Sunday, 25 March 2012

What a difference a day makes

Been waiting a long time to clear this area, quite a few years in fact.
It's mainly overgrow with weeds, Ground Elder, Nettles & Bindweed too!
There are 3 open vessels too collecting rain water & pond weed! But after emptying, the water almost filled 2 of our empty rain barrels, which is needed as it hasn't rained much in weeks, as we dont have running water on our site we rely on what we can collect and is so important.

So after several hours (4.5) of moving, wood, water & soil I managed to clear this unused patch.
Our plan is to turn it into a wildlife area, with a pond & bug house.
Might plant another Apple tree too, a heritage variety we bought from National Trust property when holidaying in E.Sussex a few years ago, currently growing in a large patio pot, but would benefit from being in open ground.

We also planted a row of Parsnips 'White Gem' as they are slow to germinate it's important to leave a line or something to show where the seeds have been sown. You can also plant Radish in between the Parsnip seeds as a marker, as it grows very quick, therefore you get 2 crops from one space.

Parsnips are usually lifted in winter months so will be there a long time and are an important part of Christmas Dinner, as well as any roast meal. They taste better after a frost too, so you have to be patient to get a perfect Parsnip.

Anyway, It w
as a super day, I wouldn't be surprised if the weather report said it was the hottest March day ever!
We brought the Chickens with us again today, they scratched around the Fruit Cage as usual and loved it.
Still lots of weeding to do in the raised beds, the Shallots & Asparagus were quite weedy, must be the fine weather, damn weeds! Cant have it all & as I said 'What a difference a day makes'
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Chickens: One year out of Battery Prison

19th March 2011 .
The picture on the left outside the new Hen House, Hetty, Betty, Peggy & Maud, with few feathers and not knowing what to do, dazed & frightened, but this is the 1st day of their new life outside the battery farm.

But compared to the picture on the right, taken today 19th March 2012. One year on, don't they look healthy & happy, as a chicken should be. As many of my regular readers know we take the Chickens to our Allotment which benefits us and especially them.

Here is Peggy and it's nearly bed time, what a difference a year has made.
What has surprised us is how many Eggs we have had over 12 months, it's an unbelievable 1,048 from our 4 'girls' that's an average of 262 each, plenty of Cakes & Omelets for us and of course fresh eggs for breakfast.

Why the battery farmer thinks their egg laying time is over at 18months old, is a mystery, but if we hadn't taken them, they would have been destroyed and probably turned into pet food. But thanks to the British Hen Welfare Trust many thousands (currently 312,025) have been saved from that fate.

But if you wish to re-home some poor Hens yourself, you should register with the BHWT and then you can search for your nearest re-homing helper & get some useful information about keeping hens on their site.
When we decided we wanted to keep Hens we went on a one day Poultry Keeping course at Reasheath College, which was a big help. You can get lots of useful info from books & on the internet, but meeting & learning from a retired hen farmer and getting hands on experience can not be beaten.

I hope you liked this Blog, please leave a comment if you can, I love reading them.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Perfect Sunday on the Plot

Well a lovely, almost summers day and still March, will be Easter soon.

The Rhubarb has also noticed the warm summery weather and has sprouted many new leaves, I'm sure it will be waist high in no time now, the weather report has said it will be dry for at least 5 days, a bit of rain would be nice but did get an over night downpour on Friday & Saturday.

Did I mention Easter, the traditional time to plant the 1st early Potatoes.
Well the 'Rocket' spuds have been chitting for a few weeks now and the soil had been Cultivated & Manured, so was time to put them in.

My method:
Put a straight line across the soil, 12" from the edge.
dig a trench about 4-6" deep, put a few handfuls of Chicken manure pellets on the soil dug out.

Place the 'chitted' spuds 12" apart along the bottom of the trench then using a rake carefully pull the soil back over them, making a small mound of soil. Then make another trench, 24" away from the 1st, to give the spuds room to grow.

Then using the rake vertically, carefully flatten the top of the soil mound, this aids moisture retention when it rains, the water will not run off as with a peaked mound, but will soak down to the spuds underneath.

Mark each row with a label, with planting date, so you can check how long they have been growing/maturing etc.
I managed to plant 44 spuds, 11 to each row. Last year I planted 'Rocket' and they only took 2 months to grow/mature, Rocket by name, Rocket by nature.

So yet another busy afternoons work, did some more weeding and made some more space for another row of the Sarpo Mira main crop Potatoes, so can now plant 10 more to make 30 in total.
The Chickens came down with us today again, but as tomorrow is the 1st anniversary of their life with us since being released from Battery Farm, I will be doing a special Blog tomorrow just for them & will show a picture taken on day 1, so you can see their improvement.

Thanks for reading/returning, Ian.
Check back tomorrow night.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Weeding, Weeding, Planting & a Bonfire too

Been a busy week, again, on the Allotment.
I weeded the Onions planted last week, also weeded the Leeks while I was there.

If you remember I planted the Leeks last Summer and they have done so well we have harvested some already and eaten them.

The Onions (108 of them) haven't shown any sign of life yet, but early days.

The all important & obligatory Bonfire was lit again, in my trusty, rusty, Incinerator Bin.
Just as well as there were even more weeds & roots to burn, especially 'Creeping Jenny' that I dug up from around the Leeks!

But the potash left over after burning will be incorporated into the soil in the week. If it can't be composted, burn it, nothing wasted.

Chicken News:

The Chickens had another day out today, it gets easier each week, as they seem to know whats happening when the transport boxes come out.
But are reluctant to get back into the boxes when it's time to go home!

I promised to show a picture of my Potatoes 'chitting' so you know what to look out for.
Here is one of the 'Rocket' 1st Early spuds, almost ready to be planted out.
As you can see the shoot is short, thick and dark in colour, if yours are long, thin, spindly and pale in colour, they are not getting enough light. Best to rub off these white shoots and re-chit in a lighter spot. But remember to keep them cool.
I will be planting these out next weekend.

As I said it was a day of Weeding & Planting, so we also weeded the Garlic & Pak Choi bed, as shown here.

Also direct sown some early Carrot seed 'Early Nantes' and started 2 types of Beetroot 'Boltardy' and 'Pablo F1' in pots.

Also direct sown some more Spring Onions.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Another Busy weekend

Weather finally dried up after a wet start, but at least did get some jobs done.

Believe it or not today I planted 108 Onion sets here.
54x 'Autumn Gold' and 54x 'Stuttgarter Stanfield'
Each Onion set placed in a hole 1" deep made with my Dibber, 10" apart, in rows 12" between each.

Other jobs done this weekend:
Weeded the Onions that we put in last year.
Manured the patch set aside for the 'Sarpo Mira' Spuds.
Sown Rocket, Radish & Lettuce seed.
Painted the shed, Cedar Red again, haven't done it for a few years, so was in need of a spuce up, seeing as I re-felted the roof last weekend.

Chicken News:
We took them down to the Allotment again today, they are getting used to being put in a box, then transported in the car, as its only a 10 min journey, so no harm done.

After an hour or so, Peggy seemed agitated and wouldn't settle, so we popped her back in one of the boxes and a few minutes later she laid an egg, seemed that was the problem and the 1st Egg laid at the allotment.

Anyway, as I said a busy week, but a very productive one.
Here you can see the summer Rhubarb, even more buds are breaking through now it wont be long before its waist high!

The Potatoes are 'chitting' well at home, I will Blog about them next week, so check back soon.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.