Friday 31st June 2006 - Weather: Hot and sunny!
An abrupt start to the day, number one son managed to get stung on his back on the way into school! Boy did he scream. I think it was more the fact that it was so unexpected. It wasn't a wasp, but it was a fly of some sort. As I lifted his t-shirt to see what he was screaming about, it flew out and away. A big hive appeared in seconds followed by a huge red welt. Fortunately I always have piriton in the car because of daughters allergy, so 2 spoons of that, and a kiss to make it better, and he was okay again. Number one daughter had her assembly this morning so after a lesson on the Great Fire of London, I set of for the plot.
As usual, noone there but the scarecrows. Picked a few peas and a plenty of broad beans and then set about digging up the row of Nadine second early spuds. Well, Rosemary Connley can stick her aerobic workout where the sun don't shine as digging spuds in the hot Essex sunshine certainly got me sweating...oh no, girls don't sweat, we glow, so I was positively glowing! Filled a carrier with lovely sized, clean spuds. No slug damage or eelworm, or anything else come to that. I also filled yet another carrier with mixed volunteer spuds. We are going to look like new potatoes before long! The ground turned beautifully where Nadine was growing, so I raked it over and decided to sow a patch of carrots. I broadcast sow carrots rather than sow in rows. I know this probably doesn't fit in with the rotational plans, but they will be out for Christmas, and needs must when you have mouths to feed! I also sowed a row of late peas 'Fortune' where I dug the last of the volunteer spuds.
I weeded a little around the various squash plants, and because of the success of the pumpkin seeds which germinated directly in the ground, I plonked another few in....Lemon cucumber and round courgettes. Still plenty of blackfly on the runners, but only on one plant. I am contemplating oiking that plant out, but then if they all stay on that one, then I can use it as a sacrificial plant to protect the others. I also have baby tomatos at last. I know some people are already getting colour on theirs, but they tend to be greenhouse plants, these are in the open, and the fruits are just bigger than marbles at the moment. I dusted them last week with bordeaux to keep the blight at bay, I will do it again next week on the new lush growth.
Back on the main plot...time for some lunch, which I forgot to bring so I made do with some freshly podded peas, lettuce and a cup of coffee. I decided to cut back some of the early onward peas that had finished and I carefully dug over the area - about 4 foot long - and smoothed it over. I have left the pea roots in the ground to return the nitrogen they absorbed whilst growing. Here I sowed a short row of Pak Choi. I normally leave these veggies until August because they bolt so readily, but I thought as they are in the dappled shade end of the plot, and because the broadbeans and alderman peas are also providing some shade, it must be worth a go. Then, in the dappled shade of the apple tree, I sowed three short rows of arctic lettuce - an iceberg variety which stands well through the winter. Then, to be honest, I just pottered around. Did some weeding, did some picking of this and that, thinned out the yellow Australian lettuce, one of which I gave to Daughters teacher, and admired my handywork.
The views from the plot are great at the best of times, over the farmers fields, but at the moment they really are pretty as he has a field full of linseed and it is in full blue bloom. I have often seen blue fields around here and assumed they were lavender - now I know otherwise.
Picked a selection of berries. Mine are a lot later than other people who have reported that they have already harvested redcurrants and gooseberries. My gooseberries are in the shade of the apple trees and therefore are a good month behind sun lovers. Fine by me, when everyone elses are gone, I have mine to enjoy! The strawberries, dare I say, are becoming a bit of a bore! I now have about 4Ib to make jam with in the freezer, and about another 2Ib in the fridge, which if I don't use up soon, will going mouldy! Might try bottling some - mum did one year and they were gorgeous. Thinking that I could do some little fancy bottles to do for Chrissy pressies.
I guess it will be a week now before I get back to the plot. As we haven't had any rain, the weeds are slowing, but so are my freshly sown seeds! Come on Mother Nature, it is still Wimbledon fortnight, the least you can do is provide us with a drop of the wet stuff!
Just to show off, here is my garlic plait. I wasn't planning to plait them this year as thanks to the white rot, they normally deteriate after a month or so, however, I went over the bulbs very carefully, and they all look in tip top health. I have about a dozen bulbs left that are small, or damaged or have mini bulbils up the stem, and I will get them used, or frozen first, then go onto these lovely bulbs. These are purple Wight which I have been pleased with for the past 3 years, however, this coming garlic growing season I am going to try something completely different!
Back home in the greenhouse I have a selection of seeds sown for late summer planting, and the first to rear their beautiful heads are the coloured kales. These are curly red and green kales meant for our Christmas dinner. Nothing like wishing the summer away!