Friday, 19 June 2009

Nearly mid summer

Time flies and the longest day is nearly upon us. That somehow gets us in gear to get moving on the house more, so we've a chance of being in before those nights get too long and the weather gets too cold.
The strawberries are enjoying being in the tunnel now (even if I never got them out of their supposedly temporary pots that I put them in earlier in the year)
The ducks are still moulting, so there are no eggs yet. They now have lovely new chest plumage and only the big feathers left to moult. You can see they are 'bleaching' out i.e getting pale in the picture

It has been slow going in the house - still finishing off the passive upgrade (insulating the walls inside) and the final stud walls down stairs.

I managed a day or so of oiling the outside wood .. and got rather covered in the oil, so I ended up looking like I had a fine tan before I washed it off.

Very soon we're onto the second phase - first fix electrics and plumbing. Then things will really look different inside.

Outside, the weather has normalised somewhat - with a mix of sun, rain and wind. Means that our grass is coming up well.

Our broad beans have lovely pods (much better than this oldish pic shows)

All in the tunnel is going great guns. Here are the first flowers on my Auvergne peas.

Already there are lessons to learn. Firstly, the south end of the tunnel can be quite draughty. Already it caused a couple of young sweet corn to fail (I've put up a mini windbreak to minimise the damage). Next year there will be hardier plants by the doors. See in the pic how the top row suffered compared to the other two.

Also, I must get my irrigation system sorted. We have water butts now - which help warm the water from the well (it is very cold). Surpisingly, I don't have to water that much. The straw in the mushroom compost holds the moisture well .. even though the top surface dries out.
I was very overoptimistic with my theoretical plant spacings - and I've had to plant some squashes and other things outside. Some intercropping is working e.g. cauliflower and mizuna (see below).

As hoped, the tunnel is a great place for a washing line!

It is always warmer and more sheltered than anywhere else .. and I love nothing better to spend a few minutes sitting inside admiring the growing plants. The squashes are really growing fast.

Outside, the south face of the house is VERY exposed to the wind. I have plans to plant a fedge (fence / hedge made from living willow) 10 m away from the house to shelter the raised beds (will do the beds in September) but I may need additional precautions. Sam made a herb planter for outside the kitchen door and I must admit that some plants (a thyme!! and goji and even chamomile are suffering - from the windy days this week).

I have time over the summer to sort out some more ideas for extra wind breaks.
For now, it's on with the oiling and final studding.


  1. Whenever I read your blog I always admire your energy! My broad beans have survived the ducklings, unlike the leeks & beetroots - but it's impossible to feel cross with them. I read somewhere that ducks are supposed to be a gardener's friend, but they obviously hadn't met my muscovies!! Younger son's comment was 'hurray, less of mum's veg to eat!', not being a veg lover he doesn't share my enthusiasm for freshly harvested home grown veg. Wishing you all the best in your endeavours - house, garden & animals.

  2. lovely blog..... and ducks!!!

    next time try to plant your sweetcorn further apart and in a bigger block!!!

    best wishes

  3. Thanks for the comments. From what I hear I'm glad that we have the ducks 'contained' in their pen rather than ranging through the veggies (I'd be too concerned about foxes anyway).

    Yes, John, next year I think I will do a bigger block of sweetcorn in the tunnel (incorporating some current path)and may erect a windbreak south of the tunnel to stop the wind being quite so strong as it enters the tunnel. Mind you, the corn is all going great now.

    The ducks are STILL moulting by the way, but those eggs will be worth the wait.


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