Monday, 25 May 2015

Day out in the Cotswolds

I've not posted in a while as I had a job interview on Friday that involved a presentation. When I get stressed about something I find it takes all of my energy and I didn't get anything else useful done. Now it's done however it's like a cloud has been lifted and we've been very busy this weekend.

On Saturday we decided to take a trip to Broadway in the Cotswolds. It's one of my favourite days out, it really is so beautiful. We had a wonder around the town and had some lunch. Once we'd finished we went to Bourton-on-the-water. They call it the Venice of the Cotswolds and I'm not sure on a sunny day that there's anywhere more beautiful. There's a river flowing through the village that is wide and shallow with lots of quaint bridges, some of them were built in the 1700's. When it's sunny it's mobbed and there were loads of Japanese and American tourists taking lots of photos. It would be one of the first places I'd take visitors.



As the weather was so lovely the little man had a paddle in the river and I took hundreds of photos on James's phone. It was a great day, the only downside being that baby girl was tired and flat out refuses to sleep in the car...EVER. She maintained a constant load cry for about an hour whilst we drove home. In the evening I got my last few onions planted and I have some broccoli and pumpkins that need a place in the veg beds soon, unfortunately I've run out of room so it may involve some creative solutions.

Today we cut some softwood pallets that James collected over the winter. I was determined that this winter we wouldn't be cutting the wood in the dark and rain so the plan is so do it in manageable chunks this summer. James did more knocking out of old mortar from the wall. We also filled the car with the remnants of the old kitchen and I'll take it to the tip tomorrow. My mum is having the kids for the morning and it's the first time I'll leave the baby girl. We're getting her used to it in preparation for my return to work, which is fast approaching.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pear leaf blister mite strikes

I've only got the one pear tree and it was planted last year along with an apple tree when baby girl was born. Unfortunately it's succumbed to pear leaf blister mite. I suppose it must have been infected when I bought it, from what I read trees are infected from nearby affected trees and there aren't any too close to us that I can see. 

I had a good search in google to identify the cause and my pears leaves look identical to all the photos. 

The female mites overwinter at the base of developing leaf buds. During the period of bud swell in late winter, the mites then invade the developing leaf tissue. During Spring as the leaves emerge, blisters appear on the leaves which are a green or pink colour, due to the mites feeding on the leaves. Later in the season apparently the leaves turn black.

Succesive generations of mites are produced throughout the growing season, infecting most of the tree and nearby trees. The budding fruit is also infected and the mite cause a russetting effect in the pears. 

Most sources say that this mite doesn't have a serious detrimental effect on the tree, although it drops it's leaves sooner, which suggests that perhaps it is not gathering as much strength for the coming winter.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find any domestically available treatment. As the mites live in the blisters they produce they are shielded from any chemicals sprayed. The other suggestion is to remove all infested leaves. I don't think anything will kill my tree faster than removing all the leaves, as every one was infested from budding. The only other suggestion I have found is to use dormant oil or horticultural oil.

Most commercially available horticultural oils are refined from petroleum oil with an added emulsifying agent to allow the oil to be mixed with water for application to the trees. 

The main difference between dormant oils and horticultural oils is that they are more highly refined than past dormant oil products and they can be used year-round. Dormant oils which are less well refined would kill foliage so were used over winter. These are both said to be effective on pear leaf blister mite if used between November and early spring when the buds break.

I've had a search around and can only find one horticultural oil product that I can buy in the UK, although like with many things it just may have a different name here. The birth of the internet has meant information is easily obtained but products are often not international.

Anyone have any experience with pear tree blister mite or the use of dormant or horticultural oils? Any other suggestions would be welcome.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

And the winner is... Marlene!!

The winner of the piquant pepper seeds giveaway is Marlene from Poppy Patchwork so give me an email Marlene at kirstyudall at gmail dot com. Well done xxx

I'll post them as soon as I get your contact details.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Today's walk and my free spuds

Today has been another beautiful day. Wednesday is my day that I do a mums walking group and it was so pretty, so I took a few pictures on my phone. They are of Castlemorton Common which is like a place from another time. Every time I go through there I have to stop for the sheep that people graze using their commoners rights. Today the lambs were sat on the edge of the road and following their mums about. The other pictures are of views from the hills and the quarry that is in the valley half way round the walk all filled with water. As you can see the bluebells are still in bloom.

Here is one of the sheep that I took out of the car window. Look at the wee lamb following mum.

When spring is here and the sun is shining I think that I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and I'm very grateful. 

This weekend we had to pop to the garden centre to buy some strawberry plants as the ones that I had bought as bare root plants just never came to anything. While I was there I spied a display outside with a sign saying FREE potatoes. They were seed potatoes that were past when they should have been planted. I took a few bags and got home to realise 'where can I put them?'  So I used some potato planter bags that I used in the last house. As they start to sprout I'll fill the bags up with compost.

The greenhouse is starting to look full too.

The spuds in the ground have been mounded up and they're starting to poke through again.

James has been poorly this week so he's been off work. I could count on one hand the days he's been sick in the past 10 years so he really is feeling under the weather. That means I've been in the garden on my own this week but hopefully James will be back to full strength soon.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Piquanté Pepper giveaway

Today I was lucky enough to receive a special package from Royal Mail, some piquanté pepper seeds that I won over on Doing it for ourselves in Wales. Thanks Dawn.

The seeds originally came all the way over from South Africa as part of a giveaway on Eco Footprint blog by Dani.

They are part of her abundant harvest and she offered up 200 seeds as a prize. Now the rules are that you post a comment on this blog to enter and if you win you take 25 seeds for yourself and then offer the balance of the seeds on your blog, posting a link back the the original blog post on the Eco footprint blog. Also let Dani know on her post that you won so that she can see where all the seeds have gotten to. 

The seeds are available worldwide, so just post a comment below and I will draw a name on Thursday and post them out on Friday. The original post has ideas for recipes and how to handle and process them once you've grown them. Just be extra careful they sound hot!

Good luck everyone x

Thursday, 7 May 2015

We've done our civic duty

I'd love to say that I've been to the polling station today but to be honest I voted by post. It's a bit of a legacy from when I used to work long hours all over the place and couldn't guarantee being home to vote. I also like to think I may be giving the poor post office some business, all this email hits them hard.
I suppose like most people the older I've gotten the more interested I am in politics and consequently in voting. When I was in my late teens and early 20's, older members of the family used to say 'you wait until you're older your politics will change'. It used to drive me insane! I always felt as though the older you get the more your opinion is taken seriously, which may explain why I feel my opinion now means more, very odd really.
As you get older you are generally earning more and subsequently paying tax and let's be honest we all want a say in where our money goes. I want my taxes to go towards causes I believe in, like hard work paying off!
Watching the news (another pastime which has grown on me) also makes me realise how lucky I am that I can have a say in how my country is ruled. 

So now it's just time to wait and see what the results will be and whether any of the bloody politicians stick to their word.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Quick post - the finished trolley

Just a few quick pics of the trolley when it was all cleaned up and painted. It was put to good use by the wee man, moving his tools round the garden and following his dad.

Just a quick postscript to say that we don't live in a radioactive fall out zone, James's camera just takes really funky coloured photos!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Family trip to the garden centre

Today we made a trip to the local garden / craft centre. I wanted to have a quick trip out for the bank holiday weekend with the family, sometimes it seems we are always doing in the house and it's nice to spend time together.  We had a quick look at the currants there to see how they compare with mine. The leaves look similar but the flowers look different so I'm still not 100%, we'll see how the berries look later in the season. The guy there wasn't sure when I showed him the pictures, I think he was more interested in me buying his stock to be sure!! While I was there I did buy two blueberry bushes though, oops. One early and one late season, so James is excited for blueberry muffins throughout the summer.

They also have a little shop that sells mainly local alcohol so I also got some cider made at Westons, a few miles down the road and some malt whiskey liquor which I really enjoy, so double oops!

We also made a start on cutting up some of our green wood ready to season. That'll continue tomorrow if the weather holds. The little man has a toy chainsaw that kept him occupied whilst daddy was cutting and I was stacking the wood.

James was with his best friend one evening this week and they were clearing out his friends storage containers. I gave them both strict instructions that James wasn't allowed to come home with loads of tools, the garage and sheds are overflowing already. As it turned out he only came home with a welder that was ours and a cute little vintage kids trolley. It was super rusty and the wheels were seized but James took it apart and has it hung up in our back outbuilding. It's been sanded down a bit to reduce the surface rust and spray painted with a coat of primer and two coats of black top coat. We plan to put it together tomorrow and the wee man can use it to help me shift the cut wood around, he just loves being involved. 

Hope you all have a productive May day weekend :-)