Half way through March and this is Februaries blog. I kept procrastinating the writing as didn't think much had happened here, until I read last posting here.
The snow came and went in February and March started drizzly and not so warm but it is now sunny and warm - in fact t-shirt weather whilst working in the garden. Talking of the garden we have now installed a greenhouse 16' x 6' with a trickle irrigation system. I can imagine you all thinking WHY? considering the hot summers we have here. Currently the greenhouse is being used to raise seedlings and during the summer will, no doubt, be used for overflow planting and dehydrating BUT it's main purpose is to provide us with winter vegetables. The winter of 2013/2014 was remarkably mild with not much snow, however the previous winter was deep snow for extended periods. A greenhouse, hopefully will just entail us clearing a path to it for harvesting, rather than trying to remember whereabouts crops are under the snow and digging down to them.
On a less positive note when we started the van, to go collect the greenhouse, the cab quickly filled with smoke and the engine didn't start. Subsequent investigation, by Paul, discovered the fuse box had a short circuit which had resulted in some of the wiring loom melting - hence the smoke. Hopefully this will be resolved soon as we have some stone slabs to collect for the outside dining area, as well as some furniture which should have been collected end of last year.
The garlic and onion that was planted last October/November is doing well, with the plants protected by cloches much further advanced - this has the unintentional result of successive harvesting. Unfortunately the rhubarb my mother brought over from UK for us did not survive the winter so we are now attempting to grow some from seed. The herbs had a mixed winter with the chives, lavender, lemon balm, mint and sage coping well, the rosemary is currently in intensive care with seeds having been sown just in case it doesn't survive. Talking of herbs I made a mistake when positioning the herb bed and placed it near the outside dining area, so have repurposed an old animal feeder into a backdoor herb trough, this will be moved into the greenhouse during winter.
As I type we have 8 varieties of tomatoes germinated, along with some annual herbs and sweet peas. we are still waiting for the trays of chillies, aubergines, peppers and brasscias to show themselves. Although in previous years we didn't plant direct to ground until the end of march/early April the medium to long term weather forecast is good so I've gambled on an early sowing of mangetout, beetroot and carrots.
The warm and dry weather also means Paul can work in the field preparing it for the sowing of lucerne (alfalfa) and maize. The field will be divided into 4 strips (1 lucerne and 3 maize) meaning 3 paths down the field, these paths will be edged with peaks planted with onions, carrots, beetroot, parsnip, mooli and turnip. Normally we would also plant garlic in this area but I think I may have overdone it pre-winter by planting 500 cloves, we will see.
Last time I mentioned making Lamb Prosciutto, this is a long drawn out process of curing a leg of lamb in a salt/sugar/herb/spice mix and then wrapping in muslin before airdrying it until it loses 40 - 50% of it's original weight. We are nearly at the desired weight and tastings will be happening SOON.
I also mentioned the fact I was removing the mud plaster from the small bedroom in order to install electrics and straighten the walls (hopefully). I have had to admit defeat after removing over 90% and ask for help, even with step ladders, which I have an annoying habit of stepping backwards off, I struggled to removed the plaster from the ceiling.
The biscuit and cake making has eased off a bit as the weather improves and I spend more time outside. When I do make a batch up it is not all cooked but stored in the fridge and cooked in small batches which means we don't eat as many in one sitting but also if we need a sugar hit fresh baked cookies can be ready in 10 - 15 minutes.