Leave parts of your garden uncut
No sooner have I introduced you to our flock of newly named chickens, than I’m going to complicate things again. You see, Bib has been nicknamed Bib Vicious for the time being as she is broody and one little mean, vicious hen!
She must be the most protective broody hen we’ve ever had and when I open the nest box it is not hard to see why biologists believe chickens evolved from dinosaurs! Think the T-Rex in ‘Jurassic Park’! Apparently the DNA of chickens is closest to that of this fearsome predator that roamed the earth 68 million years ago. If you get too close to ‘Bib Vicious’ she raises her feathers, lets out a piercing scream and tries to peck and claw you with all her might. When it comes to cleaning out the henhouse, we have to be extra careful when lifting her out - don’t want to lose an arm or anything! All the other hens are scared of her too and we have even seen her chasing away our neighbours’ 13 (!) ducks, which we have nicknamed ‘the gang’.
Let’s hope she doesn’t stay broody for too much longer, because I really feel sorry for the other chickens and, more importantly, she’s not laying any eggs either!
What brilliant weather we’ve had these last few weeks of August!
Everything looks so much nicer when the sun is shining and although it’s starting to feel more like autumn in the garden - browns, dark yellows and oranges being the dominant colours, it is still pretty nice to sit outside and watch the swallows and house martins preparing for take-off and say goodbye to us for the winter.
It also feels really satisfying when I see finches and warblers eating the seeds from the weeds I left to grow. If you can sacrifice a corner of your garden to wildlife you’ll be amazed how quickly certain animals will move in. It is all about leaving parts of your garden uncut, untended and unsprayed. I’ve got several ‘corners’ left uncut (it saves me a lot of time and effort weeding too!) which my husband JP now thinks is probably enough. The variety of wildlife and the amount of sheer pleasure I get from it is amazing! I’ve seen newts walking towards the pond; the common lizard is a new addition to the garden; we have several of the rarer species of bumblebees and last week I managed to get a few nice snaps of this willow warbler tucking into the seeds from a weed. To find out more on what to do go to 'Leave it to Nature'
Growing some vegetables can be more rewarding than others; the vegetables I am particularly proud of growing (if they grow well) are pumpkins. Our season is so short that they only grow in the greenhouse, which means I have to hand-pollinate the flowers. This involves cutting off one male flower (the flower of which consists only of a stem), folding back the petals and then pressing it against a female flower (the flower which has a tiny pumpkin right behind the petals). Not very romantic, is it? If this isn’t done then the tiny pumpkin of the female flower will just drop off as it has not been fertilised. I am limited to growing only small varieties - if I wanted to grow large pumpkins I would have to give up the entire greenhouse! Pictured right is the result of my patience this year: 2 small pumpkins! Yay! The skins of the pumpkins are being left to harden in the sun just now and if done properly the pumpkins should last until the end of the year. The rest of the greenhouse is full to the brim with cucumbers and tomatoes; the cucumbers are growing nicely, but the tomatoes are a bit disappointing this year. Ach well, you can’t win ‘em all!