Six on Saturday 28.4.18

It’s been a fraught week plagued with domestic disasters and concluding with us losing power to the house altogether. There has been progress in the garden, not as much as I’d hoped but here’s an update in the style of the weekly meme Six on Saturday. If you enjoy it why not have a nosey at what other people are up to in their (altogether more organised) gardens by visiting The Propagator website.


Didn’t get round to preparing the bed so I tried a short cut by throwing some well rotted manure directly in the trench.  To avoid the tubers coming into direct contact with it, I layered manure, soil, then the seed potatoes followed by more soil, more manure and finally raked the top soil back over to form a mound. Completing the second row I was horrified to discover I had actually been through the whole layering process and forgotten to add the potatoes! Had to dig the whole lot back up again. Doh! It’s been one of those weeks. Planted, eventually: Premier, Charlotte, Anya and Pink Fir Apple, which are my favourite with fun knobbly tubers and delicious yellow flesh perfect for roasting.



Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Despite being in prime condition at the end of last summer, these plants took a terrible battering over the winter and were in a sorry state, brown and bent over and held up with bailer twine. A few have recovered and are flowering now but most of the crop had to be composted which was such a shame as it had taken up space and time since being planted last May. As well as this Purple Sprouting we are currently harvesting over wintered greens Spinach, Kale and Parsley.


Broad Beans

I always struggle with the spacing of these so went armed with a diagram, a tape measure and two string lines. I have a double row of plants brought on in the greenhouse and well hardened off and another double row of seeds which should mean the plants crop over an extended period and we will have plenty left for the freezer.




We have such a short growing season in this neck of the woods, blink and you miss it. Many years I’ve missed out completely on squashes and pumpkins because the first frost has struck before the fruits have matured. Determined to get ahead of the game I germinated these pumpkins inside and am currently ferrying them in and out of the greenhouse as the weather dictates.


Heating the greenhouse

I’ve had to use a small paraffin heater in the greenhouse a few nights this week as temperatures have dropped dangerously low. Paraffin is not only expensive, it’s unreliable and I think I mentioned last week that on one occasion the heater exuded a black smoke which clung to the glass and the whole greenhouse had to be scrubbed. I’ve been researching a number of alternatives this week which will fit in with the fact we are off-grid and electricity, when we have it, is limited and expensive. I’m most interested in one suggestion which is to make compost inside the greenhouse. If done correctly with a good mix it would result in a hot weed free compost which heats the greenhouse at the same time.


The Poly Tunnel

This is the answer to making a huge step forward with our drive toward self sufficiency. Ok so it’s just a pile of metal poles and wood at the moment and has been for the last few years since I bought it but when we finally get round to putting it up the poly tunnel will extend our growing season and help bridge the hunger gap which is this period when gardeners are busy growing but there’s nothing much ready to eat. Any advice on how to go about putting one up or what to grow would be gratefully received.


Just in case you are wondering how I’m able to post this blog while struggling with the power supply to the house could I point you to this new post Our Swallow and other Stories which gives a better picture of how everything works.




23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday 28.4.18

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  1. The poly tunnel will make such a difference to you given your location. Should extend the season a little at each end. I had to laugh at your potato issue – I can easily imagine doing something just like that myself. Great six, good luck with the leccy.

    1. Thanks, we survived without any electricity to the house for nearly two years when we first moved in but it’s harder to handle now we have all got hooked on our phones and computers!

  2. The forgotten potatoes made me laugh out loud. I winter over greens in my raised beds by covering them with floating row covers. It comes in different thicknesses depending on how low the temperatures get in your area. I don’t hoop it. Just hold it down on the edges with bricks. I harvest mostly kale and collards in the winter.

  3. A couple of disasters there- the potatoes and the paraffin in the greenhouse! Having to scrub out the greenhouse would have to be a job you really didn’t need on top of everything else! What a great idea to have the compost inside! The poly tunnel will surely help extend your growing season. Great post!

  4. Thank you for sharing such an informative post. I’m definitely curious if the compost would help heat the greenhouse. Your post really got me thinking.

    1. Glad you liked it Jessica. Professional gardener Tim Hewitt made an interesting point in these comments about the hot compost greenhouse heater idea. Let me know if you try it 🤔

  5. You make my Tulip obsession seem very frivolous. Really like the idea of hot compost heating the greenhouse or ploy tunnel, but in practice? I think you would need loads of suitable material ( manure) and a willingness to keep fiddling with it. Still the Victorians did it. No useful advice on polytunnel, sorry.

    1. Umm, can see your point about the time and effort involved in hot compost greenhouse heater. Living in this house has meant we have tried a lot of the ‘old ways’ (we heat our house and hot water with only a woodburner, we used candles and paraffin lamps for light when electricity goes off) And we have experienced exactly why these ‘old ways’ were left behind!!! The trick for us now is finding a balance btw tradition and modern advances and hopefully getting best of both worlds. Solar panels to heat greenhouse??? I’ve just had that idea 🙂

  6. Nature seems to have given you a blackthorn hedge nearby, hopefully providing a crop of sloes int Autumn, and Sloe Gin for Christmas 😉

    1. Absolutely Andrew, I’m a huge fan of slow gin and make it regularly- it would be rude not to! You get merry and detoxic on all the berries at the same time, surely? 😂

  7. I’m glad to have discovered your blog. We have fantasies of going self-sufficient before remembering we really like olives and dark chocolate. Really admire those who have more pluck.

    1. Hi, we grow more fruit and veg than the typical hobby or pleasure gardener but are still a long way from being completely self sufficient – and still indulge in chocolate and olives! 🙂 I try not to let my blog turn into a showcase for “my wonderful countryside life”. Quite the opposite, I want to show country life warts (and ticks!) and all. If I’m honest there have been times when I’ve seriously considered if growing all this veg is actually making me happy. Is it fulfilling? It certainly can be lonely – although I also really appreciate the amazing place we are lucky enough to call home. Thanks for reading and maybe you will get an idea if your fantasy is worth pursuing 🌳🌳🏡🌳🤔

  8. Oh my goodness what a week you have had although the potato incident made my laugh (sorry)…so relatable! No idea about a poly tunnel, sorry but I do know about old houses and the bugger to heat them. We have terrible damp problems in our house and have mould growing in all sorts of places. If you ever need helping with that…..
    Anyway, greenhouse heaters…we have our compost bin outside but against the greenhouse back and it does seem to make a difference….not sure if that was helpful but good luck!

    1. ha ha yes the potatoes, I did feel a right divvy but it’s been fun retelling the story and making people laugh so something good has come of it. Interesting that you have had some result with hot compost … and yes we do have miserable damp problems especially in winter because we dry all the washing in the house and the walls run with condensation. I will head over to your blog now to see what you are up to 🙂

  9. Loved reading your post. I can just imagine doing something like that with the potatoes! I know you must work very hard for all you have. Each time I buy fruit or veg from a supermarket now, with all the plastic and packaging, I am reminded why that hard work is worth it. Will be following your greenhouse heating projects with interest. Of course the Victorians did all this (pineapples in Cornwal etc) but they also had teams of horticultural workers to tend everything.

    1. Yes Katherine, manpower is a big factor. I only work one day a week but hubby is full time with a ‘big’ job and kids are 12 and 13 and helpful sometimes! it’s a question of how to do what you want to do without getting burnt out! Prioritising and planning are vital – but not my strong points 🙂

  10. If I was nearer I’d offer to help you put up your tunnel, I’ve done a few in my time. Ferryman Polytunnels, from whom I bought mine, have some guidance on their website. Key things: use hot spot tape. Sheet it on a warm, still day and get the sheet as tight as you can. And quite a lot more there’s no space for here.

  11. Come, you can’t talk about ‘fun, knobbly’ potatoes and not share a pic! looking forward to your harvest photos. Am most impressed with the string and tapemeasure.

    1. You are right! But in the rush to post (while we had power with the generator running) I realised I didn’t have a good pic of the Pink Fir so the boring old round ones had to go in. Will make sure I have camera ready at harvest time 🙂

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