Friday, 18 May 2012

Magic Beans

Friday 18th May 2012
The chickens (and guineafowl) emerge one by one from their overnight lodgings.

Growing upToday was a big day for 'the teenagers'. In their short lives they've moved from the incubator into a plastic brood box in the lounge, then into their own chicken run outside, occasionally allowed out to play, but only when the other chickens were off roaming.

But today the teenagers got to explore the big wide world. These four are very friendly chickens, not just with me but with each other. They stick close together and look out for one another.

For most of the day they disappeared, weaving their way through the overgrown grass in the chicken pen. But early afternoon I looked down the land to see them jumping around in the meadow.
By the end of the day they had become baffled by the fence which surrounds the chicken pen. Two had got themselves on one side, two on the other! They were easily caught and passed over the fence to be reunited, only to find that their old home had been taken over by two French Copper Maran chicks - the product of the next hatching after the teenagers.
On the plus side, remember that lovely new chicken house we bought about a month ago. Well, aside from laying the occasional egg in the nest boxes, the chicken flock has decided to spurn it in favour of their old quarters ( a bit like the way I prefer my ripped old jeans to a smart pair of trousers, I guess). So, from now on, the teenagers will have their own safe and secure home for the night and will henceforth be free to roam from sunrise to sunset

Wigwam City
Plants were moving into new homes today too. I have bitten the bullet and planted out all the runner bean seedlings (some growing rampantly in their tiny pots). I have two varieties, seeds saved from last year. Painted Lady is a traditional variety with wonderful flowers to add beauty to their luxuriant growth. Czar is a less vigorous white-flowered, white seeded variety whose beans can be dried to provide butter beans for the winter store cupboard.

Of course, I may be growing Painted Czars if the varieties cross pollinated last year!
I put in more purple podded mangetout seeds today too, with sweet peas and nasturtiums to climb up the trellis with them. In the rest of this bed I planted Swiss Chard Bright Lights, breadseed poppies and some Cosmos seedlings.
In the bed with the Painted Lady I am trying landcress, which should enjoy growing in the shade of the runners. And in between the Czar wigwams, Sweetcorn Minipop and a smattering of pot marigold seedlings.

I'll wait another week or so before I plant my other bean seeds. By then three of the four vegetable groups will be virtually all in the ground and I'll just need to put out the brassica seedlings to complete the fourth quarter of the wheel.

Back to the beans'n'peas. There's just one task left, which is to clear the Swiss Chard which overwintered. But just look at it! Look how well it's doing. They charge a fortune for just a few of those leaves! So I may harvest some and, if it tastes OK, leave some in for picking until this year's crop is ready.

On a more frustrating note, I think I broke my compact camera today. I don't think I did anything terrible to it, but as I went to take a photo this evening the lens refused to pop out and I received a persistent error message. So it's on to the DSLR, which will take nice pictures but is too bulky to be carting around all of the time.

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