Friday, June 23, 2006
Friday 23rd June - Weather: Cloudy to start, but very hot and sunny by lunch time
Usual routine, dropped the urchins at school, then straight to the plot. All dressed up in t-shirt and tracky pants as the morning was cloudy and grey. What a mistake! By lunch time I was cooking, and I hadn't bought any water to drink!
Because of the lack of rain, the weeds are slow to grow, but then so are my precious seeds. However, the sweetcorn seeds that I stuck in just to see around Mrs Scarecrow last Friday have all started germinating. Yippee! Could this mean a harvest of cobs into September?
Spent the first hour picking peas, strawberrys and broadbeans. The peas are going great. I have never had such a good harvest! The 'Early Onwards' are almost finished, maybe another 2 picks, but the Kelvedon have now started. The Alderman, which are the old fashioned tall variety are in full flower, and there are plenty of pods forming. Another 2 weeks and I reakon I will start to harvest those. The pods on Alderman are much bigger than regular shorter variety peas and you get much more for your money.
The mice have started munching the lower broadbeans already, so I was glad to pick those. A bumper harvest! So glad I planned ahead and netted them with stiff chicken wire when the plants were still only small. Also, pinching some of the tops out last week because Mr Blackfly had started to infest has hurried the pod growth up, so there were plenty to pick. These are red Broad beans, something along the lines of Red Epicure.
And my first dwarf French beans! These were started in paper pots in the greenhouse back in April, and planted out under pop bottle cloches in May. They are in a sheltered sunny spot by the apple trees so the weather really hasn't bothered them at all, and there are loads of little beans to come. A nice taster before the main crop is ready.
I sowed some more carrots, and lifted the fleece on one carrot patch and weeded it. Lots of already nice sized roots. I don't want any yet though, so didn't pull any. Pointless doing it until we are ready. I did however need to thin the Snowball Turnips and pulled three whoppers! No slug damage, minimal flea beetle damage to the leaves, but I dusted the seedlings once with derris powder and they have grown like crazy ever since. If we could just have a good downpour it would really help fatten the rest up.
The lettuces are really growing strong. I have a couple of rows of colourful cut and come again mixes, half a row of Australian Yellow leaf, which is a nice buttery lettuce, a half row of flame, which looks like it is going to be a bright red oakleaf lettuce, and a half row of little gems. I also have some iceburg lettuce dotted around the brassicas, but there are already very big and really should be cut, but as I have plenty of salad leaves, I am not rushing to take them. If they bolt, they go into lettuce soup, or onto the compost heap. Either way, they aren't wasted.
I shan't sow any more radish now as the ground is to hard, hot and dry. They just bolt immediately. The next sowing will be in late August, early September at the same time as my spinach sowing.
Take a look at these runner beans. This variety is called Enorma and they were started, 2 to a pot, in the greenhouse in mid April. I planted them out during the first week of May and they have romped away. They have been in flower now for a couple of weeks, and already there are beans forming on the lowest flowers. There is a small infestation of blackfly, which I am squishing as I go. I will keep an eye on them. There are plenty of ladybirds and their larvae around so I would rather not spray.
The swiss chard 'Bright Lights' is growing well now. Last years plants were removed last week. So many pretty colours. They really do brighten up the plot!
After lunch I went and tidied up the tomato plants, tied them to their bamboos and dusted them with Bordeux powder. I don't like using chemicals, no matter how 'friendly' they are, but I cannot afford to get blight on the plot and loose all of my toms. Last years tom harvest lasted us until about 4 weeks ago when the last of the frozen tomato sauce was used. This year I have grown about a dozen more plants to try and produce enough sauce to last an entire year. There are loads of flowers showing. Whilst I was doing this, the magpies in the trees across the lane were going crazy. What a racket! Something was bothering them. I don't know if they have nests in the tall trees, but whatever was going on, it lasted almost half an hour. The funny thing was, whilst all of this rumpuss was taking place, Jays all started lining up in the trees along the edge of the allotment. Wonder what was spooking the birds in the trees.
I needed to dig up the garlics - Purple Wight - as they were covered in rust, and because of the white rot, the less time they spend in the ground the better. Well I have to say I was chuffed with the harvest. All nice clean firm heads, not bad sizes either. Some was like golf balls, but the rest were regular, what you would expect sizes. Phewie the car was going to pong on the way home and make the kids moan like hell!
By 2pm I was begining to flag. My flask of hot coffee was empty, I was sweltering and thirsty so I decided to walk everything back to the car and head for home. As I walked past the fruit cage, a ray of colour caught my eye. What do you know, the first Glen Ample raspberry all ripe and ready for picking. It was perfect, and lasted abour 4 seconds. YUM!