Monday, June 24

It actually stopped raining

Last week saw an improvement in the weather. We actually had some rain free days where the temperature rose to a pleasant level. We managed to carry out quite a few jobs both in the garden and on the allotment. What's even better is that we seem to be edging out of the hungry gap.

In the garden we planted up several tubs which of course necessitated a visit to the garden centre to 'fill in gaps'. 
With blackbirds moving in on the ripening cherries it was also time to turn the cherry tree into the ghost of summers' past. Sleeves of fleece were secured to the branches with clothes pegs. It doesn't look very pretty but, if we are to have a chance of tasting a cherry, it is definitely necessary.
Next to our allotment shed we have a tayberry and the first thing that I noticed on our first visit of the week to the plot was that it was swarming with ladybird larvae. Unfortunately, these are larvae of the Harlequin ladybird and not our native species. The larvae of the Harlequins are more spiky. Anyway at least they are still aphid munching machines.
We erected supports for another defence against pilfering blackbirds. Although our blueberries are not yet ripening we wanted to be ready to cover the blueberry bed with netting as soon as there are any signs of the berries turning from green.
 The first lot of brassicas are now coming into production.
The heads of calabrese - Aquiles were forming thick and fast and needed harvesting before they blew. The one below went into a turkey and broccoli risotto which was based on this recipe. The plants quickly went into side shoot production so many of our meals next week will have  a broccoli bias.
I mentioned in my last post that, Martyn managed to dig over the old strawberry bed and that we had hoped to plant it this year. A couple of warm, dry, sunny days put paid to that idea as the lumps of soil have turned into rocks which we have no chance of breaking down. Plan B has now been enforced and the bed has been covered with weed control fabric topped off with a wood chippings mulch. At the end of the year the fabric will be removed to let the winter weather work on the hardened soil. The mulch will be left to be incorporated into the soil.
We continued to plant up the winter brassica bed adding broccoli - Rudolf, Cauliflower - Clapton and cabbage Kalibro to the Crispus Brussels sprouts and Kilaton cabbage that were planted last week.
Our second sowing of Onward and Sugarsnap peas have been provided with supports. The first batch of peas are just starting to flower/
Annual flowers that had been growing on in trays in the garden have been planted out to fill gaps both in the garden and on the plot. I've planted zinnias, ageratum, statice and gomphrena
We harvested our first lot of overwintered onions. These were, Radar. The bulb sizes are variable but most are a useful size. The gap created by their removal has been planted with young lettuce plants.
We harvested our autumn planted, hard neck, Casablanca garlic from the same bed.  Having had little success in the past, we'd given up on garlic but last year we decided to have another go at it and this year we have had success. Most of the bulbs are a good size and have formed cloves but one or two have grown more like shallots. Has anyone any idea of why this is?
 Last week's total harvest was a bit more varied than of late.
18 June
We're not expecting many redcurrants this year as we haven't managed to get around to netting them. The blackbirds are already having a field day so we have decided to share. No doubt, the lion's share will go to them.
20 June
As well as calabrese we have cabbages ready for picking.
23 June
We emptied the final potato crate on Sunday and the two tubers planted in the crate produced a good crop. We can only hope that our open ground planted potatoes don't let the side down. Once the potatoes had been removed the compost was refreshed with some fertiliser and I sowed some beetroot seeds.
23 June
Considering that our strawberry plants are in their first year they are producing a good crop of delicious berries. At the moment the variety Sweetheart is producing the majority of berries. The two largest punnets above contain the Sweetheart harvest.

You may notice that three broad bean pods made it into last week's harvest. The pods need to swell a little more before they produce a serious picking but we couldn't resist trying one or two in Sunday's vegetable stir fry.

Our complete monthly harvests are listed here.


This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres


By the way, Walton's are running a competition to win a shed which you may be interested in entering - if so it can be found here.

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.




Wednesday, June 19

Everyone loves sunflower hearts






Monday, June 17

Flaming June?

The phrase 'Flaming June' has a very different meaning this year. We wanted some rain but really things have gone too far. The tap has been turned on and we now need the celestial plumber to turn it off. I guess it's a case of 'Be careful what you wish for'.

We seem to have settled into a frustrating pattern of having our allotment visits cut short by rain and the need to come home to dry out clothing.
Not only is it wet but the temperatures are low especially overnight and some of our plants, such as climbing beans and the squash family, just don't like that at all. Although at present they are hanging on to life, they are miserable and refusing to grow. Who can blame them? Saturday night we even had fog and fireworks. I could easily have imagined we had somehow slipped into November. We are creeping towards the longest hours of daylight but you wouldn't know it and we are missing out on the advantage that brings.

We managed a few cut short afternoons on the allotment. On Monday, I hurriedly managed to plant more brassicas, (cabbage - Kilaton and Brussels sprouts - Crispus), before the rain had us rushing to cover them with enviromesh. Any uncovered greens would be too much of a temptation to the army of wood pigeons that patrol our site. 
At least the brassicas should enjoy the current weather conditions as also the potatoes seem to be doing. This year the potato foliage is lush and vigorous unlike last year. The early potatoes are flowering so we will soon, no doubt, be inspecting below ground hoping that the healthy top growth isn't just a tease.
As I've mentioned previously we planted some Casablanca potatoes in crates and on Saturday we decided to see what type of harvest they had produced. We planted two tubers to each crate. We emptied two crates and harvested these potatoes.
The ones in the container were from one crate and the rest from the other. As you can see the harvest produced from each was very different. It was expected as the top growth in one crate was poor. On tipping out the compost we found that the compost in that container was very wet even though it hag received the same amount of watering. Probably something was preventing drainage. Happily a third container looks fine.


The containers have been reused. We sowed some swede seeds in one and parsnip seeds in the other. Parsnip germination has been poor this year which is disappointing after last year's 100% germination. I've resown seed into the gaps but really it's rather late for sowing. Still it's always worth a try.

You may remember that, a few weeks ago, we were concerned about our Jazzy potatoes but I am now pleased to report that they have rallied and now look much healthier.
Now, some of our onions are not growing well.

We really don't know why this is. The plants in the block at the end of the row are fine but many of the others look weedy and sickly. We have another bed with healthy looking plants but I decided to plant our left over onion sets. I know it's late and they may not produce anything but we've nothing to lose by giving it a go. I've sown some sweet Williams in the same bed.

On Saturday, I planted out the left over tomatoes.
These went in the area protected by the mesh covered cold frame. They won't enjoy the weather conditions but they couldn't stay in pots any longer. I planted, Roma, Sungold, Rosella, Shirley and Albenga. They won't grow as well as the plants protected in the greenhouse and are at a greater risk from blight but we usually find that it's worth taking a chance.
On Sunday afternoon I planted our second batch of sweet corn, this time the variety was Earliking. They have been planted well away from the first lot to avoid any cross pollination problems. As these plants are wind pollinated they are planted in a block rather than a long row. This is a more effective formation for pollination but I generally give the wind a helping hand. Once the pollen is flowing I brush the stems with my hand to shake the pollen from the male flowers at the top of the plants onto the female flowers lower down the stem.

Whilst I was busy planting, Martyn strimmed all the grass which is thriving in these cool, wet conditions. He also managed to dig over the old strawberry bed  which had been softened a little by the rain. It's not at the planting stage yet, but we may get there this year. At one point we thought that this was unlikely.
The new strawberry bed is providing us with small helpings of berries. We're not expecting too much from the plants this year,
In between heavy showers, I also managed to cut back the grapevine that grows alongside our shed and 'patio' area.
As usual we are regularly picking salad leaves and herbs from the garden. I usually overlook the mint so I decided to take a photo of this small bunch before it was chopped and added to a Thai Turkey Stir Fry.

The cool, wet weather is suiting the rhubarb which, at this stage in the year, is often stopping production.
15 June
Those large leaves come in handy in a downpour when packing up to head home.
Our main harvesting session, last week  was on Sunday. The calabrese - Aquiles - is now producing heads so we made the most of this and cut two heads last week
16 June
On Sunday we cut our first Regency cabbage which is destines for more coleslaw and another small helping of strawberries.

We also harvested the second of two Aquiles calabreses that were ready last week.
For this week's posy of flowers , some self sown candytuft, some self sown borage and a couple of Jaqueline du Pre rosebuds were added to the cornflowers.

If you are interested, Martyn filmed a walk around our plot which is posted on our vlog here.



This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres


By the way, thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.



Wednesday, June 12

Garden highlights







Monday, June 10

The rain came!

Well we were wanting some rain, and last week we got it. It started off showery but by the end of the week we had spells of more persistent, quite heavy rain. The garden and allotment needed it desperately, but what it didn't need was the drop in temperature that accompanied the rain, especially when more tender plants were being planted out.

As you can imagine activity on the allotment was much reduced but we did manage to complete some jobs.

You may remember from previous posts, that we have a glassless cold frame on the allotment.
We've been trying to decided how we can make best use of this and where to site it. We haven't really come up with any startling ideas as yet so we decided to leave it where it was, which is on the bed in which we plant outdoor tomatoes. We decided that we would fasten enviromesh to the frame and use it to offer some protection to newly planted young tomatoes.
The tomatoes haven't yet been planted but their home is now ready for them.

At the beginning of the week, we battled with the rain and managed to finish erecting the bean frames and plant out the remaining Runner - Firestorm and Climbing French beans - Python, Goldfield and more Cobra. Despite the rain we kept going to get everything planted and ended up dripping wet.
Although the rain kept us away from the plot for much of the week, we had to make an evening visit on Thursday to water the tomatoes in the greenhouse - one disadvantage of not growing your own in your back garden. We ended up getting wet yet again.

Sunday, just as we arrived at the allotment it started to rain, rather than turning round and going home we decided to do some work under cover in the greenhouse. We fixed up the supports to which the tomatoes would be tied as they grew.
That turned out to be a good move, as when we had finished this job the sun came out and we managed a full afternoon's work.

The first job was to plant the Crown Prince squashes.
Whilst I planted the squashes, Martyn put the pea sticks in place to support our first batch of peas which are now growing quickly/
My next job was to plant another two varieties of squash. Walnut which is a butternut  squash and Uchiki Kuri which is a type of onion squash.  Between the two lots of squash I planted one lot of sweet corn - Golden Bantam.
Squashes are quite promiscuous plants so I am hoping the sweet corn forms a bit of a barrier and cuts down on the cross pollination.

Martyn's next job was to prepare the bed where the next lot of brassicas would be planted. The bed had already been dug and covered with weed control fabric so the next stage was to erect the hoops that would support the enviromesh covering.

That done he decided to see whether the old strawberry bed would dig after the rain had hopefully softened the soil a little. He managed to dig over a small section but it was heavy going and will take time to dig the entire bed.
Before we came home we managed to gather together a small harvest. Of course we brought home a couple of sticks of rhubarb.
 I also picked another posy of cornflowers.
The highlight, however, was a few ripe strawberries that had fortunately been ignored by slugs. 
As we started to pack up to head for home, the rain started again. By the time we reached home it was throwing down so all in all we were very lucky to have been able to complete all the jobs that we had planned for the afternoon.

We also harvested salad leaves, radishes and herbs from the garden but as usual these didn't feature in a photo call.




This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres


By the way, thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.


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