Making time to stand and stare

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It's an incredibly busy time on the smallholding at the moment. I have had several blog posts on my mind since the last one but very little to write them! Please bear with me and forgive my silence as the land requires all my physical and mental energy at the moment.

Since the Spring Equinox, hours of daylight are increasing before they culminate at the Summer Solstice. We have now passed Beltane, the half-way point between the two and in response to the lengthening days, nature is very busy. Plants are growing fast and for the tender ones, it is ...

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We're setting up a veg bag scheme!

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Growing food is a huge aspect of our smallholding life and we have been growing a large part of all the fruit and vegetables we eat. This year, with the large polytunnel, we will be able to expand the growing season up in the Welsh hills and also gain extra space to grow commercially too.

When, last Summer, I heard of the Pathways to Farming programme, I jumped at the chance of taking part. The project works on increasing the number of horticultural food producers in North Powys and creating new markets for local produce. I am passionate about the ...

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Ready, Steady, Grow!

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Our new polytunnel is now up and ready! By the end of January, we had added several trailer loads of sheep and cow manure to the soil and mid-February, we spotted a window of opportunity to put the cover on when the weather forecast showed a good few days of sun, warm temperatures and no wind. We gathered a few helpers on Valentine's Day (how romantic!!!) and by the end of the day, the polythene cover was secured on the frame and the doors were fitted. Peter has done a great job with an additional trench and a pond to ...

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Nature as therapy

Mental Health Awareness Week starts today and whilst I am not currently practising as a counsellor/psychotherapist, I have not forgotten the world of therapy of which I was a part for over 10 years till we moved to our smallholding. On the contrary, living up here in the tranquility and peacefulness of our piece of the Welsh countryside, I am reminded on a daily basis how being surrounded by nature is good for mental health and well-being: hills, trees, green fields, wildlife and birdsong all help to achieving a sense of inner calm and relieve stress.

Professionally, I am currently ...

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Summer, the season of abundance

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Yesterday, the Summer Solstice marked the shortest night and the longest day. Right now, we are experiencing a peak in the amount of daylight hours… We can still see some faint light when we go to bed in our West facing bedroom and the dawn chorus begins at around 4 am when the earliest of birds begin their singing and calling. Darkness has been squeezed out to a confined few hours which leaves plenty of time to connect with the fullness of Summer present all around us at the moment.

When I walk around our smallholding, all I can see ...

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Blackthorn Winter

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As I write this, I am sipping a warming hot chocolate and I have both woodburners lit. Outside, there is a heavy shower of hail and sleet covering the ground with little balls of freezing white stuff. Last night, I brought in the sweet peas that are hardening off before being planted out as I thought the cold may be too much for them. I covered the young parsnips planted out in their bed at the weekend but they are now looking a little sulky following the overnight frost. The Brussels Sprouts spent the night outside unprotected with no adverse ...

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It's a wild thing!

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Living in the countryside as we do, wildlife is never far away. We have many species of birds visiting the garden each day, including a tawny owl often heard but rarely seen; we have several bird boxes on our land. There are voles and mice, which our cats regularly bring in as gifts! There are moles, probably rats too although we have not seen any. Some squirrels dare to climb the bird feeders to steal the peanuts and I have seen evidence of hedgehogs but not actually seen any yet. We have slugs, woodlice and spiders too. We share our ...

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Seedlings

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With the sunlight levels now increasing (hurray!!), I have made a start on seedlings this week and it feels so good. They hold such promise, don't they?

Guided by the gardening team at Glansevern Hall Gardens where I volunteer, a copious amount of reading on gardening and plenty of informative conversations with people here and on social media, I have begun the process of growing parsnips, brussel sprouts, chives, basil, tomatoes, peppers and sweet peas. A gentle start to see how it goes, keeping plenty of seeds back just in case and also to stagger the growing season. I also ...

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