Late Night Wander

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Late Night Wander  2

I don’t know about you but I’m loving these brighter evenings.  Everyone has come out of hibernation and spends more time down on their plots.  The lovely sunny weather has lifted my spirits :)  I can’t wait for the height of the growing season to come.

Late Night Wander 1Little lottie plot 21a looks a bit on the bare side at the moment – but it won’t be long before we’ll be fighting the weeds and coming down regularly to water :)

It was getting a bit dusky by the time I’d made my way around the site but here’s some of the images I took… :)

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Hope you’re all having fun in the sun :)

Lottie Land Girl Kaz xx

New Feathery Residents

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Last month I did a guest blog for Laura Ashley.  I reviewed some of their fab garden products :) one of them was a rather lovely bird house.

Bird House In The Garden by Kaz BrownIn the last few days I’ve been sat here in my creative corner, watching a little lady sparrow (I at first thought it was a male looking for a place to cosy up – my friend Pete told me he was a ‘she’… which makes total sense now, the man was sat on the fence while she was flying around! hehe :D)

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She’s not quite plucked up the courage to go in yet but I’m hoping in time she will make a lovely little home in there.  She is a rather classy bird after all :) I might put some peanuts right near there to sweeten the deal :D

Fingers cross we’ll have a little family in our garden soon :)

Lottie Land Girl Kaz xx

Guest Blog by Shaun Gagie ‘The Joys of Keeping Chickens’

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Shaun Gagie ProfileMe and my partner John decided to get chickens three years ago because we really liked the idea of having fresh eggs all the time rather than shop bought tasteless eggs that may not have come from the best kept chucks. Neither of us had any idea what we needed to do to look after chickens so lots of research was needed. If you google how to keep chickens you get hundreds of sites offering advice and in fairness it was a bit overwhelming so I decided to go and speak to my friend Jimmy who has kept chickens for years on my local allotment site. So what did I learn from him?

The basics that Chickens need:

• A coop where they can sleep at night

• Nesting boxes where they can lay eggs

• An adequate sized run

• Access to food and fresh water

So having this initial information I identified an area in the garden that would be perfect to put a large run. I set about clearing the area and erecting a run. When choosing a suitable area for a run remember that chickens like to dig and scratch around so placing it on concrete would not be good, so we chose an old flower bed. The other thing is to make sure that the run is a protected area from predators such as Mr Fox. I made sure that I used strong chicken wire to coat the run, and a top tip that Jimmy gave me was to lay sleepers around the outside of the run. What this does is give the fox the impression that the run is on solid ground and therefore can not be dug into (paving flags would work equally as well). Three years in and touch wood no fox attacks in the run at all.Shaun Gagie Guest Blog 3

Coops can range in price and styles, so do shop around. We managed to find an absolute bargain on a popular auction website. The coop was large enough to house 12 hens, and also had two nest boxes in it. It came with an electronic door which we have set on a timer to open in the morning and close at night, which is great on cold winters mornings when you don’t want to go down the garden to early.

Shaun Gagie Guest Blog 4So with the infrastructure in place we had to consider buying some hens. We went to Cheshire Chickens and went for a breed called Novagen Browns on recommendation. They are very good hens for the first time keeper, incredibly tame and when they get into full flow very good layers. We bought 12 and introduced them to the ‘Feathers’, the name of our new chicken enclosure.

In terms of bedding for inside the coop we have found the best thing to use is fine wood Chipping’s that has had all the dust extracted. Chickens don’t like having wet feet so we had a roof put on the run, but still needed something to dry out the ground. I got in touch with the local tree cutter, who happily drops off large bags of wood Chipping’s regularly which I use to line the ground in the run.Shaun Gagie Guest Blog 2 The best thing is the tree cutters usually want to get rid of this waste for free, so it is perfect. The other brilliant thing with this is every couple of months you can dig it all out of the run and use it as a rich mulch/feed on your flower and vegetable beds.

When you first get your chickens do keep them in the run for a few weeks until they get familiar with where they live. After this point they are fine to be let out. This for us is where the fun really began, but I think the trouble with chickens eating your plants is a whole other blog article and something I have learnt lots about over the last three years.

I will now tell you about what to feed your hens. Remember the 3 Gs, which are grain, greens and grit. We buy layers mash which has all the grains and nutrients the chickens need for a well balanced diet, we feed them with lots of greens including spinach and all the veg trimmings.

Shaun Gagie Guest Blog 1Finally we make sure they have access to grit as this helps them to break down vegetation in their systems. A great place to buy chicken feed is usually from your local allotment shop, and you will probably find lots of advise there too. Don’t forget to always have fresh water available for your chucks!

Chickens really have brought so much joy to our garden, and there is so much more information I can tell you about regarding our experiences of keeping chickens, such as when you are introducing new hens to how to control vermin in the run.

Follow the adventures of life in the feathers and other goings on in my garden at or follow me on Twitter @shaungagie. Do get in touch and I will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Happy gardening everyone!

A big thanks to Shaun for sharing his experiences of keeping chickens :)  Lottie Land Girl Kaz xx

Book Review : The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan

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The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan
The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan will be released on 2nd April 2015.

With our allotment being quite small, I always plan carefully what we grow in our limited space.  It’s surprising what you can grow in such a small area.   I’ve been thinking though… wouldn’t it be great to have some fresh salad leaves for our sandwiches, or strawberries that I can just pop into the garden and pick? I’ve also had the idea to grow some veg in pots in our little front garden.

When this fab book came though the post, it was just what I needed.  Tons of inspiration for growing in containers – how cool is it that you can create a meal from one pot?!  It’s great to try something new with the fruit and veg you grow.  The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan published by Frances Lincon Publishers, is packed full of creative and inspiring ways to literally pot up and create a tasty morsel for you to eat or drink.  Perfect! Just what I need to get planning my containers at home.
The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan2The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan1In the Introduction section, there is a handy guide on how to use the book.  There’s loads advice on watering, sowing, what composts to use and handy tools you may need.  Also, how to pick the perfect pot, harvesting and storing your crops and dealing with cheeky little pests you may encounter.  It really is a fantastic resource and perfect for beginner growers!The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan3The beautiful colourful photography (by Jason Ingram) and illustrations brings the recipes to life.  There are 5 sections you can browse through…
Soups and Salads
Quick Suppers
Tasty Accompaniments
Drinks & Puds
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Within each section, the recipes list the ingredients you’ll need, when to harvest and if it has any bee friendly plants you’ll be using – buzz buzz.   Also there’s a step by step guide of how to make up your gourmet pot, tips and advice on what you can do with your pot after you’ve harvested, plus a tasty recipe for you to make with your produce.I’m sure you’ll love reading The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan as much as I did and enjoy the inspiring recipes.  What a great book for people who want to start to grow their own.  As it says in the book, you don’t need an allotment to be able to enjoy fresh herbs and veggies.  I’m sure this will inspire a lot of people as much as I’ve been inspired :)
Lottie Land Girl Kaz xx
Why not take advantage of this great offer…
To order One-Pot Gourmet Gardener at the discounted price of £12.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG311. 
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 
The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan will be released on 2nd April 2015.