Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wintertime activities on the farms

Moel Hebog from Mur Crusto. Click to enlarge.

We're at last experiencing some cold weather... well, relatively cold. We've had temperatures dropping to 0 Celsius once or twice and even a little ice on the ponds. Okay, that's not very cold but the mountains are snowy and the brisk north wind makes it feel cold.

As we're about to explain in a customer newsletter, paper version via the boxes, we don't at this stage know how long we can maintain full production. We normally close down by March or thereabouts simply because almost everything has run out. Some things are plentiful like Jill's carrots and parsnips - but she hates these because they're a devilish pair of crops to harvest in cold weather. The parsnips have especially deep roots and are reluctant to leave the ground. Happily, Jill is helped every Friday (harvest day) by Deo, one of our two volunteers. Trouble is, we don't know how we'd cope without our volunteers. At Mur Crusto, the polytunnel green leafy stuff is still looking reasonable though we have problems with mildews and tiny slugs. At least veg with holes in the leaves is proof that it's grown without pesticides!

Bry tipping barrowload of mulch around cleared base of a fruit tree. Click to enlarge.
Val and I have been tending the orchard at Mur Crusto, now that the trees are at last beginning to bear some fruit. This involves cleaning round the base of each tree with a Spanish tool called an azada and then mulching heavily with rotted wood chips. Jill says she's been having serious problems with voles undermining her trees and eating the roots. They hide very happily under certain mulches like straw or grass or any kind of matting but we're hoping wood chips will just collapse into their tunnels and put them off. Voles are quite a serious pest for us. They severely damaged our potato crop last summer for a start.

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