Sunday, 4 June 2017

May round-up

Blossom, blossom, everywhere
It has been a very warm and dry month of May here. Three weeks without rain and lots of days with temperatures around 20°C! Our rainwater-collecting system (six barrels, each 200 L capacity, that are filled by run-off from our roof) which we use for watering the vegetable garden was nearly empty at the end of the dry spell. With all the new seedlings coming up (direct sowings of carrot, beetroot, kale, chard, New Zealand spinach, calabrese, red, winter and Savoy cabbage, purple-sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi, lettuce, turnips, radishes, scorzonera, edible flowers and herbs) and being planted out (dwarf and climbing French beans, summer and winter squashes, courgettes, celeriac, amaranth, sunflowers), there was a lot of watering to be done: my least favourite job in the garden.

Squash seedlings
Empty beds
Path from the top paddock to the middle paddock
Salad with beetroot and celeriac stalks
So hot we had to shade the greenhouse
The first job of the month was to get the squashes going. Sowing them on 1 May means that they are perfect for planting out four weeks later, after the last frost date and when it's reliably warm enough for them. Because I'm seed swapping with a squash aficionado, I ended up with 22 different varieties this time. Of course, I had to pop in two or three seeds of each, to be sure to get at least one plant each. The germination rate was excellent and suddenly we had 51 squash plants needing a home. Luckily, the Huegelkultur bed was nearing completion. It made a very handy depository for the mountain of used-up brassica plants left over from our winter crops.

Once all the purple-sprouting broccoli, kale and most of the chard had been removed from the veg garden, the beds were looking rather empty. The emptiest it's been all year. After a quick tilling and cultivating session with the new Mantis, the beds were ready for direct sowing and to receive the latest seedlings from the conservatory. The asparagus seeds germinated very well this time, after soaking them for two days, and it looks like we've got ourselves just over a full bed of asparagus plants. I already had a half dozen three-year-old Martha Washington plants and added the newcomers (Argenteuil and Jersey Knight) to the same bed. Now wait four years.

The grass has been growing like crazy and for the past week we've been playing catch-up to get things under control again. All the hedges need weeding and mulched around as do the fruit bushes, fruit trees and potatoes. So far we've completed the top and middle paddocks, with only the large bottom paddock left to do. However, since we've removed the fence between the middle paddock and the top paddock, maybe they classify as a single paddock now! The fence was very well made, but Jim managed to extract the six-foot posts (half underground) with the aid of a 2-tonne hydraulic jack. The space has now a much more open feel and view, and we've put down a more secure pathway instead of the old chicken ladder.

We've been eating very well, with the polytunnel virtually eliminating the 'hungry gap'. Already this month, we've had beetroot, broad beans, pak choi and courgettes from the polytunnel, colourful salads most days and heaps of globe artichokes. And wild rocket is a new weed in our garden - the kind of weed we like!

The chicks at one month
The chicks are growing fast. At the age of three weeks, they got a slight shock - it rained for the first time in their lives! Can't be many Scottish chickens that lucky. Out of the five, three are hens and two cockerels. Luckily three more hens was exactly what we wanted. We'll keep our flock black-and-white with two more black hens and one white one. The cockerels will be for the pot, unless one of them is needed to replace Feathers who's been spending a lot of time on the therapist's couch recently...


  1. It's all looking wonderfully organised. Lovely to have enjoyed such good weather, even if it did mean having to water everything! Your salad looks delicious, the polyunnel is certainly a huge benefit and I can't wait to get ours installed here. Are you planing a market stall somewhere for your squash mountain? :-)

    1. Ha, ha, no. Ten squash plants already died in the strong winds and the yields of some of them are not going to be very high (one or two squashes per plant). We'll need quite a few for bartering and for roasted squash throughout the winter.


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