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.