Sunday, 21 June 2009

Time for First Harvest

And so it became time. After days of deliberation, it was decided by Lester / Head Gardener that all the onions and potatoes had to come up.

Now I would have possibly left it for a while, just digging up an onion or two, or a potato plant now and again, as needs required.

But: a problem. Space. To keep the turnover of crops going, we can't leave things to potter on. And another problem: Time. HG has only the weekends to do Big Jobs. During the week his time is limited by having to put the hours into working to provide the finances to make us a home. So only the evenings really, and although it is light until 10.30, by the time he has watered, patrolled, inspected, and done other sundry occupations, there is not a lot of time left for Major Harvesting.

Oh and I must tell you - yesterday we went down to the Saturday market at Vic en Bigorre which is a typical French market, full of all types of food, most of which has been grown by the sellers. The smell is amazing. The multi-levels of aroma can quite knock one's head off one's shoulders if one has not been first fortied with breakfast. Anyway, HG's thanks to Sara for donating the camel manure for the vegplot was to try and track down some turkeys for her camel farm.

Did you know that chickens can be hypnotised? Well they can. And there they were in the small live-stock section, looking like they had had a good night out and were still hung over: all flopped over, spraddle-legged, and out for for the count. HG said it is better for them to be like that rather than being caged which makes them fretful. Upon asking how one woke up the chickens again, he said one had to snap one's fingers at them. I'm not sure about that, but didn't want to have a go infront of the row of chickens just in case mayhem was caused by them waking up.

But, I digress. HG is not good about weeding the vegplot. He doesn't have the time really, but I don't think he's fussed with doing the job anyway. And he likes long rows of produce, tidily kept in vegetable types. I am a tidier gardener, but like Jumbly Gardening whereby the beds are narrow and everything is jumbled together, so there is lettuce sheltering peppers, brussels, and basil beneath its leaves so that when the lettuce is pulled up voila! There is the other produce coming along. It also makes for easier weeding because one can lean over and pull the weeds up without having to walk up and down the rows. There is also less exposed soil so less weeds grow anyway, because all the produce is cosied up with each other.

So, getting to the point..... as I have said, HG is not a particular keen weeder. Neither am I really, but there are far less weeds out front because of Jumbly Gardening. Driving along to the market. Fields of maize, haricot beans, other stuff. Very Tidy Gardening. Not a weed in sight. Tractor. Man on tractor. Man going up and down between the rows of plants on tractor. "He's weeding. He's weeding his field" yells HG, "I've never seen that before. What a good idea! He's got a thing behind his tractor, and its doing the weeding for him!"

So that's that really. With diminished enthusiasm for weeding now that he can see that a tractor could do it for him, HG spent the evening shopping around for his tractor. Shame that we have the a list of things to do on the house first:
Roof on. Paid for. Floors dug out and relaid. Partly paid for. Ceiling of half barn and long wall plasterboarded and insulated. Partly paid for. Electrics in the half barn. Trunking laid, job incomplete, to be paid for. Top screed on floor of half barn. Not done, but paid for. Tiles onto floor in half barn. In limbo at moment waiting for rest of work to be done first. Doors to half barn. Quote in. To be ordered. Fosse (for loo), interior toilet, shower, possibly water into kitchen, so plumbing and electrics through to the downstairs bathroom to be thought about, quoted and paid for. Roof to tall barn to be quoted for and done. Possibly roof to antrim but that is negotiable at the moment.

Then stop. Brakes on. House will be dry on top and at bottom. Half barn will be our abode, leaving caravans to be used as guest accomodation and a studio for my craft work. Out on the land we will go. On will come the animals. Purchased will be the tractor.

Meanwhile, HG is out and doing the digging in the veg plot today. Because up came the first harvest of onions and potatoes yesterday.

Quite rightly he is proud of his endeavours. This time last year we had just arrived here. We couldn't get onto the land at all because it was full to the brim with ripening corn. Out front was a six foot high tangle of brambles. The courtyard was a jungle of tall weeds and grass. There was nowhere we could grow anything, although he did start a corner off in the courtyard but it was too late to produce a crop on, but at least HG got us started.

Once the corn had been harvested, out back we went and the veg plot was started. In went the onions and garlic, they being the only things we could find to plant. Also went in the rhubarb we brought from the UK, and some purchased cabbage plants all of which were eventually dispatched by insects, butterflies, and the deer although we did manage to retrieve a couple to eat for ourselves.

Come Spring, and in went the potatoes and all the other produce, mostly in the charge of HG because this is his patch of the farm. I keep us going with lettuce, and other bits and pieces out front. I am also growing our first garden, but more of that another time.

And here be our first potato harvest.

And here be our first onion harvest.

I think HG has done very well by us.

Now all I have to do is make the calico bags to store the potatoes in after they have been sorted. They will have to be kept in the office for the time being as there is no other available dry space here at the moment. I am in charge of drying the onions, so have to find somewhere to do that. Might utilise the tops of the pallets of roof tiles. Don't know where I am going to store them when they are dry. Possibly the office for the moment, which is doubling as food storage area because it is the coolest place here, seed storage area because we don't have a shed, and craft area for me because I don't have a studio. In amongst all of this HG sits at his computer for many hours working, with me keeping him company as and when.

Things I have learnt: That farming even on a small scale is time consuming, hard work, and wonderfully fulfilling. There is really nothing like looking at one's piles of produce to make one feel extremely proud of one's self.
That g
rowing anything, even a little row of lettuce, is good for the soul.

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