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How we need to prepare

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Garden Update End July

Veg seems to be going well except for the peas. They don’t respond well to being in grow bags but there has been a small crop. It wouldn’t have been enough to feed me but it certainly is more than enough to give me a larger start for next year. Been plagued with Cabbage Whites but not much slug damage at all this year. The raised beds and the chickens seem to have kept them down well.

I’ve had little time to maintain the garden, I water it irregularly and most of my fruit is in small containers so I have not had a very large crop but this is fine for me. I want these as my base for future crops and easily transported and, hopefully, kept hidden. Even so I have been surprised by the amount of Spinach, Rocket, Lettuce and Cabbage I have. The Spinach and Rocket have simply exploded and as well as providing leaves to myself, the chicken (They love it) and the rest of the family there is still plenty left.

The bees have settled down. After my last article when I went in to try and create a queen I found one already there. She is now marked, Green is the 2014 colour, and both hives are thriving. Honey stores are being filled and I’ve decided that to give the best start for next year after all the messing about with brood shifting I’m going to take very little honey from the hives. After all I’m not in it for what I can take in honey, wax, etc. I will however take a little honey, just a few jars, for my stores and for a taster.

The chickens are still doing well. I want to increase the number of warrens I have. Coop is supposed to handle up to twelve easily but it looks to me like nine is about the maximum so at some time I’ll get another six or another nine and rehouse the three I have. They are still going strong and I have an attachment to them.

The other coops with the bantams in is thriving as well. Chicks are growing fast and it looks like I have two roosters and one hen from my first batch which is a bit of an issue. I don’t want any more roosters competing for who makes the loudest noise. So when I’m 100% sure I’ll get rid of the younger roosters. Next time with a bit of luck I’ll have just hens.

Lucky for me these take very little of my time to live or things wouldn’t be so rosy.

Perennial Veg in the Preppers Garden.

I came across this topic by complete accident a while ago, while discussing with a friend what fruit we grow. We both agreed it would be great if there were vegetables that, like most fruit would be perennial. Well, this fired my imagination and got me researching. I found a surprising array of vegetables that were exactly that, perennial. A few came to mind immediately, Asparagus, Globe Artichokes, Cardoons and Jerusalem Artichokes was about as far as we got.

Perennial vegetables could have a valued part to play in a prepper’s food basket. Most are well adjusted to our climate and therefore less likely to succumb to bad weather. Once planted they pretty much look after themselves freeing up precious time to do other things. You don’t need to prepare a bed for them each year; as a result, the soil improves through less digging. Some are not in the least bit attractive to pests and many crop during the hungry gap of late winter and early spring between the end of the winter greens and the abundance of summer. Having fresh food to supplement stores is critical to any survival situation; we can’t exist indefinitely on what is in storage. On top of growing the usual annual vegetables and wild foraging, perennial vegetables could be another benefit for preppers who hope to go down the self reliance and food security route.

There are other advantages, perennial veg, many simply don’t look like a vegetable at all, and they can hide in plain sight and could make fantastic candidates for a guerrilla garden. Some are of woodland origin, others prefer a more open aspect, and would not look out of place in a garden border or grassland. It would be a simple step to introduce a few chosen types to an area.

The most interesting part of my research has been the discovery that so many perennial plants most of us are already growing in our garden borders are in fact edible. I hope to go into this in more depth at a later date.

The range of varieties is as diverse as you would wish. Roots such as, tubers like Oca, Yacon, Jerusalem Artichokes and Chinese Artichokes , shoots could be Hostas, Asparagus, Solomans Seal, leafy greens, this is where there is an abundance. Just a few are Daubentons Kale, Good King Henry, Alexanders, Seakale, Perennial Spinach, cauliflower (yes you read it right!) an impressive array of the onion family from Babbington Leek, Walking Onion, Potato Onion, Ramsons, Welsh Onions and Everlasting Onions and of course, a sprinkling of herbs. This is just a few for you to maybe look up and read about yourself if you are interested. There’s Hundreds more.

Over the next year to eighteen months, I hope to rely less on annual veg and grow more perennials. I already have some growing on to replace a large proportion of the brassicas, some root veg, onions and garlic. The only drawback is, this is a long term project that won’t be rushed, but I feel in the end will be worth it. I will still grow my annual veg, who can resist the first peas of the season, or the first Runner Beans, speaking of which, did you know they’re a perennial? Neither did I. There’s another experiment for the winter. More to follow as I delve deeper.


End June Update

As we approach the end of the first half of the year it is time for a quick update.

Raised Beds

Fruit and veg are doing well. Had an issue with the onions at planting time and within a week about half were dead. I think I had waited too long to plant them after purchase. This year I planted Spinach, Cauliflower, Cabbages, Lettuce, Celeriac, Onions, Peas, Beans, Turnip, Swede, Rocket, Brocolli, Potatoes and Tomatoes. I also have my usual fruit Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Apples, Pears, Peaches, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants, Whitecurrants, Tayberry, Cherries, Grapes and Gooseberries. Plus a nut tree I’ve had nothing from yet for three years and a Lemon bush. The fruit is mainly in tubs which I am almost finished going through and repotting.

I’ve planted my cauliflowers and my cabbages too close to each other though. They are already expanding rapidly and soon will be squashed together like Sweetcorn. Some of my fruit tubs are still not draining correctly so I need to fix them soon.

The chickens are doing fine. Sadly, they fight when together so I let each set out of their pen and wander the garden in turn. I’m considering getting a couple more Warrens as the run they live in can take another 6. I’ve been told that they will soon settle in but I’m concerned about having a mixture of different ages, no cockerel and identifying which of the hens is unproductive. I don’t see it being a problem atm but in the future productivity means the difference between me eating eggs or chicken.

The chicks are doing well and starting to lose their fear of me. There are actually three chicks but one is an explorer and destined to be eaten by a predator or drown in the pond. It is always walking away from the Hen. The others, pictured, stay close.
Hen and 2 Chicks

The Bees are doing fine in one way, they are thriving and gathering honey but I still don’t have a queen in one hive and time is running out. Just put some brood in last week and hopefully this one will be the one. If not the hive won’t make it. I’m putting this down to inexperience as this part is the part where experience and knowledge are needed as I’ve already cut out some queen cells I should have kept instead. Nature will just have them flying away to somewhere else as a swarm and they will likely simply die.

With the chicken area being well stocked with food I’ve been seeing the pigeons come back, first time since 2008, so I’ve prepped the air rifle ready. Pigeon will make a change from eggs.

I’m a Grandad

Noticed Mummy Bantam out and about and thought I would check on the eggs. Found a little pile of egg shells and nothing else. When I looked a little closer Mummy Bantam had three little satellites behind her.

So I’m now a granddad. I’ve my fingers crossed that they are all girls. I can see a noisy time ahead if there are any more cockerels but I would guess the laws of biology make the odds that at least one will be a cockerel.

Still waiting to see how the queens go in the bee hives. Should be hatching any day now so I will need to keep on top of them.

Was at a beekeepers meeting yesterday. Out of the 10 hives they had there four were OK and buzzing with activity, two were alive but didn’t look at all well and the remaining four were lifeless. Only managed to find one queen although there was evidence there were queens in every hive that had live bees in. All in all not good and the beekeeper had only been away for two weeks. How quickly nature kills.

Everything else seems to be plodding along although I have not been doing much on the sites lately.