Sunday 19th August 2007 - Weather: lovely and sunny!
I managed to grab a couple of hours on site today to begin the big sort out and weed after 4 weeks of neglect. This happens annually on my plot, and it is fine. The kids break up from school, and all I have time for after that is harvesting, inbetween which we also go away for 2 weeks, so I ignore the weeds and enjoy the crops. However, that said I really need to get on top of things to make sure I have plenty of goodies for the forthcomnig horticultural show on September 15th.
I concentrated on plot number 2 as this year this has been the high maintenance plot as it was the seed sowing plot. I cut back the paths and began down at the parsnips end. The first things on the plot are french beans, but I am now leaving all the frenchies to dry on the plants to give me some beans for winter stews and soups. I weeded around them and there will be a good bundle of pods from these few plants. I have one thick row of 'snips, and a few stragglers on a second row. I did have a peak around the tops and they are already a good size and looking lovely and white. Of course, until you dig them you have no idea what they will look like underneath, but they still have plenty of time in the ground as I dig my first 'snips on Christmas Eve for Christmas dindins. Along side there is a scruffy row of littlegem lettuce which are slowely being thinned as I need lettuce. I don't know if the remainders will heart up properly, but they have provided me with loads of leaves during the summer.
Next patch is a carrot patch. I am thrilled with how this has turned out. I sowed in early spring and thanks to the long dry spell, they just didn't germinate. However, I kept sowing and as the weather cooled and the rain set in, they have germinated like crazy and now there are hundreds of carrots of all shapes and sizes. I am pulling as I need, a handful at a time, and they are smashing, and no fly damage I think thanks to the late germination and the spring onions I sowed all around the edge of the carrot bed. The onions have been crowded out really now, but I don't care, I am quite happy for them to be a sacrificial crop and have love tender pest free carrots.
From here, to beetroot heaven. Some lovely big roots thanks to all the rain. My biggest concern here is something on plot number one scoffed all the beetroots and chewed through the stem on one of my ruby chards. I thought it was a mouse but someone on the A4all site suggested it might be a rat. Whatever it is I am hoping my prize beets on plot 2 go untouched for another 2 weeks as I really want them for the show. I did earth them up to try and provide some protection, but what I might do is take some plant pots up with me and carefully dig them chosen roots up, repot them and bring them home where they can remain fresh and crispy, but safe. I was wondering about digging them and cleaning them and storing them in damp potting compost. I shall have to think. I have a combination of beetroots such as Detroit, Redbull and Boltardy.
At the end of the beet rows I have a couple of short rows of turnips. This year has been hugely successful for these - the flea beetle normally decimates them before they have a chance to grow, but I don't know if it has been too chilly or whether my later sowing made a difference, but if turnip tops are your thing, my turnip tops are lovely and lush! The turnips are also getting really big and I am hoping to choose 3 for the show, then the rest of the larger ones will come home to be frozen or stored in damp potting compost leaving the smaller ones in, pulling them as needed.
Whilst weeding I uncovered my half row of Chinese cabbage which have been really chewed. I don't know what has feasted on them....pigeons or slugs, but now they are out in the open I will put some dreaded slug pellets down and also make a small net cloche and see if that does the trick. I also reclaimed a row of young salad leaves and a row of spinach. These were all sown immediately before the school hols and have grown very quickly.
A couple of hours passed quickly, but already the plot was looking better. Next visit will be the pulling up of the mange tout and sweetpeas, plus getting in amongst the toms and removing lots of foliage to try and help the fruits ripen. I noticed the blight is in amongst some plants, but only a couple so I will probably pull them out and leave the rest to see how things go. To be honest, it is getting so late now that I fear I am going to be left with a hige crop of green toms this year.