Our little corner of Bedfordshire has just had a dump of the most significant amount of snowfall that we’ve had in probably √•half a decade. The dull greens and browns of a bitterly cold December were transformed overnight into a pure white winter wonderland. I think the last time it snowed this heavily in December might well have been a day or so before my 18th birthday; in 3 weeks or so I shall be 35.

Snow in December - Bedfordshire 2017

Waking up to a festive scene was lovely, but I can’t help but worry a little for the creatures that need to survive this wintry weather. I only have a finite amount of bird food and it’s so tempting to dump it all out in one go and let the birds feast for a day. But if I did that, my little wildlife-friendly larder would be empty for the bitter sub zero temperatures in the coming days. We have seed mixes and fat balls at the ready, and I’ll be on birdbath duty to make sure that my feathered friends have a plentiful supply of drinking water and space for a bracing bath to keep them in tip top condition.

 

One other observation from today’s meteorological events; life suddenly takes on a more gentle pace after the snow has fallen. People stay in or travel on foot more readily, the roads are quieter and there appears (on the weekend, at least) to be less anxiety about rushing to do things, to go places. It’s as if mother nature is compelling us all to just stop awhile and take a breath.

 

I wish the pace of life could be a little more like this all the time.

http://www.smallestsmallholding.com/2880-2/

We started a flower farm

Tulip

Well, a mini flower farm. 

Mum and I have been given the run of a little slice of land at a local plant nursery, and we’ve decided to start our own mini flower farm. It’s a new venture into a hitherto untested ground for both of us. We’re now growing cut flowers for bouquets, selling them at the plant nursery, via the local farmer’s markets, and local town and village markets.

The Flower Field

The Flower Field, ready for planting

Over the past few weeks Mum has spent lots of spare time digging out the woody perennial weeds and clearing the space, ready for ploughing. In the last week, the rutted, bumpy ground has been rotovated flat, and we’re almost ready to rock. The clay-loam soil is now ready for us to put in the cut flower beds, adding in compost and soil conditioner. We have hundreds of tulip bulbs to plant up for spring (time really is of the essence), as well as a large number of narcissi to get into the ground. 

From our selection, I’m most looking forward to growing La Belle Epoque, a flouncing and flourishing soft dusky-pink tulip, with hints of caramel and amber, that serves as a focal point in any bouquet. 

So here’s to the first chapters of our new story. We’ll have to wait out winter to see how the next part of the story goes… 

The humble nasturium – my flower of the year

If there’s one flower that’s ticked all the boxes for me this year, it’s the humble nasturtium. I planted in small plugs at the beginning of the summer, simply in the hope that they would lure the little beasties away from my other fruits and veggies. And boy, did the nasturtiums do their job! With the help of some marigolds, all of our potager crops remained gloriously pest-free.

Nasturtium summer kitchen garden

So a few months on from planting in my nasturtiums, here I am on a sunny November Friday, waxing lyrical about my nasturtiums that are still blooming away like little pockets of sunshine on my plot. In fact, they’ve gone a little overboard and swamped (what was) the pea and bean support, and continue to boldly go where no nasturtium has gone before…

So why are nasturtiums my flower of the year? For several reasons really; they’ve not only proven to be a really effective companion plant,but have also proven to be a great edible addition to our little harvests this year too.

Yellow nasturtium flower

Then there’s the fact that they are a seriously fuss-free plant to grow. I barely watered and didn’t feed my nasturtiums this year, and yet they have thrived throughout the summer highs of 30C+, and our autumn lows of below 6C at night. They’ve nonchalantly withheld of the forces of several storms with high winds, and don’t seem at all bothered when I rip out a few of their trailing tentacles or somewhat savagely mowed over the overspill from the veg patches.

These plants are tough. But they’re so, so pretty too.

With the amount of seeds that the plants have dropped into the soil over the last few weeks, I’m sure this isn’t the last I’ve seen of my fiery beauties.

Here’s to another season growing these truly remarkable, yet humble flowers.

Orange nasturtium flower