Wednesday, July 31

Garden gems

Monday, July 29

Splash and grab

What with the heat, hospital appointments, waiting in for workmen who kept cancelling at the last minute until 'tomorrow', and then the rain, we hardly managed to get to the allotment last week. We know that there are crops to  be harvested, things to plant and flowers to deadhead but we were trapped. We managed an afternoon and a couple of quick visits at the beginning of the week to carry out one or two essential tasks and some watering in the greenhouse. On Sunday we had to brave the rain as we needed to harvest some vegetables. One of the disadvantages of growing on an allotment means you can't just pop in and out between showers to harvest a few things.

One urgent task was to cover the salad leaves that are growing in the grow bags on the old strawberry bed.
These are now safely tucked under enviromesh to protect then from the ever present wood pigeons.
 Before they disappeared under cover, I thinned out the beetroot that is growing really well.
The spring onions are growing too so maybe we have found a way of getting spring onions to grow. It's early days so fingers crossed.
Unfortunately we don't appear to have the same success with swedes. Since the seeds germinated they have hardly moved.

We managed a quick visit to a local garden centre. I'd cut back a faded dicentra and it had left a large bare space in our new bed. 
I wanted plants that would follow on once the dicentra had faded. It was a case of seeing what was available. We found a primula vialli and aster dumosis Island Tonga which I hope will fit the bill.

Our Mini Munch cucumbers, both in the garden greenhouse and on the allotment, are producing lots of fruits just large enough to eat fresh in our lunchtime sandwiches.
We managed most of our harvesting during quick visits to the allotment on Monday and Tuesday before the very mini heatwave, before the rains set in, before the workmen decided to play games and before hospital appointments put paid to an afternoon on the plot.
22 July
The sweet peas are now producing lots of long stemmed flowers. There are lots more to pick and no doubt lots of deadheading to do but we had to concentrate on grabbing vegetables and fruit.

The first lot of garden peas are just about over and plenty are now in the freezer. 

I managed a couple of pickings of mangetout but due to not being able to pick them regularly they are a little beyond the mangetout stage and will need to be treated as petit pois which I am sure we will enjoy anyway.
23 July
Sunday we braved a downpour to harvest some fruit and vegetables that would spoil if left much longer. The calabrese had produced some huge heads that were on the point of flowering.

The heat combined with heavy rain meant that the courgettes have burst into growth. Many were more the size of small marrows. They grow so quickly when you take your eye off the  ball. I picked as many as I could.
28 July
The four smaller fruits on the left are Mini Munch cucumbers. We also managed to pick a few strawberries by which time it was pouring down and I ended up soaked.

If you're interested I've posted a couple of videos of our plot on our vlog.

We are hoping to catch up with our harvesting next week but with more workmen related problems that may be just wishful thinking.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Suspected compost contamination - an update,
I also emailed Levington's to ask them to conform that they had received the sample of compost that we sent them for analysis . The reply that I received was surprising. I quote,

'Thank you for your feedback on our Tomorite Grobags. We would like to reassure you that all batches of green compost used at our manufacturing plants are tested against herbicide contamination before it is sent out to our customers. The symptoms you are seeing could be brought about by other reasons other than herbicide contamination, this could be stress due to underfeeding'.

My response was to ask them whether they were aware of our previous communications. So far I have not received any further replies but have forwarded their response to Corteva and CRD, both of which replied promptly. I have received no reply from the f=garden centre that we purchased the compost from either

Wednesday, July 24

Seeing red

Monday, July 22

Exercising the podding finger and clopyralid damage update,

On Friday, last week we had what, Martyn would call 'proper rain' and it just so happened that this was the day that the two senior biologists from Corteva came to visit. Imagine the scene, four of us squeezed into our 6x8 plot greenhouse. They immediately confirmed what we suspected which was that our tomato plants had been affected by hormone weedkiller residue. Also as we suspected this was most likely to be caused by clopyralid residue in the grow bags that was transferred to the compost in the green waste used in the production. They stayed for about three quarters of an hour chatting about the problems and answering our questions and took away a couple of samples to analyse. As we have always thought, the testing may or may not confirm that clopyralid residue is present. As just a tiny amount can affect plant growth locating that amount in a grow bag is difficult to say the least. I've still not received acknowledgement from Levingtons that they have received the sample that we sent on 8 July. On our visitor's suggestion we have now also emailed the garden centre from which we purchased the grow bags. We've put together a video of the information gleaned from the visit and I will also dedicate a blog post to the problem shortly.

We have managed some work on the plot although we did have a day or two off.  One was to pay one of our regular visits to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. The painted dogs had given birth to pups and we hoped to catch a glimpse of them. We were in luck. Their cuteness belies the fact that the will grow up to be fearsome predators.
With flying freeloaders around the meerkats were wise to post lookouts.

There are plenty of youngsters in the garden too. They soon learn where the nearest well stocked dining area is and our feeders are emptying quickly.
Excuse the poor quality but the above were taken from a window in poor light conditions
At the allotment, we caught a glimpse of another young bird. I think it's a juvenile green woodpecker. If so, it is the first we have seen locally. The only other one we have seen was in France.

It has mainly been a  week of tidying and harvesting, both on the allotment and in the garden. It's amazing how quickly once the beds are fully planted that we start clearing them again. Martyn cleared our first brassica bed which will soon be planted up with a late sowing of dwarf French beans.

The climbing beans have been slow to get going but at last some are producing flowers.
I tied in some new growth from the most vigorous of our new raspberries.
My pod popping finger had plenty of exercise last week. We harvested all the broad (fava) beans from the first sowing of De Monica - video here. (I can't hear the words fava beans without thinking of Hannibal Lecter). We also pulled over two bucketfuls of peas from our first sowing of Onward. These have now been frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year.
15 July
 We dug the first of our trial potatoes, a variety called Premiere - video here -which we were impressed with. We also dug the first of our Athlete potatoes - shown in the last photo. They looked good and had produced a good harvest. They haven't been tasted yet, but if they pass the taste test we will be spoiled for choice of early potatoes next year.
18 July
Before, Martyn cleared the brassica bed, it yielded the last of its crop - a cabbage and a couple of small cauliflowers.
19 July
We picked the first of our Sugar Snap peas and some small courgettes all of which went into a stir fry. A couple of courgette plants have disappeared,  so it's a good job that we didn't stick to Monty Don's two plants to one person rule or Martyn would have been courgetteless.
21 July
The berries keep on coming. Along with the usual varieties, we have had the first picking of blackcurrants. It's a tedious and time consuming job but well worth it.

Finally, the stems of the dahlias and sweet peas are now a better length. My favourite sweet pea at the moment is a variety called Heathcliff. It's a dark blue and, unusually for a dark colour, it has a wonderful perfume. We haven't grown it before but I'd certainly give it a place on next year's list

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

UPDATE video update after meeting with Corteva is posted 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, July 17

The enemy

Monday, July 15

Peas and beans take over centre stage

In the garden we have now planted up the bird bath bed. The week before last we replanted the ferns and astilbe that were already growing there. They all appreciate the moist conditions produced by the splashing birds. We decided to add another astilbe and then plant annual plants towards the front of the bed. We bought a couple of different colours of impatiens and a couple of pansies. This was mainly determined by what was available in the garden centre that will tolerate partial shade. In autumn I want to add some spring bulbs. The birds seem happy with everything.
The garden contributed towards last week's harvest. The ripe cherries were thoroughly enjoyed
 We also harvested our first Mini Munch cucumber.
On the allotment we planted more winter brassicas. This time it was purple sprouting broccoli and a cabbage called Cendis. The plants had been attacked by, what we suspect was, wood pigeon whilst in the cold frame but the central growing point was undamaged so we are hoping that we will get away with it.
Martyn provided supports for the outdoor tomato plants which seem to be appreciating the extra protection afforded by the skeleton cold frame. In light of our contaminated compost problem we may be looking to these plants to provide us with our main harvest.
The salad leaves, radishes, spring onions and spinach that I sowed the week before last germinated quickly and so have been covered with enviromesh to protect against various kinds of pests. I also sowed some coriander in a fourth trough. (Video here).
I'd removed runners from the new strawberry plants once but they continued to pump out a tangled web of shoots and so I've removed runners yet again. I want the plants to build up their strength rather than waste it on making babies.
In between these and some general tidying up we have to leave time to pick berries, which can be rather time consuming.
8 July
We cut some small cauliflowers and cabbages left in our first brassica bed.  Martyn has sown some dwarf French beans in module trays to plant in the bed once it is cleared.

The plants in our second brassica bed are growing well.
11 July
We are continuing to dig early potatoes as we need them.

The first sowing of Onward peas have produced lots of pods which are now filling up and we had our first picking last week. The second lot sown are just starting to flower and the third lot should follow on. We sow our peas thickly so one job needed to keep the peas happy is to give them plenty of water. We are now back to very dry conditions and so back to regular watering duty.
12 July
The pods of our first lot of broad (fava) beans - De Monica are filling up quickly. They have grown really well this year unlike last year when they struggled. I guess we will have to start freezing them soon.

Our potato harvest included our first root of one of our trial varieties - Premiere. Due to some bad planning - see video - we may not have harvested all the tubers from the root but they certainly passed the taste test. With another early variety - Athlete - still to harvest, choosing our favourites to grow next year will be difficult as all have been extremely flavoursome.
The courgette and squash plants have, at long last started to grow. The courgettes have begun to set fruit although some of the fruits are oddly shaped. Two small fruit seemed to have an identity crisis and wanted to grow ball shaped. This is often caused by poor pollination which is probably a consequence of the poor weather this summer. I managed to cut a couple of small fruits. Now the plants have produced more flowers, hopefully the real courgette harvest will kick in.
14 June
Finally we picked cut flowers which included the first sweet peas. 
The dahlias are flowering on very short stems which doesn't really lend them to use in a vase. I also picked some godetia and achillea.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

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.