Tuesday 7th November - Weather: dull and overcast
An apology, no photos today, I forgot the camera yet again!
A nippy start to the day, but I needed to clear the runner beans now as we have had a couple of frosty mornings so there will be no more beans this year. What a carry on that is. How on earth do you easily detangle the twisted mass of thick wirey stems? With some, if the bamboo was loose I was able to just slide the bean plant off the pole, but some were so tangled and webbed I was cutting and moaning and cutting away. Anyhow, job done so that area was dug over followed by the tomato bed. I picked three teeny courgettes, 2 white volunteers and one green baby, and I had a handful of runners. Plot number 2 looks very clean and tidy, if a little naked now. The leeks at the top of the plot are lovely and thick and the garlics are all through. The onions that I set last week are all still nicely settled and haven't (yet) been oiked out by the local bird population. As I was finished off and gathering my tools, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Foxy baby! Such a brazen creature, he strolled right up to me, sniffed the air then wandered around the neighbouring allotments before strolling back passed me again, and wandering around my shed. I followed him to see where he was heading, and he walked up the dry stream bed and leaped into Laurette's garden and chased the birds. Apparently he has been around a lot lately. We only ever seem to see him in the autumn and winter - I guess times are hard so he is on the look out for a free meal.
Then Jack arrived. He tipped me the wink, and we sneaked off together through the hole in the hedge and into the neighbouring farms orchard. One of the ladies who works at the farm was in there having a pick also, and still there are masses and masses of pears! There must be over 100 pear trees. We filled up 4 carriers again and I asked Jack what on earth he is doing with all of his. He has stored 4 trays worth, all wrapped in newspaper, in his shed to see if he can keep them to eat through the winter. The farmers wife (is there a name for the famers wife? Farmlet maybe??) told Jack that they had managed to keep lots good for Christmas. Other than that, he is just eating them. I have bottled some, juiced some, and am eating at least 1 a day, but still, there are hundreds so now I have 4 trays of pears, delicately wrapped in the local peper, residing in our cool dark garage to see if I will be able to deliver fresh pears to mum in December when Nanny and Taxi come up from Devon. I am also going to have a go at pear jelly as I have been told it is delicious, if a little hard to get to set.
We returned to the plot, back through the hole in the hedge, chewed the fat for 10 minutes, then we went our seperate ways and as the lovely Jack left, he left me a big bundle of spring onions by the car. He is a real sweetie and hinted that he wouldn't be able to carry on for much long as he is approaching 80. I told him to get that crazy idea out of his mind, he's going nowhere. If I can help, I will!!
I have been toying with the idea of improving and enlarging my fruit cage, but have been putting the job of as it is such a palava getting all the netting down and dealing with dock and nettles, but today I decided to press on. Actually, thanks to the wet spell and the frosts, the ground was lovely and soft and weeding was a breeze. Getting the net down on the other hand was a pain in the bum, but I got there in the end. I am moving the front of the cage out by about 18inches to allow more room for moving around and picking. Once I have cleared all of the weeds, cut back anything dead, pruned the fruit bushes and gently forked over the area, I am hoping to put down a good thick layer of compost as this years raspberry harvest wasn't great. There were plenty of currant and jostaberries, but the gooseberries and raspberries were small and a little on the dry side. I think a good watering, and a good mulch over the autumn and winter, followed by more watering and a really serious feed in the spring will give them all a well needed boost. I also plan to make the roof of the cage higher so Mark doesn't have to crouch when he is in there with the children picking the fruits.
That was it, time up! I am half way through the weeding of the fruit bed which I will finish next visit. The visit after that I hope to get the cage constructed - minus the netting, the next visit will be mulching time and then netting time. Should keep me out of mischief!