Some of what’s growing and a suspicion

It’s funny as when I started sowing the seeds early in 2017, I couldn’t imagine them germinating.  Then when they germinated I couldn’t imagine them being decent size seedlings and then when I moved them to their final resting place I couldn’t imagine them filling the planting distance!  Well they grew, and filled it plus more….I did try, but I’ve planted some things too close again!
In the polytunnel we have a beef tomato plant to compare to growth with one in the greenhouse.  There was no noticeable difference.  There’s swiss chard, spinach and tomatillos in the below picture, all which I would recommend growing the polytunnel again.

The cucumbers don’t seem to be thriving in there.  The watermelon has done very well in the pot it has been in the greenhouse, so now there is a space, I’ve planted it in the polytunnel.

The last of the kale which did marvellously in here.  I’ve taken the rest out as the outside kale plants have caught up now.  Again, kale to get an early harvest is worth doing in the polytunnel.
I’ve put a couple of pepper plants that were later than the others in where to kale was and marigolds are blooming on the edges now.

My goodness the courgette and patty pans are leafing up quickly.

Oh der, I don’t even like cabbage as much as this would suggest I do!  Truth be told, I labelled them up wrong and thought these were caulis…..go on, have a laugh at my expense, I am!  Looks like a freeing session and coleslaw making is on the cards this weekend.  They’ve grown without any fuss though.  Durham early variety – I like no fuss plants!
A little idea I had for some of the many pumpkin seeds I had was to grow the smaller fruiting ones in containers and grow up instead of across.  These guys are coming on great due to the rain we’ve had no doubt, so this weekend they’ll be getting tied up so they don’t snap under their own weight.
The runner beans are also no fuss.  These are scarlet emperor variety and so pretty!  I’ve some preserving recipes waiting for these guys!  The nasturtiums are doing their job as they are covered in black flies.

Another bush that is coming on by the day is this cape gooseberry – literally growing by the day.  It might even need to go in the ground this year and not next like I was planning.

Another plant I couldn’t imagine taking up much room when I planted them as tiny green, flimsy leaves were the sweetcorn.  Well they sure like this soil as once they took hold, they shot up!
They’re in with some pumpkins which are just thugs.  They at sprawling wherever they want without a care in the world.  I love it!

Controversially I am growing tomatoes and potatoes in the same bed.  Now this goes against some recommendations but on a website I use for a lot of research, it said to grow them together for a number of reasons, so I am trying it outside.  I’ve taken up the second early potatoes which I am really pleased with and will definitely use next year (British Queen) and I’ve planted tomatoes (and peppers) in their place. 

There is still one row of spuds to come up and the back section is sunflowers and more tomatoes with catch crop of spinach in there.

The sunflowers are reaching amazing heights – I’m in for sizing guide – I’m 5’6 (and a half 😉 )

Considering how many tomato plants I have, I’m not getting anywhere near the amount in the greenhouse that I thought I would.  Disappointing results here so far.  I’ve had a couple of kilos but I have loads of plants!  Still the best thing you will taste though.
Now something that isn’t doing too well.  My broad beans have done dreadfully this year.  At first I thought it was just one of those things and maybe the new beds with rotted muck in were too rich for them.  Then I noticed other beds doing it but again, they’d had muck added at some point.  I’ve made this picture larger so you can look above the nasturtiums and see the curl on the leaf.  The beans are all knarled and shrivelled too.  I asked about and the consensus was weed killer which I said it can’t be as we don’t use it.
The my sunflowers, which were reaching for the skies with bright yellow blooms, started to die.  One down right died overnight.  Weird I thought, definitely something wrong with the soil.  I was gutted.  Steven not so much as after last years broad bean harvest he didn’t want to see another one again :D.

The leaves have done the same as the broad beans, shrivelled and died after being 100% healthy.
Hmm….I walked round my plots and started to wonder.  Is it possible that we’ve had drift from the farmer’s pesticide?  Last year I got caught out when they sprayed and it knocked me so ill that I needed to go to bed.  Are my sunflowers and beans suffering the same fate?  Does anyone know what else it could be?
Black fly for the beans, would they make the leaves curl?
The peas that I have sown in the same soil are sprouting up and the farmer won’t be spraying now I don’t think (harvest),so hopefully we will have some late peas too.
I’ve lots more to share, but I’ll do that another day.  Happy Friday!

Goslings round 2!

On Friday night we enjoyed our neighbours company for the whole night, so we didn’t get any extra work done on the smallholding but we did have a lovely night of food and drink.
That meant we had to be up and at ’em early doors on Saturday as we try to make the most of every minute of the weekend. The veg garden (we call the new bit this, the older part we refer to as the veg plot) needed tidying up as it’s still got grass in between the beds until we get it all complete. So we took the lawnmower in and gave it a quick trim.

When we opened up on the morning, Neville (male goose) didn’t come out, which is unusual. So we took a sneaky peak inside and spotted these:
I was over the moon because if you remember, she hatched one a couple of months ago and the poor thing died. The amazing Mama goose hatched 5 goslings this time and she has been a brilliant mother so far. They were hatched 24th June 2017 just for my reference.
We’ve continued to harvest strawberries and are up to 9kg now! just as well we have plans for them all isn’t it?

The tomatoes are coming along great and are supplying us with enough to have with salads once a day, but nothing yet to preserve.

However we did have a disaster. I somehow managed to leave the greenhouse door open, without a net on. I have to have a net to stop the chickens getting in. So yes, you guessed it, my prize beefsteak tomato eaten, but only half, the chickens didn’t have the decency to finish it off!!
We dispatched a couple of ducks this weekend so that’s the start of the freezers getting full of home raised meat to go with the veg. Also we were offered a free freezer which is brilliant! Laying out hands on things like this really helps the pennies take care of themselves.
Finally we have some cherries almost ready to harvest. The key now will be holding our nerve long enough for them to ripen but not long enough to allow the birds to strip them bare which they can do in a day! The tree we’ve netted is not ready yet.

We also have spent pretty much all weekend on the little orchard we have. There’s some great work going on there which I will share with you mid week. Hopefully this post makes sense, it’s late and I’m waiting to lock up (once the light has gone after 10:30) so if it doesn’t, I can be forgiven 😉

A week off work

Sorry I missed Monday night preserving last night, normal service resumes Monday coming. There’s a few reasons for this. We’ve taken a week off with the kids this week as mine are off for two weeks at this time of year, due to the way the schools schedule the PD days. Also we’re out of sync as it’s been Jack’s 7th birthday and Steven has been in hospital. So a real mix of events!

My mum made a cake for jack. We celebrated over 2 days so I made one and she made the other. A lucky boy! He had a lovely day.
Ste managed to hurt his back, so much so he was taken to hospital in an ambulance on Sunday morning. I’m pleased to report that he is ok enough to be home and up and about now. He’s been instructed to rest, which isn’t in his vocabulary but he knows he has to. He’s got an MRI to go to and exercises etc to do. As he isn’t allowed to lift anything heavy, he should be taking next week off work too under doctors orders. I’ll keep you all posted.

Today we harvested our first courgette. Now it would have been our second but the slugs got the first one! We made an omelette with onion, courgette and cheese which was the best omelette I’ve ever had. We used goose egg which I really think makes all the difference. I much prefer goose egg over duck eggs.

The pigs are turning the parcel of land over that they live on, though it’s taking them longer than I expected it to. We’re going to start looking at feeding them more home grown veg and cooked potatoes as they’re costing a fortune in hard feed. It’s all learning. They are growing rapidly and must weigh around 50kg now at 16 weeks old.

On Saturday a local village held a dog show, a fun one. We went along to show support as it’s fund raising for the local community. The kids won a second prize for best under 18 handler. It was a nice couple of hours with some lovely well behaved dogs.
My first tomato is turning red! These are an outdoor variety called Garden Pearl I think. I’d need to double check.

We’ve got some funky shaped terracotta garden pots lying around the smallholding. Ste had a great idea of using them for some of the herbs, so I’ve started doing that here.

The Swiss chard in the polytunnel is doing amazingly. The peas and beans in the polytunnel are just not worth it, nor the potatoes if I’m honest. So next year I’ll do more kale, spinach and chard in there as the kale has been decimated outside by slugs. My strawberries are doing well in there but then they all got eaten in the by ants. It’s definitely ants as I’ve caught them in the act.

This is a patty pan which are all starting to swell up now.

I’m over the moon with the amount of bees we’ve got visiting our area on a daily basis. I managed to get a snap of this little guy, looking so pretty on the broad beans.

We’ve also emptied and refilled the duck pond as the IBC tanks are full. The pond takes a full tank and with the amount of rain we’ve had and are due, we thought it was the best time to get it done. Tomorrow it’s going to be windy but dry. I need to get out and do some weeding as it’s turning into a jungle out there!

Tomato update

Early in January I sowed some beefsteak tomato seeds.  The first lot failed which was my fault, they shot up before I realised.  Some I saved by replanting to their first leaves and some I started fresh.  Both have done fine.  Here’s the beefsteak one (Brandywine) which needs potting on again.  It’s also starting to produce side shoots which I am nipping out.  I’ve planted the other one which is as big as this one directly in the polytunnel bed to compare which one does best so I can just do that in 2018.
The tomatoes below were all getting far too big for their pots, so instead of a pot bigger, I potted them on into their final resting pots so to speak.
It took the best part of an hour but now I have 18 tomato plants ready.
The tomatoes are the big pots, the smaller ones are caulis, cabbage and calabrese.
 These little things are Gardeners Delight, sown after the first tomatoes in the hope of extending the season as long as possible.  I have some that have just germinated too and will keep sowing for a little while yet.

I also have a variety called outdoor girl which, as the name suggests, will be going outside when they can.
This weekend I will pot on everything that needs it and plant out the PSB for next year.  It’s too big for its pot now and I don’t want to have to pot it on again. 
I think I am going to need more growing space !
Have a lovely weekend all, it’s due to be sunny here so I plan to get in the greenhouse and polytunnel before they get too hot, then in the veg plot to get some much needed vitamin D.  I think Sunday afternoon may be a day of rest and enjoying some rhubarb cocktails…..

Fidget pie and helping those in need.

I’ve been looking for some recipes on the bbcgoodfood website as I find it really easy to navigate and the review are super helpful normally.  Last night I came across one called Fidget Pie. The title alone had me wanting to make it as I love anything with a name!  Ridiculous right?  So that’s down on the To Do lost for an occasion when a huge pie is called for!  That could be a Sunday gathering or Christmas get together, who knows.  I will buy the ingredients in and freeze them so that I have them ready to use.
Today I overheard a lady asking at our staff café if her charity would be able to take the left overs once a week on a Wednesday.  She runs a group that make a 2 course meal for up to 100 people (started at 20!) once a week so they can have a decent meal.  The staff were so dismissive of her that my blood boiled.  I reacted without thinking and offered to help her by giving them eggs and chutneys on a weekly basis.  I’ll make a loaf of bread for them too occasionally and alternate with other items we have a lot of.  We always have eggs and she said it will make such a difference for them.  So although it was a knee jerk reaction, I’m pleased I did it.  Small acts of kindness made a world of difference, I hope.
The veg box from Riverford is coming today.  It’s the first one from them so it will no doubt be a good one, I find with the first ones they make sure they get everything right.  After that will be the test.  I have a ‘medium veg box with less roots’ coming, as we have the roots ourselves, 4*4 pints of milk, double cream and bananas.  Tesco are coming Friday as usual and I’m going to use the time to stock us as with doing so much preserving, we’re running low on items.  In fact, I actually used the last of the granulated sugar, which is unheard of!
I grew some Jersey Devil tomatoes which are getting bigger each day.  I wanted to grow them for the nonstandard shape and I was super excited to see my first one was ready, or so I thought!  Turns out it had blossom rot, so the chickens got to enjoy it.  I hope the rest don’t have it.  That reminds me, tonight I must check on the carrots and purple sprouting broccoli and see how they’re getting on, if at all!