Archives for the month of: June, 2014

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We are expecting a glut of tomatoes this year. We currently have 18 happy, healthy plants. They all have flowers and have been doing so well we’ve run out of space in the sun room, so have moved a few of them outside. We’ve got a few aphids nibbling at the leaves but my home-made aphid spray seems to be keeping on top of them and I have asked the kids to keep an eye out for ladybirds while they play in the garden.

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The sun room was too steamy for the camera lens, so here’s a picture of one of the outside ones looking lovely in the sun. Other things doing well in the garden just now are; the seedlings I planted last week, which have germinated, including our sweetcorn and some flowers for the border. Our peony has survived the move from the allotment and looks great. The lilac at the end of the drive is in flower and the Irises I planted from bulbs last year have flowered in the border in front of the lounge window. I would have taken more photos of all these things but Kester decided to play with the camera at the beach today and some sand has got into the lens mechanism. No lens means no focus and no pictures!

Still, here’s the last picture the camera took – Kester at the scene of the crime.

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Arthur went a bit feral on Saturday, cavorting in the sunshine in nothing but his red underpants and a bow and arrow. To make up for this, he spent most of Sunday wearing his Super Arthur Badgery outfit on top of his batman onesie.

Last week we bought a chest of drawers and a treadle-operated sewing machine from a neighbour, Allison, who was clearing out one of her farm cottages. The drawers are solid pine, Victorian and have the original handles. It’s a really nice, solid piece but had a dark stain and varnish on. We did a bit of experimenting to see what worked best to get rid of the stain and the winner was stripping the varnish with our trusty heat gun, then sanding by hand. We forgot to take a “before” picture but here is the chest with one drawer stripped.

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Having cleared the garage a bit recently (and thanks to Dad installing more light and power), it is great to have the space to chip away at the task in the evening over the next few weeks. Matt even says he’s enjoying it! The finished chest will be waxed and then used either in Iris’s room when she moves into it or in the boys’ bedroom (with Iris getting the oak wardrobe).

Here’s a picture from another angle. I love the reassuringly chunky handles and the very Scottish columns either side at the front. There’s even a secret drawer. The plastic tub and the wooden blocks you can see underneath are to protect the chest from some of the leaks in the Garage!

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Our latest WWOOFer, Claire, left us yesterday to go to her next hosts in Wales (via a trip to London). She has been absolutely brilliant and was our first non-EU WWOOFer, hailing from Indiana. As well as clearing bracken in the sunshine, she taught Iris to play the piano, planted seeds, mulched like a demon and helped us fix the gutter and water butt on the garage. This should mean no more flooded garage and plentiful water for the plants, especially those at the front of the house in pots.

She also did a lot of exploring in the local area and put us to shame in her eagerness to seek out ancient monuments. In fact, after bumping into our neighbour Phil on one trip, she helped him stop a team of civil engineers dumping a pile of rubble on a cup and ring mark stone that had mysteriously vanished from their maps of the area, thus saving a precious ancient site from destruction. She also had the good fortune to bump into the keyholder of Kirkandrews Kirk while passing and got a personal guided tour of the church and its history. We, on the other hand, haven’t yet managed to pop in even on one of its regular public open days! Definitely got a few outings planned for our summer staycation.

We don’t have any more WWOOF visitors planned until the end of the month and instead are having lots of visits from family and friends. This means (gulp!) that we’ll have to keep on top of the garden ourselves. Hmm. Something tells me we’re not going to get much done this month.

We spent most of the sunny Saturday spring cleaning our shed and garage. I appreciate the following images could well be desperately boring but I do love a nice, tidy shed!

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With so many gardening guests (both family and WWOOFers) we need to have duplicates of most common tools but also to have tools easy to find and put away again. We reused a bit of plywood left from another project to mount the tools on the wall. Some old cut-down broom handles Matt discovered in the attic have been used to store trowels and hand forks. That project was a bit of a trial run for his plan to make racks for wellington boots in the porch.

Another project completed this week was finishing the shutters for the playroom. Repainting shutters takes ages but having an emptier garage makes it much easier to leave them set up to dry between coats. The finished shutters look great and fit really well. We also cleared out a damp corner in the garage and got a few more boxes in, did more weeding and mulching and sowed some more seeds, including some wildflower seeds in bare patches field.

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We have a new gate in our field. The company that installed it (James Smith Fencing) were so quick and efficient that we didn’t even spot them doing it! We just noticed it in all its gleaming galvanized loveliness while we were in the field on Saturday morning. Iris and Arthur have reported that it is good to climb and feels nice and sturdy. The next job is to rebuild the drystone wall where it was widened for the gate to go in.

The old gate was rusted, had broken hinges and was attached to rotten fence posts. We also wanted to make a wider opening so that it is easier to get trailers and machinery in and out of the field. The medium-term plan is to have pigs in the field to start digging out the bracken. We’ll move the pigs around over time and plant trees as they clear each bit of land. So now we have the gate we need to look into electric fencing, a pig ark and getting some weaners. We will use the old gate as a support for climbing plants at the back of our long border in the garden and the fence posts will probably end up as firewood.

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