Monday, 25 July 2016

Photographic distractions

The next batch of hatchlings are due any day now and I have been looking for ways to distract my attention. Sitting in front of the incubator really doesn't make them hatch any faster, but it has allowed me to see that some of the eggs are starting to move. So I've taken a wander around the garden and taken lots of photographs.
This is my favourite part of the herbaceous border, which is mostly a jumbled mess of field weeds and young perennials.
The daisy like flowers which would normally be considered weeds have lifted this border and although I will take them out before they seed too much, I have really enjoyed their sunny little flowers.
The Patty Pan courgettes are now setting fruit and the first will be ready to eat in a week or so. I pick them when they are about three inches across so that they are still sweet and have very few seeds in them. Sliced and tossed in a little butter in a pan they are delicious.
The giant pumpkin Howden that my grandson gave me the seeds of has now taken off and seems to be growing six inches or more a day. Plenty of male flowers have appeared and I think I've seen a female flower developing, so fingers crossed that there is a big pumpkin by autumn.
The nasturtium seeds were sown to provide some companion planting in several of the vegetable beds. I'm not sure that I like the mixed colours and next year I will look for some more simply flowered seeds instead.
Marigolds, also planted as companion planting, have created a brilliant display. The bright orange splash of colour in the vegetable garden is attracting pollinating insects aplenty.
The borlotti beans have produced some nice looking pods. I have no idea how I am supposed to cook them (do I slice them like runner beans or pod them and eat the seeds?), but I will look it up in due course. Unless they taste amazing, I don't think I'll bother with them again. There aren't many pods per plant and I feel that there are better uses of the bean poles in terms of cropping.
 Rainbow Chard, with its colourful stems are providing us with lots of green leafy food with the bonus of the chickens loving it too. Neither Mr J or I were terribly keen on chard, but steaming it lightly with plenty of black pepper added to it, we are learning to like it (or at least tolerate it knowing that it's good for us).
Each morning and evening I check over the brassicas for eggs laid by cabbage white butterflies and where it's obvious that I've missed some eggs, I remove the caterpillars. They can hide pretty well and when I went back round the garden this morning to take these photos I found several that I had missed during my early morning search for them.
The January King cabbages are just starting to form hearts, this is one of the few that hasn't had it's outer leaves chomped away by caterpillars and slugs.
In the same bed is the purple curly kale, the chickens are particularly keen on it. We haven't eaten any of it, but it's been a great supplement for the chicken food, even the small chicks squabble over it and Big Red and Little White will come to sit on my lap to eat it on an almost daily basis.
The ducks came to see what I was doing with the camera, they have become much more trusting of us over the last few months. When we first got them they ran away from us all the time, now although they don't like us to get within a couple of feet of them, they do come to see us and watch me as I potter in the garden.
I couldn't resist taking a photo of this little chap who was merrily flying from flower stalk to flower stalk on the lavender hedge. If anyone can identity the species, I'd be interested to know (please leave a comment below if you recognise what it is).
This gorgeous little field bindweed (convolvulus arvensis) has popped up all over the place, I like the delicate pink of the flowers.
There are some mighty thistles all around the smallholding, I am torn between leaving the flowers to go to seed (to feed the birds in the autumn and winter) and cutting them all down soon to prevent them spreading even more. In the meantime, the rich purple flowers are being visited by insects and I'm enjoying their stature, shape and colour.
The brambles are now fruiting well and I'm looking forward to gathering the first fruits in the next week or so. Once they have fruited I will cut them back to the ground before our hedges turn into spikey thickets.
 In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are growing well. We've picked half a dozen deep red tomatoes and there are lots of green tomatoes on the vines waiting to ripen. I've grown several varieties to help me decide what I'd like to grow more of next year.
These simple flowers are of MoneyMaker, the plants have grown tall, strong and healthily. They are a must for next year and have clusters of medium to large tomatoes which I know that I like the taste of.
This more elaborate flower is on a Russian black tomato plant, given to me by our friend Merv who breeds Cream Lebgar chickens and has supplied us with our girls and the cockerels. Merv had more plants than he needed so gave me a dozen plants for the green house.
The garlic has been lifted and is now drying off before I plait some of it and store some in the freezer. Mr J and I eat a lot of garlic, I like it roasted and can happily eat a whole clove of garlic with a plate of vegetables.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new hydrangea to go into the shrubbery, I particularly like the large pale flower heads against the deep green, almost shiny foliage. And, as a way to continue my distraction, I am going to plant it tomorrow.

But for now, I am going to check on the broody hen in our house to see whether her eggs have started to hatch and then, as always, it's time for a cuppa!

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