Smallholders' Diary - November 23, 2009

PUBLISHED: 16:04 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 04 May 2010

WELL autumn is finally upon us, and since that very dry spell in October it appears to have rained non stop since the beginning of November. Not that we are moaning as we managed to install two large water tanks which are now both full and overflowing. We

WELL autumn is finally upon us, and since that very dry spell in October it appears to have rained non stop since the beginning of November. Not that we are moaning as we managed to install two large water tanks which are now both full and overflowing. We are now planning another tank if we can find one on the internet. This also coincided with us installing some underground water pipe to run the length of the garden, with taps positioned at the water tanks, polytunnel and the vegetable patch. This will hopefully make a big difference come next summer.

The pig enclosure was looking very empty without our two pigs, however, we are currently looking after six 12-week old pigs: four large Blacks and two Gloucester Old Spots for a few weeks on behalf of our friend Jane, who runs Cambria Farm in Isleham and from whom we got our original pigs. We will probably now wait until early next year before getting some more pigs of our own, this will give chance for the ground to recover and also give us chance to eat the meat and make room in our freezers.

Over the last few weeks we have dug up half our main crop of potatoes, sorted the good from the bad and then dried and stored the good ones ready for our use over the next few months. The crop was affected by wireworm which is not uncommon with potatoes, but as previously reported we had a heavy infestation due to the ground being left to pasture for so long.

In addition to our potatoes, the garden is now producing our winter vegetables including parsnips, Brussels, winter cabbage, leeks and Swede.

We have also prepared the ground and planted some over wintering crops which include peas, broad beans, spring and main crop onions, spring cabbage and winter lettuce. The peas and broad beans are showing quite well at the moment although we have noticed that the mice have taken a fancy to them. Counter measures will have to be taken otherwise we will lose them all.

The polytunnel continues to produce a good quantity of chillis and peppers even with the downward turn in temperature. However, this is also supplying food for our 'Mexican mice' that seem to love our chillis and appear totally immune to how hot they are.

We have also experimented in the polytunnel by planting a late crop of summer cabbage, beetroot and carrot all of which are doing very well.

Our minds and now turning to increasing our vegetable plot in preparation for next spring, this will enable us to plant a variety of vegetables that perhaps we would not previously have tried or had the room for.

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