Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday 31st May 2008 - Weather: cloudy and humid

What luxury, the chance to spend a whole day on the plot, but with so much to do, a day isn't going to be enough. Anyhow, we filled up both cars with all the plants I had left in the greenhouse and staging area along the side of the house - a selection of squashes, toms, brassicas, beans and corn. Arrived on site and couldn't believe my eyes! Now I have had an allotment here for 5 years and in all of my time I have never known it busy, a few old timers in the early days, but at most there would be 4 of us on site. Well today there was a swarm of activity with 9 members, not including me, all working away, weeding and trying to battle with the slugs and pigeons which are loving this wet, warm weather.

Speaking of slugs, I would just like to point out that everyone on the allotment site was moaning about them! Everyone has lost plants, the ground is covered in shiny slug slime trails and people are trying everything rather than the dreaded pellets, but the choice is, use the pellets or loose your crops. One guy planted 6 courgette plants and they were eaten overnight! I swear the slugs have grazed my parsnip seedlings down as there are slime trails all over the seed row and I was finding them everywhere, small little black slugs and big sticky orange buggers. SHUDDER! I'm afraid I now have a scattering of blue over my plots.

Back on track..... the kids played in the stream, hubby earthed up my spuds and I set to work planting the rest of my tomato plants. They are all looking really strong and most have flower trusses on now. I still have about 30 tom plants but no room at the inn but I'm sure I will be able to squeeze a few in here and there as gaps appear. I also completed the planting of the sweetcorn 'swift' which I have interplanted with a few squash plants. Then finally in this section of my allotment I put up some more bean poles and planted a double row of runner beans 'achievement' and a wigwam of climbing borlotti beans. So, the top half of allotment number 2 is looking great, well planted and currently weed free. At this point, the kids were getting bored, so we all went home for lunch.

I was back on site within the hour and I was alone so could now concentrate on the lower half of plot number 2. Considering all the rain we have had, and bearing in mind this half of the plot borders the stream, the ground was quite dry. I weeded around my Japanese onions which are bulbing up really nicely now - thanks again lovely 'Growmore' who sent me the sets. I did plant half a row of the climbing borlotti beans agains the tomato house as I just couldn't bring myself to chuck them on the compost heap. My leeks were so late in last year that they never really bulked up and had all gone to seed, so I dug those out, such a shame, but in the new gap I planted a large block of sweetcorn 'minipop'. Now I know I don't need to plant this variety in a block as it doesn't need to be pollinated as the baby corns are removed before this, but I had a square of ground available, so a block it had to be. Next to those, as I had another spare patch, I planted a dozen young cavalo nero kale plants. I hope they will be okay as they were terribly small. I shall prick some out into pots to keep at home as a back up - I can always plant them out later in the season as space becomes available.

As I was working away, I heard the unmistakeable noise of a diesel engine, and sure enough, hubby and the kids were back to lend a hand. He had the petrol strimmer so went around massacring the nettles around the shed whilst the kids played in the shed. He then netted my strawberries for me, a very worthwhile job as they fruits are swelling fast and some are already turning pink. Don't want the birdies to get in there first. I am hoping that this is going to be a good year for fruit on the allotment as the fruit cage was absolutely alive with bees. I have never seen so many working the raspberry flowers. Plenty of young fruit already developed. Now all we need is that lovely sunshine back to ripen them.

The broad beans of course are infested with blackfly, and a lovely thick carpet of weeds where I mulched thickly with my own compost - the downside of having a coldish heap, the seeds don't get killed, but it is a small price to pay for the lovely goodness the compost puts into the ground, and these weeds pull out so easily and satisfyingly, and they all end up back on the heap so what goes around comes around. In amongst these lovely broadies I planted a row of brussel sprout plants - I think the variety was bedford. I am getting short of space, so I end up doubling up and squeezing plants in where I can. I then had to just sort out the pigeon proof netting over all the brassica's and that was it for plot number 2. Really chuffed with everything we achieved.

As the afternoon was drawing on I made a start weeding the seed bed on plot number one. The row of parsnips is pretty patchy so I will bung some more seed in tomorrow. I do however have a rather splendid row of spring onions and little gem lettuce. I also noticed the Alderman peas I sowed last visit against the fruit cage netting are poking their noses through the ground. Still plenty to do, still masses of seeds I would like to sow, just not sure where now I have planted so much. I will have to squeeze things in here and there. So the plan is, back tomorrow afternoon for a couple of hours to get the top half of plot number 1 weeded and any seeds sown that I can, then I don't think I will be able to get back for a week thanks to work, but the following week I am hoping to get a good couple of days on the plot... famous last words!

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