Forgive me for it has been nearly two weeks since my last post, and I find myself with very little exciting Smallholding stuff to update you on, but quite a bit of the more mundane work. For much of the past week I have been distracted from the real work that needs to be done, by family matters, and Transition Town Horncastle work.
We had visitors for the whole weekend, from Friday through to Monday, and I was not able to do as much work as I needed to. On Sunday, I spent all of the morning feeding the flames for my Pizza oven, followed by eating and drinking for the rest of the day. Great fun, with my two daughters, along with husbands, eight Grandchildren, a sister in law, and a mother in law. We made pizza, bread, and rhubarb crumble. The oven needs more insulation, but this will have to wait a few weeks.
I spent much of Monday preparing a presentation for that evening, where I was talking the the Horncastle Area Committee, about Transition Horncastle. A lot of preparation time for a short talk. My electric bicycle ran out of charge on the way home, which meant that I had to work quite hard on the way home. Then I spent another two hours working on a talk about Permaculture for the Health and Wellbeing Group, of our District Council. They are looking to release council owned land, so that Community Groups can set up food growing projects. It looks like more of my time is going to be spent helping to design some of these spaces for Horncastle.
Tuesday morning was spent at the meeting, after which, I bought some aquatic plants and fish, for my swale pond. It ‘s probably a bit premature, as I cannot be sure that it will retain water all year round, but it’s looking OK at the moment, despite the lack of rain. In fact the lack of rain is causing me a dilemna. I don’t really want to put water pipe up to the top of the field, but the forecast is for the dry weather to continue, and my newly watered trees will dry out very soon. I have quite few of the fittings that would be needed, but would have to clear a whole heap of stuff away to get to them, as my son in law has just made me some shelving for my large storage building. It’s almost as expensive to buy standard hosepipe, and I need to sort out a leaking tap washer first. There are far too many to do by watering can, so I need to get something organised quickly. I’m just not sure what the best option is, and haven’t got enough time to deliberate.
Tomorrow I’m off to Lincoln, to the dentist, so will lose another morning.
On the positive side, as much of this has been a bit of a moan, I’ve moved half of the vegetable beds around to run North to South. I’ve also managed to pot on some Box Elder tree seedlings (Acer negundo). I got just under fifty from a single packet of seed, which is great. These will be incorporated into the tree planting scheme, once they are big enough to plant out. I’ve put out some Eucalyptus, and there are lots more to go out, but I want to make sure that they are planted out during a wet spell. A lot of the trees suffered during the frozen weather, and I lost a few, but the majority made it through OK, and are starting to grow on nicely. I have been keeping a batch of compost tea brewing for a week now, and feeding the trees a little every day. This is to get them to a decent enough size for planting out. With more than two hundred trees in pots, watering is again becoming a long job every morning.
All of the hives are doing OK. There was a period when there did not seem to be enough forage, but we now have Yew, Gorse, Wild Cherry, Blackthorn, and Flowering Currant, in full swing, with signs that the Field maple, and Sycamore, will be producing soon. There are still some varieties of willow flowering too. With little oilseed rape planted locally this year, the only agricultural crop of significance is field beans. Luckily we have acres of it this year, with about eighty acres right next door. Our neighbours are also growing poppies, which are a great source of pollen, but with more than twenty acres of them, it might be more than we need.
The vegetable patch looks really sad to me. After years of no digging, I left the beds without a mulch this Winter, and have now moved all of the beds around (digging). There isn’t much in the ground at the moment, and the sight of all of that bare earth makes me sad. I came very close to mixing up a big batch of salad leaf seeds, and scattering them, just to get some plants into the ground, but I’m trying to be patient. I’m not sure that I have enough finished compost ready to apply, once I’ve finished moving the last of the beds around, although I have quite bit of partly rotted stuff. Perhaps I’ll turn the heaps, and add a good dose of compost tea, to help the process along. The good news is that the structure and organic matter content of the soil has improved tremendously since I started.
Space is starting to be a problem, greenhouse space/protected space to be precise. My smallish greenhouse is full, and I have stacks of stuff that needs potting on. The problem is that once I do, the plants take up more space. I used to use the dog kennels, moving the plants outside during the daytime,and back at night, but this is where my ducks are, and they are partial to my vegetable seedlings. I have another area that I would normally use, but this is full of tree seedlings, which the rabbits will demolish, if I put them outside. More planning needed.
For the rest of this week, my priorities are firstly, get the trees watered, then get the vegetable beds moved, and apply compost, sow more vegetables, and organise my spaces better. For next week, I need to get my gear prepared ready for the bee swarming season.