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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Best Seed Offers

With the new year fast approaching I thought I'd look at what offers were available on vegetable seeds - here's some of the best that I found.

Otter Farm



Free postage and packaging on all orders over £25 and a free bay plant on all orders over £15

Ends 5th January

www.otterfarm.co.uk

VegetableSeeds.net

No automatic alt text available.

Closing down sale, all vegetable seeds 25p per packet.

www.vegetableseeds.net

Thompson & Morgan









Seed Sale - Vegetable seeds from 99p

Ends 7th January at midnight

www.thompson-morgan.com

Sarah Raven



Up to 50% off vegetable seeds



DT Brown


Buy three or more packs of seed potatoes and save 20% per pack.


We've Got an Allotment!

So after years of waiting we've finally got ourselves an allotment. It all happened quite by chance, with just a  few phone calls and emails, in the end it actually proved quite easy.



Driving to  a nearby pub for lunch a few weekends ago, nailed to a tree was a handmade sign stating 'allotments for rent' with a  phone number to call; of course I immediately slammed on the brakes and took the number down. We've been on the waiting list  for the councils allotments in our local area since we moved back in July last year. In a interesting conversation at the time with the then chairmen of the allotments he said that often the waiting lists were that long that people just didn't bother with it any more; in fact the last time that one of the plots had become available he contacted everyone on the waiting list and they had all been on it for so long that they had either moved out of the area or were no longer interested in getting one. The list was scrapped and started again, which gave me the faint glimmer of hope that I may be somewhere near the top of it, the complete silence ever since perhaps indicates otherwise. Indeed if I do ever get the call, I myself will become one of those that are no longer interested, having secured one elsewhere.

Following a conversation with the landowner I went to meet him the next morning up at the site. It turned out that he was a beef and sheep farmer with a fairly extensive farm in the area, his wife also runs a garden centre which adjoins their house which is possibly where the interest in growing comes from. I couldn't believe how many were available, of the twenty or so plots I had a choice of at least five; after spending over a year on a waiting list in the space of two days I had made a phone call, walked into the field and picked a plot.



Having been part of the River Cottage land-share scheme a number of years ago I realise that a private allotment might cost a bit more than a council or community site but I was pleasantly surprised when told how much it would be for the year. I had previously paid a farmer £30 plus some veg every now and again whereas this new site would cost £120 for the year. Certainly a lot more than some but I can't complain at £10 a month, especially with the convenience of being only a ten minute drive along some beautiful country lanes.



As I had the choice of so many I chose one on which the previous occupier had constructed a shed, homemade of course but it could almost pass for something that had been purchased it's in that good shape. The plot had also been completely dug over within the past year so the soil is in pretty good condition too, although it has now become largely overgrown the majority of this is chickweed, thistle with a few docs mixed in, nothing particularly well established all small enough to pull by hand.



The farmer also offered to rotovate and spray with with weedkiller prior to me making a start, the weedkiller I declined, I have no interest in growing non-organically, however him rotovating will certainly save me a lot of digging.


So whilst I wait for this to happen I've cleared a small patch to plant some soft fruits into, not that it was urgent but as any new allotment holder will know I was just desperate to spend some time up there and get going on what I could.

I've since been back and tried to clear the patch of all the perennial weeds prior to rotovating, any suggestions on composting methods for these will be gratefully received.

They'll be plenty more updates on all of this so keep an eye out.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Farm-Sitting

So a friend of a friend was going on holiday for four weeks during August and was looking for someone to look after his smallholding whilst he was away. Somehow my name cropped up as an option and after a few phone calls I agreed. It was only fifteen minutes away and I had no plans to go anywhere, besides the kids would love it, feeding the cows and running around the fields.



The smallholding was thirty acres in total with twenty five of that being woodland and just five acres as pasture; perfect size for a novice like me to look after. There are three cows, one Highland and two Dexter that are really there to graze the hillside and act as conservation for the fauna that's found there.



Along with the cows were three beehives that were managed by a beekeeper that would visit every ten or so days. Although interested I left him too him to it rather than try and get involved at the risk of getting stung.

Each day we went up checked the cows water and made sure there was still enough grass in the field they were currently in. They always seemed so happy to see us and would come running down the field to the gate in the hope that we had some sort of treat in the form of food for them. Admittedly this did make me slightly worried that they were being under fed but on his return the owner assured me they are always like that and try to push their luck if they can.

Although we had a great time after four weeks of going out of the way I was rather glad to be back into the normal routine. We did stay up there a few times but with the chickens at home we would always have to be between the two which was bit of the pain.

Certainly something to aspire to in the future though, our first experience of having our own cows was definitely something that we would like to pursue further one day.