Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday 23rd July 2010 - weather: bright and breezy.

Just a quickie really as we are packing for a week away. Shot to the allotment today to pick the raspberries as they don't last on the bushes like the currants do. I had already gathered several pound of rasps last week, and picked another 3 and a half pounds today. And still the canes are smothered in young white fruits still to develop. It is a stonker of a year for the soft fruits. I did also manage, before the kids started whinging, to fill a bowl with Jostaberries, another 3Ib. The lot have been sorted, bagged and are now in the freezer awaiting inspiration. I am tempted to start my Rumtopf this year ready for Christmas, so maybe the next round of fruit will head into that - so, note to self: Pick up a bottke of rum in Duty Free.

A quick glance over the plot and everything has started growing like made since we had rain. Several baby squash all set and growing, although still no courgettes! Maybe this will be a courgette free year. Yeah Gods!! Fortunately, everyone else will have an abundance so I won't starve. I shall try and bribe/beg/plead the kids to spend a bit more time on the plot once we are home so I can keep on top of things.

The ladies are all doing okay. For 2 days, whichever chickadee lays the blue eggs has been keeping her legs crossed, but today we are back to normal. I worry that it is the brown girl in the ring that the boys are shagging senseless who is slowing up. Three boys are definately for the chop upon our return. Six to five really isn't a good ratio, and never the plan.

I am wondering if they will enjoy scoffing earthworms? My neighbour has one of those plastic dalec compost heaps and it is very wet and packed, and I mean writhing with worms. I wonder if I fill up a tray with them, the girls will enjoy them. They love live mealworms so I can't see them turning their beaks up at worms that have lived on a rich diet of kitchen waste.

I need to do a proper egg count, but we must be nearly at 400. Gave a dozen to a neighbour today who is going to top and the gals water whilst we are away, and I have hardboiled 24 to take with us as hubby loves them, even though they are a BUGGER to peel.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday 15 July 2010 - weather: overcast, wet and very windy

Who told the wind it could blow my hair all over the place? I look like that fella, you know, the lead singer from The Cure!! The wind is knocking the leaves, and branches out of trees, blowing over flowers and blowing showers around. What a blustery day.

Anyhow, a flying lottie visit as I had to work until 12.30 so arrived on site at about 1pm. The rain has been a godsend. Someone somewhere must have seen my dodgy raindance and came up trumps. Now, some sunshine again would be good, just to get everything really romping. Of course there are weeds everywhere, so I spent the first hour weeding the brassica bed which doesn't have weed supressing membrane down. Such a shame I didn't do the entire area, but I still had onions and shallots growing there. It wasn't so bad, the ground was lovely and soft and the weeds mostly just pulled clean out. Plenty of greens growing. The kohl rabi are globing up nicely, the sprouts are already getting tall, and a few cabbages appear to be trying to heart up. The kale, red, green and black is ready to start loosing leaves as is the spinach. I suppose now summer is over, we will be back on cooked dinners so I can start using my greens.

I then spent the last hour harvesting. I gathered 2 and a half pounds of raspberries and there are still mountains on the canes. I also havested a bowl of red currants, and again, that was only the tip of the iceberg. I did however strip the gooseberry plants of fruits. Now to decide what to do with them. The rasps are already in a pan cooking to extract their juice so I can strain it and make raspberry jelly for use over the winter. The next batch will be frozen to use in trifles, crumbles and pies.

Before leaving I picked the first 2 cucumbers and gathered the onions and shallots to dry off at home in the conservatory. Looks like the shallots are white rot free. Some of the onions are dodgy, but in general, not bad at all. I also picked a small handful of purple queen french beans, the first beans of the season, and dug some International Kidney for some new pots. Looks like it is going to be a lovely lottie supper tonight.

Quail Diary
The gals are all doing just fine, bless 'em. They are still a little timid, but then I don't have the time to sit in with them and get them used to me. I have taken to feeding them dried mealworms by hand, and some will take from me, some won't. The boys, Gingernut, Grumpy, The Big One, Bobble and, the Brown Boy are constantly shagging the gals and leaving them all with bald necks. I fear a cull...I keep threatening this, but the children scream in terror at the prospect.
I wonder what the neighbours think the strange noise is at 3am when the lads all come home from the pub and start crowing. I know they do this at 3am as we have had the joy of having windows open during this hot spell, and when I get up for a tinkle, as I sit there answering this call of nature, I hear their call of nature - the quail equivalent of cock-a-bleeding-doodle-doo!!
They love lettuce and radish leaves, which I have a plentiful supply of on the allotment. I have also told 'Old Jack' on the plot to keep his old bolted lettuce for me as the clan demolish a little gem in a morning. They adore dried mealworms, but the food of choice are the live giant mealworms. I am not allowed to give them anymore though as they are pricey and really they are to feed hubby/son's lizard, not my gals. Also, I think it puts hubby off the eggs a little bit to think they are eating wigglies. Don't know what he thinks free range hens chow down on, but I am sure a lot of it wriggles, creeps and crawls.
Very proud of my gals. Six eggs a day, except on clean out day which puts them off their stride so we usually only get 4. I would just like to add, quails eggs make great cakes. Number one son had a go and we weighed the eggs, broken into a jug, and then did the same measure for fat, flour and sugar, and they make lovely light cakes. I have been giving the odd dozen to chums, and of course family, and people are in general, delighted with their gift. At the weekend I plan to make a quiche...I shall take piccies.
Egg count - 323

Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday 2nd July 2010 - weather: hot, sunny with a light breeze.

Forgive me bloggers for I have sinned. Today I plucked the first ripe cherry tomato from the vine, and popped it straight into my mouth without a thought for others. No photograph, no chance of sharing, not a care in the world. And it was sinfully good. Slightly acidic, warm from the morning sun, juicy and full of the flavour of summer. Happy days.

I suppose my penance is the lack of serious rain. Honestly, my allotment is like a dustbowl. Carrots and parsnips refuse to germinate, even with me watering them as often as I can from a watering can. Courgettes and marrows just sit there looking bored - although I do have my first cucumber set which is something.
Spuds are very small, plenty on each plant, but still all so very small, the same with the raspberries. Loads and loads there, but they are not fulfilling their namesake - Glen AMPLE they are not!

Down the cooler end of the plot, by the shed, the radish and spinach are romping away, and I don't seem to be suffering any flea beetle damage this year. Could this be because of my deer proof mesh?

The runner beans are at the top of the poles, the french climbers aren't far behind, and the dwarf purple queen have just started setting.

Picked a mass of peas - a highlight. They must have been sown, and recieved the little rain we did get, at just the right time. I froze a pound and a half of shucked peas this evening, and there is a similar amount still on the plants just waiting for a downpour so they can swell.

My day consisted of watering with stinking nettle tea, weeding with my trusty hoe, sowing more seeds - carrots (again), parnsips (again), turnips, leeks and peas and planting out more courgette and cucumber plants, bright light swiss chard plantlets and pakchoi plantlets. Now I know the pakchoi isn't supposed to transplant terribly well, but if they start to bolt, they are still perfect in stir fries, and the young leaves are good in salads, and if all else fails, the guinea pigs and quaily birds will enjoy them.

I had a chat with the site secretary who is missing the adders as they seem to have vanished since this hot, dry spell started, then I chatted with my old mate, Jack and he gave me a bag full of little gem lettuce for me and the various animals. We also enjoyed sampling his various goosegogs and blackcurrants. Yum. Emphysema Joe was also there loving the heat, but cursing his forthcoming holiday to Portugal when it is currently sunnier and hotter here in Essex. Jim from next to Jack was over briefly, but I didn't get a chance to say hello before he was gone again...apparently he isn't well.

All in all, a full day, and I didn't get all of my plants out - still have leeks, courgettes, peas, spinach and spring onions to plant, but I have another day off next week, and who knows, it may rain between now and then and 6 packets of carrots, all sown in the same patch, will all germiate and I will be surfing the web looking for 101 things to do with carrots.