Sunday, 28 February 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Firstly, it would be my own saved seeds. This is something I am quite passionate about and have done more seed saving over recent years. It's really not that hard and you get the plants you want by collecting seeds from varieties that you like and that have worked well for you.
I like to buy organically raised seed, I don't see the point in growing organically if the seeds you use were not produced organically. I also would never buy GMO seed or F1 hybrids. You can't collect seeds from F1 hybrids and be sure of what you'll get as you don't know what the seed company used as the parents. They are also bred using chemicals rather than the old fashioned way of hand-pollinating, so that puts me off them, and they are always so expensive for very few seeds. No, I prefer to get seeds that are more "natural" and often more of the heritage varieties.
So, my top places for buying seed are:
Organic Catalogue - the catalogue of GardenOrganic, also affiliated with the Heritage Seed Library and although I'm not a member at the moment I think they are good too - have picked up their seeds at seed swap events in the past.
Real Seeds - the people at Real Seeds are fantastic, they aren't certified organic as they refuse to go through the bureaucracy of applying to be certified and paying the expensive fees. They can, however, guarantee their seeds are produced organically and they grow the seeds themselves so they know they will work. Great for unusual varieties and they provide you with information on saving your own seeds for the varieties you buy from them. There is also a download-able leaflet on their website about saving your own seed - a great little resource.
Tamar Organics - organic seed at very good prices. No pictures in their catalogue - all online, but always excellent quality seeds and some good bargains in their bargain basement part of the online store too.
Thomas Etty - heritage seeds, some lovely varieties available.
Plants of Distinction - fabulous selection of varieties, some very unusual ones. So many varieties of tomatoes.
Beans and Herbs - another organic seed supplier- mainly beans and herbs (perhaps obvious from their name), but they also do other vegetable varieties, organic sprouting seeds, and organic green manure seed. Many, many varieties of beans. They often attend a seed swap event we support.
One company I have seen at shows is Green Seeds, although I have not bought their seeds they are organic and a small family firm which is something I like to support so may well buy from them in the future. Specialising in vegetables and herbs.
There are many more seed merchants, some offer some organic seeds such as Chiltern Seeds who produce a lovely little catalogue of their vegetable seeds, some heritage varieties too. The other more well known seed merchants (Thompson & Morgan, Suttons, Kings, etc) also have some organic ranges, but not enough for my liking so I stick to the ones above.
You know that feeling when you think you have missed someone out? My mind is blank though so maybe I haven't.
Monday, 22 February 2010
More sightings of Spring as we visited our local open farm at the weekend. Lots of snowdrops and a few crocuses too.
In the barn and the fields were several Spring Lambs, including this one which was also only 2 days old. Here he is wearing a knitted jumper for some extra warmth, this was taken off later as the day warmed up.
Watching this little lamb, I realised that there comes a point when you are a wool spinner when you recognise many breeds of sheep in the fields, and farms; and then you recognise that this is a Dorset Horn lamb wearing a jumper of spun and knitted Jacobs wool. How do I know? Well it's a lovely wool to spin and knit with - and this little lamb's jumper looks very like my scarf, don't you think?
So with these new sightings, I kick myself more into action for some sowing of seeds in the garden, more of that in another post this week.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
We have borrowed this book from the library lately and may try and pick up a copy sometime. If you are a fan of Tom Hodgkinson's other books, this is a nice "coffee table" book to look through. Most of the ideas aren't new but an entertaining read.
Here's Imogen's thoughts on the book
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Today we went to the local library for a story time and an activity session reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After the reading of the book, Imogen made a hungry Caterpillar and a beautiful butterfly ...
... and then all the children went out into the library garden to release balloons with notes on for people to contact the library if they find it. The finder and the child who let the balloon go which is found will win prizes. Imogen had great fun and keeps wondering where her balloon might land.
Monday, 15 February 2010
We love books in this house and have a varied collection of them. I always think a home full of books is a great place to be - for inspiration, and to sit and relax with a good book.
Now wouldn't it be nice to make displaying the books a little more creative? You're wondering where I am going with this post aren't you? Bear with me, it's cool. I've seen various images of creative bookshelves in the past, often on flickr such as the ones where the books are displayed in a way that similar colours are together so it looks like a rainbow.
I've seen creative bookshelves in all sorts of shapes too and they look great.
But how about this ...not strictly a bookshelf but wow, and do you think it is art?
They are the creation of Tom Bendsten, take a look at his other works here, I really like the "arched" one too where the hole is cut into the wall .
I also glued a single one on a card for Alex for valentines day and sewed the word love on it too with some lovely yarn.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Today Imogen is recovering from a sickness bug from the last couple of days but is eating better to day. We have had a day of making things (pictures later when I have the camera) and watching DVD's.
Alex is representing Southampton Allotments and Gardening Association at the Seed Swap in town today. It's being held this year at our favourite place to go for lunch and a coffee - The Art House serving lovely food using organic, local and fairtrade ingredients. It's also a lovely showcase venue for arts, etc. Run not for profit, mainly by volunteers. I visited yesterday while he stayed home with Imogen and picked up a few seeds in the swap - mostly heritage ones they were donated to the seed swap from Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library
A quick visit to the library and then I decided I'd like to take a little something home for Imogen. I picked up a set of half-price figures in the Disney shop from the film "Up!" which we haven't seen yet but will do soon now it is out on DVD.
So, today we have made some sticking pictures with all sorts of things - glitter, old cards, magazine cut-outs, etc. I knitted a few quick hearts and we have sewn them and stuffed them with dried lavender so they look and smell lovely. Alex has the camera so will take a picture and add it later. We have watched Nightmare before Christmas on DVD and are now currently watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the one with Johnny Depp, although we have the original too)
Friday, 12 February 2010
Imperial War Museum in London has an exhibition opening today until 3 Jan 2011 so I'd love to go along sometime this year to see it.
a major new exhibition to show how the British public adapted to a world of
food shortages by ‘Lending a Hand on the Land’, ‘Digging for Victory’, taking up the
‘War on Waste’, and being both frugal and inventive on the ‘Kitchen Front’.
Visitors will discover that growing your own food, eating seasonal fruit and
vegetables, reducing imports, recycling and healthy nutrition were just as topical
in 1940 as they are today."
(extract taken from here )
This sounds like something Alex and I would enjoy and I'm sure there would be something to interest Imogen. Maybe a trip to London should be in the planning, we could include the National History Museum or something similar too.
I also found this link on the BBC site today - a lovely audio slide show tour of the exhibition -
I don't know how you add in videos on a blog post, but here's a little video from the day in 1940 on You Tube.
(edited to add - hey I can add a video, oh there's no stopping me adding video's to posts now)
Thursday, 11 February 2010
I'm sure I'll soon be finding them written down somewhere soon too.
Anyway, this isn't getting my shelves moved and sorted is it. Just wanted to post and share this new activity.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Here are some of ours chitting and awaiting the warmer soil. My Dad grows lots of potatoes but we like to grow a few, this year we are growing them solely in tyre stacks at the back of the garden rather than taking up space at the allotment best used for other crops. If it's a dry Summer they are more likely to get a watering from the water butts at home more regularly than at the allotment too.
Our organic seed potato choices this year are Arran Victory (maincrop) and the absolute best potato I have ever ever tasted (can you tell I love these); and Cosmos 2nd Earlies. We shall be attending a local Seed Swap event this weekend and may well return with another variety from one of the vendors there.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Other tidying and organising and moving of furniture is also happening so this may take me some time. Ideal time to Spring clean the house too, although I've never really got the concept of Spring cleaning before. But this burst of needing to do something just happens to have coincided with Spring approaching.
And on that note of Spring Cleaning, just had to share this poem by Rose Milligan:
Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.
Remember, a house becomes a home when you can write
"I love you" on the furniture.....
Thursday, 4 February 2010
The Sustainability Centre in Hampshire has a new website, and it looks pretty good. It was always a bit difficult to find the old one unless you knew the web address.
The centre is a great place to visit for a walk, to camp or stay in one of their Yurts or Tipi's, or in the Lodge; it has a lovely outdoor oven area to cook and sit and eat, and there is a compost toilet too. The centre itself has Solar Panels, runs many courses for adults and children and has other events such as the Green Fair in May and Campcraft events. There is a lovely cafe open if you visit from Thursday to Sunday serving organic, fairtrade vegetarian food.
inspiring "teachers" such as Patrick Whitefield on Permaculture (I can recommend his courses from experience), Graham Burnett on Permaculture, Ben Law on Woodland Management (Yes, Ben Law of Woodland House/Year fame) and many more - take a look at the website for details.
The Green Fair is always good fun - lots of things to see and learn, and crafts to try for kids and adults. We'll definitely be there again this year - 9th May 2010. I posted about our fun there on 2009 here.
They have recently got the funding to build a Woodland Classroom, which will be built by Ben Law and 4 trainees (not sure if they have filled these spaces yet) - the woodland classroom
veranda. Part of the classroom will be dug into the ground and opposite there will
be more of those stunning vistas that reach to the Solent on a clear day."
Well, that was meant to be just a short post to let people know about their new website but became more. I thoroughly recommend the site for courses - both Alex and I have attended and it us such a relaxing place to learn. Not forgetting that Permanent Publications (publishers of Permaculture Magazine and other publications/books) are on site with their lovely and tempting shop filled with inspiring books, and gifts.
There is lots there, so a visit to the website is recommended. The centre is on the South Downs, and also has a Natural Burial Site in the woodland - very peaceful and tranquil.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Candlemas traditionally marks the midpoint of Winter - midpoint between the shortest day and the Spring Equinox, so we are on the way to Spring now.
There is a weather proverb about Winter
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.
If Candlemas be dry and fair
The half o winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas be wet and foul
The half o winter's gane at Yule.
So how was your weather yesterday? Ours was cloud and rain and wet (although I wouldn't say foul). So does that mean that Winter is not coming again here? I'd like to think so.
I posted a picture of snowdrops yesterday that we say recently, and then saw this proverb which I have added to that post too
"The Snowdrop, in purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas day."
I have also read that it is bad luck to bring snowdrops into the house before Candlemas day (represents a parting or death). I suppose it depends if you are superstitious if you believe this. I haven't had any in the house.
I believe it was also Groundhog day in America. So February 2nd has an importance to many.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Yesterday I captured these, I saw them last week a little less in flower but didn't have the camera with me (which is unusual).
Imbolc is celebrated either at the beginning of February or the first signs of Spring. Well, it's the beginning of February and the flowers are here too. It won't be long before we're seeing Spring lambs now.
Monday, 1 February 2010
We sometimes enjoy a book so much we would still like to share it, and perhaps introduce it to other people who haven't read it. So I think I shall still continue to share favourite books as and when they come up but I can't guarantee it will be Monday.I'll still tag it as Book Sharing Monday too.
Mondays start earlier than most days here as Imogen has one of her pre-school sessions on a Monday morning, the afternoon is then taken up with play and reading. I also need a little time in the afternoon (while Imogen has a rest - I wouldn't say nap as she never naps in the day) in order to get ready to go to my Spinning class group on the evening. This then means I need to get tea prepared a little earlier and we're not back home until after 10pm and all I want to do then is go to bed.
As you can see, Mondays are busy and a long day for us all. Today I have managed to get a few free minutes to post this but haven't the time to take photos of a favourite book, so will catch up with one later in the week - there have been a few good finds recently.
Right, I'm off to play farms I think now, and will be back in the next couple of days with an update of what we have been up to.