Thursday, 18 August 2016

Broad Beans Sleeping In A Blankety Bed...

August has been busy and at the same time not busy. Busy because there's been harvesting and weeding and mowing to be done, plus I've been trying to catch up on a few jobs like creosoting and mending chicken houses. Not busy because it's the holidays and I don't have to work every spare minute just to keep on top of things. It's been dry so the weeds and grass have slowed their growth. At the same time, some of the warm weather vegetable crops like the beans and squashes have really started to thrive. I've had the onions out drying too.

7th August 2016
Mowing today. It's so much easier if I can keep on top of it, but it still takes a good couple of hours.
Before I could mow I had to collect up the potatoes which had been laid out on the surface to dry before storage.
I was in a good mood today for Sue was due back from a little break in Italy. Apparently if she hadn't been there just at the right time this tower would have toppled over.

8th August 2016
Broad beans- time for all the broad beans to come out. The harvest is good but the plants are looking a real mess now.
I've grown them from saved beans for a couple of years now, Bunyard's Exhibition originally from a mixed pack of beans from Poundland! They've now given me three years of good harvests, so not bad value really. This year we got 6 large freezer bags full, once podded.
Unfortunately you used to get 30 beans for your £1 (plus some less useful dwarf and climbing beans and some peas). Now you only get 10.
Anyway, it's time for some new seed stock now, so I may change variety.
Climbing French beans
They've been a bit slow to get going this year, but we finally took a first small harvest of climbing French beans. The tastiest beans are the Cobras, but the seedlings were deformed this year and I almost abandoned them. In the end, I just threw the healthiest few plants into the ground and stuck a cane next to them. They are doing fine now and we'll probably get a decent harvest. Next year I'll invest in some new seed though.
I do like a waxy yellow French bean too and hunted high and low for a climbing variety. I eventually came across Kentucky Yellow Wax. Again, it's not been the most vigorous of plants but it has just started to crop. Hopefully the plants will thicken up and we'll get a bumper harvest by the end of the year.
The courgette crop used to be an officially classified threat to the human race! But last year I was struck by mosaic virus and courgettes are proving a real struggle to grow now. One of the forgotten principles of organic growing is to find the right variety for your conditions. Although more expensive, Courgette Defender has survived where others have failed and is now starting to give us a crop.
Sweetcorn Minipop
Sweetcorn Minipop, despite being grown just for its baby cobs, is a handsome and vigorous plant. Today we took the first harvest from the outdoor plants. 78 baby corn cobs. This variety has grown just as well outside as in the polytunnel, so next year I'll use the tunnel space for something else, probably more standard sweetcorn, which has been a little disappointing this year. I'm sure the cool weather hasn't helped, but even in the polytunnel the crop has been slim, though the cobs which have been produced are plump and delicious. Next year I'll have a change of variety though.

Pea trial not good
I find growing peas hardly worthwhile. Lots of effort protecting the crop and constructing a climbing frame for at best modest harvests. Add to that the destruction caused by pea moth larvae and I abandoned all peas apart from mangetout for a few years.
But this year I decided to grow an old traditional climbing pea in the hope that it would crop over a longer period. I purchased a pack of Champion Of England from They weren't cheap but would hopefully be worth the expense and I could save the seed from year to year. I sowed it at the back end of April to avoid the attentions of the Pea Moth.
So far so good. The plants germinated fairly well and started producing some very tasty peas. Up till this week I'd taken a few handfuls. It is important to keep harvesting peas so they keep producing, so today I expected to take my first significant harvest. How wrong I was! The plants had gone over already. All I could do was to leave the few pods there were to collect the seeds and have another go next year. What a disappointment.

9th August 2016
Our new neighbours had their hay baled today. It's good to see the hay not going to waste. They have a couple of rescue Dartmoor ponies which have not moved in yet. It will be nice to have some animals in the field.
Hay cut...
and baled.
As the baler chomped up and down the field, I chomped my way through the task of podding all the broad beans we harvested yesterday. If I see another broad bean!

It was a momentous day for the youngest batch of Ixworth chicks as they came outside for the first time. They'll go back into their cage with the electric broody overnight, but with the weather warm they hardly ever seek out the warmth it provides now.

The older chicks chilling out
Let there be light
For the past three months we've had no lights in the kitchen! Every time we turn them on they trip the switch. We have a good electrician, but he often needs several phone calls before pinning him down. So somehow we've just kept putting it off. We did call him a week ago, but our call has not been returned. We've finally trained ourselves not to switch on the light.
Anyway this morning we had a builder round to give us a quote for some other work. He gave us the number of a different electrician. At 5 this afternoon I came in from the garden to discover a very tall young man fixing the kitchen lights. He wasn't even stood on a chair. Even I can't reach the kitchen ceiling without climbing up on something.
We now have kitchen lights and it is amazing! The place is so bright. But we still hesitate before hitting the switch. We also now have a new electrician who has the decency to return our phone calls and doesn't make endless promises. 

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