Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Potatoes

Last year I spent a great deal of time and effort looking after the potatoes that I planted. I kept them weed free and they were well watered. However, despite having very healthy looking tops, when I came to lift the potatoes themselves there was hardly anything there! There was no sign of them being eaten by bugs or of any viruses, just tiny barely usable potatoes.

I decided to try again this year, but because of a general lack of time, motivation and organisation, my veg plot has been a complete disaster. I put the potatoes in quite late and I have not kept on top of the weeding. I have not watered them much, although we have had a lot of rain. I have not even earthed them up like I usually do to maximise the crop. But somehow I seem to have more and much much bigger potatoes than last year. Explain that one if you can!!

The only problem is that many of them have been partially eaten by bugs. Something has been tunnelling their way into several of them. Most of them are rescuable with a bit of trimming down. From consulting one of my trusty books I think they might be wireworms. If that is right then the amount of weeds probably haven't helped. But making sure I don't have them next year is quite easy - it's just a case of digging over the soil well in the winter to bring the pesky wireworms to the surface and let the birds, or in our case the chickens, do the rest. Let's hope they're hungry when I start digging!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eggs

Despite having treated the chickens for mites, our egg production is still down. I don't know if this is because the days are starting to get shorter now or it might be that the hens are hiding them again! Every so often they decide that they are not going to lay their eggs in their appointed place in the nest boxes, but instead they are going to lay them somewhere else. What usually happens is that we stumble across a large stash of eggs somewhere in the garden, which we have to throw away because we have no idea how old they are.

More Wood!

In a bid to beat the soaring price of heating oil I have spent much of today chopping more wood. This time though it was a mixture of an old chicken house that I dismantled earlier in the year, an Ikea CD rack that we don't want any more and decided wasn't worth putting on Ebay, and part of a wardrobe type unit that has outlived its usefulness. One form of recycling I guess! I still have loads more wood to chop. I have a number of trees that I have previously chopped down and some branches of other trees that I had to cut back, which all want chopping up. I have a large stack of pallets which can be converted to firewood, and there is the remainder of the old chicken house to finish off. And I still have another couple of trees to chop down.

If I get myself organised we shouldn't have to buy much firewood at all this winter, although I realised today that we are only a couple of weeks away from September. Being as I work full-time my time spent doing such things is limited to weekends, evenings and occasional time off, so I had better get organised otherwise it won't all be chopped in time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chickens


Today we had the particularly unpleasant task of treating our hens for mites. We noticed that our egg production was down and then discovered that our chickens were covered with mites. I guess that the two things are connected. So it was a matter of first of all catching the hens as I let them out of their house and dousing them with mite powder. I then had to give their house a good clean out and spray with mite powder dissolved in water - except that it doesn't dissolve very well and the sprayer kept getting clogged up. By the time I had finished I was covered in mites! Fortunately they can't live on people. Hopefully this should keep them at bay for a while as I don't particularly fancy doing that again too soon!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wood

I still haven't finished sorting out the raspberries that I started earlier in the week, not least because I was distracted by the tree that I have been promising my wife I would chop down. I unfortunately don't own a proper chainsaw. I do have a "lopper" which has a small chainsaw type attachment which is not really designed to chop down trees, but it will have to do. My first attempt was thwarted when the lopper failed to make any impression into the trunk and I became slightly concerned when smoke started to appear where the chain met the tree. I at first assumed that I must have blunted the chain from my previous tree chopping experience, but I eventually realised that actually when I last cleaned the chain I had put it back on the wrong way round!! Eventually, my little lopper managed to get through the tree trunk and it was successfully felled. The main reason for felling this particular tree (a silver birch by the way) was that it had simply grown too big and was blocking our view over the fields opposite our house. A useful by-product of this is that we now have more wood for the winter - with the rapid rise in the cost of heating oil this is becoming an important consideration. So my next job is chop the tree down into usable chunks for firewood - that's along with the other two trees that I chopped down a couple of weeks ago and still haven't finished chopping up. I have also decided that another of our trees needs to come down as it has started to lean precariously over the road. So lots of firewood then!! I will see if I can find a suitable spot to plant some more to replace the trees that I have felled. And I must finish off sorting out those raspberries......