Monday Miscellany, posted on Tuesday

We had a strange day at the farm yesterday. With nobody in we managed to force our firstborn into action and shifted quite a lot of work. This was despite frequent visits from a variety of people. I wasn’t allowed to talk to them because I’m considered a trifle direct when people stop me working, so I was able to brew mint tea, make the nettle soup for today, restructure the herb bed and plant the new beans after the problematic start to the “Bean Trial”. More of that later.


Mint Tea


Sorry if the tenses seem a little strange in that paragraph, it was originally written yesterday but will be posted today, which was tomorrow when I wrote.

Julia spent half the day explaining what we were doing, what the statues were, what was happening on Open Farm Sunday and how to enter the Scarecrow Competition. She’s very good with people.

I’m good with tools of destruction, a talent which came to the fore when we got home. The laburnum tree, which had been leaning at an increasing angle over the last few months (coinciding with the time erection of next door’s new fence, though I am pointing no fingers here) had finally given up its struggle with gravity.

They don’t look like much but I can assure you there’s a lot of wood in a laburnum, particularly when you’re  using a pair of loppers and a pruning saw. The worst is over now ad I’ll be able to get on with pruning the plum, which is why I’d originally gone into the back garden.

I’ll miss it because laburnums have featured in my life since I was about 6 and we moved to a house with one in the garden, but it’s an ill wind that blows no good and I have plans now that we have a new patch of unshaded patio. Think “heated greenhouse”.

As for the “Bean Trial”,  it hasn’t worked out well. You may recall that we filled half a bed with compostable material and left the other half plain. I then added an “X” shaped frame and planted two Firestorm beans at the base of each cane. The half of the bed that was prepared with organic material definitely showed better germination and growth, but then nearly all the shoots disappeared. On digging holes to plant replacements I found many more beans which had germinated then been eaten.

We’ve also done a Health and Safety trial with the ends of the canes. The Mark I – Coke bottle and gaffer tape is big and clumsy and tends to fall off. The Mark II – plastic protector was too small for the cane so became a Mark III using a slit and gaffer tape. The unmodified protector still works for most canes and at 12 for £1 is a good investment. Better than a poke in the eye, as they say.


Mark I


Mark III


So, organic material is good, slugs are bad and beans that are two years past the date on the packet will still grow well. Hopefully the new plants will survive and we can start to measure the crop we get from the two sides.

However, nothing is certain in life so we will just have to see.

9 thoughts on “Monday Miscellany, posted on Tuesday

    1. quercuscommunity

      We’re going to use the smaller branches for making bug hotels (we have several sessions booked later in the year). Not sure what we’re going to do with the bigger branches. They aren’t recommended for mushroom spawn, they don’t burn well. Will probably try a bit of spoon carving (which I’ve been meaning to try for a while). Apart from that I might make a raised bed or let them rot down as insect habitat. Do you have any ideas?

      1. Helen

        They all sound great ideas. The large branches could form the basis of a hugel bed if you decide to let them rot down.

      2. quercuscommunity

        Yes, I’d forgotten about that – I’ve been meaning to do it on the farm but it could be part of the new garden remodel. Thanks for the idea.

      3. Helen

        I’m trying out hugel beds for the first time, so will be interested to see how they perform, so to speak.

      4. quercuscommunity

        WE are trying out keyhole beds using fairly poor quality materials (including a good layer of chipped wood) – so far they seem to be doing well. I did however manage to set fire to the compost basket in one whilst using a gas flame gun to kill weeds.

      5. Helen

        Oh dear!

        I don’t know anything about keyhole beds – perhaps just not familiar with the term….

      6. Helen

        Thank you! I think that what I’m doing in my front garden could be classed as keyhole gardening 🙂

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