Living in the future

Winter rainbow

It always astounds me at the end of the year to realise that we are in the twenty first century!  I haven’t quite got used to the 1990’s yet!  I haven’t been doing much recently at home.  Because of a staff shortage I have lost two of my afternoons off, combined with having extra to organise for Xmas, and poorly cats, it seems that I haven’t been very productive.  The weather in November was remarkably clement – dry and cold.  December has been a bit more typical with a bit of wind and rain (and some sleet, with a little snow settling on McCloud’s Tables).  The polytunnel repair stood up to winds of about 65mph this week, which I am pleased about.  I do wonder whether it will stand up to the cat standing on it, but since it was partly the cat that caused the damage I’m not too inclined to be sympathetic if it does go through.

oca tubers forming
Oca tubers developing at surface

The Yacon and Oca are really dying back.  I want to leave them as long as possible, while the weather remains fairly mild, so as to bulk up the tubers as much as possible.  I gather that even after the leaves have been killed by the frost, the stems will carry on feeding the oca tubers, and they grow significantly over a few weeks until the stems are completely gone.  I imagine that the Yacon is similar.  I will clear them out over Xmas, or at least before the frosts come back in January.

path round hump
Black line of path around hump

The tree field is just bare bones now.  I did a bit more digging around the hump, but haven’t had much time and the weather is not conducive to digging.  The path is coming on, and will really make walking along it more pleasant when finished.  When I go down the hill with Dyson I bring back an armful of kindling or a few larger branches of dry wood for the fire.  Once the kindling is in the shed for a few days it dries out nicely and starts the kitchen stove really well with a little newspaper.   A good session with a sawbench and bowsaw will be required to cut the branches to length though.

yellow pine
Golden Korean pine, with shelter and feed pellets

I managed to get in contact with the supplier of the yellow Korean pine trees and they think that the trees are just lacking in nutrients.  I’m reasonably happy with that explanation – they are quite big for the size of the pot they were in, so basically just needed potting on, or in this case planting out.  The supplier sent some slow release feed for the trees which I did use around them when planting them out.  Normally I don’t use chemical fertilizers, but I’m looking on this as medicine for the trees, which will help them catch back more quickly.  If they do not seem recovered in early summer, I am to recontact the nursery.

I have planted the trees as three clumps of four trees.  One lot are planted adjacent to the one that I grew from seed, the others a little higher up the hill.  Pines are wind pollinated, so hopefully this will give me a better chance of getting pine seeds when the trees are big enough.  I have put tree shelters around each of the trees, which will hopefully stop them rocking around too much over the winter.  I also made a start at mulching them, but the weather stopped play again.  If I have an afternoon free from the shop, I generally get home about quarter to two in the afternoon, if we have a bit of lunch it is quarter to three before I get started on anything, and it is getting dark at four, so not much time to get things done outside!

peeling birch
Peeling birch

Several of the silver birch have quite suddenly developed white bark.  The darker bark has split off revealing really pale bark underneath.  Others still have quite dark bark underneath; they may not get pale like this, or they may turn silver when they get older.  It seems odd that the bark has split at this time of year.  You would have thought it would happen in the spring, as the sap rises, not in the autumn.  Maybe it’s like the leaves falling; materials getting brittle and parting company.  I’m thinking that I may be able to do crafty things with this lovely material, if and when we coppice these trees in the future.  Most of the birch are still a few years away from being big enough to be worth cutting down as yet.


7 thoughts on “Living in the future

    1. Yacon I really like. The taste is like a pear, but the texture more smooth and crisp. I tend to use it in cakes, or as a sweet bit in rice dishes where you might put sultanas. It’s nice to have something like that here, where local fruit in winter is scarce.
      Oca I’m still experimenting with. We only had enough rather small tubers for a little taste last year. I didn’t like them raw, although apparently they get sweeter exposed to light I thought they tasted like lemony raw potato! Cooked they are a bit like new potatoes in texture when boiled. Although I thought they were a bit soggy when baked, that seems to be the popular way of cooking them in NZ where they are very popular. I may try them roasted with my xmas dinner this year and I should have more to experiment with. Also the assorted colours I have grown this year, may have different characteristics of course.

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  1. Good luck with the Korean pine – it looks beautiful and will undoubtedly grace your land when it gets going. It doesn’t look unhealthy or ailing in the photo. How much did you expect it to grow by or was it losing needles, for example?

    A shame you have been tied to the shop more when you need to take advantage of what little light there is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Korean pine should have dark bluey green needles – not yellow! Otherwise they do look nice little trees, so I do hope the ‘medicine’ will refresh them!
      I’m hopeful that my staff member will feel like coming back in the new year -she’s had a rough year and latterly a lingering ‘flu than has left her down. If not I’ll see whether I can think of anyone else locally to entrust the shop and PO to.


    1. Thank you, Merry Christmas to you too. Harry felt much better once the ‘collar of shame’ was removed. He looks a bit scruffy now – he had to have the tip of one ear removed, and the vet shortened the other to avoid future complications.

      Liked by 1 person

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