A glut is defined as an excessively abundant supply of something, and the somethings here this year have been chard, tomatoes, grapes and chicks. In fact, a glut of gluts!
Daughter Caiti, who’s currently working in Ireland and has access to a small patch of garden, requested some chard seeds back around Easter time. This reminded me that we rather like chard too, so when I bought a packet to send to her, I got one for us as well. Knowing that my germination rates aren’t usually very impressive, I emptied all zillion seeds of the rainbow mix I’d bought into a seedtray. And all zillion started to grow. Even after thinning, and then repotting which always produces victims, at least when I do it, I still had oodles. I planted these out, mainly in the greenhouse but put a few in the outdoor tomato box. They flourished, and are flourishing still. Chris had been using the stalks instead of celery in his cooking, and adding chard leaves to just about everything. I went on a blanching and freezing spree, and should go on another on, but it’s demoralising to see how little you actually get from huge armfuls of chard and hours of chopping and boiling!
Next, tomatoes. We’ve never done very well growing tomatoes from seed so this year we went straight for seedlings. We got some from Gamm Vert, and I supplemented those with some cherry and yellow tomato seedlings from a stall at Boussac market. The cherries in particular went bezerk. I think the very hot temperatures this summer in the polytunnel suited this variety better than the others. Chris took control of the tomatoes and boiled some down to make tomato sauce, used lots in salad and dried others.
This was the first use of our dehydrator. Father Christmas got this for Chris, and he’s been waiting impatiently for a chance to use it. It was worth the wait as his dried tomatoes are delicious. I did my bit to help with glut by feeding all the particularly small cherry tomatoes to Lockdown, the hamster. He now has a confirmed tomato habit which I will have to wean him off soon as the supply is finally starting to dwindle.
For now, fortunately, I can distract him with grapes. We’ve had our biggest grape harvest ever of the seedless green grapes that grow on the vine that climbs along the walls of our house, and that’s despite quite a good proportion of the bunches going grey and shrivelled. We think it was to do with heat and not due to mildew since it was the grapes rather than the leaves that were afflicted. The wasps and hornets quickly zoned in on the decent grapes so we got out early one morning, while the insects were still too cold to be lively, and chopped off and collected all the remaining edible bunches very professionally with a garden shears and shopping bag combo. We ate as many of these as we could bear and then then I’ve been drying a good few kilos. It was fiddly and sticky work pulling the stalks off, but after than all they needed was a rinse in a vinegar solution and then popping into the dehydrator. The resulting DIY raisins have come out well, although a few of the smaller ones have turned a tiny bit crunchy, and are destined for this year’s Christmas baking.
And chicks! At present there are a little over sixty on the farm, ranging from a week in age to a couple of months. The vast majority of these have been fathered by Brahma cockerel Isaac, and since I have a few full Brahma hens, and several Brahma-cross hens, most of the babies have the tell-tale feathery legs. This seems to be a dominant trait. We also have Black Beauty, who has very little pink on her and from whom Rors wants to breed Ayam Cemani imitations in the hope (I fear vain) of making a fortune!
There’s also the family of seven who have two mamas. I’ve never seen this before. Grey Chicken 1 (most of my chickens don’t have names) muscled in on the nest of Grey Chicken 2, just as the latter’s eggs were hatching. GC2 refused to budge so they joint-hatched this brood and are sharing maternal duties, more or less amicably. The babies have very happily grown up with this arrangement, and I dare say feel sorry for the three other more-or-less contemporary broods who have just the one mama. I’ve had to foster five, since Black Chicken abandoned them. She pranced off with five of her brood, leaving their later-hatched brothers and sisters behind. They were still too small and weak to go chasing after mum. They’re living a life of pampered luxury under the red lamp, although it’s a shame they’re not out and about in the sunshine with the others. I shall move them outside as soon as I can get the sitting residents out of either the bunker or the Eglu.
And there may yet be a glut of pumpkins and potatoes, but I’ll keep you posted.