Sunday, 30 September 2012

Hot box project update.

We have been trying to use as much of the garden space as possible this year as well as the allotment in an effort to produce as much as possible of our food. Unfortunately this year was a really bad year for growing food due to the weather but despite this we have done quite well and had a few successful projects along the way. Now that most of the fruit and vegetables have been preserved I can show you one of these... I call them the hot boxes.

We have a really warm spot in the garden, a real sun trap, it's where I sit to relax and read a book....and it's where I got to thinking what an ideal spot this would be to grow some extra food. Unfortunately the downside to this idea is that there is no soil here, we already have pots of herbs along this wall but there was lots of wasted space.

So my husband came up with this.... rows of extra planting areas....just like window boxes. They have been quite successful this year and suffered much less slug damage than the vegetables planted in the ground. The above photograph was taken in the spring when they were just planted up, the top box has radishes, easy to care for and pick as you need them for lunch. The idea was to keep them going all summer on a rotation so more seeds were planted as the food was eaten.

The lower box in the photograph was planted up with a row of spring onions and a row of chantenay carrots, as these are small enough to fit.

These are some of the carrots, quite a good haul. We really enjoyed our experiments into vertical gardening and making the best use of our space, the boxes were a really good height for the children to help out with and too high for the chickens to help with....thankfully.

If you would like to make some yourself my husband has written about them here.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

'Not back to school' week

Every year, as a home educating family, we celebrate 'not going back to school' as the parks, libraries, zoos and museums become less full. Usually we have a quiet picnic somewhere in a natural setting and the children have time to explore but this year we thought we would try something different. So we started off the week with a trip to a theme park, the children had a fabulous time and we didn't have to queue for a single ride.

The week coincided with the Heritage open days, and many historical places were open to experience absolutely FREE of charge. To take advantage of this opportunity we chose four activities or places to explore and got set for a very busy few days. 

The photograph above shows the booklets we have collected from each activity for the children to keep and read to help them remember our days out. The first place we visited was a church from our area which had recently had restoration work completed, we had a member of the church take us on a private guided tour and tell us the history of the building and answered all our questions.

Then to the great delight of the children we took a open topped bus tour of our city usually aimed at tourists, so the commentary told us the historic facts of all the places we passed. This was very exciting for the children and not something you usually do when you have lived somewhere for a long time.

Next we took the chance to visit a museum which has been closed for several years having refurbishments done, so the children had never been. we loved this museum it told the history of our city, with many stories of the local people and industries through the ages. We explored an amazingly reconstructed old pharmacy, our city through WW2 and even spent some time relaxing in a 1950's lounge. 

Lastly we went to the castle museum and art gallery, we visit here quite regularly and really enjoyed the costumed characters that were walking about on the open day. My favourite section is the celebration of the Victorians and their collections and documentation of the world around them. Also the food available to the castle occupants in medieval times which was laid out for us to see today. The children loved all the interactive displays and things they are allowed to touch and they also got the chance to ride in a chariot in the Boudicca section.

Overall we had so much fun and had the chance to learn so much about the city we live in, surprisingly, we have decided to visit some more places. I have also managed to get a book from our library about the history of our city from a children's perspective, which is proving very popular.