Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Unbelievable

Four full days (so far) of scorching temperatures (high 20s) and sunshine. Of course, we're now moaning that "it's just too hot"! Particularly in the greenhouse where it was 49.1! It also means that the watering each evening is a very busy time on the site, you've got to love a sunny evening on the plot with fellow plotholders.
 Potatoes have such pretty flowers, these are on our Desiree.

On Saturday we had another go at clearing our new plot (46a). It looked like this and our chairman thought it was abandoned and needed spraying - oops! It was just that the other plots took priority - honest!

So after a few hours in the heat on Saturday we had cleared a lot of the most bothersome weeds with seed heads. And Jamie found two blueberry bushes - bonus - and part of the plot now looks like this... Plenty more to do on there though...

I also showed two new plotholders around and they are both happily joining us along with their children, so that's a bonus - we like to see new plotholders!
I'm leaving the cage around the sunflowers, on as the stems will need some support when they reach their full height.

We've let ourselves down with the strawberries. We should have taken runners last Autumn and planted another row. We didn't and our remaining row is producing a pretty poor crop - delicious, but small fruits and ants/woodlice are tasting more than we are at the moment 🙁. Luckily there are also some strawberry plants on the new plot, so perhaps we'll get a few fruits from there...

I pulled one garlic, but it's a bit too early. I've hung it to dry out, as it'll still taste of garlic, but will leave the rest for a few more weeks.
Our Rocky cucumbers and pumpkins haven't germinated! But we bought some Mini Munch little cucumber seeds and two of those are now growing on a bit before they're ready to plant out. We're actually away for Halloween so don't really need pumpkins, but they always look nice and I'll miss the soup!
EMF singing It's Unbelievable, which is a phrase I heard on the plot about the current weather.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

What's Up?

What's up with my asters? They really don't look happy. Are they diseased? Will they recover? Nearly every plant has these horrible screwed up leaves :-(

Also, what's up with this annoying windy weather? It's causing irritation all round. Here's our attempt at keeping our Valerian upright - certainly not pretty but it's better than crushed flat like it was during the week.
We've been doing a lot of planting up over the last week. All the sweetcorn (the Lark and the Glass Gem) are planted, with protective bottle cloches. Not sure why this one Glass Gem seedling appears to be albino - I wonder what difference it will make to the cobs...
Jamie sowed two rows each of Speedy dwarf beans and Purple TeePee. He also sowed two more rows of Eskimo carrot as the original rows didn't germinate. On the plus side, my florence fennel seems quite happy in the recycle bins, but they've grown tall quickly so I've had to remove their protective netting - I hope they are ok and not too tempting for slugs.
We've planted up our tomatoes - 3 x Aviditas down one side of the greenhouse; 1 x Tigerella on the other side of the greenhouse and 1 x Redcurrant tomato at the end - this is a "sprawling" variety apparently, so I'm hoping we can use the shelving skeleton as a method of control...
Our greenhouse looking tidier than our flat!
I gave my sister one of the redcurrant tomato plants and the other is braving it outside - albeit with some protection from the wind at the moment... That should be enough sprawling space!
I'm pleased to see that the beetroot is looking healthy - a few nibbles, but not too many.
And I'm also pleased that I'm eating salad lunches from the allotment although I wish I had a few more lettuces growing.. I've added a bit of herb fennel and pak choi.
So, '"what's up" is an appropriate title, with the song provided by 4 Non Blondes.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Oh You Pretty Things

Aah, it's that lovely time of year when everything is beginning to flower! I thought Spring was my favourite time, but I remember now that Summer's the best :-) Here are some of the flowers that have burst into colour.



This is the first pot marigold to flower, there will be many more to come later in the year.

Calendula self-seed and can take over a whole plot, but they're so beautiful, who cares?!







 

This is a Corncockle flower.

There's a whole bunch of them which self-seeded from a wildflower mix we sowed last year.
















This dog rose (that's the only name I know it by) may have been planted when the hedge was first planted, but the roses are spreading along the border now.

They're short-lived but very pretty.









And here's a little pink bud from further down the hedge.

So delicate.















This is Nigella - Such a complex flower and so pretty.

Love in a Mist because the flowers appear to emerge from the mass of foliage (apparently).

It's an annual which readily self-seeds and I'm so glad that it reappears every year in the corner of the plot.











And there is this slightly mauve-blue, with different looking stamen - even more complex.

There are some near the allotment site's front gate - in pink and white as well as this lovely blue.



This is a flower on the purple mangetout Shiraz. 

There are a few more buds so not too long till I've got some mangetout in my lunchtime salads!

I was most surprised to see that my new "yellow poppy" also produces white flowers!

What an unexpected and welcome sight!

I do love poppy flowers, they are so delicate, but that's why the flowers only last a couple of days...


But there are plenty more buds to follow that one.

This is clearly another white one, I wonder if there are any more colours to come...?


I love how tightly crunched the petals are in the bud.

And finally, here's another from last year's wildflower mix which will apparently return year-on-year.

It's a red campion.

So pretty with the blue nigella in the background.





And of course the song is provided by David Bowie - aah


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Who Will Buy?

An early start this morning (for a Saturday). I had to collect the plants from our allotment and take them to the Fairfields site  other plotholders had left their donations in our greenhouse so I made two trips with our little Ka.
While I was doing that my allotment buddies were putting up banners, balloons and posters advertising HAHA and the charity which plotholders nominated Wiltshire Air Ambulance. We aren't in Wiltshire, but we pretty much touch the border.
We had a great morning! We had lots of visitors who appreciated our bargain prices and quality vegetable and flower plants. All the flowers including sunflowers, cosmos, sweetpeas and geranium were sold out before the vegetables. People happily went off with beans, brassica, tomatoes, cucurbits and more - I couldn't resist buying a globe artichoke plant myself.
Thanks to all the volunteers, visitors and plant donations. You helped raise £91.65! Well worth the effort and a musical flourish to sing-along to from Oliver! (There was no singing at the sale :-) )

Friday, 2 June 2017

Little By Little

The clouds heavy most of the afternoon. It was extremely hot and when we finally got a little shower it was a relief, though the ground could do with a bit more of a soaking.
We were using Jamie's new Kelly Kettle for hot drinks. It's really good. It only needs bits of dry sticks, grass and paper to get the flames roaring up the chimney and the water, which surrounds the chimney, is boiling in a few minutes - saves making up a flask whenever we're expecting a long session on the plot.
And it caters for the natural urge to burn things when we're not allowed a fire!
Jamie made up two brassica cages on Plot 3 so little by little the gaps are filling up: the runner beans and Brussels sprouts (2 x green Nelson and 1 x Red) and a Goldmine courgette is planted on Plot 7. I was potting on geraniums for the plant sale tomorrow for much of the time and then I planted the two Speedy dwarf french beans into a bag in the greenhouse - we'll be sowing/planting more outside in a few weeks time.
Both the Lark and the Glass Gem sweetcorn have nearly all germinated so it won't be long before they're planted out too.
Lark
Glass Gem
I'm pleased to say that the flowers are growing ok so far, still 14 sunflowers and look at the bargain poppy - beautiful!
Oasis provide the title track.



Monday, 29 May 2017

Rain

We weren't intending to stay on the plot long this afternoon but the visit was cut even shorter by torrential rain. We hid in the greenhouse for a while - we really must fix that leak! We sowed the Rocky mini cucumbers and the Jack-Be-Little mini pumpkins and have taken them home to the warm to germinate.
The earth looks so much better after the rain. The plants look happier even if not all the soggy plotholders agreed as we all (except Kerry and her kettle!) moved swiftly to our cars!
Saves us doing a lot of watering!
Title song provided by The Cult - wow, I so loved these in the 80s!

Moving On

Aah look at those feathers - so beautiful, but sad. I'm thinking this is what's left of a kingfisher. I'm not sure what would have killed it, I've only seen them flying very fast across the site; never sitting in a vulnerable spot where the cat would nab it.
I went to my sister's yesterday to collect a load of seedlings (Cosmos, foxgloves and tomatillos) for my mum's garden and some for the plant sale. Thanks Joanne!
So I spent some of the time in the afternoon potting on foxgloves, so many left though! What I don't plant at my mum's I'll just cut into blocks for the sale.
I couldn't resist having a few of the cosmos myself, so I've planted five in the flower bed behind the mangetout - I'm expecting the cosmos to outlive the mangetout and it should fill an empty spot a little later in the season. They're lovely and tall already so they've certainly cheered up that part of the plot.
My sunflowers and asters survived their first couple of nights out in the flower bed, but I'm not going to count my chickens (although I have counted 13 sunflowers at this point..).
We dug the holes for the pumpkin, squash and courgettes. They're filled with a mix of manure and home-made compost. That should keep the hungry plants happy. So far all the seeds have germinated so there are plenty to grow, sell and share.
The title song is by James - love the video.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Where the Wild Roses Grow

It must be Summer, the dog roses are out in the hedge. However, after yesterday's scorching temperatures we woke to thunderstorms this morning. Always exciting but we didn't see any lightning.
When we got to the plot at lunchtime it was blowing a gale, grey skies and cold - very disappointing for the first day of my week off. It was nice and warm in the greenhouse though and the various courgettes (green = Defender, yellow = yellow(!) and Goldmine which is yellow and white stripes). There are also some Disco and Jaune de Vert squash).
This is my chive vinegar - I put the stems, flower-end first straight into the bottle of white wine vinegar and give it a shake each day. The flowers are beginning to fade now that the vinegar is pinking-up so I'll strain it out quite soon.
We've put our bean poles up - the Scarlet Empire runner beans will go in very soon; they've all germinated and are waiting in the greenhouse. Where the blue pipe is lying, we're going to plant our Glass Gem sweetcorn - I sowed all 20 seeds today. Really hope they work, they're so beautiful! We also sowed 15 Lark sweetcorn - they were the delicious ones that we grew last year and they're going on Plot 7; different varieties of sweetcorn shouldn't be grown too close together or they can cross-pollinate.
This pretty little chap is sitting on one of our tiny parsnip seedlings. I don't think he'll damage it, but something has upset my chard plants which I want to sell at the plant sale. I've chopped all the dodgy leaves off now so hopefully they'll recover by next week.
And the song title is provided by Nick Cave and Kylie - I know! Kylie?! It's got to be her best song. Enjoy.


Monday, 22 May 2017

Sunday Shining

(Oops, this was meant to be posted yesterday 21st May)After all last week's rain we had a lovely sunny afternoon today and we got lots done.
We earthed up the potatoes - look how much they'd grown in the bags since they were planted 3 weeks ago. We added a little potato fertilizer to the compost we covered them up with and left a few leaves poking out to see daylight.
We've moved the tomatoes into the greenhouse, rather than keeping them at home any longer. We potted them into slightly larger plots and their next move will be into their final growing pots. We've moved the seedlings out of the greenhouse and put them in the netted 'nursery bed' to harden off, then they can go in the ground quite soon - or to the plant sale (3rd June 10-2 at Fairfields allotment site, Hungerford).
Moving them under the netting means that the beetroot and pak choi are open to the elements. The beetroot won't mind, but not sure if the pak choi will survive.
I was enjoying watching all the bees on the plot today - particularly on the raspberry and valerian flowers. (This is the same bee)
I planted out this poppy (multi-coloured possibly) that I bought the other day at Savages - it was a bargain at less than £2. It has lots of buds. You'll notice that it's actually in the ground and that part of the plot was swamped with slugs last year. I'm really hoping that plant is slug resistant or (preferably) there are many less slugs about as that's where the other flowers are going this year. I sowed some eschscholzia (Thai silk mixed) directly into that bed today too.
I'm pleased to say that I have had a couple of allotment salads already this year. I'm sorry to say that our plots are currently only providing the radishes and I'm relying on spinach and rocket from new plotholder, Maria, whose raised bed started producing very early on.
So that was a lovely afternoon and we left the plot with neatly trimmed edges and fewer weeds. It looks like it'll be a nice warm week to take us into June so there's plenty of time to look after the other plots too..
Finlay Quaye provides the title - I love this song, enjoy and feel the warmth :-)