Tomato Testing

It is that time of year when we look at some of our tomato crop

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and decide which varieties are worth growing again.

This year we did some research and tried to identify some tomatoes which have a low number of “days” – the time from flowering to ripe fruit. Even so, it has not been a good year for our crop, both the amount of fruit and the degree of ripening have not been the best.

We had to track down the seed for Crushed Heart on eBay as it does not seem to be available commercially

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We will grow this again (from our own saved seed)

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Another new find we will grow again is Costoluto Fiorentino

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because they are an exciting shape, if for no the reason.

Another visually exciting variety is Tigerella

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He haven’t grown many large varieties in recent years but Black Russian we will sow again

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Black Cherry

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we are not so sure about. They have not properly ripened even though they look exciting.

Other varieties from this year which will grow again are

Black Opal

Brandy Boy

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Ildi

Matina

Red Cherry

Roma

Sungold

and Sweet Aperitif

while, after growing it for several years, we are giving up on Ailsa Craig.

Any suggestions for things to try are very welcome…

Beware the Yellow Stainer

It is fungi season and all manner of interesting specimens are appearing. We are cautious in our consumption but in the past have enjoyed field mushrooms and inkcaps, among others.

Our guard must have been down this week when these cropped up in abundance

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After a quick once over they moved to the kitchen table

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on their way to tasty fry-up.

We should have looked a little more closely

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we read, is a mark of Agaricus xanthodermus – The Yellow Stainer:

“Poisonous causing alarming symptoms”

which proved true.

So watch out for those yellow stains!

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Harvest time

It is that time again…

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We have grown some new tomato varieties this year

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A lot eaten sweet fresh and some roasted for the winter freezer

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Some things of course provide a lot more than needed

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Plums and damsons have been a fine crop this year

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Some eaten fresh but quite a lot

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have so far made

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Ninety bottles of wine

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Never quite sure what to do with the squash, but we have discovered a good stirfry with tofu

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Chillies frozen ready for bagging

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First sweetcorn eaten today

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And every day the rabbits get a fresh evening salad mix

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Autumnal Ovipositing

The sun still shines, but for less time and with less intensity

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But down at the lake

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plants are still flowering

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and trying to camouflage herself

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the female chaser is on the prowl

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looking for the right place

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to deposit her eggs

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The cycle of life continues.

Signs of Summer End… 1,2,3

As the Sunflower begins to shed its tears

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we look around at signs of Summer’s end.

No. 1

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The Rowan is ready. Last year we made forty-six litres of Rowan wine. We need more.

No 2

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It has begun. Scything the Meadow. Should be finished by October end.

No 3

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More wine.

So heavy…

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…it needs propping up.

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Summer End Sensations

This year we have grown more flowers than ever before – adding to perennials and a lot of annuals which ended up in pots as we ran out of space (a hazard with only three and a half acres).

Here is a little walk round some of them yesterday:

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Bella the Buzzard Bamboozler part two

Bella (we only give names to hens of distinction) got up this morning and managed to eat some breakfast.

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Understandably, she was still very fragile so we decided to move her to the special needs zone.

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Current occupants are Dora,

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who is a bit slow physically (and mentally) and spends a lot of her life sitting down.

And Eliza (because she is a Wayward Daughter),

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who became a pathological escapee when part of the main flock.

They live in a strange harmony

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which was interrupted today as Bella arrived in their bed.

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As the day ends she is still alive although we had a time of concern earlier when she was lying on her side looking pained. This was the result.

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Back in the main flock we have been stumped as to how to prevent a reoccurrence of the abduction. These hens have been recently without a cockerel, who can give early warning of overhead predators. We did have one to spare from one of the summer hatchings (currently being fattened up for the pot hence no name) so he was sent of to perform sentry duties.

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He was a little puzzled but seemed to take the job seriously being shown the way by Inky,

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who is in charge of the new flock next door.