Monday, June 25

Getting beyond a joke

For a while now the most time consuming task on the allotment has been watering and last week was no different. The problem is that the more we plant and the more the plants grow, the more watering we need to do. On Friday and Saturday last week, I clocked up 7.7 km (about 4.6 miles) carrying two large cans of water. Martyn was watering too so that isn't our full 'watering walking' total. Not only is this very 'achy breaky 'work but it limits the time that we can spend on other jobs.

As, Martyn posted on his blog we even resorted to watering an empty sun baked bed. It sounds eccentric but there was a good reason. I'm not going to explain here so if you are intrigued pop over to his blog to find out more.

I've been asked why we use cans and not a hosepipe. Mainly it's a case of having control over how much water we apply as when using a hosepipe you can think that you are giving more water than you actually are. We have about one tap to every four plots but it can be a problem filling cans when other gardeners are using hoses as the water pressure can drop to a trickle. Also a hose takes a tap out of action so we may have to walk further to the next available tap if someone is using our nearest one, this increases our 'water miles'. The problem increases on an evening when far more people are trying to access the water supply.

I'm afraid that the potatoes have been left to cope with the dry conditions as best they can. To water all our potatoes would be taking things too far. Excessive amounts of water would be needed to penetrate to the roots. The result is that the potatoes are not producing the amount of top growth that we would expect and even the tiniest of plants are now flowering. I doubt that we will have as good a crop from the plot grown potatoes as we harvested on Sunday from one of the potato bags that had been growing in our garden greenhouse.
One priority crop has been to give the peas copious amounts of water. Peas hate hot, dry weather and we love peas so lots of effort has been put in to keeping them growing. The first lot sown are now flowering so I hope the hot weather forecast for next week doesn't spoil things.
Likewise the sweet peas are beginning to produce flowers.
One crop that is loving the sunshine is the apricot tree in our garden greenhouse. It's loaded with fairly small fruit. The diminutive size is down to our reluctance to thin the fruitlets. We just eat two fruits rather than one. The sunshine has certainly resulted in lovely sweet fruit which is also the case for the few strawberries that the struggling plants are producing.
I'm hoping that the sun has the same effect in the swelling peaches and nectarines.

One essential task that had to be fitted in between watering was to net the blueberries before the blackbirds denuded the plants.
Unfortunately we haven't managed to net the redcurrants. The cage around them fell victim to snow and gales and we hadn't managed to rebuild it so we are having to share the redcurrant harvest with the blackbirds. The way things are going I think they will have the lion's share.

As well as redcurrants and strawberries we are also picking a few autumn raspberries. I missed cutting out a few small canes from last year's growth and they have produced fruit. It's due to this habit, that some gardeners only prune out half of the old canes from autumn fruiting raspberries. The plants then produce two harvests. As we have plenty of summer fruiting canes I don't do this but it seems the autumn variety has beaten the summer fruiters and given us a sprinkling of earlier berries.
We have plenty of calabrese - Aquiles - and cabbage - Regency - so our menus will have to be adapted to take this into account. For some reason I chopped off the cabbage in the photo on the top right above. When I asked, Martyn whether he had taken a better photo, strangely he had done just the same thing!

As well as edibles I picked a small posy of cut flowers.
 I could have added this dahlia to the mix but I left her to encourage her friends  to open their petals.
Finally if I could put in a heartfelt request for a good but gentle downpour, preferably in the evening and overnight. If that is asking too much I would willing sacrifice a day to rain as things are getting beyond a joke now! Anyone know of a good rain dance?

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres



34 comments:

  1. We were in much the same weather pattern, then, as will happen, it began to rain and looks to not stop. Your harvests look delightful.

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    1. I wonder why it is always all or nothing tpals?

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  2. Weather is so fickle - we are getting too much rain and you can’t buy any! Hopefully your tree fruits will respond to conditions and give you a good crop.

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    1. I’m just hoping that the outdoor fruit tree roots are accessing water frm deep down in order to swell the fruits, Dave.

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  3. I'll be joining you in the rain dance! At least I'm lucky in that I CAN use a hosepipe and don't have to share it with anyone else. Even my chillis, which normally love hot weather, are drooping today.

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    1. Once I know the steps I’ll email you, Mark :-)

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  4. Pure dedication Sue.To yourselves and your readers.
    Brenda can never understand why I carry a watering can to a newly planted treasure rather than manoeuvre a hosepipe to an awkward position.
    Neverthe-less my hose pipe has been in considerable action. In the morning when the pressure is much much greater than at night -as you say
    PS don't forget to put my Open day on Sept 2nd in your diary (some people have no shame for publicity!)

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    1. More like desperation, Roger. We’ll try to make your open day this year.

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  5. Competition for water on an Edinburgh allotment site rarely crops up, but when it does it always reminds me that civilization is only about 3 days away from breaking down into outright savagery.

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  6. It's that time of year when it's getting busy with the harvests starting to come. Can you please ensure that the rain dance is only for rain overnight as we're going on holiday soon and it would be lovely if this nice weather could continue.

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    1. What if I try to keep the rain localised, Jo?

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  7. I just cannot imagine hauling water like that, what an interminable chore. Your devotion to your plot is truly impressive. I don't know of any good rain dances but I'm wishing you all the rain you desire.

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    1. Devotion to reaping what we sow, Margaret :-) Maybe we can just use the power of thought to bring rain as I may be too tired from watering to dance energetically enough.

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  8. Oh yes please, rain very much needed here too. The strawberries and raspberries seem rather small this year, I'm not sure why. Hosepipes were banned at our allotments, but there were troughs so people could quickly dip cans to fill them and the tap automatically turned on to fill the trough back up to the top. Grass here is very brown already, and lots of hot sunny days forecast. It doesn't feel like it's going to be a bumper year for many things.

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    1. I seem to remember that hosepipes are not supposed to be used on our site but people tend to ignore many rules, CJ. I think we will have to just be happy with what we do manage to harvest.

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  9. We have had a good soaking rain for the past two days after a hot, dry spell. Since the jet stream moves in your direction, I'm hopeful that those rain clouds will find you! Even with your difficulties, such lovely harvests.

    In terms of the watering - I had a thought....How about hooking up a "Y" valve to the faucet (search "outdoor Y valve" to see what I mean). Then screw a hose to one side while the other would still be free for someone else to use. Run a hose to your plot and use that to fill up the watering cans - you may still have to wait if someone else is using it due to water flow, but you still water using your preferred method and it would save you a lot of time walking back and forth (and you may be able to make a deal with the "other" user to use the hose in 10 or 20 minute intervals and do something else while it's the others turn?

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    1. I did wonder about filling a can from a hose, Margaret. Using two hose from one tap ‘faucet’ would mean hardly any pressure at all though. I’m afraid that we wouldn’t get much watered in 20 minutes. We tend too spend most of the afternoon watering.

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  10. Droughts are so hard on gardens and gardeners. It looks like you're watering schedule is working and you're plants are doing fairly well. Your apricots and calabrese look incredible.

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    1. Unfortunately the heat is making the remaining calabrese start to flower, Phuong,

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  11. I wondered why my autumn raspberries were fruiting before my summer ones. Thank you for the explanation.

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    1. Glad to solve the mystery, Joy.

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  12. I'll join in that rain dance too Sue. My right arm is getting longer by the day. I'm another fan of the watering can as opposed to the hose but I must confess that the latter came out at the weekend. Nobody else about so I didn't feel guilty for hogging the tap for a while.

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    1. I use two cans so at least both my arms are the same length, Anna.

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  13. I understand how you fill Sue about the no rain as my outside tap dose not work so filling up by filling up in the kitchen as tap i can use is linking when i do use it lovely post and blessings to you both

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  14. what hard work you are slogging through but wow! the rewards are plently - such productive plot and everything I see looks like perfection. Congratulations - you definitely deserve ice cream or such with your fruity harvests! xx

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    1. The trouble is that things don’t stay perfect for long, Carrie. If the calabrese haven’t already flowered we will pick them all today and freeze them or they will spoil.

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  15. This long period without rain is rather a shock to the West Country!

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    1. It’s certainly a shock here too, Jessica

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  16. We often seem to grow the same things, Sue… but not when it comes to apricots for sure. Yours look totally lush and I am a tad envious I must admit. Not even going to mention watering......

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    1. The apricots are inside the greenhouse though, Kathy

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    2. The fruits look fabulous. My orchard is puny and I have no idea why as it has been a perfect year. Despite the need for water your garden looks fabulous!

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    3. It looks like it should at the end of summer, Bonnie. The grass is starting to turn yellow.

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