Friday, 14 June 2013

Mad Dogs and English Woman…

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So from moaning about how cold it was to the jump from 15C to 25C, today at 18:00 the patio thermometer is registering 39C!!  To be fair the front of the house faces south and is a suntrap but…  It’s also where I’ve been working for most of the day Smile  Lots of tea breaks required, very definitely my sort of day; and that really sums up the day too, a sort day walking things to their proper places now that the ground is dry.
Still no news on hay-making although if the weather forecast remains as given at lunchtime we could have a weather window of 4 days starting tomorrow.
Last night at the bee group I attend we had a talk on permaculture so part of this afternoon has been spent mulching the bare earth in the potager and flower beds with the excess of grass clippings I have.
An Internet search on the use of clippings seemed pretty evenly split between it being a good idea and it being a bad idea so consider it an experiment in progress.  Nature abhors a vacuum I was always taught and that’s why bare soil never stays bare for long.  The hope is that the layer of clippings will be thick enough to stop weed germination but not thick enough to turn into a slimy layer.  Hopefully too, they will also break down over the year and help improve my soil – it really needs something to improve it.
Along with the hay-making a lot of grass cutting and weeding round the house is required as you can probably tell from the picture above.  A month ago the flower bed shown was weed free and the area all round it neatly mown but with a bit of (weather) luck, by this time next week it will be again.

And The Bad News Is.

Well, we’re a week away from mid-summer and the hay is still not cut!  The weather is still weird, but I have decided to be brave and put away my winter clothes and bring out the summer ones.  The hardest thing at the moment is switching between 29C one day and 15C the next.  Goodness know what it is doing to plants; the harvest this year will really depend on the following 3 months weather.

This year the apricots have failed completely, of the 2 almonds I have, the earlier one has a little fruit while the later one has none.  The peach and the 2 nectarines have all developed leaf curl despite winter treatment but did set fruit although one of the nectarines has lost nearly all its fruit during a storm last week.

On a brighter note the quince tree looks like it has a good crop so quince jelly this year and both the wild cherries and my late cherries look to have a really good crop.

It’s the vagaries of the weather that persuaded me to try and preserve enough for 2 years when there is a glut so I still have bottled peaches and apricots in the store and some in the freezer.  If this weather weird-ing is to become the normal I think I’m going to have to think more about longer term preservation of a greater variety of fruit and veg to cope with the more erratic harvest that will occur. 

I’m also trying to move away from freezing everything but only if the alternative method tastes as good as the frozen so for instance I’ll bottle my plum tomatoes but unlike the French I won’t bottle my green beans.