Sunday, May 30, 2010

Duckling Countdown

   Finally the mother instinct has kicked in and one of my ducks is setting on a clutch of seven eggs.  I had about given up on them.  I have two hen ducks.  One is a Rouen duck (a sort of domesticated mallard) and the other is a slate blue runner duck.  The runner duck is the one that decided to start setting on the eggs.  It takes approximately 28 days for duck eggs to incubate so I calculate that we can hope to have ducklings on about June 26.  Since ducks are somewhat nervous creatures I'm going to ask all of the grandchildren to try and give the mother duck some privacy. If we give her some peace and privacy I think there is a better chance that she will persevere through the four week incubation period.  She is setting on  a clutch of seven eggs, four from the Rouen duck and three of her own eggs.

     My little water garden is doing well.  I had taken the water lily out of the water garden and put it in a 5 gallon bucket in the garage for the winter.  They are fairly winter hardy if they are in a pond that is large enough where it won't freeze all of the way down to the plant. My two half whiskey barrels are small enough to freeze all of the way through in a prolonged winter cold snap so I thought it safer to overwinter the lily in the garage.

    When I took the lily out this spring I noticed that there were several smaller plants in addition to the main plant.  I read in one of our garden books that water lilies are fairly easy to divide.  The book said to use heavy clay soil and to cover the soil with pebbles.  I divided our water lily into three pots and left one smaller plant in with the main plant. I buried a fertilizer tablet in each pot.  A month later the lilies are thriving. The main plant has put out 4 new leaves and a flower bud has reached the surface.  All three of the smaller plants have put out a new minature lily pad.  I think I'm going to have some extra water lilies to give away at some point.

    When I first fixed up my water garden this spring I had a good number of mosquito larvae living in the barrels.  I bought a dozen feeder goldfish which I added to the garden.  Now, a month later I have four goldfish left and no mosquito larvae. The surviving goldfish are significantly larger and I suspect they may have eaten some of the other goldfish. The only dead goldfish I found was one poor fish that got sucked into the water pump.

    We are a bit behind in getting our garden put in due to all of the rain we've had lately.  So far all I have are five rows of potatoes, a few volunteer potatoes from last year, and some shallots.  I'm hoping to get some more progress made on our garden tomorrow.  I have some tomato plants that were a gift from a bee store friend that I would like to get planted. I'd like to cover the tomatoes with a row cover until the weather warms up and dries up. I'd also like to put in more cabbages than we did last year. I've gotten positive feedback on last year's homemade saurkraut so I'd like to do more of it this year.
red currantsblueberries

     Some of my cherry trees have set a fair amount of fruit while others have very little.  It all depends on when the weather was too poor for the blooms to be pollinated.  Happiness is having a variety of cherry trees that bloom at different times. My Rainier, Lapins, and an unknown variety all have a fair amount of fruit forming. My Bing, Lambert, and Hudson all have very little fruit.  My asian pear tree has no fruit at all, the plum tree has about the same as last year,while the blueberries appear to have set a bumper crop again. The red and black currants also have set a good crop.  We will probably have ripe strawberries in another week or so.


  1. I have just nipped over from Linda's blog and am impressed. Hope the seven eggs all safely hatch, that will be so thrilling for your grand children. We like growing vegetables here in Wales and have one 70' polytunnel and 2 x 35' polytunnels and a bit of ground which was scrubland when we moved in. All the different varieties of cherry trees sound wonderful - how do you manage to discourage the birds from making off with the cherries as soon as they ripen?

  2. re the above. Molly, you either have LOTS of trees, or grow a variety that still yellow-ish when ripe (I'm told that the birds think they're still unripe. Are they really that stupid?)

    I think we're a little ahead of you here in France. I have potatoes in flower, and shall delve amongst their roots this coming weekend. I'd be interested to hear more about your blueberry growing. Are they difficult?

  3. Regarding the cherries... I have enough trees such that there are some for the birds too. I have a total of six sweet cherry trees. Two are large standard trees and the others are semi dwarf. I do have one Rainier tree which is a blonde cherry. The birds really are that stupid in that they go after the red cherries and tend to leave the yellow ones alone.

    Regarding blueberries... They are relatively easy to do in our cool maritime climate. In my opinion there are two important things for successful blueberries. First, they like an acid soil but decent drainage. Soil prep is very important. When we planted our blueberries we dug a fairly large hole and planted the blueberries in a 1/3 each mixture of peat moss, sand, and the natural soil. The second thing is that blueberries have rather shallow roots so they need to be watered regularly in that portion of the summer when it doesn't rain several times a week. Right now they are relatively trouble free, but I have to watch them carefully when the weather dries out. In spite of our reputaion for rainy weather, several summer months can be quite dry. The blueberries would probably be very easy in Wales and possibly more difficult in your part of France.