Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Onions ready

Our onion crop is ready for ripening the tops have been bent over and are starting to dry off. over the next week or two we will be collecting onions into potato trays to complete the ripening process in the tunnel. With the weather we've had this year we can't trust the sun to shine and the rain to hold off, so this they go under cover.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Moseley Farmers Market

On the fourth Saturday every month we take a stall at Moseley Farmers Market we were at the first market and have attended every market since, the range we sell is more limited than our regular Friday & Saturday Shrewsbury Market due to the rules of farmers markets.

The range you see here is all we harvest at this time of year including celery , fennel, aubergine, onions and beetroot, purple, spinach, and salad packs.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Clearing supers for extraction

Before we can extract the honey we first have to remove bees fro the supers, in the past we have shaken and brushed the bees off. This year we are trying out our new bit of kit namely the hand held leaf blower. It's run off a portable generator at 110volts and generates enough wind to remove most if not all the bees from the comb, it take about a quarter of the time of the old method and involves only one trip to the site.
The bees are blown into an empty box under the honey super and once clear the bees are shaken back into the hive.

Because of the poor foraging weather we are feeding as soon as supers are removed to avoid starving in the colonies which have lots of bees but no honey supers.
we` have just taken delivery of 1 tonne of ready mixed Apinvert syrup which will save considerable time in mixing feed.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Vegetable progress

With all the weather these Jerusalem Artichokes have grown to over 10, this year, there should be a good crop under that canopy. This is the second crop of beetroot, it is coming on well and will be ready to harvest in the next week or two.
After last years wash out with leeks, when the ground flooded and killed all the roots, this years crop is so far progressing much better, hopefully with 3 or 4 weeks of good growing weather left these should bulk up well. These plants were the fist planted and should be ready by late September.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Chicks at 24 days

We have had the chicks for 24 days now, every day they are outside in small runs with their broody. They have doubled in size, adult feathers are forming on the back and wings and the comb is developing also you can see the start of the tail feathers.

They are becoming much more active and are exercising their muscles with mini flights., they take a run up and flutter their wings till they take off 6'' and land in a heap.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Wasp problems

The wasps are back , after a season when I haven't seen wasps in any numbers they suddenly built numbers to the extent that they have killed four colonies and cleaned out their stores and brood.
This particular colony was quite strong, it had full frames of brood with bees covering.
It could be that the colony went queenless and the social structure broke down preventing the bees from defending the hive. Or that the entrance was too large too allow the bees to defend the colony
The other colonies seem to be able to cope with the wasps so far, we will be taking honey off next week and will look to improving defenses then.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Master Classes at Hopesay Glebe Farm

We are running two master classes here at Hopesay Glebe Farm with the support of the Soil Association and the Shropshire Hills AONB

There will be two days the first on Sunday 14 September 10am to 4pm will be a beekeeping and poultry management introduction day.

The second day will be on October 12th also a Sunday and will be on Organic Gardening again from 10am till 4pm

Full details are available at the Soil Association website

Included in the fee is a years membership of the Soil Association.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Green Manure mowing

When a green manure crop has been established it needs topping to reduce weed species and encourages soft growth that will be easier to incorporate prior to cultivation.
I used a standard meadow topper set at about 6" cutting height, this will knock off the weed flower and seed heads while avoiding any damage to the clover.

The finished job, the area to the front of the picture will be available for vegetables next year while the top area will be used for chickens later in the Autumn.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Green Manure sown

The green manure was sown today on the plots destined to be brassica and leeks next season. The seedwas sown broadcast by hand.To cover the seed I used a pole harrow, which gets covered in grass as it is turned on the headlands.

The main area was sown down to a 2year humus building ley (Red clover, cocksfoot grass and chicory), although it may not have that much time before it is rotovated and planted with crop plants.

This season we found the established 2 year ley was more persistent than we would like. In particular the chicory re-grew after two or three cultivations. I hope that if it is established for 1 year or less that incorporating will be easier. We would like to continue with this mix as it does provide good levels of humus but the re-growth can cause significant practical problems.
We are always experimenting with green manures, so far our favourites are:
Red and white clover, sweet clover, humus building ley and rye grass (as shown above) where chickens will be grazed.