Archives for posts with tag: beach

When we moved here, we had a lovely big lawn interrupted by some shrubs and a long mixed border. We’ve written about our veg. patch and the stages we’ve gone through building it. The biggest concern we’ve had is, how do we grow vegetables if we’ve got only 15cm of turf to work with before hitting stones? Our answer is to build up and do raised beds, no-dig style (the annual vs. perennial vegetable discussion is for another day). With the caveat that this may be TLDR, I’ll go into the over-thinking I went into when considering the raised beds.

We looked at top soil: expensive and not in keeping with building the veg. patch from scratch, which posed a second question: what have we got to work with? Garden compost. Bracken. Seaweed.

We used the existing garden compost from the old compost heap and have grown some fine brassicas in it this year. We’ve built two new compost bins that will start supplying garden compost next year.

I realised that bracken was a possibility when I researched methods of bracken control as part of the field improvements. In doing so, I read a few pamphlets about bracken control:

The third one mentioned potential uses for bracken as a by-product of controlling it or even as a crop in itself. This was a revelation. The first use that jumped out at me was as a compost and mulch. Obvious now and a simple way to get organic matter into our veg patch.

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After starting work on one area where we’re clearing the bracken for an orchard, it became apparent that bracken mulches and composts itself as a survival mechanism. Each year’s fronds die down and are flattened by the next year’s, offering a mulch to further exclude competition and as protection from the worst of the winter weather. As a result, there is a layer of excellent compost in the denser stands if you rake off the last two years’ worth of fronds. This means we have composted bracken and bracken fronds to use as soil improver and mulch respectively.

The photos of the bracken mulch show how much we are piling on in one session. It reduces an awful lot.

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Our bracken management plan has now got two aspects.

  • One is using the bracken from areas that we’ve not go plans for yet (exposed slopes and the like). This harvesting allows frost to get in and boosts the under layer, weakening and containing the bracken. It should hopefully stop the spread in some areas. The bracken’s utility as a crop for the garden means we’d like to keep some of it in less useful areas. The photo shows one area that we harvested.

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  • Removing the bracken from areas we want to use for something else. Here we strim three times a year (spring and summer). The other approach is using the pigs to dig up and destroy the rhizomes. This will severely weaken the bracken, though we may need to strim a bi to finish the job. Pigs aren’t eating the bracken (it’s unpalatable to livestock in the main).

In the second aspect, we have to have a replacement for the bracken, otherwise the soil will erode. So far we’ve planted an orchard with under-planting of raspberries, strawberries and wildflowers. Some grass is regenerating too. When the pigs are finished we’ll use more trees there to hold it together. You can see the current situation in the photo below. The slope was dense bracken like the patch on the right.

P1020857The final component is seaweed. Not long after we moved here, a lady suggested that we should take bags with us to the beach every time we went and then set the children to collecting seaweed for the garden. It’s a great idea and one we’ve done on and off as free hands have allowed. Below is some seaweed mulch.

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Cairn Holy I A free, sunny Sunday meant a trip out, so we went to Cairn Holy, a place that’s been on our list for a while. The site is split into two Neolithic burial cairns, each of which is in an area of neat grass enclosed by dykes and a bit of fence. Before we went we looked it up in The Modern  Antiquarian a book which everyone should own. Whenever we have a WWOOFer who expresses an interest in historic sites, we whip it out to astound them with the local prehistory.

Cairn Holy IIOur latest WWOOFer, Mikayla, had arrived the day before so we invited her along for the day. She is from the USA and is keen to see castles and other historic sites, so we took her back to almost the beginning. The weather was lovely up at the cairns and we were too hot at points. The view out to sea was tremendous, almost blinding in the sunlight. It was a good introduction to Galloway for our guest.

After all the excitement, we went to Mossyard for a picnic, as it is close to Cairn Holy. The tide was fully in when we arrived, which left a tiny bit of sand and a lot of rocks. When we left at 3ish we could walk to the first island along a sand bank; the one with the labyrinth was still out of reach.

Mossyard beach

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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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Slipway To The Sea Later this week, our friend Jo has organized two beach clean ups, one at Kirkandrews beach and the other at “the bathing hut beach.” Not being sure where this was, I came across a painting of it by a local artist, Andrew McKean, which described it as Barlocco Beach and bathing hut. Digging out the OS map showed a sandy beach just along from Kirkandrews by a farm called Barlocco. So, on a very sunny and spring-like Sunday afternoon we set off to find it.
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As it turns out, it’s just five minutes along a popular but unmarked footpath from the road past the Coo Palace (Corseyard Edwardian Dairy, pictured very badly right, which is a whole other post in itself). The bay itself is a mix of golden sand, old slipway and Carrick-style rock pools.

The feature that gives this bay its local name is one of the Knockbrex follies that add character to this bit of coastline. Now boarded up (which is a shame as it would make an incredible holiday cottage or beach café), the bathing hut has porthole windows either side of an arched door and is made from local stone.

Bathing hut

Porthole

Porthole

Like most of the local beaches it does need a clear-up after the storms but actually isn’t too bad. Further round the headland, there’s a beach with more shells and debris. We claimed a washed-up plastic crate, probably from a fishing boat, to use for storing the kids’ outdoor toys which are currently housed in one of our old packing boxes. I also gathered a bag of shells to top dress a pot I filled on Saturday.

The wee walk to the beach was looking good in the spring sunshine (if you averted your eyes from the odd dead bird and baby deer), with plenty of primrose and gorse. We also harvested some more wild garlic to have with tea. Recipe to follow as a few people have requested it now.
Primrose

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A very rare Mothers’ Day off work today, which meant lots of spoiling for me. The weather was extremely kind, so once I’d opened the lovely cards and gifts, we went out in the garden for some pottering before heading to Galloway Lodge in Gatehouse for lunch, followed by a trip to one of the local beaches we hadn’t visited yet, Cream O’ Galloway and home.

I’ll do some posts through the week of our day out but for now here’s Iris’s very nice words for Mothers’ Day.

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Before A Fall

We took a midwinter stroll at Mossyard Bay last week while aunties and grandparents were visiting. Unfortunately Arthur decided the best start to the New Year would be to fling himself in the Solway Firth so within ten minutes of getting there we had to change him out of the fetching woolly jumper and salopettes outfit featured above and into a hoody and t-shirt taken from Grandpa’s suitcase.

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Mossyard is gorgeous though with great sweeps of sand, three islands to explore and a brilliant landscape labyrinth.

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