The longer I live here, the more I come to love my little cottage and its wonderful field and garden.

Today I went out with the intention of marking what will become a vegetable patch, but was enjoying myself so much I ended up harvesting some lunch for myself, cutting some flowers and making some fertiliser.

I’ve said before just how much I love nettles. Not only can they be used for tea, but they also make fantastic fertiliser and incredible soup. I made both today.

The fertiliser is pretty easy and, though it smells foul when it’s finished, is an all natural way to improve your soil. You just need to pick a load of nettles, shove them in a bucket with some water and let them ferment somewhere dark for a week or so – then you can dig the mixture into your plot. When I strip the turf off my newly marked vegetable garden, I’ll be pouring over my icky nettle liquid and some shiny new compost so I’ll let you know how it works.

I can taste the effects of the soup now though and made myself a quick broth by picking young, tender nettles and frying them off in some rape seed oil with some garlic, coriander and spring onions. I added some chicken stock and boiled that up, then poured in some milk. To add a bit more flavour, I threw in a few chunks of strong cheddar cheese. The result was absolutely delicious and I made enough for the next few days too.

In addition to my nettley bounty, I also cut myself a bunch of Spanish Bluebells. These are not endangered, unlike the native English variety, so I helped myself to a goodly handful. If you don’t know the difference, Spanish bluebells come in three different colours – pink, white and blue – and are significantly larger than the native variety. The English plants are more compact and the flowers are a more intense lapis lazuli sort of colour. Both are very beautiful, but happily for my vases, it is the Spanish kind which are growing outside.

The rest of the afternoon, after a somewhat productive morning, will be spent having a bit of a tidy up and making the obi-like sash for Misti’s wedding, and possibly drafting another skirt pattern. We shall see.

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