Well I finally did manage to get out there and do a few things in January, in the odd moments between the downpours.
I moved most of the fruit bushes up to the Orchard Plot, which I’ve dug over ready for some new fruit bushes to join them.
I’ve planted out the broad bean plants, and soon the peas will join them.
I’ve sown some tomato seeds in the greenhouse – probably far too early, but time will tell. I do have some more seeds in case those early ones don’t germinate.
The onion sets I put in during the autumn are doing well, and so is the garlic.
I’ve succeeded in training the hens to return to their run when I rattle a box of mixed corm, which means when I’m out there working I can now let them out to scratch around on the surrounding grass and leaves – so much nicer for them than their muddy pen.
The hens have had some unexpected house-guests, when my neighbours had a fox in their run and needed some temporary refuge for their remaining hens until they could mend their fencing. Despite the disruption, they continue to lay exceptionally well, and I’m giving quite a lot of eggs away. Its nice to know they are appreciated and enjoyed.
The photo below is because I’m trying to figure out which hen lays which eggs. This one was just seconds old.
One day when we had 6 egg whites in the fridge and a meal out at friends when we’d offered to take a pudding, a chocolate walnut meringue cake was made which coincidentally needed – 6 egg whites. It was delicious! (it was also December, not January, but who cares!).
We’re still eating last years potatoes, onions and garlic, plus occasionally some kale and parsley. The purple sprouting plants look healthy.
I collected my seeds and onion sets from the Allotment Association, and am expecting to hear soon that the seed potatoes are there to be collected. I also found some bargain seeds on sale in Waitrose – organic seeds at 50p each, or three packets for £1! As their use-by date is the end of 2017, these really are a bargain (just this weekend, so you may be lucky enough still to find some).
Add in a little light weeding and some relaxing catalogue browsing (I need to order those fruit bushes and some asparagus roots), and that just about wraps it up for January. But an ecouraging start to a new gardening year – so far.
I love seeing the work you’re doing in your allotment, Deborah 🙂 . I confess I can never see photos of your garden without my mind automatically going to Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Wererabbit (one of my favourite films, even though yes, I am an adult 😉 ) … there’s such a charm about the English countryside (its lush green gardens, the very idea of allotments, its houses, etc etc) that speaks very deeply to me. (And I was rather amazed to read that you trained your hens — this city-slicker had no idea chickens were train-able!)
Ah well we have badgers in place of the Wererabbit… And Wallace and Gromit are local heroes around here, as they are made in nearby Bristol by a lovely local firm. So we’re very proud of them.
My son is very sceptical about the idea of me having ‘trained’ the hens. But it’s basic psychology (Pavlov? Skinner?) – they have learned that when I rattle the box, especially nice food follows, so they run in. That’s training in my book.
That’s a brilliant start to the year! Gosh, you are early with your tomato seeds. I don’t usually sow ours until March/April and I’ll be very interested to see how yours do. We do very little between October and March but I’d like to get more organised and try new crops. I’ve been buying loads of eggs lately (all the children love their eggs and I’ve been baking a lot) so keeping chickens is very appealing. Something else to think about… That choc meringue cake looks fab. Yum.
Yes, I think I was probably over-hasty with the tomato seeds – a reaction to usually being far to late to get them to fruit before the weather gets bad and I lose them to blight. No signs of germination so far, so I suspect I’ll be resowing late this month or March. The cake was super-delicious! I’ll write up the recipe sometime. But quite expensive to do as used a lot of walnuts (but oh so worth it!)
I’m amazed your hens are still laying in the winter. My neighbour’s hens stopped laying about 2 months back. I guess that’s the Bath – Buxton difference!
Mine have always laid some through the winter, but never as much as this. All goes to add to the feeling that the weather is freaky and worrying. But the eggs are nice. And yes, I guess Bath is significantly milder than Buxton.
What fabulous sturdy looking broad bean seedlings and a timely reminder that I must crack on and sow some. Your cake looks seriously delicious.
Yes, they’re good aren’t they. I meant to sow them early in November but I think by the time I got round to it, it was December. I started them in the (unheated) greenhouse, but now they’re planted out and seem to be doing fine so far. I’m going to do some more early spring, different variety, to lengthen the season as we love broad beans and never have enough.
The cake was indeed seriously delish! Definitely to be repeated.