Saturday, 25 June 2016

Dark Clouds

We forgot to put our Flag of Europe up to show our support before the referendum, and now, I'm VERY sorry to say, I don't feel like we are part of Europe. The cloudy skies behind certainly a sign of something brewing...
The sad photo includes the marigolds in a small trough that I put by the allotment gate. They were eaten down to stalks within a couple of days - what a year! Our pots at home are going through the same slug-abuse, but I'm pleased with my Night Sky petunias (even though Beechgrove Garden poo-pooed them recently!).
Thunder was rumbling around us while we got on with various jobs on the plots. And heavy rain showers were interspersed with bright, warm sunshine.
We weeded, sowed a few seeds (mangetout, to make up the current weak show), transplanted some lettuce, planted another Disco Summer squash, fed the birds and Jamie made up the pots for the Rocky cucumbers.
I re-sowed some Eskimo carrots as only two germinated from the previous sowing, but the Primo look quite good.
And then there was a flash of lightning and the loudest thunder clap that I've EVER heard, so we went home!
The hedge is covered in dog roses - so pretty

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Flowers on Things

A couple of fairly brief visits to the allotment this weekend. But we achieved what we wanted to. As well as watering, feeding the birds and, obviously, checking out how everything is doing...
Salad Blue
Potatoes do have such pretty flowers these are in the potato bags. The Kestrels in the ground have flowers too, but the Salad Blue in the ground haven't flowered yet.
Ok, some potato flowers are more hairy than pretty! But perhaps these will look better when they're fully open..
Purple-podded Pea
The flowers on the purple mangetout look nice but the plants are really not happy - they're pathetic! Not just because they are only about a foot tall with a 5-foot obelisk to grow up! I earthed them up a bit today and watered them with Epsom salts in an attempt to get some colour back into their leaves...
I also earthed up the Florence fennel - I wasn't really sure how much they should be earthed up, so I did a bit of a mixture of total or partial bulb coverage. We'll see...

And in the greenhouse...

All the tomato plants are at about the same stage as this photo shows (judging by the evidence of side-shoots I would guess this is the Orange Paruche which is the only one that should be growing as a bush).
Two of the peppers (Britney and Milena) have one flower each; Chelsea is a bit behind with just a tiny bud so far.
And elsewhere - the Disco and Defender summer squash are planted. Another Disco will be planted out once it grows a bit more. The parsnips nearly all germinated (we sow 3 per station). We won't remove 2 until we know they're safe from slugs - there are certainly a few missing.
The broad beans are getting bigger - come on broad beanies!!
We planted up the 10 Minicole cabbages yesterday - under netting to protect from pigeons and butterfly egg-laying (shh, and slug pellets). I planted out 4 of the Russian Giant sunflowers and have put bottle cloches round them until they get a bit bigger.
And our plot neighbours have erected a shed - we told them they're not allowed sheds, but did they listen?! No :-)
We pick strawberries whenever we visit but the ants/slugs/woodlice are having a field day on them! It's VERY disappointing to see a lovely juicy strawberry and then find there's a hole in it - often with a family of woodlice to boot! I would say that probably more than half are inedible as a result - what a shame!
This is one of the least damaged ones :-(
Oh well, still have enough for desserts. And I took a lettuce and salad bits home today so home-grown salads for lunch again - hooray! I love that!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Footie and Foodie

Unfortunately the flags didn't help England win their first match in Euro 2016, but there's plenty of time and plenty of other matches which will keep us away from the plot over the next 4 weeks.
We had a nice time weeding yesterday and drinking elderflower cordial, which a friend at work gave me as payment for some strawberry plants earlier in the year.
We've planted up most things now so it's pretty much time to sit back and wait for food! Especially if we get the rain that is being forecast. Our squashes and cucumbers will be ready to go out quite soon.. This is the luffah which has started developing more leaves in the greenhouse.
We were being rained on today, but it was just drizzle so we planted out the sweetcorn that had just popped up yesterday - they're tiny. We've protected them with cloches - the magpies (there was a family of 6 hanging round today) are likely to be the biggest problem, once the cobs have formed.
The Tender & True parsnips and the Primo carrots have germinated and hopefully some will survive the slugs - we sowed more than previous years. Only one coriander plant survived so I'll direct-sow some more near the carrots - well, it's traditional, even though our carrots are under enviromesh. My most recent salad sowings have been more successful than earlier sowings, so I should hopefully be eating home-grown salads quite soon...
Strawberries and radishes are our main harvest at the moment. They look pretty, but don't make much of a meal!
I was hoping to get 15 tall sunflowers but only 6 have germinated so far. However with some of the short sunflowers, the area we've planned for them should look pretty.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Aah Summer Arrived!

Just in time for me to enjoy my last 2 full days on the plot before returning to work. And look what came out with the sun to join us - yay! And the warmth has encouraged the sunflowers to germinate in their modules.
A little scrunched up
2 days of sunshine helped it open up

We dug manure-filled holes over the weekend and today the four pumpkins (Jack-be-Little and Jack-of-all-Trades) were planted out. And our Scarlet Empire runner beans are also planted on Plot3. So there shouldn't be quite so much empty space in a couple of weeks (hopefully!)
I couldn't wait any longer for my courgettes to germinate so bought a yellow courgette plant from the garden centre and planted that out too. Hopefully the green courgette and patty pan style will germinate soon so they'll just be a little late.
I still get excited when I manage to pick a bunch of radish. Some are still a bit nibbled but the enviromesh offers some protection. Some salad leaf would have been a welcome addition to the salad, but that should be along quite soon. The two Rocky cucumbers have germinated so they're in the greenhouse to grow a bit bigger before being planted out. The sweetcorn (sown at the weekend) are also in the greenhouse. They'll get planted out almost as soon as they germinate.

Much of the rest of the time was spent sitting under the sun umbrella, talking and spotting interesting creatures - birds, butterflies and beetles mostly.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Savour the Flavour

The first strawberry of the year - aah, the taste of things to come...(I should mention that those amazingly straight rows of seedlings in the background aren't ours - they're Neal's, our plot neighbour).
We shared that little strawberry. We both deserved a treat as it was another cool day but we got lots done and by late afternoon the sun came out and it actually felt like June. The Florence fennel are surviving, so far, in their green bins (I don't think the pests have noticed them).
The three tomato plants - Indigo Rose (cordon), Orange Paruche and Aviditas (cordon) - are in their bags in the greenhouse. I need to be sure to remove sideshoots on the cordon plants otherwise the greenhouse will be havoc! The onions seem slow this year, but I think that's because I'm comparing with other plotholders Winter-planted ones which are much more advanced.
Jamie dug two big holes for the Jack-be-little pumpkins on Plot 7. They'll be planted on top of a lovely load of well-rotted manure - that should keep them happy. I sowed a couple of trays of Oarsman leeks and 3 (just 3) Revenge Brussels sprouts. They're waiting in the netted 'nursery' along with some other seedlings and flowers that are waiting to be planted out.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Not what Summer should feel like!

Well, my week off hasn't proved to be the sunshine and barbecue week that I'd hoped for! June started extremely chilly yesterday with a temperature of just 13° in the greenhouse :-( At least I was out of the wind while I was in there though, which is why it looks so tidy. The 3 bell peppers are in their growbags with growpots and a string to take them to the roof (fingers crossed!).
I potted up the luffa cylindra and that is down the end with plenty of climbing space. It wants to be warm and humid so I really hope the weather cheers up soon! The tomato plants are waiting to be put into growbags and will be opposite the peppers. The troughs are planted up with marigolds and the big one will stay in the greenhouse as they're meant to be good companion plants for tomatoes. The small trough will go by the allotment main gate once the plants are a bit bigger.
Two rows of carrots are, at last, in the ground. Primo and Eskimo so they should keep us fed throughout the Summer and Autumn. There's a row of chard alongside the carrot netting and some coriander plants along the end. The rest of this quarter will have sprouts and more marigolds.
These are our Benchmaster runner beans. Protected with fleece, not because we expect frost but because we don't want the horrible wind to snap them off.
The cool temperatures have meant that the mangetout haven't grown very much yet, but it must get warmer soon...probably when I return to work next Tuesday!
Our chairman has strimmed the empty plot next to ours and we found a frog - yay! Scoff all those slugs please froggy!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Homage to Slugs

I've been chastised for using slug pellets (not by an allotment holder, obviously!). I agree they are horrible. They kill horribly and are indiscriminate in the type of slug they kill. Not all slugs are bad slugs. Many of them kill unwanted pests in the soil. Others help in the decomposition of organic matter to make our lovely compost. But lots of them enjoy fresh veg more than Jamie does!
There are other methods of clearing slugs - all just as nasty and painful (I usually regret talking to people about their slug deterrent methods!) and mostly ineffective. Beer traps are probably the least offensive and reasonably successful slug deterrent, though still indiscriminate. We've tried using broken pottery, coffee and sand around plants but they have either been ineffective or the rain washes it away just as the slugs are on the move. Copper tape is only good for pots and we're not convinced it works.
So, we'll continue to use organic slug pellets sparingly. We'll use them under netting to stop the birds eating them.
If slugs eat the parsnips we sowed at the weekend (we've opted for Tender and True this year) or eat the bud off our remaining blue poppy I'll be very unhappy.
If they take out our runner beans (Scarlet Empire) and the squashes the day after we plant them out we'll be very unhappy!
If they eat our peppers which we've just moved up to the greenhouse we'll be very unhappy!
But, I'll try not to hate all slugs. Really, I will!