The Archers at The Larches


A preview image life in rural UK.... real life, occasionally funnier...


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Garden Planning - Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea, an essential part of my garden year. Even sowing them is an act of optimism, being as I place the gorgeous satisfying pea seeds into a pot now, in Autumn, to be planted out in early spring. 

Here's my 'How To Guide'. You will need the following:
  1. Sweet Pea Seed
  2. Good sized pots
  3. Compost (maybe some added nutrition from Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Manure
  4. Toilet Roll insides
  5. Plant Markers
  6. Water

Choose your seed. Personally I save mine from the best of my plants.

Gather good sized pots and half fill with compost. At this stage I add a small handful of Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Manure as my seedlings will be in these pots for at least 4 months. Remember alpaca manure is not a hot manure, it's gentle and won't damage the seedlings, plus it will take a while for their little roots to penetrate to this layer.

Next add your toilet roll insides and fill these with compost.

Choose your seed, I like to grow the same colour in one pot and another colour in another pot.

I generally only add a few seeds per roll.

Label each toilet roll. This seems extreme but in the spring, when you gently separate these rolls into their own good-sized plant pot, you'll be glad they are already labelled.

Water well and place in a sheltered area. Personally I don't put them in the greenhouse, I treat them as meanly as I can, though I do afford them the shelter of the walled garden. They need protection from slugs and snails and if there was a sustained frost I might cover them but otherwise don't molly-coddle them.

As soon as the seedlings get to be about 4" tall I pinch them out, nipping off any extra growth. I do this every so often, till early spring, I pinch them out again and again, letting them grow just a little bigger each time, to ensure strong, bushy plants rather than tall, sickly ones.

Go on, sow some sweet pea now, you'll be so glad you did next summer.


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A Gentle Autumn....

The 11yo and Fudge, one of the baby alpaca, really do love each other. While I'm busy with hay or food troughs or poo picking, they frolic, snuggle, chill. Occasionally, Sproglet1 will bring her iPod into a paddock, sit on the bank and play, keeping me company. Fudge, who is not too keen on Minecraft, is content to sit beside the girl resting a Thompson Twins hair-styled head on Sproglet's lap. They are an item.

See? Almost no difference.....
Thompson Twins

Last night was a particularly lovely evening, though overcast, it was warm and dry and, having harvested the last of the pumpkins..... and a black cat for luck! [Honest, the 11yo and I are not witches!] we set off to see to the alpaca. Sproglet2 couldn't help as he was detained by Anthony Horowitz!

The alpaca girls were in a particularly social mood so we chatted about what was on telly last night....

Discussed the latest fashions (in welly boots)

..... and then had a snog..

and something to eat. Ouch!

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Kids and weird food.....

I'm an adventurous person, not brave, just adventurous. I like exploring, making friends, making a fool of myself trying to speak any local lingo and I love eating stuff I've not tried before. This is not the case with the rest of the family but generally I can bully them into trying a little of something and occasionally I hit a home run. The girl must take after me as she is very keen to eat escargot and cuisses de grenouilles.

The thrill of a foreign supermarket is way up there on the list of great things to do on holiday. This thrill is deffo NOT shared by the rest of the family and so it was that I was passed the car keys and encouraged to go supermarket shopping alone this week during our quick and cheap getaway in France. What glee, no one to nag me and no time constraint. It's a wonder I ever came back. But come back I did, with various 'weird' bits and pieces.

The cooked prawns were an easy sell, 'Heads Off', we call them on account of having to pull their heads off.... Nice! In fact, pretty much all my purchases were approved, except one.

I'd watched the French shoppers, many picked up a box or two of the crab sticks. This is not a product I've ever thought of buying but on the spur of the moment I thought they might be good in a fish salad. Apparently not.

Waste not, want not, here's their transformation. Crab cakes made with questionable crab, gorgeous crushed potatoes, creme fraiche, tons of seasoning, stunning salted French butter, shallots, chilli and sweet pepper. Crusted in French crunchy bread crumbs and served with a citron butter and a fresh salad. Nom, nom. Tres Bien. Bon appetit.

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