Time to go

Don’t worry I’ll be back!  I’m just taking a few days to visit my family down in Englandshire.  It’s going to be a couple of days more than intended because of a mix up on the sleeper train bookings.  I thought I’d booked a return for Wednesday night but my ticket appears to be Friday night.  Just as well I checked it before turning up at the station!  Anyhow, with the weather closing in on winter, I thought I’d do a few odd jobs before abandoning S. for the southern delights.

pt repair
Polytunnel repair

The first little job was trying to do a repair on the polytunnel roof.  I’m not completely happy with it – since it was right on the top, I was unable to get to both sides of the polythene, so it is possible for the tape to lift back off again from the tear over time.  I used some gaffer tape to temporarily hold it while I stuck on strip after stip of polytunnel repair tape – getting through more than a complete roll.  However it’s as good as I can get it.  It was pretty wet and windy all day on Wednesday and it seems to have held up OK so far.  The hot spot tape had completely disintegrated on the tops of the hoops, which is not a good sign.  I wrapped the cotton rags, which I’d used to dry the condensation off the plastic, around the bars.  It will be interesting to see if that is at all effective at protecting the plastic from chafing.  At least it will be better than nothing.  There should be something better in my opinion.  Maybe the tape I got was a poor specification.

I thought that I wouldn’t get much of a crop earlier this year on the sharks fin melon, however, quite of a few of the fruit are getting quite big now, and I’m worried if I don’t support them they will damage the vine.  I’ve made an attempt to support the fruit using an assortment of methods.  Not shown in the pictures is a pair of S.’s old Y-fronts which were in the rag bag!

huge melons
Fruit support

Since the weather could turn quite cold while I am away (the forecast is for down to possibly 3 celsius) it is time to take in any plants that may need a bit more protection.  I worry slightly that they will get too hot and dry in the tunnel.  This winter I need to develop a better way of keeping an eye on them.  It probably just needs a routine – “every Thursday afternoon water the pots in the polytunnel”.  Easy to say, but somehow life gets in the way and chaos rules!

achocha
Achocha harvest

Since I’m away for a few days I have picked all the achocha and tomatoes that are worth picking.  If there is a frost they could turn to mush, which would be a waste.  The millefleur tomato isn’t quite as good as the ildi variety I’ve had previously.  The set isn’t as good, and they are later ripening.  I think I have some more seed of this one, so I will try again next year, since it may just be this season that was problematic rather than the vatriety. I will take some of the achocha with me, since I don’t think my sisters or mum have tried them yet.  They would probably be able to grow them outside in a sheltered spot, I don’t really have the warmth they need up here outside the polytunnel.  It was interesting to get a different perspective on the tunnel since I was up a ladder to reach the roof, when fixing it.  You can see how the sharks fin melon leaves are using every space to collect the light.

reaching for sunshine
Top of the crop

The final thing I have been trying to do everytime I go down to the bottom of the tree field, is bring up the trees trunks that I cut down last year.  Since they are only small, I can manage to bring up a couple each time I take the trip.  They feel surprisingly dry, considering they have only been lying  in a pile in the grass, rather than neatly stacked in a shelter as intended! Once cut to length they can be stacked away in the woodshed to dry out fully ready for burning.  I’ve said before how excited I am to be burning our own wood.  These are the first trees we planted that are ready for firewood.  We’ve used quite a bit of kindling from side branches and broken branches, but not complete trunks.  The stumps have sprouted nicely, although this hasn’t prevented S. being protective when I mention again cutting trees this year!

wood ends
Ready for cutting to length

 

An ill wind (off topic)

dougies grave
Dougie’s grave site

Well, we have a sad reason to plant a new tree now.  Our dog Douglas went downhill very quickly (he was diagnosed with lymphatic sarcoma about two months ago), and we asked the vet to put him down last Wednesday.  He is buried next to the pond he loved and has left a big dog sized hole in our lives.

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The soil there is pretty wet most of the time, so a willow or alder look the best contenders, although it is pretty sheltered, so there may be some other options.  Dyson seems to be taking it well and is now able to enjoy his soft toys without Douglas taking them off him and ripping the stuffing out.

dyson and piglet
Dyson and Piglet

Ten gardening rules

Just a few tongue in cheek guidelines.  Some I’ve shamelessly stolen, particularly from permaculture rules.

1) Don’t try and do too much = start small.
2) Nature abhors a vacuum = weeds grow to fill the land available and then some.
3) There is no such place as “away”. Everything comes from somewhere and goes to somewhere. Garden responsibly, and sustainably.
4) The gardener’s shadow is the best fertiliser. By walking the plot you can spot trouble early and nip it in the bud, whether it is a pest that could become a plague, or a nutrient deficiency.
5) Don’t kill your enemies, love your friends. This is in respect to pest control, animals not plants!  Better to make a home for a toad than spread around slug pellets.
6) Life’s too short to mow the lawn. Or is this just me being lazy? You could have a lawn for camping on I suppose, but generally, mow paths and edges, but leave the wild flowers to bloom and harvest the bulk for compost.
7) Observe, learn, experiment, observe. What works for someone else may or may not work for you in your garden.
8) Do it once, do it properly. This goes for house maintenance as well…..
9) Grow what likes your environment. Acid soil, wet, dry, windy, hot…there is a plant that will thrive in that niche somewhere in the world.  Although it is interesting to push the boundaries see https://skyeent.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/happy-habby-garden-ph-testing/
10) Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Most of the above I don’t follow. It’s easy to be a good gardener in theory!

Anyone for anymore?