Well it’s been a little while since our last blog update, but the explosion of life that has happened out there in the meanitime has kept us a little distracted. It serves me right really. I remember saying in May how good it was that, this year we were on top of things, after two hard years of getting the land back into shape. And then things really started to grow. Which is great, obviously. When you’re managing the land for both wildlife and food production, things growing is clearly a good thing. But all the stuff growing where you don’t need it to grow, takes up as much, if not more, of our time as the things we’re nurturing. With a vegetable patch the size of ours, even just mowing the paths in between the raised beds takes a while.
The potatoes and asparagus that we planted at Easter are now doing really well, despite the pretty serious lack of rain in the meantime and the late frost that nipped the tops of some of the spuds that decided to make an early dash for it. The leeks that we planted seem to be settling in nicely too.Whereas in previous years here, we haven’t had to worry about watering outside, we are having to do a bit. The newly planted asparagus crowns probably would have died without a bit of water early on. And now that some of the potatoes are starting to flower, it’s worth thinking about watering them to help the tuber growth. It’s good to pick the flowers off too. For the most part we are using the water out of the ducks’ pond, which is quite rich in nitrogen because of, well you know what, but we have had to get the hose out as well. Our approach is generally to try to restrict watering to the early growth stages and then to give things an occasional really good soak. This allows the water to deeply penetrate the soil and encourages the plants’ roots to follow it down.
Most of our onions have been harvested now. Lots of shallots. Lyndsey has been curing them over the last week. That’s essentially involved spreading the whole plants out in wooden crates and letting them dry naturally on the dining table in the yurt. The onions were dried slighltly differently. They were gently lifted and just left to sit on the ground until the stems went dry. I think we may well now have just about enough onions to last until the next lot are ready. The garlic that we planted in the Autumn is looking nice and plump now. We couldn’t resist and picked one recently, but it wasn’t quite ready. The cloves hadn’t fully separated, but it was really tasty nonetheless. Won’t be long.
We’ve planted purple sprouting broccoli outside; a favourite of ours that will produce its lovely florets around March next year. We’ll probably plant some salad leaves amongst the broccoli; it’s a good use of the space while the broccoli is still relatively small, yet large enough to provide some protection to the tender lettuce leaves. We’ve also planted a couple of varieties of summer squash outside, hoping that we have more favourable conditions for them than last year.
Our strawberries have been a big success this year, despite the ones outside having been chewed to the ground by the herd of red deer that pass through occasionally. Having created a mesh cloche to protect them, they’ve made a good recovery and produce enough fruit for us to have a good handful each every day. The currants, both red and black, are just beginning to ripen, and it won’t be long before the gooseberries are sweet enough to pick. There are loads of summer raspberries forming now and the bees have really loved their flowers this year, though they are still some way off being ready. Soooo looking forward to that!
Wow, all that great produce and I haven’t even mentioned the polytunnel…