Thursday 24 October 2013

Worm eaten


We opened the worm bin after a long gap and found the poor things desperately trying to escape from the rising waters. In an attempt to avoid this we often leave the tap on the bottom of the bin open and draining into a bucket but it seems the nozzle was blocked and the fluid had built up to catastrophic levels. It's happened before. Still we were pleased to see the healthy and large population and glad we got there in time.

The worm bin is an effective way of recycling smallish amounts of vegetable waste but we've not been good worm wranglers and haven't really made much use of the excellent worm worked compost they produce as it always seems just the wrong moment to tip the whole disgustingly smelly thing out and sort through before reloading.

At about this time of year I usually make a big batch of paper shreddings to pack into the top of the bin to help protect it from the risk of hard frosts but I'm not sure just how much that kindly gesture can be supported by science.

alberto locoto chili

As soon as the really hot weather stopped the rocoto chillies got going and the plants are now laden with fruit some of which are perfectly ripe and very hot indeed. These are definitely my sort of chilli plants and I hope to keep them going for another year, indeed another fifteen years if I last that long.

Next year I will supplement them during the hotter months with some Lemon Drop which we've enjoyed before and make a fantastic chilli shaking sauce (like Tabasco but more yellow!) and that will be all our chilli needs covered.

 Rook is looking rather regal here don't you think?

Rook on a pillar of bricks

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Selecting suppliers

late cosmos

I'm falling out with the big internet suppliers at the moment. Even using Flickr has become fraught since Yahoo started to tinker with it. Their latest modifications leave me with no easy way of embedding my pictures here despite being a fully paid up member. I've looked at other photo solutions in the cloud and I don't like any of those either.

And I'm not keen on Wordpress, and Google is getting far too intrusive and money grabbing. I could fall back into self hosting for everything but would I then lose all my viewers? Is this the real heat death of blogging approaching or am I just being overly neurotic?

I feel the same way about most of the big gardening suppliers too. Unusually this year I've bought goods from several of the market leaders and they've all let me down in some way. Orders are changed without notice, deliveries held back or lost in transit, prices are changed or payment methods are unsatisfactory. (I don't use Paypal either).

So, for this purchasing season I've decided to stay small. I bought flower seeds from Higgledy Garden a couple of weeks ago and although I've not had time to sow them yet, delivery was quick and efficient and my expectations are high.  Higgledy specialise in flowers for cutting and I'm hoping that next year we'll be having a much more colourful time on the farm.

I'll be looking out for other small businesses to meet my needs too and hoping to get some extra fun via the seed exchanges - and yes, I promise I'll go live with my own swaps soon.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Everybody's doing it

pumpkins 2013

So I thought I would too. It's well into October so I've picked the pumpkins, squashes, cucurbits, what have you. Not a massive crop this year but that's probably o.k. as we usually have far more than we can eat and they often rot in store as I don't have enough warm dry places for them.

From the left:

The small corrugated dusky orange fruit are Black Futsu, which seems anomalous given the name but is expected behaviour for these moschata varieties.  Rather small for type they should probably be about double the size they are and I blame the very hot summer for this. They were picked a few weeks back and have been maturing in the warm and dry. I've yet to try eating one so can't comment on the quality but I'm hopeful they'll live up to expectations.

The largest orange pumpkins are without name or parentage but appear to be maxima. These are the plants I was expecting to be Pink Banana squash. I'll probably carve one for Hallowe'en but because they were grown in isolation I could possibly save seed if the eating qualities are good. Trouble is I'd need to grow them on for a few years to make sure the variety was stable and they just don't look interesting enough for that.

The green one in the middle is another moschata, Muscade de Provence. If they didn't grow so large (this is a small one, barely mature enough to cut) these would be my favourite squashes, very fleshy and tender, excellent for cooking. But this was the only fruit on the last seed in a packet and very nearly didn't make it all all. For all that we've had a brilliant summer with wonderful air temperatures that slow chilly spring seems to have held back a lot of the more tender annuals just because the soil was so cold.

Steely blue, compact and dense, the Whangaparaoa Crown (maxima) are holding my hopes for winning the place of  'house' pumpkin but I'd nearly lost the lot. These two are to be coddled and their seed saved for producing the Normandy adapted landrace of my dreams.

Finally, the tiny orange ones are Gold Nugget. This is a bush type maxima which I'd never grown before. Again, I think the tennis ball sized fruit are perhaps a bit small for the variety but I've eaten one and it was good so because they're such tidy growers it's likely I'll try them again.

Not pictured are this year's courgette choice, Trieste White cousa. Unusually the courgettes didn't run rampant this year and I've been more or less able to keep up with the four plants. They resisted mildew to the last and are still producing baby fruit but because of this good behaviour I have no marrows for store. I almost feel cheated by this.

Are you ready for Hallowe'en?

Friday 4 October 2013

When life gives you melons

cucumber flower

This is actually a cucumber flower but I'm not at all sure I even took a picture of the melon in flower. I certainly wasn't expecting the fruit when it finally happened, one day there seemed to be nothing and then there it was like a golf ball.

Anyway, the cucumber flower is a close cousin and really rather lovely so I don't feel bad about using it as a stand in.

Rock melon, the one and only

The melon itself managed to reach about 20cm in diameter and then just sat there, neither getting bigger nor ripening as far as I could see and each day the vine seemed more yellow and less likely to be able to support any further growth or sadly, any more melons. So I picked off the solitary fruit and took it into the kitchen where it has been decorating the counter for a couple of weeks.

Today I realised the green and knobbly skin had turned quite yellow, the fruit seemed softer and it smelled delicious so without further ado, reader, I ate it.

Very nice too, the skin is a little thicker than the fancy Galia or Ogen melons found in all good French supermarkets all summer but the flesh is sweet, orange and very juicy. I'll be saving the seeds for another go next year but you can buy some from Realseeds.

Prescott fond blanc melon

Tuesday 1 October 2013

A year has passed

spooky sunset

Another year older and deeper in debt. Happy Birthday to me.

birthday cake