Friday, September 21

We have rain and a whole lot of it!

It seems that for months we have been bemoaning the fact that we have had very little rain. Well, I think the weather gods have become irritated with us and decided to teach us a lesson.

Yesterday the heavens opened and tipped out a month's worth of rain down on us. As was inevitable, after such a long dry period this created flooding. Thankfully we do not live in an area that is likely to flood, however at least one road that we used yesterday seemed more like a stream than a road.

Not content with treating us to torrential downpours, the weather gods decided to send gales with which to blow off the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated over the summer months.

We don't know yet what effect this change in weather will have had on the allotment but in the garden it was to rob the crab apple tree of most of it's fruit.

On the twelfth of the month the tree looked like this ...
Today this is the scene under the tree ...

At least some flowers have weathered the storm and are doing their best to keep the idea of late summer going.
The spinach that I sowed recently, in the raised bed at the top of the garden, has also germinated so I'm sure that appreciated a good soaking.

On an unrelated note:
Periodically I consider tweaking the name of my blog. I'm conscious of the fact that not all my posts reflect the title. Often I stray from the allotment and the garden as I did in my last post. At times I feel that to post on a particular subject would be to stray too far and so feel limited by the title. I'm not JUST a gardener. For instance would showing photos of the brown bears recently rescued from Japan by Yorkshire Wildlife Park be a step too far? I tend to post stuff like that on Facebook to avoid a conflict of interest.

So do I restrict the themes of my posts to reflect the title of my blog or do I tweak the name of my blog to encompass a wider range of subjects. A wider range of subject may not appeal to those who visit expecting gardening related posts. Will regular visitors drop off or will they be content to pick and choose those posts of interest? Let me know even if you don't usually comment.

So far ideas for a new title are uninspiring. Things like," On & Off Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments" or "Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments & Other Places" 

No doubt in the end, like last year, I'll just stick with what I have which incidentally is also uninspiring!

Wednesday, September 19

The Mere near Scarborough

Monday, September 17

I'm hanging on to summer

September seems to have fallen into a pattern with much of the things that I wrote on last week's Monday blog post still being true for this week.

Again the number of plot visits have lessened for more or less the same reasons. Until we have some decent rain, rather that the drizzly stuff that actually amounts to nothing more than a temporary dampening the ground, there is a limit to what we can do on the allotment without resorting to a pickaxe.

Again we have had a couple of days out and the photos that I took reinforce the feeling that autumn is but a whisper away. I know it is meteorological autumn but I am holding on to the idea that it is still summer for a few more days.
I mentioned last week that I sowed some annual flower seeds in an attempt to have some early allotment flowers. These have all germinated so it is a case of hoping they don't become slug fodder and go on to survive whatever winter throws at them. It may be difficult to make out the tiny seedlings in the photo below but, believe me, they are there. Maybe if you click on the photo to view a bigger image they will appear.
Also on the subject of flowers, a tray of small lavender plants have been hanging on for months in our garden greenhouse waiting for the conditions to improve, so they could be planted out. They just couldn't wait any longer, so I planted a few on the plot to fill gaps in the lavender bed.
The rest were used to create a lavender border in the front garden bed. Again I am hoping winter will be kind to them.
Also in the garden, in the raised bed in the coldframe area, I have sowed two lots of spinach. The varieties are Giant Winter and Amazon which is a smaller leaved variety. I was going to sow on the plot but thought that it would be more useful to have some plants at home where leaves could be freshly plucked to use in the kitchen.

We have, however, planted some winter onion sets, Senshyu and Radar and some Casablanca garlic in a bed on the plot. This had previously been home to some of our potatoes and so was workable enough to dig over and plant up.
We usually plant red onions too, but these rarely do well for us, so we have given them up as a lost cause.

So turning my attention to last week's harvest. Again, with freezers bursting, we are now picking as we need; that is other than for apples some of which are still being stewed and frozen. Hopefully we will also need to find room for some quince in a couple of week's time.

I picked our first aubergine from the plants living in the garden greenhouse. I'd like to say it was the first of many but it isn't!
We are still picking tomatoes but this is unlikely to continue for much longer. Although for a while now most fruits are free from blossom end rot we still have one or two affected by this disease. Various theories are offered up as to the cause of this affliction but all these suggest that how the plant is cultivated is to blame. If that is so, I don't understand why, on the same plant, only some fruits are affected and others are perfect. Sometimes perfect tomatoes even share a truss with a tomato that is affected. Can anyone explain it to me?
I thought that I had picked all the blueberries but I managed to gather a few more last week. We've been picking blueberries on just about every plot visit since 28 June.

The cranberries are now taking over the berry harvesting slot. Picking is a bit tricky as you can't always rely on the colour to confirm ripeness. I've found that it's a bit like harvesting mini apples in that ripe berries leave the plant without much resistance. It makes picking rather time consuming. On the plus side, birds don't seem to like them.
Another lot of potatoes have been lifted. This time they are Rooster. Unfortunately in spite of the dry soil, slugs seem to have found their way to many of the tubers.
There are still a few blackberries to add to our stewed apples but soon I'll have to prune out the old canes and tie in the new canes. Fortunately the canes are thornless and so the task will be painless
You may be wondering why the apple above has been treated to its own portrait. This is a special apple from our small Tickled Pink tree. You may remember that this variety has red flesh as well as red skin. It's very tasty too. Unfortunately the lack of rain has meant that our small apple trees have struggled to produce decent sized fruit. The one above is, (I should say was), a prize specimen, hence the portrait.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Unrelated musing: Just a little question. Have you noticed that fairly recently Blogger has started to indent the first word of a new paragraph? This seems to be a fallback to handwritten times when this was the correct format for the written word.  It was my understanding that this type of indentation along with 'sloping addresses' on envelopes was no longer used. This was to adapt to word processing using a computer. My question is, then has Blogger resurrected this convention. If I wanted to use an indent I could do this myself but it is annoying having to backspace at the start of every paragraph.

Wednesday, September 12

Flamborough - a day away from gardening

Tuesday, September 11

Coming to en end?

We didn’t visit the allotment as many times last week. This was partly due to having a couple of days out and partly due to the weather having turned more unsettled. We have had some showery rain but not enough to make any real changes to our soil.

We have managed to complete one or two jobs. I have finished pruning the red currant bushes. Hopefully I haven’t been so severe that they refuse to produce berries next season but the tangle of branches really did need serious attention.

We have also been busy clearing beds of spent crops.

We also managed to prepare a bed and sow hardy annual seeds. I guess it will depend on the type of winter we have as to whether we will have an early flower display or not. Rather than buy new seeds, I settled for using seed leftover from summer. I sowed cornflowers, godetia, clarkia, nigella, poppies and calendula which I hope will germinate before winter descends on us.

We continued to pick plums from Marjorie's seedling and the tomatoes are still producing. The ones planted outdoors have done really well this year with no outbreak of blight to bringing cropping to an end.
3 September
We had to cut all the cauliflowers that had produced heads. They looked as though they would hang on and then we had one warm sunny day in the midst of a cooler period. It was enough to trigger some of the heads into blowing. They were still usable, just looked like white sprouting broccoli. We picked the other heads before they went the same way.
The apple trees have produced lots of fruit although many of the individual fruits are very small. The best fruits have been added to our fruit bowls and the rest stewed and frozen. For those of you familiar with Masterchef, our kitchen looked like the part where the contestants are sent to a location where they have to do mass catering. We spent what seemed like hours washing, coring and chopping apples.
Some of the stewed apple was popped in the freezer and some added to the blackberries, picked on the same day, and made into crumbles.
7 September
The sweetcorn was stripped of cobs. I've been giving the plants plenty of water but they were still rather disappointing, having produced smaller cobs than usual.

I'm still picking the last few blueberries. Incredibly I am picking from one bush whilst the leaves of the bush that produced the first fruit are taking on autumnal tints.

The courgettes are still managing to produce a few fruits although some of the plants are beginning to look tired.
9 September
We have a couple of tubs of cranberries growing either side of the door to our plot greenhouse. They used to be planted in the bed under the blueberries but they sprawled around close to the ground and produced a tangled mess and so I decided to grow them in tubs instead. They were just labelled cranberry when we bought them so I presume both are the same variety, however one always produces more fruit than the other. This year the  good 'fruiter' is loaded with berries. On Friday I noticed that some berries had started to drop off the bush and so I picked off the berries that looked ripe.
The giant spinach has now decided to grow and so we pick off a leaf as we need it. If we can prepare a bed, I am hoping to sow some more spinach seeds to grow over winter.
We have clumps of beetroot growing in several location. I dug the first batch as it was the only crop remaining in a bed that we wanted to clear. The roots were various sizes but all of good quality and there was far less nibble damage than usual
The carrots like the beetroot are less nibbled at the moment but I daresay that the slugs will become more active at any time soon. We don't thin carrots so they also come in various sizes.
Along with the fruit and vegetables we are still cutting a few flowers to bring home for vases.

The sweet peas are just managing to eke out a small posy of short stemmed flowers  even though I expect that each cutting will be my last.
I was busy on Monday and so this post is a day late but I hope Dave won't mind me sneaking it into his Harvest Monday over at Our Happy Acres.

Friday, September 7

Visit to Roger Brook's Boundary Cottage

Some of you will be familiar with Roger Brook - the no dig gardener blog. Last Sunday, Roger opened his garden to raise funds for The Yorkshire Arboretum.

As Roger's garden is within reasonable travelling distance from us, we decided to pay him another visit - we have been to previous open days at Boundary Cottage. 

As always, we arrived armed with our cameras so I thought that I would share some of my favourite images of the visit.

As you enter the main part of the garden the first feature to catch attention is a pair of ponds. 
From there down at the bottom of the garden you can wander between large perennial beds which in parts is reminiscent of wandering along a woodland path.
I always find silver birch trees to be really photogenic and Roger has quite a few.

Leaving the woodland atmosphere the garden opens up and is composed of large islands beds set within a lawned area.
Despite the early end to the growing season this year, Roger's garden had plenty of colour.
Lots of plants were still in bloom.
The insects were making the most of the remaining flowers. I didn't even notice the bee in the photo, middle left of the collage below, until I downloaded the photo.
Roger has more or less abandoned vegetable growing and sowed the area previously used as a vegetable patch with annual flowers. More food for those foraging insects and reminiscent of a wild flower meadow.
Roger still packs one of his greenhouse with tomatoes and was growing quite an unusual variety called Albenga. It's a large ox heart type which we are considering growing next year. We came away with a sample.
Just before we left, I couldn't resist catching the no dig gardener in the act of using a spade! In his defence he was using it to dig up some pieces of alstromera for us to take home.
Of course, before heading home, we had to sample the refreshments provided by Roger's wife, Brenda. It would have been rude not to. Thank you, Brenda and of course Roger for the goodies.

If you would like to see more of the photos that I took of the garden at Boundary cottage, I have created an album here. The album also shows photos at a larger size and of better quality than in Blogger.

As is often the case, Martyn concentrated on filming and has put together a video of our tour.