Tuesday, 8 May 2012

'Weather warming up again?' Gardening Tips from Hugh Cassidy

Cucumber on Window Sill
'How long will I have to look at these plants on my window sill?' 
This was asked yesterday by one of the boys, about his bedroom window sill, where I (or should I say 'we') have some seeds sown indoors in a heated propagator, which has been very successful, and they have since had the heat turned off and the lid removed.
 Tomato and basil on window sill
Of course the next step would have been to pot them on and transfer them to the greenhouse, but with the weather the way it has been, I have held off on this process, 
A) because with the cooler weather the plants would have had a set back & 
B) because the space is limited in the greenhouse as the plants in there should have been hardened off to put outside or into cloches. 

Well, with the change to warmer weather, the gardening wheel will begin to turn again. Plants from the greenhouse will be hardened up to go outdoors, plants from the house will be transferred to the greenhouse and more seeds will be sown on the window sill. 

(Note to self: don't be to hard on yourself in 2012 for only getting to sow your tomato seed in March; earlier sown plants have been 'checked' by the turn in the weather over the past few weeks.)

Of course we can sow seed outdoors, directly into the soil, particularly the hardy annuals, such as sweet-pea, snap dragons, etc.; and veg such as broadbeans, peas, some lettuce, and so on.
Personally, I prefer to start them off in the coldframe or greenhouse in pots, and then plant them out.

The cold frames I use are very basic, inspired by Geoff Hamiltons's version in the 1990's. They comprise of a large cardboard box, with the front cut to about 9 inches in height and the sides cut to slope upwards to the back, normally about 18 inches in height. Some years when I have the time, I paint them a nice bright colour, other years they are left au-natural. For the covers, I use plastic, held in place by staples and clothes pegs, other times they are left completely uncovered, depending on the need.
Now, you understand, these coldframes for me are a gardening basic, that really do serve their purpose, and usually last until winter. If you want to get a few years out of one do what Geoff Hamilton did and paint with gloss paint, store it in a shed over winter, dust off in spring ... Happy days!

As for the window sill? Well it'll be a little time yet before it's cleared!

Avoid those raindrops and have a great week gardening!


Monday, 7 May 2012

The Duck Egg Community is growing!

We are so thrilled to have some wonderful new contributers coming to our blog. We have some experts in the field of all things shabby chic coming to impart some words of wisdom and help with matters very much close to our hearts from craftspeople we have met to some amazing social media presences!

The Duck Egg community is vibrant and growing (like our uncontrollable lawn, beautiful, verdant and abundant!) After thousands of blog reads we are so grateful, to you, the readers, for sharing our ideas. The big part of us starting Duck Egg was for support and a platform for up and coming talented entrepreneurs, to share thoughts and unique ideas. We are hoping to share the wisdom of specialist in their fields from makers, bakers and growers and eclectic mix of inspirational crafts! What a journey and what friends we are making along the way!

Our latest blog features gardening tips from Hugh, with brilliant ideas on what to do with those plants still languishing on your widow sill... Watch this space we are looking forward to posting tomorrow...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Duck Egg The Story so far...

The time has flown by since we left the big smoke and in the rare, hazy sunshine of Sunday evening we were able to sit in the garden and take stock of how much our life has changed. Lying on a rug, we both sank into the meadow that our little patch of turf has blossomed into, listening to the birds, whilst the little one ran about with a flower pot perched on his head...

Duck Egg came into fruition on our kitchen table, throughout our start up we have toy cars to be mended on piles of business books, 'Start your Business in 7 Days' by James Caan has been placed beneath Annabel Karmel's children's recipes and there has been much painting into the wee small hours as we establish ourselves! I have learnt a whole new skill set whilst living here, yesterday I was laying a path albeit wearing marigolds, mixing cement in powdered baby milk pot and laying the cement with a spoon... Our timetable of dashing to birthday parties, play dates and swimming lessons has been interspersed with investigation of the smaller antique shops of East Sussex joined by  the hands of doom of the little one, leaving with only minimal devastation in our wake and armfuls of goodies!
Vintage Console Table Duck Egg Designs

 We have met some wonderful and interesting people along the way. And that's what it is all about. The people.

 During my fog of baby-dom the notion of how social media can help a company really took off and I am trying to catch up. Through Twitter we have met an amazing array of craftspeople and start-ups, who are incredibly generous with time and suggestions. We have exchanged gardening tips for how best to cope with our human caterpillar and found out about local events, which have really helped us establish roots.
Penshurst Farmer's Market

Facebook has been invaluable too and while the website is still being deliberated over, it's been a great way to display more information and build our network further. The website is being developed after huge deliberations on fonts, images and the best way show this and that. I had no idea the choices were so endless and finally we have a template! With a sigh of relief I have now handed it over to the web designer! It is with excitement and a healthy dose of trepidation that we finish the fabric designs. I was working to a brief of fresh, yet nostalgic prints that embody our ethos. Prints for a family home, be it town or country, that give off a feel of summer's past at the seaside, of warm, sunny (definitely a past reference!) July afternoons, of crawling up the rocks in sandals and buckets of tepid seawater and the afternoon's catch slopping against sun burnt legs.

It was important to me that the designs came from my own drawings. Similarly we wanted to find a printer who would be able to be replicate these and print them on a  rotary flat -bed for screen printing or similar. We could have done digital printing, but we wanted these to be durable and multi-purpose fabrics, with a sense of the hand-made about them. I am going to use them for upholstering an armchair, for Roman Blinds and Nursery curtains, all with matching cushions of course! I hope there will be something there for everyone!

The blog has also been instrumental in us building a supportive network. We are introducing guest bloggers for their insight and creating a community, where it is more about sharing ideas. We are hoping to bring a wide variety of baking tips, recipes, specialist gardening advice as well as the general mayhem of our Duck Egg journey. Along with that the Book Club is going well and we launched a Facebook site last month and every month we will post a new book to read. It was something I really wanted to do as a Mummy I felt it was hard to attend a book club, but it's  a great way to share ideas and perhaps suggest new books to each other whilst still in the glory of my hoodie and painting jeans!

And so, my worst habit is that last on my list is my new found talent for Excel spreadsheets. I have stubbornly ignored this phenomena all my life, yet one dark evening I did indeed find a 'Sum' button and yes it did work, despite my protestations that 'Sum' is totally different on a Mac and why didn't Hubby know that?...It is the same and the same totals still apply...! It is all neatly and conveniently working everything out for me, no longer streams of numbers stretching into infinity...No longer desperate checks of the Daily Mail Online or anything to pretend that I might be working rather than doing calculations. However, I am now at one with Excel and finding a strange pleasure in it and keeping creativity where it belongs!

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