Hello there to you all, this is the first real time that we have had to actually sit down and revise our blog as we have been so busy with all of our growing.

First of all we would like to say a very big thank you to the Unitarian Chapel Belper and the Transition Group for inviting us to present a talk on living a self sufficient lifestyle. We loved doing the talk and felt very privileged to be asked to do this in the first place.

Anyway, up until now we have been digging, with more digging and a side order of digging to top it all off. This was because we realised that we really needed to buckle down and concentrate fully on our food production, otherwise how could we call ourselves self sufficient? We’ve been growing veg for about 5 years now with average success, but this year we have really made a massive effort to maximise our yield so that we don’t have to buy food again. We have tried to grow as many different veg as we can to increase the variety of our meals, from the staples such as potato and swede to sweet corn for a bit of a treat We gave both of the tunnels a good organic feed and blood, fish and bone, as you feed the soil not the plant. It’s now harvesting time and we think we’ve had quite a good success rate.


This was a simple soil test that was taken from both tunnels to find out the soil structure. We have a loam soil, equal sand and clay.


The soil had to be dried and crushed in order to find the PH.


From the PH test we found that the soil was neutral to slight acid. This is good for veg growing.


The sweet corn is growing well.


The garlic has been a success for the first time.



The kale and beet leaf are taking off rapidly, our winter greens and vitamins.


A few pumpkins for a Samhain treat.


Parsnips are another first success for us. Looking forward to these roasted.


And finally, the last of our cherry tomatoes. These hanging baskets had to be brought down near to the porous pipe and sprinklers so that they could be watered whilst we were away presenting the talk.

We have also been growing carrots, beetroot, onions, broccoli, courgettes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbages, caulis, Brussels, leeks, swede, and of course potatoes, LOTS of potatoes! Speaking of potatoes, I’m off now to the tunnel to dig them up ready for the chickens to move in and clear all the bugs and slug eggs that they can find!






15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robbie
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 14:29:15

    Congrats on your talk and spreading the word. I can relate to food growing…( long sigh) is A LOT of work! There are days I just don’t have time to sit at my computer, so I totally undestand. Your food looks amazing! I have been amending my soil for about 5 years and I am seeing such a difference in the amount of food I am getting. I had not pests with all the companion planting, but still working on how to understand that better. Good to see you are back to writing on your blog..missed seeing your posts of your beautiful place!


  2. quarteracrelifestyle
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 17:25:47

    Oh, you have done well 🙂 It is alot of work (sometimes too much!) but so worth it financially and it doesn’t get more local than your own yard 🙂


  3. quarteracrelifestyle
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 17:26:26

    Forgot to say, well done on giving the talk! We would love to be able to do that but both too shy 🙂


    • Willowarchway
      Sep 04, 2014 @ 13:06:44

      I was still nervous about giving a talk, but doing it really helped us to realise just what we have managed to achieve through the years. Just do it, you will amaze yourselves:)


  4. silverbells2012
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 20:04:23

    I need to improve my soil. My mum gave me a Ph testing kit – I just need to find it so that I can actually test it.

    Wonderful that you got parsnips. Tried explaining them to my class of overseas students the other day and they were very puzzled!


  5. unionhomestead
    Sep 04, 2014 @ 00:54:28

    OMG!!! The size of your parsnips! They’re a crop that constantly defeats us so we are very jealous 🙂 Well done on the talk and love the soil tests. Must give it a whirl – maybe we’ll discover why parnsips hate us so much 🙂


  6. Linda Andrews
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 17:14:19

    Looks great. I like your idea of picking the pumpkins off the griund


  7. Willowarchway
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 11:48:35

    Thanks Linda. I got fed up with rotten pumpkins so this seems to do the trick:)


  8. rabidlittlehippy
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 20:28:14

    Your produce looks great! I figured it was about time I popped over to your blog and returned the favour and I am so glad I have!
    I tested the pH of 2 beds yesterday in fact. VAST improvement over the space of the year. I tested last year to a pH of 9 1/2-10 (hugely alkaline) which explains my lousy tomatoes! This year we’re around 7 1/2 so I am well happy with that. I’ve added manure and blood n bone so very happy we’ve brougnt it down naturally, although our natural soil is quite clay-like so I think the worms simply mixed our imported compost with our natural soil base. Thanks worms!
    Looking forward to reading more about your gardens and life. 🙂


    • Willowarchway
      Oct 12, 2014 @ 11:59:10

      Wow, 9 1/2 – 10 sounds high, but our soil is acidic, loads of Rhododendron and heather grow here, it’s bog land after all. Fish,blood and bone is brilliant isn’t it? I’m glad that I found your blog too! 🙂 E


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