Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taking a Break From Growing Vegetables

This year has been pretty rubbish for me for vegetable growing, mostly as a result of a lack of time and starting much too late. Anyway, having had a look around the garden as a whole I can see that it has got way out of control. Mostly, the leylandii hedges need to be seriously cut back as well as some other trees that need cutting back or felling altogether. My limited time has been focused on the vegetable garden which has meant that everything else has got out of hand.

So, I have made the radical decision not to grow any vegetables next year and instead to focus the rest of the garden instead. This will involve lots of chopping of wood and clearing of areas that are not currently serving any purpose.

The main byproduct of this will be lots of firewood. Most of this will be leylandii the bigger bits of which take a couple of years to properly season. But most importantly it will be free!

I have already started cutting one hedge, but as I it gets colder I will need to stop until the spring. It's a good job I have recently bought a new chainsaw!

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Beginnings

Yes, I am still here! I haven't posted in months and months so if I have any regular readers left you may be wondering whether I have given up altogether. I had started to lose a little momentum at the beginning of last year, but I think what did it for me was starting another blog. I had this grand idea of having an expert blog around the theme of self-sufficiency and so Self-Sufficiency Life was born. The idea was that I would write posts full of useful information that would make my new blog a complete eco resource. A Smallholder's Diary would be more about what I had been doing.

However, after a good start Self-Sufficiency Life ground to a halt as I struggled to find the an inspiration to write the really good posts that I aspired to. Meanwhile, on A Smallholder's Diary, I felt that I had run out of things to say.

Later in the year, some very difficult things happened at work (which I don't want to go into here) which means that I am currently working some distance from home and staying away a couple of nights per week. So now I have less time for doing self-sufficiency stuff let alone wring about it.

So now I have a choice; should I abandon my blogs or should I find some way of resurrecting them. Well, the plan that I have come up with is to abandon Self-Sufficiency Life and to try and reinvigorate A Smallholder's Diary. With this blog I shall return to the mix of talking about what I have been doing with some (hopefully) useful information. I am thinking I might transfer this over to WordPress if I can figure out how to. Some of the posts from Self-Sufficiency Life may find their way here.

With Spring in the air (although still tinged with a bit of Winter) now seems a good time to make a new start. Hopefully the weather will warm up soon so I might have something to write about!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Year's Growing Season Has Been Rubbish!

Things really have not gone very well at all this year. The weather has not been favourable at all. First there were the late frosts with a particularly cold period during February. Then we had a very warm March with talk of drought. And then we had the seemingly endless rain. On and on it seemed to go. It feels that summer has only just arrived now - today has been very warm and greenhouse felt like it was hotter than the surface of the sun itself.

I have to admit to being a bit of a fair weather gardener, and as fair weather has been somewhat lacking recently I have not been out as much as I should have. As a result weeds have really been taking hold, particularly nettles and bindweed which is getting to be a real problem. Also the late frosts killed off much the blossom on the trees which means that my fruit harvest is severely diminished. My damson tree is particularly disappointing - last year it was heaving with fruit whereas this year there are barely any at all.

Potatoes have also been very disappointing with a much smaller than usual crop and of the potatoes that I have, many have been eaten by wireworm. This is not good news as this means they have spread across the plot now as I always have problems with wireworm on the other side of the plot.. I think I may give potatoes a miss next year.

There have been some exceptions - the garlic has done much better than the previous years, so I think they actually quite liked the late frost. The shallots have also done rather well.

The greenhouse has also been disappointing, not helped by a break in earlier in the season. Not by disaffected youths, but by my goats! Their pen backs onto my improvised greenhouse separated by a piece of wood which they like to butt their horns against. Inevitably the wood eventually gave way allowing the the goats into the greenhouse and munch their way through my tomato plants, pepper plants and cucumber plants. I was not amused and it is lucky for them we are vegetarian.

All in all it has not been going well. I think will salvage what I can this year and start thinking ahead to next spring.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unexpected Goslings!

Spring into early summer is when the geese start laying their eggs. Usually we don't allow the geese to sit on their eggs as we were not planning on having any more geese at the present time. If they do start sitting on them it is a case of picking up the eggs during the brief periods when the goose gets up to feed. This time though we never managed to get them as the goose never seemed to be off the eggs when we were looking. I did try and coax her off but this was met with lots of very cross hissing and she stubbornly refused to budge. In the end we gave up and left her to it thinking that they probably wouldn't hatch anyway. Just when we were thinking that time had passed for them to hatch we spotted three little yellow goslings following their parents around the garden. This prompted a quick dash to the local animal feed suppliers to buy some chick crumb.

Ordinarily when you hatch out goslings you need to keep them under a heat lamp to keep them warm, but their mother seems to be doing this job very well, so we have left them to it. In the longer term we are not sure what we are going to do with them; I guess we will decide that when they reach maturity.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Arrivals: Indian Runner Ducks

I have definitely been neglecting my blog recently. If my blog were my vegetable plot it would be knee deep in nettles, thistles, docks and other assorted weeds. I just seem to have lost momentum somehow. I have decided to try and bring it back to life and get back into the routine of posting regularly. Fortunately blogs don't suffer from neglect in the same way as gardens and there is not a need to do any drastic weeding before "planting" my posts.

We have recently been given some runner ducks, although actually one of them is mixture of runner and something else. Runners are the best ducks for eggs and are normally fairly prolific layers. These started off laying well and have now just suddenly stopped. I don't know if it has anything to do with the recently warm weather or what. We are having to keep these in a pen as the geese have not taken kindly to sharing the garden with them and have done their best to make them unwelcome.

We used to have ducks in the past, before a fox had them all. They may look cute, but I had forgotten how messy they are. How can such small birds produce so much poo?! Let's hope they get back to producing some eggs soon as they are very good for baking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Planting Gets Under Way

I promised myself that this year I would make an early start to spring planting making full use of the greenhouse to maximise the growing season. Of course I didn't manage this - there were too many other things getting in the way. That late flurry of winter in February didn't help either.

Anyway, I did make a tentative start a couple of weekends ago with the annual greenhouse repair and rotavating of the veg plot. I did also sow a few seeds in the greenhouse and put the shallot and onion sets in the ground as well. Another vital bit of preparation was chopping back some tree branches that were overhanging the plot and providing far too much shade - these will be good for firewood later in the year. I have more tidying up to do around the edges as some other bushes and trees have grown up to shade one side of the plot. I don't really want to cut them back, but I am going to have to be ruthless I think to maintain the light.

Last weekend I had good intentions of sowing more seeds, both in the greenhouse and in the ground, but for various reasons this just did not quite happen. In the event this was probably just as well we had a frost earlier in the week.

I haven't got many seeds left over from last year so I had to take a trip to the local garden centre and spend large sums of money on seeds, etc. It seems that the price of seeds has gone up a lot from last year - or is that just me? I think that next year I should be more organised and source some cheaper on the internet.

Anyway, this weekend should be busy with plenty of sowing, both in the plot and in the greenhouse. Oh yes, and chopping back those bushes.