Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday 13th November 2010 - weather: wet, cold, windy, grim!

Seriously now, getting really fed up with this autumn/winter weather. I have so much to do, but so few decent daylight hours to do it. The allotment could do with some TLC, although I did manage to weed and tidy it through a few weeks ago. I really want to try and tackle putting some weed membrane down under the apple trees this winter as they get so thick with brambles and nettles, it looks rotten.

I have managed a couple of flying visits, and the last visit, last week, I was able to pick a lovely bundle of brocolli heads which were devine, sweet and tender. Nothing like freshly picked brassicas for me. Glad to report, there will be a good bounty of tight sprouts for Christmas, and the chard and kale as growing so fast. The caulis all got heads, but they were grey and slimey. I think I really should stop trying as I just can't master those white curds. Looks like I should get some purple sprouting over the winter also as the plants are HUGE! The onions and garlic are all growing and I have a lovely large rectangle of broad beans, which I am very excited about, as I have never grown overwintering broadies before.

All in all, the allotment looks great - well, it did a week ago. Of course, since then we have had gale force winds and gallons of rain, but hey ho, that's Mother Nature for you.

The quaily birds are still gorgeous, and driving me to distraction. We now have 19 lovely plump birdies, but I fear at least 9 of them are chaps, so a cull will be taking place anytime soon. Because we recently introduced the last batch of new hatchlings, we have had a heat lamp on in the greenhouse, so they have all started laying like mad again, and taking part in carnal pleasures, and cock-a-doodle-doing. Yesterday we had 10 eggs, which is a joy, but I would like them to stop laying and fatten up and relax for the winter, so the lights have all gone out. Regardless, they laid another 8 eggs today. I'm sure by this time next week, the laying will have stopped and everyone will have settled down. On the upside, I am planning to hold back on using some of the eggs so we can enjoy the last dozen or 2 laid for breakfast on Christmas morning.

I think I have chosen which boys are heading for the freezer. I know it seems mean, but that was the idea of keeping the birds, they aren't pets, they are livestock. I love them all, and it does pain me to think of them being killed, but I am also looking forward to eating them, and I know what they have been fed on, I know they have had a great life with access to the outside world, good food, room to fly, mealy worms and greens so are happy birdies, and the meat is all the more tender for it.

The only bad news to repot, my Rumtopf went dodgy. I opened it to give it a stir and there was a fine layer of white mould. All I can think is that some of the fruit we above alcohol level and went mouldy. A shame as that we destined for Chrissy, but you win some you loose some. I will start again next spring as the fruits start.


Anonymous said...

When do you plant your kale and chard for winter harvesting? I tried sowing them in August but none of them germinated.

Emma Jane said...

I usually sow late spring, early June time, then plant out as soon as they are big enough, or I have the room. To get decent plants for harvesting, they need a reasonable amount of time growing, so August is a bit on the late side. That said, a couple of my chard plants are from young plants given to me in September, and they are now monsters.

Anonymous said...

Ok, will try next year! (It's me with the quail by the way, I changed my name....)

Emma Jane said...

Aha, as it is you oop north where it is a tad nippier than me in dreary Essex, I would start them a little earlier, May June time. If the plants are small in the autumn, then they just sit there all winter. You do get a flush of leaves in spring, but they quickly go to seed.

p.s. Now I have taken the heat lamp out of the quailarium, we are down to 3 eggs a day, thank goodness!

Jo said...

Sounds like you've got plenty going on at the allotment. I don't know if you've got snow down there like we have here, but if so, I hope it hasn't spoilt anything. I don't think I could raise birds to eat. I think it's great that you know they've had a good life, and you know exactly what you're eating, but I'm much too big a softie to do the deed.