A record of our adventures between Pipit and her successor...
Three's a crowd
You may have seen photos on our Facebook or Twitter feeds of the hedgehogs who have become regular visitors to our garden. We've had up to three at once feasting on the hog/dog food we put out for them and are hoping that this will not only help them fatten up for their winter hibernation, but allow them to have healthy little hoglets next year. Hopefully then they will all munch any pests that show an interest in the produce from our veg beds. We haven't seen the hedgehogs for the last week or so but were still putting food out, waiting until it was dark to do so to stop the magpies from eating it all. When it was gone in the morning, we knew, as we'd seen them, that the magpies had been at it since break of dawn, but weren't sure if the hedghogs might have been having some of it at night. Video evidence from our time lapse camera seems to confirm that the hedgehogs must have gone into hibernation and it is now only the magpies hoovering up the food.
We're still seeing lots of birds on the feeders, small flocks of goldfinches and chaffinches with lots of young birds, in addition to greenfinches, robins, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, long-tailed tits, bullfinches, blackbirds and magpies. We do also see a woodpecker who seems to be visiting with increasing regularity plus the occasional visit by a jay.
Unusual to see the woodpecker eating sunflower seeds but he/she doesn't put off the goldfinch
Tea for two... Never mind elbows off the table, do stop standing in your dinner Harold
We're not planning to have any livestock, but a vegetable garden was always part of the plan for our new home. Having both grown up with parents who grew their own veg and, in my (Ann) case, fruit as my parents had a house built on a plot of land that included an apple orchard.
The Terram that we laid on what will be the vegetable garden did its job, pulling it back before we built the raised veg beds revealed no weeds although curiously numerous mole holes. I can't imagine what the moles thought when, assuming they were popping through to the surface, finding themselves still in the dark, trapped under the Terram.
We built the raised veg beds from the stock walling (commonly known as dung boards) that Salmon & Collett had cut to size for us when they'd made the terraces from the same timber.
The next stage will be to level the ground and yes, it would have made sense to do that before we built the beds, but with winter approaching, fewer fair weather days and the darker evenings, we wanted to get the beds built.
We'll now need to fill the beds, getting approximately 10 tonnes of 'certified' soil and soil conditioner (organic matter) delivered. For those unaware of the soil conditions in Cornwall, its mining history means that there can be lots of undesirable elements such as arsenic in the soil. The soil testing we had done as part of the requirements for building control gave a pass on the PBET testing, but we'd rather be certain we aren't going to include any unwanted extras in our produce. We'll also work in our home made compost and any horse/cow manure we source locally.
Four veg beds in 3 minutes, 34 seconds!
Ready for phase II, levelling the ground
Whilst the weather was dry, we also dug out the weeds from the compost bins that were at the top of the garden, ideally located next to our soon-to-be vegetable patch. There is actually some good compost in one and their previous use for compost made the weeds and brambles relatively easy to dig out. We've added planks of leftover decking at the fronts, the top one of which is now fitted with a handle and a 'lid' of black damp proof membrane to promote heat in the heaps as well as stopping too much debris falling in and weeds from growing.
The tomatoes we had in the greenhouse have only just stopped producing red fruit in early November - not bad! We also incorporated them into lots of tasty meals.
Compost heaps in stereo
Swordfish steaks with tomato, caper, garlic, parsley and lemon sauce, accompanied by sautéed new potatoes
Lamb shanks, slow cooked, with sticky spiced sauce (spices, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses and dried apricots) served with cous cous spiked with olives
Although the weather's not yet very cold and despite the fact that the superb insulation means the underfloor heating is not running very often, our first few firings of the log burner have been irresistable. The sharp-eyed amongst you may notice that it's a different log burner from that pictured in earlier updates... A long story, but we're very happy with the outcome. The shape of the new one, particularly the 'corner' of glass, echoes the corner of glass in the lounge and allows a better view of the fire from the kitchen.
New log burner and square glass hearth
Looks a treat... Open the bi-folds, it's hot in here!
We had one glorious sunny day last week so we took a proper lunch break and Andy got his lopper out... Our kind neighbour allowed us to trim the cherry tree at the edge of her garden as it was partially obscuring the panoramic view from our kitchen window. It flowered beautifully this year so we hope having given it a bit of shape will make it even more spectacular next year.
We also continue to be busy with 'normal' work, including our latest website development for our builders, Salmon & Collett. They're pleased with it and so are we!
Finally, two 'glossy' magazines have expressed an interest in running features on our new house, our experience of the build and our back story - all very flattering but for now at least, we have put that on ice.