Rescue hens

The British hen welfare trust organised the distribution of these hens. 20 hens fitted into 7 crates and have settled into the huts and there is not much squawking and fighting. They have some feathers; it won’t take long.

Bird Flu and more hens

Just outside the DEFRA 3km circle and have 20 new rescue hens arriving this weekend

The Sanctuary Garden is the red dot in the north, Eats Rosyth, where two hens are spoiled rotten, is in the south. We need to keep an eye on the girls and make sure none of them are unwell.
We are able to get the 20 rescue hens but need to be sure to follow hygene precautions.

These runs will have a tarpaulin roof and allow the hens to have some additional space reducing the risk of spreading birdflu


We are feeling excited…

Things are growing in the Sanctuary – overwintering plants, tiny chicks and… ideas. 

Ideas, plans, hopes and dreams for what The Sanctuary Garden could be this year, next year and into the future.

Many of you already know that there are plans to build a housing estate on land directly adjacent to the Sanctuary. Beautiful farmland lost to housing, but we also see beautiful people on our doorstep who, through interacting with us in a variety of ways, could learn to love, grow, cook and eat locally grown, wholesome food. And not to mention you – yes, you, reader – now! You’re with us now, and have been for yonks – you’ve known what we’re about before we even really do. This amorphous vision of good food, nature and the outdoors, hard work, clean and local, personal – this is us, and we so appreciate you being with us as we begin this journey. 

In this moment, we are the seed packet. Not a single seed, a bit further along than that – but a seed packet filled with tiny little beads of hope, inspiration and determination. This spring we plant the seeds. 

Have you ever grown asparagus from seed? The seeds are small – maybe a bit bigger than a lentil, black, shiny and with an impenetrable look about them. You plant them under cover in early January and up pops the most fragile looking frond. And thus it stays, producing tiny little fronds, which slowly increase in size – surely, you think to yourself, I’ll be eating a delicious plate of asparagus soon?

Friends, the asparagus is a slow-grower. There is a traditional Chinese saying that goes something like this: ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’ Harsh, but honest! Whilst asparagus will be ready to harvest well before 20 years, you will need to give it 2-3 years before you eat from it. It will then honour you for years, producing more spears every year, requiring very little upkeep, producing new plants that you can lift and transplant… it is a fruitful friend.

And yet, right now, we are the seed. Inert, just ideas in a drawer somewhere. Yet just as seeds transform with warmth, water and care, we are about to begin our journey (we also appreciate warmth, water and care 😂). Time, effort and gumption are about to transform our ideas into reality – we’re no radish, going whole-hog ready to eat in a matter of weeks, we’re no tatties, a full crop in one growing season – we are the asparagus, hard black seed to tiny frond to tender plant – but we see the fruitful future ahead. Each idea, a seed planted into this year’s warming soil, to take this beautiful vision and let it grow: to nurture nature, our bodies and our souls. 

Radishes, Mystery Mix, Real Seeds:

Come along, friends.

🌱If you had a wee bitty land, some time and ideas – what would you do with it? Personally, I’m desperate for a yurt and a wood-burning stove, but that might be a bit self-serving, I fear! 😂 Let us know what you would do in the comments below – we promise to respond. 🌱

Best wishes from The Sanctuary Garden

How to make flavoured salts

Little Bugs Outdoor Nursery invited me to do a short presentation to six groups on how to use herbs.

It was a great fun sharing how to make really flavourful salts using herbs you can grow in the garden or buy from the supermarket. The favourites are Garlic Salt and Chilli Salt although bay leaf had rave reviews too.

Making powdered greens and powdered mushroom was of interest particularly to those who don’t like either the flavour or the texture.

Everyone took home a wee bottle, it’s about 100g and has confirmed that these will be on sale when our online shop launches.

Growing the good

Emily Murphy, an author and growing, health, carbon and resforesting evangelist mentioned ‘Growing Good’ in a post. It struck a chord.

Emily’s book is an earth manual for fostering biodiversity, rewilding, and regenerating landscapes and food systems. Improve immune function and overall well being, and decrease inflammatory illnesses, anxiety, and depression by getting your hands dirty, planting biodiversity for biodiversity, caring for soil, and growing organic. Let GROW NOW be your guide for growing a better today and tomorrow.

Imagine turning your lawn into a space that provided food, not just for you but your neighbours. Our gut biome (immune system) is run by microbes, and gardening organically will improve your health. Promoting butterflies, bees and insects while flowers that grow, lift your soul. What if this helps lower anxiety about having perfect gardens, rather ones that are alive? These gardens sequestor carbon, when the microbes are live and well, they love carbon and pull it into the ground.

A quick ‘elevator pitch’ of The Santuary Garden has been a struggle until ‘growing the good’ came to mind.

  • Growing soil
  • Growing plants
  • Growing people and children
  • Growing food
  • Grow sharing
  • Growing health
  • Growing life & laughter
  • Grow a community
  • Grow knowlege

See what I mean? It easy to ad lib, be genuine and truthful about what we do.

Thank you Emily.

Christmas Chick hatched!

This little bundle of fluff appeared in the incubator about 5 days early. The others are waiting until the 29th or beyond to hatch. Looking at the wing feathers, the internet and taking a chance, it’s a hen. Eitherway it’s pretty comfortable around me and Pixie, a wee dog we’re baby sitting. Pixie has a mixture of maternal instincts and licks her lips. “ohh sweet a baby. mmmm smells like chicken”

These are chirstmas brussels sprouts made by a class at Carron Primary School. I’m delighted and they are our focal point this year. More photos and video on my instagram feed.

It’s almost Christmas

Making salts is proving interesting, tasty and creative. They are brilliant christmas gifts and next year I’ll go into production and sell them. With the postal strikes, I’m pleased I did not start them this year.

The garden has slowed to a standstill and the forecast is looking cold for the next month or so. No much is happening in the poly tunnels either.

The hens that were munched by a neighbour’s dog have been replaced as has their accomodation. The dog has been back and the tractors have kept the hens safe. Phew.

Grow West Fife and DandelionScot

Dandelion Scot at Blair Castle on Sunday was a great event hosted by Grow West Fife; freshly made pizza, ice cream, cakes and scones, story tellers, cyanotype prints and kids made plant prints using material and a hammer and they pulled and ate all the carrots from the five buckets. The handmade salts, half the seedlings and little cards wih QR codes directing interested visitor to Eats’ Facebook page were scooped up by the visitors from the Eats/Sancturary Garden stand.

The rain held off until about 5:00pm and under cover, we were entertained by acoustic musicians until about 6.

It’s busy in the kitchen garden

There is a misconception that this time of year is spent just harvesting and not planting seeds “nothing grows in winter” I’ve heard many a time. The trouble is, I believed it until I tried planting lettuce and a few others over winter.

The benefits of planting now, is there are still a few growing months, where the seedlings get enough time to mature enough to stand the frosts and snow. They can be picked if needed or left until spring when they have a two month headstart. Early spring cabbage, lettuce and greens, all out in the open, without a poly tunnel or greenhouse.

Harvesting is a joy and sometime takes a bit of organising to make the most of it as once harvested most vegetables deteriourate in quality. What can you do with a glut? Beans you can leave on the plant to ripen and used as dried beans. All the root veg like carrots and beetroot can be left in the ground or put in a clamp – basically buried in sand and protected from frost. Spinach can be blanched, sliced and frozen, it does not take up too much space. There are other options, pickling and fermenting, both pretty easy but you need bottles and space to store them. Dehydrating is another option, it is possible to make a DIY dehydrator with a lightbulb and some wire racks in a cardboard box, although it sounds like a fire hazard to me. You can alway make jams, chutneys, syrups and the like, the internet is filled with recipes. Prepper web sites are great for ideas.

Are you planting seeds now?

It is all happening. The potatoes, had they been planted at the right time would be ready for harvest; it will probably be another month. The peppers are the first I’ve ever grown. The Sunrise bumblebee tomatoes were gifted me from a grower in Canada. The fat red tomatoes were seeds from Galicia in Spain. Delicious and huge. The corn was not a success but when dry I’ll send the seed to a gardener in Iran.

Now is the time to start planting seed for autumn and over wintering. The plants will have enough time to grow and then the cool weather will keep them in an outdoor fridge. There are loads of lettuce varieites that can be grown in Scotland.