Monday, 19 July 2010

What's going on at the allotment

I haven't got many flowers this year, they have had to fend for themselves while any watering has been reserved only for veg. But these marigolds have manged to thrive nonetheless.

The runner beans have enjoyed the recent rain and are now approaching the top of their canes, and are flowering. With any luck, the beans will start to be ready just as we return from our holiday. Not so the french beans, which are just starting to produce now. We had our first picking last night for supper.

Likewise the tomatoes, just beginning to ripen in time for someone else to reap the benefits of all my hard work. Harrumph. Oh well, hopefully they'll leave some for us.

And at least the leeks won't be ready for a while yet.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

New house update

While I wait for my new greenhouse, my chillies are living in luxury in the conservatory. They are doing pretty well but somewhere along the line I must have got the labels mixed up, because the ones I labelled 'Heatwave' look just like the 'Meek and Mild' poblano ones in the seed catalogue. The fruits are much bigger and fatter. The 'Heatwave' fruits are the same shape as the 'Ring of Fire'. I won't be able to tell which is which until they ripen, because the ring of fire are all red whereas the heatwave are all different colours. Hey ho, all will be revealed eventually. They have been suffering a bit from greenfly - but I have found a way to deal with that particular problem - hoover them up with the vacuum cleaner!

While exploring the garden, I have made an exciting discovery: we have a greengage tree! There is quite a lot of fruit on it too. We also have quite a few fruit on a Japanese quince 'Chaenomales' which is growing over from next door, but I'm not really sure what to do with these. I take it they are edible?

I have dug up all my garlic and autumn sown onions, and my shallots, and this bright utility area turns out to be the perfect place to leave them to dry. I am chuffed with the garlic, less so with the onions and shallots. The spring sown onions look a lot more promising....

It is drizzling today, and there is more rain forecast, which is all good of course, but it does mean I am not so inclined to go to the plot. I got quite a bit of weeding done on Saturday morning, and planted out my second lot of leeks, but there is still quite a bit of weeding to be done. And I still want to sow some more french beans.

I have a cunning plan for growing peas next year... I have done a bit of research and found a couple of dwarf varieties which I could grow under an enviromesh tunnel. They are small enough not to need much (if any) support and as peas are self-pollinating, I can protect them from both pea moths and pigeons right from the start. We'll see. My children don't seem to mind shelling peas, or broad beans, but I'm sure it would make the process quicker and more enjoyable if they didn't have to closely inspect each pod for creepy-crawlies.

I have spoken to the allotment man about my new allotment, and apparently, now that I am living in the area, I have moved up to around number 15 on the waiting list! I don't really know what that means in terms of waiting time - how long is a piece of string?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

We're in

We have now been in our new house for nearly five days. Now that we have unpacked most of our things it feels quite like home. There is still an awful lot to be done of course but it's fine for the time being.

Needless to say I have hardly been able to get to the plot for some time, I have just about been able to do some essential watering and a bit of harvesting, but there is a lot to be done there too. This is the first year I have had the plot where I have actually had to water regularly, the last three summers have been so wet, and I have found it difficult to find enough time to water sufficiently. I am having to prioritise - I am now ignoring all the things that are nearly finished, or well underway, like the broad beans and peas, and putting all my efforts into those that are yet to produce anything, like runner beans, french beans, squashes and sweetcorn. It isn't really feasible to water everything. Certainly not potatoes, I'd be there all day and all night. And it still wouldn't soak in much below the surface. I've had a very poor potato yield so far, only about 3 - 4 potatoes per plant, sometimes 5 if I'm lucky. Plenty of courgettes and broad beans, and some peas. I'm definitely not doing peas again. They have been decimated by pigeons and they are so time consuming to get out of the pods. I know they are delicious but I have so little time at the moment.

On our last night in our old house we had a chinese takeaway followed by all the cherries off the cherry tree! It was a whole bowlful, which was amazing compared to last year when we had a grand total of four, only one of which was actually eaten by a human being. This year I covered it in a sort of veil made of white voile, which made it look very bridal, and protected the fruit from the birds.

Sadly I have not been able to keep up with the sweet peas, which is a real shame because they really are beautiful. I managed one vaseful, which you can see above. I am going to try and pick some more, and hope that I am not too late to stop them all from going to seed. I finish work tomorrow so after that I am going to devote a few hours/days to weeding and other plot maintenance, so maybe I'll get a chance then.

The other thing I have not had a chance to harvest is the blackcurrants. They are mostly ripe now so I must get on with it before they shrivel up. There are lots of loganberries coming too. And the blueberries are beginning to ripen. Shame there isn't a pause button....