• HARVESTING STRAWBERRY SEEDS

  • SOWING SEED TRAYS

  • SUNFLOWER CIRCLE

  • EASY TOPIARY

  • WEAVING WILLOW BORDERS

  • KEEPING CHICKENS


















 

HARVESTING STRAWBERRY SEEDS:
What you need:

  • Ripe Strawberries
  • Toothpick
  • White paper
  • Seed Trays
  • Compost
The best strawberries to use are locally grown, the ripe just before spoiling. We use white paper, as strawberry seeds are so sticky and once harvested can be tough to remove from kitchen roll or tissue paper. White paper also is handy to keep track of those tiny little seeds. 
Strawberries carry their seeds on the outside of their skin. making it easy to harvest.



Holding the strawberry in place with one hand, using the toothpick press it under the tiny seeds and remove it off the strawberry carefully. Sometimes it helps to use your nail to pinch it off the fruit completely. 
We place our strawberry seeds in grids on the white piece of paper to keep track of how many we've harvested. It is always surprising how many seeds come from one strawberry. 



Once you have enough seeds harvested. Fill up your seed tray with compost. Once that is done, you can now plant our your seeds. You can do this using the toothpick too. or carefully placing the seeds in your seed tray and pinching the soil closed over the little seeds. Give it a daily watering. It takes a few weeks for strawberry seeds to start germinating. So a little bit of patience is required here. 
Usually just when it seems like it had failed, we start to see those tiny little springs rising from the seed strays. It takes a few weeks for them to be big enough to plant out. They will not bear fruit in the first year. 





But once next years strawberry season starts and you see those beautiful pink flowers popping out all over the place, you will know that it was all worth the wait. 

 

SOWING SEED TRAYS:
What you need:

  • Vegetable and Salad Seeds.
  • Name Tags.
  • Compost.
  • Seed Trays.
  • Garden Gloves.
  • Hand Spade.
The first step is to choose your seeds. Garden centers also have already germinated plants if you want to skip this step. But I find growing plants from seed makes them a bit hardier. I’ve made use of these plants when I missed the early Spring sowing season. They are a great gap filler, but I enjoy seeing my little seeds germinate and starting to grow. It’s such a rewarding feeling. Then I know summer is coming.
Once you’ve got your seeds, compost and seed trays you are good to go.
Place seed trays on a level surface, the ground is fine. Make sure you have your name tags ready. Take it from someone who has missed this step. Once you have those little seeds in the ground inside the trays, it’s almost impossible to tell which seeds which are until they germinate. And when you’re sowing plants like marrow, courgette, squash and pumpkins, their little plants are so similar I find it impossible to tell them apart until they start bearing fruit. I learned this the hard way. One year we had a very interesting spread of vegetables.
I tend to do one tray at a time, marking it clearly before moving onto the next type of seed.
Fill the seed tray with your compost and level it off using the back of your spade.

Now it’s time to get your seeds out. Careful when opening those seeds packets. Some seeds are tiny. I usually shake the packet down to get the seeds to the bottom.
Carefully place a seed in each block in your seed tray.
You can gently push the seed into the loose soil. I like to sprinkle a bit of extra compost on each seed to make sure that it’s covered.
The only thing left to do is give them a drop of water, making sure each seed block gets watered and put them in a sunny spot indoors preferably. This time of the year our windowsills are filled with seed trays and germinating plants. Greenhouses are great for this too, but not necessary. You can germinate seedlings successfully indoors and if the weather is mild enough, even outside in a warm protected spot.
You will enjoy seeing you seeds grow! In a few short weeks you will have your plants ready for planting out. We will have a look at the next step of planting your seedlings out into prepared soil once we have our seedlings well cultivated and strong enough to face the changing weather elements of outside.
 

SUNFLOWER CIRCLE:
What you need:

  • Sunflower Seeds - assorted.
  • Name Tags.
  • Compost.
  • Seed Trays.
  • Garden Gloves.
  • Spade.
  • Hand Spade.



If you're going to do seedlings first you can sow the sunflower seeds into your seed trays following our Sowing Seed Tray post instructions.

But this time of year when the last frost has past you acn sow sunflower seeds straight into the prepared flower beds with reasonable success with germinating. 

Pick a spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight for most of the day. Sunflowers love sun. An added tip would be to pick a spot that faces East. As we found that most of our sunflower heads faced this way. If you want to enjoy your sunflowers, it is nice if they face your way.

Start by marking off your circle using a centered stake and a piece of string. 

Dig your furrow about a spade width following your circle shape. And then till your soil. We added manure, compost and seaweed extract to our bed. And simply worked this into the topsoil with a fork. 

Now comes the fun part. Sowing your seeds into your furrow. or planting your seedlings from your seed trays. 

Once they start growing taller, we supported them with bamboo stakes. We replaced these with wooden stakes when they got to about a meter in height. It just helps them weather winds and storms a bit better. And gives a lovely shape to your sunflower circle.



All that's left to do is wait for them to grow and start making blooms. It takes patience. But by late summer you will be rewarded by a unique hide-out den. It is worth the wait. 

There is nothing quite like watching a lazy sunset with a cup of coffee from the vantage point of your own Sunflower Circle. it's the stuff of life! 

 

EASY TOPIARY:
What you need:

  • Potted Ivy
  • Terracotta Planter
  • Compost
  • Hand spade
  • Wire Hanger

Fill your terracotta pot about half way with compost. remove your potted Ivy from it's planter and place into terracotta pot. Fill terracotta pot with more compost. Making sure to fill all the space around the Ivy to secure it.



Unbend your wire hanger. And reshape it into a Heart. Also unbend top of the hanger into a straight point. This part will plant the heart shape into the planter. 



Insert your Heart Shape wire into the pot by planting it center into the Ivy plant. Push it deep enough to make sure it doesn't come loose. 




Now carefully weave the Ivy around the wire shape. In time it will grow to cover the entire shape. Every few weeks weave new growth onto the Heart Shape. In a short while you will have a lovely heart shaped topiary. And it will be hard to believe that it was made from little more than a wire hanger. 



 

WEAVING WILLOW BORDERS:






 

KEEPING CHICKENS:

Keeping chickens is not as hard as it may seem. And if you have a few simple things in place for them. You will be rewarded with happy chickens who lay delicious eggs. 

When considering getting chickens, we advise that you research the breeds that would suit your requirements, climate and garden best. And find a reputable breeder. This is the most important step in successfully keeping chickens.

You also need an appropriate sized chicken coop to house your chickens. Chickens don't like being crowded, so make sure you get one that has ample space for the amount of chickens you plan to keep.

Chickens enjoy scraps from the kitchen, but they need will also need chicken feed and grit to stay healthy. We feed our chickens crushed garlic about once a month too. This helps to prevent worms. Lastly, chickens need a dust bath. Somewhere that they can roll around and frolic in dust to keep mites and fleas at bay. 

When you collect your chickens take a large box. Once you bring them home, place them into their coop and close the coop shut until the next day. Giving them time to settle in.
In the morning, open their coop door, but don't force them out. Give them time to come out on their own. Chickens are curious creatures and once they feel safe and settled, they will come out on their own to explore their new home. 

They need fresh food and water every day. And a clean coop once a week. 
Your reward will be fresh eggs every day. That's a good trade. 



 

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