Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I know I've been quiet...

...but I've been quite busy too.

We've had some visits to the plot over the last couple of weeks but this is the most exciting thing that's happened..

The most amazing video filmed by a friend, Colin, using his Quad-copter. I'm obsessed! Can't stop sharing it with anyone I meet so how could I not share it with you lovely people too?!

Please enjoy and feel free to share too if you're so inclined.
This is just the type of thing which will help spread the word about how lovely our site is and what Hungerford will be missing should the worst happen when our current lease expires in April 2016 :-(

Thursday, 31 July 2014

July came and went

Another month passed us by :-( We've had some dramatic weather; hot, hot temperatures and a couple of amazing thunderstorms but not as much rain as a lot of people have had - though the sky often threatened.
We had a few visits to the plot and managed to pick a few veggies and get a few of our sickly seedlings into the ground and we've been pleased that the runner beans, carrots and beets are growing well. Though there aren't many bees around to pollinate the beans.
Funny that this year, when we've hardly grown anything, was the time that BBC Radio Berkshire decided to call (5mins before live broadcast) for a quick (1 minute!) radio interview. I was expecting them to ask about the plight of our lovely site but he actually wanted to talk about what we've been growing. Well, we all know you can't trust the media so I basically made some stuff up! Thank goodness for my fennel, which I've been boring everyone with this year!

Here's a sound file of my bit, if you're interested. Don't get too excited!
I did make the soup and it was delicious. Notice that I didn't claim to have grown the celeriac :-)
Finally I've had a few patty pans and the Zephyr squash have just started to look like they're meant to! The first squash on each plant just looked like a normal pale green courgette - maybe the plants were a bit shocked into producing a fruit a bit too quickly. They don't look like they're going to climb up the trellis, but hopefully there will be a few for me to try. Our Lizzano tomatoes are doing well and are super sweet - we've even managed to take some home, but most have been eaten on the plot.
I've seen the beautiful kingfisher flit across the site a couple of times! The neon blue flash is so eye-catching, but I'm not sure I'll ever be quick enough to snap it!
Cape Gooseberry
We had one late night at the plot to do a spot of bat-detecting - just look at all those insects and the ghostly form of Jamie! There were a lot of bats (most likely pipistrelles) at the top of site, but not so many by our plot, near the canal, which was rather surprising.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Warning - Whinger Alert

Bleah, what a year!
One would think that a month off work would mean that our plots are looking beautiful and we're busy harvesting. Unfortunately that isn't the case as I've been sickly and there are a lot of bare patches where we just haven't had time to sow, plant or grow anything. I hate to admit that as I write this I know there are marigolds, cabbages and leeks drying out in their trays - how awful :-(
Well, we're resigned to not eating much this year! Here are a few pics on the few occasions we have visited.
I'm still hoping to get some mangetout. I was most disappointed, though not surprised, when I saw that the pigeons had visited...
I half-heartedly attached some strips of plastic and there's been a bit of new (un-nibbled) growth, so we'll see...
Apart from the rhubarb and strawbs this is what we've harvested! Lucky I don't have any appetite at the moment. We pulled the Desiree potatoes because the foliage had gone down with something.

I am going to risk saying that my Florence fennel looks good (well, it did a few days ago).

Here's to feeling healthy again quite soon!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Catching Up

A couple of weeks away from work and a few sunny days have made all the difference! I feel much better and the plot is looking at least part-loved again. We've been driving to the allotment and parking next to our plot so I can escape to the car (the shed) as necessary!
This is what we've been living on throughout June - no wonder you've been unwell, you're thinking!! OK, not quite, but it is all we're harvesting at the moment.
The Raspberry Red rhubarb has been amazing; shooting up delicious new stems regularly. The plants are collapsing under the weight of the older leaves and stems now, just look at the size of those two plants!
We've enjoyed quite a lot of air traffic recently because of D Day commemorations and this Dakota flying low over the site was very impressive - take my word for it - the photo does NOT do it justice.
Jamie's just finished sowing some Speedy dwarf French beans for germinating at home, before planting out on the plot. This may mean that our runners and French beans don't all arrive at once...
The Scarlet Empire runners are looking happy since being transplanted on the plot and protected from wind damage by fleece.
Look at that healthy bud, just waiting to become flowers then lovely beanies!
The raised bed crops are looking ok, though the Pak choi leaves may not be edible due to flea beetle damage. We should get some salad and I live in hope that the beets will pull through (though generally seedlings don't appreciate being completely dried out in the early stages of their lives!)
The Florence fennel continues to need regular protection from slugs. They are beginning to bulb up, so I'm looking forward to that!
I've put a trellis up for purple-podded mangetout and some PeeWee 65 petit pois. I've also sown a row of Asparagus pea, chard and Callalloo. Jamie transplanted the grafted Lizzano tomato plants into high standing pots. We're hoping this will stop us trampling on so many of the toms when they start
I've put a Festival squash to scramble along the ground near the pea trellis and a Sunburst patty pan squash, which is a bush variety, on the legume quarter. Two Zephyr squash have been planted to grow over the squash trellis from last year.
Jamie's sown the carrots and parsnips and we've got Tundra cabbage and multi-coloured beet root seedlings just popping up in the seeding cage by our healthy-looking potato plants.
So, we've been pretty busy - well, Jamie's been busy; I've provided vital morale boosting and support :-)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

What we have done...

Luckily Plot 8 is looking a bit better than Plot 7. The rhubarb and strawberries have been serving us very well. We had to net the strawberries as we have a friendly female blackbird who has a very sweet tooth :-)
Slugs are again the bane of the site. They've eaten some potato plants down to stalks - our Chopin rows received a lot of attention, but the Desiree got away with it (at least the foliage has).
I bought a tray of 8 Florence fennel, which have gone into the raised bed, protected by bottle cloches and slug pellets. Everyday we find new dead slugs surrounding each plant - gross, but at least I still have 8 plants...
I've put rows of Pak choi, lettuce and beets into the raised bed too. The slug pellets are saving them too, but there aren't many red fire lettuce left!

Alison (fellow plotholder) gave me a bunch of jewel-coloured flowers - so beautiful!
The squashes and gherkins germinated well but aren't quite ready to go into the ground yet. The cucamelons didn't grow well, so none of them to try this year - unless anyone else on the allotment site had any luck with theirs.
The two rows of broad beans are pathetic, as a result of slug (and possibly pheasant) abuse. We've got a few flowers on most remaining stems so we're leaving them to do what they will... And hopefully we'll get a few beans to eat!