Bold Wildlife

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M2E100L202-202R378B378
M2E100L202-202R378B378

Just checked the wildlife cam again after a few weeks: as well as many crows, jackdaws, pied wagtails, the local semi-feral grey cat, a speedy fox, streaking badger, many cheeky rabbits and a pigeon showing off to camera, there are also pictures of a very rude deer prowling the field not only at night, but also in the middle of the day. Seriously dude; 2.30pm?!

Start of Winter

20161103_111316 20161103_104320 20161103_111249Cor, so -5.7C in the polytunnel last night suggests that my prediction of this winter being harsher is coming true already! The start of November saw some lovely sunny days, with the yarrow flowering (and latest generation of ladybird larvae devouring the late aphids), and nasturtiums still producing tons of flowers and leaves – right until the first prooer frost a fortnight ago. The warmer spell last week kept things going too; although the terrible rain from Storm Angus and then another heavy rain system the following couple of days flooded the fields and tunnels a bit. Fortunately the soil drains pretty well when given a chance, so the frost last night (and again tonight) could have been a lot worse.

20161116_14114620161121_135136We’ve just about picked out the turnips and beetroot (the frosts may have claimed the last few in the fields), and we also managed to dig up a surprising numnber of white and red artichokes, considering they have just been left to their own devices from any remaining roots last year. The last of the carrots have gone now too, and we’ve made a dent in the parsnips; although they can stay in the ground until we want to pick a sack’s worth or two – we’ll wait for more sunny frost-free days for that!

Changing Seasons

20160902_094137Ahh September: the time of lingering summer, chillier nights, and also when you get a bit of a chance to keep on top of all the veg. The courgettes and cucumbers are now starting to slow down; and while they are still producing well, they are giving us a sensible amount of food rather than the crazy gluts of August. The tomatoes however have now taken off instead, and we’re picking around 15-20kg three times a week just to stay on top of them. The peppers and chillies are starting to turn red; and perhaps most excitingly of all, the pumpkins and squashes in the field are turning orange, woohoo! Soon we’ll be having a Pumpkin Picking Party to help bring the harvest in – if you fancy a few hours of picking and moving these beasts to the safety of the snug polytunnels, in return for some tasty lunch and a pumpkin to take home, let us know – more details to follow shortly…

20160902_094639Lettuces and spinach that have done so well are starting to go to seed and are being cut down; they will provide some kind of ground cover over the winter, while mowing ensures the weeds don’t take too much hold. Successional sowing and planting has been key to continued supply of salads and spinach over the summer; and while we had the odd mishap due to slugs hoovering off trays of seedlings at a time, or deer having a good old munch, we’ve done this pretty well this year. The last lot of outdoor spinach and salads went in last week; after that we’ll be relying on tunnel plantings.

20160831_143235Meanwhile Marmalade tunnel’s green manure of Persian clover has done very well (and smelt amazing – also beloved by hundreds of bees), and has now been strimmed and mown down, ready for incorporation into the soil, to give the next lot of salads a great start to life. Sowing winter salads in August and September is always a bit bitter-sweet: it means the craziness of the summer is coming to an end; but the tastiness of mustards and winter salads is on the horizon…