Monday, May 30, 2011


A sprinkle

We finally got a little rain this morning, but really only a sprinkle. I fear it goes a long way off being of any use. I guess at least it will freshen up the plants a little.
I watered copiously this weekend. Most things actually seem ok, but the carrots look unwell and the broccoli has actually died. The beetroot was very floppy but a good soaking and it has perked up again. A couple of onions have bolted but not too many. The garlic is dying back, quite early and the shallots etc seem to be preparing well, the crowns are starting to rise up out of the ground.
The potatoes have actually been hand watered but it's not enough. The earlies and mid-season are actually dying back. The maincrop are in flower.
The tomatoes and peppers seem to love the heat though. Some of the tomatoes are flowering even though they are quite small still. I pinched off a few sideshoots and trimmed the bottom stems a little to encourage them. The aubergines are doing Ok but I think they prefer it to be milder.
To my surprise. the melons have not all died off! 3 are in fact doing quite well with new growth! I dug the others out next to them and buried a whole heap of kitchen waste and then sowed more cucumbers over the top and fleeced the lot. Thank you Anya for your cucumber seeds! Hopefully they will do well!
Some of the courgettes and squash have germinated, I soaked them all again and hopefully the others will follow suit. The little courgette in the corner is doing well and looks ready to flower soon.
I netted the gooseberries, this year the crop is abundant, and I am guessing they will be full of sugar. They are not very well netted, I was in a hurry, but I find that the birds that eat those are quite easily dissuaded, with the spines in the gooseberries and the net, the fruit should be oK.
Harvest: not much yet, about a pound of new potatoes, small but healthy, and a small container of peas and mangetouts. The Alderman tall peas are full of pods but teh peas have not plumped up yet. Hoping that the watering will help. And 4 lovely artichokes! Which we will scoff joyfully this evening.

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Friday, May 20, 2011


Dry, dry and dry again

Still no rain in view. Yesterday the garden had to be soaked by hand, luckily it stayed overcast so evaporation would have been minimal. I watered everything, took nearly 45 minutes, by hand, even the onions and potatoes (with Bordeaux Mixture for safety's sake). Surprisingly, many crops are still doing well, and the squash and peppers and tomatoes seem to actually like this hot spell. The raspberries are starting to form fruit! Exceptionally early. And the gooseberries are fruiting well, however they must soon be netted as the berries ripen.

We are still eating strawberries and peas and there are 4 artichokes which will be ready in a week or two.
Pictures soon.

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Monday, May 16, 2011


Hi ho Hi ho, it's off to mulch we go...

OK, crap cultural reference, I admit it. But the plot is hopelessly dry, still no rain in sight here. So on the weekend I went and filled my boot with garbage bags of horse manure from the pony club and then watered the plot thoroughly and mulched as much as possible with the straw+manure mixture. I didn't get around to the onions, but would like to do them this week. They are doing pretty well, considering, and mulching would protect this growth methinks.
In fact everything is doing well, considering. We ate 2 big artichokes and there are 4 more growing, the strawberries gave about a kilo of fruit and the pea plants are starting to show fruit too. The tomatoes and aubergines and peppers actually seem to be thriving in this warm weather, and all have taken well since planting. Just have to keep watering...

Everything is now in place: on the weekend, I put in the courgette seeds (2 Black beauty greens, a yellow Parador,a Serpente di Sicilia, and another Italian one which escapes me), and planted a Qld Blue and a Fujutsu Black (That might be an approximate name) pumpkin near the compost bin, and a Pink Banana squash behind it. The Turk's turban and Atlantic Giant sowed about 2 weeks ago are doing very well indeed.

I have also noticed an advantage to this dry spell - the weeds are struggling! As I spot water the plants, really soaking only their roots, the rest has been left to its own devices, and the usual groundsel, thistles, toadwort, seem to have trouble getting a hold this year. The bind weed is still present but to a lesser extent than usual. Everything being so well established this early give me more time to eradicate the weeds, which I another advantage!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011


At last some rain

And well needed it was too!
I had a week off work and did some amazing progress in the garden, thanks to my brother and his good digging technique! My neighbours were amused, as he speaks no French, I said I have hired a foreign labourer to help and they all giggled.
So I got the tenders planted - about 15 tomatoes, 7 or 8 aubergines and the same of sweet peppers. Also went in 5 melon plants given to me by a workmate. I have fleeced those, I find melons so dodgy, I don't know if they will take but they were free so no grumbles. The climbing beans are in, Cobra saved from last year and too from a seed swap, yard long beans and some other climbers whose name escapes me.
I sowed more squash, two or three courgettes including a Serpente di Sicilia, and beetroot and parsnip. The plot got a good kicking, the whole tomato patch was turned over and weeded in a couple of hours, I have just got the courgette patch left and that is covered in cardboard so will be a doddle.
The plot is beautiful just now - I harvested a pound of delicious strawberries and later in the week we will eat our first artichokes and peas (kelvedon).

The sage is in flower and for the first time I got irises! Gorgeous.

There are flowers everywhere:
red roses,
chive flowers,

purple honeywort,

brilliant orange california poppies,

white thym and what is called apparently "Honesty", or money plant, which in French is called the Pope's Money. It's a lunaria in fact, but gave purple blooms and now the strange translucent pods good for decoration indoors. That took 2 years to grow from some seed sown!

I can honestly say that despite the lack of rain, the plot this year is looking tip top, loads of fruits on the bushes, squash has germinated fine, and the beans and peas are in great shape. Will I get carrots? Who knows, but the seedlings are abundant and healthy for the first time. And yes this is getting slightly obsessive.
Now we just need another few heavy downpours and we will be in business!

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