Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday 18th July 2007 - Weather: Very warm and sunny

Back again, trying to cram as much time in before the kids break up from school. Actually, the old allotment isn't looking to bad. I seem to spend more time picking than weeding and sowing at the moment, which I suppose is the way it is meant to be. Picked loads of yellow French Beans again. Left the Amathyst and the 2 green French varieties until Friday, although to be honest, I could have picked masses of both today! They will be fine for Friday. Also picked more courgettes. I have discovered how fab the flowers are stuffed, dunked in batter and deep fried. They may not be the healthiest accompaniment to a meal, but boy are they tasty, so I am treating these flowers as another veg. It does encourage me to pick the courgettes when they are smaller, but it means I keep ontop of the glut as I need more courgettes to each recipe. I will leave the next few to get a little bit bigger as I want to make a big batch of courgette bread next week. Filled an ice cream tub with redcurrants again, and another punnet with black currant. I adore black currants, but I think I love the scent from the crushed leaves more! The perfume for me is heady. I then had a rootle (is that a real word?) in the Kestrel spuds to see if I could find a couple big enough for baking. Oh boy did I ever! One of them weighed in at 1Ib 5oz. A monster. That will fed the whole family. Over on plot 2 I pulled a bunch of carrots and was amazed to see no carrot fly damage, hopefully that is thanks to the spring onions sown all the way around the carrot bed. Thinned my little gem lettuce and kept the thinnings as salad leaves. Filled a tray with alderman peas. Pulled a couple of spring onions, my first beetroot and spotted my first ripe tomato of 2007. Joy of joys.

I am getting handy with the hoe that Jack gave me, so I hoed all around my sweetcorns and along the paths and realised I could sow lots more seeds so I gave these patches a good watering, then gently forked them over with my hand trowel until I had a nice fine tilth and started sowing. Today I sowed, Chinese cabbage, white mooli, pink long radish - like a mooli, but pink, cobra beans, perpetual spinach, mixed coloured kale, swedes and carrots - parmex. As the spuds are cleared I will get in leeks and winter salads. I find the Essex winters are so mild, that leafy plants can go on almost all year. I will plant more chard, spinach and lettuce right into autumn, so long as it is mild and warm enough for the seeds to germinate and get away, they don't need the sun to ripen any fruit and I have a nice supply of leaves for salads or bigger leaves for roasts etc.

I fear blight may have reached my toms, even after being dusted with bordeaux, so a bit of housekeeping, taking off dodgy leaves and generally thinning out the foliage to allow better air circulation. I always grow a few at home in the greenhouse as a back up. I couldn't imagine life without home grown toms!

Considering I have been working almost full time, and then have been taking it so easy because of my operation, the allotment seems to be more productive this year than ever before. I am not being shy about sowing seeds, and am picking more regularly. We have been very lucky in our part of Essex. No floods, and the generous rain, however destructive and boring has made the crops growing quickly and strongly.

I will visit again on Friday and must remember shears and I might buy some roundup or something similar as there is a nettle patch at the end of my allotment that is beastly, I don' t have the time or desire to get in there and weed it all out, so I am contemplating doing something I have never done before, and that is use a weedkiller! Eek.

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