Good things come…

| 5th January 2024
To those who wait…

Regular readers, subscribe at the bottom, may recall that last year’s ambition was to grow all the vegetables for our award winning Piccalilli. We sowed all the seeds in good time but, due to the various usual challenges of slow germination/too hot/too cold/too fast/too slow/too wet/too dry/slugs/pigeons/caterpillars/etc., we didn’t quite manage to harvest the full range.

Runner beans and cucumbers were perfect, we had onions and the odd carrot, but the crop that we were just not successful with was cauliflower. In the end, I gave in and bought some plug plants – hoping that they would catch up with the other veg ready for pickling time, but no – too slow…

However, they are ready now, in January, and what a delight they are! We’ve eaten a couple and still have 5 or 6 to go. With hindsight, I think these must be winter cauliflower, rather than autumn, but I am loving them as a welcome treat in these cold dark days…

Stacking up the Stats

2022 found us harvesting around £3,000 worth of food from the back garden and, as we started to spin the honey from the hives, I guessed 2023 could have brought us even more – I was right!

Last year was our best honey harvest ever, a total of 66kg/264 jars (worth £2,904) and, when added to our eggs, fruit and veg, our final harvest from the back garden for 2023 was £4,201.54.

This nicely equates to around £80/week and if you are thinking ‘Well they couldn’t possible eat all that honey…’ we use our ‘honey money’ to buy the wheat and the meat that we can’t produce in our limited space.

This year, the aim is to grow all the ingredients for our late summer preserves: Apple & Chilli Jelly, Piccalilli, Chutney, and Greengage Jam, all the veg for our Christmas dinner along with good regular harvests throughout the year for the kitchen table. We’ll be planning the plots both at home and the allotment and hope that between them we can harvest over £5,200 – the equivalent of £100 worth of food a week.

Other highlights

I couldn’t look back on last year without recognising all the excitement and events that came with the publication of our book ‘Living the Good Life in the City’. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy (please leave a review here) and keep flicking through for seasonal tasks to help us all live more sustainably.

We were thrilled to receive our THREE new Great Taste Awards, and something else that brought great joy was trying out new techniques in cheese making, we now have three difference courses available if you’d like to have a go yourself:

Looking forward

We have dates published for nearly all of our courses throughout the year, Bread & Baking courses are always very popular, and as a January special we are offering Buy One Get One Free* on our Online bread courses  allowing guests to stay in and learn from their own warm kitchens during the cold, dark & wet nights. See times and dates below.

*Book in for yourself and invite a friend, from anywhere in the world, to join the zoom class with you

Future bookings:  Due to Eventbrite’s updated fee structure, from 1st Feb, we will be asking guests to pay a small booking fee when they buy tickets online. Why not plan ahead and book before the end of January to avoid this? Our full range of courses can be found here. Of course, if you’ve been before, get in touch directly for 20% off your future bookings.

Fresh hopes: Never one to stand still for long, there’s a couple of other dreams bubbling away which we might start to realise this year; first is a new book for children encouraging them to discover where their food comes from and second is the hope (if we manage to harvest some almonds) to make our own peach and almond nougat with our own eggs and honey of course!

Coming up at Hen Corner:
Don’t forget – if you’ve been on a course before, email me for your 20% discount!
Other news:
  • Some of the hens, including one of the pure breeds, are back in lay – an indication that the days are already getting longer
  • The bees are venturing out of their hives on the occasional warm day
  • The rhubarb crowns are starting to sprout
Jobs for the week:
  • Drizzle the bees with oxalic acid to treat them for varroa mite
  • Winter prune the fruit trees
  • Order in the Seville Oranges for this year’s marmalade

Let’s try and keep pace with the seasonal tasks…

Hope to see you soon,



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Tricia Dickinson 5th January 2024 at 10:29 pm

Another successful year. Well done. Looking forward to future projects being achieved.

Emily 16th January 2024 at 10:23 am

Incredible honey harvest! What do you put it down to – maybe the bees themselves, the weather or how you managed them?

rosewb 25th February 2024 at 9:47 pm

Hi Sara, your form to contact you doesn’t seem to work. Please may I ask about getting a discount as have attended a course before? Thanks.

Sara Ward 25th February 2024 at 11:02 pm

Hi Rose,
Sorry for the inconvenience, I’ve just emailed you.


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