19 October 2014

Last of the harvest

Yesterday I brought in and stacked two dumpy bags of logs, one of large 40cm "overnighters" and one of standard sized beautifully seasoned ash, the verandah is a glorious sight to behold and the aroma....  Not that we need them (yet) it was actually a wee bit too warm for log stacking.  I don't think I've ever been out in mid-late October in just a t-shirt without feeling cold especially when the wind is gusty.  Today is another unseasonably warm day, thermometer is reading 16 degrees but the winds have picked up and it's very blustery - the pups are more than slightly crackers.  They've been tearing around the garden whilst I harvested the last of the tomatoes, around two pounds of ripe ones have gone in the freezer and another pound and half of half ripe and green fruits are sitting on the kitchen window sill to be added to the freezer containers are they ripen always assuming they don't get munched as they ripen.  The last of the plants have been cleared out of the greenhouse and when it's not quite so windy it will be cleaned down and let open to air ready for next year.
Having harvested the last fruits the results of my mini-tomato-experiment are in. They did better in medium sized pots than grow bags, which is not so surprising, no competition and a better root run but what was surprising is that the plants in medium sized pots did better than those in the bigger ones, the root systems don't look hugely different despite the variation in available space so perhaps they need a little bit of stress to produce a good crop.  When it comes to varieties because my seedlings got checked by the late frost I ended up buying plants so could have a greater range. The sweet million were wonderful as always so they're on the list for next year. The gardener's delight didn't produce as many fruits but they were bigger and not as tasty, so they're crossed off, if I can get them we'll try sweet olive again nest year instead. Standard sized tomatoes: I had three varieties, moneymaker which was the best of the lot producing a good crop of nicely tasty fruits, next were alicante, not as many fruits but the flavour was incredible however the skins were a little tough, bottom of the heap were Grandad's favourites the Alisa Craig which didn't produce many fruits per truss, which were very fleshy not very juicy and again had quite tough skins, so we won't do those again. All of which means next year we're growing sweet million, moneymaker and one alicante plant all in individual medium sized pots and maybe something else - something different just for fun!
Cucumbers were mixed too, the socrates was best with soft skinned tasty seedless mini-ish cues, which kept producing until the beginning of the month - as long as you pick regularly.   The sweet crunch produced many more fruits but they were quite tough, definitely crunchy and the skins had a distinctive tang to them, we were not so keen on those, so socrates again next year.  And maybe we'll try gherkins for a change or seeing as the dogs are munching their way through courgettes at an ever increasing rate perhaps we'll venture out of the greenhouse into the surrounding area.  We were discussing rhubarb whilst listening to GQT and the Yorkshire lady stuck on Anglesey and struggling with hers, we both love rhubarb and someone poured concrete over our crowns - it may be a million years ago but we've not forgotten.....

27 January 2014

It rained, then it poured and then it rained some more; and a bird count

OK, this is now officially ridiculous! I emptied the water butt on Tuesday, then again on Saturday and this morning it's once again overflowing.

Just for a little variety yesterday just I was starting the bird count it snowed which certainly affected the bird numbers. This is what we counted:
Blackbird - 1
Blue tit - 1
Brambling - 2
Chaffinch - 17
Coal tit - 1
Dunnock - 2
Great tit - 2
Greenfinch - 3
Robin - 1
Song thrush - 1

A much lower number than at the same of day on any other day during the past week - oh, well.
The wren may have been busy under the herb bed and amongst the pots but then again the little flash of brown could have been the back of the robin or a dunnock so we're not including her this time.
Notable absentees included both sparrows, goldfinches (who were there in great numbers earlier in the day), siskins, starlings and wood pigeon; these all visit daily but just not in the middle of a sleety blizzard apparently - and who can blame them?
Others who stayed away were the collared dove, nuthatch, long tails, the willow tit and our reasonably regular woodpecker.

20 January 2014

Frosty morning

After last night's beautiful stars this morning there was a hard frost.