Not a Zombie!

Friday March 20th.  3.30pm.

Hi everyone, , yes it does feel as though we have dropped into the pages of a dystopian novel doesn’t it? So, in these rather isolating times, I have decided to resurrect my online presence and resume my Mrs Garnett’s Garden blog, as it looks like the garden will be one of the few places I can go to.

We are fit and well, very much alive, and there are lots of things to do here in the wilds of North Yorkshire. I’m going to start by showing you some pictures from the spring garden, just to get back into the swing of things.  I’ll try and share on Facebook, or you can subscribe to the blog for more ramblings.

It is cold but very sunny here, with a good drying wind!

Bye for now!




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New Year’s Day 2019

A china-blue hard sky with the sun running low across the Cleveland hills. We are walking the spaniel Phoebe on the old railway track above Rosedale, as far as David can tolerate it with the chronic pain which has accompanied his last seven years., which is about fifteen minutes each way. Phoebe adores any outing and is exuberantly bouncing through the grey-brown heather tussocks. She rushes to greet anyone else on the trail, and thankfully most are very happy to say “Hello” back. They say Labradors are born half-trained, but spaniels die half-trained!

The cold air nips my ears, so I put up my hood so I can only see in one direction at a time, like a blinkered pony.   The grouse are everywhere, perching on the walls and bushes, chirring as they fly from post to post, then gobbling, like miniature turkeys, then almost quacking like drakes.  They have a wide variety of calls and are not shy.  Of course they are reared by hand,  so they are very tame. Pitifully naïve one might say.  When you look at them they are beautifully marked, with grey trousers under the red-black wings.

The Daily Mail carried a story yesterday about the “Royals” enjoying shooting on the Sandringham Estate, pointing out Meghan had left to go home first as she is an “animal lover”, (you can almost hear the sneer ), but that Kate loves picking up dead and injured birds, and would no doubt be out pheasant shooting herself, and how wonderful, “It wont be long before Prince William gives George his first shotgun . . . . ”  The child is five years old!

Surely giving a weapon which kills to a child might be seen as serious abuse. Not just the recklessness and the teaching of how to torture animals, but the imprinting of violence into a young mind as “fun”.   But no, this is merry England.

You may say I am being over -sensitive. . . . . But would you like to be shot by a missile the equivalent of a round of machine gun fire into a eight inch long fragile body ?

The screaming agony of it.

We are surrounded by game farms and shoots in our corner of North Yorkshire, but the birds are so full of antibiotics and lead shot they are inedible.

Yes, I have started blogging again.

I hope it wont be always so angry though.  As the days lighten up, maybe so will I.

Happy New Year!

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Resurgance of my gardening Blog!

Hello world, after at least four years I have decided to reopen my blog “Mrs Garnett’s Garden” or, to share the comings and goings, doings and adventures in our new garden just south of Pickering, North Yorkshire. We moved here in November to a smaller house, but an acre of land. So far we have fenced in the meadow area to protect the animals and anyone else from the little lane which runs all the way round, gated the house area off from the front, and put up eight hen huts in a rather smart row!

This week, we will have a parking area gravelled in the front, with the top soil removed to my first area of garden, known as “Treacle’s compound”. This is a secure rabbit proof piece about fifteen feet by thirty, where the previous owner’s dog treacle was contained when necessary. it will make an excellent starter garden. The raised beds we had in the last house are now in, waiting for soil and compost. For my birthday David bought me an 8 by 6 greenhouse, which is being constructed as I write, a half price bargain bought just before Christmas from the local garden centre, and sitting on firm concrete foundations.

So everything is getting ready for the big Spring explosion!  David’s various poultry have settled in well, despite the bird flu warnings from the Government. So far we have a trio of Brown Leghorns, about a dozen partridge wyandotte bantams, similar numbers of silver laced wyandottes, three rhode island reds, six light sussex, and three gold top silkie crosses.  The RIRs and LS are already laying well, so we are selling them at the front gate with an honesty box, and they seem to be disappearing daily to the dog walkers and passers-by.

The big excitement at the moment is the imminent arrival of three Ryeland gimmer lambs.  David bought them on Saturday and we now have a land holding  and flock number so they can be moved.  A flock sounds a bit grand, but we thought three could manage to keep our grass down and provide more than enough fleece to spin and knit.  We are thinking of names just now. I fancy Ruby, Rita and Ruth as their surname is Ryeland, but we will see!

On the horticulture front today I have sown cherry tomato and ailsa craig seeds, and red peppers in the propagator Tim and Clare gave me for Christmas.  Off to buy some seed potatoes later from Rogers, one of our excellent local garden centres, which always have a great selection.

That’s all for now folks! Better get on with the day job!




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A little pickle business

I decided to take my own little chutney making enterprise, which I sell on the front wall in fine weather, up a notch or two.  I took the online course for food preparation, (Takes about an hour online and £12.00) and now have a smart certificate! David says I should hang it in the kitchen in a frame!  Then I sent off for a bulk order of little pots and sauce bottles, having researched to find the cheapest sources, so there isn’t a hotchpotch of jars and loads of scrubbing off other people’s sticky labels. I have also organised labelling on the computer, having fathomed the mysteries of Avery labels at last.  Every jar will now have ingredients, date of production and the websites for this blog and village aid, which will receive the profits.

Anyway, I have made use of all the rhubarb, something which has done well in this miserable Spring, to make chutney,  sauces and ketchups, mint jelly with the mint which razzles everywhere, and some fresh curds using our free-range fresh eggs.  I am also trying to keep an accurate costings books and record the sales etc.   Half goes towards paying off my costs and half to Village Aid. I’ve raised £20.00 for them already from the doorstep sales this week, and that was with only three days of fair weather. 

The new branding of “mrsgarnettsgarden” will have an official launch after Church today when I am hosting a Village Aid support meeting and lunch.   It’s also Christian Aid Sunday, so I shall plug that as well.

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Candle in the greenhouse

We’ve just emerged from the wettest April- early May on record, into  bright blue, but frosty Spring mornings.  Chatsworth Horse Trials which were to have been this weekend have had to be cancelled as much of the grounds are almost marshy with surface water still.  I have been rather submerged as well lately so haven’t been on the blog, – stupid things like changing my password and then forgetting it, and not having the energy to reset. It is so often the minutiae of life that defeat the”genius”, or our subconscious blocks off certain rooms at times, and we don’t go in, even though we know we love doing what is waiting for us inside.  

But, somethings I have done well, like remembering to fleece up and cover my potatoes on frosty nights of which we’ve had too many recently. A wonderful tip told to us  which really works. – Light a candle in your greenhouse last thing in the evening if frost is predicted, and it will burn through the night, lifting the temperature just enough to protect all the tender plants. I have been using old bits of church candle and it really works a treat. Warm as toast next morning in there.

We came back from Madeira with some “everyday cabbage” seeds, the plants which are in every garden there and provide greens throughout the year. The plantlings have done well so I will plant out soon on my patch.  


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Seed time and Spring greens.

The spell of really mild weather we’ve been having here in England has encouraged me to sew my peas and broad beans, and to plant out the broad beans I had brought on in the greenhouse. The central plot of my allotment which is about twenty-five feet square is beginning to fill up as a result from the wall end. I generally stick to Bunyard Exhibition for the Broadbeans and Hurst Longshaft for peas,  though I sowed an extra row of Rondo peas which someone gave me.   Stopping the mice from munching the seeds is the first challenge, but I have scattered tansy leaves over the row to distract them from the scent of the pea seeds. At least it is something to do with Tansy, which I grow in abundance and then never know how to use!  It is a medieval medicinal herb, but too astringent for  today I think.  I have also planted a long row of parsnip seeds, with  radishes, which act as a useful marker and quick cash crop before the parsnips emerge. I should have planted parsnips in February, but I don’t expect it will matters much if they are delayed a few weeks. 

Today’s lunch will be one of my “Cornish Connection” concoctions, as David calls them,  of green soup, – nettles, baby kale leaves, cabbage leaves , and sprouting greens, flavoured with chives and shallots and some frozen borotti beans left over from last year.  It tastes pretty bland without cheese added, but I am sure it does one good!

I have planted all the onions which had grown roots in the seed trays as well, so we are on the way to a new growing season!.  Bunty the little cat, who was so good at discouraging the mice last year, has abandoned us for the Duchess’s garden where there is a heated greenhouse, but I hope to lure her back again with my cat mint.  

I am pleased to report that the dove family is reunited with the female turning up from somewhere. The male has held their territory in the garden all winter, but there are now two of them sitting on the branch in the bottom garden. She has her little head on his shoulder.  It is all very romantic!

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Mothering Sunday

We had standing room only in Church yesterday, ran out of service books and hymn books, more than a hundred people took communion and a further sixty went up for a blessing,  and the reason for this? Well apart from Mothering Sunday and natural enthusiasm for our little country parish, there was a popular Christening. The little baby son of one of the school’s teachers came, and for a while David has been discussing baptism with the children in assemblies. Mums, Dads, aunties, everyone rushed along to share in this happy event.  I had a special role in all of this, as I helped his mum change his nappy during the final hymn, hiding behind the  font.  He was a very quiet little chap with b ig blue eyes, and all of 14 weeks old.  I looked at him and thought hard about the life which faces him, wondering where he will go and how it will be for him. Babies do that to you, bringing on a bit of philosophical musing.

Yesterday was the first Mother’s Day without my mother, so it was bound to be rather emotional.  I was with her for 59 of her 89 turbulent years, and the last two years in particular have been very intense.    It takes a while. I still find when I go into the Co-op that I gravitate towards the deli counter to buy one slice of turkey, or scan the pet food aisle for special offers on Whiskas.  But I was so happy she could go without too much pain and incapacity, and stayed at home until almost the end.

The generations hand on the relay baton, one to another. Our DNA somehow runs through the various generations. I feel my ancestors more these days than ever before, especially the unknown ones, as there are many mysteries in our past.

We build on the past for the future, and yet all have this unique life and character which no-one else will mirror.  That is perhaps the most exciting part of motherhood, producing  new life which can shoot off in any direction.

Ho hum.


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Froggy would a-wooing go . . .

We have a small pond in our side garden.  It is overhung with trees and less than a metre across, but the other morning it hosted a veritable lovefest of frogs. I heard the rumble of croaking little voices at around six am, and when I looked out of the upstairs window, the surface of the pond was alive with them. When I took a closer look I saw at least five adult frogs, some of whom were definitely up to it!  There was also a very large clump pf frogspawn. The interesting thing was that by the same afternoon, all had returned to peace and tranquility. Where have the frogs gone, and have they left their little tadpoles for me to raise in our tiny pond?. I am a bit spawned up at the moment and feel the responsibility. The mystery deepens when we realise that there are no other ponds in the whole village as far as I know, and the river is more than a quarter of a mile away, across the road and through acres of parkland.  Anyone with frog expertise, do get in touch!

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Planets Suite

Venus and Jupiter are so close they could hold hands in the western sky just now, and look beautiful. Apparently they are actually five times further away from each other than Earth is from the Sun, but that doesn’t matter. To my primitive little peasant mind they are close together and they fill my heart with joy.  I wish we could enjoy the sky at night as the ancients did. We will never see the stars with such clarity as they did, due to all our centuries of pollution. However in The Gambia a few years ago I saw stars of the like I’d never seen anywhere else. They were great psychedelic spinning circles of luminosity, which almost produced a trance like state as you lay down and looked up at them.  It was too hot to sleep inside anyway.  This is the kind of free gift, given only to the poorest and remotest,  where there is no electricity, and yet you can read a book by starlight.  Astronomy is so obviously the natural religion of humanity, as it immediately connects you with the vast and unknowable universe.  I am a shoo-in for this sort of thing. I still watch Voyager with huge enjoyment.  I know,  – unbelievably sad.

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Big Game Hunting

 March 14th

On the subject of livestock, I was thinking of keeping rabbits. Apparently a rabbit produces a cubic metre of droppings a year, which would activate a huge compost heap.  But our last rabbit, Lucy, was eaten by a horrible fox  back in 1994, and I wouldn’t want to go through that again.  Hens, of which we have a couple of dozen, produce more than enough compost activator.   Our son Tim just told us the following sad story.  He was taking a shower the other morning when he heard the most awful screaming sound coming from his neighbour’s garden. Looking out the window he thought he could see a large cat grappling with their giant pet rabbit on the back lawn. Dressing as quickly as he could, he ran round and banged on the neighbour’s door to tell her.  When they went out into the back garden the rabbit, a huge breed,  was dead,  and the predator had been crippled by a vigorous kick from the bunny as it had fought back, and was hiding in the border.     It turned out not to be a cat, but a mink,  which had obviously come in from the railway embankment next to the neighbour’s far wall.  The RSPCA subsequently came to capture the animal, not too difficult as it could no longer walk, and presumably put it out of its misery. But this is proof that generations of mink, released from mink farms by animal activists twenty years ago or more, are still breeding and predating our pets and wildlife.  They have obviously grown even bigger in the process.   And all this drama happened in urban Liverpool last week!

You may notice that blog entries like buses are coming in batches! I have saved them in draft and have now popped them on the website. Feedback from my loyal readers is always welcome!

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