Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday 21st July 2008 - weather: hot and breezy

Today was a picking visit and there was plenty to pick. I had also purchased a tray of onions to plant out so I needed to oik out the broadbeans and plant the hunions. I didn't actually dig the plants up but cut them at ground level so they can release that all precious nitrogen back into the soil. This does often mean that the plants reshoot and I have been known to get a bonus crop of young beans in a month or so's time. I also filled my trug with the first French Beans of the season, a lovely amount, a variety I brought in France last year, a long slender pod with darker blotches. Of course I cannot remember the name. The onions all went in and filled the old broadie bed. Hopefully they will grown and provide me with a few decent bulbs as the overwintering onions didn't do so well this year thanks to the dreaded white rot.

From here I went over to plot number one and picked the peas. Of course, can't remember the variety but they are one of the leafless varieties, all tendrills and pods. Easy to spot the pods but boy do they get tangled up with all of those tendrils. Anyhow, whatever the variety is, it's a winner as it has produced loads of lovely long pods packed with up to 10 peas in each one. These were shucked and in the freezer within a couple of hours of picking, sweet as the moment and all that.

Then into the fruit cage I ventured. The raspberries are still covered in fruits at all different levels or ripening, but I suspect there will be only one or two more decent picks before the fruits start to become thin on the ground. I stripped the red gooseberrys as they were all sweet and juicy and picked the blackcurrants from one of the bushes. This one is different from all the others, much larger currants and already ripe. The others dotted around both of my allotments are still very sharp and would probably benefit from another 2 or 3 weeks of sun and rain before I pick them. Next visit I will strip the redcurrants as they are pretty much ready now.

Picked a couple of little gems - might try that recipe where you braise the little gems with peas. Never had it before....should give it a go really. Also pulled 4 spring onions. Never had any luck with these, but this is going to be their year on my allotment as I have several rows and they are all looking amazing.

All in all, both plots are looking in good shape. Plot number 2 could do with a weed in the sweetcorn/squash area, but the weeds won't do much harm now the other plants are romping away. I also need to take the netting off my strawbs and get in there and give them a serious weed. I also want to tidy up around the globe artichokes as weeds have crept in there and because they are permanent, I don't tend to bother much with them.

Hope to get back later in the week for a couple of hours.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Saturday 12th July 2008 - Weather: damp and humid

Danbury and Little Baddow Horticultural Show - Summer 2008

My entries plus awards.

Vase of mixed perennial flowers - between 5 and 10 stems - Top Vase award, 2nd prize, £5 gift voucher.

Peas - first prize

Raspberries - first prize

Vase of 3 sweetpea blooms - second prize

Bowl of annual flowers - first prize

A summer minature - a display smaller than 4 inches - second prize

Broad beans, 9 - third prize. Compared to others, my pods were smaller and not as uniform.

Gooseberries - third prize. Mine were the only red fruits and they weren't as large and ripe as the other winners.

Any other fruit - Josterberries - second prize

Rhubarb, 3 stems - third prize

Potatoes, 5 (International Kidney) - first prize

Lettuce - cos type (little gem) first prize

Any recipe with strawberries - strawberry roulade - first prize and highest award in homeware section - silver trophy

The childrens entries

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Saturday 5th July 2008 - weather: RAINING!

I know, I know, it isn't exactly nice weather, but for me this is bliss. All of my seedlings on the plot will be able to grow, the waterbutts will start to refill, and the giant marrow will be able to swell some more. Thanks rain dancers everywhere!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday 4th July 2008 - Weather: clear blue sky, light breeze

Another stunning day, although rain is forecast for tomorrow, and as a gardener, I have to say my fingers are tightly crossed that it will pour as the allotment is starting to look like a desert...or is that dessert...?!

Anyhow, not a long visit today as I worked until 12.30, so arrived on site at 1pm and needed to leave by 2.45. Really todays visit was to pick as I has spotted the other day that there were plenty of raspberries for picking, so into the fruit cage I went. The rasps are really settled and growing well. The variety is Glen Ample and the fruits are ample. A good size, sweet and strongly scented. I don't tie in the canes but let them wander and do their thing. It does make picking rather challenging, but to be honest, time is precious on the plot so if I don't need to do something, I don't. In the fruit cage the red gooseberries are turning colour and the greens are also softening and starting to look slightly yellow. The blackcurrants and jostaberries are also ripening nicely. The redcurrants look a little patchy this year which is a shame as they have always done so well in the past.

Next to dig some International Kidney spuds. These are a family fave and if I don't grow anything else, I will always grow these. They are in the ground for quite a short time and yet they reward you with pots full of egg sized spuds. Mind you, as time goes on these new taters do start to get big so by the end of the row I could end up with some bakers.

From here to the broadbeans. Lovely lovely broadbeans. I adore them, but I am alone in my desires - all the more reason to grow them. I only picked the mishapen, blunt or marked pods because I am trying to save the nice thick perfect pods for the village veggie show in 2 weeks time. Picked plenty, and there are still loads on the plants and the plants are still covered in bloom, and the dreaded blackfly that had moved is seems to have buggered off so the plants are really looking healthy again, unlike my onions, but you win some you loose some.

Cut the huge lollo rosso lettuce that I was hoping to save for the show, but it was getting so large I could just make out the start of a flower cluster, so salad for tea. I also cut 2 lovely courgettes, a round one and a long one. I did water the plants to try and encourage the fruits to swell, but my waterbutts are now empty so it is down to mother nature.

All of this harvesting is very time consuming, but it did leave me about 20 minutes to start to weed around the sweetcorn and squash plants. That is the big job for my next visit, next week all being well. Now, could we all do the rain dance please!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wednesday 2nd July 2008 - Weather: damp and dreary

It was just a flying visit today, just to water the monster marrow really. It is still growing well, and we have had some rain which will certainly help. I must look into secret watering recipes to try and make it MASSIVE!

Picked 2 courgettes and a lovely lollo rosso lettuce. There is plenty to pick but I wasn't prepared. I noticed masses of pea pods which are starting to fill, so again, a drop of rain will really help them along. There are flowers on all of my beans now, runners, french and dwarf and the seeds I sowed last visit are already starting to poke through which is fab.

Fingers and toes crossed I will get to the plot for an hour or so on Friday where I will pick the raspberries and weed plot number 2 around the corns and squashes. I shall also try to remember to take my camera.