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Summer and Scythes!


The rains continue and the pumpkin is loving it! Strawbs and thornless blackberries are finished but the blackcurrants are still going strong – and beautifully ripe now. We've harvested the first crop of sugar snap peas and half a bucket of French beans – lovely! Sadly, the wet weather has not been kind to the apricots so we've lost a good few to rot and more to wasps. Whoever said growing fruit was easy!

The potatoes have been very good – Charlottes are always lovely spuds – and this year's crop of lettuce has been superb (we've given buckets away). The beetroot is doing well and has not (so far) been chewed by the resident voles. Parsnips are growing fast and look huge as are the onions.

The rains have been good for our new fruit trees which are racing away in dramatic style – amazing how fast these young trees grow, certainly more than 1 metre every year. The young greengage tree against the south wall has really taken off now – just 3 shoots being kept so it can be trained in winter. The rains have also worked wonders for the young rhubarb plants. Under the netted cages our broccoli has grown enormous – as broccoli does. Hopefully we'll harvest a big crop next March.

On the west facing wall the thornless blackberries which have done nothing for the past 2 years have suddenly come to life.

They've grown about 15 feet and should have a big crop on the wires next season. Perhaps they really are the fastest growing plant in the world!

Of course, the wildflowers have taken a battering from the storms but still look wonderful. Today the place was a real heaven for numerous butterflies – they even preferred the wildflowers to the buddleia!

In the greenhouse the tomatoes have gone crazy as they always do – incredibly vigorous plants. We should have a big crop this year. We've also planted basil in pots and the grapes are ripening fast (if the birds don't get in a get them!).


The big fall-out from the scything festival came in a phone call from the Meraki film company who want me to advise and train them for a big harvest scene. They are filming in the west of Scotland near Oban.

It has been a bit of a rush to make 10 new scythes for this project but I set off for the north next Tuesday.

Just how easy it will be to train the 10 actors remains to be seen – I could certainly imagine there will be a few blisters and a few curses! There seem to be lots of charming ladies organising this film project which seems to be getting its act together rather late in the day. We shall see – I'll give you a report next month.

The film project marks a watershed in my scythe production plans because I've now sold all the scythes I've made this year (about 20). I've been selling my scythes at a discount because I'm trying to encourage more people to take up this skill. With blades now costing over £50 each and the timber (now making them from well-seasoned Scottish ash) about £25 plus bits and pieces and about 8 hours skilled labour, the price of £150 is cheap.

The new range of A frame scythes will all be made from straight grained seasoned ash with an excellent 65cm Austrian all-purpose blade. They are beautiful tools which should (like my own scythe) last a lifetime.

The new price will reflect the extra work and better-quality wood – each scythe will be sold with a cigar shaped sharpening stone and a short booklet on scythe sharpening and management. The new price will be £235.00.


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