Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday 4th June 2009 - weather: cloudy but warm

Well, thanks to a regular customer cancelling earlier in the week, I was able to juggle my other gardens around giving me today free to spend on the allotment, and hopefully half a day tomorrow. Glee and joy! My plan of attack for the day, to actually finish a job! My problem is I start something, then spot a weed, or something that needs watering, and before you know it, I have been totally distracted and leave without finishing the job I started.

First job of the day, weed, water and plant my runner bean row. I planted painted lady seeds directly at the start of May, but only half of them germinated. I don't know if the seeds were dodgy, mice scoffed them, or it has just been to dry for them to germinate, so I picked up a pot of growing runners from a lady around the corner and used these to fill the gaps. I have also sown a pot full at home in the greenhouse, so at some point I will be desperately trying to squeeze another wigwam or 2 in.

Next, get the baby sweetcorn in - Minipop. Daughter number one loves these and as they are picked before pollination has taken place, they can be planted closer together, or in rows rather than blocks. However, the patch I had vacant was a block, but it was rock solid so took some digging and chopping to make plantable. I also forked in a barrow full of 2 month old stable manure. Twenty plants, all tucked up and watered. I also finished planted the regular sweetcorn, a variety called Ovation. I had started on a previous visit so only had about 10 to go. I also gave them all a good drink.

By now, all of my waterbutts were more or less empty, so I shot over to the allotment neighbour, who is also the site secretary and asked if I could borrow her hose pipe and fill my butts! She is such a great site secretary and said of course, as often as I need to during the season, so I set the hose up, turned the tap on and during the course of the next 2 hours, filled up my 7 waterbutts.

Whilst this was going on, I started the next job that I had started on another visit and hadn't finished, and that was planting the last of my tomatoes. I had 6 to go, and 2 chilli plants, so they were quickly in, and all of the plants received a nice watering. I still have about 10 plants at home, but I think I might grow them at home in the greenhouse and around the garden so if blight strikes like it did last year, I will still have some fruit. I must get some Bordeax powder to dust the plants with to try and give them some blight protection. I am growing some Ferline plants which are supposed to be blight resistant, but I know last year, even the people that grow that variety lost their plants to blight quite early on.

Yet another area that I had started on another visit was the squash section. I trundled off and filled my wheelbarrow with more manure and set about planting some cucumbers and melons. I do still have marrows and courgettes to plant, but these were only sown about 10 days ago so are still only very small, they can go in another day. I plan to plant 2 marrow plants in my compost heap, so a job for tomorrow, if I have time, will be to completely top my compost heap up with manure and make 2 soil planting holes. I will leave an area free for compostable material, or I might start piling the green waste in the large skip sack I have so I can chuck it all on the heap at the end of the season. Anyhow, I watered all of the squashes, the courgettes already have flowers so I reakon we will be harvesting in the next couple of weeks.
Next on the agenda was to dig up last years spinach. It has done really well and I have been picking up until recently. To be honest, I could have probably harvested a bag full of leaves, but I was being very focused and needed the area clean to I could plant my leeklets. I always miss the boat with leeks and plant them so late I never get great big beauties, so this year, I cheated and I brought 2 trays of leeks from the local nursery. I had these all planted when an allotment neighbour asked me if I wanted some leeks as a thankyou - you see, my waterbutts were all filled by now, so I stuck the hose in her waterbutts to fill them as like me, hers were dry. I accepted the leeks and now have 3 lovely rows of robust little leek plants, all watered and looking sturdy.
I now had a lazy job to do, but a pleasant one. I picked the strawbs. Not masses, and I will have to add a photo tomorrow, but over a pound in weight of lovely dark red fruits. There are plenty on the plants also so I think this is going to be a great year for the strawbs. Infact, I think this is going to be a good year for all of my fruits as the raspberry canes are absolutely smothered in young fruits, as are the gooseberries and currants. The apple tree had a rest last year and hardly produced a sinlge apple, but already this year the branches are weighed down with young fruits. The rhubarb has also been spectacular and I have not only frozen some, given some away and sold some at the WI market, but I have also made 10Ib or my curried rhubarb chutney. The plants are just begining to thicken up again, as I did leave them with only a couple of stems per plant, and I reakon if we get the rain that is predicted over the weekend, this time next week, I will be bringing it home by the armfull.

Did I mention in a previous post about my home made mini greenhouse I constructed? I used my old greenhouse sections and a sheet of corrigated plastic for the roof. Inside I planted an aubergine plant, a couple of pepper plants and a couple of cucumber plants. Well, everything looked a little wilted due to the heat, but I gave it all a good soak and kept the lid off for a while, and by the time I put the lid on again, everything was looking great. Hopefully I will have a successful harvest from there. I do also have 2 cold frames to use, but the area I want to use them is still weedy. I have some melon plants, aubs and chillis that need housing, so yet another job for another day. I must get a move on or summer will be over!!

By now, the end of the day is looming....well 3pm and I have to collect the children from school, so I planted 5 cauliflower plants in my brassica cage, and I must take a moment to say how fantastic the brassicas look this year. When I first had my plot, I had great sprouts and cabbages for a couple of years, since then, rubbish! This year I put down some weed supressing membrant and planted a selection of brassicas through that. I don't know if it is the damp, coolness, warmth or what, but they are growing very rapidly, and big and strong. I will have to take the camera tomorrow and take a photo to show off.
I spent the last 10 minutes weeding amongst my strawberries before heading for home.
All being well, and the weather permitting, there should be a follow on from this tomorrow.


Jo said...

Wow, you've been busy. It's great when you get an unexpected free day to work on the allotment. You seem to get much more done on these days than ones which you plan.

It sounds as though you are going to have a bumper fruit harvest this year. We've started picking our strawberries and there's lots more to come.

Emma Jane said...

It is fantastic isn't it. I have another 2 unplanned days this week where my work schedule has changed, so hopefully, by next weekend, both allotments will be shipshape!