Friday, 23 January 2009

Frost hardiness in Leeks

This top picture is a modern variety Atlanta which so far is well able to cope with our colder than usual winter. Lows of -15c overnight
The older variety Mussleburgh grew well enough in the summer but was still behind Atlanta, but the big failing is the lack of frost hardiness in our coldest snaps. The outer leaves are showing signs of damage and on the larger plants the stem is starting to slime off. At best this slows down harvesting but at worst makes the plant unsaleable.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hens have started laying, at last

We didn't replace our two year old birds this year and paid the price. The cold snap in October stopped all the older birds from laying . Added to this , the young birds were brought in as day olds too late to start laying before the winter started. Generally if pullets don't start laying before October they will not lay until after the shortest day.

The result is that we had virtually no eggs before Christmas , (our biggest market) but we staill had large feed bills as the birds ate to either put on weight or in the case of older birds to replace feathers.

Now that the nights are shortening the hens are coming into lay. If you look at the picture some hens have bright red comb, in lay others have lighter pink colour, will lay in a week or two.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

First day back picking leeks

We have had a frost continually for three days, this winter so far seems a lot colder than any for over 5 years.

Today I've been harvesting for the first time this year, Leeks are holding up well though we've found that the older variety Musselburgh has deteriorated in the frost and takes more stripping to make presentable. The modern variety we are using is Atlanta which is producing heavier, longer shanks and takes less preparation.
Sam my sisters dog is spending some time with us on the field while Chris is away.
Gyp has worn her new coat for the first time today, last time she was out in the frost she shivered continually, today she was fine.

Winter checks and feed

We moved bees to our new site in Leominster before christmas, we were a bit concerned about their feed levels . Some wwere heavy but the newly promoted nucs were very light. So we fed the colonies that were moved, all looked OK some were perhaps a bit small and could have been left in nucleus boxes for wintering.

The site looks good so far , is S to S.E facing so should get good levels of sunlight in summer. We have space for about 20 colonies so will redistribute hive in the early spring.
We also checked Stoke Prior for "roofs on" all seemed fine. It was notable how warm this site felt compared to those at Leominster and Bromyard.
Good too see someone happy at work, Sam here dancing across the apiary