All posts by Stephen Cullen

This Blog is a record of my love of the countryside, all things in it, especially old tractors, growing good food, drinking good tea and taking time out to enjoy life.

Summer’s here with a Bang!

For years now I have talked about brewing Elderflower Champagne, and now following a kind recipe given to me I have finally produced a batch. I have added my own ingredient which is a handful of Lavender. Lets just say the resulting concoction is explosive. I have left it for a fortnight but am having to crack open every bottle morning and night as it still seems to be fermenting. Oh and by the way, it tastes delicious.

Deepest Darkest Wessex

16th June beginning of the 2014 fishing season, I have been very fortunate to be able to fish a small lake deep in darkest Wessex, steeped in history.

I cannot remember the last Tench I caught and could not believe it when the float ‘zipped’ away and I landed the Tench pictured. I was very lucky to land another in the morning as well as 2 Roach. I also fished that evening and caught another roach – magical place.

Traditional Farming

The farm at Beamish is actually a working farm, it is not simply there for show and originally belonged to the Shafto estate. A lot of old traditional methods, long since died out in modern farming are kept alive on the farm.

‘Chitting’ potatoes

This year I am chitting the early potatoes. I made a mistake last year when I bought my potatoes for the season I kept them in their bag in the dark. When I cam to plant them they had all sprouted. Never-the-less, this did not seem to affect the yield I got from them.

This year I am planting the same as last. Arran Pilot as first early with the addition of Pink Fir Apple as part of my main crop along with King Edward for the Christmas dinner table.

More Snow

Although the weather has been really mild of late this snow snap came and lasted for a few days halting the continuation for rubbish extraction and sifting of the soil as the ground was rock solid.

February 2013 Arrival of The Greenhouse

With a week of good weather this February, I took delivery of my 12×10 greenhouse, what will become the hub for everything I intend to grow.

The raised beds have been levelled out and are ready for planting in the spring. I have added organic fertiliser to beds that will need it, and left it out of beds where I intend to grow such things as carrots as they do not require feeding.

Water barrels have been installed at either side of the greenhouse to take rainfall from the greenhouse roof, very effective they are too.

Automatic vents are in place in the greenhouse to open and close the windows in warmer weather.

New Years Day 2013

New Years Day sees the very first plants being planted in our allotment. Bare root gooseberries, early, main crop and late raspberries , Buddleia, and a number of Clematis plants on the back fence to bring lots of pollinators into the allotment.

All planted with microrhizal fungi in order to develop really good root systems. Along with good old horse manure.

 

100_2585b

Rome was not built in a day

After 4 years on a waiting list for an allotment, August 2012 saw the start of the clearance of what only can be described as a rubbish tip to make way for installing raised beds and a large greenhouse.

 

The pictures are from September/October 2012. When we first took over this allotment, you simply could not even see the ground it was that thick with weeds. It was so thick, it was impossible to get a spade into the ground. I ended up spraying and leaving for 2 weeks. I wish I had started my allotment picture diary back then to get a then and now comparison. Needless to say, it has taken a massive amount of work, time and money.

We managed to fill a one tonne skip. Finding at least three different wooden structures and countless panes and bucketful’s of smashed glass. Trips to the local tip were endless.

I dug a  two foot deep trench all the way round the allotment and part of the wire fence is buried to this depth in order to make the allotment rabbit proof.

I also dug a French drain, filled with rocks and stones at the front of the allotment in order to alleviate any flooding issues that may occour.

West Compton Manor

Very privileged to be able to fish this lake. Stayed at the manor for 2 nights whilst in Dorset.

The lake is an anglers paradise which has been left in a natural state without any resemblance at all to a country park. Had the whole lake to myself for the 2 days. The only visitor I had was an Adder that got a little too close for comfort. No fish, but really enjoyed my trip.

Will have to return one day for another crack at the wildies.

In The Weed

It is amazing the amount of fishermen who avoid fishing in the weed. Fish naturally use weed, not only for food but also for cover and their home.  There are times when it is nonsensical to fish anywhere else but in the weed, as this is where the fish are.

Here at a local lake I had the whole of the bottom half of the water to myself. Other fishermen sat at the opposite side of the lake motionless behind their armada of rods and electronic bite alarms. Fishing on the surface, a bag of chum mixer, my trusty old Richard Walker Mark IV,  I took numerous Carp to 5lb while the fishermen at the bottom half of the lake which was clear of weed caught nothing.