Thursday, 10 November 2011

Bountiful Land...





Just now there was a knock at the window and I jumped. I had been engrossed in settling my chilli plants on a window sill, they are all more than 2ft tall and heavy with long Ferrari-red fruits. I hadn't heard our farmer neighbour park as he arrived, bearing gifts.

He was proudly delivering a bowl of creamy field mushrooms, just picked from a 6 acre, south facing slope opposite our land.

'The whole field is white with them,' he said.

So the 9yo and I are set for dinner, although the other two family members are not so keen. She and I will share the feast and I may make a garlic and mushroom tart for my book club guests tonight when we discuss Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt.


Fresh Picked Field Mushrooms



The rest of the garden also continues to inspire for dinner; the leeks are good and the celeriac a decent size, the parsnips obscene. Spinach continues to thrive.

Planning ahead, the broad beans are emerging from their seed trays and will go in the ground next week. The kale and other spring brassica are almost ready for planting out.

Broad Beans




In the greenhouse I'm ahead for spring colour and scent, my sweet peas bullied daily as I pinch out growing tips to ensure bushy plants for next year. I'll do the same with the Cosmos babies, a find (and a financial saving) as they'd all self-seeded in the flower beds. I decided to dig some of them up in order to try and protect a few plants from the worst of the weather. The Lupins are doing well too.


Sweet Pea


Cosmos
Lupin





Fortunately the weather hasn't turned here yet, as the mushrooms will testify, so I've still got time to insulate my greenhouse this weekend. I'm determined to experiment this winter, to see how many seedlings survive out in the greenhouse and in hand-made cold frames, I need to see how they do without constant heat. Mind you, if temperatures dip dramatically I may use my paraffin heater, but at approximately £6 per 5 litres, this really isn't viable for very long periods.

I've managed to plant two long beds of 160 strawberry plants in the allotment in the field, these plants were runners from my original 12 plants that I received as a gift from our neighbours in 2009. Having planted these 160 plants I still had another 400 plants to rehouse in order to free up three of my seven raised beds. These runners had virtually taken over the walled garden.

I've potted up most of them in well rotted manure, thus ensuring another crop for next year. Being rather more portable, these pots can be dotted around the allotment or I might even sell some to friends and family.





Next season strawberries

This weekend in the allotment I spied a new red strawberry - extraordinary weather we're having for November.

Archie's chicks (Roosters centre stage?)

 


Archie's chicks are enormous and I still strongly suspect that 5 of the 8 are boys. Having experienced the financial disaster of the Poultry Auction when selling roosters, I am determined to lean how to humanely dispatch (polite word) and dress my own birds. After all, I regularly buy free range birds for the family to eat, at a cost of £8+.

Bearing in mind these birds roam or grounds, are fed on corn and quality pellets as well as selected scraps, I know they will be quality meat, so I'm afraid their days are numbered. I just cannot afford to keep them and, believe me, no one wants to take in additional roosters.

To that end, another farmer has promised to teach me how to to responsibly kill. It's not a decision I came to lightly, after all I know these birds personally, however, it is interesting to note that we, [and I mean all family members,] have only named one of Archie's chicks, that being the little white one; Moon. Maybe we are seeing them less as pets and more as egg producers or livestock.

Are we becoming more countrified I wonder?





The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon