Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Harvesting in the heat

A quick trip to water this morning, considering that we are again in a very hot period. I am a little concerned about the potatoes which are losing their vegetation at an alarming rate. I will see if I can figure out the cause or if it is the normal dying off process. It seems a little early to me.
I noticed that some of the gooseberries are dropping off the bushes! So they are definitely ripe now! I scooped them off the ground, making a mental note to go back as quickly as possible to pick the others. I seem to have only red gooseberries, which is a bit of a shame. I also got a small punnet of ripe raspberries, the first green beans, very slim and tender, and about 8 small courgettes! Especially the yellow Parador which are such a terrific variety. I can't get enough of them!
My mulching and watering on Saturday, plus the considerable downpour we had on Sunday seems to have helped it all no end. The squash have doubled in size, the beans are in full flower and the corn and melon, which were slow, has sprung up even. The peppers and aubergines have also had a fine growth spurt, with the peppers getting their flowers and fruit buds. The tomatoes have also filled out alarmingly and they are starting to be abundantly flowered.
The onions are all flopping over, so the harvest of those is not too far off now. Means I need to go and get a few bags of stable waste from the pony club, they have some that is really well rotted in their huge pile, I want to take out the onions and immediately put down a thick layer of that as a mulch and to prepare the ground, which will be next year's potato patch. Yes, the season is just starting and you must already plan ahead!!
There were several bees down there this morning, a wonderful thing to see.

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Monday, June 28, 2010



It was indeed a scorching weekend here with over 30 deg. I worked in the garden on Saturday morning but by 10 am it was starting already to get a bit unbearable. Still, I was really pleased with the work I did. I finally did a bit of work on the herb border which was completely overgrown with 5 foot high parsley (yep!), rampant lemon balm and the bloody bramble have made another attempt. There was also bindweed crawling over everything. SO I ripped out all the nasties, chooped back the parsley and lemon balm, made some room around the sage, thyme and tarragon and it all looks much more civilised now.
The peas have now been chopped down and left to rot in place. I will slowly dig them back into the earth.
I watered everything copiously, the heat was terrific. And in some ways the plants appreciate some hot weather, as there are plenty of courgettes on the plants (got my first one! A Yellow Parador.) and the tomatoes have come on very well. I weeded and mulched the tomato bad and tied the now tall tomatoes to their stakes, pulling off a little excess vegetation here and there to give the flower trusses the best air exposure. There are a couple of wee tomatoes, and lots of flowers so I am looking forward to a terrific harvest again.
I also gave a few shovelfulls of rich compost to the squash, mulching it around them and watering heavily before covering the whole squash bed in thick straw. I also did the same to the aubergines and peppers. The peppers are getting their flower buds, bless 'em.
I sowed some more stuff to keep the garden going throughout the cooler months. sowed: radicchio, scarole lettuce, ordinary lettuce, and started sowing spring cabbage.
Harvesting: it starts to get interesting.
The last peas, strawberries, raspberries and even blackcurrants that I forgot I had as they have been swamped by the raspberries. The first courgette.
Picked a couple of shallots, they are going to be a bumper crop I think. Each bulb is at least 5 cm wide, a great size. I can't wait for the onions to be ready, they are all flopping over now with gusto.

Plans for the next week or two:
as often as possible, add more compost around the beans, which are in flower and even starting to make tiny baby beans.
plant out the pak choi and kale that are patiently growing in the coldframe.
weed round the rhubarb bed that is looking a bit straggly. The rhubarb got the rest of the manure that was sitting in a corner of the herb bed, as it has been a bit poorly this season.
keep harvesting early potatoes, bordeaux-mixture the lates and keep weeding and tidying. And hopefully start picking all that wonderful summer produce!!

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Monday, June 21, 2010


some work but not as much as I should

There are some weekends where you plan to do a lot but just don't manage it! That was mine. I suppose I can't complain.
Saturday: I went in the afternoon, just an hour and a half, and I picked some new spuds (well dug, you know what I mean) and peas, rhubarb and a few bolting onions. Oh and the first gooseberries! Which I used to make a wonderful fool on Sunday! I tidied up rather well, weeding by hand the most obvious weeds, but I should have hoed between the tomatoes and I didn't get around to that.
Sunday, I slept in, So not as much work as I wanted. I went down full of good intentions, I wanted to plant my leek seedlings. Surprise - when I opened the coldframe to dig them out, I got a closer look. And they aren't leeks. They are spring onions. Which makes me think - did I plant out the leeks as spring onions? I must look closely at them this week!!!
So now I have a row of rather healthy looking transplanted spring onions! Maybe I will be able to eat them soon! And I also found that I had some leeks left in a pot so I planted them out anyway. But they are nowehere near the quantity I would normally have! there are about 20! Must keep an eye out at the garden centres, see if I can get some proper seedlings to help myself out!
I wanted to tidy up the herb bed which is completely overgrown, filled with rampaging mint, parsely in flower and lemon balm. And bindweed, grrrrrr. But my alarm rang, time ot go make lunch, so that will have to be done one evening this week instead.
No rest for the wicked, I say.
Oh and today is the first day of summer! Nice!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010


quick check

It seems that the best way to handle an allotment is a little and often (rather like sex!).
So I keep popping down there for this and that. A quick trip this morning before work (OK it could have been quicker, but anyway...) got me some peas and strawberries and a small bag of new spuds (it's amazing how you can wield a spade in high heels if you really need to).
The beetroot I planted earlier in the week seems to have taken, and the rhubarb chard is floppy but I think it will pick up once it gets established. Had a quick walk round the perimeter - the melons have sprouted up, hope they now have time to grow properly, the courgettes are really growing well, and the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers are shooting up in their rich manure-filled bed. All the new beans have appeared through the ground and the pumpkins are going great guns.
But I realised that the herb bed is getting completely out of hand, and on Sunday I will need to hack out all the bindweed that is growing over everything, and cut right back the parsley that is flowering (as tall as me) and the lemon balm that is feral again. There is a lot of mint now too, so time to cut a whole lot down and dry it for later use.
can't wait to cut down the first artichokes. they have aphids but hopefully I can wash them off.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Does gardening send us barmy?

I am starting to wonder, as maybe that would explain why I was down the allotment at 6.15 pm last night, in office trousers and a pair of wellies planting out a handful of beetroot plants kindly given me by my neighbour, in addition to the rhubarb chard that was sown in the coldframe but was now poking alarmingly out of the top of it. It rained a good portion of the night so they will be well established.
Beetroot is a curious case - I have several patches around the allotment this year, Boltardy and Cheltenham greentop and yesterday I sowed modules of Monoruba, a late bloomer. This is all a great experiment to see which variety works best and whether it should be sown in situ or if it does indeed do well from modules. I always thought the roots should not be touched or disturbed but seems this is not necessarily the case. I followed my neighbour's advice to trim both roots and leaves. We'll see what result that gives.
I also could not resist the temptation to weed the onions a little, they were getting a bit invaded by thistles, fat hen and groundsel and a bit of bindweed too. Seemed easier to rip it out than to hoe. They all seem to be doing well, even the spring onions (which will be summer onions now of course), although the garlic is getting a touch of rust and looking distinctly yellow. Time for it to be harvested methinks. I will have to wait for a dry spell, as harvesting in the rain is a no-no.
I also had the good idea of emptying out the water barrel that is under the overflow to fill the one next to it, as last night we had steady rain and with a bit of luck, both barrels will soon be generously filled. The growth on the plot is quite startling, and Sunday it is going to take a bit of work to weed it all, mulch the tomatoes and peppers and tidy the path and edges. The leeks also need planting as they are now pencil sized and will start hankering for the open ground. Roll on the weekend!

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Monday, June 14, 2010


It's a cat's life

While emptying the digital camera, I found some portraits of our cat, Ella, who is quite used to being photographed oftem by various members of the family. She's 14 now, but sprightly. As you can see, it's not a dog's life, but definitely a cat's life!

did the alarm just go off?

Ironing? It's a doddle.

Yeah, it's a hard job but someone's gotta do it.
Beats working for a living in any case!!!

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Pics for June 2010

Finally made it down there with a camera! So this will be a more cheerful post.
First let's have an overall look at the plot, from the onion and potato beds down. This is the lushest part I guess:
Looks like I need to weed it again! Along the side, I took advantage of the spare place to put in a few lettuces and some marguerites. They look nice. If it's warm this evening I will go down and hoe, just to tidy it a little.
The artichoke is finally getting some fruit on it (well, flowers, but let's not split hairs):
You can see that the self seeded marguerites next to it have gone beserk, but by September they will all have died. sad isn't it? Behind it you can see the rhubarb, and the little wild patch, where I grow mint, lavender, lemon balm, a rose bush etc.
Between the two is the carrot patch, a row of parsnips, a row of beetroot and the Brussel sprouts! But the artichoke is blocking the view!
On Saturday, I picked my first crop of peas. They were still dewy and fresh, we ate them for lunch and they were just perfect.

They are Kelvedon Wonder, sowed in March and April. So quite a fast cropper.
The fruit beds are always sweet at this time of year. I have not had so many strawberries, but all the plants are new, so I guess I have to be patient.

The gooseberries are ripening wondefully, I protected them with netting this year.
Squash and pumpkin is the crop of the year. The courgettes and pattypan squash have taken off well:

You can see the mass of straw behind that is the melon bed. The plants are not obvious yet but some have survived. Next year I will sow direct as that seems to give the best results with squash! Another new thing learned this year.
A Parador yellow courgette - soon it will have flowers and fruit.

The 3 sisters bed is a bit of a mixed bag this year - 4 straggly corn plants! but the pumpkins seem to be enjoying themselves. Some old garden trellises behind will support the tiny Cobra beans that are just peeping through the ground. The beans are surrounding the squash this year, for easier picking.

And finally, the tomatoes. You can see that they on a very rich patch of soil this year. They are growing on a load of manure. I hope to get a really good harvest this time! I am growing salad toms and some beefsteaks up the stakes, and along the back there are some bushy cherry tomatoes, Totem or Gardener's Delight. I didn't get a good cherry tomato last year, so I have put a lot of effort into that this time!

I hope you all enjoy seeing what the plot is looking like! I think this has been my most successful year so far, and now I have to concentrate on getting things ready for the autumn and winter crops (planting leeks and beetroot and caring for kale and oriental greens that I have just sown) and caring for the current plants (putting bordeaux mixture on the tomatoes and spuds, weeding and continuing to harvest).

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Thursday, June 10, 2010



Just to keep a little record of the meteorological conditions, today and yesterday we had some really good downpours. This is an excellent time for it, as it will establish all the new plants, like the squashes and tomatoes, and will give a terrific growth spurt to the potatoes and onions which are in their formative stages now. I am hoping that, as the weather has already been wet, the soil will be well disposed to soak in more rain, as when it suddenly pours after a dry spell, the ground is hard and runoff is often high.
Looking at last year's posts, I see that things are late this year - I was already into several harvests of peas and artichokes, but this year it is only just starting (There were 2 artichokes finally showing this week). However Nature is trying its best to catch up on the extreme cold of late winter and early spring. I noticed that the courgettes were starting their first flowers, and that the raspberries seem to be fruiting already, even though they are not as high as last year (they did get well cut down in winter though, maybe that did them some good). Last year I also got some lettuce from the garden, apparently, perhaps this is the only period when it grows successfully? I am going to try late varieties this year and see how I get on.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Old blokes

My site is touchingly full of them.
Yesterday one of them, M., came over and said hi. "It's growing, it's growing" he exclaimed, waving his hands at the potatoes, onions etc, which I admit do look lush and potent at the moment. "Sure it is," I replied, hoping he would not notice all the bindweed coming out of the paths. "OH at first we were a bit worried about you (they were? why?) but I'm not worried anymore".
I can imagine conspiring whispers about this crazy woman covering the plot in cardboard and straw and growing weird shit like parsnips and gooseberries. But I believe in the 3rd year theory, with the 3rd year being a turning point, with less weeds, more experience and a sudden increase in successful harvests.
I love these old blokes, who are so certain they have it all down pat but in the end they concede that someone doing it differently can still produce a good spud. Shame that I rarely have tome to go and have a glass of cheap rosé with them.


Monday, June 07, 2010


2 sisters instead of three

Due to the extreme crapness of my corn sowing, I have 4 flimsy corn plants. pffff. This will be my challenge to resolve for next year I see!
So undeterred I planted around it my little squash plants, butternuts and Qld Blue pumpkins. And then a row of Cobra climbing beans up some trellis that fell off the back of a lorry. That looks really cool! And a new row of green beans.
To plant all that, I uncovered the tarped area that had been protected for the last few weeks. It was really easy to turn it over, and it was full of potatoes! Volunteers that had grown around the edges during the spring! I think they were Charlottes from last year. In any case I got about a big salad bowl full of spuds! Ate them in salad yesterday, they were divine. So sometimes you can get something for nothing!
The tarped area had been turned into a mini resort by my resident friend the vole. As I lifted it all up I saw him scuttle away under the beans. I saw him twice on the weekend, he's really cheeky. I couldn't bring myself to trap or kill him - they say that they only live a few months. How sad. I almost got to stroke him but he managed to scurry a little further away. He's not that shy, I managed to shoo him under the raspberries, as i was afraid of walking on him. I know that they do some damage in the garden, well I don't really have bulbs of precious ornamentals and I think he is mainly living in the compost, that's where his tunnels go. I figure that he couldn't really eat as much as me, so I am willing to share a little with him.
I also had the chance to give the garden a good tidy up, getting a lot of bindweed out. 2 wheelbarrows full of weeds, oof! It is looking much tidier though, I really feel like I have kept on top of things this year, hoeing regularly, putting in borders, it all helps make it look nicer. Despite only occasional rain, mulching is helping to keep the moisture in. (But probably encourages Mr Vole a little too much).

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010


First potatoes for 2010

I dug up the first potatoes yesterday, I got about a kilo from a couple of plants. They are beauties! Large, well shaped with fine skins and a wonderful taste. They were Agata variety and planted end of February. I can almost not wait to try some of the Ratte variety I planted in March but I am being a bit hasty methinks. (I think I am even boastful enough to say that I had spuds from my organic veg box, yes yes I still get one of those! and mine are nicer! theirs had bitter skins which I had to take off. But mine had almost transparent skins that melted in your mouth.) nom nom nom nom.....
Also got about 250g of small and medium strawberries, with a terrific flavour, very sweet and also juicy after the last days of rain. And today for lunch I will be eating my first lettuce! (cut and come again, green) with a handful of rocket and landcress. So proud...sniff sniff sniff...

UPDATE - Looked and saw that those spuds were planted on February 22. So they have had 98 growing days. Spot on.

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