21 July 2007

Why does it always rain on me?

So managed to get down for the first time in ages to survey the growth of the weeds. Lovely sunshine, so it started throwing it down with rain - again. Managed to shelter under the tree to keep the worst of it off and took this crap photo of the rainbow...

Attempting to locate the crops in amongst the weeds I decided to take the entire pea harvest at once - all three pods... The peas took the full impact of the flooding on the plot, the second sowing not bothering to make at appearance at all. The broad beans next to them faired little better, they were still standing but had almost entirely been eaten by bean weevils. The French and runner beans have managed to get up to almost 10cm tall. Be lucky to see anything from them ;>( The sweet peas next to them rallied slightly and I manged to pick a few to keep Mrs D happy, who also had the peas as well.

Continuing the harvest I took home a solitary shallot, mainly because it was in danger of being washed away. Hopefully I'll still get some onions and shallots later, if they don't' start rotting since they are mainly lying on the floor now. Finally I picked a few sprigs of mint, which I didn't plant but hey you've got to take what you can get this year! Finally managed to find a few raspberries in the hedge along the lane back to the car.

So what's to look forward to?
Still in the ground are some potatoes. Dug a few up a couple of weeks back and they were very small, when everyone else has been complaining how big their spuds are...! The sweetcorn is still existing, not growing much, but it's still alive. The cucumbers appear to be doing OK, made some triangular supports for them to grow up and tied them up. Quite a few flowers and one or too small fruits appearing. The butternut squash don't look so healthy but just about managed to hold of despite the slug attacks. The pumpkin I'm not convince that it will be so lucky ;>( The courgettes are hanging on it there as well and a decent run of good weather (OK anything slightly warmer and less wet) should see some good results.

In the fruit bed, hopefully get some raspberries later on and the rhubarb is looking good for next year. Strawberries have had their hair cut for the year and hoping for bigs things from them next year. I have been out performed in this department by my sons strawberries growing at home in a pot, well he has the edge on quantity, but mine definitely taste better. Who said competitive Dad?!

So essentially I've given up on planting much more in an attempt to be better prepared for next year, by starting some digging and manuring of the bed where the garlic was in preparation for some Hungarian grazing rye over the winter. Speaking of garlic, since I've been confined to the house with all the rain I've been learning how to plait it:

I have a dream
I have been cutting down the monstrous hedge at the bottom of the allotment in an attempt to see if it will be possible to construct a polytunnel on the brick base. I have been to see the local Organic Guru (who gave the course I went on a while back) as he has several polytunnels constructed in many different ways. Having picked up a few tips and taken numerous photos (a selection below), the next job is to see if it is feasible. Firstly I have to pursuade the allotment officer to give permission then see if it is feasible (or possibly vice versa!), and then get my Dad to build it ;>) Well he is retired, always telling me what to do on the allotment and I am a project manager so I'm used to telling people to do things!

"Allotment Chief"
A while back (December last year) I was having a good moan about the state of things on the allotments and after writing to the local area panel we were lucky enough to be given a small grant. Not wanting the responsibility of deciding how to spend it all myself on the entire site I decided to find out about how to start an association for the site. Some time later we have an association and my 'reward' for starting the whole process was to be elected Chair of the association. Which just goes to show you don't actually need any gardening knowledge to get these posts. We now have another small grant in and can now afford two skips for the site (150ish plots) and have just started recruiting members - a bargain at £5, which includes membership of the NSALG. And you don't have to have a plot on site to join up, so if anyone wants to become a member send me a fiver ;>)

A new neighbour
My allotment neighbour at no. 17 has left town, so has passed on her plot to someone else. It was all her fault that I ended up getting a plot on the site and we've had many chats through (and about!) the hedge so sorry to see her go. Hopefully she'll be setting up her own blog so we can keep an eye on what each other is doing from afar. The new neighbours seem keen just as keen though, well almost, they've not mentioned the idea of camping on their plot yet!

3 July 2007

Too much of a good thing?

Fortunately we were spared more heavy rain at the weekend so during a break in the rain I took the opportunity to dig up the rest of the garlic as it appeared to be going to seed - small cloves forming further up the stem. So the full harvest in amounted to 54 bulbs of the stuff, in varying sizes.

Ok we like garlic, but I'm not sure we get through one bulb a week! Seven are so far accounted for, one to the childminder and six bartered for a book, but as you can imagine we have garlic drying all over the place inside due to the lovely summer weather we're having.

Having just got all the garlic up and the heavens opened again and I got soaked, despite taking refuge under the tree. Fortunately it was a short shower and quite warm so I dried off reasonably quickly whilst I picked the broad beans. Not many and quite small in size, but tasty. Some of them had been eaten, by what looked like bean weevils - one of them did a runner before I had a chance to get it on camera but from memory and a quick Google search they look like bean weevils to me.

Also propped up the Jeruslem artichokes that had taken a bit of a battering in the winds and rain with some stakes, added some half hearted stakes for the beans and generally ignorred all the weeds. The beans are doing very badly due to all the flooding and bird attacks, hence the half hearted staking. The few strawberries left had gone rotten or been attacked by slugs, but there do appear to be some raspberries forming. One of my two remaining pumpkin plants had been snapped off in the winds as well, so another good week on the allotment. Maybe next year I'll just grow garlic ;>)

Whilst quiet down there (I don't thin too many people are motivated to go down the allotment during the current rains) I did have the robin below for company: