Friday, 21 December 2007

The Waiting Game and the Windowsill Garden

Today has been spent hanging round and not really being able to get on with things. The reason? My alpaca, Noissette is due to give birth any time now. Today was her due date but they can be up to six weeks early or six weeks late. As the ground and wind are cold even if the air temperatures are just into double figures here, there is a chance of her cria (baby) getting hypothermia. This means checking on Noissette every hour.

One fat alpaca.

I thought that today was going to be the day, she separated herself from the others and also spent more time sitting down. Both are supposed to be indications of impending birth but it was not to be.

On the whole it’s widely accepted that if they haven’t given birth by 2.30 pm then they are unlikely to that day but it means that getting to the shops at the moment has become a little difficult. I hang around until 3 pm, then it’s half an hour to the shops but I have to remember to be back for 5.30 at the latest to lock the chickens safely into their house.

So I was able to make it to the shops today. I don’t want to be shopping tomorrow and there is practically no Sunday shopping here. It is getting a bit too close to Christmas for my liking so I was really glad to get the shopping done. I got all the essentials, more paraffin for the portable heater and I bought a camping gas light and burner – essential for when the power goes off. I also spent far too much on food but with luck I won’t need to do a large shop again for a month or so.

I thought I’d show you a few things I’m growing in the house at the moment. First up is my lemon. I’ve got 2 trees, the first one I bought is a small one which promptly dropped it’s flowers and small fruit when I brought it home. It’s struggled this year but I’ve now given it some specialised fertiliser and it’s responding well and starting to form flower buds. The second lemon tree I bought kept all its fruit over the summer and 2 have ripened since I brought it inside.

It’s also flowering again and scenting the whole room wonderfully. I’ve found an old paintbrush and I am pollinating the flowers as they open.

This group are the pineapples I'm growing. The one in the terracotta pot is well rooted now, the one in the plastic tub has just been placed into the coarse compost and I’ll leave to root for a couple of months while the last one is just starting it’s drying off. It will hopefully be a bit like BOGOF just a wait of 2 to 3 years between the first and the free one!

Next up is an avocado – I really would like to get it to last more than a year or so. It’s common for them to last that long on the seed store but fail to make a good enough root system to survive. The little sapling beside it is a lychee that I planted last Chinese New Year. Lychees are back in the supermarkets here ready for Christmas so I’m going to see it I can get a few more seedling.

And lastly this little group. In the bottle, the dead looking twig is a piece of willow that has rooted and I will grow on to plant down by the pond. I will probably coppice it to provide a source of willow canes. In with it is a very sad looking piece of geranium that broke off when I was putting the geraniums in the barn out of the frost. I’d read somewhere that willow water was a natural rooting compound. So far I’m not convinced.

In the little glass bowl are some date stones being pre-soaked before trying to germinate them and in front of that is a piece of ginger. I’d bought a large piece of ginger a couple of months back with the aim of trying to grow some. I've got 2 large pots currently in the cold frame as there is no room for them in the house. This was a small piece left over after cutting pieces for the two pots but as it is trying so hard to grow, I’ll find space for a little pot that can stay inside.

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