Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Walk of Life

What a busy weekend that was!
We've finally planted everything, (oh, excet the brassicas): the Rocky cucumbers are in the tall pots in the front of the photo and a Jack Be Little pumpkin is to the right. This is Plot3 and we've put the mesh up for the spaghetti squash and the Cucamelon to clamber up. My sister gave it to Jamie for his birthday. It's such a tiny plant, hope it grabs the mesh soon and holds on tight!
We've had no rain, lots of heat and plenty of sunshine so have needed to water every day, but it's worth it with everything growing well. The Pickwick dwarf runners have produced masses of flowers and the beans are on their way now...
I wore Jamie's pedometer and walk about 5km everytime we have a watering session, so good practice for the 5km Race for Life walk I did in Oxford with my workmate Ruth on Sunday - I wasn't going to attempt running it. I so love Oxford that I had to take a few photos. Looks good with all the walkers wearing pink (not quite all). It supports all cancers now, not only breast cancer and these events raise a huge amount of money for research.
After having an amazing Paneer naan wrap from Kebab Kid on the Cowley Road I went home and, you guessed it, we needed to water the allotment. The High Street was closed off for Hungerford Carnival so we wandered up and stayed to watch the floats. We saw a few of our plotholder friends in the parade and watching it. Maybe next year we'll be organised enough to have a HAHA float...
We watered everything in the hot evening air, everything looking beautiful around us.
There were 7 Red Kites flying overhead! And so many butterflies fluttering by.
So pleased that some of the freesia bulbs, planted in Spring, have flowered. The fragrance is amazing.
Ivan has stripped down all his pea plants, so gave us his "left-overs". We made a delicious pea soup with garlic, onion and vegetable stock.
So that's another long weekend over - I took Monday off as a recovery day. This hot weather is so gorgeous but it wears me down a bit these days, luckily I have a week off very soon!
The song is by Dire Straits, with such a ground-breaking video in its day!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Everything is Transformed

This time last week I was buzzing about, getting into a bit of a panic about the fete planning and the Hungerford in Bloom judging, which both happened at the weekend - you may have noticed.

Jamie and I did some final frantic clearing of Plot7 on Friday - Jamie's neat edging always makes it look tidy and the polytunnel now looks like a growing area, rather than a messy shed! We have three Aviditas tomatoes on the left and three peppers on the right.

The judge took 3 hours walking around the site, judging the plots and scoring them according to size - HAHA decided a couple of years ago that it was difficult to compare a 1-pole plot with a gardener who has 16-poles. Jamie and I only entered Plot7 into the competition - it's the only plot in my name (I don't know why that is, but it was a good job).

Anyway, because everyone who entered had made their plots look lovely for the judging, the site really was looking its very best for the fete on Sunday afternoon. And the sun shone - phew, it was hot!

We had lots of visitors - happy children when they saw the bouncy castle; happy adults to see the tables set out down the centre of the site and happy everyone when they saw the amazing stock of cakes and the barbecue.

We had several games as well as the tombola - Guess the Teddy name, treasure map (based on the site plot numbers), the spray boat and blow boat races went down very well. A little friendly competition between partners ...

..and friends. I beat Ivan. I won with dignity I feel :-D
The ping-pong pots game, coin toss and ultimate lemons (have you ever tried balancing a coin on a lemon in water?) proved popular too. As well as the FlowerPot pressies for children.
The wheel of fortune was an excellent piece of engineering and raised quite a bit too, drawing attention whenever it was spun.

And the Aunt Sally and HorseShoe tossing games also kept people entertained. The trouble with running a fete is that you miss out on so much of the fun yourself, don't get to take enough photos and it was exhausting. However, I managed to talk to lots of visitors (never managing to finish a conversation) and it was a pleasure when they marvelled at our site on its 10th Anniversary.
We were visited by ex-plotholders, local councillors, the local newspaper photographer as well as people who had never visited the site before. Also, Bill Ackworth who was a councillor when the site was sourced and first set up in 2009 - so lovely for him to see what a fantastic community he founded. It was definitely a great event for raising the profile of the allotments in Hungerford.
Guess the weight of the cake! 1.8kg
And finally, after our mad bit of tidying, planting, edging and clearing <drumroll please> we won 1st place in the '2-3 Poles' category in Hungerford in Bloom! What a welcome surprise!!
And we pulled our garlic
The song is by Jorge Drexler "Todo se transforma" which is referring to the site - because of the beautiful plots and also how different it looks when there are lots of people there!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Too Much Too Little Too Late

July has arrived! A lot has happened since my last blogpost but I've been too busy to post. Lunches have got more interesting, with radishes, broad beans and mangetout joining the salad leaves.
We've had lots of visits to the plot, with too much to do, but we have managed to get a lot done and watering each day. Finally we've managed to plant up (most of) the remaining courgettes and squashes and the Double Red and Glass Gem sweetcorn, which germinated within a week of sowing in the hot greenhouse.
We pulled out all the poppies and dug holes, filled with manure, for the squashes - pretty sure that won't be the last we've seen of those poppies!
I planted out the globe artichoke and I've protected that, plus the squashes, from slugs with coffee grounds. Not sure whether they work or whether the dry weather has helped keep the slugs at bay, plus our resident frogs.
Our Kestrel potatoes have their first flower.
We've had some lovely sunshine and very high temperatures - too high to work on a couple of days, but we planted out our HAHA competition sunflowers. They look a bit weedy compared to other people's!

We've watched a robin parent feeding its young and now the baby is feeding itself, but it hasn't got a red breast yet.

Jamie's planted the Lark sweetecorn on Plot3.

These mullein moth caterpillars are enjoying the ragwort on Min's plot - they are stunning to see, especially the big ones.
All the different beans (Yard Long, Gigantes, Speedy, Pickwick) have been planted out and seem quite happy. The Pickwick (dwarf runners) are in flower.

The pak choi and rocket plants went to seed a while ago, so I've filled the gap by sowing more beetroot and salad onions.
The carrots are happily growing under their enviromesh cloche - they've got a while to go before we're going to be able to eat the thinnings.
The strawberries continue to be delicious. Certain areas of the site are full of the scent of them - fabulous!
Our raspberries are on their way - though the birds are happy to eat them before they're red enough for us - we really need to get them under netting.
We have some gorgeous blooms on show.
But our french marigold and snapdragon seedlings are too small to produce a show for the Hungerford in Bloom allotment judging on Saturday! They'll be beautiful in a couple of weeks though - just too late for the judging and the fete :-(
All involved are busy preparing for our fete (have I mentioned the fete? This Sunday?) and I enjoyed a little break from that preparation, work and life-in-general by making a pretty tea light holder, for the allotment, at a craft session as part of the Hungerford Summer Festival - pretty and so easy to do.
The song refers to how my life is feeling at the moment. Luckily I have Friday off and then Saturday to finalise everything for THE FETE! And the sun is going to shine and England Ladies won't be in the final for the Women's Football World Cup, which I'm not pleased about ...but...

Sunday, 16 June 2019

First World Problems

We didn't pick strawberries in the week because it was just too wet to want to scrabble around under the bird netting, but we were very pleased that the harvest yesterday was so delicious, with plenty more on the plants - we wish we knew the variety as they are so sweet and produce masses of fruits. We only have 5 plants but will definitely take some runners this year.
We had two visits to the plot yesterday, luckily we went home for lunch and missed a torrential downpour. The plants (and weeds) are enjoying it but it's not great for June, is it?
Today Jamie earthed up the potato bags and added some potato fertiliser to them. I sowed sweetcorn: Double Red and Glass Gem - it may be a bit late for them to produce the cobs so I'm hoping for a long season... Luckily Jamie had already sowed the Lark which are the ones we mostly like to eat, rather than for the Horticultural Show and Food Festival. The Larks have germinated so we'll get them planted out quite soon, but it was really windy today.
Yesterday we were mowing and tidying a communal area on the site as we want it to be clear and tidy for the fete on Sunday 7th June. I hope some of you who read this blog will be able to come along and join us!

The grass we sowed wasn't too successful, but the area is green because of all the weeds! And as long as we keep mowing we hope that we'll beat the marestail into submission...
We also potted up lots of flowers yesterday so that the site looks cheerful for the fete - I'm hoping that 3 weeks is long enough for those plants to fill out the empty spaces.
Jamie's planted out the first Jack Be Little pumpkin plant - protected from wind and slugs at the moment.
And I was tackling the spikiest, nastiest thistle on our Plot46A which hasn't had a look-in yet this year. We intend to plant other squashes on that plot and clear all the rotten wood at some point this Summer. It's a mess.
I was pleased to pick some salad, including radish for my lunch tomorrow.
And even more pleased that we have all these lovely over-Wintered broad beans for dinner this evening. We're having a curry.
And I got a very small bunch of flowers, with a few sweetpeas.
I'm still clearing the poppies and other self-sown flowers from Plot 7, but it's still looking so pretty and the frogs are appreciating the cover.
So, after three visits to the plot in one weekend we have achieved a lot, but there's still so much more to do. Seedlings are growing in the polytunnel but not quite large enough to be planted out yet. We could do with a bit more sunshine and warmer temperatures, but it doesn't look like this week is necessarily going to provide it - hence the song title.... by Ian Brown.