Quick Update about our Swiss Smallholding

Just a quick update here from Switzerland.

The chickens are doing well – 3 eggs a day which is grand and they are very friendly now with even Fiona the scary chicken being able to be stroked!

Also the sheep have had a change in the field nearby the chickens – a ram has been added this last week. The Ram will be in with them for a couple of weeks to mate but so far he has only showed one sign of interest in action! I think because the weather is so hot he is only interested really in sleeping! Oh well! However, the sheep do seem to be fascinated by the chickens and press their noses up to the wire to have a look and the feathered ladies.

Podge the Cat is being daft as usual (as the photos illustrate!) and being very dopey particularly on rainy days, sleeping on the sofa on whichever is the closest and warmest lap. He is hunting more in the summer and unfortunately has caught a few birds,rats and for some reason dragonflies!

We are having probably our last crop of peas this week and the cut and come again lettuce has been very useful. Made a Frittata the other day with fresh herbs from the garden and eggs from our feathered ladies.

How is your summer going? good crops? would be lovely to hear from you all : )

Right that is all for now, will report back soon,

Katy, The Good Life In Practice x

An update as Spring is on its way!

Hello Hello : ) Or Guten Tag or Gruezi or Grusse for Swiss followers : )

Finally had a proper chance to sit down to let you know whats been happening this end of things! The last week we have featured some fantastic guest blogs on all subjects from preserving to lambing! Hope you have enjoyed them-coming up in next few weeks we have a lovely piece about making and spinning wool from your own self-raised sheep and also a great piece coming from the ‘Flockable Lasses’ of Farmers Apprentice fame. I love hearing other peoples stories and experiences of smallholding on what ever scale so these have been great!

Here in Switzerland the snow has melted and the ski runs have started to close down. This means the village is getting quiet and more relaxed in the inbetween season before hiking time begins for visitors and locals alike. Some of you might remember my pictures and stories from last year all about Ballenberg the open air folk and country museum near Brienz (Switzerland). This is host to many Swiss native rare breed livestock, buildings from every canton from many different decades and also provides a location for rural crafts to be practised  exhibited and shared with all. The theme this year is ‘crafts people’ which means they will concentrate on rural skills such as basket making, spinning, salami making and woodwork. I look forward to Ballenberg opening in just over a weeks time to visit to see all the skills in more detail and the animals in the Spring season.

At our home in Switzerland we have seemed very busy recently in all aspects of life! On the smallholding side we have been sowing seeds indoors, trying to train Podge the cat to go outside more (he is a sofa cat I fear!) and other general tasks. The Potatoes have been chitting for a few weeks now and I have included some photos of their progress. We are putting off transferring them to plant outside until there are no more warnings of snow!

The Romaine lettuce has been doing okay (picture included above) but I think I will repot it again as I think I sowed the seeds to shallow so although they are growing jsut about they cant really root probably. We shall see!

Have been mostly cooking as its been too cold to go outside to work on the allotment area. Have been making jam, making pizza dough for the freezer (for lazy eves!) and coming up with different puds to try at weekends. Tonight we are having Stewed Rhubarb with cream-its in season here now and I love the pink colour! People shudder at the thought of a ‘stewed’ pud but Rhubarb is a tasty one! : )

Also have been making gingerbread cookies and trying different Porridge combos for some weekend breakfast (when there is more time!) such as raisin and maple syrup, apple and cinnamon and random things such as Nutella and hazelnuts!

Anyho, thats a quick update on the happenings here-can’t wait till the sun comes out so we can get properly stuck in to growing our fruit and veg, going to get our new chickens for the garden and exploring the outside a bit more!

Keep smallholding in whatever way makes you happy : )

Katy, The Good Life In Practice x



Smallholder writing:

I am gearing up to write my next piece for ‘Smallholder’ Magazine for the next month. Hoping to include lots of different smallholding antics-such as preserving, growing herbs, chitting the potatoes, baking, progression with the allotment, chicken run plans and of course more random adventures of Mr Podge our very naughty ex pat cat! Keep an eye out for it in the next edition of the magazine : ) I hope you enjoy reading the magazines-they are a great source of inspiration, include great advice and tips as well as assisting in helping people make contacts with other like minded smallholders and kitchen gardeners.

Anyho, back to work! : )

The Good Life In Practice on ‘The Forget-me-not Cultivation’ Blog:

The Good Life In Practice is one of the featured gardening/allotment blogs Sophie talks about on her lovely list on her blog ‘The Forget-me-not Cultivation Blog’ here is the link to read the article: http://sophiecussen.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/10-great-gardening-blogs/

Yay! Thankyou very much Sophie for the mention : )

A change of age and weather:

A quick catch up here-haven’t been able to do many smallholding activities in the last week due to lots of work and also the snow reappeared for a few days!

Managed to get out for a quick walk in the snow and found some local cats and chickens pictured above! Also we have a few plants on the go now-the rocket and lettuce are starting to sprout up but we haven’t been able to plant up any new seeds as the weather is just too bad.

In other news I turned 24 on the 15th this month-therefore have had to change my tagline on the blog from ’23’ to ’24’ and I’m hoping this next year will be a good one! : )

Product Review: Thompson and Morgan

I got a lovely big package arrive from Thompson and Morgan filled with gardening, allotment and veg patch goodies!

Thompson and Morgan have been established since 1855 providing home gardeners with mail order seeds and gardening supplies. They have over 150 years of horticultural knowledge and expertise. Thompson and Morgan first started back in 1855 in Ipswich in Suffolk. Go to http://www.thompson-morgan.com/ to read their interesting history. From the first seed catalogue being produced things have expanded-now you can get anything from bulbs to fruit trees or even seed potatoes.

Thompson and Morgan have a great blog with interesting articles and posts including tips and information for beginner gardeners and growers. Thompson and Morgan also have a series of links for special collections-RHS seeds, Kew Garden collection and the Alan Titchmarsh Range.

Inside my particular parcel was a paper potter (photos above show it in action!), Envirofleece with tri-pegs and a vast selection of their seeds to try out over the next coming months.

The Envirofleece can be used to help protect your veg patch from hard frost and give plants a helping hand to grow stronger and faster. The Tri-pegs assist in anchoring down the fleece in the required position. The fleece provides all year round protection for seedlings and plants as needed by the gardener. I am looking forward to using this with my early spring veg outside in the coming months to give them assistance in this tough weather we are having!

The Paper Potter is used to make small free pots for your seedlings. Its a great way of using up old newspaper and having biodegradable pots which can go straight into the soil to be planted after they have grown. As you can see from the pictures above I have been having a good practice with mine and prepared a lot of paper pots to use to straight off some of our seeds inside in the warmth before transferring them outside to the plot.

The seed selection sent by Thompson and Morgan is a grand variety and includes all the staples that a kitchen garden or any budding allotmenteer should have. Seeds ranging from peppers, courgettes, carrots through to peas and cherry tomatoes! I can’t wait to get started with planting all of these lovely seeds! We are planning the allotment as we speak-what goes where etc. All in all I am very excited about using these products and they come with great instructions and further details provided with them.

If you would to take a gander at their site to have a look for some seeds, garden supplies or allotment information books here is the link: http://www.thompson-morgan.com/

Inside planting

So because the weather is very snowy there is no way of sowing any early plants just yet or even seeing the ground! Therefore, we have been slowly planting up a few pots inside on the windowsills in the hope of at least starting off a few small plants or some salad plants.

Today I used recycled old pots to plant 1 lot of Rocket F1 supplied by http://www.suttons.co.uk/ who sent a great selection of seeds to try throughout the year. Keep tuned in to see the progress of all of these-I’m hoping to take photos and do new recipes with them too : )

Additionally, I have planted a pot of Romaine Lettuce to hopefully provide us with a free salad crop. In Summer 2012 we had a mixed salad crop on our windowsill and it served us very well indeed-a cut and come again variety perfect for someone with not a lot of space!

Anyho, I have watered them, tagged them and set them up near the sunlight at the window so fingers crossed! : )