Vegetable Garden

How to Prune Autumn Fruiting Raspberry Canes

The Garden Smallholder

Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut down to ground level to in February or March to encourage fresh growth Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut down to ground level to in February or March to encourage fresh growth

An allotment visit was needed today to cut the autumn fruiting raspberry canes down. Autumn raspberry varieties fruit on the current years growth, cutting all canes down to ground level during February or March helps to direct energy where it’s needed, encouraging fresh new growth (canes) from the base. The new canes will eventually bear fruit in late summer/autumn.

Cut each cane a couple of inches above ground level. Cut each cane a couple of inches above ground level.

This is how your row of autumn fruiting raspberries should look after pruning This is how your row of autumn fruiting raspberries should look after pruning

It was quite cold in the wind and raining on and off, apart from one other plot holder we were the only ones there.

Here’s a reminder on how and when to prune summer raspberries https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/tiding-summer-fruiting-raspberry-canes/

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Recipes

Beetroot and Walnut Hummus

beetrootandwalnuthummusblog

It’s February and we’re still harvesting beetroot from the kitchen garden. In order to use some up I made a delicious hummus following a River Cottage recipe, although I tweaked it a bit to suit our own taste. Once made it will keep for a few days if stored in the fridge, serve at room temperature. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Serves 4

  • 50g walnuts
  • 15g stale bread, crusts removed and torn into chunks
  • 200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Half a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas Mark 4. Toast the walnuts on a baking tray for 5 minutes, leave to cool. Put the bread and toasted walnuts into a food processor or use a hand blender to blitz to fine crumbs. Add the beetroot, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a grinding of pepper. Blend to a thick paste, taste and adjust by adding more lemon, garlic and seasoning if you prefer, blending again. Loosen with a dash more oil if required.

Delicious as a starter or dip, served with breadsticks or flatbreads.

Product Reviews

Feathers and Beaky Expandable Veg Holder Product Review

Poultry and other captive birds across the UK still remain on bird flu lockdown, this is a necessary step to prevent spread of disease but is proving to be a tricky situation for farmers and the back yard chicken keeper as the problem goes on.

For us, putting our chickens on lockdown wasn’t a difficult affair thanks to our lovely walk-in runs with covered roofs, they still receive plenty of light and fresh air and egg laying hasn’t suffered. If, like ours, your flock is used to free-ranging often, suddenly being cooped up 24/7 with little to do can have a detrimental effect on behaviour leading to increased boredom bullying or feather pecking. Luckily for us our chicken runs are also really spacious, the problem however is boredom and that’s where things can get tricky. Touch wood bullying has been to a minimum, just the usual behaviour you’d expect to see within a flock but there are ways to improve welfare during this difficult time. So, what can you do to prevent boredom for your chickens permanently locked in?

feathers and beaky veg holder

feathers and beaky

Giving them something to have a good peck at (rather than each other) is a great way to prevent unwanted bullying. Spike’s World kindly sent us a Feathers and Beaky expandable veg holder for our hens to trial. The design is simple to use, just pop the vegetables inside the expandable springy holder and put the lid on (we used winter cabbage), the holder can then be hung from any height by attaching string.

feathers and beaky vegetable holder
Meet the testers! Phoebe, Buttercup and Daisy line up to inspect the vegetable holder.

At first our girls were very unsure of this strange flying cabbage-thing and chose to hang back and ignore it, the springy movement of the vegetable holder scared them as they cautiously pecked at it so we tried adding a handful of loose sweetcorn (their favourite treat), stuffing it inside the cabbage leaves.

feathers and beaky veg holder

We knew they couldn’t resist and in next to no time they were pecking at the veg holder with no fear whatsoever…..

feathers and beaky veg holder for chickens

feathers and beaky veg holder

img_1979blog

feathers and beaky veg holder

feathers and beaky

feathers and beaky veg holder

Even ‘cutting strange shapes’ to get to the contents…..

feathers and beaky veg holder

You can add vegetables such as sweetcorn cobs, lettuce, cabbage and greens etc. The holder keeps the veg clean and dry and prevents unwanted visitors such as rats. Raise the holder slightly to encourage extra exercise! The girls love pecking at their veg holder for hours on end, it really helps with boredom. Give it a try for your lockdown chickens.

You can purchase a Feathers and Beaky expandable veg holder from Spike’s World here or from the British Hen Welfare Trust online shop here.

Vegetable Garden

Flurry of Snow

snow on watering can

A light covering of snow arrived early this morning. I was mucking out the chickens at the time, watching their reaction to the strange-looking threat falling from the sky. I did find it amusing, it’s the first time these particular hens have seen snow.

After finishing the chicken chores I grabbed my camera and took some photos.

snow on the kitchen garden rhubarb in the snow

Our dog wanted to take part in the snow photo shoot….german shepherd

Within a couple of hours it stopped snowing, anything that did settle melted away by early afternoon.

Book Reviews

Build A Better Vegetable Garden Book Review

build a better vegetable garden

So as I look out of the window, I see grey, snow-threatening skies. The wind has decided it wants to blow so strongly it feels reminiscent of the opening scene in the Wizard of Oz. Definitely not the type of weather that motivates me to dust off the old boots and get out into the garden.

However, the life of a garden smallholder isn’t spent purely outside being at one with nature. Some time needs to be spent indoors (thankfully at this time of year) planning what you are going to do in the coming year. This is also a great time to prioritise some of those plot improvements, that need a little bit of DIY know-how, or effort beyond time in the soil.

With this in mind, I was excited to see what Build A Better Vegetable Garden by Joyce and Ben Russell could offer in terms of inspiration and guidance. The sub-title of the book demonstrates the context with the text 30 DIY Projects to Improve Your Harvest.

Whilst the book may not offer anything in terms of innovation for us in our garden, it does offer some great tips on how to put together projects that are the bread and butter of any smallholding. The way the tasks are described and presented are simple to follow and provide good steps on how to make the projects work from start to finish. The photos also show, in a visual way, how the projects should develop to help those more likely to follow images than text (me included).

If you have no DIY skills and lack the tools that you may find in any DIY enthusiasts toolbox, some of these projects could be beyond you. But don’t be put off, if you’re willing to invest in the tools and time, you could pick up some new skills.

What I love about the book is that it doesn’t only look at the functional aspects of a growing garden, such as vegetable beds or planters, it also adds some neat aesthetic ideas. The one that stood out for me was how to make a scarecrow. The images showing the author Joyce Russell looking at her League Of Gentleman style scarecrow head made me laugh, but the end result is a scarecrow that not only looks good but also does the job.

Other projects, such as the drying cabinet, feel quite ambitious for the average garden smallholder, but it could be a target for those amongst us that fancy a challenge.

Overall I think the book is presented very well. The steps on each project are easy to follow and the images really help. The variation in complexity demonstrates a good step-up for most smallholders, which should mean, it’s not a read once reference.

I think the book is definitely worth a look and I enjoyed reading it. Even the fact that it offered validation of what we had already done and backed-up some of our future plans is encouraging. But take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.

Build A Better Vegetable Garden published by Frances Lincoln. Available to purchase from Amazon.

avian flu
Uncategorized

Bird Flu

avian flu

What? No free ranging? Are you kidding me??!! Afraid not kiddo.

We haven’t allowed our chickens to free range since early December 2016. The Chief Veterinary Officer declared a Prevention Zone to help protect poultry and other captive birds from a strain of Avian Influenza (H5N8) in Europe. Since the Prevention Zone was announced, cases have been confirmed across the UK. By continuing to keep our flock separate from wild birds and maintaining biosecurity measures on our premises, we’re doing the very best we can to protect our chickens from this threat.

Please click the following link for more information on how to keep your birds safe from Avian Influenza: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/581952/ai-birdflu-factsheet-170106.pdf

Updates and further information regarding Avian Influenza and the current situation are available on the DEFRA website, please do keep checking to make sure you are complying with the latest prevention zone requirements. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Grow Your Own Guides, Vegetable Garden

How to Force Rhubarb

rhubarb forcer
If you’d like to get an earlier crop of rhubarb now is a good time to force it. Choose an  established rhubarb in your garden and simply cover the crown with a forcing jar, upturned dustbin or very large pot. Doing this creates a dark and warm environment inside, forcing the stems into premature growth. Restricted light creates baby pink stalks which taste less tart and not as fibrous, ready approximately 8 weeks after covering.
forced rhubarb stemsHowever, once you force a crown you should allow it to crop naturally the following year (preferably two years of recovery), forcing it year after year could seriously weaken it. Before forcing, be sure to clear away the area around the base of the crown, removing decaying leaves and weeds to avoid the rhubarb crown rotting. Add a mulch of homemade compost or well-rotted manure to give a boost of nutrients.

Timperley Early rhubarb beginning to grow in winter

A tip is to grow 3 crowns (providing you have the space), allow one to recover from being forced the previous year, force one and let the other crop naturally, when it should. A good variety for forcing is Victoria.
rhubarb january
Timperley Early rhubarb in our kitchen garden 8th January 2017
Our favourite rhubarb variety to grow is ‘Timperley Early’, it starts cropping naturally as early as March. If you grow this variety you have to get a wiggle on and force it earlier than other varieties to produce an earlier crop, usually December for cropping in February. As you can see, our young crowns (planted last year) are already well on their way to producing some fine stalks! They’re not established enough to start forcing them yet, it’ll be another year or two before we can use the forcing jars on them.
Vegetable Garden

Our Favourite Carrot Variety

 

carrots

There are so many lovely carrot varieties to grow (and we’ve grown quite a few of them over the years!) including unusual heritage types of many colours. However, our all time favourite carrot to grow that feeds us over a long season is ‘Autumn King’. This particular maincrop variety always does well for us, roots can be lifted from late summer through into winter. We like to thin seedlings for sweet tender carrots (perfect in salads) and leave the rest to mature into large thick roots.

Rich pulling carrots in the kitchen garden today
Rich pulling Autumn King carrots in the kitchen garden today, doesn’t he look happy?!

Autumn King appears to have some resistant to carrot fly too, wherever we’ve grown them they come out of the ground with minimum damage right through to winter. Deep, well-drained soil without any stones is best, we grow maincrop carrots in raised beds with early maturing varieties doing well in large deep tubs if we run out of space.

carrots

What’s your favourite variety to grow year after year?

 

Uncategorized

Catching Up With 2016

the view from river cottage

Where did 2016 go? It whizzed by!

We had a wonderful Christmas but I find the run up to New Year a little boring. I love family time but I’m not one to sit around for hours/days on end doing nothing, I get the urge to do something other than eat junk and fall asleep in front of the TV watching the obligatory Christmas repeats of Only Fools and Horses.

I decided to review the blog during the quiet moments over the holidays and it quickly dawned on me that I missed some things out during 2016. The Monthly Peek at the Veg Garden posts ended rather abruptly in June (I have no idea why and I’m sorry about that) and in July we went to Beer near Seaton, a delightful fishing village in East Devon with a visit to River Cottage HQ while we were there. It was an amazing holiday and I’m stumped as to why I didn’t blog about it?!

I’m going to amend all of that by sharing photos of the gorgeous Jurassic Coast scenery in Beer and Seaton (I had to really cull the photos down, otherwise this post will never end!) and our memories of River Cottage HQ. I’ve thrown a couple of our garden harvests in too!

There’s a village by the sea, it’s a little piece of heaven and the angels call it Beer …

Beer is a fishing village in East Devon, England. The village faces Lyme Bay and is a little over one mile west of the coastal town of Seaton. If you’d like to know more about this beautiful unspoilt sea village, please do take a look at this informative website: http://www.beer-devon.co.uk/about/

Fishing boats at Beer, Devon
Fishing boats at Beer, Devon
Beach huts at Beer, Devon
Beach huts at Beer, Devon
Seaton Hole twinned with Beer fishing village
Seaton Hole twinned with Beer fishing village
Rock pools
Rock pools
Red cliffs of Seaton
Red cliffs of Seaton
Rock pools Seaton Hole
Rock pools Seaton Hole
Limpets
Limpets
Seaton beach huts
Seaton beach huts
Seaton beach
Seaton beach

Our dining experience visit to River Cottage HQ in Axminster was just amazing. Arriving at 6pm we were transported in groups by tractor and trailer down the famous winding hill to the even more famous white farmhouse. Being a massive fan of River Cottage I did get ridiculously excited as the house grew in size as we got nearer.

Drinks and canapes in the River Cottage yurt
Drinks and canapes in the River Cottage yurt

After getting off the trailer we entered a huge yurt, there we were greeted with delicious canapes and offered shots of a local-made cider, being Kingston Black for our evening. We were then encouraged to explore our surroundings including the River Cottage farmhouse and kitchen garden.

The view from River Cottage
The view from River Cottage
I really didn't want to leave, I coud have sat there all day looking at the gorgeous view of the kitchen garden
Check out my sulk face! I really didn’t want to leave, I could have sat there all day looking at the gorgeous view of the kitchen garden
The River Cottage kitchen, many TV dishes have been cooked here
The famous River Cottage kitchen

river cottage

Dad and Rich discussing cabbages....
Dad and Rich discussing cabbages….
Welcome to the River Cottage kitchen garden
Welcome to the River Cottage kitchen garden

river cottage

We made our way to the barn to be seated for our meal, the seating arrangement encourages you to get to know your fellow diners with many sharing starters (as well as many individual ones) to break the ice. The food was just as delicious as I imagined it to be, fresh seasonal food from the kitchen garden and farm as well as local produce too. The staff were informative and welcoming, the kitchen is left open for you to pop your head round the door to meet the chefs if you wish. The ingredients for each dish were explained, Hugh’s philosophy for fresh home-grown produce, animal welfare and supporting local producers/smallholders/farmers was very evident.

The River Cottage HQ barn
The River Cottage HQ barn
One of the sharing starters
One of the sharing starters
Just one of the many individual starters
Just one of the many individual starters

I can honestly say I’ve never eaten so much in one evening! Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for and if you have any other dietary requirement the staff are only too pleased to help.

Pickled cucmber and nasturtium leaves from the garden
Pickled cucumber and nasturtium leaves from the garden

As we climbed back into the trailer in the dark it was very obvious the awkwardness of being with strangers at the start of the evening had disappeared. Everyone giggled loudly as the bumpy trailer slowly began climbing the hill. Perhaps it was just the wine! My parents, Rich and I all left with full stomachs and wonderful memories

And last but not least, some harvests from the garden at the end of the year. Ta da!

pumpkins and squash

apples in a basket

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for January

The Garden Smallholder

January is usually a cold month, if the weather is particularly severe there may be little to do in the vegetable garden, but now is the perfect time to plan for the busy year ahead. Browse seed catalogues and plan what you’re going to grow and where, drawing a plan of your plot can help. If you’re a busy person, think about how much time you can realistically spend in your garden or at your allotment, try to plan accordingly, avoiding the mistake of growing too much all at once. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if you’re a beginner, far better to choose crops that you enjoy eating or find easy to grow. Add more to your list as your confidence grows.

Some jobs that can be tackled in January:

  • Order seed potatoes for chitting this month or next
  • Force established Rhubarb
  • Sow Broad Beans if you didn’t get around to it…

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Uncategorized

Happy New Year 2017

garden collage

Wishing you a New Year that’s bursting with joy! I hope the new growing year ahead provides your larder and kitchen with plenty of own-grown produce.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017, may all your wishes come true!

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for December

The Garden Smallholder

Sprouts

December is a great month to finish tidying, tackle repairs to structures, winter dig and generally plan and look forward to the coming growing season!

  • Get on with winter digging (avoid if the ground is frozen or waterlogged)
  • Spread well-rotted manure on areas that need a bit of a boost (avoid planting roots in these areas)
  • Harvest Brussels sprouts from the bottom up
  • Harvest parsnips after a hard frost, they’ll be sweeter for it
  • Plant garlic if you can work the soil, otherwise use small pots and plant out once rooted
  • Drool at seed catalogues and plan your veg planting for next year

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for November

The Garden Smallholder

Fading light conditions can make time for the garden almost impossible if you’re busy, now is the time to get motivated to put the garden to bed for the winter. However, there are planting possibilities for milder areas of the UK to be getting on with. It’s well worth getting some winter digging underway for heavy soils (avoid digging in constant wet weather), remove weeds and spread manure or organic compost if you can. If you prefer to follow the no-dig method, top dressing empty beds with organic matter can be done now too. Being productive now should save time come spring – and your soil will love you for it.

Some jobs for November:

  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Plant garlic and winter onion sets
  • Prune apple and pear trees
  • Prune soft fruit bushes
  • Cover frost tender plants at night with horticultural fleece, don’t forget greenhouse…

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Flower Garden, Vegetable Garden

Top 5 Flowers for the Vegetable Garden or Allotment

It must be said, a veg garden in full productive swing is a thing of beauty. Throw some flowers into the mix and you have yourself a masterpiece. Apart from fruit, veg and herb flowers which are beautiful in their own right, I always include flowers to grow in our veg garden to attract pollinators and for cutting to enjoy inside the house.

Here are my top 5 easy-to-grow flowers for the vegetable garden or allotment:

1.  Sweet Pea

sweet peas

Great for cutting with delicious scent and early colour, grow them up a willow obelisk for a gorgeous stylish look, cut regularly to encourage more blooms. Dwarf varieties are great for growing in containers or for gardens where space is an issue. My favourites are old-fashioned grandiflora types and strongly scented tall climbers. A lovely variety to try is ‘Old Spice’ from Mr Fothergill’s.

2.  Cosmos

cosmos

Summer colour which lasts well into late autumn, good for cutting and attracting pollinators. Adding height and interest to the garden they can grow quite tall and get a bit wild and airy, but that’s what I love about them. Beautiful feathery foliage and flowers in many colours from soft white to bold crimson. For smaller gardens try growing the better behaved dwarf varieties.

Sarah Raven Bright Lights Cosmos

For something a little different try ‘Bright Lights’ from Sarah Raven, beautiful shades of orange to liven up any plot.

3. Sunflowers

sunflower

The well-known yellow giants as well as other coloured cultivars are perfect for attracting bees and hoverflies to the veg garden, during autumn and winter the large seed heads become a feast for wild birds.

dwarf sunflower

Great first flowers for children to grow, a firm favourite with adults too! I grew a beautiful multi-branching variety called ‘Black Magic’ this year from Mr Fothergill’s – not truly black but blooms of the darkest maroon. The seeds are black and small enough for all wild birds to enjoy, as they currently are in our garden!

4. Nasturtiums

nasturtium in a trough planter

This is such a versatile plant/flower and perfect for poor soils. Grow in the border, beds or containers, flowers and leaves are edible with a spicy punchy flavour and perfect for adding colour and a hint of pepper to a salad. Seed pods are edible too (best when green) and resemble capers, learn how to pickle them with this lovely article by What You Sow.

cabbage white caterpillar

Nasturtiums are attractive to pollinators and can be used as a distraction plant to Cabbage White butterflies, steering them away from brassicas to lay their eggs. Mighty handy if you love your cabbages, although you might want to check your salad before munching! Keep sowing throughout the year to extend the flowering time well into autumn, they’ll keep going till the frosts come.

5. Rudbeckia Gloriosa Daisies

img_0012rudbeckiagloriosadaises

I grow this type of Rudbeckia as a half hardy annual, spectacular colour from summer right through to late autumn. Bold flowers with different pattern markings glow in autumn sunshine, they also brighten up the veg patch on a dreary day when little else is in bloom. Support is needed, they grow well over 4ft high, lovely as a cut flower. I use Mr Fothergill’s seed starting them off in seed trays in spring and pricking out strong plants to grow on in individual pots, planting out after the risk of frosts has passed. Plant in clumps, ideal where space is not an issue.

 

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for October

The Garden Smallholder

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin I grew, sadly it began to rot before reaching epic proportions. Still, there's always next year!

Clocks go back, days are drawing in quick and the threat of the first frost looms. Cold biting winds, falling leaves and dreary weather are signalling the end of the gardening year, take a moment to look around you and marvel at October’s autumn colour palette. It sure is beautiful, especially when the sun shines. There are still jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden, so don’t put your tools away just yet!

Some jobs for October:

  • Keep picking those courgettes and beans before the first frost arrives
  • Sow green manures
  • Tidy the strawberry bed, pot up stray runners and overwinter in a greenhouse or well-lit shed
  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Start planting garlic at the end of the month
  • Harvest and carve pumpkins for Halloween/Samhain celebrations
  • Autumn sow hardy broad beans (Aquaduce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring
  • Start…

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for September

The Garden Smallholder

Summer is holding on by a thread in September, nights are definitely drawing in. There’s still  plenty to harvest this month including beans and courgettes, autumn raspberries and other berries should be plentiful too. Pumpkins should be swelling nicely, deepening in colour ready for harvesting from next month onwards.

Some jobs for September:

  • Keep picking courgettes, aim to get them small before they become big and watery
  • Turn your compost heap
  • Pick green tomatoes that show no sign of ripening by the end of the month, bring them indoors to ripen or use them green in chutney
  • Sow green manures
  • Harvest the first apples and pears
  • Keep harvesting main crop potatoes as needed
  • Earth up brassicas to prevent them toppling over
  • Pick autumn raspberries
  • Check stakes and ties for giant sunflower varieties, as the flower heads produce seeds they become heavier. Leave them in place for the wild birds.
  • Earth up leeks
  • Sweet corn cobs should be…

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for August

The Garden Smallholder

All the hard work is starting to pay off, the vegetable garden is producing plenty to take back to the kitchen. Beans and courgettes will need picking daily; blanche and freeze beans to avoid a glut or waste, try to pick courgettes before they become too big and watery. Not much can be sown now in time for harvest although salad leaves, lettuces and some of the faster growing roots and leaf vegetables should be fine. I like to experiment and push boundaries, I’ll be giving a few other things a try for a late harvest such as carrots, beets, peas and kohl rabi. No harm done if it doesn’t work. As space becomes available, over wintering crops such as kale and purple sprouting broccoli can be planted out.

Some jobs for August:

  • Keep watering tomatoes (especially greenhouse varieties), pinch out side shoots as they appear and growing tips once 4 or 5 trusses have formed. Keep feeding. For ripening tomatoes…

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for July

The Garden Smallholder

  • If you haven’t done so already, plant out or sow runner beans, French beans and courgettes
  • Plant out Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli for a crop next spring
  • Keep feeding tomatoes weekly, pinch out side shoots on cordon varieties
  • Snap off onion and garlic scape (flower spikes) as they appear
  • Keep the hoe and watering can busy!
  • If you have the space, keep sowing beetroot, kohl rabi, radish, spring onions, lettuce, peas and carrots
  • Keep picking soft fruits such as strawberries, currants, raspberries, hybrid berries and gooseberries
  • Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans once the pods start to form to discourage black fly
  • Begin harvesting main crop potatoes
  • Cut sweet pea flowers to bring indoors, remove seed pods to encourage more flowers
  • Tie in Runner Beans and sunflowers as they grow
  • Ventilate the greenhouse
  • Transplant or ‘dib in’ leek seedlings once they’re the width of a pencil
  • Begin harvesting garlic…

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Vegetable Garden

June Peek at the Veg Garden

june veg garden

This month has been very wet and mostly humid, including thunderstorms and ‘smashy’ rain. At one point the veg garden sank under water (again), luckily it drained away quickly with no lasting damage but we wasn’t so lucky when water made its way into the back of the house. After pulling up a carpet to dry it out there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage.

june veg garden

The appearance of the veg garden has really changed since last months peek post, growth is fast and lush thanks to the endless rain but slugs and snails have been a real pain. The garden frogs are loving it, of course.

red duke garlic

Second early potatoes are ready now, along with broad beans, spring onions, courgettes, peas, beets, chard, strawberries, early blackcurrants and raspberries. I harvested the garlic recently due to rust, some of the bulbs are on the small side but free of disease which is the main thing.

crimson flowered broad beans

 

The crimson broad bean flowers didn’t disappoint, they’ve earned a spot in the garden for next year and just look at the gorgeous sweet pea….

sweet peas

Hopefully the weather will settle down soon, it’s been nice not to have to water the garden (although I’m starting to miss it now!) but I do miss the sunshine.

Chickens

Unexpected Residents

rescue hensA few weeks ago the garden smallholding gate swung open to welcome two very dehydrated and extremely hungry hens. They were purchased by some morons who thought it would be really funny to use them as part of a prank and then dump them by the side of a road, luckily this was stopped before it happened and they were brought straight here by people close to me.

Both were absolutely riddled with roundworm (passing live adults regularly) and feather lice, they also have scaly leg mite which I’m still treating them for. I don’t know much about their history and I’m guessing wildly when I say they’re around 12 – 15 months old, but I do know that wherever they came from originally they weren’t looked after there either, it seems.

After a spell in quarantine they now occupy one of the coops and will remain here, they’re yet to meet the other girls, but I’m sure that won’t be long now that I’m satisfied with test results from my vet to determine if they’re carrying any contagious poultry diseases.

They’re both incredibly sweet-natured and seem quite at home here.

 

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for June

A reblog of a previous post, a list of jobs for the kitchen garden or allotment that can be carried out this month.

The Garden Smallholder

I love the month of June. The weather is starting to warm, everything is growing quicker, the risk of frost diminishes and interesting looking crops such as coloured beans and squash can be planted out or sown. You may even be harvesting potatoes, broad beans and peas along with salad leaves and ripening summer strawberries.

Jobs for June:

  • Plant out or sow runner and French beans (if you haven’t done so already), courgettes and squash
  • Plant out sweetcorn, pumpkins, kale and purple sprouting broccoli
  • Start feeding tomatoes, pinch out side shoots on cordon varieties
  • Snap off onion and garlic scape (flower spikes) as they appear
  • Keep the hoe and watering can busy!
  • Keep sowing carrots, beets, salad crops, spring onion and radish
  • Make June the last month to harvest your rhubarb, allowing it to rest
  • Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans once the pods start to form to discourage black fly
  • Harvest peas, early and…

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