Sunday, 22 July 2018

Too much sunshine

There has been a bit of a gap in the blog posts recently. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly there is an issue of redundancy. I am currently in the process of going through redundancy consultations with my current employer which has taken my focus away from other things. Secondly there is a health matter. This hot weather has not done my asthma any favours and I had to go to hospital due to getting flu and restricted breathing problems.

Happy to say that both issues have now been resolved, and I can once again focus on the plot.

I have manged to feed the plot enough water that it has escaped the worst of the solar onslaught, however not all have remained unscathed. Firstly the turnips seemed to give up the ghost and just bolted straight to seed.

Rather than waste the bed, The Wife pulled them all and planted Cape Gooseberries in place.

Despite an earlier loss of some of the courgette plants, it seems that a couple of them survived and these, along with the replacements, are now starting to churn out the little marrows in great quantity. Now despite them all coming from the same seed stock, we have a variety of types being produced ranging from the normal greens, to yellows, to a yellow/green mix with strange ribs. Just goes to show that courgettes seeds don't always breed true.

The petunias are certainly putting on a good show though. Almost everybody who walks past the plot comments on them. But then, I suppose, that was the whole point of them being there.

The spud foliage (Maris Peers) is now starting to die down, which means it's time to dig them up, or empty the bags as appropriate.

It seems that the ones in the baskets and buckets have not done as well as those in the big bags. No idea about those in the ground as yet. They'll probably get dug up next weekend.

Now one thing that has been an experiment, which seems to have worked in this weather is the melons. These were seeds saved from a supermarket honeydew melon. We didn't really expect much from them, but yes, we do have a couple of melons growing in the greenhouse.

And finally, the sweetcorn is now starting to ripen. Whether we'll be able to actually eat any this year remains to be seen, but there is a marked difference between the two varieties that we are growing.

The ones on the left are an organic variety. The ones on the right are our standard "popcorn" variety that we've been growing for a few years now. Notice the difference in the heights of the plants. The popcorn's seem to have two or three cobs per plant compared to the organics only having one.

We're used to having oddities being found at the plot. But here is one I have never before seen. An albino garden spider. It was hiding in the red sun flowers, and it certainly knew how to hide. no sooner had I turned the leaf over than it scuttled off to hide again, so this is the best shot of it that I managed.

Still, I hope Spid survives. It's certainly got a better chance than I have in this heat. Garcon! Something cool and refreshing s'il vous plait.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Flaming June

It seems we're having a spot of good weather at the moment.

By "good" I mean sunny with no rain. Which means that the plot has to get watered at least every couple of days. The rain barrel is dry so it's time to run the hosepipe. Fortunately our plot is right next to the water point so it's not too much of an issue. The only real sticking point are the plants in the greenhouses. These are in small trays to hold the water. But as the temperatures in there are regularly topping 40C then this water can get used up pretty fast. A few times I've walked in to find the plants wilting in the heat.

The greenhouses are getting full and although we've moved a lot of stuff out into beds, there is so much growth that at times it feels like a jungle.

But watering is a serious issue.

Now for the most part, each plant pot has it's own tray, but there is an issue which I didn't really foresee with the Sweet Million Tomatoes. They now reside in large pots... to which I have no equally sized trays. So either I need to keep them topped up with water or I need to find an alternative solution. I need to put my thinking cap on.

So I cut open the old compost bags that I squirrelled away and duly sawed up an Estate Agent's sign post to make a raised area and laid the compost cover over it. Now I can fill it up with water. I can keep about 3 pots in these, so I'll have to juggle things carefully.

Meanwhile there is lush green growth in all beds... even the ones we didn't plant. Yes it seem that a few rogue courgettes (or squashes, not sure what exactly), potatoes and even tomatoes have managed to germinate. Whether they thrive is another matter.

The apple tree has had it's June Drop as well. So now we have a pretty reasonable set of apples which are starting to swell and ripen.

But it seems that there are a few areas which aren't so happy. For example the potatoes in the shopping baskets.

As you can see they have quite a few yellowing leaves and they just don't seem to be doing so well. So I decided to empty one of them out and see what's what below the soil. Well for starters there are some small spuds. About a decent portion for myself and The Wife for dinner tonight.

But the biggest takeaway from this discovery is that the soil is extremely dry. Whilst I have been watering them, it seems that the water, for the most part, has been heading for the sides of the baskets and then running away. Not much of the water is actually penetrating the main portion of the soil. So instead of pulling the other two, I decided to give them a long slow watering and see how things progress for next week. If they don't recover then it's not too much of an issue. I still have plenty of other potatoes in bags (and buckets and in the ground) which are showing very healthy green leaves and flowers.

Out at the front we get a lot of people stopping by and commenting on the petunias. They are certainly putting on a dazzling display.

Not bad for a few Estate Agent's signs and a couple of gravel boards.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Strawberries galore

It seems that the Strawberry Empire is now in session. Everyday we're bringing back punnet-fulls of them.

You wouldn't think it to look at the strawberry beds, but there are a huge amount hiding under those leaves.

Elsewhere we've pulled out the onions and planted loads of tomatoes. We've never really had decent success with onions. This year they seemed to start out OK, but instead of the bulbs swelling up, all they seemed to do was split. The end result being loads of small, unusable onions rather than anything decent. We might try looking at a different variety next year.

Meanwhile, we've now planted 4 beds of Ailsa Craig tomatoes. Though not full beds as we still have a couple of the Dwarf French Beans in one of the beds.

The Wife's flower bed has also had a makeover. Back in the spring we planted a whole load of wildflower seeds. Except the majority of them came up as weeds. A lot of chard and Lambs Quarters, so those we're all pulled a whole load of the Spyder flowers were put in instead.

But it still didn't make much difference to the greenhouse which are still as full as ever.

The very back corner of the plot is still a dumping ground and bone yard. I've thrown down a load of weed membrane in an attempt to cover everything and keep the weeds down. Not really sure what to make of this area in the future. It's kind of awkward sandwiched between the Apple Tree and the Artichoke. At the moment it's a place for all my buckets of spuds and unused water barrel.

Any thoughts as to what I could do with this area?

At the otherside, the front of the plot, all of the troughs are now planted which petunias. We seem to get a lot of comments from people walking past about. Which was kind of the point really.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Pathway maintenance

A few weeks back we did the working party to fix one of the main paths across the allotment. However the path to the left of my plot is becoming a little overgrown from the plot next door.

Well a fork, wheelbarrow, and a whole load of woodchips later, I dug out the grass and bindweed by their roots and laid down a new walkway. I'm sure you'll agree that it's much tidier now.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the Pak Choi has started to bolt due to the heat.

There are still a few plants there which are destined for the pot though. But since the Pak Choi this year has been relatively successful, we're going to try and collect the seeds and try again next year.

But there are some good sides to the heat. The Wife's flowers have started blooming everywhere.

And the bees are now visiting. Though they're a little hard to photo because they're just too busy.

I think we need to be a little less busy. Garcon! A large cool one over here please.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Summer's here

1st of June. Officially the first day of the summer calendar. And of course that means Strawberries...

Not many at the moment, but there promises to be a good harvest from the Strawberry Empire.

But it looks like the Onions may be over. They have dropped all their leaves, and seem to be the worse for wear. Not sure if we should just pull them no and cut our losses.

I dug the third and final of the clay beds. There are four of the Honey Bear Squash now planted in there. Though I think we're going to have to start sprouting some more courgettes to replace the ones eaten by the slugs.

Being part of the Bread Club I have a lot of flour on hand. However some of the flour seemed to have a bit of a weevil infestation, so instead I've sprinkled the flour on the courgettes in an attempt to dissuade the slugs. I'll let you know whether the remains of the plants are saved.

Else where the turnips are in full growth...

...but after pulling one of them, they don't seem to be in any hurry to bulb up their root. May take a while.

But the trough I planted last week has started blooming quite well. Soon they'll be a cascade of petunias down the sides.

Things are looking pretty good on the plot. Though we still have to consider what to do about the tomatoes.

Maybe we'll make a decision tomorrow.