Stephanie Hafferty

Open Afternoon at Homeacres

We have an open afternoon at Charles’ no dig market garden at Homeacres tomorrow, one of Alhampton’s many gardens to open, on Sunday 18th June. Read More

April update

Two very exciting things are happening today (Friday 21st April). Our book, No Dig Organic Home & Garden has arrived at the publishers! It will be with us in Somerset on Monday; Charles and I are very much looking forward to seeing the book. We’ll have a lot of signing and packaging of the pre-orders to do 🙂

Also, this evening Charles is being featured on Gardeners World – even Monty’s dog Nigel has been Tweeting about this (he might have got no dig a bit confused…!)

The crew filmed for a day on August 10th 2016. It was fascinating watching the process. A whole day’s filming has been condensed into a feature of around 6 minutes. Charles’ son Ed is on the left of the first photograph below – he makes most of Charles’ popular You Tube videos.

Tonight the programme will also include footage of Charles with Geoff Hamilton back in the 1980s, when a whole episode of Gardeners World was filmed from his then garden, an 8 acre organic no dig market garden.

Neither Charles nor myself have a television, so we have arranged to visit friends in his village to watch the programme. I wonder what people new to the idea of no dig gardening will think of Charles’ gorgeous garden? I’m sure it will encourage them to explore this lovely way of growing abundant vegetables whilst caring for the soil and nature.

We found out yesterday that Charles has also been nominated for Best Organic Innovator in the Soil Association BOOM awards – he is on a bit of a roll at the moment!!

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy in my home garden and allotment – sowing, pricking out, potting on, planting. It has been a very dry spring, so new plantings are requiring more hand watering than usual. In my greenhouse I have two heated benches: one is made from two heat mats and the other is made from a soil warming cable buried in sand on a bench. All have thermostat controls and I also use thermometers to check the heat of the compost. The rest of the greenhouse is unheated. Other warmth sensitive seeds are germinated in smaller lidded heated propagators in my house, on window sills. They go out onto the heat mats when I pot them on.

I’ve been loving the abundance in my polytunnel – the cabbages and kale in particular are so delicious and fresh and the early carrots add an extra exciting flavour to meals. Gradually these plants are being eaten and cleared and the ground mulched in readiness for the summer plantings, including some experimental early dwarf French beans which will be planted in the polytunnel this weekend – just as the temperatures are set to drop! I am ready with fleece and bubblewrap to protect them and will also be keeping an eye on the extra early polytunnel potatoes (Swift and Rocket), protecting if the temperatures really do go as low as the forecast suggests. All the other potatoes are in beds in the front and back garden.

The coriander is flowering, more food for the bees and other insects and soon a delicious crop of green coriander seed. I write regular updates about my garden, allotment and work garden on my blog, NoDigHome.

Charles and I spend Wednesday mulching my front garden beds with manure from the allotment up the road. Charles has a trailer, which is much more convenient than putting it in sacks and into the back of my very small car! It was still a lot of hard work, especially for Charles who had the job of heaving the wheelbarrow up the 5 steps to my front garden. The osteoarthritis in my hands means that my ability to heave heavy wheelbarrows up steps has diminished somewhat, so I was especially appreciative of this help.

These beds are on top of horrible soil full of builder’s rubble and goodness knows what else from the 1970s, which is why I decided to use wooden sided raised beds here – it makes a much better growing area for vegetables, even if it does increase habitat for slugs and snails….These were all hiding next to the timber of the middle bed, where the flowers in the side area had grown up against the wood, creating ideal snail habitat.

Half of the middle bed had already been mulched with some of Charles’ mushroom compost because I wanted to sow carrots there a week or so ago, so we spread the composted manure over everywhere else. The bed nearest the road already has second early potatoes and some overwintered spring onions in it: the potatoes will appreciate the lovely mulch, which I can also use to earth them up as they grow.

I’ll be planting some brassicas in the bed nearest to the house over the weekend; haven’t yet decided what will go in the other half of the carrot bed. Possibly a catch crop of radish and then beans or courgettes, when the danger of frost has passed in May.

There’s so much to choose from in the garden and larder – these dishes were made last week from freshly picked or home stored vegetables and fruit. (Except the bread!)

I had a great time visiting the RHS Cardiff show on April 8th. Charles gave a standing room only talk about no dig gardening and I had the opportunity to catch up with my daughter who is studying for an MSc at Cardiff university. It is a wonderful city and this event is one of the nicest RHS shows I’ve been to. As you can see, I loved the colours of the tulips!

Upcoming events include:

Charles and I will be signing copies of our new book, demonstrating some homemade potions and giving tours of the kitchen garden at Roth Bar and Grill, Hauser and Wirth, Bruton on May 1st. We’ll also have some plants for sale for your own allotment or garden.

And on May 7th, we’ll be launching the book and giving talks at the South Downs Green Fair.

We’ll be at the River Cottage Spring Food Fair, giving talks on no dig gardening (Charles) and growing edible flowers (me).

I’m speaking at the South West Permaculture Convergence on June 10th

Charles’ garden at Homeacres is open as part of the Alhampton Open Gardens on June 18th

Spring Equinox

It’s the first day of spring – Happy Ostara! Today’s grey skies and pouring rain transformed into gorgeous sunshine and blue skies mid-afternoon and the forecast for tomorrow is lovely. Birds are busy, bees foraging on early flowers, everything is growing so fast! Read More

Winter Update: How can it be February already?

January has flown by, a busy month, including working on the final edit of our book and going on holiday. The No Dig Home and Garden – all 20 chapters and photographs –  has now gone back to the publishers and off to the designer, exciting times! Read More

Interview in Green Gardens

I was interviewed last month by Green Gardens about no dig gardening and other aspects of my work. Read More

No Dig Organic Home and Garden

I am so excited to see the press release and cover for the book I have written with Charles, No Dig Organic Home and Garden. Signed copies are available from Charles’ website here. Read More

Autumn update

Suddenly it is autumn! It has been a while since I wrote a post mostly because like all gardeners I’ve been busy in the garden, enjoying the summer’s abundance!  Also for the very exciting reason that I’ve been working on the book I am writing with Charles – the first draft is now almost ready to send off to the publisher – Permanent. The publishers have the title, ISBN, cover and press release sorted – more on this soon. Read More

Open Garden – Sunday 4th September

 

Open Garden at Homeacres on Sunday, Charles’ amazing no dig market garden. A great opportunity to find out more about no dig gardening, growing vegetables and to try some of my cakes! Read More

Summer harvests from the kitchen garden

Summer abundance fills my garden and kitchen, the delicious harvest of mulching, sowing, pricking out, planting, weeding, watering and caring for so many vegetables, herbs and fruit. I am not quite at the point of ‘we can’t keep up with it’, thanks to three young adult children with super-human powers of consuming cucumbers and tomatoes, but preserving will start soon. I have written an article about summer gardening and cooking for Permaculture Magazine, out in a few days – with recipes for meals to make now, preserving summer flavours and tips for the summer garden. Read More

The kitchen garden in June

Summer crops planted 2-3 weeks ago in my polytunnel are growing quickly, enjoying the warm weather.  You can read about how we mulched and planted the polytunnel here in my blog, No Dig Home. The polytunnel planting is designed to crop on different levels, rather like a forest garden using mostly annual plants, to make full use of the growing space. Read More

Mid May Kitchen Garden

It is lovely to welcome the sun and warmer weather after an extended period of cold and frosts. The garden is full of blossom. As the petals fall, fruit is forming on the berry bushes and trees. Every day there is new growth, young plants emerging from the earth … the mild, damp weather has also encouraged germinating weed seeds and slugs! Read More

Rhubarb, apple and sultana muffins

I made these for our no dig course today using some of Charles’ rhubarb, apples from the local whole food shop and store cupboard ingredients. They were enjoyed so much I was asked to share the recipe.  Read More

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