Tuesday, 23 January 2018

5 Fresh Foods In The Garden - January

Despite the weather being decidedly wet and blustery, then freezing and blustery, then very wet again, I'm pleased that I've managed to get outside for short periods without getting soaked through. 

Most days I have been able to harvest something from the annual vegetable beds to use in the kitchen.

So, here are my five most harvested foods for January 2018.


1. Leeks
I grew three different varieties of leeks this year, to give us some security should one variety go too seed too soon. 

There are Autumn Mammoth, American Flag and one other variety, sadly, I can't remember the variety and unlike me, I didn't record it in my gardening journal.


2. Parsnips
These were grown from organic seed, the variety is Tender and True. This year I spaced the seeds much further apart than I have done in the past, giving fewer roots of a much better size. You can see very clearly on these roots where the growth changes after a few inches of nice straight growing; that's where the wood chip and compost growing medium in the raised bed meets the dreadfully poor soil that was in the field when we moved in. Hopefully this will improve year upon year as the topsoil is rebuilt.


3. Purple Sprouting Broccoli
I grew two varieties of purple sprouting broccoli this year in the hope that one would be ready to be harvested earlier than the other and that's exactly what has happened - hooray! We've been enjoying the purple sprouting broccoli for almost eight weeks and the second bed, the seed packet informs me, should be ready to harvest in February and March.



4. Fresh Herbs
The bronze fennel has braved the weather and the fresh growth is now around eight inches high, certainly enough to pick a little to add to dishes like omelettes and sauces.
The thyme and marjoram which I have growing under cloches, looks fairly scruffy and ragged, but I'm harvesting a little at a time from them.
The evergreen herbs like rosemary and bay add their warming presence to dishes and the sage, although looking very weather beaten, is still just about useable.

5. Cabbages and Kale
We have plenty of Cavello di Nero kale, January King and Savoy cabbages as well as spring greens. Other than the Savoys, I've grown most of these brassicas to give to the birds, as an additional green during the winter months while the grass has stopped growing. We eat just a little kale as we are not fans, but I enjoy Savoy cabbage on a regular basis.
I think the key to enjoying brassicas is to find the way to cook them so that you enjoy them. I dislike soggy cabbage, while friends of mine won't touch it if it still has a crispiness or bite.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Avian Flu Prevention Zone 2018 - Our Action Plan

Yesterday, as soon as we heard about the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone being implemented in England, I started to put into place the processes that we have planned for since the end of the last 'lockdown'.

I grabbed my camera and made a video of our action plan and what we are doing on our little smallholding because although we live in Wales, we are close to the border and I expect the Welsh government to follow suit before too long (as they did last year).

I made a couple of errors in my video and the guidance is that poultry keepers that have over 500 birds have to take additional measures, NOT the much higher figure that I give in the video. Our action plan we hope complies to the rules for those with less than 500 birds.

Last year there seemed to be a great deal of confusion about whether the Prevention Zone applied to backyard poultry keepers or those with just a few pets. This year DEFRA have been much clearer in their instructions and state that it applies to all poultry owners whether kept as pets or livestock.

So far, (as at midday 19th January 2018) there is not a complete lockdown, there are increased biosecurity measures needed, but as I read the guidance of what we need to do, all areas to which birds have access must be enclosed by netting to prevent contact with wild birds - so this surely must include netting overhead or the wild birds could just fly into the poultry areas.

We have spent the year with the chicken pens looking increasingly like a scene from Glastonbury festival, with tented covers billowing around in the wind, but I am comfortable that their areas will be secure enough for them to be able to have some access to outside even should a total lockdown be announced. The pens have been covered from above for a while now.

For full information about the AI Prevention Zone and the latest situation, see DEFRA Prevention Zone information https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone

The Welsh Government have just posted this statement to their site - no prevention zone at the moment. http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/avianflu/?lang=en

But as we live so close to England I'm going to work on the basis that wild birds don't actually know about the border between the two countries and continue to get everything covered up.

I'm rather sad to see us have to use the covered runs and all the other biosecurity measures, I had hoped that this year we would get to spring and think 'well all of that hard work was a waste of time', as it turns out it wasn't wasted time, it was work well done. As Christmas came and went and there was no sign of bird flu in Britain I became increasingly cheerful that our bird population were not going to be hit by it.

Anyway, I think it's time for a cuppa!


Friday, 12 January 2018

The Duck's Two Feet

Today I have been making adjustments to the duck's fencing and making it more secure.



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

January GIVEAWAY! | Alison's Animals Calendar

Subscribe to my YouTube channel, leave a comment below the video and you will be entered into the draw for the giveaway!






Monday, 8 January 2018

Chickens in the Piggeries!

Today I am back to using recycled pallets, this time to create an internal wall in our tumble down piggeries. Once the wall (more of a barrier really) is secured, the chickens are allowed to explore a previously out-of-bounds area.