Friday, 5 June 2009

Death of a Princess


Yes, a sad day at Quinta Stuart with the discovery of a dead chicken in my chicken ark. Poor Gerry was a little stiff and very quiet and lying on her side. After a little detective work, I deduced she was dead, cause of death unknown - no marks, no suicide note, no guilty looking chicken looking on. Any ideas dear readers? Holly suspects a snake attack as we have a few around at the moment.. Can I put a new one in with Kate or will they fight too much?

New sign at Quinta Stuart - an old pallet, cost zero!!

I emptied my second compost heap this week - really rich compost but definately anarobic - heavy smelly and compacted. The Humanure Handbook, one of the best books on compost toilets and composting claims there are no advantages to turning compost piles regularly, Monty Don, ex Gardeners World, swore by turning his compost heaps every fortnight or so. Maybe it depends on what goes in. I always try and keep it light, if I add a load of green weeds, then I will add a layer of more open greenery, but it didn't work. The compost is strong and will add strength to a raised bed that had burnt out the imported sub - strato in only three months.

Something satisfying about your own compost!!

The slow careful study of land is a big part of permaculture, and the longer I live, the more I understand. If you plough your land every season, then the erosion increases and a lot of micro nutrients are lost. Conversely it makes barren lands open to the rains and starts a different cycle of local species of plants (weeds if not a nitrogen fixer or grazing crop!!)
One piece of land attached to our property has not been touched for several years. The Almonds are all dead (still useful as a firewood bank) and the land has only wild thyme growing on it - great for my lebanese bread and pizzas. So what at a glance is worthless has at least two useful aspects, as well as no erosion in the form of dust into our house and a natural barrier for privacy (difficult to walk over)

Sea of Thyme, Ghosts of Almonds.

Advance notice - Going on a bender!!!

Ever thought willow bending was just for an uncomfortable igloo or sweat lodge? Think again. Jonathon and Jennie are playing host to Mary Salix, willow bender. Between the 20th and 22nd June, they will be running a three day course up at Rainbow, near Odemira - what a beautiful excuse to see the summer solstice under the stars and learn something different? Contact Jonathon for more details (

Need a cheap green house? Willow can do it!!

One lesson I have learnt this year is to not ignore flowering plants in my Permaculture garden.
The mix of bulbs and stoloniferous perennials is a great addition to my garden - little water and
care, they break up the monotony of vegetables and will create low water micro enviroments year by year. 

This climbing rose gets no water and the thorns make it a handy barrier.

Bread workshop at Quinta Stuart

Thanks to all those people that turned up for last weeks "Use your Loaf" bread making session at Quinta Stuart. Unfortunately the bad weather forced us indoors, and after a glass of wine or two, we had some great results.

The topping on the round bread is Thyme, Rhus and Olive oil.

Uncle Calvins sign after some annonymous punk added graffitti...

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