Friday, 30 September 2016

September round-up

First lot of the winter squashes
Fallen apples after the first gale
September is a time of major harvesting. First the maincrop potatoes (now stored in the summer house), then the quinoa. August's glut of tomatoes has been replaced by one of beans and the squash harvest has begun. And, finally, we're getting good amounts of fruit. Both apples and raspberries are in full swing and we've also picked some brambles for jelly. I'm very excited about the first ten pears hanging on our best pear tree.

Unfortunately, September is also often a month of gales around the time of the autumn equinox. This year we had two pretty wild ones, one of them 36 hours long. The hedges have helped and we haven't had any damage other than half of our apple crop falling down, the poor sunflowers suffering badly and the top of the bean poles getting scorched. Dwarf beans next year! Nothing must show above the parapet.

The herb corner in the top paddock
Because we took a couple of weeks off from mowing to refurbish and paint the garage we've had a hard time getting back on top of the grass cutting. It's a bumper year for grass and it's been like painting the Forth Bridge (before the new paint). But we've finally caught up and the paddocks are looking their best ever. All the mulch has found a useful home. Now we're going to take another couple of weeks off mowing to get the wood chopped and stacked for the winter and then there'll be the final mow of the season.

Freshly mown middle paddock
Not much sowing this month. I've only sown our overwintering lettuces (Valdor, Winter Density and Merveille des Quatre Saisons), tatsoi and cauliflower and have taken cuttings of the Vietnamese coriander to have small plants overwintering in the house. Last year one plant survived outside covered in fleece, but it was a very mild winter.
Feathers (left) and Wingco (RIP)

In the world of chickens, all is well, apart from for the young cockerels. We've already started the job of decimating them since two of them targeted the oldest hen until she had hardly any neck feathers left and was hiding in the hen house. So they were obvious early candidates for the pot. First to go was Omega (nomen est omen) and next up was Wingco, a very sizeable bird for his 3.5 months. Now just one more to go until we have the optimum cockerel number of one (though some might argue that the optimum number is zero). It looks like Feathers will be the lucky cockerel. He's the only one actually protecting the hens and breaking up fights.

Rainbow chard, parsnips and nasturtiums
The summer crops are coming to an end: broccoli, romanesco, courgettes, tomatoes, beetroot. Cabbages, kale, chard, beans and carrots are still amply available. The sweetcorn is looking good for the first time ever. And some winter crops are starting up: swedes, parsnips, pumpkins and lots and lots of squash. Other winter veg (Jerusalem artichokes, celeriacs, leeks, Brussels sprouts, purple-sprouting broccoli and oca) are nowhere near ready yet. Something to look forward to it in the new year.

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