Monday, July 16, 2007

The most bizarre weather ever continues. On Friday it became incredibly hot, Saturday too then yesterday it was humid and overcast with a huge thunderstorm in the evening. And today, rainy...again.
But some gardening was done yesterday, quite a bit in fact. The kids helped me dig up one square of spuds, the yield was pathetic, just one plastic bag full for a patch about 1.5 x 2 m. Then came out the onions, which don't seem sick, even if they are not particularly huge. They are now drying in the kitchen.
In place of the onions went some super organic fertilizer stuff that I bought and then two rows of cabbages, a late autumn variety.
In place of the spuds went again the fertilizer and 50 leeks. Biggest one made the holes and I planted the leeks. He also very kindly weeded the garlic and helped me rebuild the compost box which keeps falling apart. Smallest one harvested some strawbs but squashed quite a few, still there are loads more waiting behind.
I planted two tomato plants as a last ditch effort, although I must say that the tomato plants I had thought were completely dead are in fact taking off a little. Last week's sun must have encouraged them. But looking around the site I didn't see anyone with any decent tomatoes, so I won't be too optimistic.
I attempted a bit of weeding, a barrowful but really it could do with even more than that. The strawberries were a bit of a mess and I have a lot of grass in the fruit patch. I must buy some green manure and start sowing that, to fill up the bare patches that will be left once I harvest the rest of the spuds and the garlic.
The seeds I planted last week are showing some signs of life, at least the radish and the beets and even the spinach, now that will be a miracle. The parsnips, beets and carrots are now taking off really well and the fennel is delightful, I must try and thin it again next time I am there. The coriander gave almost no leaves but went straight into flower and I can see the little seedpods ripening so will have home made coriander this winter :-D
I will try and get the camera down there tomorrow if it is fine, and photograph my lovely sunflowers, as big as me, and my marigolds, all orange and yellow.
Harvest: rocket, one lettuce, bag of spuds, about 50 onions, a punnet of strawberries, 1 courgette and two gherkins (will not do them again next year, they don't come all together so there is not enough to actually pickle them!!)

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Monday, July 09, 2007

The weather just has not let up at all so I abandoned any ideas of going to the allotment this weekend. I will try and see if I can pop up this week sometime as there might be things to harvest and I wanted to see if any of my seeds have germinated.
In the meantime, I made some jam! But not with anything off the plot as there is not fruit this year except the strawberries.

Nectarine Jam

1.8 kilos nectarines, washed and cut up
Cooked in about half a cup of water, juice of one lemon until soft and well reduced
Add 1.5 kilos sugar (I did a half and half with preserving sugar as necatrines don't have much pectin), boil up well (about 15 minutes on the boil).
Smell lovely nectariney smell, gorgeous orange pink colour
Make up into jars (got 6 jars out of this lot), store upside down as I didn't have any paraffin for the tops. It's a bit of a runny jam still, as necatrines don't have that much pectin but flavour is great.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Ho hum, the gardening depression continues. With the weather still wet and unseasonably cold (between 15 and 20 c) the summer veg are really suffering. I don't think I will get any tomatoes this year which is a heavy blow.
I spent a busy few hours in the lot on Saturday morning, giving myself a huge weeping blister on my thumb in the process. I massively weeded, filling an entire wheelbarrow about 2 feet high with weeds. Not to count that I hoed a lot of ground and left the weeds to rot on the ground. So yes there were quite a lot of weeds to contend with.
Next, I dug over a patch that was still left vacant, but I decided to leave down the tarpaulin that is smothering some weeds because they are pretty tough ones and I think it would be better to let them really die off. I will use that patch in a few weeks' time to start off some winter greens and cabbages.
So in the dug patch I made a last ditch effort at sowing: two types of carrot, beetroot, basil, parsley, parsnips, radish and spinach. It rained a little on the weekend so hopefully the seeds will get off to a decent start. I also sowed more carrot and onion seeds in some patchy bit between the existing root veg.

27 August - These sowings are doing well, the first spinach and radish I have managed to get! And the carrots even have come up. The basil is feeble, maybe it will do something but the parsley is off to a good start. So I am ever so pleased about that!

The parsnips are doing marvellously, as are the first beets. I will let them get a little bigger though.
I weeded the lettuce patch, dug out some bolted stems and planted in its place (on black plastic) some of my broccoli that I have grown from seed. It is doing reasonably well. I thinned out some lettuce seedlings too and resowed butterhead lettuce seeds and rocket. Thinned out the fennel too but ran out of time to do all of it. That will be one of next week's jobs.
Will also need to dig up the spuds soon, but I fear that the harvest will be very mediocre. Probably no maincrop but it will keep us in potatoes througout the summer.
The beans are doing quite well but the peas are just a disaster, I don't know whether to leave them or just cut them down. Sunflowers too are shooting up, if they flower they will be magnificent (and we'll have lots of seeds for next year and for feeding wild birds during the winter).
There is one raspberry on the bush, ha ha and my gooseberries have disappeared (birds I guess but there were only about 8 of them so I am not too upset). Plenty of flowers on the strawbs though, if we get some sun it might be promising.

27 August - All those promising strawberries rotted thru the continuous rain but the raspberries despite their youth are given a few fruit. The berries never make it off the plot though ;-)

Harvest: a handful of green beans, the first ones, 3 courgettes, one onion (just to see how they are doing, they seem healthy is that one is anything to go by), a lettuce and some rocket.
I will try and take some photos soon so everyone can see the extent of the disaster. Perhaps the autumn and winter crops will do better...

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