Friday, 8 December 2017

Snow?

   What can I say? The week has gone by and to me it seems I have done in the garden. It has been wet and the odd morning of frost but really the weather should not have stopped me getting on with stuff! We even had a sprinkling of snow. There were a so some late migrating Gru (Common Crane) that flew over. Guess the wind has been in the wrong direction for them. Mind you short days do not help in the slightest! Hey ho. The branches of the pine tree have now been cleared and a bonfire is waiting to be lit. Needs to be dry though. I continue to pull carrots and swede, cut cabbage and dig up leeks. Much to my surprise the peas I sowed which are now about two/three inches high are surviving the frosts. Goodness knows if they will get through the winter. There has been more going on on the animal front than the garden front.
   One of the hens has died, the only Rhode Island red. No obvious reason. I am now having to feed the rams hay as they have managed to eat down the grass. I need to  get rid of some of them.
   Christmas is just around the corner and we will have Champeau veg with our turkey crown without doubt. Sprouts, parsnip, potatoes all home grown.
   I have now started to think about next years seed sowing. The online catalogues of both my favourite seed merchants are now available so I need to put some serious thought into what I may plant and sow next year.

First snow of winter


Monday, 27 November 2017

Almost full stop

  Another week has flown by and now December is knocking on the door. Once more the general garden has taken a back seat. Mind you the weather has not been favourable for a couple of days but hey the weather can always be an excuse. Talking of which the forecast is for colder and wet weather here in la Creuse over the next week. Might even snow.
Ginger Plant
The picture of the ginger is of one of my little experiments. It is a ginger plant grown from a bit of organic ginger. It has been in the pot since last February! I have now transplanted it as it has a good root system but not a lot of ginger! Maybe in a  years time? 
  I continue to clear the pine tree I had cut down. I have now had a nice bonfire and I would  guess I am about half way through. I continue to pull carrots, swede, leeks, parsnips and pick spouts. I have a very 
Amusing escapade.
good crop of carrots this year even better than last year which was also a good crop. That is about it as far as gardening goes for this week. Plenty to do but somehow time defeats me. The picture of the chickens amused me. The Buff Orpington is on the coop roof having run and flown away from the cockerel (in the foreground).
  All the other animals are fine. The chickens seem to be starting to lay again but only one or two a day so far.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Oh dear. Oh dear.

   Another two weeks has gone by. They have been eventful but not from a gardening point of view. My youngest daughter got married so I was back in the UK for almost one week and the weather has been wet and miserable.
   I mowed grass, cleaned out the fowl (ducks and chickens) coops and moved a bit more of the cut down fir tree to the bonfire site. I have now taken the netting off the sprouts and I have picked the first lot. These are the first sprouts that I have been able to grow successfully in France. Pulled some carrots and dug up some leeks. Shifted a few weeds. There is plenty to do in the garden. Just have to do it! Still lots of vegetables. Sprouts, cabbage (two types), leeks, beetroot and swede. Oh, lots of weeds. With November moving along the air temperature has got several degrees cooler. That means the grass is giving up growing! For now anyway.
   I made butternut squash soup today. First time. It was quite nice. 
   On the animal front today the hens honoured me by laying two eggs!!! Looks like they are pretty much done with molting so here is hoping for more eggs. One our rams is getting himself well and truly beat up. His eyes are swollen and he has some cuts. Really all over girls!
   Ok, I am just babbling here so I will close and fingers crossed a more productive week ahead.

Monday, 6 November 2017

FULL STOP!

   So what excuses can I make for not doing much over the last week or so? My youngest daughter was out for a couple of days, the weather (nope!), shopping, short days? Anything else? Cannot think of anything. Must just be lazy.
    What has been done? Well, I mowed grass. I picked pumpkins with the grand children. I pulled some beetroot, cooked and pickled it. I moved Mr Jumper (a ram that has an inclination to jump fences!) well away from the ewes. I cleaned out the duck coop. Mucky critters these ducks. There was a good frost. Finished off the sweet peppers, aubergines and haricot. Cleared some of the pine tree that I had had cut down. There is a lot of it!
    I am having trouble finding a couple of pictures too! Dear oh dear. Must get back into doing stuff. There is plenty to do.
    On the animal front the chickens are still on strike. One egg, every other day! Not good enough I say but they just cluck and wander about. The new hens, the buff Orpingtons, have grown and are now confident enough to come out and wander their pen. They are still weary of Mr. Ixworth, the cockerel. Sheep are being sheep. Ducks are being ducks.
     Here is a picture of the ducks have a snooze and another of the moon rise on the third of November. 

Moon rise 3rd November 2017

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Slow down

   What can I say? I just do not know where the last two weeks has gone. Cannot say I have been particularly busy but the short days seem to make time go quicker. So it has been two weeks since the last blog. Apologies for missing a week but looking at the gardening log there has not been much activity in the garden.
   A reasonable number of nice looking butternut and blue squash harvested. The grand children enjoyed picking the pumpkins for Halloween. One nice big one and several small but useful sized ones harvested. Quite pleased with them considering that all I did this year was put seeds directly in the ground instead of starting them off in pots.I have sowed some peas in the poly tunnel. You never know! My nice crop of lettuce had grown to the size of small footballs and have been fed to the chickens. They loved them. There are still some sweet peppers and chili's and I guess they will continue until the first frost. Plenty of beetroot, swede, carrots and spinach! The very last Gardeners Delight (Champeau) were picked and put in the freezer. The garlic planted two weeks ago is up and going well.
  On the animal front all are fine. Herr Jumper ram is being a pest but I have constructed Stalag III and that seems to be containing him for the time being. Plan is to move him out of site of the ewes. The chickens are not laying well and I guess that is partly due to the short days and the fact that they are coming out of their annual molt. 
  I have read that the grass will keep growing until it regularly below six degrees C. Could be mowing grass well into November then! Lots of weeding to do but I sometimes wonder if it is really worth it at this time of year as there is nothing to sow or plant and they will only grow again!
  Below is a picture of the end result of forking ground, sowing, weeding, digging up, drying, peeling and pickling shallots!
Blue squash
Pickled onions


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