Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday 26th June 2008 - weather: hot, breezy but cloudy

I would just like to say how happy I currently am. Why? Because it is 11pm and it is raining, glorious rain. Spent today at the allotment and boy was it hot and dry so this welcome rain will really help all of my seedlings along.

Anyhow, back to business. The plan of attack for the day was to start at the shed end of plot number one and weed my way to the top, which I did. On the way I dug some Kestrel spuds, very nice, plenty there but still small which is fine, it was only a test dig and pulled an armful of rhubarb. Picked a punnet full of raspberries, and another of strawbs and sowed some peas, carrots, radish, coriander and little gem lettuce. I also planted 40 leeklets and 20 beetroot seedlings. As you can imagine, at the moment plot number one is chock full. I am wondering what I will plant in the gap left by the spuds? Might start a load more brassica's off.

Next over to plot number 2 where I scrambled under the brassica cage and started weeding. After the pigeons strolled around my brassicas and stripped the leaves, I am glad to report that all the plants are now regrowing well and I probably only lost about 6 plants in total. In the various gaps I sowed some cavalo nero kale, spring onions, winter cabbages for transplanting later and some swedes.

The onion bed is looking okay, not as good as I would have liked though due to the white rot. I did lift an armfull of Japanese onions which had been bent over by the stong winds last weekend. I will dry these off in the conservatory. I then tied up my sweetpeas and tomatoes. I picked 2 lovely little courgettes and can report that the killer marrow for the show is still growing fast. This drop of rain will certainly help.

I barely stopped all day and my legs are now paying the price. Of course, foolishly I forgot the camera today....well, when I opened my shed, what was looking at me but 3 baby wrens. They all flapped around and mumma was outside shouting at me to go away, so I left the door open and one by one they all went off on their merry way - so cute! Then, whilst sitting having my lunch I saw a big shadow on the ground, and what was flying above me but a huge heron. Honestly, should have had my camera.

So there you have it. Next visit I shall weed around the beans, sweetcorn and squashes. I do have vacant space now so am wondering what to sow to fill it. I guess I have moolis and oriental greens to go in. Also Old jack has sown a row of wallflowers for transplanting to his garden. Maybe I should do that. Will have to have a good sort out and see what I have. Hopefully, back on the plot next week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday 23rd June 2008 - Weather: Very sunny and hot

A flying visit today. It was incredibly windy over the weekend and I had fleeced my rocket, radish, carrots and peas to try and keep the worse of the buggies off, and I was fearful that the fleece would now be on it's was to Italy so a mad dash to check things over. Well, much to my relief, everything was exactly where I left it on Friday. So I did a spot of weeding around my runner beans, little baby flowers developing already, hoorah, cucumbers getting bigger, yum, and then went and picked another big bowl full of raspberries, my faves, and a few strawbs. The ground is rock solid, even after the rain on Saturday, so I will need to water the 'leek' bed well before I start planting out later in the week. All being well, I have left myself Thursday and Friday with no work so I can get to the plot for the day on Thursday and get the leeks in, try and find some room to sow more seeds, and generally weed. Wonder if there will be a couple of courgettes ready? I noticed lots of open flowers on my toms.

Friday 20th June 2008 - weather: Lovely

What a lovely day, a little breezy, but just perfect allotment weather. Today, plenty to do, the first thing being, have a little excavate around my International Kidney spuds, just to see what was occuring below ground level. Joy and jubilation, handfulls of perfectly sized, perfectly formed new potatoes. Always a worry with taters. They quietly do their thing in the dark depths, having to cope with slugs and eelworms, blight and drought, but this curious weather seems to have treated them well. No slug damage, and a good bounty from each plant. Of course, as the weeks wear on, the spuds will get bigger, but I shall just dig them as I need them.

Next, to have a looksie at the broadbeans. I think they were called Express, but they haven't been very fast. They have been in situ since late winter and I hardened them off properly, gave them lashings of lovely well rotted compost, and planted them carefully with love, and now, in mid June, finally we have beans. Of course, I don't want a glut as I am the only family member who eats them. Anyhow, picked a good handful of pods all packed with young beans - I love them younger when you don't have to worry about skinning each individual bean....but don't get me wrong, I also love those monster, fatty beans with that strong broadbean flavour. Some plants are now suffering from the expected attack of the blackfly, but to be honest, the infestation isn't that bad, so I am not going to try and tackle them. I squished them as I picked, that'l do.

Now to examine the various courgette/cucumber/marrow plants that have been in since May. They all seem to have stood still in the ground since going in, but the weather has been so chilly at times, I can't say I am suprised. However, fruits are starting to form and I picked a small, but perfectly formed, 'de nice a round fruit' courgette. You can imagine my tea tonight can't you? I also spied some very small cucumbers developing, and the first marrow, which we have to love lots as hopefully we can enter it in the village show in the heaviest marrow section. I could do with some secret watering tips if any of you readers have any ideas on how to get a monster marra.

From here to the fruit cage. What a bountiful day. Picked my first bowl full of lovely yummy delicious raspberries. Rasberries are, for me, the most wonderful of all the berries. I adore their scent, their colour and they fabulous taste. I am always blown away by their flavour and cannot help but eat them as I pick. In the same vein, blackcurrant are my fave currants for all of the above reasons, but mostly because of the scent from the foliage, I would wear it as perfume if someone had made it. Anyhow, back on track, and glad to report that the redcurrants are starting to blush and the gooseberries are filling out nicely. Under the netting, I also picked some strawberries. There won't be masses this year as I moved the plants in the autumn, throwing away a lot of the old, worn out plants, and pegging out lots of new runners. But there will be enough for us to almost get bored of them.

The last pickings for today was spinach. Well chard actually. The plants were from last year and they had gone to seed, so I dug them out, stripped off all the younger leaves and chucked the rest on the compost heap. This cleared a lovely long row which I will plant my leeks in next week - of course, if we don't have any rain between now and then I will have to water the ground first to soften it up enough for me to work.

Once all the exciting picking was completed, I started to weed around my baby seedlings. There are parsnips, carrots, turnips ( which the flea beetles are enjoying!), curly parsley (I obviously wear the trousers as I have such a lovely thick row of them), little gem lettuce, lollo bionde lettuce, celeriac, rocket (again, a fave of the flea beetle), radish (yes, flea beetles again), spring onions, beetroot and dahlias. Very pleased to see everything germinating quite quickly and gaps being filled. The dahlias are being grown not only for cut flowers for the house, but also for the village show in September, so high hopes.

Lastly I did some weeding and tidying over on plot number 2 around the beans, corns and tomatos. Glad to see the sweetpeas are in flower, should be a few blooms for the show in 3 weeks time. A few of the corn plants withered and died for no apparent reason, so in the gaps I stuck spare tomato plants that I had left. I also sowed a row of mixed french beans, white and purple, mixed because both of their boxes spilt in the boot of my car, and life is to short to sort them beans out, so they all went into one box and can all grow happily together. So that was my day. Busy, and exhausting, but a really productive day.

Produce that I am hoping to have for the village show in July: Gooseberries, redcurrants, raspberries, rhubarb, broadbeans, little gem lettuce, lollo rosso lettuce, new potatoes, peas (?), sweetpeas, courgette.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday 10th June 2008 - Weather: hot but cloudy

A brief visit to the allotment today, only 3 hours before back home to change to go to the kids school sports day. So the plan of attack, cut back all the daff foliage and plant a row of tomatos over them, plant the rest of the young dahlia plants, get in the 2 cucumber plants I had to buy after the slugs scoffed my home grown offerings and weed my seedlings. A very productive 3 hours during which time I mananged to once again get sunburnt on my neck, and yes, I did have suncream on. One minor crisis, the bl**dy pigeons have strolled under my netting and make a meal of my brassicas, so I spent a good 40 minutes sorting out the netting and blocking all possible entrance holes. Hopefully the brassicas will grow away again and catch up. If we get the expected rain over the next few days, I am certain they will put on plenty of new growth.

The last job of the day was to have a peak at the garlics as they had flower buds developing. Because I have such rampant white rot on the allotments I keep the alliums in for as short a time as possible and as soon as I am suspicious that the plants look poorly, the lot come out. Well, apart from lots of rust, the garlic plants looked healthy enough, and just look what I discovered as I dug! These were purple necks I think - the label is still on the plot with the other block of plants. They aren't quite as advanced as these as they went in a month later. Thrilled to bits with this harvest, and they are now in the conservatory to dry before being platted.

Back at the allotment Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours where I will be sowing yet more seeds, and hopefully getting some leeks in, if only I knew where!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday 1st June 2008 - weather: dull but warm

As promised, I arrived back at the allotment just after lunch time today. Again, so many people working away. I suppose as I tend to me a weekday allotmenteer I don't see as many people, but with my increasing workload, I am going to have to spend more weekends on the plot so I guess I will see more of the same faces.

After the mammoth plant out yesterday, everything was looking lovely and perky and those pesky slugs hadn't eaten anything...yet! Today I planned to spend on plot one sowing seeds so first job was to complete the weeding of the parsnip/spring onion/beetroot/etc area. So far only 10 'snips have germinated so I sowed along the row again. I also sowed a row of little gem lettuce next to the 'snips as they will be long gone by the time the 'snips are getting big. I also 'beefed up' the beetroot row as that was patchy. Everyone is moaning about seeds not germinating or whole rows of seedlings being there one day and gone the next, and I am certain the slugs are to blame. The ground is silver with slug trails and as I was sowing I could see them everywhere. Anyhow, along with the 'snips, beetroot and little gems, I also sowed some lollo bianco lettuce, more beetroot and plenty of carrots. I feared that my parsley had not germinated, but as I looked down the row, sure enough there are a scattering of plants, enough for our needs. The flat leaf parsley though I fear is a no show. I might so some in a tray in the greenhouse and transplant at a later date. I then weeded through my row of peas - these were sown direct, a petit pois variety whose name escapes me. The meeces seemed to have totally ignored them so I have a good thick row of plants up. I planted a row of peas the otherside of their netting, a variety called misty, so hopefully as one lot finishes, the next will kick in. The last job of the afternoon was to plant some of the dwarf beans I had started in a pot. The variety was purple queen and there was probably only 24 plants, but I will sow some directly for later picking and as I have lots of different beans planted this year, I think that will be ample.

So, the old allotment is shaping up well. Fingers crossed I will squeeze a couple of hours in again on Friday where I will weed around my gladioli and dahlias and get the rest of the dwarf bean plantlets out.