Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday 17th June 2010 - weather: clear blue sky and sunshine.

What a beautiful day, hey hey, what a beautiful the song goes. Not a cloud in the sky on this late spring morning. I didn't arrive at the plot until 10.30, and before I could even get to my allotments, I was collared by old Jack who pointed out that blight has already hit some of our plottie neighbours spuds. EEEK! He then cut me some little gem lettuce, not that I need any as I have a nice row of my own, but I don't like to say no to him as he grows so many, they only end up on the compost heap, plus they keep so well in the fridge, so they will get used, and any left overs, the guineas and quail get to scoff. He loves to share his bounty with us lottie ladies.

Still no carrots. What is it with me and carrots this year? I have purchased new seed, have a fine tilth, watered and destoned, but still no stinking carrots. The same can also be said for Parsnips. I have some brand new parsnip seed, so will sow again next week, but if nothing grows, then I shall stop worrying and sow some peas in their place.

I got out my trusty hoe/rake tool, and de-weeded both allotment plots. I LOVE that tool. Once again I ask you, why oh why didn't I learn how to use it years ago?

On plot 2, I hoed all around the onions, pulled those whose necks were bent, and planted the last of my brassicas under the new net construction. I have more greens planted this year than ever before. There is also an ample space for my late sowing of spinach, chard, pak choi and peas. Of course, if I plan to plant these in the next couple of weeks, I am going to have to sort out my deer netting, which was my next job, using the last of my dayglow yellow builders mesh. I know the deer are about as I sowed a row of dwarf haricot beans inbetween a row of cabbage, and those inside the net cage have all germinated and are growing lovely, nothing beyond the net.

I planted 16 runner bean plants - 2 to a cane, and 8 dwarf frenchies that I had sown just to use up a packet. The tomatoes are all growing very well, plenty of flowers, and on my tumblers in the scarecrow head....fruits. Don't know how the spuds are doing really. Not a lot of growth above ground, and I blame the lack of rain. However, loads and loads of time, and they aren't showing any signs of flowering, so I won't worry about them, however, I will get myself a job lot of Bordeaux mix and spray the spuds and toms next week.

Strawbs aplenty on the plants. I have already picked 2 punnets full and enjoyed them with cream, and there are loads and loads to come. The same with raspberries. Looks like it is going to be a bumper fruity year.

Had to leave the site at 2 to collect daughter number one and a couple of her classmates who were at a creative writing event but I was really pleased with what I managed to achieve in that time. Didn't take the camera, will endeavour to remember it next time.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tuesday 8th June 2010 - weather: short sharp downpours, followed by sunshine, then more rain!

All is well with the gals. Sex is still the most important things in their lives, followed by eating, and finally, laying eggs. 9 yesterday!! Today my parcel from live food direct arrived containing 100 locust - for the lizard, a pack of 50 giant live mealworms - for the lizard and oscars and 3 packs of dried mealworms as they had them on special - these for the gals as they love them. However, after reading how Wallfishwife has been feeding her girlies woodlice, I wondered if mine would like a live mealworm or 2. Now these are big wigglies, probably 10 times the size of the little freeze dried mealworms, and they put up quite a fight. To be honest, they make me shudder and I can only pick them up using proper bug tweasers. What a whimp. So, I sat myself on their wooden house, a place that has become a convenient seat to watch the ladies at play, and I waited until they settled and came to see me. Bobble and the Big One - the 2 white boys came out first and I gave them both a wiggly. What a giggle. Peck, peck peck, grab, peck, chase. Bless them. At first, I don't think they really knew quite what to do with them, but animal, or rather, bird instinct soon took over, and wham, swallowed whole and then they were begging for more. Of course, the other birdies were all paying close attention to this spectacle, and before I knew it, I had all 11 clucking around me, dare I say flirting with me to get their beaks on a squidgy, tasty, plump mealworm. I sat with them for a while, tossing them the mealworms and watching battle commence. The older gals were very cheeky and would wait in the wings until the other birds had knocked 10 bells out of the worms, then they would saunter in and steal the mealworm, only to swallow it whole. A few tustles broke out, only to be expected and I decided before blood was shed, so sprinkle a few dry ones around, and leave them in peace. What fun. I will now endevour to find catterpillars and other critters for the gals. I should imagine the cabbage white will have smothered my brassicas on the allotment in eggs, as they do annually, so rather than squidge said catterpillars, I will harvest them for my ladies.
Egg count: 171
p.s. or is it an n.b.? Anyhow, this afternoon, as the rain stopped work today, I sowed a tray of bright light chard and mix colour pak choi for planting out as the spuds come out. I often do a very late planting as they don't tend to bolt and stand well over the winter. I also sowed some seed on Saturday when we got home from the plot - more runners, peas, florence fennel, spring onions, french beans, courgettes and cucumbers.

Saturday 5th June 2010 - weather: sunny start, overcast later.

Flaming June.....flaming blooming June. If the forecast is anything to go by, it will be soggy June. Not that I am moaning - no siree. The plot is like a dustbowl and my darn seeds just aren't germinating! So, bring on the rain I say.

Family visit today, with BBQ and bangers. Mark cut all the fact...he cut all the paths on the whole site. He likes to keep busy on the plot, and growing seeds and weeding really isn't his thing, but give him a power tool and he's in heaven. He did a great job, and then got out the petrol strimmer and cut back the nettles and other overgrown patches down our end of the site. He did a great job and I know everyone is grateful when he does it as they all thank me.

I got busy with my new toy. At last, at just 39 years of age, I have mastered the hoe. The great thing is, I weed the whole plot in no time, and it looks so lovely and neat, and I am rewarded with a lovely fine tilth. Why didn't someone teach me the ways of the hoe years ago? Or is it one of those tools that you can't master until you age a little? Hmmm...should I be investing in a flat cap and a tartan thermos flask?
Weeded around beans, carrots (what carrots?), beetroot (plenty of them I am glad to report), spring onions (patchy row, but I have some at home to fill in the gaps), parsnips (no show) and florence fennel (the one that had germinated has now been killed by the May sunshine). The children and I then picked the first of the strawbs. Only a few I know, but the plants are laden with fruit, and if we get the promised rain, followed by sunshine, fingers crossed we will be sick to death of strawberries in a couple of weeks time.

Old Jack, my allotment chum, has given me 2 cucumber plants. Good job as I neglected to scatter slug pellets around my squash plantlets, and what do you know, the slimey beasts scoffed half of them! Fortunately I did have a few spares, and I have sown some more at home, which isn't a bad thing as it will spread the harvesting period. I have planted courgettes in August before and been picking into November successfully.

Now to let 2 under aged sproglodites loose with a disposable BBQ and a box of matches. Hey presto, a lot of smoke, and arguing, then peace as they set about preparing our lunch. Lovely local bangers with fresh allotment salad. Onions, little gem lettuce and radish, all picked and placed on the grill or our gobs within a minute. Now you can't get fresher than that. Even daughter number one tried some grilled onion as she loves the smell, and she admited to liking it. So, since we have been lunching on the plot, she had taken to eating both radish, and cooked onion. What next I wonder?

Hunger and thirst sated, Mark went about building me another brassica cage to cover the recently planted curly kale and cavalo nero. I also still had a few odds and sods of the brassica world to plant, so they are now all planted ready to furnish our winter dinners with greens.

A very productive day and I left feeling very satisfied. I was hoping to get back during the next week, but I think work will take priority, especially with the weather forecast - I can see jobs backing up and me rushing to catch up. However, I do need to go back on Wednesday as I have promised a few lettuce and some rhubarb to the local country market. Maybe by then there will be more strawbs. mmmmmmm.