Saturday, 18 April 2009

Sick trees & yogpots, rhubarb a go-go

Without wishing to pile a heap of 'I told you so's onto Head Gardener shoulders, with great dignity he agreed with me that donkey manure might not be quite such a good medium for starting little seedlings off. In my head, I think it is because donkey-wee is too strong. I don't know why I should think this, but I keep seeing a donkey weeing in my head when I think of the donkey compost. It may or may not be imagination, but it doesn't matter because my doubts have been realised. Despite instructions from Head Gardener as to how to prepare the manure, and his endeavours to plant a few pots out to show me how to do it, he met with a high failure rate as well. Actually not so much of a failure rate, more like zilch, zero, nil, not at all. This photo is of MY pots, and I did have a few brave seedlings come up.

Upon receiving new instructions from Head Gardener, I am to start all over again with purchased seed compost bought from a shop. It is hoped that sometime this year we will manage to produce something to put in our newly dug ground. It would be nice to get going with self sufficiency this side of Christmas.

And another thing. I had to do some strimming today, and felt miserable beyond belief that I had to cut down a very healthy swathe of nettles. For the duration of the cutting I could not get Andy's nettle beer (Denise's husband over at Malarkey Manor) out of my head. I felt as if I was letting the self sufficiency team down, and only managed to stem the building-up of guilt by telling myself that we will get to do recycling of nettles and other 'wild' produce in the fullness of time.

Like when we actually have a proper kitchen, like when we have a roof over our heads, like when we are in post-camping mode. It might take a long time. The roofers are managing about two days a week at the moment. We anticipate August, if we are lucky, for the roof to go on, and then we have to fit out the half barn to live in. Probably next year, then, for nettle recycling and dandelion jam, and the continuing retraining of ourselves to eat things from the natural world rather than from a supermarket shelf.

And then a walk round our front garden drenched us in a bucket of cold water figuratively speaking. For there, on one of our peach trees, instead of healthy green leaves, there were twisted up and gnarled ones. An Internet search came up with 'peach leaf curl' which 'cannot be done anything with once Spring arrives, and perhaps the tree will live, or maybe it won't.' I tell you, to actually get to eat your own food takes a heck of a lot of effort. As I have mentioned before, everything else is racing for the food table you have so graciously provided, and it would seem that all we will get at the end is what everything else doesn't want.

I have made a note in my diary to 'spray peaches in November, then again in January, and pick up all leaves in Autumn so the peach leaf curl culprits can't over-winter at the foot of the tree. I suspect my diary will get full of such instructions.




Head Gardener has a passion for figs. I don't. One huge tree is enough. I made thirty pots of jam last season, which was quite a feat on a caravan gas ring. But, HG thinks we should have more trees, so went on a raid for some fig cuttings (Black Fig) to supplement our two figs which are Turkey Browns. Unfortunately, No, No, don't be like that Vera!!! FORTUNATELY (that's more like it - a positive attitude is what is called for....after all, I might eventually get to like Black Figs, once I have got to like Turkey Browns. If one eats enough of them, surely they will grow on one!)it looks like most of his cuttings have taken, probably inspired to root by the Hormone Rooting Powder which was used on them.

And now, our FIRST MAJOR SUCCESS! Rhubarb!!!!! Brought from the UK last year, they survived in their pots somehow until they were planted out last October. And crikey but don't they like their new home. Galloping away with an enthusiasm which is astonishing, they are trying ever so hard to push out flowers, which I equally as diligently remove. But they don't seem to mind, even letting me have some of their stems to make our very first rhubarb and apple crumble, which was gorgeous.

We managed to enjoy the rhubarb before everything else woke up. Even the slugs and snails hadn't really had a go at it. And so this day draws to a close, and we feel suitable pleased with ourselves, because we are self sufficient in rhubarb at least. Hopefully the coming months will enlarge our self sufficient diet.