I’ve been off for a couple of weeks, camping in my own back garden for the second year running. A true ‘staycation’. And what brilliant weather we’ve had!

The Club is doing well
July 2020

Sadly it is all back to the normal ‘Scottish’ summer weather again. In other words, raining! At least the garden is doing really well. Unfortunately so are the slugs and midges. My oh my, the slugs are nibbling everything this year and even slightly bigger plants are now at the mercy of the ravenous wee devils. I fear for our strawberries, too, which are beginning to turn red as I write. The midges are particularly bad as well; I tried sleeping in the little tent we’ve pitched in the garden too, listening to the sounds nature makes at dusk and during the night. However several times I’ve had to get up and go back indoors at around 4 am because the tent was being invaded by midges! We bought this tent way back in The Netherlands and although it is great at keeping the rain out, the mesh isn’t fine enough to keep out the tiny midges!

I suppose creating another little pond has not helped keep the midge population down either. Next to our elevated pond (which was mentioned in the latest RSPB’s Nature’s Home magazine!) we’ve created a small, shallow pond with lots of gravel and stones scattered around it. Partly to have less grass to mow, but also to make use of the huge amount of stones we have in our garden. The entire wall of the big pond is made up with stones we dug up from our garden! One of the ‘perks’ of living higher up a hill.

Our new hens (aka ‘The Club’) are doing well. What a right bunch they are! I could write a ‘chicken diary’ about the antics they get up to. We’ve given them all names to match their different personalities:
Helga the Explorer (aka Captain Helga)
As soon as we took down the fencing to allow them access to the fields, she was off like a shot! She immediately began to explore her surroundings. She also has very good spatial awareness; she actually knows how to hide from me and she can turn 2 corners to get to me whenever I give out treats.
Hannah, 2nd in command
She is the second one in the pecking order and more or less follows Helga wherever she goes. She is a bit sneaky too, grabbing hold of a head of wheat and running off with it, so she can eat it without being pecked at by the others.
Clever Hester (formerly known as Scruffy Hester)
She is not so scruffy looking any more and her feathers are definitely beginning to grow back. She is a clever cookie, though; the only one able to perch (for now) and she knows how to eat from the hanging food container too.
Hank the Tank
She really barges into everything! From the moment she gets up in the morning, she just stumbles across the above mentioned food container; clumsily strides across the containers on the ground and plonks herself down on the edge of the new, heavyweight food bowl we’ve just bought!
Scary Hetty
She still has a weird look in her eyes. She is okay and everything, but there is just something about her eyes. Something odd. A strange, eerie look...
Tufty el Rufty
She is broody. Again. She now stays with her new flock and doesn’t party with the neighbours’ chickens any longer. Maybe she’s getting too old! Truth be told, she has visited them once since the new lot arrived, but came back after only an hour. Maybe she decided this new lot wasn’t too bad after all.

All is well on the vegetable front… well, apart from the slugs. I finally have a pumpkin growing. For years I’ve tried and every time the fruit wilted before it grew. This year I’ve hand pollinated the flowers, fed it loads of comfrey liquid and it seems to be paying off. There is one pumpkin growing on one plant at the moment and hopefully I’ll get some more on the other plants too. French beans are also growing well this year, we’ve been picking them every other day from the greenhouse. It won’t be long until I can harvest some of the white turnips (or swedes) and the tomatoes are forming too. There has been one disaster, though; we won’t have many onions this year as I’ve got white rot in the ground. The roots become infected with this nasty fungus, which then spreads to the onion. This also means I won’t be able to grow any onions, leeks or garlic in these beds for an incredible 8 years! I think I’ll have to mark the beds, just in case it slips my mind...

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