Monday, May 10

Our fickle soil

We had rain, but until Saturday, nothing like the downpours people are experiencing in other areas. Our rain came at a steady pace of the showery type with the occasional bit of hail or sleet mixed in. It bubbled up out of the blue and just as suddenly as it started stopped again. The cumulative effect has, however, meant that we have already had our expected allocation of rain for the entire month of May. During the week, bitingly cold winds have been sweeping down from the Arctic to make us shiver and along with the rain, conspired to keep us inside rather than outside in the garden. There seemed little point in planting anything outside as even in the greenhouse plants and seedlings are on a go slow protest - we haven’t heated the greenhouses for years now – seeds are also very, very slow to germinate.

The only times that we went out last week were to take Ruby for her walks. As usual one of these walks was to Nostell Priory. It was touch and go as to whether we actually went there as showers were forecast but in the end, we decided to take the risk. If it rained we could just turn round and return home.

All the time that we were at Nostell, large black clouds loomed overhead threatening a downpour.
At one point we felt several large spots of rain so we decided to head back nearer to the car to avoid being caught out and ending up drenched. As it happened, when we reached the car, the rain had stopped. To be accurate the rain never really started, it was just enough to threaten that we might have had a downpour. We decided that we would head off walking in a different direction and keep closer to the car - just in case.

The wind was bitterly cold. When walking into the wind it made our faces sting, but Ruby, despite her ears flapping in the wind, seemed oblivious. At least when we walked through the wooded area we managed to get some shelter and it was a much pleasanter experience.
The trees are really greening up now. The horse chestnuts are well ahead of the rest of the trees and will look lovely once their flowers appear.

In my last post, I mentioned the bluebells were flowering, last week they looked even better, more flowers had appeared creating carpets of blue in the wooded area.
It’s difficult to take photographs that do the bluebells justice but I hope the photographs above can give you some idea of the spectacle.

At the end of the walk, before heading back to the car for a coffee and a flapjack, or in Ruby’s case a dog biscuit and a drink of water, we headed for the off lead area to give Ruby a game of chase the ball which she loved. She still had masses of energy.
This time I remembered to change my camera settings so that I could capture the high speed action.

Saturday, the rain fell steadily for most of the day, but Sunday was relatively dry and also much warmer than of late so we managed an afternoon at the allotment. It’s almost a fortnight since our last plot visit, so before we set to work we had a wander around the plot to check on the things we had actually managed to plant.

There was no sign of any potato growth. In many ways this was fortunate, as one of our plot neighbours told us that his potatoes had frost burn. Some volunteer potato plants on our plot had pushed through the soil and had also been damaged by frost.  The potatoes that we had planted were in the best place - safely under ground.
The early brassica plants were looking fit and well.

The broad beans hadn’t seemed to suffer from the inclement conditions that had prevailed since they were planted. 

The overwintering onions and garlic were growing well.

The newly planted onion and shallot sets were shooting.

One of our smallest apple trees - Fiesta - was absolutely covered in blossom. The Tickled Pink apple tree with the deep pink blossom was also flowering.

We intended to plant as many of our remaining seed potatoes as possible. We usually plant our seed potatoes through weed control fabric but using this method takes more time. The fabric needs moving into place, holding down and mulching before we can start planting. As we needed to plant the potatoes as quickly as possible we decided to forego the use of the fabric and deal with the weeds that will undoubtedly try to take over. 
We almost managed to plant all the potatoes. When we set off home, we had planted the rest of our Apache potatoes along with all our Elfe and most of our Nadine, Rudolf and Charlotte varieties. We now just have a few left over seed potatoes to plant in a mixed bed. 

In just a few short days the rain has not only triggered the plants - including weeds_ into growth but converted our dusty soil into a sticky, claggy consistency. Such is our lot when working a clay soil.
We picked a few sticks of rhubarb before packing up and heading home. Many of our rhubarb plants were sending up flower spikes so we removed these as we don’t want the plants to be weakened by the urge to produce flowers.

You may be wondering why I haven’t featured any meals lately. It isn’t that we have stopped eating but, other than recipes that I have featured before, our harvests are on the low side so at the moment I am using quite a lot of bought ingredients. Our potatoes, carrots and onions are all used up so we are having to buy them. We do still have some of our frozen vegetables but little in the way of fresh veg. For this reason, as my recipes are intended to show how we use our produce, it would seem like cheating to include recipes relying on shop bought ingredients.
As always keep safe and well. 
Again,  I'm cheekily joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week. I'm hoping for better harvests to come.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett


  1. The weather is not doing any of us any favours. It's so hard to be stuck inside wishing you were outside, and thinking of all the jobs you should be doing.

    1. At least now we can make a start, Deborah

  2. Ruby looks as though she's having a brilliant time, and I'm glad you got round without getting soaked. Bertie has a little less energy now he is at the grand old age of four and made one of the boys fetch the ball for him yesterday. A neighbour gave me some potato buckets the other day, so I'm wondering if it's too late to plant some. My runner beans were planted out a week or so ago and are looking appalling. I'm going to have to put the tomatoes out soon as well, they are not appreciating being in pots.

    1. Ruby loves racing about, CJ. She likes to share who she plays with. If she thinks someone is being left out she tries to get them to join in which is why she was running up to me despite Martyn having thrown the ball. Nothing to lose go for planting, We've planted potatoes in may before and had a good crop. We're OK with runner beans as we usually sow around now anyway.

  3. You got some great pics of Ruby in action! Your brassicas do look good. Mine would benefit from a bit of protection but usually the aphids move in if I do cover them.

    1. We were relieved to see that the brassicas were looking OK Dave. The enviromesh protects from pigeons, butterflies and cuts down on whitefly. Unfortunately it's no protection from slugs!

  4. Hopefully you've had more rain since Saturday Sue. Much in the way of sunshine and showers here and it's so much warmer. The bluebell woods look breathtaking.

    1. We have indeed, Anna with hail, thunder and lightning thrown in.

  5. Just loving happy Ruby pics. Gosh, those clouds were ominous! They look very similar to ours, we've had every type of weather, just like you, I'm grateful for the rain, we really needed it. I'm finding that seeds are taking forever to germinate, inside and out. It has been a cold

  6. It’s looking good, Sue, but it does feel like slow year! The rain has certainly brought on the weeds and we’re expecting another wet weekend, so another missed weekend of gardening 😔 Hopefully we’ll catch up as is normally the case ... 🤞

  7. Send some rain here Sue. We have warm and dry weather. I have to water plants using a pump. Bluebells look wonderful! Ruby is such lover of life. Hopefully your veggies grow well.


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