Pictures of the seasons in Sadlowo (Sadwovo; Eng pronunciation):

September saw a few of our crops finishing up for the year. We dug up all the rest of the potatoes, and picked our last courgettes & tomatoes. The carrots were ready to get in but I’m going to finish digging them up and storing them this week. Beetroot and parsnips are about finished growing now as well, I’ll also be getting these in before the end of Oct.

Rather than the graph I did last month, I think it will be clearer to just highlight the main harvests as we get them in, I’ll then give a summary of everything towards the end of the year.

Crop

Sowed area m2

Harvested Total (kg)

Harvest (kg) per m2

Potatoes

60

121

2

Courgette

7.5

14.85

3.16

Tomatoes

20

23.7

1.18

Cucumbers

10

29.3

2.93

Sweetcorn 5 3.5 0.7
Pumpkin 10 47 4.7
I was pretty happy with our potatoes this year, although we learnt a good lesson about watering. I would say 75% of our harvest weight came from the bottom 1/3 of each row, which was as far as our hose went when watering. Next year I will plant a similar area but will work on a better irrigation system so that we can maximise the whole row. Cucumber were a great success, it seems all of the Cucurbitaceae (don’t ask how to pronounce it), which includes, courgettes, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers, all did very well in our soil. Next year I will focus on this family, planting more of everything including the melons, which did surprisingly well considering I didn’t treat them very well. We had a good harvest of Tomatoes, certainly my best effort yet. I think in the end we had about 30 plants outside, which gave us 90% of our harvest, and another 20 odd in a poly tunnel, which didn’t do very well at all. From May-end Aug the weather was hot and sunny with very little rain, I think the polytunel became too hot and we weren’t here enough for watering and airing. Next year I am going to try for 200 plants, with most outside, I’ll use the polytunel for peppers and aubergines.

Autumn is here, and winter isn’t far behind.

Autumn View.

Autumn View.

The last couple of weeks we’ve been researching how to store our potatoes, carrots, beetroot and parsnips over winter. In Poland this is a little more tricky than it sounds as the winter temperature can average -10, and some gloomy weather people over here are predicting lows of -30 this winter. Our storage solutions have to stop things rotting as well as freezing.

It seems potatoes can be stored in all sorts of elaborate ways, most revolving around digging holes and burying a heap of potatoes and then covering with straw.  We settled for just digging them up, bagging them into 5kg sacks and then covering in the cellar. It should stay above freezing down there.

Carrots are a bit more tricky. Most people said to layer them in some sort of container, separating the layers with sand. Apparently you have to make sure the carrots don’t touch. I tried this with my first batch of carrots and found it quite tedious arranging them in an old basket. The next batch I’m just going to layer on top of Styrofoam with sand. We’ll have to see what works best.

We also had our first hard frost a couple of weeks ago, which killed off all the courgette and pumpkin plants. We took in all the pumpkins which turned out to be a nice little batch. They are now organised in a very autumnal fashion around the house. Hopefully we will also get to eat them!

Some other things we’ve been up to:

Panoramic of the allotment mid June.

We’ve been having trouble with our new, old car, so haven’t been able to get to the land much over the last couple of weeks. This coupled with very dry and hot weather meant that I was a little worried I might find the allotment looking a little withered and sorry for itself. We haven’t had any rain for 4 weeks now and the temperature has been around 30C for a while with no foercast of rain despite a few villagers predicted some soon. We’ve missed the band of storms which have spread through the south of Poland, which I’m glad about, I drove through one on the way to Warsaw and experianced hail stones big enough to make me think my windscreen was going to brake. The wind in these parts had also caused a lot of the crops to collapse, hopefully they will recover. We need rain, but I’d rather not a storm like this if possible.

Anyway the plants are doing ok and we had our first decent harvest of small cucumbers (Ogorki) and yellow courgettes. The ogorgki plants are producing loads, I think we should have plenty for eating fresh during the summer and for pickling.

I was bought a scythe a while back and I’ve been itching to use it. A couple of weeks ago I did some research about how to sharpen, set it, and use it. Last week I managed to put it all to the test.

My research showed that the best time to scythe is before dawn. There are various witty quotes, which I can’t find now, which say by the time the sun is up and the dew has gone you should be resting with you work done.

With this in mind I started my first session just after 4am. It was a beautiful morning, already quite light. My first swipes of the blade didn’t seem to cut much and I was tempted to give up. I carried on and started to get a bit of technique going. I ended the first day at 8:30am, extremely tired and feeling quite sick. I should mention another quote I found on http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/docs/movement.html  “If you cannot rest yourself while mowing, you are not doing it correctly”. From this I deduce I am definitely not doing it correctly.

 

I had another go a couple of days later on a nicer piece of land, with less mole hills and trees. I found it a little easier going but I’m still not cutting the grass close enough to the ground. There are three things that effect cutting: Blade sharpness, blade position/angle, and technique. I pretty sure I’m a bit out on all of these. Now I’ve had a good go and I have some internet I’m going to do a bit more research and do some more cutting next week.

Our latest work trip has been put on hold due to the return of the cold weather. It’s set to be –5 to –9 at night for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully warming up again by April 1st. So we have been sorting out our tree and soft fruit orders so that we will be ready to plant as soon as the weather allows.

This is a table of the plants, cost and quantities. We are going for traditional Polish varieties which grow a bit bigger than the commercial types but hopefully will be a bit hardier, and I been assured a lot tastier! As long as they will make good cider I think I will be happy. I didn’t realise until we started looking into it that some trees need a different variety as a pollinator, a partner to cross pollinate with. We’re hoping to plant the trees by the end of April. We had some much needed advice from Eddy Winko, who has a very informative blog of his endeavours to build a straw bale house in the south of Poland, regarding when to plant. We are planning to use http://sklep.skarbyogrodu.pl . They have been very helpful and found all of the varieties that we are looking for. Prices are in Zloty; at the moment we are getting about 4.75zl per £.

fruittreestable

Fruit trees are a medium-term investment. We wont be eating their fruit or making cider and wine with them for a few years. Most of the advice we’ve had is to pick the flowers off of them in the first couple of years and then take the fruit in the 3rd year. Some people say wait until the 5th.

The weather has improved with + temperatures during the day and a nice bit of sun. Still –3 odd at night but ok for staying in the campervan.

Spent two nights at the land to make a start on the plasterboarding work. I was a bit worried about staying up there on my own as its a bit eerie at night, lots of empty buildings and strange noises. I kept awake on high alert all night by the constant barking of dogs and what I think must have been the screaming of goats, which sounded like someone screaming for their life. This aside I managed to man-up and get on with work.

The Job:

To plasterboard and insulate the walls and ceiling in the first barn room. Eventually to make another room and toilet in the barn, but first things first.

Lukeplan-Edit_edited-small

I was concentrating on the room at the bottom of the picture.

I got started about 18:00, after dropping off our load of platerboards and tools from Warsaw, and then picking up all of our wood. I managed to work a few things out and get a couple of bits of batten up before the call of my chicken soup warming on the fire and couple of beers was too much and I called it a night.

First Night

Oki finally settled down.

1st Night.

As I mentioned I didn’t sleep that well but did get some rest in between the goat screams and dogs howling. I woke up just before 6am to see the sunrise and have a look around the land for wildlife. There is still ice on the pond and the ground was frozen solid. The sun rose at 100 degrees east, it was good to see which parts of the land get the first bits of light this time of year. Will help with the location of the Polytunel.

Sunrise 1st Morning.

The second day things went quite slowly. I worked from 8 til 20:30 but only managed to finish the wall I started the first night and get the batten up and the panel behind the fire in place before I finished.

First Day.

End of 1st Day.

A long day. The dog was unsettled again with all the howling, he looks a bit like a wolf but he doesn’t seem that wild, I think he was more scared than me. We’ll need a bigger dog for security I think. In the end, after he stomped around the room a bit and kept staring at me, he found a piece of insulation to sleep on. Is it a cat or a dog?

End of 1st Day.

Slept well. Woke at the same time and walked around the land again. Saw a group of 5 Roe dear, I got really close by lurking around the bushes. There were a couple of young ones playing, running around in circles, kind of like Oki when he’s being crazy. Also saw a hare. We don’t have many rabbits but there are a few of these about.

2nd Day. Sunrise over the buildings and middle pond.

A breakfast of porridge to start the day, following the recipe of a real live Scottsman from Cornwall; salt, butter, milk and brown sugar! Fuel for the day.

Breakfast station Second Day.

Back to work. I was up against the clock as I wanted to leave just after dark. Managed to just finish the second wall. Doesn’t sound very good but they were finicky. The rest will be a bit quicker and I should have some help Saturday to do the ceiling and make a start on the studwork in the other room.

End of 2nd Day.

Job done, all bit it a little rustic in style.

End of 2nd Day.