Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tuesday 29th May 2007 - Weather: Just awful! Rain, the wind, then hail, then sun!!

No, not an allotment visit, but the picture, as promised, or my very first courgette of the season. For you Lily, and others, the variety is Parthenon F1, sold by Thompson & Morgan and the description says:

'For extra early crops! Plants do not require pollination to set fruit, therefore adverse weather, poor light levels and lack of bees do not affect cropping performance.'

She may have been only small, but she was perfect in every way, and I enjoyed her whole, flower and all, sliced in half and cooked lightly. Delightful!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday 26th May 2007 - Weather: Bright and breezy

The old man offered to entertain the children for a couple of hours during the afternoon so I could get to the allotment and plant a large quantity of my tomatos. They have all been in pots toooo long and had gotten rather long and floppy, but I dug really big, deep holes and laid the stems down in the bottom of the holes before carefully backfilling. They will be fine (fingers crossed!)

I then picked a fabulous big bowl of strawberries, and there are masses coming. This rain that we are having over the Bank Holiday is going to swell them into killer giant strawberries! Just need the sun in a day or two to get on with the ripening.

Then, joy of joys, I picked our first courgette of the season. These are a self fertile variety begining with P....parthenon or something along those lines. It said on the packet that they were ideal for growing under glass or very early as they did not need buzzy things to pollinate them, so I sowed them at the start of the year and they are lovely big plants. They have been on the allotment for a couple of weeks, under glass cloche protection, but I uncovered them to the elements when I needed the cloche for my watermelons. I shall post a photo later as the camera is downstairs. I shall send the boss down to make a drink and he can bring it up with him. :)

Other than that, all is looking great. Everything is growing fast - I can now pick lettuce. My Purple Queen French Beans that I sowed last visit are already breaking through the ground, but still only 1 lonely parsnip! GGRR

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday 22nd May 2007 - Weather: Gloriously hot and sunny!

A flying visit today as I worked all morning. Todays visit was just to get in some Mealie Maize, squashes and tomatos. When I arrived at the plot old Jack met me. I was moaning to him last visit that I couldn't use a hoe. They are all to long, to big and unweildly (is that a real word??). I tend to slash them around and chop all my babies off at the ground, so I don't bother. Well the lovely man found a short one at a carboot for me! It is an old one, a hoe one side and a mini rake the other and a shorter handly. Perfect for my. Honestly, he is a saint. Then, before I could get started, Ken whose lovely cottage backs onto the allotment came to see us. The site secretary had her car broken into on her drive, and her garden also backs onto the allotment site, so he was warning us to make sure our cars are locked up and we don't leave anything of any value inside. Because our site is down a tiny unmade lane which doesn't go anywere, there isn't a lot of passing traffic, however, we are on the common and surrounded by fields, so it is quite easy for a bunch of thugs to do some damage, then vanish again. I think Ken is a little edgy because he will be going on holiday in a few weeks time and it will be a worry.

Anyhow, back to business. Firstly the Mealie Maize went in. I think I remember correctly in saying Leonie sent me this corn. It grows very big and the cobs are very starchy and you grind them to make Mealie flour. Anyhow, always game for something new. 18 plants went in down on the squash third of plot number one. The in went a selection of squashes....now to try to remember some of them. Prima cucumbers and watermelons went in with glass frames over the top, yellow pattypan, yellow courgette, hundredweight pumpkin, pepita pumpkin, turks turban, marina de chiogga and friends! I still have loads in the greenhouse, but I am taking them up as they get bigger so they can withstand the slug family. I also planted 3 sweet potato slips that Doris Pinks sent me from A4all. These are also under glass frames. I have no idea how they will go as I have never grown them before, but again Leonie comes to the rescue with her expert growers guide. As they are in with the squashes I will let them roam pretty much where they please. I may eventually let them ramble up some netting. Finally some tomatos. Tigerella,Triple 'n crop and others. I have the mind of a goldfish! I have stacks of toms at home to get in.

I had a wander round, still no more parsnips, but the carrots are all breaking through along with lashings of salads. The brassicas look amazing and so do my Japanese onions. Really thrilled that they are doing so good. If we have a good warm spell now I reakon I can start to bring them home in the next 2 weeks. My garlic isn't looking so great. It has a touch of rust, and I also notices a couple of them have died back. When I dug them they are smothered in white rot. I was hoping this plot was white rot free as it hasn't been cultivated for a few years, but it seems not. I think I am going to have a go at growing garlic in troughs in sterile compost/topsoil. I have lots of old troughs at home which I can take to the plot and put along the shed. An idea for next year me thinks.

Last job of the visit....let the great Essex strawberry bonanza begin! It might only be a small bowl full, actually the photo is only half of the amount, artistically scattered on a board, but each one tasted like heaven!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday 16th May 2007 - Weather: dull but dry

As predicted, on site by 9am. How selfish and self indulgent of me spending an entire working day on my allotment! As you can imagine, it was BLISS!

No picking today, just planting, weeding, some more weeding and maybe a touch more planting. First things to go in, sweetcorn. Two varieties today, Swift and Minipop - a baby corn. I have more at home, but they are much smaller and will go out in about 2 weeks time. Both children love corn on the cob, and daughter number one loves baby corns, so these are great. I had some rotted manure so forked some into the ground before planting. Hopefully this will help water retention - not that we need worry about that at the moment, but will also give the plants a good healthy start. Just got to keep my fingers crossed now that we don't have any late frosts.

Next in were some more brassicas. The brassicas that are already in are going great guns, I have never been so organised! In went some savoy cabbages, spring hero cabbages, wok broc and red brussel sprouts, whose name escapes me. I weeded around them, and made sure the netting was good and secure as I noticed on another plot that the pigeons had completely stripped their brassicas.

As I was over on plot 2, I weeded as best as I could around my Japanese onions, shallots, garlic and red onions. I am really pleased with how the onions are growing. This recent rain will have really really helped. I did notice a couple of my garlics are looking rather sickly. I will keep and eye on them and maybe lift them next visit. The old white rot is a bugger with the garlic. In the past I have found the purple wight variety to be slightly more resistant. I can't remember what variety I have in, but it isn't looking good.

Next I weeded the future tomato bed and planted 3 tomato plants. Only 60 more to go! The problem with all of these plants is getting them to the plot. There are only so many you can fit into the car, especially when you are dropping the children off at school on the way and have them and their clobber to deal with. Big tomato plant out next visit.

In the seed section on plot number 2 I resowed my parsnips as only 1 has germinated! I have never had trouble with 'snips. I resowed with Javelin and Tender and True - a whole packet of each! I will be giving them away by Christmas. I also sowed some more spring onions along the side of the carrot bed, radish alongside the parsnips and some lettuce. I am trying desperately to extend the season by sowing little and often. I planted some 'Purple Queen' French bean seeds along the edge of the onion bed. Hope the meeces leave them alone. Then I planted 2 different batches of French bean seedlings - no idea on variety, both had fancy French names.

The last job on plot number 2, net my poor pea seedlings. The pigeons have had d field day stripping back my young Alderman pea plants, but the good news is, when I investigated properly today I noticed that all of the plants have new young shoots growing from the leaf bases and the base of the plants, so all is not lost. Good netting was put in place securely to thwart the feathered rodents attack.

Back on plot number one I planted some more squash plants in planting holes filled with rotting manure. I have paid a lot of attention this year to potting things on and watering them well, so the plants already seem huge. I hope we don't get a frost! I still have loads in the greenhouse at home, and will bring them up a few at a time each visit. The melons need to go out under cover, so I will leave them until the end of the month before setting them in the ground. I think I will try and get some really fresh hot manure and make a bit of a hot bed for them also.

Lovely old Jack was on the site during the morning and I asked him where he got his bales of straw from as I needed about half a bale for my strawbs. Bless him, he arrived with half a bale for me, wanting nothing in return. That was a spiky job, mulching my strawberry's. Plenty of them on the plants though and some are already pinking up. If we have a sunny spell over the next week, I will be able to easily fill a large punnet.

By the time I left at 2.45, the allotments were looking great and I was feeling great - knackered, but great. The grass paths could do with a cut, but I don't have access to a working petrol mower...yet. I will get back there next week for a couple of hours after work and will get some more toms and squashes in.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tuesday 15th May 2007 - weather: dull, overcast with occassional showers

Had a late start on the allotment today. Daughter number one had a doctors appointment about her granuloma on her face. It seems that even after her minor op last week to remove it, it is back with avengance. She has another appointment for minor surgery on Thursday after school. Fingers crossed it works this time, I don't think I can stand seeing her so upset and hearing her pain when then do it again!

Anyhow, regardless of the rotten rain, I got to the allotment. This was the first proper visit since the big rain started. Of course, all waterbuts are full to overflowing, and the weeds, well who told them to grow?? I couldn't believe my eyes. Seeds have finally started to germinate also. I have lots of beetroots, spring onions, lettuce, rocket, radish, turnips and carrots growing, but only 1 parsnip! I shall resow 2 rows of parsnips tomorrow. Also, rather miffed that the pigeons, or could it be the moorhen that lives on our site, has chewed my second sowing of Alderman peas down to 6 inch tatty stumps! I am hoping though that what has happened is the growing point has been removed, so the plants will bush out, and I will actually be rewarded with a more abundant, later crop of peas. Obviously I shall be buying some netting before heading to the allotment tomorrow.

Everything I had planted is growing really well. The brassicas have all come on and are making sturdy little plants, along with the lettuce and spinach. I planted a row of celeriac plantlets over on plot 2 and to be honest, it is full! The onions on plot 2 are Japanese hunions, so they will be lifted soon, some are already bigger then tennis balls! This area will then be filled with the rest of the brassicas that are living in the cold greenhouse, plus anything else I fancy growing. There are loads of volunteers spuds growing through the onions, so they will be a little bonus come onion picking time.

On plot 1 the rhubarb looked like a triffid, so I picked a huge armful of stems. Crumble and chutters me thinks. Also, one lonely asparagus, so that came home, along with 2 globe artichokes. There are about 8 artichokes still on the plants and masses of babies coming. I have discovered I like them best when they are really small. I top them and tail them, then simmer them until tender. Then I eat the whole then with a dollop of butter. YUMYUM!

I finally got in the last of my seed spuds - Maxine and Lady Christl. Pink Furs are through which is always pleasing as they are such delicious spuds, great for chips or roasting. I then spent the best part of the day weeding and getting the bare areas ready for mass planting tomorrow. I now have 2 areas ready for sweetcorn and mini corn, the pumpkin patch is all ready, oh yes, and I planted 4 squash plants - 1 courgette and 3 different squashes from Jeannine on A4all, and I planted 12 swiss chards 'Bright Lights' over by the sorrel that Saddad gave me and the Jerusalem artichokes - aka Supersprout.

Before I left I planted a row of runner bean seeds - they were unamed, just a handful I was given, but I do have 2 pots full of young plants in the greenhouse, but I am waiting another week before putting them in just because I sowed them so late, I want to make sure all that are going to germinate are through.

So, tomorrow again, regardless of the weather, I am going to the plot. I am planning to start planting the squashes, corns, tomatoes, french beans and anything else that is in the garden ready to go. I also hope to sow some more seeds....if I can find the room to squeeze some in. I will probably sow some lettuce and radish in amongst the squashes with the idea that they will be gone once the squashes attempt to take over the universe! I promise to take the camera tomorrow and do a bit of a photo diary to show how everything is shaping up.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Before Sarah, aka Supersprout, decided to leap from this mortal coil and onto the next, she sent me 3 lovely smooth Jerusalem Artichokes. She was very proud of them as they were so big and smooth. I planted them as soon as I received them, and shortly after Sarah left us all. I worried about the artichokes as they had to suffer some pretty cold weather for a spell, and then a long period of drought. But just look at Supersprout now. I have 3 handsome plants, all lush and green. They will have a permanent area on my allotment and the label that stands amongst them reads 'SUPERSPROUTS!'.

Wednesday 2nd May 2005 - Weather: Sunny and breezy

Sorry, bit late checking in this time but I have been so busy with mum coming to stay, then off to Devon for the long weekend, I have only just got my act together to update my blog.

Arrived at the allotment from the school run so find things still very dry indeed. However, our site secretary's garden backs onto the allotment site, and today she said I could use her hose to fill all of my waterbutts, so I quickly accepted her kind and generous offer and got everything I could full of water, and took the chance to water my seed beds because nothing had broken the surface.

First job of the day was to clear all of the leeks over on plot number 2. This area is destined to be 'Brassica Paradise' and I needed the room to get my sprouts in. Also some of the leeks - Autumn Giant - were starting to bolt. I didn't dig the area over too much as I wanted the ground good and firm for the sprouts, so after the leeks had gone, I gave it a weed and a good rake, then planted them. Can't remember for the life of me what varieties, but 3 different ones, 2 green and 1 red. I have more at home in the greenhouse to go up, but I am hoping by staggering the growing I will lengthen the harvesting period. Once in, they all received a very good watering and were then covered with net to keep the pesky pigeons off.

Over on plot one I planted 2 courgette plants. I believe the variety was Pathenon or something similar. The reason I grew them was because the packet said they didn't require pollination to set fruit, so I started them really early and kept them cosy to see if I could get a courgette or 2 before the main harvest begins. I am keeping one back in the greenhouse as back up. As this squash area is now clear I put up 2 large trellis stands which I am going to use to grow a couple of the lighter squashes up to try and make better use of the space. I have another 2 large trellis like panels at home to take up, hopefully next visit. I think I will grow things like the small ornamental gourds, cucumbers, acorns, and mini pumpkins upwards. This will leave room for the butternuts, large pumpkins and other large squash to sprawl.

Now a chancer - well it is May so fingers crossed no more frosts in Essex, I planted several rowns of mini French Beans and climbing Frenchies up the wigwams. Purple, yellow and green podded beans, on both plots. They were all well watered in. Hope the slugs keep off as I am really trying to resist using those horrid blue pellets. Next visit I plan to plant sunflowers and the first batch of tomato plants. I do have some cloches at the ready, but I am sure it will all be okay.

I picked my first globe artichokes and asparagus, my tea time luxury! I also picked all of the thick chunky flowering stems from my bright light chard. I need to dig the chard up really as I have this years crop growing into nice strong little plants in the greenhouse, but for now, the old boys can stay put - they do look so pretty!

I generally tidied and weeded and cut the paths back. Doesn't sound like much, yet I didn't stop all day! Glad to say the spinach and other brassicas I planted a week or so ago are all looking great and obviously growing.