Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Summer is moving along

Cucumber
   Here we are in the middle of July. Time flies. There will not be a blog next week as I will be away from the garden visiting my youngest daughter and grand daughter.
   Despite the long run of sunny dry weather the garden as it is is holding up well. The soil is still damp a couple of inches down and reflects the amount of rain we had earlier in the year. 
Sturon onions

So in the garden digging up potatoes continues with a good crop of earlies and second earlies and the promise of a decent amount of main crop to follow despite Colorado beetle. Sometimes planting early pays off and with the potatoes it certainly did. I have a decent crop of onions with the variety Sturon looking the better of the two varieties I planted. I gathered my first Sanguina beetroot seed and removed the plants from the poly tunnel. More Touchon carrots sown with the hope of getting a decent germination and growth for the winter. More haricot vert sown to try to keep a succession going. Harvesting courgettes and a few cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes are a disappointment so far this year but I changed my mind and have been putting in tomato shoots in the poly tunnel and as would have it the poly tunnel plants are looking good. The outside Wautoma cucumbers are once again starting to produce so there should be a few from them. The chickens has reeked havoc on my few aubergines and are trying hard to get at my lettuce plants! Lettuce in the poly tunnel is looking good with the next lot of plants starting to show. Once again germination of the lettuce has been poor but I persist!!
  On the animal front Mrs Buffy (Buff Orpington) has abandoned her nest, however, Mrs Chick (unknown variety) has now gone broody and is sat on at least three eggs! Our incubated Ixworths are growing steadily and we have obtained another five chicks to raise. Most will probably end up in the freezer. As always lots to do and more than enough to occupy my day. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Time....

Sturon onions
    Time. How it flies. Two weeks more or less since my last blog. Somehow I missed a week. I put it down to the weather. Sunny and hot.
    So what has been going on in the last two weeks. Well mowing grass for one! That aside the vegetable garden is beginning to produce and plants are really starting to take off. The bit of rain we had certainly was welcome and certainly encouraged the plants to get going. Courgettes, spring onions, onions, peas, potatoes, a little haricot vert and a little mange tout have been harvested. Oh nearly forgot there has been a couple of ripe tomatoes! Least I got to those before the chickens.  Plenty of weeding done and more to do. More lettuce sown, cucumbers transplanted to an outside the poly tunnel bed, more beetroot transplanted and resowed lettuce and swede where seed had failed to germinate. Another small row of Swiss chard sown. Not my ideal vegetable but my daughter wants to try it. Volunteer (not deliberately planted) violet potatoes dug up. One of the Wautoma cucumber plants has a cucumber growing on it. In the poly tunnel the cucumbers are in flower and they are growing rapidly. The three chili plants look good and I am hopeful that I will get something from them. Having decide not to plant tomatoes in the poly tunnel I have now changed my mind and have been taking side shoots from other plants and growing them on. I gathered beetroot seed from the plants left in the tunnel. Gathering vegetable seed is very satisfying. The parsnip seed is all but ready to gather.
   On the animal front the last sheep has been sheared and normal maintenance completed (cleaning out coops). The hens continue to lay well, between seven and ten eggs a day!  Over two hundred eggs laid in June. Mrs Buffy has not yet hatched her egg (she only has one left out of seven) and I suspect it will not be viable. Our four Ixworth chicks are growing fast and the first two are now seven weeks old.

Squash patch

Parsnip gone to seed
First tomatoes..Gardeners Delight and Jens orange




Monday, 25 June 2018

The SUN is shinnnng...

   The sun is shinning. At last a prolonged spell of sunny weather is forecast. Well that is this week. Last week? No heavy rain, some sun, not bad. 
   On the animal front it has been a sad week. Our Buff Orphington cockerel was killed by our Ixworth coq. I am not really surprised,  however, our Buff Orphington hen has gone broody and is sitting on a clutch of seven eggs. Hopefully we will get some chicks. Our Ixworth chicks are growing and the first two are becoming more aware of their world and are now outside in an enclosed space. We continued to shear sheep, only one left to do. Usual maintenance, that is, cleaning out, of the coops done.
RIKEA potatoes and peas

First round courgettes
   In the garden early potatoes in abundance and the first courgette has been picked. A very good crop of peas so new potatoes and peas dominate the dinner plate! Some mange tout but it is a poor crop which given the good pea crop  is a surprise. Lots of lettuce and it looks like I am going to have a gap in my lettuce production! Darn it.  In an effort to mitigate this gap I have transplanted some lettuce to pots. The idea being that they can grow to a decent size to then be planted outside. Time will tell if my idea is worth anything! Ha! I have found Great Lakes lettuce seed in the local agricultural shop. I love Great Lakes lettuce. It is an iceberg type. Tomatoes are mostly doing ok but blight is setting in. Hopefully my diversification plan will at least allow some to produce tomatoes. Colorado beetle have and are being a pain but at least the potatoes are at a stage where they can be harvested. A sign of the year zooming buy...first sowing of swede in modules done. More Touchon carrots sown and it will soon be time to start to pull the first round. More still need to be sown though. More beetroot transplanted. Growing in modules is definitely the way to grow beetroot. I have been surprised by by haricot vert in that they are climbers!! The cucumbers in the poly tunnel are picking up which has come as a surprise as I thought they had been attacked by aphids. Hopefully I may get some cucumbers as the outside ones are currently looking very sad as are the melons. I fear no melons this year.
  So the season moves along and thinking for more winter crops is kicking in. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

The rain continues

Chickens clearing the gone to seed lettuce
    Sometimes they are a help, other times a menace! I allowed my chickens to clear the "gone to seed" lettuce and as usual they did a good job.
  In desperation more than anything I transplanted my water melons and five dessert melons to the melon bed. I do not  think we will be getting any melons this year. The plants do not look happy. Too wet, too cool. More lettuce picked. It is being a good year for lettuce and I am not starting to pull my own home grown lettuce
rather than plants that were bought from 
Violet garlic crop
local market. The weather is still mild and damp. I have been able to do some weeding and I have got the next patch of ground ready to sow more carrots. I noticed that the peas are ready to pick. I have three lettuce leaf basil plants that I have now transplanted out in the poly tunnel. More Jack Ice lettuce transplanted in the poly tunnel. The Colorado beetle menace is still present in the new potato crop but I am hoping to get them dug before it gets too bad. In the mean time its hunt and squash! Of course grass cutting continues and rain has interrupted the latest round.
   On the animal front we have finally managed to start to shear our eight ewes this last week with four having been done. We caught and examined the female runner duck. She has a swollen ankle and has done for a while. No infection or indication of a break so the guess is she has pulled or twisted something. Need to try to keep her in the coop for a few days. We have two more Ixworth chicks from the last batch of twelve we incubated. The two from the first batch continue to thrive and are growing quickly.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Its raining, its pouring, the old gardener is snoring....

   Well what can I write? The last week has seen thunder, lightning, heavy rain, floods and roads being destroyed or damaged in our little hamo. One side of my garden turned into a river with the flow being divided by the tomb and the garden is now saturated. To make
 matters worse our little community started to put things back together and guess what? Another storm appeared, more heavy rain but fortunately this time not so intense. Despite the bad wet weather plants in the garden continue to grow quite happily. I am very late in getting my water melons and five dessert melons in. It has just been too wet!
  Due to lack of germination I had to buy some moss curled parsley which has been planted in the poly tunnel. More haricot vert  
Water is starting to pour into the poly tunnel
sown into modules and the three peppers I had transplanted into a bed in the poly tunnel. Outside I transplanted some Wautoma cucumbers which were promptly set upon by the chickens. Two were destroyed. I have a love hate relationship with our chickens. 
  On the animal front we are now left with nine ewes. Everyone else has now gone. We were going to keep two rams but Socks, our first bottle fed ram, died and that left Boxer, our second bottle fed ram, on his own so he had to go to a new 
Water is disappearing down a mole hole!
home. The chickens are laying well and our two Ixworth chicks are currently thriving. They are developing feathers on their wings. So I have a desperate need to get on the beds to weed and to transplant some more plants. I am hoping for drier weather but the forecast is not good.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Its all looking good....

   For a plant or seed the weather has been perfect. Warm and damp with a day of sun and then a day of showers. Perfect growing conditions which, of course, includes the grass and the weeds!
    Lettuce has been pulled on a regular basis. These Batavia Blonde from the local market really do the job and provide a continuous supply of nice crunchy lettuce. I will soon be pulling Jack Ice lettuce from the poly tunnel and they next lot are growing away in a seed tray.  I have prepared the bed for and planted out pumpkins, winter and butternut squash. With the weather as it has been they have settled in beautifully. In the poly tunnel the bed was prepared for the cucumbers and Marketmore and Germana cucumbers transplanted. I have wautoma cucumbers to go outside but I need to get their bed ready and the rain is stopping me! Haricot Bolotti plants have been transplanted to an outside bed. This is the first time I have grown haricot in modules in the poly tunnel. A reasonable success but I think the seed is getting old. This has been the same for the haricot buerre too. I have bought new haricot vert seed and have planted up modules in the poly tunnel with the thought of succession sowing in mind. This week also saw the picking of the first cherries of the season. Not that the season lasts long in my garden because as soon as the birds get an eye on them....whoosh! They are gone. Off course there is that usual chore...cutting the grass! Unfortunately for me my mower and brush cutter are now both broken for one reason or another. My English neighbours were down for the bank holiday week and very kindly lent me their mower which did the job brilliantly.
Tomatoes in the foreground, potatoes as you look away
   On the animal front it is pretty quiet.The last of the sheep we wished to go have not gone and we have a core now of eight ewes and two rams. The ducks are being ducks and I suspect enjoying the rain. The chickens are laying well. Our buff Orpington hen has been moved to the main flock as she was being badly abused by the Ixworth coq.
   So on we go into the growing season. Plenty to do as always. Just need there to be a little less rain to give me the chance to get on.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Planting out continues apace!

   Here we are now into the middle of May and sowing and transplanting starts to warm up along with the weather. One hundred and three tomato plants of various sorts have been transplanted outside the poly tunnel. I am not going to grown tomatoes in the poly tunnel this year. More Provence Thyme transplanted to pots. Courgettes, round and stripy ones also planted out.  Lots of general tidying up work done in an attempt to beat the grass! Some hope! More beetroot sown in modules and more lettuce. Lettuce being pulled on a regular basis. The area designated for the pumpkins and squash is being prepared and I need to get the poly tunnel area ready for the cucumber plants!
   On the animal front the missing generic red hen reappeared, safe and sound. We now only have two Ixworth chicks left. We have little idea as to why they have died but fatality amongst chicken chicks can be quite high. The reduction in the Champeau flock continues. Only three rams left with one about to go soon. On the ewe side only ten left, two more also about to go. Once that has happened our flock will be down to a level that is more suitable for our requirements!