Wednesday 17 September 2008

Ordinary maintenance and stocktaking

Wildlife pond, slugs, crop updates, self-sufficiency and stocktaking.

I have finished working on the pond: now it has a toad cavern, a sunbathing platform for frogs, and waterplants in it.

For the rest, nothing very exciting: the herb bed needed weeding before I cover it up for the winter - it seems it won't be long before night temperatures plummet.

News from the animal kingdom: all cabbage white caterpillars either pupating or drowned, the slugs are taking over as insect of the month. I have been killing them in dozens, and I was also "lucky" to uncover a handful of eggs under a stone, which I squashed one by one with manic patience. Small slugs I cut in two with scissors because they have this habit of propelling themselves away when I try my favoured method: jumping on (disgusting as it might be, I favour the method as they die straight away, without apparent suffering).

Thinking of it better, though, there is something quite exciting: this week for the first time I have been as self-sufficient with my vegetable supply as I will ever be this year. Potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic already harvested and stored, courgettes and flowers picked almost every day, French beans, perpetual spinach (a bonus, as it grew from self-seeding rather than me planting it!), green tomatoes, salad, basil, mint, sage, oregano, fennel, parsley. In case of emergency, I even have some frozen broad beans left. And - shortly - Florence fennel, sweetcorn and leek will be ready.
Following from that thought, I have decided that - if I plan properly and time it carefully - next year I might well be self-sufficient on vegetables most of the time. To achieve that result, I think I will need:
  • a plan of what to plant each month of the year, including companion planting and catch crops,
  • a space ready for planting (now I am a bit stuck as I could plant things but the beds are not ready yet).
So, yesterday, I started my "professional" stock-taking.

I have a spreadsheed where I am trying to keep track of expenses, yield, stock of seeds and plants. Quite a sizeable stock (179 species for next year, to be precise - I am a collector by character, no doubt of that!). Which stock, taking advantage of a cooler, gray day, I have catalogued and sorted by month of planting.
During the winter, I will need to assess the family of belonging of the plants, and find a suitable place for them in my 4-year crop rotation. I think the most difficult thing will be keeping in mind all the relative lifespans of the plants so as to introduce catch crops and plan timely succession.
I do not know if I will manage to be that precise anyway, though, gardening is after all my hobby , I should allow myself to leave some spontaneous enjoyment in it!

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