Thursday, 27 February 2020

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Homestead Polytunnel Tour | Hoop House Tour (February 2020)

Following the storms I see how this hoophouse withstands stormy weather and look at what grows in the polytunnel in February as I continue gardening under cover and growing food in winter.
Video transcript below.

Hello, today I thought I would do a polytunnel tour. 

There's a storm brewing outside so it's bit windy and quite noisy in here. But I thought you might find it interesting to see what I'm up to.

So, there's a table and chairs here because I'm running a workshop this weekend and we'll be doing a lot of work in the polytunnel, so that's here for now. And when I finish doing the workshops in here in mid-March, this will become one of the tables I use to put all my seedlings on to allow them to grow.

I'm really sorry about all the noise around me, the wind is really picking up now!

But I'm really pleased to say that this polytunnel has survived the 80 mile an hour winds from storm Ciara, the horrific winds and rain from storm Dennis and what we've got coming through now is possibly storm Ellen and then there's Francis after that. But it seems to be standing up to all that wind and all that pressure really well. So I'm very happy that we sited it here, it has the shelter from the trees behind it, so although it does get the wind it's not the full force of the wind because it's being filtered a little bit by those trees and sent up over the top of it, I think!

The polytunnel was put up ten months ago, so it's my first spring of working in the polytunnel and I know that I could have made more of it. But actually that's about how I feel rather than the use of the polytunnel.

I thought I'd show you some of the things that Ihave done during the winter.  I've got this fabulous rotating tumbler-type composter here. I got this from Garden Gear and I really like that it means I can have a small, neat, compost situation going on in polytunnel, so I can, literally, as I pick up weeds and the roots from plants when I harvest them, they can go straight into here with a bit of moisture then it gets turned and in quite a short amount of time, I am assured, that it will then produce compost that can just let's go straight back onto the ground in here. It's neat, it's not obtrusive and we shall see over the next couple of months how we get on with that.

Over in this corner though it's not so tidy, it's a chaotic mess. It's really what I left last year and I'm just want to be honest with you that I don't have everything spotless all the time.

There is some polythene left over from the cover - I'm hanging on to it because I could use it outside or I could use it, I can still use it, in here to get some seeds - that would be started a bit later on - started now. Because if they've got a double layer there'll be that much warmer. And then there are two rubbish bins for recycling, one for plastics, one for paper. I'm actually have a third bin which isn't here at the moment. Oh it is!

It's over on that side, which I use for kind of non recyclable rubbish, there isn't very much of that, but I do like to have those bins so they're just... everything's already pre sorted for me. 

Over here is a hanging basket, it's the only hanging basket I did last year and it sat outside towards the end of the year.

I've brought it in over winter and what it has got growing in it is some of the plants, the hanging plants, that were in here last year, it's got a few weeds I can see. They'll go straight into the compost heap over in the corner there. But it's also got a couple of parsnips growing in it!

I don't think parsnips are going to work in a hanging basket but it is quite interesting and, you know, I might even transplant them and it's not a practice that is recommended, transplanting parsnips, you're likely to get very bendy roots but I'll give it a go I'll try and transplant them really carefully and we'll see how that goes. Let's get these into the compost bin.

Down here we've got some salad leaves I've grown over winter. So this is my mustard Ruby Streaks which I talk about further quite often. I really like this is, at this time of year, when the leaves have got really big, it is quite mustardy quite, peppery but it's really adding some punch to our salads. We've got baby beetroot which I sowed at the very tail end of last year to overwinter in here, so I'm hoping we'll get a nice early crop from those.

And failing that I will just crop the leaves the young leaves so I will have these in salads. And back here is a ruby beet from last year, it just kept growing right through the winter so I've been able to harvest young leaves from this, beautiful color, they're really lovely in stir-fries. So I've just kept that going and further along there there are a few corn salad, lamb's lettuce plants. There's only about four or five of them left now and they will be gone in the next week or so.

And on this side of the polytunnel I've got two gutters hanging up. These are guttering that I've drilled holes into and filled with compost, this one's got peas in it - I've sown more peas in and I'm using this for the shoots, for pea shoots. And this one is going to have strawberry plants in it. I'm going to transplant some of the some of the runners, some of the young strawberry plants into here and I'm going to see if by being in the polytunnel that will bring them on earlier and that we'll just have strawberries a little bit earlier than if we have them outside.

Below the peas I've got some broccoli raab. And you can see it's gone to flower, that's not a problem at all we can eat these so I will take the right at this sort of level. This is now going to be my lunch, it's only a very small amount but it will do us for lunch.

The wind is picking up so I hope you can still hear me okay. I'm really sorry about the noise in the background but it's winter!

And back here are the lettuces, these are, I think these were Winter Density, anyway they've done really well. And if you want to see which varieties I sowed last year, you can get a full variety list by signing up for my newsletter and in my newsletter I'll give you a link that will take you to some hidden pages on my website. And in there you'll find a list of everything we've grown, all the plants, all the trees and all the varieties.

And in this section I've sown a few salad plants to start really early to try and get a very early crop from them. So I've got in some Red Russian kale, which is one of my favorite salad leaves after lettuce. I've put in two rows of spring onions at the back here. Now I am really not very good at growing spring onions. I just they never seem to come up terribly well for me, so I'm delighted that out of two rows I can see about ten spring onions. I don't know why I can't grow them it's just one of those things I really struggle with.

I will resow these over the next few days and try and have some more growing because only ten over two rows is
a waste of space. And then in the middle here I put in a row of Romaine lettuce - there is no sign of them at all, so it could just be that it's still too cool for those to germinate.

Over on this side I've got my first tray of seedlings. Now I planted these on the 8th of February, again to try and get an early start under cover and I put these modules into a large tray of water. Well all I can think is I haven't cleaned that tray properly because I've now got a layer of green algae on the top here, which is not ideal. And well, I'm not sure whether to just brush it off and plant in the modules that I haven't already filled, but I'll have to have a think about that one.
But I am pleased to say that some of the lettuces sowed on the eighth are just starting to come up, so hopefully they will grow away nicely. These are a variety that our tolerant to the cold, so hopefully they will be okay.

And this corner just looks like a dead mess! Well it's not, these are the dahlia plants that I grew in pots and outside last year and I brought them in to stay in here over winter. I now need to cut these back because it won't be too long before these start re-growing and once they've sent up some shoots I'll be taking cuttings to propagate more of them. And when I do that I'll show you what I'm doing.

Friday, 14 February 2020

How To Understand Your Garden | Garden Planning | Plan a better garden (...

Huw Richards joins me to discuss some of the key considerations when planning your garden layout and deciding which plants to grow in the different areas. However large or small your growing space, following some simple guidelines will help you to increase your harvest.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Homestead Goals for 2020

We are a bit late making this video as we usually set our goals late in the year before, but here we are in the middle of February and we've only just made them.

Of course we've been working towards them in the last few weeks, but now we have something to look back at and decide whether we achieved our goals for 2020.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Potential For Abundance? (Gardening collab with Roots and Refuge Farm)

My series of How to Plan a Better Garden continues as I look at the next steps to create an abundant garden.This includes imagining, remembering and taking inspiration from other gardens and gardeners.

Jess from Roots and Refuge and I invite you to join this collab and share how you prepare for abundance in your garden. For the full list of varieties grown at Byther Farm, subscribe to our newsletter here

For the full list of varieties grown at Byther Farm, subscribe to our newsletter here

Friday, 24 January 2020

Pest Control For Summer Ahead | When Things Don't Go To Plan (2020)

Today I start preparing a bed for brassicas, but life has other ideas.

To access our lists of seeds, plants and resources, please subscribe to newsletter and the link to our hidden webpages will be included in the next newsletter. Subscribe to Byther Farm Newsletter here

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Filling The Freezer | Batch Cooking with Home Grown Vegetables (2020)

Filling The Freezer | Batch Cooking with Home Grown Vegetables.

I prepare cooked from scratch meals for use at a later date by batch cooking and freezing.

By cooking from scratch I can make homemade ready meals to reaheat when we are in a hurry or are too tired to cook. Frugal living doesn't mean going without nice food, on our homestead it means being organised and saving money where we can.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Eating Seasonally | What Can Be Harvested In January (2020)

Eating Seasonally, January Harvest. A walk through the gardening looking at what can be harvested in January to make ready meals for the freezer.

Links to the crops that I show you can be found in the info section of the video on YouTube.

Monday, 13 January 2020

How To Plan A Better Garden | Get to know your garden | Intentional Obse...

I have started planning my vegetable and flower garden for 2020. In this video I share my first steps of garden planning.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Mulch For Raised Beds | Easy Soil Improvement (2020)

Because space is really tight here, I try to make sure that everything in our garden serves more than one purpose. So this week I have been moving the pathways on to the raised beds!