Not-so-hungry in the gap

We are currently in the time of year known to vegetable gardeners at the ‘hungry gap’ – when we’ve planted our seeds (or at least some of them) but there’s nothing to harvest yet.

However, we  don’t seem to be suffering too much this year… the purple sprouting broccoli and kale are both doing well and there are still leeks to be harvested. In addition, as we prepare vegetable beds for future planting, we keep finding overlooked potatoes – not enough to supply all our needs, but still a welcome addition to our supplies. We are also starting to be able to harvest some leaves – blood-veined sorrel seems to have established itself around the garden and the Claytonia is growing in profusion in one of the planters… in combination with some young kale leaves, these make a very acceptable leafy salad. Indeed, combined with hard-boiled egg and the surprise potatoes, I have been able to rustle up a meal or two completely out of the garden.

Because I was careful to store as much as possible from last summer’s harvest, we are also enjoying a wide variety of home-grown produce. There are still bottles of apples and a few frozen raspberries and blackberries. Plus, in the freezer I can find roasted courgette, passatta, pesto, vegetable soup, roasted squash, chilli and redcurrants and there are more bottles of passatta in the cupboard. We are by no means close to being self-sufficient, but I love to be able to eat something we have grown at least once every day.

However, it is the promise of crops to come that really excites me. The herbs are starting to perk up now – mint, chives and lemon balm producing fresh shoots. Plus rosemary and sage beginning to wake up and grow again. I’m restraining myself from picking any rhubarb yet – but there are now lots of tender shoots. The lettuce and mizuna seeds that I planted a week or so ago are germinating and the chilli and pepper plants need potting up. Some more compost translocation is required before we can plant potatoes and various seeds directly into the garden, but the weather forecast for this weekend is good and my labourer is home, so we should be able to achieve something.

I’m also delighted  to report that, although Anna is still doing more sitting down than usual, she is no longer limping. At 3.1kg she is a big chicken, so physical injury (literally falling off her perch!) is a distinct possibility. I think she’s even laying again, although distinguishing eggs is quite a challenge… and Lorna keeps sitting on them whether she’s laid or not!

Anna and Tiffany enjoying the sunshine

Anna (l) and Tiffany enjoying the sunshine (yes, there are two hens there)

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19 Comments

  1. Your chickens are so adorable! I keep thinking that I’d like to get 4 or 5 chickens, but I worry about what we would do when we go out of town. How long can they be self-sufficient?

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    • They can be left for a few days if they are in a secure run… you can even have an electronic door that will open and close for them automatically a dawn and dusk… techno-chickens! Actually, we just ask the neighbours to keep an eye on them, which also works well.

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  2. pity the chickens can’t label their own eggs. eg. laid by Tiffany. 🙂

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  3. It can sometimes be useful having several different breeds, because their eggs do differ. My Australorps used to lay huge pale brown eggs, and the Isa Browns laid smaller darker brown eggs, so I knew which was which. Glad Anna is slowly getting back to normal; it’s a worry when animals are sick – they can’t tell you where it hurts or how they’re feeling.

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  4. We still have quite a lot to eat from the garden/pollytunnel. I think of the hungry gap as starting more the end of this month, though there are a few more things showing by then.

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  5. Lovely grub! We had our first garden rhubarb on Saturday. Delicious.

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  6. After many years of aiming for self sufficency, at least in veg, we too find that the hungry gap starts a bit later, May, into June even. When all the stored roots are eaten and the garden is planted but there is not a lot to harvest yet. We are hoping dairy produce from our milking animals will help make this time of year a bit more exciting, food wise.

    http://www.scythecymru.co.uk
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  7. There is nothing as satisfying as picking something from your garden and making a meal with it. There is something deeply and fundamentally natural about it. It’s one of those primal moments in life where you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you did something right 🙂

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  8. I’m looking forward to radishes, lettuce and spinach. Carrots. Oh my. So glad your hen is better. She looks very dignified.

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  9. Awesome post as usual!

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  10. We have same problem identifying which duck laid which egg. Except our Cayugas’ eggs are slightly different color. Hope your chicken is on the mend!!! 🙂

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  11. It’s a good day. You’ve gone and sent me to research the names of some of your store I have not heard of. The passatta and the courgette are new terms for me. It will be several years before much of anything is grown here that feed anyone but the bugs. I am delighted your Anna is healing. I love being educated about things so this has been an excellent post. Thank you.

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