Archive for June, 2011

Can you have too many strawberries?

Our strawberry crop is doing magnificantly.  I have been growing strawberries for 25 years, starting off in pots when I lived in a flat, and now at Buckland St Mary, growing them in our wonderful fertile soil, we have the largest strawberries I have ever grown.

My wonderful strawberries

We  have so many strawberries that it is even too many for us to eat, when we are having them for breakfast with our cereal and then again in the evening for dessert. Can you ever have too many strawberries?

It seems like sacreligious but I am going to have to make jam out of our home grown strawberries.  I have never done this before, always making jam out of fruit from the Pick Your Own.

I am starting to feel guilty about Mr Blackbird.  Having been deprived of my raspberries he is hell bent on getting into the strawberry patch.  He even made a hole in the netting and hopped through today, only to be helped out again by us.  Perhaps as we have so many strawberries I should leave a couple on the ground just for him?  But I don’t really want him to get the taste for them, otherwise we could go from plentiful supply to none very quickly!!

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Mr Blackbird is well fed up

Neil’s mate Fid arrived today to stay for a couple of days.  Neil and he set to work on putting up the netting for the fruit cage.  It was difficult getting the netting over the top of the poles to form a roof, and then tensioning it so it was equal all the way round.  This took several attempts. They then built a door in the side , which hinges to allow entry.

We could then remove the temporary netting we had had over the gooseberry bushes and some of the raspberries.  As we were sitting admiring the work, we noticed Mr Blackbird getting in a spin.  He was barging against the netting trying to get in.  Now I know who has been stealing my raspberries.  With the netting there his thieving will have to stop but he’s not happy.  He’s hopping all around the netting trying to find a way in but to no avail.

So Blackbird zero, us and the fruit cage one point!!

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Suppressing the weeds!

Whilst the soil here is very fertile and everything grows well, that includes the weeds.  We have been battling the weeds in the fruit cage area all Spring, pulling them up and putting down old carpet to act as weed suppressant sheet, and then spraying the grass with weedkiller until it looked like this below.

killing off the weeds and adding old carpet

Today we laid 100 metres of black suppressant sheet in the fruit cage area.  We cut round the raspberry canes and fruit bushes to cover the whole area, until we ran out of the black fabric.  Quickly went to Ebay and purchased another 100 metre roll so now have to wait for it to arrive before we can finish the job.

Laying the black weed suppressant sheet

A little toad came to join us in the task………….

little toad

We love all little animals here, so he was welcome to join us. 

Why don’t toads, hens, cats eat weeds?  that would make our life easier.

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Is drilling boring??

Neil wanted to drill a hole, through from the kitchenette on the 2nd floor into our loft, to put phone wires and bell wires through.  So he positioned me in the loft with the walkie talkie and he was the other side of the wall drilling.  I was supposed to let him know when the drill came through. So there I was standing there waiting, and he was drilling and drilling but to no avail.

We came to the conclusion that the wall must be thicker than his longest drill, so we contacted a local hire place but they only had a 600 mm drill bit and Neil wanted a metre long one.  We tried several places on the net, to find that a 1000mm drill bit only fits into an SDS Max drill, which Neil didn’t have, so to cut this story short, he ordered one yesterday afternoon and the new drill and drill bit arrived by courier this morning at 7.20am!!

Neil with his big drill

So this afternoon I took up my position in the loft again with the walkie talkie and waited the other side of the wall.  Suddenly I was showered with brick dust as the drill finally broke through.  Hurrah!!!  That’s an expensive hole!!

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Lovely midsummer weather!

Can hardly believe the weather at the moment.  To think yesterday was Midsummer’s Day and I was sat here in a jumper with a cardigan over the top.  Our neighbours lit their woodburning stove.  I looked out over the back of us and all I could see were the rain clouds, see below.

clouds over the hills

rain clouds on MidSummer's day

Today didn’t start much better.  It rained all morning, and about lunchtime the rain eased off and the sun peeped out for a while.  I went to a Strawberry afternoon tea at Stapley today, but luckily we sat in a marquee so were sheltered from the wind.

I wish oh wish Summer would come!!!

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Abundant fruit

The fruit bushes down in the paddock are bearing abundant fruit.  The strawberry plants we put in last year and got nothing from, have really come into their own, with enormous strawberries.  We’ve been eating them for breakfast and dinner for a week now.

The first of the strawberries and blackcurrants

The blackcurrant bushes that we got when someone was giving them away on freecycle, are also doing well. There are quite a few, enough for pudding for us two, but not masses, I expect we will get more as the bushes mature.

Our 2 red gooseberry bushes, given to us by a lady in Combe St Nicholas are also bearing plentiful fruit, this time enough for crumbles, and jam. And the raspberry canes, again planted last year when we got nothing from them, are now bearing fruit.  It is a rush to pick them before the birds get them, so we are trying to net them. When we finally get out large fruit cage net up it will save all the fruit hopefully, until then we are grateful for what we can pick.

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Ever heard of homing ducks?

Further to my blog of 15th June, lo and behold this pair of ducks have waddled their way all the way back to our neighbours where they came from.  This is about half a mile.  They would have had to cross a road (not that busy) and waddle all the way as their wings are clipped so they couldn’t fly.   All the searching for them, and no wonder we couldn’t find them if they were making their way home.  Who would have thought ducks would have a homing instinct, or did they just get lucky and head in the right direction? We’ll never know, but these ducks voted with their feet, they obviously didn’t want to live with us, so there we are.

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