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Updated: Tuesday 31 December 2013
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RIP Yarrow Hen, who died yesterday evening. She had a good life, well lived. With us she had had 18 months of freedom, after her 18 months in the cruel battery cages.
As those of you who have followed my blog since 2012 will know, Yarrow was a very special girl; even amongst hens who are ALL special to us, she was a little star. I am very sad to lose her and miss her hugely, already.
She had been "winding down" for a few months and I am so glad she had a really good last day in the sun; sitting on my lap and being cuddled and told how much I loved her; sitting on the ground in the sunshine soaking up the rays; being cuddled by her flock who all came and collapsed all around her as only hens can do.
Despite all this, and despite having a normal morning yesterday, by the afternoon Yarrow was obviously suffering (not able to walk around, deep purple coloured comb, gasping, not able to eat even the treat of unlimited mealworms).
I can normally dispatch chickens who are in distress or injured but this time I found myself unable to kill my pet hen Yarrow, for which I feel ashamed (as I should have been able to help her when she was suffering, but could not). So, I quickly took Yarrow down to Mike our Vet, who agreed her time had come, due to a combination of failing heart/old age, and who ended her suffering kindly and quickly.
Mike, who as a newly qualified Vet helped Yarrow to recover from a broken leg during his first few weeks at our local practice, has been such a help over the last 18 months. With all the issues the ex battery hens in my little flock have had, especially Yarrow, he has been such a help, for which I thank him so much. And I especially thank him for his kindness and understanding as to why I was crying over the death of what many people might dismiss as "just a hen". He was lovely, as are all the staff at our local Veterinary Surgery. We are very lucky with them.
We buried Yarrow hen in the wood today, in the place where many other feathery friends are also buried. She liked to furtle around in the wood and it seems a good place for her remains to be buried. I heard my first Skylark of 2013 as we were filling in the hole. Appropriate, I felt.
Fly high, little Yarrow hen and know you are missed and were very loved indeed.
I've been thinking about my "image" recently. Living where I do and doing what I do, I tend to live in jeans, t shirt, shirts, boots and fleeces. Normally I wear the same sort of thing day in, day out - I have a few plain, coloured t shirts and shirts in cotton, which I layer over jeans. If it is cold I put a cardi, sweater or fleece over the top. In summer I just wear the t shirts and trousers and leave off the top layers.
I have good versions - clean, tidy and no stains (!) and when they get tatty they get moved into "everyday garden wear" and finally "cleaning out the chickens" wear, until they end up as "rags/dusters/compost bin" fodder!
If I go out, I dress in slightly smarter trousers and tops but it is still just a variation on what I wear every day. I'm not very glamorous looking and I do sometimes feel I look a bit dull, certainly not the look I want to have, anyhow. I feel like I have got into a bit of a rut, clothes wise!
However, I have recently been invited to a number of events where it would be a good idea to wear some smarter clothes :-) I am still talking about trousers and tops, but at the pretty end rather than everyday wear. I need them to be suitable for travelling in and attending meetings and talks, as well being able to work in them (lecturing and demonstrating rather than digging compost). Fortunately I haven't got rid of anything recently which I now regret!
I do care about how I look and want to dress well, even if I am not one for a lot of makeup or glamour or fuss and my taste tends towards the casual :-) So, I have decided to buy a few, choice "new to me" items to build up a collection of clothes I can mix and match and layer, for different occasions. I also want to get some pattern in to my clothing as well, rather than just sticking to plain colours all the time.
I can't spend a lot of money, but I have been looking around at shops in Hereford and also on line. I couldn't find much in most of the usual places I shop, both charity or High Street, until I looked in New Look
New Look have some lovely clothes in stock at the moment (no, they are not just for the young and/or very skinny!) and I particularly liked their new line of tribal tops - especially this Owl top which is only available on line.
I think with a smart pair of dark linen trousers (New Look sell those also) a scarf and maybe a single colour linen long line jacket over the top (of which I have several, in different colours) these tops would look good on me and they are made of 100% cotton, which is helpful.
Maybe not for wearing to meetings, but I also saw some very fashionable ripped jeans in their on line store, which I loved the look of, but which I would need to lose a bit of weight to fit into I think. Oddly, I have a number of pairs of jeans just like them at home, so maybe I am not as frumpy as I thought and just need to give them a good wash, to be fashionable again?
Mine are patched have patchwork embellishments, though :-)
I also loved this Boho chic crochet top and it was a very reasonable price, but it is made of acrylic yarn so I think I might just have a go at making one myself out of cotton yarn.
I did however, really like this cotton version and may well buy it, as well as the tops and linen trousers I mentioned :-)
It did not take me long to find a few new items at New Look. They will mix and match with the existing things I already have at home, to make several "new looks" for me. A couple are on line exclusives; one can be bought in store as well but I will order it on line if I am placing an order.
I might even show you some photos of me, when I get some new clothes :-) or maybe not :-)
I tend to shop in New Look or M & S on the odd occasion I shop for new clothes in High Street shops, because Labour behind the Label rate them as some of the high street brands who are doing more to help workers than others. You can consult the latest Let’s Clean up Fashion report to see who is doing more and who is doing less on the high street.
I do need some new clothes and I shop in New Look anyway, which is why I accepted a paid link in this post. As always all the words and ideas are all my own - but I did copy the images of the items I want to buy from the New Look website.
I am a supporter of Labour behind the Label, and am always happy to mention the good work they do to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry.
I have written before about Yarrow, my ex battery hen who was rescued from the cages at the end of 2011.
She had a broken leg when we collected her and for a time was very poorly indeed and had to be kept in hentensive care in the polytunnel. She lived in there, with Comfrey aka Flappy chicken - who had a broken wing - for several months.
When she finally joined the rest of the feathery gang, she rapidly took over the top hen spot and, despite being lame and a bit slow to run around, has maintained the top spot ever since. She lost her friend Comfrey in the great fox attack this time last year :-( but joined up with the other ex battery hen Marjoram and old girl Nutmeg to make a triumvirate of old Ginger Hens, all handbags at dawn and annoyed muttering at the antics of the "new hens" and the cats :-)
She has had a good year of freedom, creating mayhem, chasing Cassie Cat, invading the kitchen and generally having loads of fun and giving us so much joy watching her antics. But she has been slowly winding down the mischief over the last few months, there is nothing wrong with her that anyone can see - she is just getting old.
Yesterday she seemed very weary and when I let the Ginger Gang out to free range, she didn't want to walk very far out of the run, so I picked her up ( she has lost a lot of weight) and sat in the sunshine, cuddling her. She leaned into me and crooned a bit and nibbled on my hand. And I told her how much I loved her and what a good hen she was. I carried her into the barn and I offered her some mealworms and also some Garvo (which she adores) and she ate them up but only some very tiny beakfuls.
She still enjoys a dust bathe, eating mealworms, lying in the sunshine and pecking at the other hens to keep them in their place, but I am watching her for " the moment" when she can't do any of that any more.
But for now, she is still having fun, in the sunshine, even if it is at a slower pace than before.
I have been asked quite a few times recently how I grow my tomato plants, a reminder that there is a "How to " guide on growing tomatoes, peppers and aubergines on the "How to..." tab up the top and I also talk about this subject on my YouTube channel.
But I realised I haven't discussed what I do with the plants once they have germinated so I thought I would do another "How to" guide, on pricking out and potting on Tomato plants.
Seed sown Feb 10th 2013, in porch in heated propagator at ~20 C
March 2nd 2013 - seeds germinated and seed leaves showing.
At the end of March the seedlings were pricked out into individual 2 inch pots, with the soil well up the stem so as to encourage aerial roots to grow.
April 14th 2013 Plants well grown and need moving from these 2 inch pots into next size (3 inch) pot.
If you click on the photo above, you can see the tiny hairs on the stem - these will form more soil roots if buried.
Again, the stem is covered with soil to encourage the aerial roots ( the tiny hairs) to turn into soil roots - this gives the plant a better root system and so it can take up more nutrients and water.
And so we come to today, where I potted some plants on again, this time into 4 inch pots. These are not the same plants as above ( they are now in 6 inch pots and have their first flower trusses) but I thought it would be useful to show how I do this.
I carefully took the plant out of the old pot. You can see from the photo below how much extra root system has been produced by earthing up the stem each time.
This is the way I re fill the pot around the plant.
I put the plant in the pot and tilt it away from me,
then gently pour growing medium into the pot on the side nearest to me.
I then tilt the pot towards me and pour growing medium into the pot on the side furthest away from me.
This puts the plant upright in the pot, and I add more growing medium until the soil level is up to the next pair of true leaves.
I do the same with peppers and aubergines, but do not bury them so deep. I am careful with all the plants not to overwater them, so as to avoid the soft stems rotting. Once the stems are harder (as they age) this is less of an issue.
I will probably pot the tomatoes into larger (6 inch) pots once more, before they go into their final places in the polytunnel, growing individually in builder's buckets standing in gravel trays.
This is what it looked like last year, at the start of July.
I only have 100 or so more plants to pot on, today!
Hope this helps you to understand how I grow them :-)
At the moment we are sleeping in a bedroom which has one large window, facing East. I recently noticed that I am being woken up, earlier than I want, by the early morning sun streaming in and hitting me in the face. We have lined curtains, but obviously not lined with thick enough material to block out sunlight.
Thinking about "covers for windows" and how well they work has become a higher priority for me because the Pink Bedroom, which Compostman is currently refurbishing, has not one but two large windows, one facing North and the other facing, yes you guessed it, East. So when we move into this room (soon!) we will have the same issue with early morning sunlight in our faces and an additional window letting in light. We can't turn our bed around, so we don't look at a window, as the shape of the room precludes that.
We always planned to move into this room when it was completed (only waited 16 years!) As we are now fast approaching the "choosing paint and fabric" stage of the works I need to find a solution to the problem now.
What I have done in other upstairs rooms is use blinds; to me they seem to block light without shutting it out altogether. Thinking about it, we actually have blinds in all the upstairs bedrooms except ours and the Pink Bedroom. Compostgirl has blinds and curtains in her (South facing) room and all the South and West facing windows downstairs have blinds. It is only the sitting room and dining room which have curtains.
So, problem solved - I will be getting some blinds for our new bedroom - so the question is, what sort and what size? We want to measure and fit them ourselves rather than have someone do it for us, so after a quick Google search for bedroom blinds, I had a look at Web-Blinds and found lots of helpful advice. I had no idea there were so many different sorts of blind!
The Web-Blinds site also has lots of useful information on how to measure for a blind and a wide selection of different patterns and colourways. I also found easy to understand fitting instructions for all the different types of blind :-) And if you would rather someone measured and fitted them for you there is a link to their sister company, Hillarys.
In the other rooms I have simple roller blinds but I think for our bedroom I would like Roman blinds - although I am very tempted to get some roller blinds made using one of my own images (they call it a Digital blind on the Web-Blinds website)
Maybe something like this, from when I went to Garden Organic last year?
The bee garden at Ryton.or this?
I think Compostman would prefer this, though!
Hmm. Maybe just a nice, lightly floral pattern, instead?
Disclaimer - I am looking around for ideas to decorate the newly refurbished Pink Bedroom (may need a new name as it may not be pink much longer) This post features a paid link to a company I would be happy to order from, in the future. As always, the words I write are my own and are my honest opinions.
On Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday I spent a considerable amount of time basking in the sunshine, in order to offer composting and gardening advice and seed planting at the Blossomtime event in my area:-)
Both the days were both very hot and sunny and I got sunburn!
I had a prime pitch right for my composting stall, at the front of the Hall by the entrance, on Sunday next to a lovely lady called Gilly, from the ONE network of Cider and Perry growers.
and on Monday next to a lovely lady called Sophie, (this is her, above) from Pixley Berries who grow huge quantities of Blackcurrants near us, and make delicious cordials from them
I talked to lots of people about composting and gardening, sold lots of my plants , to raise funds for Garden Organic, did some seed planting with children and had a generally wonderful time at this local celebration of cider and perry making. Compostgirl was there with me on both days and she had a lovely time as well - mainly going around the event with a friend or tending to the animals Paul Hand had brought along :-)
We both enjoyed watching the Leominster Morris Men dance to greet the May
Some photos, in case the video doesn't work ;-)
I was too hot to join in, though !
Was a very tiring, but oh so worthwhile, two days of volunteering :-) Especially as I was part of the Compost Awareness Week activities across the UK and World.
Compost Awareness Week (CAW) is a week of activities, events and publicity to improve awareness about using organic waste as a resource to produce compost. Garden Organic’s Master Composters around the country will be out and about answering composting questions and encouraging those who don’t already compost at home to start.
I will be at Sainsbury's in Hereford on Thursday, helping the Council Waste Officers answer questions about composting - various collegues will be doing the same in other parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire this week as well!
Tuesday 7th May – Morrisons, Leominster 11:00 – 2:00- Wednesday 8th May – Sainsburys, Hereford 12:00 – 4:00- Friday 10th May - Asda, Hereford 12:00 – 4:00
Mon 6th MayDiscover Bewdley Spring Fair10:00 – 4:00Tue 7th MayEvesham library WR11 4PJ10:00 – 4.00 Wed am 8th MayMalvern library WR14 2HU10:00 – 1:00Wed pm 8th MayUpton library WR8 OLE1:30 – 4:00 Thurs 9th MayKidderminster Town Hall DY10 1DB10:00 – 1:00Fri 10th MayAvelchurch Library B48 7TA10:00 – 1:00
For the 2013 Compost Awareness Week Garden Organic will be running a ‘Decorate Your Compost Bin Competition’; be creative and as imaginative as possible. Entry to the competition is open to all ages and abilities.
If you need reminding how to make compost, my "How to..." guides is a good place to start!
How I make compost
Top tips to maximise how much compost you make.
Making Leaf Mould
Happy Composting :-)
With the warmer weather this week I have been lugging a lot of these around.
It can get really hot inside a polytunnel during the day and all my precious plants need lots of watering.
As you all know, I love my polytunnel. But one of the things I don't love, is that the previous owners of our house erected the polytunnel on top of subsoil, dumped from when they had the garage built. This means I can't grow directly into the soil in beds but have to use large pots ( I use builders buckets with holes in) to grow my plants in. My system works well and I get great crops, but I do have to water everything, by hand, a lot more than if the plants grew in the ground.
In the height of summer that means at least 20 mins, morning and evening, spent watering the polytunnel. I don't begrudge the time spent as I enjoy tending my plants, but it also means I can't go away for more than a day unless I arrange for someone to come in and water the polytunnel, in my place.
I use a hose and a watering lance for larger plants, but at the moment the tomato plants are still small and seedlings need watering with something a bit more delicate and directable, hence all the watering cans!
I have often wondered about setting up an automatic watering system inside the polytunnel for use in the height of summer, which I could connect to the tap and set with a timer. We use Hozelock type fittings on all the taps and there are lots of different makes and options of automatic watering system to chose from. I just need to work out how much it might cost and which system would work best for us.
Inside the polytunnel I need to apply the water either on the top of the pots directly or into the gravel trays they stand in, so I think some sort of drip irrigation system might work best in there. I could lay the main hose up the middle of the floor with the side branch hoses leading to the trays or pots - each tray holds three big pots so I wouldn't need too many side hoses (there are typically 16- 20 gravel trays on the floor at the height of the growing season.)
Outside in the veg garden I use soaker hoses laid on the soil in the beds, as well as assorted spray fountains placed on the soil. I only use the soaker hose when needed and always when we are around to monitor it so I don't need an automated system there. I also use the water we collect in the water butts where ever I can.
By the way, this is the experimental potato bed, finally fully planted up with the straw/compost top mulch layer in place. I will let you know how the experiment goes and how it compares to the harvest from the adjacent bed, which I planted up using my normal method.
So, it is time for me to have a think about our future irrigation needs, both automatic watering systems and any different/additional manual equipment we need to source. I tell you though, if we ever get the new polytunnel up and running in the newly cleared and levelled area it will have raised beds I can plant into!
This is Pearl, she is a White Star.
meet Pepper, the Speckledy
Amber, the Amber ( you can see a trend, here, can't you?)
This is Treacle, she is a Partridge Star.
Meet Marigold, a Marigold. She has already started laying and she is only 18 weeks old. She is very sweet and gentle.
We moved the hen run and house again today, the third time in 6 days.
- see how much damage five hens can do to grass in just 2 days!
The second delivery of my Constant Garden arrived from Rocket Gardens this week.
I was sent an email at 7 pm on the evening of 30 April letting me know my garden would arrive in the next 24 - 72 hours - in fact it arrived at 9.30 the next morning so less than 24 hours after dispatch!
As I effectively still had 48 hours spare before the latest delivery time, I decided to leave unpacking it until today so I left the box in a cool, dark place - away from prying hens!
Rocket allow for delivery times of up to 72 hours from dispatch , and indeed you can leave the plants for up to 24 hours after delivery, before they need planting. So in theory the plants could last up to 4 days from dispatch to planting. I am not sure I would want to risk leaving that long, though!
I unpacked the box - lovely hay packing as usual
First layer of plants -
All the plants were very healthy and strong looking, and still with moist root balls.
Four layers of plants and straw later I had excavated them all and got planting!
I am still preparing the raised beds where these plants will end up growing so for now I have put them all in multicelled trays to grow a little larger.
And of course the packaging is fully compostable :-)
In the second delivery of my small Constant Garden I received the following growing baby plants:
Hello lovely people :-)I'm getting a lot of google searches showing up for various gardening and veg growing terms. For those who are new to The Compost Bin, or maybe just didn't realise :-) If you look up the top of this blog, you will see a number of "tabs". One of them is labelled "How to" guides.If you click on it you will find links to various different posts I have written, which you may find helpful. I have also put them below.
You may also find some of the videos on my YouTube channel helpful at this time of year, click on the tab or follow the link.
How I make compost
Top tips to maximise how much compost you make.
Making Leaf Mould
Starting Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergine seeds
Starting Parsnip seeds
Growing Potatoes in bags
Growing Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes
With the nicer weather we have had recently, I want to sit outside in the garden a bit more. One of the problems with having a lot of land to look after ( and not a lot of income to do it on!) is that we very rarely get the time to just sit and stare and enjoy the loveliness of it all
So often it is easy only to see the jobs piling up and not see the flowers blooming or hear the bird songs. I have written about this in the past on a number of occasions but, as we get older, the jobs take longer! One thing both Compostman and I do try to do, is to stop for a tea or coffee break together, mid morning and mid afternoon. If the weather is good we try to sit down in the garden or on the bench at the edge of the wood. As the year progresses we all often like to sit outside in the evening, as well. We try then to simply enjoy the moment and NOT focus on all the jobs!
Our old garden furniture is getting very tatty and chewed up by Hornets (yes, really!) It would be nice to have somewhere comfortable to sit, out in the sunshine.. It would be so nice to have a decent set of garden furniture to use outside, maybe so we could even eat al fresco, once in a while ( if the weather gods co operate in 2013, that is!) Maybe not made of wood this time, though. As you know from my post last week I am also considering resin wicker furniture, as it will last a long time and I can clean the chicken poo off it.
One of the things I have talked about recently is that this year we will finally sort out the patio. I have a mental image of how it could be, and the thought of a new patio is spurring me on, in my on going search for possible new garden furniture (I am still looking and adding stuff to my Pinterest board!) I have grown some scented patio plants especially to go out around the new seating area (when it is eventually completed.) I lived in hope that I might get a couple of patio Olive trees for my birthday, even (I didn't)
Apart from furniture though, we also need to replace various outdoor lighting around the garden. We use lots of solar lights around the garden and wood to mark paths and edges, but the wet weather of 2012 seems to have caused them all to die. We kept a few useful bits (the spikes, especially, looked useful) and the rest has gone to the Household Recycling Site to have their components recycled according to WEEE regulations.
So I need some more solar lights and I also need some more Citronella candles to keep away the bugs - I react very badly indeed if I am bitten and I don't want my enjoyment spoiled by a Blandford Fly or Mosquito bite. I found some nice, large candles on the John Lewis website (a business I have used before, along with Waitrose) and I also spotted some very pretty multicoloured solar fairy lights, suitable for outdoors and ideal for draping around a wooden gazebo structure, like this one at Garden Organic or even to decorate an outdoor tree for Christmas.
Now we "just" need to decide how how much bigger to make the patio, what alterations to make to the layout and then dig it all up and re-lay the patio slabs. We actually spent a fair bit of time today discussing what we would like to do/have done. We will use the JCB to do the digging, although I may find some one from outside to do the slab laying, thus protecting my bad back from more injury :-)
Then, if I ever get time to sit down, I can enjoy the view of the garden!
Disclaimer - I am writing a series of posts about my plans and hopes for the garden redesign - this post features a paid link to a company I already use. As always the words I write are my own and are my honest opinions.
Did you guess?
What my birthday present was?
When you saw what Compostman was up to, yesterday? Or have you noticed that there has been a change to my introduction?
Probably not that hard to guess that my birthday present involved hens :-) New hens, five to be precise.
Tiny Hen looks in at the new girls
From left to right, at the back, a Partridge Star and a Marigold.
At the front, a White Leghorn and an Amber Star
And this lovely little hen is a Speckledy. She has just checked out the new accommodation!
The names, Pearl, Amber, Marigold, Topaz have already crossed my mind - not sure about the Speckledy?
They came from Newland Grange, near Malvern and are 17 weeks old, so will start to lay in the next few weeks. They are all hybrids so will lay a goodly number of eggs for us and all different colours :-)
They are also still making their baby noises on the whole and are very sweet, if a bit shy as yet.
New hens :-)
Today was a busy day. I felt a little more human today so after getting up, having breakfast, shower etc I did the Ginger Hen Gang, put on a load of washing and stripped our bed. Compostgirl did her bed and tidied and vacuumed her room and cleaned the bathroom (these are her regular jobs, along with her guinea pigs and feeding the birds)
I cut Compostman's hair - he looked much tidier after! I also deep cleaned one of the hen houses and put new fresh bedding inside ( more on that, later) while Compostman did some more work to the Pink Bedroom.
Then after lunch we went out on a trip out, to do with my birthday present. We went to Malvern and on the way we passed signs for a Wildlife Trust Bluebell Day. I thought about how none of our Bluebells were anywhere near flowering
We did our birthday shopping, went to a Supermarket and then came home
Compostman and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing lots of outside work, I mowed some grass and moved hen runs and houses around and watered the polytunnel plants. Compostman dug some of the veg patch and also did a bit of this, watched by bemused members of the Ginger Gang ( Marjoram and Titch, here)
(can you guess what my Birthday present is, yet?)
In the late afternoon sunshine we had a cup of tea outside and I went and had a look around the garden. And concluded that yes, Spring was finally here!
The Magnolias are in full bloom and unusually they are flowering at the same time as the Damson, Rivers Early Plum AND the Victoria Plum!
Lots of Cowslips and Daffodils including Pheasants Eye which I love.
And finally! Finally the Fritillaries are in bloom :-)
No apple blossom out yet so I do not know if we will have a good display for the May Bank Holiday "Blossomtime" event here, but at least we have blossom on the plum trees and have had no night frosts - so maybe this year we will see some plums on the trees.
And when I walked in the wood at dusk what did I see but - the first of the Bluebells flowering :-)
I am still feeling groggy and full of face ache so, rather than work outside, I have been searching online for more inspiration for the new garden layout. I have been adding ideas to my Pinterest "Dream Gardens" board and watching the new ( to us) pair of Buzzards wheel and call over the fields outside the house.
Today I have mainly been looking online for wicker garden furniture. I love the texture of wicker and I have always been keen on weaving with rushes or reeds or flexible sticks. One of my earlier memories, aged about three, is of us stopping the car in a layby in Wales (so my brother could be car sick). I got out with my mother and we walked to a boggy area by a stream and picked green rushes.
I remember being fascinated when my mother showed me how the green rushes could be plaited, twisted and knotted together, without breaking apart. Later on, I learned how to plait my own long hair and I also learned how to plait rushes and later still to make make coiled, sewn baskets and mats out of the rush plaits. My mother taught me how to do this also, she could make hats out of plaited straw and I remember her making several summer hats for her, and for me.
I don't know if that is where my love of wicker comes from, but I do like making baskets and twig stars and willow structures and little corn and lavender favours and garden obelisks...
I also have lots of storage baskets and boxes made of various natural materials - willow, straw, raffia etc. I like the different textures on display.
I am looking for new garden furniture because ours is getting really rather old and tatty. I am interested in new furniture which can live permanently on the newly redone patio (whenever that will be). I found some rather nice metal and some FSC wooden sets last week, this week I have been searching for wicker garden furniture.
I have always liked the look and idea of natural rattan wicker furniture but in my younger days all the sets I saw, in other people's gardens, seemed to rapidly go brittle - I have painful memories of getting splinters and I suspect they were not really weather proof! My memories are also mainly of big, cane three piece suites and big flowery cushions in very bright colours.
How things have changed! From my on-line searches I have found that the modern outdoor wicker/rattan sets are mainly made of woven resin on an aluminium frame, rather than rattan, so I guess no more splinters now, which is a relief.
My search came up with the usual garden superstore sites but I also found a lot of interesting independent suppliers. I liked the garden furniture sets displayed on the Bents website - they are a third generation family business based in Glazebury, Cheshire. I was very impressed with their Our green credentials pages as well, where Bents itemise the things they do.
Looking at the selection of wicker garden furniture on the Bents website there is a wide range of prices, styles, colours and materials to chose from - all of the furniture is made from resin weave so the splinter/rot problem has gone away :-)
I called the Bents customer helpline to ask about the resin material and if it could really live outside? The answer was, yes, resin rattan weave furniture really can stay outside all the time, although the fabric cushions need to be brought in out of the rain. I was impressed with the customer service I received when I called Bents and I was even more impressed that you can also wash the furniture, which is handy to know with the Ginger Gang of incontinent chickens hanging around us all the time.
I am a bit concerned that synthetic resin rattan is made from HDPE (so made from oil) but on the other hand it should last a very very long time and not have to be replaced as often as wood (especially if the Hornets are around!) and is recyclable at the end of its life. That is an aspect I will have to take into account before deciding what to finally buy.
Of course what I could also do is make a living willow chair for the garden - something I have been thinking of doing for a long time now, ever since I made various willow wigwams and domes. But not really very portable and also not likely to survive on the patio!
Anyone else have a patio set made from either resin or real wicker? Or a living willow chair?
Disclaimer - I am writing a series of posts about my plans and hopes for our garden redesign - this post features a paid link to a company I would be happy to order from, in the future. As always, the words I write are my own and are my honest opinions.
Not a lot happened today, really. I have a dreadful cold and am sneezing and bunged up and with face ache again - I am really getting fed up with it tbh and have done very little outside or inside as a result.
Compostgirl is being very brave as she had to have two upper pre- molars extracted yesterday evening (to make room for other teeth) Poor thing, she couldn't eat or drink much last night and slept very poorly so had the morning off school (only the second time this school year) She went in for the afternoon period and stayed for her club after school, but I think will not be attending Guides tonight. She is being so very sensible about it all and I am very proud of how she is handling all this - I remember having the same thing done when I was 11 and it is not nice at all.
We have decided to get some new hens this weekend as it is my birthday next week - we need some reliable egg layers and much as I love the Ginger Gang I fear their egg laying days realistically are over. Not quite sure what breeds to get, yet - I will have a think about that and a look at the website to see what is available. I want at least one White Star/Leghorn. though.
I am still looking for ideas for the redesign of the patio and garden and pool area - have a look at my Pinterest boards if you are interested in what I have found, so far.
This is the latest in my "view from my study window" photos. You can see the hedges have begun to turn green and the oak trees over the field are just showing buds now.
The Magnolia in the front garden is now in bloom - it looks lovely!
It is dull and gloomy but dry here at 6 pm - I think we will not see a fabulous sunset tonight as there is no sun. I need to go and water the plants in the polytunnel and maybe sow some more seeds - I did hope to get the onion sets in the ground today, but the face ache etc rather put a stop to it. Hopefully I will be better, tomorrow.
Have you all a good day? I hope so :-)
As you may remember we are currently living in a bit of a rearranged house, due to refurbishing and redecorating the guest bedroom. This means that all the furniture from that (large!) room, apart from the king size bed base, mattress and the triple wardrobe, have been moved out and re distributed elsewhere in the house.
Our bedroom has extra stuff piled in the corner, the blanket chest is in the sitting room, a chest of drawers is now in the bathroom and as for the boxes which lived under the bed and the books - well there is a lot more stuff in the attic now!
I have had to do a major clear out and a de clutter - if you remember that is how I found Compostman's Christening robe again? It came up beautifully clean, after a gentle wash and drying in sunshine :-) I must take a photo and show you all :-)
I have a lot of old towels and surplus bedding ready to go to either a charity shop or to an animal shelter. But I also have sorted out some good stuff in the way of books, DVDs, CDs, games, shoes, handbags etc. Compostgirl is also in the middle of a bit of a sort out - now she is 12 there are books and DVDs which she no longer wants but which might make her some money.
So, I would like to make some money from all this "stuff" by recycling for cash, but am not quite sure what is the best method. Ideally I would like the cash to save or put towards some new garden items (a Gabriel Ash cold frame springs to mind!)
I do have a Trade in account which I use sometimes - this is easy to do if the stuff is in good condition but you do not get much money back and it stays in your Amazon account as a gift voucher, so can only be spent there.
I have signed up to an Amazon Sellers account as The Compost Bin, to list some of the books and DVDs but Amazon take quite a cut I think? And I also feel Amazon know enough about me, already, so I wanted to try somewhere else.
Given my wish to try a non Amazon site I was pleased to be asked to try out musicMagpie as I didn't really know there were online sites like it (I am so behind the times!) where you can sell all sorts of items such as CDs, DVDs and games, mobile phones, laptops, consoles - they even offer clothes recycling for cash!
With the musicMagpie site (I am guessing there are other sites which are similar?) you enter the barcode of the CD, DVD or game, or enter the make and model of the electronics item or the brand and type of the clothing onto the site and they give you an instant price (alternatively, you can use your computer’s webcam or the musicMagpie iPhone or Android app to scan in your barcodes and start selling your items - but I am doing it from my desktop computer not my phone)
I have registered on the site, which was easy to use, and have been sent a welcome email - it was easy to register and when I forgot my password (oops) I was sent a link to re-do it straight away - no hanging around. I have entered a couple of CD's and a DS game into the valuation box and been offered what seems a reasonable price. I have a lot of good quality, little worn clothes which I will now never again wear, as I don't have that lifestyle anymore, so I am interested in clothes recycling for cash as well as CD's and DVD's.
You need a minimum of 10 items (or 1 tech,or 3 games) to complete an order, so I will have to add a few more things I want to sell before I can send it off. I found it easy to save items I have added to my seller account, until I have enough to place an order.
One of the appeals to me of musicMagpie is sending items to them is FREE! I can use one of many Local Send Shops open weekends, evenings and 7 days a week - my nearest is the Spar shop in Ledbury which is convenient, but I could chose from any other shop on the list, anywhere which suited me. If I had lots of stuff or heavy electronic equipment I could send the items using a FREE courier service which would come to my house to collect.
music Magpie pay by either cheque, bank transfer, M and S e-vouchers (ever heard of those?) or you can donate the money to charity. Obviously I have not yet sent off items and been paid so I can't yet comment on how well that side of the site works, but so far I am impressed with my initial use of the site. I will keep you posted about the musicMagpie experience as it unfolds
I have a seller account as The Compost Bin on Ebay but with the recent postage increase I gather it has become less economically viable to sell cheaper things and make much profit. The appeal of musicMagpie is that it has FREE postage and I don't have to even queue at the Post Office, as I can leave the parcel at the Spar shop, in Ledbury.
Second hand shops
One other alternative is "Stock Exchange" type shops where clothes, shoes, handbags etc can be sold and the shop takes a commission (usually 50%, sometimes less). We have a very up market "posh frock"one in Ledbury and a more general one in Newent - which sells good quality stuff, the shop is well run and always busy and they take children's clothes, toys, games and books as well as adult clothes, shoes, bags and family DVDs. I have a box of good, little worn items which will be going to this shop to be sold on and I get paid in cash for these if they sell or I can have them back after 8 weeks if they have not sold. I might then relist them on musicMagpie!
Car Boots sales
I know a lot of you sell at Car boots, but they really do not appeal to me at all and people do not seem to get decent prices for items? Maybe I am wrong, though - anyone any thoughts on this?
Any other ideas for selling items? Any of you do it differently or use another on line service?
Disclaimer - I had a post in mind about ways to go about selling my items for cash and then I was asked to review the musicMagpie site for a fee - so I have added in my experiences to this post. I have signed up to the site and intend to sell items through it so as to provide a fair review - as always the words I write are my own and are my honest opinions.
The cats kept us awake a lot of last night as it was obviously a hunting night - all three took it in turns to catch various unfortunate prey ( not Rats, sadly!) and then bring them in and shout to the other cats to "come and see what *I* have caught" VERY LOUDLY INDEED
I was awakened at 2, 4, 5 and 6.30 am and Compostman also in between, he woke me when he got up to sort out yet more cat antics - so we are a bit shattered, here!
Nevertheless today I have written a couple of articles, investigated an on line selling web site for a review post, done several loads of washing, pricked out yet more tomato and pepper plants and sowed more seeds in the polytunnel (oh, how I LOVE my polytunnel - it is my cheap version of a fabulous wooden potting shed - not that I would not like a fabulous wooden potting shed, but it just is not going to happen so, I love my polytunnel!)
I have also dusted all the hens with Barrier lice powder AND Diatom as they have lice (yuck - on a par with head lice in hair) I hate any sort of lice or flea infestations and dealing with it makes me feel quite queasy, but hey ho if we have animals we have to do this sort of stuff for them. :-( I am not at all squeamish about blood and guts and gore, but lice ugh.
Anyway I sorted out the feathery (now lice less) girls and then, being liberally dusted myself, went and had a shower and washed my hair. At least I am lice free, also!
I know it is now OFFICIALLY SPRING as I am now having to open up the polytunnel window and door before 9 am so my precious plants do not cook during the day and I am now watering the plants every evening. Also the porch plants need daily watering now and a window opening to stop them frying.
I need some form of automatic watering system in the Polytunnel - will have to have a bit of a think about that.
Shutting up the hens tonight at 8.30 there was a fabulous sunset - the first of many I hope! I also saw my first Swallow of 2013 today :-)
Now off to settle down to wine, food and the Great British Sewing Bee final on BBC 2 HD, I love it and can't wait to see what happens - have logged off Twitter and Facebook so I don't find out in advance who won!
Hope you all have a lovely evening :-) xxx