Saturday, 5 March 2011


Here is the Boss - Lucky - keeping a watchful eye on me as the spring sunshine warms her on the bank.

Raspberry canes being weeded and mulched with No. 1 muck heap . . .

I think about the only thing we are truly self-sufficient in here are apples - I still have several boxes down in the kitchen of what was my mum's flat - though they are a little wrinkled now and Need Using Up! Everything else I grow we eat in season - soft fruits like gooseberries I make wine with; raspberries and Japanese wineberries and any strawberries get eaten still warm from the bush; blackcurrants go into jams and summer puddings, though having said that, I still have some and some gooseberries in the freezer. Rhubarb gets eaten in season - it's my husband's favourite pudding in a crumble.

I grow peas and various beans, a few potatoes, leeks, Pak Choi, spring onions, mounds of courgettes, never enough cucumbers, tomatoes - though the past two years they've been blighted so they are going to be grown in my new greenhouse this year. I am never successful with onions or cauliflowers or broccoli . . . down to me I suspect. I shall Try Harder this year.

Yesterday I got Hope L Bourne's Exmoor Harvest in the post, and had to sit down (in the greenhouse) straight away and dip into it. Sitting in the spring sunshine, with silence apart from the birds and a tractor in the distance, it was BLISS! Now Hope Bourne WAS self-sufficient - all she ever bought was oil for her lamp, pencils, paper, clothes (one would assume), an annual purchase of a couple of pounds of dark brown sugar for cooking up with Rhubarb, and not much else. In an area of 4 square rods (a rod is a very old measurement of 5 1/2 yards which we learned about at school - along with poles and perches - and a square rod encompasses an area of about 30 1/2 square yards) she grew about 7 cwt (hundredweight) = 7 x 112 lbs of vegetables - mainly potatoes - 3 cwt; root vegetables (carrots, parsnips) 2 cwt; onions etc 1 cwt; green vegetables 1 cwt. The root crops were preserved by clamping, and she could guarantee, even in the worst winter, to be able to go out into her plot and find kale or similar, for the pot. I am humbled . . .

A little excerpt from this book, which is so beautifully written, under the chapter heading The Gift of a Garden:

Rows of fresh green vegetables in the summer sun, glossy cabbages, tall peas and beans, scarlet runners reaching for the sky, onions drying on the warm earth, tousle-headed potatoes, and lines of all sorts of other things Strawberry-beds under the high top bank; a herb-patch by the gate giving off scents of mint, marjoram, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lemon-balm; sweet peas gay along the bottom fence. Tubs of brilliant dahlias, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies and Cape-daisies in a flowering mass along the front of the barn. Borders of hardy plants about a small lawn with a sundial in the midst. This is my garden, my staff of life which gives me food to eat and the joy of flowers for delight . . .


  1. I love the sound of Hope Bourne`s garden.

    We keep getting frosts so I`m holding back with planting anything, but my fingers are itching to get started.

    Good luck with your new greenhouse. My Big Son has a smaller version and last year they grew tomatoes, cucumbers and melons in it. At least it is one that you can take with you when you move.

  2. Mmmm! Rhubarb crumble -- my kind of dessert.

  3. Dear Codlins and Cream: I would very much like to have your permission to use your beautiful banner photo of the gate in the stone wall as the basis of a picture I hope to create (painting.) You can contact me at
    Many thanks for considering it. :}

  4. Chris J - of course. It's on Dartmoor, near Seven Lords' Lands. I'd love to see the painting later - strange to tell, I was thinking of drawing it!

    DW - yes, it can come with me - to keep the POLYTUNNEL company - the one I intend to get come hell or high water!!!

  5. I found your blog while reading another blog.

    I thought Wales! now that will broaden my horizons.

    I may have to ask for some term translations now and then.

    We definitely share the same interests, just in slightly different locations.

  6. Our unexpected Rhubarb is doing well, I am looking forward to harvesting it. The Hope Bourne`s garden sounds lovely.

  7. So pretty and your kitties are lucky to get outside. Mine are house only with busy city roads. And no gardening here, a rented backyard situated in such a way that the sun is all wrong and the sprinklers would drown everything. I wonder if I could grow vegis in a flower pot?

  8. It sounds inspirational, I can just imgaine you sitting in your greenhouse.

    Simply love the gate picture. Where was that taken.

  9. A quiet moment this time of year in a little greenhouse is bliss at a very pure level! Hope Bourne's writing is inspring, lyrical, but my practical sense cringes at descriptions of her tiny living space. We stayed for some months in a "camper" while building. It had various useful ammentities, but we surely felt confined.
    I think perhaps in such situations one person is much better than two!

  10. Might have to buy that book! Enjoyed the Spring walk sweetie, thanks. Our daffs are only just poking through the soil!