Sunday, 30 June 2013

I'll only be a minute...

I cut the grass at home again, I seem to be at it every week at the moment. Weeded, watered.

I only went to the allotment for a few minutes to water the tomatoes in the greenhouse...Came away an hour and a half later...

Picked almost a pound of strawberries
       and  6 mangetout (they may be ordinary peas, but at this stage they are all mangetout) and some broad beans
and pulled out some more winter onions, they are doing their job of filling the "hunger gap"
and cut some flowers from the cut flower bed - don't you just love it when a plan comes together!
One of the pumpkins has died, the main stem either broken or chewed by something, and one of the La Diva cucumbers has just shrivelled up.

Friday, 28 June 2013

First broad beans (just)

Pretty wet today, perfect slug weather, there was lots of crunching and squishing going on as I walked the grassy paths of the allotment.

I picked broad beans, only yielding about 2 ounces of very baby beans, but it is good to pick them as soon as possible to encourage more to come on.  The wikiem manita seem to have the biggest pods on, the bunyards exhibition next biggest and the red epicure don't seem to have any pods on at all yet. It looks like I might have achieved a "succession", all without trying.

Picked a whopper strawberry, that's the baby at the front, it weighed in at 1.9 oz. There were 9 ripe, the first half pound.
The fennel are looking quite good, for all it has been so dry.  The stems are starting to plump up. (Ignore all the extra plants in the picture, the current rain has really brought them on.)
The round courgettes are having another go after the slugs gnawed the skin off the first ones.
And the man who mends gates twining his runners.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

first potatoes

I picked the first two strawberries yesterday, they were wonderful!  But sadly my communications  skills let me down again and I forgot to take a photo. Bad blogger! Just imagine two quite large berries, rosy red on one side and creamy yellow on the other (They were a bit underripe, but I couldn't wait any longer)and there you have it.

But what I did remember to immortalise was this.... Ta da!
The first potatoes of the year! 
A bit blotchy, but I think Kestrel is supposed to be like that.  That was one plantsworth and I think there is as much there as the whole crop of last year.
I wasn't going to dig any up for a while, because they are second earlies and by my calculations they wouldn't be ready till mid July, but this plant on the end was looking a wee bit more yellow than the others, which are looking lovely and healthy, so I thought I would have a rootle around and this is what I dug up!  I'm amazed!
Spent some time yesterday forking over the soil in next-door's greenhouse, the person who has that plot has been ill so he has let us use the greenhouse for the plant scheme and in return we are trying to keep the plot from getting too weedy.  The soil in the greenhouse border is really loose and has obviously had lots of compost put on it over the years, so plantsmeister Dave asked me to plant some of the tomato plants from the shop, they aren't selling too well and some of them are outgrowing their pots.  I'm sure that any fruit they produce, we will be able to find a home for somewhere.
 I only had time to plant 2 yesterday as I had a birthday to get over, but, keen as mustard, I went to plant the rest today. There are 2 Sweet million, 2 black cherry, 1 sungold and 5 gardeners delight.  The sweet million are looking a bit iffy, they were well pot-bound, but we'll see.

How about these beauties! Not a hole or blemish anywhere! Mince and taties for tea today!  It would have been good to have some broad beans with that but they are not quite big enough yet.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

first rain for ages

The first proper rain today for the first time in weeks, nay months, even.  Proper splash down too, thunder and lightning to go with.  The rain gauge said 10mm today.

That will be good for the garden but it was a bit inconvenient while I was on trading hut duty this morning.

(I checked the weather station and there has been no rain to speak of since middle May and none for weeks before that)

Friday, 21 June 2013


The very yellow sweetcorn that I took from the plant scheme greenhouse are definitely looking greener, and the stems are thickening up.

I have interplanted some dwarf french beans (purple queen) in with the sweetcorn, only six as the snails got one and two failed to germinate. But enough to see what they are like.

Weedkillered the paths and my section of frontage, as it was a quiet day, weatherwise.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A lull

Had to add another string to the broad bean supports, they are growing fast.
Because it has been so dry the weeds aren't growing as fast as they usually do so there is nothing much to do.  We've reached the time of the year when there is a bit of a lull.  Most of the sowing has been done and the results have been planted out, but they haven't started to produce yet.  So it is just a matter of good housekeeping at the moment; keeping the garden fed, watered and weeded, guarding against the vagaries of the weather and pests.

Two casualties...

 a La Diva cucumber not long for this world and a french marigold covered in slug slime.

I can't remember what this one is but the seed heads are quite decorative, (have just found out it is a Californian poppy (Eschscholzia))
This one I have just discovered in the front garden.  My friend Pat gave it to me last year, for months it has sat there doing nothing  and all of a sudden it is blooming.  I am giving it space in my diary because it is so pretty, and the photo doesn't do it justice, and I keep forgetting its name - Tellima.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

lots of things flowering

The plot is promising lots of good things at the moment.

The strawberry crop is looking promising

The mystery squash installed in its new home 

I think the sweetcorn are looking greener...or is it just wishful thinking...
 The comfrey patch is in full flower so I cut a few stalks down for comfrey tea (such a nice name for such an amazingly smelly thing)

 I will leave some for the bees, but will cut some more for the compost heap. I used up the remainder of last year's batch on the squashes and it didn't have any smell at all.

The current warm, moist weather has set the broad beans away and they are growing well.

I've got flowers on the peas, but none on the sweet peas yet...

Flowers on the Kestrel potatoes

and the runner beans seem to have recovered from the shock of transplanting and are twining up the canes in an orderly fashion.

The weeds are growing well so I spent some time weeding and hoeing, but not enough, there are still plenty left for another day.

At home; tokyo bekana and purple queen dwarf french beans at 11 days since sowing

Saturday, 15 June 2013

mystery squash leaves home

The mystery squash decided it has had enough and the stem concertinaed down the support cane, and it ended up in a heap on the floor.  The squash fruit is quite heavy so I am surprised it hung on for so long.  It was time for it to greet the great outdoors.  I tottered down to the plot with it and installed it on the mix of compost, soil, pig muck and pony manure that is in the compost bin.  I left a side off to give the plant light, but it looks quite snug coiled in the bottom. (Forgot camera and phone so pics tomorrow)
The pumpkins etc. are looking a bit battered, we are getting a strong south wind and all the protection I have installed is east to west!  Doh! Why hadn't I considered that possibility?
But they look okay apart from being a bit frazzled.

The pear tree has two potential pears on it, let us hope it doesn't have a "June drop".

Friday, 14 June 2013

washing pots

As the weather wasn't looking good and I have already done 2 hours weeding at Moorbank and my hands are aching, I didn't go to the plot today.  No watering needed as it has been damp and cool.  I stayed home and washed pots.

My most disliked task in gardening, but I gritted my teeth and got on with it...

 Pots anybody?

square? round? 2 inch? 5 inch?

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Some rain at last, still not a lot so far, but I'm frightened to complain in case the rain god hears me..

I woke up early and the sun was shining so I had to get up and out double quick to open the flap of the tomato growhouse, as it gets all the rays first thing.  It was all steamed up inside when I opened it up, but they look okay even though the thermometer read 31C.

 I spent some time admiring the butternut, it is about 4 inches long now.

The water on the broad bean leaves had made them flop over so I installed another row of string.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

perhaps a pear?

Not much done at the plot today, it was a bit cool and damp.  I watered the squashes and put up some screening to protect them a little bit from the wind, and took some photographs.

I made this contrivance out of some chestnut palings which have been hiding in a corner since I took the plot over,
It is constructed (a rather generous term for what I did) on the same principle as the canes in the middle of the cucumber bed.  I think it looks a bit Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so....
However, I am optimistically hoping it will baffle the wind a bit.  It also might do to hang some polythene sheeting or netting on if I should need to.
This was to be my entry for the biggest sunflower competition.  Unfortunately I pulled out the stick supporting it and the plant came with it.  Mmmm.

There is a miniature courgette on the tondo di piacenza....

 The fennel I liberated from the plant scheme greenhouse is looking green and leafy.  About half of them died or were nibbled, but the survivors are looking good....

 A potential pear on the lonely pear tree, parthogenesis....

 A bean on the bunyards exhibition broad beans....

and flower buds on the tomatilloes.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Sick apple trees

The apple trees that I bought last November aren't looking happy.  One, the Howgate Wonder looks particularly UN-happy.  It was late in getting going, very few leaves and some are turning brown. The leaf buds near the top have died completely.
Howgate Wonder in soil
So on advice from the nursery I have dug it up and planted it into a pot for the time being.
Howgate Wonder potted up
The other tree, (Kidd's Orange Red) bought at the same time is looking a bit more healthy, it has plenty new leaves and none of them brown like the Howgate Wonder, but it hasn't blossomed and was definitely later than the potted ones.  Possibly the first two were younger trees, I can't remember taking note of how old they were and there is nothing on the labels to tell me, but the ones in pots bought in January are flowering and have 2-year-old written on the labels.
Kidd's Orange Red
As it might be just a bit slow in getting established in what is obviously poor soil, I am going to leave it in the ground for now, and see how it goes.

One of the tomatillo plants has some flower buds.

The onions are starting to go to seed, I thought it was just the winter onions but I found a couple of flower stalks on the red maincrop onions too.

The plot is now officially full.  I don't know where I'm going to put these purple french beans.  I know! I can inter plant the sweetcorn with them, I don't think they are going to full term anyway, they are still looking quite yellow even after their dose of ammonium sulphate.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

cucumbers planted out

I made this sprung frame to support the cucumbers as they grow.  It is just canes woven horizontally in and out of some more vertical canes and it makes a surprisingly sturdy frame.  Its an idea pinched from Zazen999 on GYO's forum, dead simple! I might have to attach some netting but we'll see how it goes.

I put some string around the broad beans as they are getting quite tall.  Not that I slavishly follow what Monty says on GW, but he does do the right thing sometimes.

The newly cleared patch by the gate, looking all neat and tidy, with a tray of tagetes from the trading hut.
I've tried planting things in a random naturalistic way, but it doesn't work for me, every time I try it ends up in rows. I must have been something municipal in a past life.

Friday, 7 June 2013

first bean and first tomato

After a morning of pulling horsetail and couch grass out of brick hard sun-baked soil at Moorbank, it was a relief to go the the allotment and plant pumpkins in the hugelkultur bed.
That is nearly all the squashes transferred from home and planted out, the pram couldn't take any more so a courgette and the cucumbers got left behind for another day. I sowed far too many, on the assumption that half of them would fail, but of course a lot didn't and I couldn't bear to throw them away. I have
  • 4 pumpkin - Jack-be-little
  • 4 winter squash - sweet dumpling
  • 3 winter squash - butternut
  • 3 courgette - tondo di piacenza
  • 2 courgette - zucchini
  • 4 cucumber - marketmore 76
  • 6 cucumber - La Diva
  • and don't forget the mystery squash. 
    Hugelkultur bed in use at last

    courgettes and squashes
That's why there is no room for sweetcorn or cabbages this year, all the squashes take a lot of space.
Unfortunately I have just sown some dwarf french beans without a thought as to where I am going to put them. I might have to evict some of the weaker broad beans.

Now the squashes have gone there is some space in the greenhouse and growhouse for the tomato plants.  (The two gardeners delight have almost recovered from their roasting yesterday, still a bit floppy, but getting there.  One even has a tiny tomato)

Everything is looking good, I'm only watering new plants that haven't developed a proper root system and I am resisting the temptation to water everything every day so that the bigger plants will have a chance to develop deeper roots.

Hoed...  now is when I wish I hadn't planted the onions so close together.

One teeny-weeny bean on the broad beans.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

First squashes planted

I might have lost the gardeners delight tomatoes as they were left in the closed greenhouse all morning, poor things look very distressed, the top leaves are very droopy. The smaller tomatoes have coped better.

The weather got out nice again this afternoon, so down to the plot I went.
I took the three round courgettes with me and planted them out.  I put the cloche over them until they get used to the great outdoors.
Only another 15 odd to go...
Watered the celeriac that I installed yesterday.  Snails have been at one of them already, so I scattered pellets.
I can't decide whether the sweetcorn is recovering.  This is what they were like when I first planted them on 22nd May(not a good picture with the sun on the leaves)
and this is what they are like now,

some have died, but the survivors don't look much different.
Sowed some seeds around the plot, spinach beet, calendula, nigella and did some weeding and watering.
Had to put another row of string around the peas, so they must be growing after all. The growth has been pretty imperceptible so far.
There are some berries on the strawberry plants.
The only seedlings left unplanted in the cold frame are the leeks waiting to get to "pencil thickness" as the books say.  I've always planted them when they are like blades of grass, but I am going to be patient this year, mainly because I haven't got anywhere to put them yet.