Posted by: hencorner | January 27, 2012

To Pea or not to Pea….

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

This week we’re asking why only half our peas are germinating, reporting back from Chiswick House Kitchen Garden and preparing for a Shook Swarm…but first here is Tip 2 in our series specifically looking at how easy it is to keep chickens in an urban environment.

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I’m pleased to say that we have done a good job at sowing seed for the propagators to get a head start on our kitchen garden crops for the summer.

So far we’ve sown 102 chillies, peppers & tomatoes, 16 bush tomatoes, 8 aubergines, 12 melons, 24 mange tout and 24 peas. That’s 186 potential plants along with a tray of onions & leeks… I’m wondering if it will all fit into the raised beds and we haven’t even started on the brassicas and squashes yet!!!!

As you can see from the picture, whilst the mange tout are doing well (on right), the traditional peas (on left) are struggling with only 7/24 germinated so far and those that have are quite wimpy; is it the soil or is it the seed? I’ll keep an eye on them and hope they catch up soon…

It was a real privilege to enjoy a personal tour of Chiswick House Kitchen Garden recently, a wonderful local project that began in February 2005 by a voluntary group dedicated to reviving the gardens and teaching local residents about horticulture and growing food. Although it was a wet and windy morning when I arrived, I was encouraged to see around 15 volunteers wrapped up warm and waiting for instruction from Karen Roberts the Community Gardener who heads up the team. Over tea we talked about chickens, bees and courses to empower others to have a go… Maybe we can encourage each other as we pursue a ‘little bit of country life in London’?

Other News:

  • I took a cake with me to the Ealing and District Beekeepers Association (it always helps when meeting new people!) and have discovered that, due to reported levels of European Foul Brood, I need to do a ‘Shook Swarm’ and shake all 30,000 bees off the frames in their current hive into a new hive with new empty frames, this allows the old frames, that may contain EFB, to be destroyed managing spread of infection. Fortunately, the very kind Andy Pedley said he would help me!
  • We’ve started preparing the kitchen garden for Spring by weeding and removing moss from the brick path.
  • We gave the fruit and nut trees and bushes, all 15 of them, a winter wash; not to clean them but as an organic way to remove bugs and pests that hide over winter ready to damage this year’s harvest.

Jobs for next week:

  • Sow some brussel sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers indoors
  • Sow some carrots directly into the raised beds
  • Work out a long-term way to protect our goldfish from the huge heron that came calling this week

Have a good week yourself…

Join us on the Journey!


  1. well again a lovely blog post and a encouraging one too in what can be grown out side now and started indoors i have done some but hardly any melons i only got leaves last year so might sow some to day

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your nice comments, I find that starting early with seeds indoors can give a head start, but we need to watch that they don’t grow too quickly in the warmth and become too leggy. Once they seeem relatively strong, I’ll move them into the cold frame then monitor the watering (not too much or too little). I’ve not had loads of sucess with melons but will rise to the challenge!

  2. We love our Omlet Eglu too – looking forward to finding out more about the flexible fencing. We have a similar arrangement to yours but even though we have clipped their wings our hens still fly out over the fence – they fly to the top of the Eglu and launch from there – how do you stop yours getting out?
    Can’t believe how many seed you’ve planted already – we plan to plant some broad beans this weekend but until we get news that we def have allotment in our village we have a very very small space for planting out – much is already planted with garlic!

    • Hi Rebecca,
      We do have exactly the same problem with the girls jumping on top of the Eglu run. It’s not all of them, mainly little Bunty the bantam (I still haven’t found where she’s laying her eggs!). It’s worth spending some time watching how they do it… ours had found a ‘step’ in a railway sleeper that helped them up, so we blocked that off and it helped. My worry is that they’ll get to the crops in the Kitchen Garden, like last year… we planted swede nearest to the Eglu, which they loved and I didn’t particularly miss, so a ‘lost leader’ is worth thinking about!
      Good luck with the allotment!

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