Monday, January 01, 2018

Winter Blues..

I must admit, we aren't really the winter gardening types.

I see all the pictures and Facebook posts of people working on their plots over winter and can only admire the dedication. Usually I just convince myself that it's ok for them as they have large sheds, stoves and are allowed fires etc, but secretly I know I'm kidding myself.

Apart from occasional visits to drop off compost from home, check for storm/vandal damage or pick some bits and pieces we don't really get down to the farm that much. The parsnips, leeks, sprouts and broccoli left from this seasons sowings are just doing their thing, even under the snow. Although I'm hearing reports of leaf miner affecting leeks locally.

Talking of snow I was relieved the brassica cage survived the covering we got in Essex. I'd seen pictures of collapsed fruit cages and the like on other sites and given the fine mesh I was a bit worried the weight of the snow would wreck it. Luckily there were only a few torn strands which were easily fixed. 

There was a visit on Christmas day to grab some sprouts and dig up the first parsnips (Countess) which proved to be a good size and lovely and straight. They were very sweet and I'm looking forward to more.

Thoughts are already turning to next year and the first seed catalogues have landed on the doorstep. I'll be doing a review of this year shortly and will be covering the outline plan for next season.

Happy gardening folks!!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Cover and Run!

I can't believe its been so long since I posted, but in all honesty with the season finishing so early, not a lot has actually happened on the farm.

We are determined to get everything closed down properly again this year as it makes the start of next season so much easier, even if it means clearing a few bits and pieces that aren't quite finished.

There won't be a lot of over wintering this year, leeks, parsnips, purple sprouting brocolli and sprouts that were planted this season will be providing the winter veg, while some garlic has gone in for next year, but that's about it.

I going to leave broads beans this winter and take my chances with the black fly and the bug gun next year. The wind caused so many loses this year I'm not sure its worth it, I may try again next winter if the crop is disappointing. I thought about over wintering some peas but our luck with those this year was so bad I decided against it.

Beds 1-4 have been cleared and covered, although 1 & 3 still need manure. I gave the beds a light digging over and weeding before a layer of manure was added and then covered with thick plastic. The manure wasn't dug in, I'll let the worms have that job.

Last year I rotivated the whole plot but not this year for a couple of several reasons, number one, I want to preserve the structure of the soil, hence only a light dig, and number two, It really doesn't warrant the work, the soil is very easy to dig and a nice texture.

On the last visit I cleared the last courgette, (used for a nice lamb dish), which closes off our courgette leader board at a whopping 163. Zuchinni were the clear winner, even factoring in the extra plant, I suspect we now know why supermarkets only sell the green variety!

The last chillies were cleared and the remaining bolted beetroot and radishes composted. The cape gooseberries were removed, they were still growing new fruits but they'll never ripen at this time of year. I enjoyed these but it was the first time I've grown them, I'll grow them again, but and a bit more support and planning is needed for next years crop.

There were a few useful salads left, but we've had a frost since this pic was taken so I suspect I've lost those.

When I removed the marigolds quite a lot had gone to seed. I picked up all I could but I suspect there will be a magnificent self seeded crop next year.

There is still  a bit of work to get things completely closed down, manuring, grass cutting, clearing leaves etc round the raspberries and removing runners from strawberries again, but we should have it finished in another weekend visit.

Thoughts are already turning to next year and I'll be doing a review planning blog post in the near future, I'm sure everyone is already thinking about it too. Now where's that seed catalogue.

Finally, the pumpkins were put to good use for Halloween, I like a bit of pumpkin carving but there is a boot more satisfaction when you grew your own!

Happy gardening folks! 

Monday, October 02, 2017

A Most Uplifting Experience

Especially if you are a King Edward!

After a weekend away, overtime at work and rain it was great to finally get down the farm, and it's nice to write another post.

I'd been a bit worried about the spuds, I had a nasty feeling the slugs and worms were going to get to them long before I did if I didn't lift them soon. They had been left in a bit longer than originally planned as they weren't very big, but the above excuses meant they were coming out a bit later than we'd like

When I got there some nice critter had started the job for me, the middle of the row wasn't the ideal starting point, but every little helps. Pity he didn't do the weeding while he was there. It didn't take long to lift them, a lot were dug out by hand so not so many 'forked' casualties this time around. 

Not a bad crop in the end. I bought some small sacks on Amazon (see below) so I could distribute some to the family etc, and still have half a sack in the garage for lots of lovely Sunday roasts!..

Elsewhere the shutdown is in full swing. All the beans are down, the sweetcorn are gone, the  squashes are down to the last 6 courgette plants, (which just won't stop), it seems everything peaked pretty early this year. This looks to be the final haul pic of the year, another pumpkin for Halloween.

I've sieved out one of the compost bins which has been rotting down for a year now, it produced 2 full builders buckets of lovely fine compost, which I was tempted to keep for sowing next year, but instead I dug it into the bed for over wintering garlic/shallots and next years root crop, where the spuds came from. One bucket of sieved compost left about half a bucket of stuff to go back in the bin. That bed is tucked up for the winter now.

This is were the sweetcorn and squashes lived. Its been given a light digging over and a topping of horse manure from the local stables, my car valleter will not thank me for that, and covered over for the winter. Once those final courgettes come out I'll cover it completely. At the back the sprouts are doing nicely in the brassica cage. 

When the plants are removed from the beds it can leave leaves and all sorts on the ground , along with any hidden weeds etc, it can look a bit of a mess. A quick tip is to run the rake over it, it clears the fallen rubbish and pulls out some of the weeds for you too.

Three more beds to sort out now, as the pics show the grass is a bit out of hand too, the battery on the strimmer died and with all the rain its grown pretty quick. A new one is on order, I got a bigger one for 1/3 of the price of an original on eBay so it'll be sorted soon enough.

The picking and growing list have shrunk somewhat now. The courgette count will be over soon too, but I think we have a clear winner..

Happy gardening folks. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Winding Down

Facebook is quite a good gardening tool if you regularly post your plot shots, it likes to remind you of what you were doing a year ago. The other day Facebook showed us a pic from last year and at that time we were still harvesting quite a range of crops, this year it seems things are nearly done.

The courgette harvest is finally coming to an end, friends will soon answer the door to us again and cucumbers are now producing just the sickly looking late season specimens. The runner and French beans are done but the dwarf purple still have a few to give. The remaining sweetcorn are bit tough now but its been the best year for these so far.

One thing I am pleased with is are my pumpkins which I cut at the weekend. The seeds for these came from the pumpkins I bought in Asda last year and these are similar size. I look forward to carving them for Halloween. There is one left which might grow a bit more.

I cut the first cabbage last week, Spring Duchy, so as the name suggests I am harvesting them late. Some have been attacked by caterpillars or slugs but cutting out the damage left plenty for me and they are lovely sweated off in a bit of olive oil and butter for 5 minutes max.  

At home some of the cape gooseberries seem to have ripened, here's the first one. Its not quite as ripe as I hoped, definitely more of a green house crop. I'll pop it on the windowsill and see if it makes it.

So now comes the clearing down. The bean canes will be coming down very and the main spuds will be dug up. There's a compost bin to empty and the beds still need edging. I've finished the new asparagus bed frame and filled it up with soil. As its wider than the older frame I have room for another 6 crowns which I'll try and grow from seed.

There are still some new bits and bobs going in, lettuces, radish, garlic and maybe some more turnips. I can always cloche them if it gets too cold. We will probably try overwintered broads again, but remember to support them properly this time.

Now comes the challenge of finishing everything before the weather turns!!

Happy gardening folks!!!