January Gardening Begins with the Dream

January tends to get a bad rap as a month.

We blame Pilot for letting the rot set in when they sang in their 1975 No1 hit single “January, sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me”.

But as Josephine Nuese, author of The Country Garden pointed out, gardening really begins in January, with the dream. So come last year’s cold snap, or this year’s unseasonably mild weather, we kind of quite like January here at The Secret Acre.

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Decent into Autumn

As the September harvest with its late summer sunshine gave away to increasingly damp and cool autumnal weather, we gathered in the last of the crops at The Secret Acre and started clearing down the veg beds.

Here are a few pictures from October and early November’s gradual decent into autumn.

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Sunny September’s Harvest

Here’s our quick pictorial look at some of September’s harvest season action at The Secret Acre.

As is so often the case now under climate change, awful August gave way to warmer days again in September, as soon as the school had gone back (September was second warmest on record for the UK), before autumn could return again properly in October.

In the garden, flowers, fruit and veg all continued in abundance as we moved into this harvest festival and apple pressing season.

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Going for the One

You might remember that last year, Emma tied on points with another competitor for first place overall as ‘Best in Show’ at our local Fruit and Veg Show

We are nothing if not competitive here at The Secret Acre, so as the start of Village Produce Show season loomed again at the end of August, Emma was plotting to go one better this year.

And that she did, claiming the ‘Best in Show’ trophy as outright winner this year, picking up the section winner cups for Best Baker and Best Brewer en-route.

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Wild Garlic Three Ways

Followers of our adventures at The Secret Acre will know that we go wild for Wild Garlic.

It’s usually one of our first big forages of spring, and one of the easiest for beginners, growing profusely in woodlands over a long period, and not easily misidentified, smelling and tasting of, well, garlic.

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Best in Show

Regular readers will know that autumn’s harvest season also brings forth the village show.

We have form, stating with some urban practise, and then some baby steps, before gaining experience for a successful all-out assault on a whole section last year.

To be frank, I didn’t think it could get any better, and along with the uncertainty around the virus this year, I doubted we would enter. Continue reading

Harvest 2020 – Part Two

Our harvesting continued apace in July and as we headed into August, traditionally the month of gluts on the veg patch.

The start of the school summer holidays also marks the traditional influx of child labour thanks to visiting friends. Continue reading

The Lockdown Creamery

It’s not all been wine, bread, baking and making things out of pallets recently.

We threatened to extend our Good Life on Lockdown into dairy and cheese too.

And lo it came to pass. Continue reading

The (Good) Life on Lockdown

We are living in strange times indeed. But life on Coronavirus Lockdown at The Secret Acre could be a lot worse. The sun is finally out, and there’s no shortage of spring jobs in the garden to be done.

We know we are not the only ones to have taken the opportunity to start re-watching the complete DVD set of episodes of The Good Life again from scratch. We are just getting onto the start of season four!

Meanwhile, the time for other more practical projects has also materialised during life on lockdown. Here’s a quick pictorial run through our first two weeks on lockdown on the homestead…. Continue reading

Horse’y New Year

It may be the Chinese year of the Rat, but 2020 kicked off at The Secret Acre with a distinctly horse’y theme.

Before Christmas, fellow smallholder and gardening author, Kim Stoddart, reminded me that we could take a first light harvest of horseradish, just over a year on since we first planted it. Continue reading