garden fits and other failures

lets talk about crop failures, because i wouldn’t want to give the impression that it’s all marvellous, this self-sufficiency lark. It’s not, it’s bloody hard work, the weather is relentless at both ends of the spectrum, too much water when you don’t need it, none, when you do and currently no way of harvesting it without pulling the house builder off of house building duties.

Autumn, spring and winter veggies are easy enough but the summer stuff is difficult when you have to eek out what little water you have, I have created shade in the garden and I mulch where I can with what little I have, but now there is too much shade (ironic!!)shade
so my second sewings of parsnips and carrots look a little bit miserable, the first sewings are ok

carrots

parsnips

we’ve had some thinnings from the first sewn carrots and what’s left will probably last about another month

The peas were a complete failure, I sewed three varieties this year, none of which flowered, they got a kind of powdery mildew and I had a fit and ripped them all up!!

The Uchiri Kuri pumpkins are tiny, something ate the flowers, the ones that survived were already climbing up some beans poles, but whatever ate the pumpkin flowers didn’t eat the butternut squash flowers, of which I have about 20

squash

The globe artichokes never got fat enough to eat so we’ve just left them to seed and look nice, the bees love them

artichoke

One courgette plant survived and has given us enough, there’s always too many anyway, so am relieved there aren’t anymore

courgette

Out of 7 cucumber plants I’ve had about 7 cucumbers, not a great return i don’t think

cucumber

I have done three sewings of cut and come again salad leaves, all self collected from last year and mostly rocket, it’s done well with the shade, so at least something likes itsalad
I’ve got 4 varieties of tomatoes, san marzano, which is doing very badly and has blossom end rot, red alert, a new variety to me which is doing very well, cherry tomatoes and money maker both of which are slow to produce and certainly not ripening yet

toms

the onions were actually great, despite my initial disapointment, we’ve ended up with about 25 kilos of mixed red and white, but still not enough for a whole year

onions3and the garlic not too bad either
onions4
the broad beans were a disaster, mice ate the seed, three times, I gave up, I even soaked some seed in paraffin and they ate that too!! the beetroot was rubbish and I had a fit with that too and threw it all away, yes, I’ve had a lot of fits in the garden this year!!!!

The stanley plum, planted in memory of our first dear dog is having it’s second year of fruiting, they are such a beautiful colour
plums

we also have our first apples, the apple trees were planted 5 years ago and all bar one have fruited for the first time this year, finally

apples

I know I’m not doing too much wrong, I can’t get the nutrients I need into the soil and that is the main problem, I am considering changing the garden again, as we both mature together, I can see that I have been trying to create a garden that I would have liked in the UK and it just isn’t working here, so back to the drawing board and several more fits no doubt and eventually I’ll either die or the garden will!!

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hair of the dog

ahh, you may think this is a post about alcohol and the after effects and cures and what not, but no, it is quite simply a post about hair and dogs, or rather the hair from a dog.
I’m going to go on about the boar again. The bunting worked for several weeks or it was just a coincidence, but they are back and knocking down huge boulders into my garden and beyond, crushing my well tended almost blooming flowers…..so I am not a happy bunny.

Back in February I went back to the UK for 5 weeks to house sit and animal care, one of my jobs was to groom the lovely Harvey

harvey
I decided to collect his hair for the very purpose of scattering it around the farm to deter the boar, I’d done it before with human hair, but neither of us have a lot of that anymore and whilst I have, in the past scrounged bags of the stuff from hairdressers, there’s something a bit weird about handling human strangers hair, strange dogs hair I don’t have an issue with….

I’d forgotten about the hair from Harvey,

harvey hair
until today, so off I went around the farm chucking it around and moving bunting, I really hope the boar stop soon otherwise I will have to kill them

such a boar

the wild boar have been across our terraces with a vengeance, they’ve dislodged enormous edging stones, so big i can’t pick them up, they’ve dismantled steps. Some would argue that that is all part of living in the countryside, and whilst I tend to agree i would prefer it if they could do it somewhere else. Aside from the hellish expensive and time, fencing is just not an option, there is just too much land and it’s all slopey and rocky and it would look stupid so I have been stringing up ripped up bits of old pillow cases (which woody has taken great delight in tearing down) and in between ALL my other chores, i’ve been making meters and meters of bunting,

bunting

which also looks a bit silly but it seems to be working, now where’s that stone mason………

boar

what autumn means to me

misty mornings
and fantastic sunsets
butterflies on sun warmed rocks
grasses like sparklers
magical birches
old dogs in fine fettle
evening snacks are free and plentiful
seeds with tree potential
and food for birds
lichen that only grows where the air is clean
dappled leafy light
long shadows
and mushrooms
  none of which are edible
strawberry fruits scattered amongst the brown hues
toffee apples for halloween
cake is always available
beans are planted

and new puppies chew everything

what does autumn mean to you?

Day eight

Coming to the end of our time on this bit of mountain, not much left to take out, lots of clearing up to do though and then the hauling out. We’ll be moving down to directly above our farm next, which will present another set of problems,getting the trees to land exactly where we want them and not take down the telephone line.

I’ll show you some pictures tomorrow of before cutting and after so you can see how well managed the whole thing has been, not one cork oak has even been damaged…..

Here’s two pictures of the dreaded caterpillars (especially for Gary)

Boxes, beds and backs

I have had a persistent back ache, won’t go into technical details, lets just say it’s hindered my ability to get the garden ready for spring. So, we decided to employ a local to rotavate the bits I couldn’t dig. I’ve given up on meadow one, well not exactly given up, but I want it to be mostly a fruit meadow and wildflower area. So the loganberries, raspberries and blackcurrants will be given a raised bed (when I can find some more free wood), some fruits trees (some wild, some bought) have been planted either around the edges or in the middle of the meadow and I have broadcast all the flower seeds I collected last year,

There still remains my hardy kale patch, which I’m loathe to get rid of, as it continues to provide and there’s an area at the end of the meadow by the path leading to the bridge that has extremely good soil, currently it has broad beans in it.

The strawberry beds have been planted with more strawberries (runners, potted on from last years growth) and edged, there is also a fejoa some lupin trees and a black locust here to provide some shade.

I know I’ll have to move the strawberries in a couple of years, but they can go up to the fruit meadow in due course. I’ve planted another rhubarb but it remains to be seen if this will flourish, there are three plants now and they don’t do well. Even when forced

they may well have to moved up to the borrowed meadow (more about that in another entry).

The area around our climbing frame (used to be poly tunnel) which has some self-seeded sweat peas in it, along with some sweet williams and morning glory and kiwi, is now ready for more sweat peas, which were collected last year and are growing happily in pots at home.

I have tried to edge as many areas as I can with the wood I have managed to salvage from the roof of the house, eventually I’ll get it all done, but given that the area on meadow two is at least an acre, not sure how or when or even if. The parsnips and early carrots are in and under fleece.

The leaf bed is sown and covered.

The over-wintered green manure, along with the contents of the compost bin

and blood, fish and bone have been rotavated into the beds for beans etc., this needs to be left for at least two weeks before planting. The over-wintered brassicas continue to flourish (thanks to the alpaca poo) and the purple sprouting broccoli is starting to show. In fact we’re eating some tonight with some home-made sausages from our pig!!

Given our water problems and the amount of energy and effort last year, I am trying to only plant things that will grow from now until late June and then from october/november through the winter. Obviously things like peppers, aubergines and tomatoes will have to go through the summer but as they too will be in a raised bed, mulched they may do better and not need so much water. We know we have to come up with some clever water saving techniques, but whilst Rick is building the house, this is his priority, it takes up all his time and in order to get this done, other things have to fall by the way-side unless I can do them myself.

Last but not least the owl box rick made me for christmas is up and am just waiting for a resident……….

If anyone would like to donate a solar powered web cam thing, like the ones they use on Springwatch, that would be great, then I can see if there is any activity, adopt a box, maybe?