Mid-July: another update

The harvesting is coming along steadily and we’re regularly eating our own potatoes, peas, beetroot, radish, onions, shallots, spinach and kale at the moment, so I thought it might be a good moment to pause and round-up how the first half of the growing year is getting along.

The onions have been superb, with some of the red and most of the white still to lift on the allotment and all the whites at home now lifted. The bulbs are as good as any in the shops (and much fresher, of course!) The shallots are now all lifted and I’ll weigh them tomorrow after I trim them and just before I put them into brine ready to pickle. We’ve lifted a moderate potato crop so far – 1.5kg of first earlies and 2.35kg of second earlies (half the 2nd earlies still to come) but considering they’ve had poor soil, no earthing up, no additional feeding and got frost-nipped early in the year, I think they’ve struggled through gamely! They certainly taste delightful.

Beetroot are only just coming ready to harvest and we’ll probably eat them as fast as we harvest them, because we never plant enough and we love them!

The peas have now reached the stage where we’re podding the dwarf earlies, having enjoyed them as mange-tout up to now, and the maincrop Lord Leceister peas are looking very promising, though not quite ready to pick yet. Another week or two should see us filling up the freezer with peas, not just filling up our plates!

The runner beans are looking very disappointing – peely-wally, as the local idiom has it; pale and feeble. The brassicas seem to be surviving, though we have fought a battle of catch-up with netting and the local birds over the past week!

On the subject of freezers, we’ve just got round to clearing enough space in one of our sheds to put in a big chest freezer. At the moment we run three small freezers in the house, which is about the least efficient way to run a freezer! One of them is a real PITA, being a front-opening affair with drawers, so every time the door’s opened all the cold air falls on your feet and the freezer has to start chilling all over again. It ices up at the drop of a hat and the shelves use up a lot of space, reducing the storage capacity. Freezers are most efficient when they’re full and when they’re kept in a cool place, because then they have less work to do chilling their contents down to temperature properly, so one big one out in the shed will store a lot more produce, more efficiently and for less power used, so cheaper into the bargain.

On the rabbit front, Trudy’s litter are still growing nicely and devouring their own weight in fresh grass and weeds every day, Jezebel has nested in her nestbox ready to kindle (she’s due on Sunday) and both Delilah’s mating with Samson and Trudy’s mating with Tigger seem to have taken, so they’re be two litters due in August. It’ll be nice to prove Tigger’s fertility, too – Samson’s is already proven, as those 6 little devils of Trudy’s show!

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