Another Monday morning, another wet weather forecast for the week ahead, but at least we had a half decent weekend and as always when the weather is good we work hard!
The big job this weekend was to get the polytunnel under construction, we made good progress and the frame went up within a few hours, next came the job of digging the trench all the way round, this is then backfilled and holds the cover taught. The digging was going well for the first 8 inches or so then we hit clay, it then took hubby the whole of Sunday to dig out just one side, clay is normally quite soft to dig, if a little heavy, but this is rock solid, probably because the water table is so low. While he was doing that job I busied myself putting down the path in the middle, as luck would have it we had been asked in the week if we wanted any slabs that someone was taking up, talk about timing! Hopefully the rest of the tunnel will be finished off next weekend, and we can begin to plant into it. The addition of a tunnel will extend the growing season by a month at each end of the season and because the site in general is quite exposed it means we will be able to plant more tender veg plants a lot earlier than usual with better results.
We also put together the new egg shed this week and it is now in place at the front instead of the plastic box. I didn’t get round to my fanciful painting and decorating ideas so it’s just a shed, not only will it be used for eggs but there is space in the bottom for any produce that I have picked or jars of chutney and jam that I have too many of!
Looking back through my posts just now I think the hen has been sitting for about 3 weeks on her egg clutch, she is now sitting very tightly, not getting off to eat or drink, so I think that by next week I may be able to report that she is a Mum, fingers crossed. The chickens appreciated the welcome break in the rain over the weekend, they were literally puddling in mud, even out on the paddocks the water was sitting and making life a bit miserable for them. The ground dries very quickly and so they were able to dust bath and just enjoy soaking up the sunrays for a couple of days. The ducks have never had it so good in Spring and I keep hoping that one of them will go broody, it would be lovely to have ducklings following their Mum around the yard but no sign of that at the minute.
The horses have had a lucky break too and we are now borrowing the field next door, their fields were beginning to look as though we had ploughed them and there was not much grass left at all, but they are now happily munching away on a couple of acres of lovely long grass. The little Shetland, however has been banished to live with the sheep for a while as he would be ill if he was allowed to eat large quantities of grass like that, also it is the only field that is fully stockfenced so he wont be able to escape for a while. In the two weeks beforehand, he has been giving us the right run around, escaping left, right and centre, we barricade one part and he finds another weak spot to escape through, the paddock was beginning to look like Fort Knox, we were getting to the stage where barbed wire and search lights would be next on the list 😉
All this rain has done wonders for the permanent veg and fruit this year, the strawberry plants are absolutely loaded with flowers and hopefully it will be a bumper crop if we get some more sunshine to ripen them, the asparagus and the Rhubarb have also shot up and the fruit trees have been laden with blossom, the gooseberries, Blue berries and Black currants are also heavily laden so all in all a good crop to be had this year but it will depend on the Sun coming out a bit more often than it has up until now. The veg plants that need to go in the garden are still under cover of the greenhouse and the onions have not even gone in yet as the soil is too wet and cold, they would just rot away. The plan for the onions and garlic is that they will go straight into the poly tunnel, anything that needs the protection and a long growing season will be going in there as a priority, Peppers and Tomatoes and also a crop of Runner beans, hopefully by the time they have grown the weather will have improved enough to put a crop outside too.
Every year since we have been here there has been a different challenge to face and overcome, the first two years were the coldest on record but the weather was good enough in the Spring and Summer to grow veg and fruit easily, this year we have had a mild Winter but the Spring has been cold and continues to delay planting. We have previously had failures with veg plants because the wind had been cold and so we put in place a windbreak all the way around the garden to help protect them, watering was a long and laborious job and so we installed more outside taps and set up a watering system which due to the rain we have not needed to use at all yet! I sometimes wonder if we will ever get it just right, I suppose that is part of the attraction to beat all the odds, weather, insects, disease and still have a decent crop at the end of it. I find myself thinking that it would be easier just to shop at the supermarket, then I remember the trolley wars, that very irritating background music to make you forget what you came in for so that you buy more, putting it in the trolley, unpacking on to the belt, packing it back into the trolley, packing into the car then unpacking it when you get home, then when you cook it the disappointing taste of not a lot! You can’t beat the taste of a freshly picked corn on the cob or a Sun warmed Tomato, or lettuce that actually does have a flavour, that’s when I remember that it is all worth it, the real taste of food is worth all the backache, frustrations and challenges, very worth it indeed 🙂