Saturday, August 01, 2009

Saturday 1st August 2009 - weather: overcast but dry

Well, after a visit in the week to pick, I was somewhat ashamed of the weedy situation on both of my allotments. The weeds so outgrow the veggies - GGRR. So, as we had a weekend free, I decided that I would get to the plot both days. So, Saturday is visit number one.

I started at the shed end of plot number one and picked a lovely couple of handfuls of sweetpeas and deadheaded like mad to try and keep the display going for as long as possible. Actually, I wasn't expecting a great deal when I planted the 2 wigwams as they are in the dappled shade of the willow tree that overhangs my shed. This is the dampest, shadiest part of both of my allotments, and some plants thrive, others hate it, but the sweetpeas are going great guns. I may well do the same again next year as the scent down by my shed was so strong, a delight.

Next to the sweetpeas are my Jerusalem (F)artichokes which were a gift from a dear friend just a couple of weeks before she died. They have formed a massive clump this year so will need seriously thinning out and I shan't plant as many next spring.

I then moved to the next bed where I had the remainders of my red onions, a few lettuce and a sprinkling of volunteer spuds. The red onions were a reasonable success - 50% were a really good size, a few had a touch of white rot, and the rest were smaller, but still perfectly acceptable.

This has been a really good year for my onions, but a rotten one for my garlic. At the end of this bed is my rhubarb. Again, a good year for my bubby, but I think that is because it has been cool and damp. I took a good pick though, taking about 50% of the stems, and that will be it now, I shan't take any more this year. Over the winter, I heap some lovely manure all around the crowns which keeps them cosy, and feeds them up for next year.

From there, I hopped into the brassica cage. Now, I may have said it before, but I will say it again, I have never grown such good brassicas. I don't know if this is down to the weed supressing membrane I put down before planting, or just the weather, but they are getting huge. I already have the startings of brussel sprouts, the savoy and red cabbages are getting nice firm heads and the purple sprouting is reaching for the stars. I shall have to stake some of the plants up as they are getting so big.

I weeded up to the fruit cage, clearing around the late caulis and white sprouting broc that Jack gave me. I also have a couple of rows of Tom Thumb lettuce in the brassica cage which are starting to get a bit blousy, but they are fine, plus a late row of peas which I took a chance on, and they have a flowers already so we may have some peas in late August/September.
Into the fruit cage and I filled a box with raspberries. I am toying with the idea of making raspberry jelly this year rather than jam as everyone moans about the pips. I don't mind it personally, but as I have never made it before, I think I will give it a go. There are still the red and black currants to pick and the Jostaberries, and I will pick them tomorrow and then cut down all of the old raspberry canes and get that area cleared. A few canes have poked up outside of the cage and I don't want them, but my allotment neighbour was over today and she would love them and has given me a bundle of leek plants for the plot, and 2 lovely courgettes for my neighbour.

The otherside of the fruit cage is very sunny, usually, when we have sun, but today it was cool. I have 2 rows of spuds here, charlotte and pink fur apple, but they are all from last year. I was very naughty last year and never had the time to dig them, so just left them. Well of course, this year, up they all came, so if the family come to the plot tomorrow, I may get hubby to dig them. I know if it is early for both varieties, but I want them out so the area can be cleared as there are a lot of thistles, and I have some huge pieces of cardboard which I want to put down on the ground under the apple trees to keep the weeds down, and at the moment, I can't get in there because of the spuds and weeds.

Next to these spuds are my squashes. I have grown a few more this year, but not masses. I have a couple of pumpkins plants, 3 green courgettes, 1 yellow courgette, a marrow, a butternut squash, a turks turban type, and a couple of cucumber plants. These are all cropping well, in full flower, and the fruits are swelling faster than we can eat them thanks to the rain.

I also have the worlds cutest cucumber plant ever growing.
I was sent seed from my friend in the US and I think they were called Watermelon cucumbers. Well, I planted these small seeds and then dutifully planted out the small vines, and watched the tiny flowers form, and wondered what on earth these cucumbers would be like on such a tiny plant. Well, today, I picked nearly 30 cucumbers! Aren't they just the sweetest things ever?! They taste like watermelon, but the bit of the melon where you bit a little to close to the skin, the whiter flesh if you know what I mean, and then, like cucumber. I shall definately save a couple so I have sow some for next year - such a novelty - great with a bowl of olives.

The weather was closing in now, but I did manage to take up the net that was covering the old pea plants and the purple queen french beans. They have been cropping very well, and so much earlier than my runners. The peas didn't do so great, but the rotten muntjac kept eating them so they really struggled to get going. We have had a couple of meals from them though, so not a total flop.

So, tomorrow I will weed the strawberry bed and the leeks and then it is over onto plot number 2. Lots of spuds and seedlings to weed. Eeek.

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