One of the first things we did in late August, just after we had moved in, was to sow some winter lettuce seeds and oriental mustards in the greenhouse. There are not many crops that can be sown in late summer, but these are an exception.
Just a few weeks later we had lots of baby salad leaves to eat which continued cropping through the winter. Although the plants are growing much slower now that there are so few hours of daylight.
One of our first priorities when we moved to St Olaves was to ensure there were enough compost bins. Making compost is a satisfying way of dealing with bulky garden waste and reducing the amount of rubbish in the dustbin each week, while knowing that the compost itself will help the garden to thrive. Devon has a Community Compost Network to help encourage everyone to compost, no matter what size their garden.
The first compost bin was designed and made by Colin when he came down in early September. None of the pieces of wood we found lying around was quite the right size, but he managed to create a three sided bin with lots of help from BJ - measuring the lengths of wood.
We installed this first compost bin under the big old fig tree in the walled kitchen garden. The tiles for the base we found piled up at the side of the orchard. The wall at the back is helpful because it means the back just has two struts and less wood is needed.
The same principle of screwing reclaimed pieces of wood to upright batons was the basis for the next compost bin. This time it was designed to fit exactly next to the wood store by the front door. This also provides a handy place near the house for vegetable peelings etc.
It was more important to have a proper lid for this compost bin. We used six pieces of feather board and made sure the back of the bin was slightly higher than the front to give it a gentle slope for the rain to run off. Although we bought the feather board and the wood for the batons from Mole Avon in Okehampton, the rest of the structure was made from some long planks of wood we found piled up, and over grown at the edge of the kitchen garden.
Adding apples to the orchard
Last Thursday (7th Dec 2017) we drove down narrow lanes and through two shallow fords to get to Thornhayes nursery on the other side of Exeter, to pick up three new apple trees: Tom Putt, Don's Delight and Ashmead's Kernel. Jon dug holes for them in the orchard on Friday and this morning (after the gales of Sunday) we planted them in the weak December light. The robin supervised as always.