Saturday 27th May 2006 - Weather: Beeeeeeeeeeeutiful!
I was up by 7am and out of the house with supplies by 7.30am. The boss man was babysitting so I had until 11am to see what had been happening at the plot since my last visit over a week ago. Glad to say it was all looking very good. The weeds haven't been gowing to fast thanks to the damp chilly weather, but the cold northerly wind has taken it's toll on some of the french beans on plot number two and I think there will be a few casualties. Not to worry, I will sow a later cropper - like Pogo - and they can fill the gap. My visit was really just a catch up and a pick, and pick I did! Just look at these peas. Early Onwards I believe they were. These were the ones daughter number one sowed in newspaper pots back in January and I planted out in March under glass cloches. They are a good few weeks ahead of the others on the plot. The kids helped me shell them, and daughter number one ate then like little sweets, but you won't hear a complaint from me!
The salads are really coming into their own now and I must sow more beetroot, spring onion and radish on my next day visit. I picked a lettuce, couple of spring onions, and a monster bunch of radish, some of which ended up at the in-laws. I am sowing the radish just a pinch at a time as I only want about 7 a week and they go to seed so quickly on the plot thanks to the lack of water. Of course, that hasn't been a problem these last few weeks - the ground is so soft and wet up there. I can't wait for the first beetroot. I reakon I will be able to pull golf ball sized roots in about 3 weeks time. These are little gem lettuce sent to me by a chum from the Allotments for All website. I find I have much more success sowing directly at this time of year. Lettuce germinate so quickly and stay much more chunky and robust of sown in the soil - I find they are to soft and leggy at this time of the year in modules. However, for those really early lettuce like those I am picking now, I do so in modules in January and keep them snug.
The rhubarb is still plotting to take over the world, so I picked a bag full and plan to make Rhubarb Marmalade next week once the kids go back to school. I also cut down the spinach and chard which has started to flower. I don't dig these up when they flower as the leaves down the flowering stem are so tender and sweet, and by cutting them back they will produce another flush of small leaves. These will fill the gap as the new chard 'Bright Lights' fill out. I won't be sowing spinach on the plot until late August - any earlier and it immediately runs to seed.
The big netting job was the most important job, and the one I left until last. The strawberries have started pinking up so I used some hoops of thick hose which have bamboos stuck in the end to go over the plants and then draped the net over. The net was then pegged to the ground just to stop the wind lifting it. I had to tie a currant bush and a jostaberry bush up as they are so laden with fruit the bushes had collapsed out! I have never seen so many currants. However, by pulling all the branches up I exposed all of the young fruits, so I needed to get those netted before I left. Glad to say Father Christmas had put lots of boxes of netting into my stocking last year so I was able to do a really good job.
I had a test dig on one of my garlics - Purple Wight which was planted in November. Plot number one suffers terribly from allium white rot and although I manage a good crop, I never succeed in growing maincrop onions, or having enough onions or garlic to last me an entire year. Last autumn I decided to try growing my wintering alliums on plot number 2 and they have done very well indeed. I would normally have to lift my garlics about now before the rot really gets hold, but by the looks of this one, and the foliage on those still in the ground, I can leave them to get bigger for a few more weeks yet. This baby was a bit bigger than a golf ball. (His stem was used to flavour a spicy chilli I made Saturday evening for supper!)This last picture is of another net structure on my plot. This is the cabbage castle, if you can see it. This structure is made to keep the pesky pigeons off my brassicas, and any fluffy bunnies or deer that wander through. I pushed 7 foot bamboos into the ground at intervals around the edge of the plot, then placed the net over and around. Some of it is a little haphazard as I didn't have quite enough net at the time, but it works a treat and I can walk around upright under it (being short helps). This is for Svea who asked to see it. Hope you can make out what it looks like.