Greenhouse of shame

Ah, spring. What a temptress… one minute, it’s all bright sunshine, blue skies and a burst of colour, the next it’s grey-clouded drudgery, and north-easterly arctic winds blowing a gale through your house. I have just come to the end of a week off work, and for the most part the weather was crap. So as always I didn’t get out nearly as much as needed, and didn’t get as many jobs done as I wanted to.

The greys, browns and sludge-greens of late winter are depressing enough, but my greenhouse had been left to rack and ruin for the past year, and seeing it looking like an overgrown mini bombsite every time I walked outside just added to the feelings of despondency! It wasn’t even charmingly rambly like something out of the Lost Garden of Heligan. It just resembled a cesspit of shame:

greenhouse of shame

Greenhouse cleaning is one of those jobs (like digging) that I really really really don’t like doing. But I couldn’t take it anymore. It just had to be done.

So I spent four hours clearing out dead bindweed, removing the old straw bale (fab compost material) that I’d previously grown squashes on, and dug up two barrow loads of bindweed roots, all just to find some semblance of restored order. As you can see from the pictures below, my greenhouse fell victim to a storm about a year ago, where we lost a number of glass panels. Those will have to be replaced at some point but for now we’re just enjoying some “ventilation”. The greenhouse is in a pretty sheltered corner, so there’s still a decent amount of heat and protection from frost in there.

before and after

Typically, it’s still a half-finished job, but at least it’s looking a little less neglected. Around the outside, I’ll also be chipping our pruned apple tree branches to make homemade mulch which will be going over some weed suppressing mat, and then there’s the even more brain-numbingly boring job of cleaning pots and trays before I even put the greenhouse into action. But once it’s done, it’s done and I should be able to reap the rewards. It’ll be a thing of beauty, a corner of my Smallest Smallholding that I’ll be proud to photograph in all its glory.

For now, I’ve only got a couple of trays of Red Baron onion sets on the go, but with the arctic winds giving way to a bit more spring cheer, the (well ventilated) shelves should be filling up with seed trays very soon. Watch this space…

Pondering Permaculture

OK, so here’s the *real* Sunday post that I wrote. The post that I hadn’t planned on writing, the product of which is entirely based on my thoughts and muddled meanderings of my mind.

Actually, the Berocca seems to be helping. Well, that and the fact that I’ve been sleeping 10+ hours each night. I feel much more zen-like (for me), and less like my eyes are about to fall out of my head and my mind is swimming in a fog. I’m starting to feel as though I have energy and that’s allowing me to keep busy and get on with things.

I spent a good couple of hours in the greenhouse last Saturday, tidying and pulling great handfuls of spaghetti-like bindweed roots and nettles up. I think I’ve just about got it under control so the next job will be to get the greenhouse staging in situ and just give my old seed trays and pots a quick going over. I tidied up a bit around the outside of the greenhouse too and managed to find 20+ ladybirds overwintering under various rotting leaves and branches, all of which have been meticulously transferred to a new abode in my warm(er), dry greenhouse. There are many escape routes should they wish to relocate again, but having had a quick check on them this morning I think they’re happy where they are.

This, I guess, is good news for my natural pest control next year. The fact that so many have survived the snow and harsh frosts means that we should hopefully have lots of breeding ladybirds; I’m never particularly precious or fastidious about tidying up over autumn and winter and I think this stands me, and wildlife critter pals, in good stead.

In fact, it’s got me thinking a lot about permaculture. By ‘home farming’ standards, I think we have a relatively small amount of land here – although much bigger than your average suburban garden. But I still find it so hard to manage every year. I don’t want to be working *against* it all of the time. Yes, we’d like to use it socially, but all that means is that we have some lawn and maybe the Mediterranean-esque eating area where the sun shines all day in summer and the soil is particularly sandy.

I’d like to develop a system whereby I’m merely managing rather than having to hack things down to the ground each year and despair when it all goes a bit t**s-up come summer. I think I just have to look at it from a different angle. After all, I’m aiming for a productive garden that encourages wildlife… in my mind’s eye, that is an attractive garden. I’m not neat, I’m not particularly fussy or preened, and neither should my outside space be that way.

So I’m thinking of investing in a permaculture book that’ll help me understand it better – and maybe it’ll make us look at the way we run our house and our lives too. For instance, our old car is slowly but surely falling apart and I’m not sure how long it has left. So our resolution is to walk everywhere within this town, cutting out a lot of short (expensive) journeys. Small but significant changes, you know?

I just have this feeling that the way things are going at the moment, there’s much more reason to be even more self-sufficient and rely on ourselves or local businesses. I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of films, tv programmes and just a general interest surrounding the Edwardian era, too. I wonder whether it’s because there’s a general feeling of austerity, self-reliance, (Britishness even?), self-reflection or perhaps social and political activism that’s harking back to that time. It’s strange… Hmmm.

The times, they are indeed a’changin’… or recycling…

There goes my brain, mumble mumble ramble…

Unpublished Friday post

Harry Potter themed birthday bash - me as Luna Lovegood, Mel as Moaning Myrtle, Kylie as Lily (sans freaky baby Harry Potter) and Martha as Ginny

Harry Potter themed birthday bash - me as Luna Lovegood, Mel as Moaning Myrtle, Kylie as Lily (sans freaky baby Harry Potter) and Martha as Ginny

I wrote this on Friday but didn’t get around to publishing it as I was cooking dinner and doing a thousand things at once… and didn’t want to delete it today. Just an update of where I’m at 🙂


Friday night and I’m sitting here with a glass of Bailey’s in hand, chilling out to some (i)Tunes and desperately trying to think of something intellectual/reflective/insightful/interesting to write. Hmmm. Give me a few minutes.

Last week I went on a trip to see my lovely friend Amy in Ireland. It was her birthday, and having survived the scariest plane landing of my life, I went on to enjoy an all-too-brief but fun stay at her house. Saturday evening was her birthday party dinner, and although I couldn’t bring a dish, I did bring myself and my lovely yellow dress which doubled as a Luna Lovegood costume. We’re all nuts about Harry Potter you see, so it made sense to use the occasion as an excuse to dress up. Mel (check out Mel’s blog here) and Kylie concocted some truly amazing cocktails for the occasion from scratch, the champion of which had to be the chocolate cauldron. To make chocolate cauldrons you will need:

  • A jar of Nutella
  • Some Ice
  • Kahlua
  • Baileys

“Pour a lot of Baileys and Kahlua into a blender. Add ice. Add three-four heaped tablespoons of Nutella and blend. Pour. Drink.”


After some impromptu Riverdancing during which I obtained a heel injury by jumping on the edge of the fire hearth, some gratuitous balloon fun, crooning and a late-night pyjama gathering, it was the morning and I had to dash to get the plane home. I was a disorganised mess. I’d lost my boarding ticket and had to pay Ryanair 40 Euro for them to scribble some words on a scrap of paper to give me passage through Irish airspace. Nightmare.

I arrived home and crashed into my bed and slept and slept and slept.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of that, lately. Sleeping. Feeling sleepy. Wanting to sleep. I was warned by the doctor that this could happen after my flu, and so earlier this week I invested in some Berocca tablets to try and give me the boost to get me back on my feet properly. I just haven’t felt right since I got the flu… as though my thoughts and intentions are swimming around my head and aren’t processing properly. I’m even more clumsy than usual, can’t seem to finish my sentences or be particularly coherent, and I’ve really been struggling just on a day to day basis. So for now, I’m on a healthy eating plan, taking my Berocca, trying to get early nights and just trying to claw my way back to normalcy.

I was throughly chuffed to finally get my greenhouse roof fixed. I’m so excited about the prospect of having a fully functioning greenhouse this year – it just gives me so many more growing options and hopefully will make a huge difference. I don’t know why I didn’t address it sooner and allowed the greenhouse to stand broken for such a long time. Actually, I do know. Finances. I never felt as though I could allow myself to invest the money into sorting it out, and it niggled and niggled until I finally saw sense. Feels good. I love just eliminating all those annoying jobs that make your life that little bit easier. For instance, we have tiny nail heads poking out of the doorframe into the conservatory, where the door seal has come away from the frame. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve walked past and snagged my clothes on these nail heads, but for at least three or four years have done nothing about it. Today I finally picked up a hammer and whacked them back into place and ta da! No more snagged clothes to be irritated by.

It really is the small things in life.

Very sad and very gratifying at the same time – haha!