Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: July 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006

We didn't get much rain with the thunderstorm last night, but at least I got away without watering the outside beds. The tunnel needed watering though.....obviously.

I was given a tip today which I am assured works. Apparently if you have one of those indoor fans, but no air conditioning....who has in the UK? can get a similar effect with this method used in Africa. Get a bottle of water....not quite full. Freeze it. Stand it in front of the fan. Turn the fan on!!! It makes a room really cool for little outlay! I'm trying it out tomorrow. Apparently it is going to be really warm here again.

I harvested my carrots from the deep beds in the kitchen garden this morning. It is the first time I've ever been successful with old garden was clay. I thought as we'd had so little rain, and the ground was so hard, they'd be no good; but they are straight, long and very tasty!

I won't be gardening much for the next few days as we have three teen aged boys staying for a 5 day fishing holiday. I have to keep them full of food! They all have hollow legs so I'll fill them up with my spuds!!!!

We didn't get much rain with the thunderstorm last night, but at least I got away without watering the outside beds. The tunnel needed watering though.....obviously.

I was given a tip today which I am assured works. Apparently if you have one of those indoor fans, but no air conditioning....who has in the UK? can get a similar effect with this method used in Africa. Get a bottle of water....not quite full. Freeze it. Stand it in front of the fan. Turn the fan on!!! It makes a room really cool for little outlay! I'm trying it out tomorrow. Apparently it is going to be really warm here again.

I harvested my carrots from the deep beds in the kitchen garden this morning. It is the first time I've ever been successful with old garden was clay. I thought as we'd had so little rain, and the ground was so hard, they'd be no good; but they are straight, long and very tasty!

I won't be gardening much for the next few days as we have three teen aged boys staying for a 5 day fishing holiday. I have to keep them full of food! They all have hollow legs so I'll fill them up with my spuds!!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hours at the plot so far......59.

I waited until 7.30pm before I went to the plot tonight as it was still too hot to work before then. I had a really good tidy up and lit a bonfire (I now stink!) with the weeds and the potato haulms from earlier in the week. I don't like to compost case! The smoke went straight up so I am not worried about complaints. And I put wire round to stop it escaping! The very dry stuff burned off before I left, so just the wet fresh weeds are smouldering away now.
The man with the next plot, who I hadn't met before, was mowing the grass paths between the plots. He very kindly did my bit too, and strimmed the edges. It all looks much better. I still have to have a go at the other side again....when it's cooler.
I was planning how I am going to do a rotation next year, given that 80% of the plot had potatoes in it this year. I think I am going to divide the plot into three.....separated by the asparagus bed, and a row of tayberry bushes which I have grown from the little plants that were springing up all over the plot, and the rhubarb which is already there will be another natural break. The three areas will be about 12 ft sq each. If I take a bit more of the plot holder's bit, then I can grow spuds on that bit and the bit where I had the onions this year. The plot holder has said I can have what I need. She says she is leaving her bit fallow this year!!!!!!!!!!!! The bonfire is burning the "fallow" as we speak! And I have my pumpkin on it too! It still isn't tidy but it looks a lot better than it did. The bindweed was choking the shed, flowerbeds, paths and my pumpkin!
My Maincrop potatoes are still flowering so I am leaving them a week or two longer before I dig them. If the yield is as good as the earlies we should have enough for ourselves for months! I bought some hessian sacks (5 of them) from T&M to store them in and I'll keep them in the shed.
This morning I worked til 10 in the kitchen garden. I sorted out the cutting flowers bed, the ex-onion bed, the ex-cabbage bed, checked the rest of the brassicas for caterpillars ( far none!), and generally tidied up....until the sun drove me inside.
When I first opened up the tunnel the smell of the onions and garlic drying in there was wonderful.....hope the plants in there appreciate it! I'm not closing it up tonight as there is no wind so it won't cool down much.
I'm too tired to do the watering here now so I'll get up early and do it then.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hours at the plot so far 57.

I thought it was going to be dull today so planned a session at the allotment for this afternoon. was blazing sun, but I still did an hour and a half of very necessary work.
I weeded and loosened the soil around my row of runner beans, watered them and hung the net for them to climb.
Then I weeded and watered the little row of peas. They are not doing so well...only about a quarter of what I sowed have come up.
Then I dug up the last row of second earlies....yielding two Tesco bags full.
Then I took up the onions and shallots and took them home....three bags of onions and one of shallots....great big ones. They are now hanging up on lines in the tunnel to dry then I will make ropes of them all. I have enough garlic to set up a shop! I'm thinking of peeling some and putting them in olive oil. Does anyone know how long they keep like that? I'll make ropes of the rest and give some away!
The shallots are destined for pickling....DH's favourite.
Another plotter gave me some blackcurrants, and some runner beans which we had for dinner. And there was a marrow (two actually but I only took one) on the seat for anyone to take...which was very tasty for my dinner. It was creamy fleshed....very nice.

This evening I worked for an hour and a half in the tunnel and in the garden....watering.... and stringing up the onions and other alliums in the tunnel. I have a full schedule of things to do in the garden tomorrow, and I'd dearly like to spend a couple of hours at the plot hoeing the weeds which are beginning to take over. Possibly in the evening.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The hot weather has really got to me. I've tried leaving everything until the evening but even then it has been too hot for me. This morning I got up at first light and cleared the onion bed and started breaking the soil up to a fine tilth to be ready to do the next Sq Ft bed.
Here is the position as at yesterday with the existing Sq Ft bed. I have had to shade it from the sun as I've already lost some seedlings. I'll have to reseed the spinach and the beetroot...and the fennel.
We had a bit of rain this morning and the bed actually looks a lot better this evening. It seemed to grow a lot during the day!

Here is my spaghetti squash. It seems to be doing OK. I've never had one before, let alone grown this is an adventure.
The weather this evening is a lot more pleasant, and Metcheck gives tomorrow as pleasantly I'll go down the plot in the afternoon and get on there! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 21, 2006

The heat has beaten me! I have not been able to get to the plot much for over a week. The heat means that I lay low all day, then work like a navvy in the evening.
On Sunday I went and dug three more rows of the Kestrel....second earlies. The tops were dead so I know they were ready. They are absolutely superbe....and we have far more than we I took two bags full to Kent when I went Monday/Tuesday to see my Mum. One row left then all the main crop to dig next month.

The kitchen garden is also suffering from the heat. I've had to shade the Sq Ft bed as some of the seedlings shriveled and disappeared. I spend hours every evening watering it all with tapwater. The water butts are empty. Hope we get the Saturday rain promised by the Weather man this evening!

DH has the date for his hip operation...the 4th August. This is six weeks earlier than we'd been led to believe. Of course we are glad that it is sooner because he is in a lot of's just that we are now panicking at all that we have to do between now and then. We are self-employed so it is all down to us in the end. Added to that we have three young lads coming to stay next week for a fishing our time will be at a premium. Hopefully I can get all the garden and plot back into some semblance of order before they come. If it rains!!!!!

I cleared the garlic bed in the Kitchen Garden today. I've laid the bulbs over the cabbage netting to dry off a bit and hope the smell of garlic will put off the butterflies that are constantly "knocking" to get at the cabbages. After we've had some rain I'm going to Sq Ft that bed as well now that it is empty. It is about a month since I set up the other one so the next one in succession will ensure continuity of crops. I'm out of lettuce since the earlier salad stuff in the runner bean bed has bolted. I should have paid attention earlier to successional planting! We haven't done too badly though as we've had continuous salad from tunnel and beds since January.

Tomorrow I'll take another picture of the Sq Ft bed. I'll do it every Friday for comparison.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I am very annoyed today! I've just watched Cabbage White Butterflies getting through the holes in the netting sold for preventing cabbage white attack! What I've done now is to lay three more layers of the same stuff over and hope that will stop the little blighters! Because I expect some did get through whilst I wasn't watching, I now have to do an inspection later, once they're all in bed....and take off bits of the leaves with eggs on.

When I was watering my sq ft bed early this morning I realised that I'd actually lost a Pak Choi seedling overnight. It had wilted. I think the whole bed gets too much sun for seedlings, so I've now shaded it with fleece. I also replaced the seed.
The last little bean had succumbed too. It is too late to replace that though. Next year I'll start them in modules instead of the ground.
No pea tips showing as I gave the square a good soaking to help the seeds swell and sprout.

Other than a lawn tidy up I wont be gardening for the rest of the day as I have a tip indoors to deal with before we entertain tomorrow evening.

In the greenhouse all my brassica seedlings are showing. I'll bring them out tomorrow into a shady spot. These are destined for the plot. I'll put them out after the butterflies have finished for the year. Anyone know when that is?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hours at the plot so far.....55 1/2.

It was soooo hot today that I gave up outside at about 3 and stayed cool until I went up the plot at 6.30. It was glorious up there then.

I lifted and bent over the onions and shallots. I'll leave them a day or two to dry a bit, then if rain threatens I'll bring them home to the tunnel to dry properly.
I have a good crop.....they are huge....and if string them properly they'll last me ages. I also have some in the patch here at home....but nothing like as big!

I dug up one row of my Second Early potatoes. The haulms were yellowing nicely so it is time to take them. The crop was very good.....I dug up 18 pounds from one row....just 12 seed potatoes to produce that lot!!!!!!!!!!! I'm very pleased!

Then I spent an hour trying to uncover the plotholder's shed and patio which were submerged in bindweed! I have created a huge pile which I have left on her patch as my compost heap is already too big to manage. I feel I have to do something about her bit as the weeds are growing, and seeding, and we'll get complaints (rightly!) and possibly ousted from the plot. When I have made it respectable I'll dig her bit over and green manure it. Maybe next year she'll concede the lot to me.....!!! I'm taking her some spuds tomorrow....a thankyou and a "bribe"!!!

After all that I should have watered everything, but I needed the loo.....and if I'd started pouring water........................! I'll go down early tomorrow and give everything a good soak. I also need to do something about the pathetic bean support before the beans start climbing!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Here is a photo of my Blueberry "Earliblue"...see the berries already.
This was bought mail order from the Sunday Times offer earlier this year. I'm pleased it is growing so must be happy.

And here are my pots of sweet potatoes growing from slips bought from T&M. They had their three weeks in Root trainers as advised and have now been in the pots for 6 days....I think they seem ok. The 15" pots have a reservoir at the bottom. I am notorious for forgetting to water plants and this is by way of insurance. There are 5 more slips in one of the deep beds....also doing OK.

 Posted by Picasa

Here is a photo of my Sq Ft Garden as at this morning......! Believe it or not the squares are exactly is a camera distortion that makes them look oblong!
The Front RH 8 squares were sown on the 4th July (10 days ago)...the three behind that were sown 10th July (two days ago)....and the lefthand 4 were sown on the 6th July ( 4 days ago).
They contain (from back left)
1) Lettuce Clarion.....showing after only 4 days.
2) Corn Salad...can't see anything there yet.
3) Beetroot Forono..noything there after only two days as you'd expect.
4) Peas for tips.....nothing to see yet.
5) Radish "China Rose"....likewise nothing to see yet.
Second row
6) Spinach....some showing after 4 days.
7) Raba....Cima di Raba....coming along nicely and thinned already.
8) Turnip Oasis....also doing well and already thinned.
9) Kohl Rabi.....nothing doing there yet....after 10 days!
10) Carrot Autumn King.....lots showing already.
Front row
11) Lettuce Salad Bowl.....seeds coming up nicely after only 4 days.
12) Swiss Chard...a little slower but coming.
13) Pak Choi.....thinned to 4 stations.
14) Fennel....nothing happening here.
15) Bush Bean Purple Teepee....all up....I thought I'd only got 8 but the last one is showing today. I feel these are a bit close but Mel says this many to a square so we'll see! Posted by Picasa

This post is by way of a record as to planting dates.....!
The T&M free climber collection that I have been waiting for came just now. I've potted the little plugs into bigger pots as follows......
1) Clematis Montana Rubens (pink) into a black 5" pot. (I am pleased there was one of these in the collection as I strimmed off the one I paid £6.50 for last Autumn.....! Dummy!)
2) Clematis Tang Bill McKenzie (yellow) Group 3, into a 5" black pot.
3) Lonicera Jap Halliana into a 3" plastic pot.
4) Lonicera Belgica into a 3" plastic pot. This one had no leaves! The blurb with it all assures me that it'll grow......we'll see!
5) Passiflora Caerulea, into a 3" pot.
and 6) Passiflora Constance Elliot, into a 3 " pot.
All looked healthy and sturdy except number 4.....which I don't expect to do too well.
They are all under the staging in the tunnel for a day or two then outside before the heatwave this weekend!

Yesterday I pruned the plum tree.......not easy! A lot of the branches were overhanging next door....but not one fell in his garden. I did the top branches with my lawn edge trimmer shears!

As you can see from the second photo the tree is laden with glorious Victoria's. We've had the June drop, so all I did yesterday was remove obviously diseased ar damaged ones. There are plenty left! Posted by Picasa

I thought it a good idea to make a record of progreess of the little plants I've grown from seed.
Firstly there are my little pomegranate plants! Doing OK!

Here are the little clematis Traveller's Joy.....also doing nicely!

And here are two Lavender Munstead grown from seed. Posted by Picasa

And finally some pictures of the progress of some of the deep beds. Here is the bean, pea, sweet pea bed where I managed to get a couple of climbing squashes in as well. This one is "Pink Pear".

And here is another view of the same bed. I am picking peas, sweet peas, lettuce and marigolds out of the various layers in this bed. The runners are comig along...hidden in the sweet peas at the moment!

And here is an update on the sweetcorn and Spaghetti Squash. The little baby squashes I photoed last week have rotted and fallen off! But there are plenty more coming! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Whilst it was raining this morning I used the time to check that I was doing everything I should for July. So I got out all the Kitchen Garden and Grow our Own Magazines from this year, last year and 2004 (KG) July issues and started making lists. I only got as far as the July 2005 KG and had a list that would deal with my available space.

Then I set to work. I cleared three more squares for the Sq Ft garden and put in a load of old pea seeds (don't even know the name!) very close together to harvest as pea tips when only 2-3" tall. A trial run for me. If successful I'll use dried peas from the supermarket for this in future!!!

In the next square I sowed 16 radish seeds, "China Rose"....a winter radish that
should be allowed to grow big. Next to that 16 individual seeds of beetroot "Forono".

Into the tunnel and started modules off for Chard, parcel, lettuce "Sherwood", and "Tom Thumb" to set out in the tunnel borders later for overwintering. Also some watercress.....a bit of an experiment! And I started off some wallflower seeds in slightly bigger modules and set them outside because I think they wouldn't like the tunnel temperature. They are a hardy winter flower after all!

I also mowed the back lawn but was rained off before I could get in to tidy up the Kitchen garden.

It has all been rather too dull today for photos, but I will have to start taking some tomorrow if only to record the progress of the Sq Ft Garden! I thinned everything that was up today. In future I am only putting in at most two seeds per station.....Mel Bartholomew was right....most seeds do come up....which is why we end up having to thin so viciously.

BTW for more really good info on SQ Ft Gardening google "HDRA" then when you get onto the HDRA website put "Square Foot Gardening" into the search box and you'll get step-by-step instructions on what to do.....with a planting plan for first timers.
I can already see the advantages of this....especially when it comes to watering if we get another dry spell. Mel says just to carry a bucket of water and a cup and give every plant a cupful....once a week....and a little more often for just a few plants.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hours at the plot so far....53 1/2.

Went to deal with the grass paths this afternoon. They were very long and I had to use clippers. Tomorrow I'll go and mow the results and then I'll do a photo.
I noticed that there are two baby pumpkins on one of the pumpkin plants, and the ballet...have two coming. They are green at the moment...I suppose I have to wat until they turn blue before harvesting! here is a picture of them on the "Seeds of Change" website...looking very blue/ I must have to wait a while for mine to turn colour.
The second early potatoes look as if they are ready to take now. The haulms are beginning to turn yellow.
The onions are looking very, very good....much better than the ones in the kitchen garden. And I bought some pickling vinegar yesterday because I think the shallots are nearly ready too...and they are DH's favourite pickle.

After dinner I went out to deal with the grass in the kitchen garden. It really needed doing. I strimmed most of it but that too needs a mow tomorrow when I do all the rest of the mowing. I really enjoyed being out there....away from the football....!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Not much to report today. I have sown some seeds for brassicas to put out at the plot in a few weeks when all the spuds are out. I saw an offer today for plants to be sent out at the end of August or early September so I felt sure they must be planting theirs about now. I've sown 9 plugs each of these varieties....
Cabbage "Mitchililli"
Cabbage "Red Acre"
Cabbage "Early Round Dutch"
Cabbage "Invernale Mantovano"
Cabbage "Mammoth Red Rock"
Cabbage "Copenhagen Market"
Cauliflower "Di Jesi"
I've no idea if they are appropriate to sow now as they were little packets I got from an internet offer last year of 50 packets of seed for £5. (from The little plastic ziploc bags only have the name of the variety on them and no further info. They were a good deal though as the ones I have used so far have all germinated.

In the Sq Ft Garden some of the squares are showing signs of life already. The Raba di Cima, the turnips, the Pak Choi and the carrots have all sprouted. I'll thin the Pak Choi in a day or two. I overdid the seed sowing as I didn't trust them all to germinate....I'll know better next time.

I potted on the little blueberry plugs I got cheap from T&M last month into some ericaceous compost I remembered to get today. It is funny how a plant that looked just a little big for a 3" pot suddenly looks huge when it goes into a 6" pot. The blueberries seemed to grow the instant I potted them on!

I knocked the "Traveller's Joy" plants I grew from seed (I got two good ones) out of the pots to see how they are getting on. They are in 3" pots at the moment and will be ok in them for a while longer.....but the roots were looking good. And the pomegranate bushes I started from seed are looking really good. I should have taken a picture.....sorry. It's getting a bit gloomy now so I'll leave it til tomorrow.

We have rain on the way and I have just rigged up a tandem butt to the one that takes most of the water from the roof. So we'll save a lot more than we have of late.

By the way....if any UK bloggers don't know about this website they are missing shows the rain coming so you'll know exactly when to get the washing in!!!! and when not to bother watering!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Today's harvest....potatoes, lettuce, beetroot, parsnips, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, cucumber, peas, and a tiny green pepper.
This morning I picked 76 sweet peas. I picked everything that was out. I seem to get a good picking every other day. The scent in the kitchen is superbe. (Photo below!!! It won't go where I want it to this evening!)
I also planted out the sweet potato slips that I got from T & M three weeks ago. They have put on a really good root system in the rootrainers. They are now in large pots outside....5 of them...the other five are in the ground. This is by way of a trial as I believe they need to be warm in the autumn so I can take the pots into the polytunnel then. The ones in the beds I'll cover with polythene if we get early cold spells.
I also sowed seeds for spinach, pak choi, lettuce "Clarion" and "Salad Bowl" into 4 more Sq Ft beds. I'm hoping this system will provide us with plenty of variety of veg into the autumn. If successful I might Sq Ft the tunnel beds and set up some interesting salads and other veg for winter picking.
The broccoli I planted in the garden for the winter produced a small head today....hope they'll last until winter. I had that one for dinner...tasty! The brussels sprout plants, and the squash in that bed look good too. I didn't make it to the plot today....perhaps tomorrow. Hopefully the seeds I put in there will have an encouraging show. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rain at last!!!! Look at this butt full! Actually it was full to the inlet but I'd had the polytunnel irrigation system running for an hour before I took the picture.
The other butts are getting fuller too. The one on the front of the tunnel is doing well, and the ones on the back of the tunnel and the other one on the house are about a third full. Something tells me I should link another one to this one in the picture!!! It obviously takes the bulk of the house roof rainfall. Perhaps a hose attached to the other inlet hole to the irrigation system would mean that once the butt is full it would supply water direct to the tunnel. I'll give it some thought!
I think the garden was grateful for the inch that fell this morning! As you can see I have a lot of work to do out there. I will feel much more like it now the heat seems to have gone away!!
We are still deciding what to do with the paths between the beds. So far we have been dumping unwanted soil dug out from another path we are doing, and stones sorted from the beds whilst cultivating. I don't really want to put down grass as I have enough mowing to do already, but I suppose a little strim now and then wouldn't be too bad. I had also thought of doing a chamomile lawn type of sward but the seeds I sowed came to nought.

More photos below. Posted by Picasa

Here is the runner bean bed after this morning's rain. You can see the sweet peas, the climbing peas behind (Magnum Bonham....need picking!) and the runner bean flowers on the netting. Up each pole are the climbing squashes....Pink Banana. They have some small fruits coming along! Posted by Picasa

This picture shows the sweetcorn bed. Lower left is the spaghetti squash. It has at least 5 fruits forming already! The other squash ...on the right, is Patty Pan. I'm looking forward to eating both of these crops as I've never had either before.

Here is one of the spaghetti squash fruits! About an inch and a half long at the moment. I'm sure they'll grow like lightning now we've had the rain! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Here are the photos promised below.
This one shows the Sq Ft bed sown with the seeds listed below.
Here you can see my asparagus plants....pottedon and now installed on the capillary matting. They were getting very dry i the plugs and I want to ensure they stay wet enough to grow. They are destined for the plot but there are enough (54!) for me to do a bed at home against me losing my plot (I am "helping out" and have no rights. Asparagus is a long term crop. I can't harvest anything until 2008!

Alongside the asparagus you can see my sweet potato slips. They came with instructions to put them in pots for three weeks prior to planting out. They go into their big pots this Thursday. I await results with interest. Posted by Picasa

This morning is blissfully cloudy! Hope that means rain.

I started in my kitchen garden really early in case it was going to be another scorcher. Firstly, I watered the greenhouse. I was too tired last night and it was sooooo hot!

Then I cleared the cut and come again bed as they had all gone to seed. Then I potted up the asparagus plants I've grown from seed. They were beginning to suffer in the plugs I started them in. I have a good number so I am pleased I went down the seed route.

It still hadn't got hot so I decided to clear the outside deep bed which had the broad beans , carrots and parsnips in. Some of the plants are still producing so I left them but cleared enough to start off a new system which I am trying out on just one bed first. It is called "Square Foot Gardening" and is ideally suited to deep beds. I made 8 square foot spaces and have sown dwarf Bean "Purple Teepee", Kohl Rabi "Blusta",Carrot "Autumn King", Fennel "Perfection", Pak Choi "Cantong White", Swiss Chard "Yellow Lights", Raab Cima di Rapa ( a "broccoletti seed that I got free from Grow Your Own Magazine) , and Turnip "Oasis". I'll take a photo later and report on the progress of the beds as they grow. I have had the book a long time and wanted to try the method as it avoids gluts.

Yesterday I cleared the cabbage bed as they were hearted and needed cutting. The cauliflowers were all brown, and past their best even though they weren't very big. I will be looking up to see what went wrong there. Basically I think they were too dry. Watering all the beds with a can is not really an option so there were bound to be some casualties.
Hopefully the Sq Ft Gardening method will prove to be helpful water wise too. You only need to give each plant a cupful of water once a week. I can manage that!
If anyone is interested in the method there is a very comprehensive website dedicated to it here

I watered my beans and peas at the allotment on Sunday evening. I gave them gallons as I knew I wouldn't get there yesterday or today. They were coming up already, which is a miracle given that we have had no rain for two weeks. I also watered the pumpkins and squashes. They are doing really well.
I harvested the first courgette from the kitchen garden at home this morning. Some of my squash plants are doing really well....others are really pathetic. I think next year I'll put them in later. The spaghetti sq I kept as a spare and put in where one failed is doing much better than any of the others. In fact I think it'll take over the garden if I'm not careful.

Later on I'll do some photos. It went very dull when I wanted to do them earlier so I'll wait for the sun as the pictures are so much more appealing when it is out!