Wednesday, 14 May 2014

To the rescue!

Off out today, down to the plant shop near Tarbes to buy in tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, and chilli plants. However, feeling mildly guilty because we should have grown these plants on from seed but didn't. And oh how the guilt can rub quite a sore spot in one's head, when one sees the price of the plants (80 centimes, about 50p) in comparison to a packet of seeds from which one can get loads of plants.

But then there is the time factor. Of planting, watering, and nurturing, those seedlings and the despair when one gets up in the morning to find that all have been nibbled down to nothing. How one can get quite upset about that.

So, to buy in young plants, or to grow from seed? This year we have bought in. 30 Euros it cost us for 12 tomatoes, 6 aubergines, 6 chillis, and 6 peppers. I am still flinching at how much of a saving we would have made if we had grown from seed.

Hence: the Polytunnel Project. Will defo get a poly soon, hopefully before the end of this year so we can grown our own plants.

Next stop: the plant shop next door to the plant shop I have just mentioned. Wanted some hormone rooting powder. Had inadvertently thwacked down a young shrub that I had planted two years ago. It had become overgrown with grass, so I was trying to save it by scything the grass away from it, but oh dearie me, I overdid one of the scythe swings and chopped that little shrub down, after which I was bathed in feelings of guilt (there seems to be a lot of guilt attached to my gardening efforts), and promised the little plant that I would try to take some cuttings from it, only I forgot to put the little plant in some water to keep it going, so I found it this morning looking dismal and forlorn, but I did say sorry to it and promised to get some hormone rooting powder to see if I could help it make more of itself, only I am not at all skilled in doing such a thing as taking cuttings off a plant, although I seem to be very skilled about cutting things down.

Hormone powder got. Had a look at the fish tanks on the way through the shop. Lester wants to put a fish tank in the hole in the wall in the front room. We are also dead keen on doing an aquaponics system here, possibly in the courtyard. The fish were interesting, although I preferred watching the waving fronds of the grass in the tanks rather than the fish. I became quite mesmerized by the swinging to and fro of the plants, hypnotized even. Lester gave me a shove to move me on.

And there, just around the corner was a tank of something else. No, it was not the tanks of little white mice, (we have our own mice and rats in quantity) nor was it the tanks of  sweet little rabbits (who we know by experience are not as sweet and nice an animal as they look), it was that tank over there.......the tank which was full of little day old chicks.

Now, I have been feeding chicks for the last three months, and had only recently informed Lester that he was not to put any more eggs in the incubator, nor were any of the hens to be allowed to go broody for a while, because I wanted to lose the job of 'chief carer of chicks'. Oh but! Those little chicks in the tank! (and here I must quickly add the there was no water in those tanks of mice, rabbits or chicks, just in case your imagination was going a bit astray!) Nothing for it but to buy a few. Four. That is how many we bought, at 1 euro each, and at a day old.

How easily one is pleased when one is a smallholder. How in past times I can remember being pleased (sort of) when we purchased a huge big screen of a TV, and now our faces were all of a beam because we had purchased four little chicks, who by now were having attitude because they did not like being carried about in two little boxes. It is such little pleasures that contain the true joy of being a smallholder. I felt quite motherly and protective to those little ones.

Home, and those little chicks, now rescued from the tank in the shop, are cosying up to a little black bantam hen who has just hatched just one chick from her heap of six eggs. The good thing about hens is that they can't count, so other chicks of a similar age can be put with the chicks the hen has already hatched. The black bantam thought she had one, now she has five little ones to look after, and I have another family to feed. It surprises me, though, that we only came out of the shop with four. If we had the facilities, we would have probably bought the lot!

Tasks for today: cut the further field because it is coming into hay making time.
- start cutting and dehydrating the various patches of mint. Shoulda but hasna been done.
- plant out the plants bought earlier on today.
- get the pressure cooked leg of lamb prepped to put into bottling jars. There is an urgent need to make room in the freezers for more incoming meat. This over production of meat will not last beyond this year, it is just for now that we are over producing.

But first, time for a five minute sit down because I have worn myself out just by thinking about the list of smallholding tasks waiting to be done!

And a quick look round my Front Garden Project:


...... this patch has just been excavated from out of the rampant undergrowth....


....so what I have been doing is scything down the tall grass, then going over the shortened stumps with my push-pull lawn mower, which is hard work but good for the body (I think).



And here is the right hand side of the front garden, still in its overgrown state. Lots to do!





..... and even more to do on the far right had side. There some plants growing in amongst that lot!


....and here is the same patch after it was cleared of the six foot high brambles in September 2008. At least it looks better than what it did before we came here.

And now I hear the roar of the little tractor signalling that Lester is off down to the bottom field to cut the grass. We have a window, apparently, of five days in which to get the grass cut, dried, and baled. At least I do not have to scythe that field like I did last year, just rake, turn, rake, turn, rake, turn, etc, ...until the grass is dried.

Oh well, sit down time has now passed, and I must away....

You doing anything with hay this year? No? You busy tomorrow, or the next day? Want to come and do a bit of hay making with us?

Vx

10 comments:

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera glad to here that spring is well underway there in France. Here we are still getting some cool days. I am now doing a few things in the garden trying to get it ready for planting. Last year the Condo assoc. did some work like fencing and regrading my little back yard. So now I have to finish things off and make my back yard look good. Laid some sidewalk blocks and now I have to put some edge blocks in so I can raise the garden a little above the side walk blocks. Will take a few photos tomorrow to let everyone know what my Garden looks like now. I had a friend over 2 weeks ago to help me clean up the winter refuse. I still have to move a few pots around and then I will be ready for planting. Talk with you later.

Vera said...

Horst, I am looking forward to seeing how you are making progress with your garden. You must be looking forward to getting out and about now the weather is getting warmer and you are hopefully becoming fitter after your ops. Have you any amaryllis is blossom yet?

John Gray said...

Stop the guilt..you're not jewish

Zimbabwe said...

Vera growing from seed is not always the answer. I planted in the greenhouse early, some grew well some did not. Peppers and chillies which I planted ages ago are still very small. Nigel had some new seed posted ffrom the UK a couple of weeks back and his new plants are bigger than mine already. I think it pays to buy top notch seeds for some things as these peppers and chillies seem to prove. OK we got more, but they were not cheap! Keep up the good work Diane

Horst in Edmonton said...

Vera, I just looked in the bedroom this morning and noticed one Amaryllis about to open up. I will take a photo of it when I take it outside today. I try to get outside every day now to do something in the garden. I need the sunlight as well.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

I came by the other day but neglected to say hello... so hellooo! and ah yes, the plants vs seeds. sometimes it makes more sense... and cents... to buy the plants. sometimes you dont need 250 pepper plants. so we do both.

however, we LOVE the new greenhouse. so easy to build and its make load of difference. last nite we had a frost scare and all i had to do was take all my potted up plants and trays and shove them back in. you'll love your tunnel when you get it going.
:-)

Tim said...

Vera, take a look at the Haygrove series of polytunnels...
they advertise in the magazine of the National Allotment Society.
We intend to get one this year... our guest room being full of tomato, chilli, aubergine, sunflower, rudbekia, tomatillo, courgette, squash, pumpkin plants......
and the cold frame...
and the sejour...
and the seed house...
so we have got to get the space!!

Why do I say Haygrove...
the sides roll up at the bottom, but are insect netted inside...
ventilation without the bugz...
vital here...
the shape is more like a conventional greenhouse...
so more space at the sides for tall plants...
additionally it is easier to build walls inside to create well lit work areas...
their web site is at www.gardentunnels.co.uk...
and they deliver to France.

Vera said...

John, will do!

Diane, I buy seed from the UK because I can get smaller seed packets. The seed packets here have far to many seeds in them!

Horst, have just caught up with the photo of your back yard. Thanks for posting it, and I look forward to seeing how your garden progresses.

OFG, I think doing some seeds and buying young plants in is a good compromise as well. The poly? Hope to get it in for next year, but only if we can find the right place to put it!

Tim, you have done it again! Thank you so much for the info. Have looked on the website, and very interesting it was too. Have also found this website, http://www.firsttunnels.co.uk, who also ship to France (I think, - they did last time I looked!)
Looking forward to being a polytunneller, as I am sure you are!

Jean said...

An aquarium is a lovely thing to have and watching the fish is great therapy but.........
We had a large marine aquarium and it was a truly beautiful thing but also an awful lot of work, feeding the fish, changing the water, even manufacturing the right kind of water for the tank, catching and disposing of sick or dead fish, catching predators and other unwanted creatures that appeared in the tank.
Then there was the guilt attached to a fish becoming ill or being bullied by another fish.
In the end it had to go, which was a great relief.

Vera said...

Jean, Ah, I take on board what you are saying about fish tanks! It is Lester's idea, so if I do not encourage him, then perhaps the fish tank project will fade away into nothingness!