Monday, July 30

Mother Nature lends a hand

It actually rained this week and it wasn't just once. We even had thunder and it rained quite heavily for a time on Saturday and managed to coincide with our time at the allotment trying to catch up with jobs that our watering regime had impeded.

We didn't have as much rain as was forecast, but then again thankfully Friday wasn't as hot as predicted. However, any rain at the moment is very welcome; who would would have thought back in April that I would have been saying that.

On Sunday it rained gently for most of the morning so at least we had enough rain to give us a break from watering.
23 July
Our second sowing of peas has just about come to an end but the third sowing is just about ready for harvesting. Our successional sowing has worked out perfectly this year.
I just hope this last lot don't fall victim to mildew. I am really surprised that they have managed to keep going in this spring/summer heat. I think that without all our watering this would not have been the case.
24 July
The enviromesh was pulled back to water the carrots. We could water through the fabric, and sometimes do, but often the water will run in dips created in the mesh and only water parts of the bed or will only wet the leaves. To make sure that water reaches the soil we have risked that some carrot fly may sneak in when the crop is uncovered. 

I imagine them sitting somewhere on lookout and at the moment the carrot tops are revealed the cry of, "Right girls time to move in!" goes up. (It will be the girls laying their eggs that do the damage). When the mesh is pulled back we too take advantage by pulling a few carrots to take back home for dinner.
We have started to pull onions as we need them. In the hot, dry weather, the bulbs have stopped swelling and instead of needing lifting the onions are drying in the ground. This year the bulbs are not as large as I would have hoped but even before the hot, dry spell the plants had been battered and broken by gales so even small onions are more than I expected.
26 July
The courgettes are still producing lots of fruit and it would seem that some naughtiness has gone on in the courgette bed. Some of the yellow courgettes are showing signs of having been too friendly with their green neighbours. Courgettes and squash do tend to be rather promiscuous. The leaves as well as the fruits of the two varieties are quite different.
Since struggling to dig the first lot of Casablance potatoes from the ground, we have resorted to watering the potato beds. Fortunately some time was freed up due to some of the other beds having been cropped. We didn't expect this to improve the yield, as in many cases the tops had withered, but we hoped that the watering would make the soil more workable so the rest of the potatoes could be dug without resorting to using a pick axe.
This seemed to work and, Martyn found it easier to dig up more Casablancas. 
The yield was better than from those previous dug but this was probably down to the fact that these plant tops still had some growth whereas for the previous lot the tops had died down completely.
28 July
The beans are now coming on stream, especially the Climbing French Cobra which are doing really well. The purple, Cosse Violette are flowering but so far haven't produced any beans and the runner beans are now setting .
We even managed to harvest our first Sungold tomatoes which is early for us, especially considering that the seeds were sown later than usual. Fruits are ripening in both our garden and plot greenhosues.
I have a couple of pots of basil in the garden greenhouse that were threatening that they would some run to seed and so these were given a haircut and the cropped leaves frozen for use over winter.
Of course the sweet peas just keep on giving,
One thing that we have noticed is that the overspill bed where the plants are spread out more is producing flowers with longer stems so that is a lesson learned for next year.
Finally what has been a rare scene on our allotment over the last few months. Mother Natures handiwork.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Saturday, July 28

Flowers on the plot

As you will know if you are a regular visitor to my blog, we like to grow flowers as well as vegetables on our allotment.

My harvest Monday posts have shown that we are picking armfuls of sweet peas on each plot visit.
The flowers only last a couple of days or so in this heat, but after each plot visit we can replace them.

I'm also cutting flowers from the perennials bed. Really this bed is misnamed as I use annuals to fill in gaps. The bed isn't in full flower at the moment but it's getting there.
I intended to dry some flowers to make a pot pourri mix and bought a dried flower seed mix but, although the mixture looks attractive, it doesn't include the types of flowers that I expected and probably won't provide the sort of drying materials that I really wanted.
I had to resow the annual flowers beds, not completely but to fill gaps in germination. Of course some seeds germinated later and just mixed in with the second sowing but this was fine as I wanted the mixed look.

The flowers are now starting to open quickly.
The second annual bed is in front of one of the sweet pea frames. The plants in this bed have grown taller and stronger but haven't yet really started to flower but it looks promising.

So now I have to find time to add dead heading of flowers to the time spent watering and harvesting. What time does it get dark?
To give you a better idea of the flowers that we grow on the plot, I've put together a tour with the main focus on the flowers. If you have time, (the video is just short of 20 minutes long), maybe you would like to sit back, relax and watch. For best effect view in full screen and choose the highest resolution that your computer can deal with. If you make sure your sound is on, you can listen to my waffle too!

Wednesday, July 25

Butterfly Bush

Monday, July 23

Proof that watering has been worth it

If ever there was proof that we have done the right thing by keeping up our watering regime, Martyn's first attempt at lifting our early potatoes is it.

I have previously described how potatoes have been our sacrificial crop and have been neglected as far as watering is concerned and we feared that our potato harvest would be a failure. Unfortunately so far this fear has been realised.

I used the word attempted earlier as digging up the Casablanca potatoes proved just about impossible. Martyn posted about this here so I am not going to repeat his post here. Suffice it to say that digging potatoes from rock hard soil  is challenging and yields very little for the effort expended. 
The Casablanca potatoes were just as tasty as usual but there were very few tubers and they were on the small side.
16 July
The peas on the other hand have been nurtured and we are now harvested the second sowing of Onward and also Oregon Sugarpod. With plenty to harvest this week many of the peas and mangetout have been frozen. We will enjoy those once the harvests start to diminish.

The courgettes are now coming thick and fast keeping me on my toes finding ways of using them. Martyn used some in a second batch of piccalilli and we also used some in a courgette, potato and mint frittata

I think we have reached the point though where we will be on the look out for homes for a few as there is a limit to how many courgettes can be used in a week. Some, however, will be frozen. (I've added a link on the sidebar to ways we have used courgettes or had recommended).
17 July
Our first brassica bed has almost been cleared with just a few remaining calabrese plants left that may produce some more sideshoots. Once the remaining plants are removed it will be interesting to see whether, after all the watering, that bed and the ones containing the now cropped remnants of the first sown peas, will be in a better condition than that housing the Casablanca potatoes.
Our second sowing of broad beans - Masterpiece Green Longpod, have performed better that the earlier sown Witkiem Manita. Usually Witkien Manita crops well but this year they have had all manner of weather conditions thrown at them and the Masterpiece plants have only had the heat to contend with whilst we have attempted to compensate for the drought by keeping them well watered. I must admit I do prefer the small green beans of the Masterpice beans to the greyer green, larger Witkiem Manita beans.

19 July
The carrot and parsnip tops are growing really well but we thought we would sneak a peek at what was going on underground in the carrot bed. The carrots are still rather small but we harvested a few roots as a treat. Last year our carrot growing was a complete failure so we had to rely on shop bought roots. The few that we picked last week confirmed why we go to so much trouble to grow carrots. No shop bought carrots can come anywhere close to the sweet flavour of homegrown.
Although we are waiting for our first picking of runner beans, we have started to harvest the Cobra, climbing French beans. We haven't grown dwarf French beans for a while as we find the climbing varieties produce a better, cleaner, slug damage, (with the possible exception of the beans growing at the base of the vines), free crop. They are also much easier to harvest.

21 July
We didn't think we would have any gooseberries this year. I pruned most of our bushes in the recommended way to allow air flow and cut down the chances of mildew. All to no avail as they fell foul of mildew and the berries spoiled. We have a couple of plants that I forgot about. They grow up the fence along, and smothered by,  with the kiwi vine. Guess where I found some beautiful large ripe berries? They say gardening isn't an exact science. In theory it should have been these plants that were affected by mildew! Maybe the mildew spores just couldn't find these plants.
As well as coming away with armfuls of sweet peas at the end of every plot visit, we are starting to gather other flowers to bring home.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Wednesday, July 18

Just a few shots of gannets and puffins taken at Bempton Cliffs