Saturday, 14 October 2017

New arrivals

New arrivals pair of Buff Orpingtons
      Starting this week with the animals. New arrivals at Watermeadows. A pair of Buff Orpington hens bought mainly because Mr. Ixworth needed more female company! Another reason was to get some fresh hens in and up the egg count which lately has not been exceptional at all! The sickly lamb looks very much on the mend after her worm dose and we are hopeful that she will fully recover. Ducks are being ducks and it looks like Mrs. Runner has finished laying for this year. 
      In the garden more weeding, more gathering of mini and normal sweet peppers, aubergine, lettuce, chili's, cauliflower and the start of harvesting the squash. I did not know that I had sowed blue squash. I think I must have mixed up some seed somehow. Still, they have done well. The sun has been shinning and for several hours of the day and the weather has been just like summer. Just to remind me that it is not summer there was one morning where there was a frost. A hint of winter? Well, maybe and anyway I bought some garlic bulbs and divided up the bulbs and planted the cloves. I am hoping for a better harvest than this season just about gone. Sprouts! Yes I have sprouts. First time in years whether in the UK or in France. The winter crops are loving the mild weather and are growing well. Cabbage, swede, carrots all going great guns. Here is hoping.

Garlic bed
Weeded squash bed
Chili, aubergines and sweet peppers

Blue squash

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Autumn rain and sun rain and sun....

   The weather has been wet and sunny. What does that mean? Yep! Growing grass! But grass that is too wet to mow and the days are shorter so there is less time for it to dry off enough to allow me to mow it. Also it means that the slugs are on the move and no chickens in the garden to keep them under control. Upside? Yep. Winter brassicas, beetroot, leeks and swede are all growing well. Harvesting continues with aubergines, tomatoes, beetroot, spinach, sweet peppers and chili's all being picked, cut and pulled! More chili's for the freezer. The tomatoes are now really coming to an end with some stragglers hanging on and me with fingers crossed that those tomatoes still on the vine will at least start to ripen. If they start I have a good chance of finishing them off in the house. Fortunately there are not many and the weather is looking favourable over the next few days (warm and sun). I also been  collecting tomato seed. So far Noire Crimee and  Andene Corne have been done with Potiron Ecarlate close behind. These are all french heritage varieties that have done well and we have really enjoyed. I still want to gather some Champeau Gardeners Delight that this year have been exceptional. The pumpkin patch continues to develop and there are various sizes of pumpkins from just formed ones to a nice big one turning a lovely orange.
   On the animal front we have now wormed and trimmed all the sheep's feet. We have a sickly lamb which we believe and hope was being affected by a large worm burden. She certainly has picked up since worming. The female duck is still laying the odd egg but all the fowl have been moulting and growing new feathers. So egg production is very low!
   So onward into autumn and early winter we go!

Pumpkin patch
Ripening pumpkin

Three growing pumpkins

The first pumpkin 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

More goodies from the land

   Its been a mixed bag of weather over the last week. As I sit here writing this the sun is shinning and it is very warm, however, first thing it was misty and cool. There has been thunder, lightening and every thing from light to heavy rain. A real mixed bag. Autumn colours are now showing. So, what has this meant for the garden?
     Well for a start cutting, picking and pulling of various vegetables. Aubergines, mini sweet peppers, sweet peppers, cauliflower, lettuce, chilies, carrots, beetroot, haricot buerre and yet more tomatoes of various types. The Gardeners Delight have done well and much to my surprise the French heritage varieties have also done well too. Also the last bed of potatoes has been dug up. A very good crop of Desiree red main crop potatoes. Good size.
Digging up potatoes, the last bed!
    Of course my old friend the grass has been growing with the mild wet and warm weather we have had. Out there mowing again and I dare say that there will be a couple more sessions before winter really kicks in. Oh, I forgot to mention. There were two water melons left to pick. The plant has only just decided enough is enough. Home grown water melon at the end of September. Cannot be bad.
   Winter veg is well established. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beetroot, swede, parsnips and spinach all looking good. I have not yet dug up the tree onions. I am thinking that I may leave them over winter. I am concerned about the poly tunnel soil fertility. I need to think about what I am going to do about that.
   I have a pumpkin patch! There are at least six pumpkins ripening up. Quite amusing really to have a pumpkin patch.
   On the animal front the chickens have been moulting like there no tomorrow. Feathers everywhere. The ducks are being ducks and the sheep are being sheep. Noisy and rams starting to eye up the ewes. We need to keep the rams away from the ewes this year. We do not want lambs next year. With that in mind I have put up some barbed wire on on length of fence. Those rams can be jumpers! 
   Here is hoping for continuing mild weather!


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Autumn gathers pace

  Apologies for the delay in this blog. I returned to the UK for my youngest grand daughters second birthday bash so I was away for a few days. This entry more or less covers the last two weeks. The weather has varied from warm and sunny to cold and wet but stuff is still growing well. Autumn is here, the leaves are turning and falling.
   Lots of pulling, cutting and picking going on. Carrots, sweet peppers, chili's, courgettes which are now finished, haricot buerre, cucumber, tomatoes (various varieties), purple cauliflower, white cauliflower and much to my surprise aubergines. The aubergines had been devastated by Colorado beetle and I was not expecting much from them but they have recovered and are producing a good number of aubergines. Autumn is gathering speed with the squash and pumpkins ripening and the courgettes now finished. I have picked a reasonable crop of haricot buerre  much to my surprise. There is one large water melon that I must pick soon but the plant is only just starting to give up. The tomatoes are coming to an end with just a few hanging on that are very slowly ripening on the vine.Of course the  grass continues to  grow and requires mowing again!
   The tree surgeon has been and the second large conifer outside the front of my house is now cut down. There is a significant increase in light in the house.
   All the animals are doing fine. The chickens are not laying so well probably due to the shorter and much cooler days. Many jobs to do, digging up the final bed of Desiree potatoes one of them.
Purple cauliflower


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Time to harvest.

   After last weeks statement on tomatoes the plants are continuing to produce. Lots of Gardeners Delight (grape tomato) with a good number of Roma and French heritage. Another two lots of litre size freezer bags of Gardeners Delight put into the freezer and at least one more to go. The round courgette plants continue to produce with at least six more courgettes since the last blog. Too many courgettes! I have continued to dig up potatoes with Cherie now done. A bit late really as they are designated as earlies. Several rows of Desiree still to do. What else is being picked, cut or dug? Marketmore cucumbers, sweet peppers (Washington giant red (they are not), yellow and orange mini stuffing), chili (Nigels Green outdoors, Basque), beetroot (Cheltenham green top, Sanguine), 5 Dessert melons (delicious!). 
Ouessant ram
As we are keeping the chickens out of the garden my spinach is  growing well as are the beetroot. I have now thinned out the spinach and sown a few more seed to complete the two rows. Carrots have been a disappointment this summer but there are a lot still showing a good growth of leaf in the ground and I am hopeful for some over the early winter. Of course weeding is a must and I should be doing it every day really. At this time of year, just like in spring, weeds and grass grow quickly. My winter cabbage looks good both savoy type and what in the UK we know as Dutch cabbage (large white, often made into cold slaw) are doing well. The swedes are putting on a lot of leaf and I am hopeful of a good crop.
   I am sure the ram in the picture is about to stick its tongue out at me. Chickens are on protest strike. Very few eggs being laid at the moment. Ducks are fine, the female continues to lay one egg a day, the ewes and rams, well, are being ewes and rams.
   Autumn is well underway with the first delivery of wood arriving. Many, many black berries and they are big and juicy. I need to find some time to pick some.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Tomatoes are now...

Sweet courgette relish
    The tomatoes are now passata! Well, some are. Like to think most are but I took a look outside this morning and I suspect that there will be a few more seed trays worth to come yet! So far three bags of Gardeners Delight (grape tomato) in the freezer, eight jars of passata and six jars of sweet courgette relish. Oh! Forgot the dried bay leaves. Good start. Shallots to make into pickled onions yet to do!
 This has been a good year for tomatoes despite the onset of blight. Rain and sunshine has happened at the right time.For me it has been a poor year for french dwarf beans. Potatoes have been good and I look forward to digging up the main crop soon. The melons, both water and 5 dessert have done well. I really like the 5 dessert melon and will be growing them again next year. A lovely taste and texture.
    Is it a record? Six round courgettes picked of one plant! The courgette planting this year has been about right. Still overrun with them but not excessively, well not yet anyway. I notice there are still more coming, however, the plants are showing signs of giving up. There is butternut squash, vegetable spaghetti and I think another type of squash which for the moment its name escapes me. Much to my surprise and delight my pumpkins are producing fruit and fingers crossed I should have a few pumpkins for halloween. On my return from New Zealand I thought I had lost them.
    It is still a very busy time in the garden. Maintenance, that is, weeding, mowing grass, preparing and planting winter crops (leeks, winter cabbage, swede, beetroot, carrots), watering and harvesting . All requiring ones time and effort at the same time not to mention the need to process tomatoes into something that will keep for a while. 
   One thing is that the weather is being good. Cool early mornings, hot middle day, warm late afternoons and evenings. Wonderful sky at night. Sheer magic. I love this time of year. The season is changing, autumn is on our doorstep. There are black berries to pick. Big and juicy this year as it rained at the right time for them. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes

   The weather has been a bit of a mixed bag over the last ten days. One day showers, one day sunshine, one day cloud and an odd thunder storm! A whole mixture. Mind you the garden likes it particularly as I have just planted out Champion Red Top swede and Sanguine beetroot. They need a few days of cool weather to get themselves established.
   What has been exciting in the garden this week? Water melon! Picked and eaten the first couple of water melons. They are always a exciting crop and for once we ate one on a hot and humid day! Yum! Other produce beside tomatoes of all types (Gardeners Delight, Ukraine purple, French heritage, Jens orange) have been round courgettes, Touchon carrots (love them Touchon carrots such a nice sweet flavour), beetroot, Marketmore cucumbers, the last of the outside Wautoma cucumbers and the last of the Belle de Fontenay potatoes. This variety of potato has been quite a light crop. Seem to remember this happening in previous years. In the squash bed the spaghetti plants are showing signs of autumn and the butternut squash is turning that corn like colour. A good crop of butternut Waltham butternut squash this year. They are a good size and they even look like a butternut squash. Strange thing to say but often I get ones that do not look like butternut squash at all! The sweet peppers and chili's are now coming into their own. The cooler weather will also suit them at this time but a little sunshine very soon would be nice. That would ripen them up beautifully. Still 5 dessert melons to come and there are still a few water melons. Haricot vert have been a disappointment this year. Note to self. Try a different seed merchants varieties.
   Tidying up and weeding continues as produce is removed. There are some spaces now so I am thinking of getting more winter leeks. The winter produce, white cabbage, savoy cabbage, sprouts, carrots, leeks are doing well. There could be sprouts in September! Looking a little ahead a major job to do is to dig up the Desiree potatoes. They still have green tops and I am reluctant to dig them up until the tops have died.
   So lots to do and the autumn is coming on fast. 
Champion Red Top Swede