Monday, 10 July 2017

When your companions begin to smother you

The title of this post is NOT a subtle hint to Sue. It's actually referring to pot marigolds, nasturtiums and borage. For these plants are wonderful companions to other plants in the vegetable plot and they randomly appear all over the place every year. But it's important not to get too attached to them, for they are still a plant and still compete for valuable resources. They all grow exceptionally well on my soil and, if left, will swamp the intended crop. So it is important to be firm with your companions, keep them in their place and kick them out when they start to get too much of a foothold.

Friday 1st July
The first cucumbers of the year. They'll be on tap now for a few months.

Look carefully at this picture of the geese and you'll spot a very young gosling, for Golly the grey goose stayed sitting on two eggs while the rest ventured outside. I held no hope, but one day a little bundle of yellow feathers poked its head out from under her.
Sadly this gosling has already succumbed. At three days old she took it out and I was relieved that the others accepted it. It successfully joined the flock and was very adept at keeping up with mum, who protected it well. So imagine my sadness when one morning, having watched it follow mum into the stable the evening before, mum came out of the stable without it. I found it dead down a small gap between the tyre nest and the wall. So frustrating.

Main job for the day was to weed the sweetcorn and the pumpkins for they were in danger of being swamped by self-seeded nasturtiums. Most have got their roots down and are growing fast enough to avoid significant slug damage, but a few of the sweetcorn needed replacing as they had been starved of light and withered. This is a reason to grow more than you need and hang on to the spares until you're absolutely sure they are no longer needed.

Saturday 2nd July
An extremely busy start to the weekend. The most important job was to catch all the sheep to worm them and apply treatment against fly strike (hence the blue crosses on their backs). We have become very efficient at this now so it didn't take long. A few years back this would have been a whole morning's task. As a reward for their cooperation, I moved the sheep onto new grass. In the picture below you can see the contrast between the grazed area they moved from and the new area of long grass. They always head straight for the clover.

Next up were the Ixworth chickens who needed their wings clipped. One of the hens had taken to hopping onto her house and over the fence and I didn't want her 'befriending' the other cockerel.
This is a simple and painless operation.

Once the animals were tended to, we turned our attention to the crops. The garlic has succumbed to rust, not helped by the fact that it has become overtaken by weeds so there is no air circulation. This is not too much of a problem and I had delayed harvesting until we got some rain in the hope that the bulbs would swell more, but under all those weeds it was getting too hot and sticky, a perfect environment for things to start rotting.

After a couple of hours in the sun, the garlic bulbs were looking much better. I'll let them dry out for quite a while before processing them to be stored through the autumn and winter. The best ones will be saved for replanting in late winter.
Part of the reason for the mass of weeds was that I had sown parsnips between the garlic rows. These two grow very well together, but this year the weeds came through too quickly and I couldn't hoe or pull them for fear of losing the tiny parsnip seedlings.
Clearing unwanted plants is very easy unless you have to pick your way around others.

Finally, a few images I snapped as I was taking a well deserved break.

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