Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Following on from last week's rant...

I've got over my despairing mood of last week, now it's just too hot to do any despairing or anything else for that matter, including taking photos, hence no photos. We have also had a really torrential downpour last Friday, so that took the pressure off in the watering department.

Since then, we have eaten our first peas. How could I possibly have considered not growing peas again??? I thought long and hard about the scaling back idea, and decided that there really isn't much that I wouldn't want to grow, and green manure involves regular cutting down and digging in, so probably wouldn't be much less work anyway.

I will definitely put a lot more soft fruit in over the winter thought. My raspberries in the garden have all got raspberry beetle, and they're all covered in something sticky, and they are getting very overcrowded and there is no room to walk in between them . So I'm going to start again with some new plants at the allotment, and will also do some more currant bushes.

I have decided my potato situation is normal, the potatoes we have eaten are all fine, so all I have to do is stop comparing mine to my neighbours'.

The greenhouse tomatoes are starting to ripen. I tasted one today and although the flavour is good, the skins are so tough they are inedible. Very disappointing. I've brought a few green ones inside to ripen them in a box, see if they are any better. If not I hope the outdoor ones will be better, the greenhouse ones will just have to be put through the passata maker (should be able to get that out of its box soon...)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

1st Anniversary

I've just realised I started doing this blog exactly one year and two days ago. Happy Birthday Blog.

A few months ago I posted the picture above, and said I would post another one in a few months time. Well, here is the promised update:

The flowers are lovely and doing a good job of keeping that area weed free (ish)

The runner beans are flowering,

There is plenty of fruit on the tomatoes.

The potatoes are looking sickly. I know they start to die back after a while, but this seems a little soon. The earlies have only just been in 12 weeks, and the second earlies shouldn't even be ready yet, so surely they shouldn't be turning yellow and falling over? The maincrops look fine, apart from two which look a bit shrivelled, no idea why.

I wouldn't dream of moaning about hot sunny weather, but all this watering I'm having to do... it's the first year this has happened, and now I realise what a massive downside it is. I spent about 3 hours up there this afternoon, my back is aching and it's not as if you can put your feet up when you get home. Oh no. Then there's the strawberries to wash and hull, potatoes to scrub, lettuces to wash and beans to pod. That's before you've even started cooking. There is just SO much to do at the moment, and not just on the allotment. I had planned to do some curtain making tonight, but I just can't face it. As I was waiting for the pictures to upload, I was simultaneously scrubbing potatoes, podding beans and half-watching the tennis. On my way home from the plot I was fantasising about walking through the door with the box of veg and saying, 'there you are dear, there's the veg, what are we having for supper?' while I take a shower and settle down with a beer to watch the tennis.

Well, you have probably guessed I am having an off day. So much so that I'm seriously considering scaling back the allotment next year. It shouldn't be so stressful that I start to resent it. Obviously I don't want to give it up, but I was thinking maybe I could fill quite a big area with green manure, and just grow less of everything, particularly those things which give minimum yield for maximum faff, eg peas. Maybe concentrate on easy, good value things like courgettes, tomatoes, sweetcorn and runner beans. Half the amount of potatoes, so no having to find space to store them, ditto onions. One whole section could be devoted to soft fruit, and with any luck there would be more time for things like jam-making.

I'll see how I feel in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Pearly pink potatoes

We're having these for supper this evening - dug 'em up today - first ones of the summer!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Strawberries for Tea

Today was the first day I was able to pick enough strawberries for all four of us. Delicious.

These are the Marmande tomatoes. There are plenty coming on all the other varieties, but these are the most advanced.

And those tiny cucumber plants, which spent several weeks refusing to grow, are now producing cucumbers:

These are the 'Yellow Baby' water melons, planted in grow-bags, with bottomless pots for extra space. I hope there is enough room for them all - the instructions said two melons to a bag, but it said the same on both the large (50 l) and the small (30 l) sizes, so I hope with the extra compost and plenty of feeds they should do ok.

This week at the allotment I have planted out my french beans and leeks, sowed more french beans direct into the ground, sowed another row of carrots, and weeded, A LOT. The carrots, onions and celeriacs are now weed-free, as are nearly all the brassicas, but I still need to do the rest of the brassicas and the peas and broad beans. Getting there...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

So much to do, not enough hours...

Sunday evening, arrived back from holiday. Approached allotment with some trepidation on Monday morning on the way to the supermarket - would my bean/pea/tomato support structures still be standing? Would my newly planted tomatoes and runner beans have survived the week without me? Fortunately all was well, just one empty beer bottle, nothing too alarming. Tomatoes and beans hadn't really grown, but it is like a desert up there, dry as dust. Picked a big carrier bag full of broad beans, which we ate for supper - lovely. There are loads more to come.

Yesterday evening I planted out 41 sweetcorn plants. It is far too many of course but last year there weren't really enough, so of course I have gone to the other extreme this year.

Here are the runner beans...

and some pumpkins, squashes and courgettes. There is still room at the end for three butternut squash plants, which will have to wait a bit longer, I ran out of time.

The brassicas have all shot up, but desperately need weeding...

same applies to the onions

But the potatoes (in the background) have got so big there isn't room for any weeds.
The green strawberries are lying in the dust and need to have some straw or something underneath them, and some netting on top. The edges need trimming again and I need to tackle the grass and weeds around the shed and compost bins.

There are still french beans to plant out, chillies, cucumbers and peppers to pot up and lawn to mow (again). In addition I am about to embark on a huge curtain making project - doing virtually a whole 6-bedroom house for somebody at work, which will keep me pretty busy over the summer, so I am trying to do as much as I can on the allotment before the first lot of material arrives.

And the asparagus beetles have taken advantage of my absence to start procreating. I was doing so well before we went away, removing them each day, but now there are eggs as well.

It's overwhelming sometimes isn't it?