Playing Two Games: ‘Where Can I Stuff Extra Vegetable Seedlings?’ & ‘Broody Roulette’

The first game we’re playing is called, Where Can I Stuff Extra Vegetable Seedlings? It’s a very catchy title that one, as many of my game titles are. I was playing this game last time and it’s still going on. Oh, and by the way, now that we’ve got rain squalls, it’s summer.

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Summer’s here everybody! The Little Fulla and I got caught out by a windy rain squall, so we did some tidying in the garage.

The next raised bed, the Extension Bed, has been filled. Time for a break from digging and wheelbarrowing now I reckon. At least this one wasn’t nearly as big as the last one. I decided that this bed would be a bed for permanent crops. I have planted a rhubarb at one end and intend to have another at the other end. Our last rhubarb sadly died a while back and I have been missing it. I don’t think it was a very strong variety; it struggled along after we moved here. The one I have now I grew from seed. It’s called Cherry Red. Here’s what Kings Seeds says about it: “Productive and vigorous with an excellent crop of long stalks. Thrives with a minimum of attention.” Sounds good to me. I transplanted the sorrel from it’s planter on the deck to the front middle of the bed. It will grow much better with more space for its roots. Sorrel is a perennial salad green with a continuous supply of leaves so it’s handy to have.

Now we come back to the game. Since I haven’t grown a second rhubarb plant yet, that left some space on one side. Space! It was quickly filled by three extra ‘Brandywine Pink’ tomatoes. And a ‘Tollis Sweet Red’ pepper. And then some lettuces found their way around the rest of the bed. They have a small, shallow root system and are a quick-turnaround crop so they are good for filling in spaces until everything else grows bigger.

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The Extension Bed joins onto the Long Bed. Welcome to the Veggie Garden, rhubarb, sorrel and extra, temporary friends.

Then, I had three ‘Black From Tula’ tomatoes left, so they found spots beside the fence in the Herb Garden. I had five ‘Gardener’s Delight’ tomatoes left so they ended up along the other side of the Herb Garden fence in the Processing Corner. I really did grow a lot of tomato seedlings. The grand tomato total now sits at 31 plants. The Husband will be making a lot of his beloved tomato soup.

Then, I put three extra gherkin cucumbers into the Veggie Garden, among the baby beets. We have eight gherkin plants now, so we’re looking forward to having more to pickle this season. Now I’m just trying to figure out if I can stuff any more honeydew melons or peppers anywhere…

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More gherkins, yay! I have to lean screens against the wire inside the chicken pen so the chickens don’t eat the cucumber plants. One of the others already got chomped.
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As I looked down upon the Veggie Garden from The Little Fulla’s outdoor sink, I realised that it is suddenly looking good to me, after all the hard work I’ve done lately. And I am grateful for what we have here.

The Front Plot is doing pretty well. Now that we’ve had a few bouts of rain, things are taking off. The giant pumpkins are growing noticeably by the day and I keep pulling the black plastic further back as they do. The Chuck’s Winter squashes are putting out good growth now and the Jack Be Little Pumpkins are starting to make a move too. Best of all, a bunch of the Country Gentleman corn seeds that The Little Fulla and I sowed have sprung up from the ground. The biggest corn plants were transplanted from seed trays but the rest are from seeds direct sown into the soil. I was worried we might not get many as some of the seeds were small and not great. I’ll make sure I save seeds from a few good cobs from the best plants this season. We just need to deal with the grass weeds in there.

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The Front Plot, from the driveway side, with corn on the right and giant pumpkins dominating in the middle.
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The Front Plot from ‘the front’. Three Jack Be Little pumpkins are at the front left and two rows of Chuck’s Winter squash are behind them, followed by the corn up the back. The giant pumpkins get the most space because they’re giant.

But while I’m looking at the dirt spaces where corn plants haven’t come up, I’m thinking… Honeydew melons…

Broody Roulette

The second game is called Broody Roulette. It’s not as fun as Where Can I Stuff Extra Vegetable Seedlings? In fact, it’s downright frustrating. It’s one of those games that you really just want to win but your competitors, the hens, just keep ruining your well-laid moves that should have worked and you start to get more and more annoyed and invested until you suddenly realise that you’re raising your voice to a bunch of chickens (and to your family members) and you sound like raving lunatic. Then you realise that it’s actually not the end of the world. It’s just a game. Sort of.

The broody situation has continued to be difficult. After moving broody broody Ribby into the Big Cage failed to pan out, Tiggywinkle was the next hen to be seriously broody. But moving her into the big cage at night also failed to keep her broody. What is this?! On other occasions I’ve moved three different broodies (Frodo, Paris and Rory) into either the Big Cage or the Henley Hut at various times and they’ve had no problem continuing to sit, but now it seems no-one will have a bar of it. Why doesn’t that strategy work anymore? Tricksy chickens. I bet they’ve all got an alliance going to take me down.

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Broody Tiggywinkle was hilarious though. Look at that spiky hairdo! She really was starting to look like Mrs Tiggywinkle.

We’re at the make-it-or-break-it point now. The first batch of eggs in the incubator went into lockdown tonight. The second, smaller batch of eggs was put under broody Frodo who is sitting in a nestbox in Feathburn Lodge. Yesterday she sat all day long until evening. Today is the first day she didn’t lay, but she spent a good deal of time outside. Hopefully stuffing herself in preparation, as she did have a very full crop tonight. Is she broody enough to stay on the eggs and realise they’re going to hatch soon? I don’t know. She only has to sit on them for two days until they could enter lockdown in the incubator if need be. Is Frodo part of the secret alliance against me or will she realise that joining forces with me is the best move? If things don’t pan out with Frodo, I will need to deal with incubator eggs that require two different humidity settings and have different turning needs for two days. What will happen? Nobody knows…

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Broody Frodo, some days ago after I took her out of the nestbox to check for eggs. Now she’s in the nestbox behind her, hopefully to stay. C’mon Frodo, I’ll pay you with cute babies.

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