A Peachy Project

As regular readers know, two and a half years ago we had the limery built – a growing space attached to the house and used to grow limes, as well as lots of other food and decorative plants. It has been a delight in the past year to hear about the progress of a similar project from my friend Ann. I thought, therefore, that you too might enjoy reading about it.

I first encountered Ann through permaculture activities (in fact I met her on-line ages before I finally got to meet her in person). She approached her project from a clear permaculture design perspective as it’s part of the set of her designs for her permaculture diploma portfolio. Ann and her partner Steve are mediaeval re-enactors and have lots of gear that they use when they go to re-enactment events, including this beautiful tent, which is big enough to accommodate a wooden-framed double bed in the “back room” and still provide living and work space at the front:

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now, that’s a tent

Anyway. I thought you’d enjoy hearing from Ann about it all, so over to her…

The Story of the Peach House

So we needed more space. Ideally some way that did not involve lumping heavy re-enactment gear up and down stairs every month (we’re not getting any younger), and that would give added benefits.

As part of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture I am steadily working my way through 10 designs to show that I understand it all. One of these designs looks at our whole system – house, garden, hobbies etc. This uncovered various functions that we would like to be filled. We needed somewhere to grow peppers and a nectarine (the greenhouse is rather cold). Somewhere close by to store a bit of extra wood for the wood burner, an undercover clothes drying space, somewhere nice to sit on a sunny day are on our wish list, to name but a few.

Various options (elements) were listed for the functions needed.2017-12-05 (3)

Our first thought was an extension on the side of the house incorporating a porch linked to the front door, as this would answer most of our needs. However, the first builder we asked directed us to local building regs that would most likely prevent us building to our boundary, or forward of the front line of the house, which meant that joining a porch to the extension would not be possible. Yes we could apply for planning permission, but there were other issues with the boundary and stability of the ground so we reluctantly abandoned that idea.

We then used another tool used in Permaculture designs, a PNI (Positive, Negative & Interesting) to look at the alternatives. Then using one of my favourite tools, McHarg’s Exclusion*, to eliminate the ones that would not work for us.2017-12-05 (4)

We are now the proud owners of the smallest and cutest little conservatory that our lovely builder Spencer has ever built. BTW, this is a different builder to the one mentioned above, who wasn’t at all interested in building the conservatory for us as he felt we would regret it. Eh? Not his problem!!! And no, we don’t regret it, it’s a lovely space.

Peach House

The Peach House. Named by the lovely Snail of Happiness. We don’t have limes, but did have a nectarine – hence ‘The Peach House’. Sadly said nectarine has since died, but the name has stuck.

So here it is. Office, craft room, green house (extends food growing and somewhere for tender plants over winter), wood store, clothes drying space, re-enactment gear store (that also performs as shelf space), bird and hoggie food store, relaxation space, insulation for patio and back doors, extra security, adds value to house.

An added bonus is that in the summer heat it shields the patio door like sunglasses (special glass in the roof) so the lounge is kept cooler with all the doors open. Previously we had to choose – if we wanted the breeze when the curtains had to be open. That let the sun in too! Now we can have the doors and curtains open! Sorted!

Eco choices

Yes, we would have loved wood. The best wood is, I gather, accoya, a sustainable wood that has been impregnated with chemicals to stop it rotting. Made into conservatories in Poland (in the case of the supplier we approached). So overall not really that much better than UK made PVC. In the end we chose PVC as wood would have stretched our budget too far.

However we did choose local trades people and a local window manufacturer.

We couldn’t have recycled materials for various reasons, so did our best to recycle the waste.

  • The displaced slabs were used in a customer’s garden.
  • The vent pipes under floor was left over guttering.
  • We save all the water
  • The skip on the drive – Spencer put things in it and we kept taking them out!
  • We saved – sand, gravel, half a bag cement, old block pavers, nicely algaed ridge tiles, some slate, 2 garden gates, half a fence panel, oddments of wood and an interesting looking cast iron gutter hopper.
  • Any left over cement went onto a path we want raising up, so it wasn’t wasted.
  • Tiles for the floor came off ebay.

One last thing. We kept finding these….

Spencer….

Spencer was here…..

-oOo-

* Sue over at Going Batty in Wales wrote an interesting post about using this approach to decide on her new flooring.

Sticky

The reason that I first acquired my carnivorous plants was to keep the flies under control in the limery – a natural solution that is also fascinating. The pitcher plants, which featured in last week’s Three Things Thursday are good for controlling large flies, but when it comes to fruit flies and little black compost flies, you need a sundew or two.

The most common and easiest to grow in a UK conservatory is probably the Cape Sundew (Drosera capensis). The plants have linear leaves and either pink or white flowers, the former associated with leaves with red highlights. Mine are always covered in little flies:

And then, if you’ve got some hanging space that’s high enough so you won’t walk into it (and honestly, you really don’t want a face full of this), there’s my favourite – Drosera dicotoma, the leaves of which can reach 30cm. Mine had a bit of a set-back earlier in the year when I was on holiday, but has now grown some new fresh leaves which haven’t had much time to catch many flies, although it is capable of snaring big ones.

So, who needs chemicals or fly paper, when nature can solve the problem for you?

 

Peaceful Sunday

I was going to call this “Silent Sunday” and just post some pictures of the garden after a few days of sunshine and rain. However, I went into the fruit cage to take some photos and it was anything but silent, which large numbers of bees (not one of which I was able to photograph) buzzing around the raspberry flowers. So, rather, this Sunday is peaceful and pictureful, both outdoors…

… and indoors…

I hope you too are surrounded by peace and abundance today.

Three Things Thursday: 11 May 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with the happy*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday.

First, tomato futures. The limery provides such great growing conditions that my first tomatoes are appearing already. I see lots of passata in my future!

Heritage tomato: Veepro Paste

Second, potting-up. Every day now I am spending a bit of time potting up plants: lemongrass, peppers, melons and summer purple sprouting broccoli in the past few days. There are also seeds to be planted and surplus plants to be given away.

Third, working from home. Almost all my work these days is done from home. It means there’s no commute and no dress code, but best of all, it means I can intersperse my day with coffee, homemade biscuits and crochet in the limery.

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So, those are three things making me smile and that I am grateful for this week. What is making you happy?

Sunny gardening

Us Brits are well known for being weather obsessed, so you will forgive me for telling you that the past few days have been glorious. The weather has been lovely and so this weekend has been all about planting. I had intended to complete my sketchbook contribution this weekend, but the timing of the good weather made it ideal for planting some of this year’s crops. The forecast for next weekend (when there are two bank holidays) is poor, so crafting is much more likely then.

In the past few days I have (whist wearing my new apron) potted up tomatoes and sowed lots of seeds: squashes, courgettes, a variety of purple sprouting broccoli that sprouts in the summer, chives, parsnips, asparagus peas, various lettuces, mizuna and rocket. I’ve cleaned out pots, weeded and removed brambles. From the shed I retrieved a plastic bin with a lid and filled it with nettles and water to turn into nitrogen-rich liquid feed – it gets stinky, but it’s good stuff and it’s free. And I planted a whole raised bed with potatoes and netted these to prevent Max (who I think is some sort of potato hound) from digging them up and eating them.

I’ve also been admiring the growth of other plants in the limery – lettuces, melons, lemongrass seedlings and carnivores:

The sun has gone in now, hence finding the time to write, but I am feeling very satisfied with my activities. What have you been up to this weekend?

Sowing and growing

Life is flourishing in the limery. Seeds that were sown a few weeks ago are developing  nicely into young plants – lettuces, tomatoes, sweet peppers and melons:

I sowed more seeds over the past few days, including the first ones outside. The latter is a pea variety called “Carouby de Maussane”, a mange tout with red flowers that is going to grow up the pea obelisk that Mr Snail created (I think most people use them for sweet peas, but I prefer to grow edibles). A few days of sunshine has given me the chance to weed one of the raised beds and that’s where the peas are.

IMGP2140

only planted yesterday, so no germination yet

 

Unfortunately one of the things that is flourishing in the limery is the cluster-fly population. I really don’t want to use chemical pesticides, but the flies have arrived before the carnivorous plants are doing their stuff. However, the recent sunshine has encouraged pitcher growth and so I’m hoping that soon the Sarracenias will be munching their way through the flies. I grew some from seed last year, so I’m especially pleased to see one of the youngsters producing a vigorous pitcher already. The sundews are also showing signs of growth; in particular the Drosera dicotoma looks like it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future (I think of it as living fly-paper). The Venus fly traps are growing too, but never really earn their keep apart from providing interest!

Amongst my favourite seeds to plant are the squashes, but I’m hanging on for a few more days so they don’t get too big before it’s warm enough to plant them out. And then there’s beans and borage and all sorts of herbs…

The Limery Awakens

We are just at the start of our second full growing season in the limery. Last year saw amazing successes with sweet peppers (capsicum) and a fairly healthy tomato crop (the last of which have on just ripened up in their box!). Now I’m starting to nurture this year’s crops (including at least one new one) and some of the carnivores are beginning to wake up…

As always, we are doing our best to reuse… the writing on the milk carton plant labels from last year has been cleaned off with meths, the padded packaging from around the new chicken feeder looks like it will make cosy trays for seedlings, none of the plant pots are new, we water the seedlings from a plastic milk bottle with a perforated lid and my dad’s propagator is doing it’s stuff for yet another year. Only the seed compost, seed potatoes and the seeds are new (in fact some of the seeds are from last year, plus we overwintered the pepper plants).

I do love the promise that spring holds.

And finally…

The limery has done us proud all year – from seeds sown in the propagator in January to the great abundance of peppers through the summer. Currently there’s a pot of rosemary flowering in there, although we’re a bit short of pollinators, and the passion flower vine is putting on plenty of new growth.

However, the most amazing thing may be that today, 20 December, I harvested these:

imgp1329

Freshly picked today

 

That’s right – tomatoes still ripening on the plant in the depths of winter. From these I will be able to make winter solstice passata!

Three Things Thursday: 27 October 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, sharing plants. On a recent visit to have lunch with Sue (she comments as Coppice Learner on here), she gave us a little clementine plant (grown from a pip) for the limery… I have high hopes, although Mr Snail is worried about oranges outnumbering limes in the limery!! In the same spirit I’m currently experimenting with cuttings from our passionfruit vine* in the hope that I can share this with other gardening friends who have glasshouse space.

Second, a special mend. About 25 years ago, in the days before ubiquitous electronic gadgets to organise our lives, I bought myself a Filofax. Over the years it has travelled extensively and been used year after year. Until, that is, Sam decided that it would make a tasty treat and did this:

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it wasn’t supposed to be a dog chew

Fortunately, my friend Mr Stich has been able to restore it to its former state and so now I’m back to being properly organised again! He also sent me two lovely hedgie key rings that he made recently. What a talented craftsman.

Third, Sixty Million Trebles. I’ve recently come across this project via Danielle from The Make It Shop (where I spent World Wide Knit In Public Day):

The UN at the end of 2015 estimated that there are 60 Million refugees Worldwide.  The aim of this group is HUGE.  The objective is that in the summer of next year we create a world record for the largest crochet blanket. It must contain 60 million trebles.  This blanket will then be a yarn bomb in London.  After the event the squares will be taken apart and half of the blankets will go to UK charities and the rest to Hand in Hand For Syria. (Sixty Million Trebles)

I have decided to use yarn that I have been given to make at least one large square to contribute (each donation should measure 36 inches along each side). Here is what I’ve made so far:

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just a few hundred trebles so far

It’s not the need to highlight the plight of all the refugees world wide that’s making me smile, but the kindness and generosity of all those involved in doing something positive… another example of craftivism in action.

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

-oOo-

* My research indicates that passionfruit can be propagated by cuttings, but different varieties require different treatments (with/without growing tips; with/without leaves; in water/treated with rooting powder), although they should all be taken in autumn. Without specific recommendations for the variety that I have, I’m starting with the simplest approaches – stems with and without growing tips in water.

 

Three Things Thursday: 6 October 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, we are enjoying sunny weather here at the moment. Although the temperatures are distinctly autumnal (7°C when I got up this morning), it’s still lovely to sit in the limery and see blue skies.

Second, anticipation. Mr Snail has gone off to Ludlow today and should be returning home on Monday laden down with cooking apples. I know that in a couple of week’s time I will probably be bemoaning the fact that I’m still processing the things, right now I’m very excited about the prospect of them arriving. Here are a few pictures of past apple seasons…

Third, the return of my monthly lunch-date with some of my permaculture friends. Tomorrow we are planning a blind apple-tasting (I am taking some Ashmead’s Kernel) and a good catch-up since we haven’t got together for several months. This afternoon I have baked gluten-free Parisian gingerbread to take… let’s hope it tastes good – it’s the first time I’ve tried the recipe.

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Parisian gingerbread

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

 

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