- http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/. In this blog Mike describes his adventures of living self-sufficiently in northern Idaho. He's clearly keeping his sense of humour despite battling the elements in this northern climate. He even manages to convince his wife to raid the flower bed for edibles, so well done that man!
- http://siciliansistersgrow.blogspot.com/. This one I only very recently started following. It is about 2 sisters (according to the blog name of Italian decent?) growing and gathering most of their food needs in California. Again a great read and good tips for the small holder anywhere. They even keep exact count on what they grow over the year, that's what I call efficient!
Do have a look at their blogs, if you are at all interested in alternative living.
The other illustration on getting side-tracked (apart from forgetting to pass on awards) is when you get down to do relatively simple job. Being still hampered by that stupid piece of bamboo in my arm, we have recently got rather behind on a lot of the heavy duty jobs, such as chopping wood, digging over beds, strimming down the bush etc. On Sunday our next door neighbour Marco turned up with an apricot tree he had just dug up from his garden, did Iwant it? Well, yes, even if I think he dug it up a bit early in the winter.
Sunday we didn't have time to plant it. Monday the weather was appalling and we were stuck indoors trying to keep the rain out of our leaking window. Tuesday was glorious again, however we couldn't stick it into the car and take it to the land immediately, because it was far to big and needed to be cut down first. All our gardening tools however, including any secateurs and loppers, are sensibly stored on our land (for those new to my blog, we live 10 km away from our food source). So we decided to go over to the land, digging a hole for the tree as well as doing a couple other jobs, then bring back some loppers to cut the apricot to size.
So on Tuesday Susan started turning the compost, our annual job for the waning moon phase in November, whilst I started digging the hole. Now how long can that take? I found a nice spot, i.e. next to where last winter we felled a majestic but ill cherry tree. A ring of the hollowed out trunk still remained, so I thought I'll just split that quickly into a few logs for fire wood. The first couple of logs split easily, but on the next one my axhead got irretrievably buried. So I got another axhead to get out the first one. That also ate itself into the wood and wouldn't budge.
Not having done a lot less physical work recently due to my injury I also found that my strength wasn't what it used to be and I developed blisters on my hand. Finally after much huffing and puffing, with the help of Susan, an iron bar as leverage, a pick ax and a spade we managed to free the ax heads and chop the wood into bite-size bits.
It was getting time for some lunch and I still hadn't dug my hole! After lunch I passed my recently sown bed which was to contain fennel and celery. I noted with satifaction that the fennel was doing exceptionally well, but needed a bit of weeding, whilst I couldn't see any sign of the celery. I sowed the celery late this year, because last year, when I did sow it in spring, I had loads of celery in the summer. I like celery in soups and stews in the winter though, and by then there was nothing left! So I thought I'll try for a winter crop.
This is what the fennel looks like now (after weeding):
As I looked closer at the row where I sowed the celery, I found there were some tiny seedlings, but that all the weeds around it had contrived to look just like celery. So after going through it with a fine tooth comb (no hoeing here possible!) I did find quite a few seedlings. They were sown at the same time as the fennel, but are a fraction of the size. At this rate, they'll be ready in the summer again...
This all took quite a while again and Susan had gone on to dig over a large bed, which was home to cucumbers, melons, courgettes and tomatoes this year, where we are planning to plant onions next. Finally before it got dark, I managed to get this hole dug (I'd have done it in the dark!) and filled with compost in readiness for the apricot tree, but taking some 5 hours to dig a hole is what you call getting side-tracked.
So today we went back in sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier drizzle and planted this tree. Here it is. I hope it will survive. It still had all it's leaves before it got dug up, but at least it got watered in nicely.
"ET phone home..."