Well I think that’s what you could call an unsettled week of weather. It all started swimmingly on Monday, with another lovely sunny and warm day, but then it began to go down hill rapidly. The wind got up, and stayed up, and then got stronger, then it knocked down part of the row of runner beans, then it blew lots of apples off the trees, then it made another bough of the willow tree in my garden at home crash to the ground, then it kept me awake at night, then it turned a bit chilly, then it rained, and now it’s going to be sunny for the week ahead (or so they say). I feel quite queer just recounting all of that….it must be my age.

It was a quiet week on the nature front though; I didn’t wrestle any bears, or shoot any tigers, or charm any snakes. The most adventurous thing that I did was to pick up a hornet in the greenhouse and return it to the wild. I should have asked for a safari suit and an Indiana Jones hat for my birthday, rather than what I did request.

Drum roll….the gift that I did ask for was a telescope for viewing the stars, and that is what I got. Family members chipped in to buy it, and so on Sunday evening, after a great picnic in Clare Castle Park, I opened about a dozen boxes and assembled a very impressive piece of kit. It’s actually rather larger than I was expecting it to be, so storage is something of an issue, but on its tripod it’s the perfect height for hanging coats on, so it’s worth the space it takes up. Monday evening was pretty much cloud-free, so I took it outside to have a play. The moon was fairly low in the sky, and was showing about a third of its surface, and when I trained the scope on to it the view was amazing; such detail could be observed that each one of us uttered an involuntary “wow” as we took it in turns to look through the viewfinder. After that I trained the telescope on to Saturn, and whilst it was very small, I could clearly see the planet and its rings. I am already planning additional lenses to enhance the viewing experience.

Work in the garden continues to be all about the transition from one season to the next. I have been pulling up aubergines and tomatoes in the greenhouse to make way for winter salads and leafy greens. Outside I sowed an overwintering cover crop on two thirds of the bottom half of the garden. It is a mixture of rye grass, for holding nitrogen in the soil, and vetch, which is a leguminous plant that fixes nitrogen through nodules on its roots. It will all be cultivated next May, when it will add organic matter to the soil, adding fertility.

The seasonal transition is inevitably affecting what is available to purchase. The runner beans really are on their last legs, I will keep them in the shop, but they will be very limited, so it’s going to be first come first served. Courgettes are carrying on for at least one more week, and red peppers continue to crop well, but tomatoes are slowing down, though I am hoping that there will be enough for everyone that wants some. Beetroot, sweetcorn, kale, carrots, leeks, onions, broccoli, patty pan and spaghetti squash, baking and regular potatoes, lettuce and mushrooms are all in the shop this week. New to it is chard, and bunched turnips. There are cooking and eating apples, and a very limited quantity of ‘Sanguine de Savoie’ peaches that have been growing outside. They have a dark red/brown skin, and deep red flesh. I only have about 80 in total, they are not particularly large, but they are a late season treat, so order early to secure some.

We thought that Dudley had got away with it following the attack by the Staffy the previous week, but by Tuesday of last week he was quite poorly, and his face had become very badly swollen. HIs ruff of hair obviously hadn’t been enough to protect him from the teeth of his assailant, and the wound had become infected. A trip to the vet, a course of antibiotics, and a £100+ bill, and a few days of taking his medicine, and the swelling has gone and he’s more like his old self. Poor old lad.

Right, I’m off to align my telescope with Polaris and see if I can spot Uranus. Have a good week.

Phil

 

 

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