Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday 19th August - Weather: overcast and raining

Really only a quick visit to have a pick and prop up the mange tout and alderman peas that were flattened by the wind and the rain. Plenty to bring home today. Picked apples, globe artichokes, runner beans ' Enorma', mange tout, carrots, beetroot 'detroit', radish, turnips 'purple milan', lettuce 'little gem' and mizuna, sweetcorn 'swift' and babycorn 'minipop' and a mixed bowl of tomatoes including 'golden queen' and 'orange berry'.

Hacked back the sweetpeas as they have finished now, although I did manage to pick enough lovely new shoots with buds and flowers to fill a vase, and this opened up the space for the mange tout to stand up properly. The mange tout is performing excellently and is covered in flowers and tiny pods. The runner beans also seem to be enjoying this cooler wet weather as there are strings of beans from the ground to the top of the canes. I am going to have to use my imagination and discover some interesting ways of using runners. The carrots have no fly damage which is fantastic as I normally have to completely fleece them. I planted onions all around the outside of the carrot bed, and I have sown later. I don't know the life cycle of a carrot fly, I must find out because if it means sowing a few weeks later misses the problem, then it is well worth it. The same with the peas. The later peas have had no wigglies.

Back home to make greengage jam, Christmas spiced plum and apple chutney and Curried Rhubarb and apple chutney.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Photographs taken on the allotment today, August 12th 2007

Squash gallery

Tomato gallery

Flower gallery
Sunday 12th August 2007 - Weather: humid and overcast

Reality strikes. Back home from our 2 week holiday in lovely France. We stayed in a fab house called La Blanchette in a village called Chenac near Royan, down along the west coast in the Charente Maritime region. Glorious weather, amazing shellfish, great peeps, clean long beaches, just a fab place. It was our third time in that region and we could never tire of returning as there are always new things to discover, but we are going to have a change next year....I think the med is calling.
Anyhow, two weeks is a long time on an allotment at this time of year and I was quite worried about what sort of state it would be in upon our return, so today I took back-up, and we all went together. What a relief! Yes, the weeds are everywhere and yes, everything has grown like mad, but the tomatoes are still blight free and weighed down with fruit, the runner beans had started cropping, but only just which means they are still in full swing, and generally things looked great!

Picked a selection of goodies which will keep us, the family and friends in veg for a while now. Rather than splatter them through todays ramblings, here for your pleasure, a gallery. Doo dee doo doo doo dee dooooo.....

Not a bad pickings. I know the sweetcorn are small, but they suffered in the long dry early spring, and they hated being planted out - I normally start them off in loo rolls so prevent root disturbance, but I forgot to save any this year, and I was short of room, so they struggled. However, there are 4 more varieties still on the plot and 3 are only just showing signs of flowering so they will be a few weeks away yet. The toms are blight free so far and the plants are weighed down with fruits. The ones in the photos are tumbling and I think, orange berry. Runner beans looking great, along with the flat hunter style french bean, called Goldfield I think. Picked over 5Ib in weight of the darn things! I will freeze some, and give lots away as there are still a fair few to come. I picked some slim frenchies, but I think I will leave them all from now on to provide us with dried beans for winter soups. The turnips normally fail me thanks to the flea beetle, but I sowed these a bit later, and I dusted them twice with derris and it has done the trick. A whole row of lovely 'nips currently ranging from golf ball to tennis ball size. Pleased with the mange tout also. I have only grown it once before, and it was the purple variety and funnily enough, nobody was keen. It looks like this row won't create a glut, but it will keep me in mangey touts for a few weeks. The spuds are kestrel and they are the diggings from a row and a half. They had awful blight and I nursed them and kept them clean, only cutting the tops back before we went away. From all that my darling dug, 2 had signs of blight, the rest are fab with only 1 or 2 suffering from slug damage. I still have an awful lot of spuds to dug, which will carry on this week.
The old man took a mass of photos, so when I have reduced them, I shall post some to show how the old plot is looking during mid August,