Autumn and Winter 2018

As usual I am playing catchup as I am writing this is the spring of 2019. One of the pitfalls of having a smallholding and a full time job is that things like blog posts suffer from neglect.

The season was dominated plentiful crops and by one sad occasion, the weakest of our rescue hens unfortunatley died, she had a year of extra life, we like to think that she enjoyed the freedom and the ability to roam freely.  She managed to grow back most of her feather but was always the weakest of the three.

 

Tomatoes

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With the really hot summer, we were overrun with tomatoes.  Much juice and passata was made (thanks to my wonderful Italian passata mill). We also used them in salads and in home made pizza cooked in the Aga- wonderful.

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Honey

The bees did really well considering only one hive was fully developed, we took over 40lbs (18kgs) of honey, it was really tasty and has been very popular wiht friends and family.

Grapes

Our grapes also did well and I had enough to make 10 litres of red wine.  I left the grapes on the vine for as long as I could to develop sugars, they were finally picked in mid November.

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From this …….

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To this – just before pressing

Apples and Pears

All the apple trees and pear trees fruited well, the warm April really helped. One of the pear trees produces small hard fruits which I am making into perry.

 

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The apples also did well, they sold in the roadside booth so fast that I did not have time to make cider this year. Probably just as well as I still have last years to drink.

 

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Meawhile the surrounding fields of barley were cut,  the harvester is so close to our hedge that you think it may be in the garden.

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Finally, as winter came on, the crab apple tree provided a spectacular display and food for the birds until spring.

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And meanwhile in the polytunnel…

I have a small polytunnel where I hoped to sprout  seeds, pot on and take cuttings as well as grow fantastic tomatoes, Chillies and other less hardy veg.

This year has been the first full year of production. Apart from taking off, blowing over a 6 ft fence and landing in my neighbour’s garden the polytunnel has been very well-behaved.

Over the summer it has been full of ripening tomatoes of various shapes and size and some great chillies.

Tomatoes and chillies - still in use in November

I have made a lot of tomato pasta sauce with onions, sweated down in lots of olive oil, garlic and the tomatoes chopped and reduced to a thick sauce with fresh thyme added to some pots for good measure. All this was sealed in hot sterilised jars and should keep for the winter.

The problems have stated in November. When mice got a taste for chillies and have stripped most of the slower plants which were just ripening off. Such a shame.  I am sorry to say  that so far the traps have accounted for 7 of the pests, sorry they cannot go in the pot- they will be highly spicy.

To add to the problems  there are a number of worn patches in the cover and although tape seems to do the trick, it won’t be long before the cover is mostly tape.  One year does not really seem long enough for it to last.

I hope to use the polytunnel over the winter with extra insulation from bubble wrap to bring on some winter veg. Lets hope it does not disintegrate before the spring.