July already, how did that happen.Needless to say we’ve done a fair bit since my last post back in December, so I’m not even going to try and cover it all, as its mostly in a recent video where I did a quick walk round. As you can see, we’ve made some changes. The highlights include –

  • Putting up a new polytunnel
  • Fencing off the growing field properly
  • Creating a new pond, paths and sitting area just for us
  • Planting a whole load of new apple trees over the road amongst the native ones.
  • Replacing the rocket mass heater (much to the angst of some) with a really efficient wood stove
  • A new covered area by Birch Cottage and a whole new seating area by its woodland firepit
  • Glazing in the porch to create a greenhouse area (my favourite one by far)

So this, I am very pleased with, and it took a bit of doing.Someone gave us a pile of toughened glass shower walls a couple of years ago, and at the time I fancied they would make a greenhouse or a conservatory. In the end there was a fair bit of work to do to create a proper planter and a frame that would be actually airtight, and the absolute lack of any leeway with the glass was a challenge. I used larch (as usual) for the frame, though timber prices are through the roof because of Brexit and Covid. I got some old quarry tiles for the floor, and used butyl pond liner offcuts to make up all the glass seals and flashing, which is fixed with rubber glue. It’s worked well I have to say.

This space has transformed our use of the big room, as has the woodburner. I’ll do a post about why we took out the rocket mass heater after all these years. The greenhouse is an airtight buffer that keeps the big room warm whilst letting plenty of light through and being a nice spot to sit. The planters are full of strawberries, tomatoes, melons, basil and cucamelons, and have a design taken from earthships, where they are lined with pond liner and have water filled gravel in the bottom half, and soil/compost in the top. They’ll be irrigated by rainwater once I get it connected up.

I’ll do a post on all of the above. For now we are busy with the gardens, which are really productive despite the odd growing season we’ve had. Birch Cottage is also full for the next few months as people enjoy a welcome staycation, and Off Grid Kit has been busy too, so we are doing lots of quick posts to instagram and I’ll start filling in the details here.

Many people are also asking about courses and when we are going to run more. Our policy so far has to be to watch and see how things pan out over the start of the summer. Cancelling and moving courses last time was a huge administrative headache, so we want to be fairly sure they can happen before we run more. In theory the covid restrictions are being lifted, but as cases seem to be rising, who knows. We really would like to run something by late August and in September though, so watch this space.