Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thursday 1st May 2008 - Weather: Sun, hail, wind, rain, thunder and more rain!

Whatever the weather, today was destined to be an allotment day. Dropped the kids off and was on site by 9am and the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and all was well with the world. Plan of attack today, just get both allotments absolutely ready for this growing year, get the last of the spuds in and sow sow sow like crazy.

I finally finished clearing the last weeds from the old strawberry bed, mostly creeping buttercup which seems to the be the thug on our site, and them planted a row of Pink Fur Apple spuds, Ratte and half a row of Estima and half of Majestic. So relieved to have gotten those in. If I had to go home then, I could have gone home happy as I was starting the worry that I would never get them in.

From there I raked over last years spud bed which had been dug once as the spuds were lifted, and then again in the winter so the soil is lovely and crumbly and raked down to a very fine tilth. I started to do some sowing and got in parsnips 'Gladiator', rocket, beetroot 'Detroit', radish 'French Breakfast', spring onions 'Lisbon', lettuce 'Little Gem', flat leaf and culey leaf parsley and some carrots whose name escapes me as I brought them in France.

I now wanted to get my red cabbages, purple sprouting broc and lollo rosso lettuce in on plot number 2, but the weather decided I should cower in my shed. Hail, rain, strong biting cold wind, then more hail lashed around me. I thought it was lifting, so I should over to the plot and started planting, only for the heavens to open and for mother nature to start lobbing ice cubes at me. But, I had started so I planned to finish, and I got wet through, but the plants all went in nicely and I am being much more generous with the spacing this year as I think half of my problem with low yields on some crops is because I try to cram too many in. I figure that I will get just as big a harvest from 5 well spaced plants as I would from 10 cramped plants, possibly more. I also plan to plant my lettuces inbetween the various brassicas rather than dedicate lashings of room for them in the main plot. At the front of the bed with the cabbages in I sowed a row of the dwarf bean 'Ying Yang'. In theory, they won't take up a lot of space and crowd the cabbages. Anyhow, as I planted my brassicas the darned pigeons started gathering above me in the trees, so once they were in I got busy with my netting and by the time I had finished the pigeons would have to get training from the SAS to break through and get to my greens!

As they day was pressing on I finished up by weeding and raking the top end of plot number one and tidying up the now finished daffs. The glads planted in amongst the daffs are just starting to poke their noses through Hopefully they will put on a good show this year as they are for mum as they are her fave flower. At the end of their row is a gap where I have some small white alpine strawberries, so I scattered a few cosmos seeds there, I love cosmos and it is a funny little space, no good for veggies, and just right for flowers. I weeded amongst the strawbs in their new bed and am pleased to report that at least 75% of the plants have flowers on so although I expect a smaller than usual harvest this year as all the plants were moved in the autumn, I should still get a good picking of fruits for the children. By the time I had finished, both plots looked great. I won't be back now until next Friday by which time I will have finished hardening off a few more crops to get in and I want to sow more peas as the first batch sown a couple of weeks ago are all through and growing away.

I just love this picture. This is Red Duke of York shoing his nose through the ground. Such a lovely purple leaf. I have a feeling it turns completely green as it matures, but for now I am loving these purple sprouts.


Melanie Rimmer said...

I grew Red Duke of York last year. i got a good yield and the potatoes were tasty although not very large. Yes, the foliage turns green as it matures, but the spuds have deep red skins.

Emma Jane said...

The foliage is still really vibrant purple, although I plan to earth them up next week. I have given the spuds more room this year as I am often guilty of cramming things to close together and not getting as big a yield, so I shall have to see how large my taters are at digging time.

adekun said...

Sound like our Tuesday; it went from 20°C blue skies to thunder and lightning. The hail that followed was the size of ice cubes. First time I've seen purple shoots from spuds.

Emma Jane said...

I know they are supposed to turn green, but they are now a good 8 inches tall and still vivid purple. I will be earthing them up on Monday, I am all behind and going nowhere.