Thursday, 15 November 2018

Normality? Well almost.

   There has been a decent rainfall. I noticed from the garlic that has been yanked up by some bird or another that they are putting roots down. Amazing how a little warmth and moisture and away plants  go! To date it has been a mild November. Temperatures have reached the upper teens and down to around six centigrade overnight. That means  stuff keeps growing. I do not usually say this but I am pleased that the grass has greened up and it putting on some  growth. According to the weather forecast it will all end next week with temperatures in the low teens in the day and below freezing overnight. Oh well what can one expect for November?
   Much to my surprise I have picked another large handful of Champeau Gardeners Delight from the poly tunnel plants. Surely that must be the end of them? I have planted out some small onions that really were too small to eat. I have never over wintered onions other than the Egyptian walking onions so it will be interesting to see what happens. I am not holding my breath! Much to my delight when in my local agricultural dealer I found broad beans! I have bought a packed and I have sowed  a good number to over winter. Hopefully broad beans in the spring! I have finally got round to picking what grapes are left which I must say were more than I expected. The birds must have better pickings! Not really knowing what to do with them I have washed and frozen them. Still do not know what to do with them but hey ho think of something no doubt. Finally removed some lettuce from the poly tunnel. They were a complete failure, to hot, no growth, finally did nothing! Also removed the last of the basil and brought a couple of barrows of well rotted chicken manure in.
    Nothing much to report on the animal front. The hens are on strike. Now down to two eggs a day from ten hens. A couple are in moult but I think it is the short amount of daylight that is affecting them more than anything.
    Still plenty of jobs to do. One I really must do this winter and before Christmas is prune my apple trees. They really do need a good sort out.

Material waiting to be burnt

Monday, 5 November 2018

Turn my back and ....

   I went to visit my youngest daughter in the UK for her birthday and Halloween. Of course as soon as I left it rained. Before I went though I cleared the broken apple tree branch and 
Carved Champeau pumpkins
cleaned out the Ixworth and chicken coops and for the last time the duck coop. The ducks have gone to a new home with a few lady ducks to chase!
   I managed to pick a few more tomatoes but on my return all outside tomato plants were dead. They have now been cleared. Finally  managed to plant some garlic. The rain while I was away was enough to make the soil workable. I also threw in some broad beans in but the seed is very old (2012!) so I am not going to expect too much and I will feel lucky to get any! There is still much tidying up to do and on the top
of my list will be to sort out the Egyptian 
I reckon a garden witch!
 (walking) onions. Once more I am leaving them to over winter. This will be the last time as I will need to dig them up next year to separate the bulbs and start again. As I write this the sky is dark and spots of rain are falling so maybe there might be some more rain.    On the chicken front up until I returned from the UK they were laying well but since my return they have pretty much stopped. Probably due to the short length of daylight at this time of year. The two chicks that survived, both males, are now fast approaching the time for them to be dispatched and put in the freezer. Shame really they are attractive birds but we do not need any more cockerels!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Need rain!

   So much for the rain! What fell did not have much of an affect, at least on the garden. The grass has greened up a little and I think the sheep are a little happier.
   In the garden another week or so has gone by with little done. I am reluctant to attempt to turn the earth over with it being so dry. Maybe I need to consider a no dig policy? In the poly tunnel the tomatoes are coming to an end and I have sorted out the self seeded beetroot. Never know I might get a few! I have picked a few miserable apples. There are plenty but they are small. A result of the dry weather methinks. Still picking tomatoes but they are definitely coming to an end know. The forecast is for colder weather so I think that will finish them off. Also day light is short!
    On the animal front the chickens are laying well and the Ixworth chicks are growing. The Ixworth coq is starting to assert himself and the senior hens are taking notice. I fear for the other Ixworth coq and I guess he will end up in the freezer. The senior hens have still not started to lay again after the demise of Mr. Ixworth. Maybe the rats are taking them but the new coop is pretty much rat proof. Mind you they have been going through a moult and this variety of chicken does seem to take its time in recovering from a moult.
    So onwards into late autumn/early winter. I still need to plant some garlic but again the ground is too dry. They will not root. Getting really desperate for some rain. There is now a total ban on the use of hose pipes etc in La Creuse.

Being watched by Bonaparte

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Its been a quiet quiet time

  As I sit here typing this it is, yes, it is raining! The nice steady type of rain, not to light, not to heavy and it has been like that for about an hour and is continuing.
   So, since the last blog what has happened? Not a lot as I have been back to the UK to see my newest grand daughter, Lorelei. It was wonderful to see and hold her and of course to see my other grand daughter Evelyn and my daughter Samantha. Still, in the garden over the last week or so it has remained dry. No work on the plots.  The cucumbers inside the poly tunnel and outside are now finished. It has been a reasonable crop this  year. The butternut squash have been cut and stored. Again a reasonable crop considering the long dry spell.  I have picked more tomatoes and it is strange to pick ripe outdoor tomatoes in the middle of October! To be honest they are all but done now. Still some good sized ones in the poly tunnel and fingers crossed they may yet ripen on the vine!
    On the animal front the sheep are being sheep, the chickens are laying well and the ducks are quacking. The ducks are about to go to a new home to live amongst some female runners! I think they will like that some how.
     Looking to the weeks ahead there is plenty to tidy up but there is little in the garden. Some very poor looking Brussels sprouts, beet root and purple sprouting, two decimated rows of parsnips (voles) and a little clump of very bright green moss curled parsley. How long before the chickens decide that looks too good to leave alone.
     In the poly tunnel there is some beetroot, one sweet pepper plant with a sweet pepper on it and a number of Alberto Loco's chili's that have flowers on but they will surely not produce anything now? Well, I will leave them until they succumb to the cold. You never know!

Frist two jars of pickled onions

Alberto Loco chili in flower in October

Monday, 1 October 2018

What can I say?

    It is hard to find words to write. The dry weather continues, the ground is now too dry to do anything with and here I am hoping to get some garlic in. No point unless there is a bit of rain. Still, I have a couple of weeks yet before it is too late for a over winter sowing of garlic. There are some tomato plants hanging on in there particularly in the poly tunnel and are still providing a few ripe toms. 
    So what I have been up to? Nothing much in the garden expect picking a few tomatoes and the odd cucumber. The cucumbers have now gone over and I will soon be cutting the squash to put into storage. The winter supply of wood has arrived and been stacked. That took the better part of four days, moving from the delivery point to stacking under the hanger. Two lots, one from my local farmer just around the corner and the other from a farmer in the next village. So, wood stored and dry here is hoping for a little rain!

First delivery

Second delivery

Finished stacking!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

And it did didn't it:

   Well I have mentioned that there has been a long spell of hot sunny weather. Yes, the weather did the dirty on me and it rained. Steady down pour. It did not last too long but it was welcome. Looks like the weather is taking a turn towards late autumn and the mornings are most definitely cooler and the length of daylight is shrinking (currently roughly 0800hrs to 2000hrs).
  So what has happened over the last week? Not a lot I am afraid to say gardening wise although there is plenty to do. Picked tomatoes, one round courgette which is probably the last courgette and cucumbers, little bit of poly tunnel weeding but nothing more. To be honest the ground is now too dry to fork or do anything with. Despite all the cucumber crop has been very good. I do like the variety Wautoma. They do very well outside the poly tunnel and they continue to produce to the end of September. The tomatoes are now coming to an end and again despite the weather the crop, especially of Champeau Gardeners Delight and Champeau Jens Orange, has been ok, not fantastic but satisfactory. I guess if I had watered there would have been a lot more larger tomatoes.
  On the animal front the hens I think are starting to slow up a little on egg production and the ducks and sheep are being ducks and sheep. 

Champeau Gardeners Delight

Saturday, 15 September 2018

It getting boring...

   Yes the sun is still shinning and yes the temperatures during the day are in the upper twenty degrees Celsius. The garden is now as dry as a bone. I have one crop - hops! The hop vine has grown well up the side of the barn. I think the deluge of rain earlier in the year
has something to do with its vigorous growth to be honest!
Desiree main crop potatoes
Another crop that came in well this year were the potatoes.

24.835 Kg
RIKEA (second earlies) TOTAL:
32.580 Kg
68.17 Kg
I was particularly pleased with the DESIREE, 68 kg from a five kilogramme bag of seed potatoes. Cucumbers, especially the outside ones, are doing well and continue to produce one or two every other day or so. I have now been round the outside tomatoes tidying up and cutting off dead or blighted leaves. Still a few to ripen and I am continuing to gather a handful of ripe Champeau Gardeners Delight (grape tomatoes) every day. In the poly tunnel tomatoes are ripening and I should get quite a decent crop considering they were planted late. Despite regular watering the lettuce in the poly tunnel has suffered from the excessive heat in there and have not done well. This is the pattern it would seem. Lettuce is grows well in the poly tunnel early in the season but it get too hot during the middle to end of the season for it to grow successfully. I need to find another crop for the poly tunnel that would like the heat more. Maybe I should try melons. Cucumbers do not do so well either. 
  In the animal world just normal maintenance. The chickens are still laying well but I am expecting a decline soon as the days draw in.
  So autumn is all but here and I have little or no winter crops. Those planted out in August have just suffered with the heat and dry conditions. Watering was really not an option. Oh well there is always next year.

Chickens in the shade....