Monday 31 May 2010

i lupini

A long while ago I was wondering where I could get some lupini beans, the selected offspring of various edible lupins popular in Latin countries as a beer snack and regarded as having good potential for a temperate vegetable protein source.

It was easier than I thought. Although I'd somehow missed them in my previous search they were in fact commercially available via Seeds of Italy nestled down submissively in the bean section of the catalogue. For some reason, although they're called beans and, I suppose, must be regarded as beans I had believed them as something more exotic, more lupine, not really a boring old bean at all.

So in went my order and back came the Lupini!

I have to say the dried seed of this variety seems much bigger than the bean seeds I have eaten from jars and in olive mixes in the last couple of years. Whether this represents an improvement in breeding or just an alternative variety is beyond me. The packet says nowt.

Anyway, they've germinated into sturdy little seedlings and today I've planted the first batch out. I've also sown a few more although the box suggests it's right at the limit for getting a crop which apparently won't be ready before October or November...

More news on this breaking story when it's available.

And now I'd better get on with earthing up the spuds. Blightwatch tells me that Guernsey has already had a full Smith period.

Monday 24 May 2010

Hot enough


Suddenly it's summer, or as close to a perfect 3 days of summer sunshine as we could hope to have. It's not going to last but for the moment the warmth and light is very pleasant and cheering, even if it does mean extra watering duties.

In order to save on our water bills we've moved a watering trough to the vegetable patch and will fill this with water pumped from the stream as necessary. It saves on the metered water and it also saves me some weary treks backwards and forwards with watering cans from the tap to the field.

Power tools are still broken which means some short cuts are likely to be taken with planting this year, not least because manual digging in this heat is suicide. I have peas and beans now just waiting for their chance to stretch out into the soil and I hope to get them in over the next 48 hours in time for expected rain on Wednesday. I will dig small holes for them instead of fully cultivating the ground and pop some chopped comfrey into each hole to act as a food and moisture reservoir while they establish.

comfrey hedge

My helpers have left early as they were offered work that paid and that was something they couldn't refuse. In their time here quite a lot was achieved, with demolition and bramble removal some of the most important tasks undertaken. I was sorry to see them go but very thankful for the help they gave.

willing workers

The cats have slowed down some of their carnage amongst the rodents as the heat is almost too much for them. They've become particularly good at avoiding being photographed but if I can sneak up on them quietly enough in the next few days the next post might be a Cat Diary catch up. It seems an awfully long time since last year when they were still kittens.

crow in the woods

Monday 17 May 2010

Bean and gone

martock flowers

Still cold but beginning to warm up at last. I hope we have a long lingering Indian summer to allow everything to finish growing before the cold comes back again.

Potatoes are just starting to poke their heads up and I've planted out the first of the tomato plants. Half a dozen of the washed out peas are now germinated and if only I could get the rotavator fixed I could probably plant them out too. Looks like a hand digging job.

Something I'd never seen so clearly before appeared when I moved some covers from a patch I was about to dig. A mouse dunny, complete with little bits of grass to wipe their bums! Rather sweet in a disgusting sort of way. Despite the best efforts of the cats we still seem to have plenty of small rodents in residence. I'm just hoping the abundant food supply will help feed the young of the owls who seem unusually quiet and absent this season.

The Martock beans, pictured at the top of the post, are the closest thing we have to a potential crop at this time, if you discount the last leeks from last year now engaged in a race to produce flowers, but it's still going to be a wait before there's much to eat there. Rhubarb and Good King Henry are also available but there's a limit to how much any person can consume of those excellent foods. The hungry gap is all too true.

Tuesday 4 May 2010


light effect

I don't think I've ever been as cold here in May as I am this year. Normally by now, we've been in full residence for a few weeks and spring is abundantly apparent. This year, although we're late arriving the weather seems far more appropriate for early April than the first week of May.

Late as the season is, I am later still with getting started and this week is going to be a frenzy of seed sowing and planting in the hope of catching up for summer cropping. Planted today, pointed red cabbage Kalibos from Suttons and Asturian Tree Cabbage (via Realseeds), Whangapararoa Crown pumpkins, a selection of white courgette that I'm working on and Butternut squashes in the heated propagator along with some of the Black Crowder cowpeas. I've also started some Statice for dried flowers and the Mirabilis I bought in Sweden.

A few days ago I put peas and soya beans into modules and left them outside, along came the rain and washed them out again. I've bundled the seeds back into the trays but the varieties are now mixed up. Hoping to differentiate them at planting out time. In the same flooding I also lost a pot of ramson seeds and my last few tuberous rooted pea seeds. I've sieved the sludge and chucked it all in a pot together - maybe something will come up.

At least we've managed to get the spuds in, they were all in place by the 1st of the month - the latest we've ever put them out but not a hopeless timing. The first earlies are going to be a long wait though, probably starting a month later than we've come to expect.

I also stuck shallots in yesterday, ridiculously late but better than leaving them to rot in their plaits. The alliums already in place, planted either last autumn or in March are doing o.k. thank goodness.

Ground is prepared too for the oca and ulluco, I have seedlings of asparagus Martha Washington waiting for their spot and the tender plants are still safely under glass in the UK waiting for a ferry trip over this weekend.

The harsh winter doesn't seem to have caused much problem for local wildlife - unless untimely deaths in the hunting bird population are responsible for a plague of mice. We can't understand it but this year there are far more rodents than we've ever seen. The cats are in a frenzy and for the last five days we have been collecting at least 10 corpses a day from around the house that they have brought in, finding bodies all over the yard and having the dubious pleasure of listening to cats crunching on mice heads in the dark of the night.

I would feel sorrier for the little creatures but they invaded my cooker while we were away, made a nest and soiled the insulation for the oven so completely that even after cleaning, renewing part and heat sterilising the rest I'm not sure we won't have to replace the whole thing. It's absolutely disgusting and depressing.