with Globo Onion seeds still available, but I did get some Emerald Isle green Aubergine seeds, so I shall be sowing them tomorrow.

I have now finished ordering those last minute varieties I felt I couldn't manage without, including some Giant Tomatillo, Spinach to overwinter in the polytunnel and an Agastache called Liquorice MInt

I have noticed a lot of seed companies are running low on stocks of some vegetables, and warning of long delays in  the despatch of orders. Some even close their virtual baskets once they have that week's orders they feel they can manage, so look out!

As you have already seen, my seed Potatoes have arrived!!  I put in my order in mid December, and now they are all sitting in their eggtrays in the frost free greenhouse , where they can develop little shoots....chits... prior to be planted towards the end of March

Last year someone asked me how you know which way up to put them on the tray if no shoots havs started growing yet; face the end that was attached to the plant it grew on, downwards. I always think of this as the Potato's bellybutton. But if you get it wrong and shoots start to grow from the end facing downwards, don't worry, just turn them over

Sometimes there is a wide rage of size in tubers of the same variety. Look at these ones, all International KIdney, but some are about four times the size of others. Tubers bought in bags are sold by weight, not number of tubers. I, however, want to plant them four (or five) to a short row, with enough rows to fill their allocated  bed space, so could easily not have enough tubers of this variety to do that.

So... once there are plenty of chits grown, I shall cut some of these larger ones in half each with a fair share of chits on it, and let the cut surface dry over (which takes a few days) before planting them. This means i can have the exact number of plantable tubers for my space. 

I did this last year for the first time,with two big fat tubers, and it worked just fine. Definitely something to think about if you need more than you actually receive in your order!

This year I have:

First Earlies (ready 10-12 weeks after planting , in ideal conditions) Rocket ..six for very early cropping in the polytunnel

Second Early (ready 13-15 weeks after planting, but can be left in longer as long as plants are growing still): Anya, Carlingford, Jazzy, Kestrel, International Kidney

Maincrop (ready 15-22 weeks after planting): Setanta ...also late blight resistant

A range of textures, colour and shapes, with the maincrops being for longer storage through the Winter into the following Spring

The Lettuce seedlings are ready to be transplanted, some heading for the polytunnel, some for a deep tray to stay in the greenhouse, some to share with plot neighbours and any remaining ones to be eaten

The modules of Spring Onions are coming along nicely... you can just see the edge of one here... but they will be perfectly happy for a while yet, as there are not enough hours of daylight yet for any sort of growth spurt

In the garden, plants are slowly stirring, with Crocus leaves visible at the end of the lawn, a promise of golden flowers to soon open, once the sun moves round enough to warm them a little more, and Hellebores coming into flower  5oo, whilst berries on the Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) brighten up the view form the window with it glorious berries. I am always a little glad that birds do not seem to like eating these, as it means the display lasts a long time. This plant always reminds me of ones we saw in Spain, on holiday with our daughter and her husband-to-be many years ago. There were several planted by the front door where we were staying, with plenty of berries still in mid February

  • This one nestles in the old fern foliage under the big Camellia bush

  • Whilst this one gets far more light across the path in a more open situation

Jobs for This Week include;

- continuing with pruning fruit bushes

- cutting that Honeysuckle of the archway

- ordering some yellow Dahlias, as it is a colour I particularly like and have none of

- ordering native Wood Anemones for the Forest garden

- sowing seeds of Emerald Isle Aubergines

- pricking out Lettuce seedlings

Always assuming that we don't have days or torrential rain or bitterly cold winds of course!

That is a good thing about this time in the year: most outdoor jobs, whilst important, are not urgent, so there is no need to stress if they cannot be undertaken right away.

I shall be back next Monday as usual, all being well, probably with some rather straggly looking Lettuce plants to show you, and possibly something germinating in the propagator apart from Microgreens. 

Thanks for reading this... yes BIki, even you who only skim reads, your secret is out lol.. stay well everyone!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

12th January - a day late this week due to a system error. Almost every day has seemed pretty much the same recently, with few defining regular events, but my weekends now are marked by seeing my legal Support Bubble of my son's family, which is great, This week's long walk was around Green Park, a local area of reclamation, which has received several awards for its ecological work. Photos to follow further on. It is good to have some company, as I am disinclined to go anywhere alone, except the allotments, and I can go for several days without speaking to anyone at all. Right now stretching the Lock Down rules seems just plain foolhardy.  Never at a loss for something to do though!

The weather has been much colder than usual for January, but once you get working, or walking, it is good to be outside and enjoy the birdlife. The lengthening days are encouraging them into early morning song already

Harvest Monday does have one offering on the table this week: Golden Beetroot. It was a double bonus, as the leaves made excellent eating too. Both were used in a Vegetable Curry, with Kholrabi. Onion and Tomato Passata from the stores, and French Beans from the freezer

 

Out On The Plots This Week:

As  said, it has been jolly cold! My plan to continue working on the fruit bed was put on hold by the arrival of some woodchip on site. I spent several hours carting it over to the plots, where of course some paths still needed weeding before I could lay it down. I am realy pleased with how it looks, with the whole of #145 now clean and safe underfoot. I found a few purple leaved perennial Violas  (V riviania ) growing under the Tomato tables, and transplanted them into the Forest Garden. These do usually spread quite quickly, so I hope that by this time next year there are a couple of patches of them, as the early flowers will be appreciated by insects, as well as by me

Over on #146, there are still some areas left to deal with, but these can wait for now: I can clear small areas every visit, even if it is sometimes only one tuft of grass ... that fruit cage is still waiting.. and when more woodchip arrives I can finish them off. I have managed to join up the renewed paths of each plot now: this path is the one running between the two, and that felt good. Take pleassure in the small achievements, I say!

Within the plan to extend the range of herbs I grow is the idea to have some for tea-making, grown near each other, so this old stand will be given a lick of paint and re-positioned so that there can be  a deepish trough on each of the three shelves. It has been forlorn under the Tayberry for a couple of years, making it awkward to pick the fruit, so having a new purpose for it will be good. I had originally planned to use it to extend my Strawberry growing space, but I have done this now through re-organising the troughs on the table. Ideally I would like the stand  near the bottom end of the plot, which is sunniest, and I can then easily make sure it gets enough water should we have a really hot Summer, being near the tap

I was not looking forward to having to go to buy these three troughs, as staying safe has become a challenge. I know I won't need them until at least mid March, but these sorts of things seem to sell out very quickly. This morning however I spotted some from an on-line seller  that will be just right.. shop visit avoided, and troughs brought to my door!!

I had an interesting conversation with my plot neighbour Jane yesterday... at least 4m apart from each other. .. about compost. She was digging out one of her bins, and filled a cubic metre builders' bag with the contents. She has two more bags like this already, good to go. I have two bins ready to empty, and each will be a cubic metre, with another one i have already day emptied and used. A similar amount each produced in a season

The conclusion we came to was that if everyone composted all their green waste, we could be producing at least 360 metric tonnes of compost a year from our site alone.Wow!! Actively encouraging new tenants to compost is clearly going to be a worthwhile focus, once we can offer out the empty plots again

Look at this! The sheets of ice on the surface of the bath had mini-icicles growing downwards into the water, along the edges of fractures in the ice itself. Never seen this before, but then I tend not to delve my hands into the freezing water to pick up ice to be honest, unlike my youngest granddaughter!

At Home This Week:

I spent a happy couple of hours on a seed stock take, taking out packets that were past their best, and making a (very short) list of seeds I would ideally like to buy.This always raises the question of where these crops would be planted, so the list gets culled quite quickly!

However, it left me with lots of part used, or free, packets of seed only slightly out of date, so we emptied them all into a bowl, mixed the up and sowed some thickly into a half tray of compost. Enough of them should germinate to provide a cutting or two of microgreens, like posh mustard and cress, and once the first lot are spent, a second sowing can follow. Seems better than wasting them. (They are all edible varieties.) One they are up, I'll post a photo so you can see them

As the propagator is back on the windowsill, they have the luxury of extra warmth, but they don't really need it and will be moved out as soon as the space is needed for more tender crops. 

I have sorted what needs to be sown now and what can wait until the start of February. I don't want too many seedlings that need to be kept warm and bright all at the same time. This afternoon I shall be mixing compost for sowing the first lot: Aubergines Long Purple & Black Beauty, Early Leek Oarsman, Early Jalapeno Chillies, a mix of elliptical Onions Elista & Karminka  and Onions Ailas Craig. The Globo seeds are bit old but I am going to sow some with fingers crossed, because they keep much better than Ailsa Craig do. If they are past it, I shall buy more seeds and make a later sowing, as there is plenty of time

 

On our walk in Green Park on Sunday eyes were on us everywhere! Lots of the trees had "cats'eyes" looking out of the trunks, and "ducks" peering round the sides too. Fascinating to look at

There were lots of water birds to watch, including several Herons and Cormorants. This Heron clearly had nest building in mind!

Cormorants don't have waterproof feathers like Ducks and Geese, so every so often they need to dry their feathers before they can carry on hunting for fish

 

There was a hardy a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of the water. A great place to go, and only across town too. 

 

This week coming, as well as seed sowing, I aim to carry on with weeding the fruit cage and pruning the bushes as long as the weathe stays dry. I also need to reviewing the sowing and planting plan for the polytunnels, to make sure I leave enough space for Sumer crops and rotate round so theye are not occupying the same area of soi as either this year or last year. With having four large beds this is reasonable practical thank goodness

I hope you are all enjoying rifling through your seeds tins and boxes, planning the coming season too. I shall be back next Monday, all being well, to share harvests and steps towards new ones, albeit small ones at the moment. Small but vital!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

 

4th January - Happy New Year!! I hope you were all able to find some joy over the Christmas period. I know I am becoming increasingly grateful for the technology that enables us to stay in touch with those we cannot visit, as well as of course browsing on-line seed catalogues.

If there is anyone reading this who hasn't started this annual New Year ritual, it is time to get going for sure! There will be some of you who, I know, who already have seeds sown and in propagators - mainly Chillies or Onions I suspect -  but even if you are not one of these very early starters, catalogues, with their wonderful illustrations and tempting descriptions, can help us dream of sowings to come.

At this time in the year, and especially now with the many restrictions we necessarily have to accept, dreaming and looking forward to good things to come is vital. As you can see, my Shallots are off to a good start and those little green shoots embody that very hope of future bounty. I love looking at them in the dark cold days and imagining how they will grow....

After such huge harvests last week, I am passing on Harvest Monday as I still have plenty to eat. Crops stand well in the ground at the moment, so there is no rush to dig roots or cut stesm to bring home

Out On The Plots This Week:,,


After taking a few days off, it is back to work out there, when the ground is not actually frozen. I am so glad I made the effort to improve the paths, as at least I can walk about without slipping or sliding in the mud

I have begun the mammoth task or weeding the fruit cage, which is 14m by 2m, and pruning the fruit bushes. I always leave this far too long so weeds are enormous and the perennial nettle root extend under the ground for metres, but it does need doing of course

I am tackling it in areas the length of one frame section, which is around 1.5m, as then at least there is some sense of achievement each day. I have managed the areaa outside the actual framework, adding two pavaing slabs to make it easier to walk through the Raspberry canes, plus one section inside which is where the old Autumn fruiting Raspberries are.

These have got less and less productive  in the past couple of years. I have bought more, planted in another bed on the edge of the Forest Garden, but I might as well look after these old ones a bit too and see how this year goes. I added a handful of some Rose fertiliser I found in the shed round each plant,which should hopefully  boost fruiting abit, being high in Potassium. I shall also give them some chicken mnaure pellets to provide a bit of extra Nitrogen for general growth too

The deep mulch should also help the soil retain moisture later in the year too. The Raspberry stems are cut right back so you can hardly see them against the mulch, but as they are a Primocane variety (Polka) that fruit on the coming season's growth, this heavy pruning is whatt is needed, so their energy goes into those new stems. If they don't manage to grow properly after that, their days will be numbered!

Blackcurrants will be next...

Shallots are not the only ones poking up their heads. Garlic is growing now, including the huge cloves a friend gave me from his home-developed variety, and Onions are all now looking good.

The small weeds around them give me the chance to use one of my Christmas presents, a lovely little Onion hoe. I have nver had one before, making do with a broad headed hoe, which is a bt cumbersome around the Onions, especially as the bulbs swell. 

Going back to the Shallots for a minute. The ones to the left are the ones saved from some I bought at a local garden centre , and i ma pleased to see they look healthy. The leaves are a more lime colour than the ones to the right, which is a variety I grow every year, Jermor.

Both varieties did well last year, so I am hopeful they will do the same again. And yes, more work needed with that new Onion hoe!

With the strong winds a few days ago, the arch supporting the very heavy Evergreen Honeysuckle partially collapsed. I managed to wedge it up again and tighten the nuts on the joins, so it is OK for a while longer. The arch half way through the Forest Garden, so I am keen to keep it. It slumping like that reminded  me that I really do need to cut this twiggy growth back down to about a metre, and hopefully the plant will then rejuvenate and produce of fresh growth so it flowers as well as it used to

At Home This Week:

The Christmas decorations are down, the left overs of food cooked for New Year are finished, including Leek & Potato Soup and some Indian Sweets, which I managed to make as vegan versions so that everyone in mm "Support Bubble" (I live on my own) could enjoy them) When I get a minute, I shall add those recipes, so I can use them again. Coconut Delight was excellent, but the traditional Seven-Cup Burfi recipe needs a bit of an adjustment to make it more like the original we all enjoy. Can't win them all first time, I guess. And Biki, if you are reading this, I can make you some whe visiting is allowed again!

Seed catalogues are top of my reading list, allthough to be honest, I think once I rootle through the seeds tins, there will be little else I need to buy now. The pictures are always so tempting

I did manage to bottle up the remaining fruit liqueurs. The Sloe Gin took ages to filter, as the flesh breaks up very easily, but in the end it was clear, and is such a beautiful colour. The Damson Gin is excellent, with the Damsons from the tree on #146 tasting quite different from the ones that were from Carol's tree, and the Spiced Blackberry Brandy very smooth indeed. 

This year, I added only half the sugar when the fruit was put in to macerate, and then adjusted the sweetness with some plain sugar syrup I made. It allowed for the variation in natural sugars in the fruit and the end products have been less sweet overall

In the week I went out to Hosehill Lake, a Nature Reserve about five miles from where I live. Walking round the Lake is usually a gentle stroll, but after all the rain we have had, the paths were liquid mud, and some area, which I have never ever seen with water in them even,  were full to overflowing. 

Whilst the lake itself was open water, shallower culverts had frozen over. In the Summer, this one usually abounds with Dragonflies and Damselflies. I stood there for a while imagining their larvae torpid on the bottom of this frozen water, waiting out the Winter. Then back to plodding through the mud again, trying to keep my boots from being pulled off my feet as I went

 

The Ornamental Cabbages from my Christmas bouquet are now finished, but the Lilies are blooming and thye small luscious

Jobs this week of course include the ongoing Fruit Cage, and a note that at some point that Honeysuckle ned to be cut back, both of which are weather dependent

Also on the list is to:

- stock take of the seed tins

- bring in a bag of compost to warm up .. I forgot to do this last weel so the ONion seeds are still in their packet. Can't sow them into a substrate that cold!!

- Sow Onions, and Sweet peas... and perhaps some Cauliflowers if I have an appropriate variety

- set the Broad Bean plants out in the polytunnel, now they are acclimatised to life there

And my last job is to take down the Christmas light outside, while it is neither raining nor windy.

I shall be back next Monday, with seeds sown and more of the fruit cage under control again, if all goes well!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com