December 2007

At the beginning of winter what better thought than of late summer grapes on the vine (click to enlarge). What, in Cambridgeshire… why not? And as I was head down in one of the beds at the end of the month pulling up some couch grass it was a real pleasure to be surprised with the words ‘That’s a good way to do your back in’. Barry up for further vineyard preparation on the adjoining plot acquired recently.

Within a few hours he’d not only laid out the rows for the first 15 vines (5 each of Dornfelder, Rondo & Pinot Noir), but had dug five of the two foot holes ready for planting as shown below. Vines don’t get delivered until early spring & it’ll be four years before the first bottle is supped, but what a prospect to savour! He’s certainly got it well planned, including buying in some grapes to perfect the fermentation process rather than risk the precious own-grown grapes when they arrive.

It’s just as well things take a while to come to fruition… Project Cluck & the construction of the chicken coop have benefited from thinking time. The overall shape has stayed true to that decided last month (although seriously amended from October) but some of the internal bits have certainly undergone changes. The removable nesting boxes (for easy cleaning) turned out to be too tight a fit, & also needed to be blocked in. The position of the door & roosting bar also had several iterations. By the end of the month I’m filling in the second wall as shown below.

I’ve also been thinking more about where to lay out the chicken run; once the coop’s finished that’s the next job. Decided to make the run more palatial by allowing more room, & also to move the old shed base for access to the rear plot. I can use the base to put a new cold frame on… something else I’ve to build before spring since the old one used double glazed windows & was just too heavy. The compost bins will also have to move. So that’s a good few week’s work before I even think about starting to dig beds in the extra plot.

Oh, & I started to level out some of the current plot’s paths. The grass between my raised beds works really well but there was still some ups & downs, a legacy from when I first took over the wilderness. Dangerous too, when the ground’s wet… I’ve nearly come a cropper several times. So by then end of the month the plot looks as shown below.

And just to show I haven’t forgotten what it’s all about, my family are beginning to benefit in the form of a constant supply of onions, & an intermittent supply of leeks, beetroot & lettuce. Even supplied parsnip & salsify for my daughters’ Christmas dinners, but I’ve not had the courage to ask them (or more correctly Chris & Barry, since they do the cooking) if it was any good.

The onions that went to Beth & Chris had a surprise in them… a couple of sleepy wasps! Connor called to let me know with a sound of incredulity in his voice that I should supply my grandson with wasps. Sounded a little less confident a couple of days later when I asked him if I could have my wasps back… they’d long since passed to wasp heaven by then. He then put an order in for me to grow lemonade & mincemeat trees on the allotment.

Finally, my trusty Roberts DAB radio went on the blink during the month. Seems to think the batteries have run out, in spite of me testing in every which way. Twelve month guarantee ran out in October, so it’s going to have to go off to Roberts for repair. I hope it isn’t too costly. Bit rich really, to pay £90 for a radio that goes on the blink after 14 months. But the original radio I used, a Roberts fm radio, is continuing to deputise well. I’ve been a Roberts fan up to now… let’s see if that holds post-repair!

More photos below. Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking ‘Comment’ at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge/span>
Barry measuring out vine lines
And lines from far side
Other side of chicken coop
And end view
Salad bed of lettuce, chichory, beetroot & spinach
Bed primarily of leeks & lettuce
Vegetable & flower seedlings in front of the shed
Path up to my plot getting a bit muddy!

1 comment:

  1. The real John McKinnie11:25 am

    You two have got far too much time on your hands!


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