Sunday, 29 June 2008

Contaminated manure

I have just read this article and though I had better share it...

For once I am actually very glad that I didn't manage to manure anything last year.

Planting out and digging up

The hot weather has finally prompted me into action and the pot bound peppers, chillies and sunflowers were planted out in the garden. I think I might have left the chilli's for a bit long as they seem to be very small for this time of year.

Carrots have been resown into the gaps in the garden, the gaps actually make up 3 entire rows bar from 2 seedlings. I have totally given up any hope of successional growing with the carrots this year, just hoping for a full row before winter! Anyone have any theories as to why carrots have been so tough this year? Too hot? Too wet or maybe dry?

All onions have been pulled up and are now hopefully drying in the sun, it was going well until about half an hour ago but I am hoping the rain is a brief interruption to the amazing weather we have had this weekend.

Today I went down to the allotment and planted the remaining 9 celeriac plants, this brings the total up to 29! No idea what I was thinking when I sowed this many, if they all survive I have more celeriac than I have eaten in my entire life...soup anyone?

Finally I dug up my first ever potatoes! I had 2 Charlotte plants that had died although it isn't clear why, doesn't look like blight, so they were first and provided a reasonable crop of new potatoes, I thought I would have a rummage under a couple of other plants to top it up a little and found some whoppers. Fingers crossed I will be enjoying potatoes for many months yet.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

The first real harvest

Despite the stupid amounts of wind I went down to the plot today, mainly because I promised the work people some rhubarb, and it turned into the first real harvest of the year! Obviously we have been eating the salad for a few weeks now but that isn't really exciting whereas today I picked the first lot of blackcurrents - now that is exciting! Sadly there are no photos because I ate them all too quickly but be reassured that they were very tasty.

Whilst I was down there I thought I would do some useful things so the asparagus bed is fully weeded and so are the measly 9 carrots under the fleece tunnel, with conditions like that I was hoping for a carrot glut.

The strawberry sweetcorn is now planted out and growing well. This is an ornamental variety which produces red husks shaped like giant strawberries, you dry them on the plant and then use them for popcorn which sounds fun. I have planted them well away from the real sweetcorn to prevent any cross pollination. Hopefully they will be ok in this wind, they looked a little bent but so far nothing has snapped so hopefully they will straighten up when it dies down.

The courgettes are growing well, no flowers yet but they are turning into sturdy little things and thankfully there is no further slug damage. I am not a huge courgette fan but I though I might try eating the flowers stuffed with cheese which is a very tasty combination, and they are also useful for padding out the lasagna so you don't need so much mince - cheapskate? me?

Yesterday's worry over squash turned out to be unnecessary and all are growing very nicely indeed. They haven't started sprawling everywhere yet but I expect that overnight they will transform from nice neat little plants into great messy things trying to take over the earth. I just hope that they don't get mildew with all this warm wet weather.

My trip to the garden centre failed to procure any cabbage plugs so instead I returned with 3 packets of cabbage seed, it seems you can sow some cabbage at this time of year, some more lettuce seed, tomato food and an extensive collection of herbs. The warning about the long-term harm to aquatic creatures put me off the copper fungicide so I am going to the tried and trusted blight prevention method - cross your fingers and jump up and down on the spot 4 times whilst whistling.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


So no plot visit for me. Still I am going to the garden centre later to buy my copper fungicide - I have been recommended by an old boy to start spraying my potatoes at the end of June - and I am hoping to get some cabbage plugs since I have missed the seed sowing opportunity.

Hopefully it will dry off later so I can check my squash plants haven't died after my failing to give them well rotted manure (see for full details on this particular concern)

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Post holiday tidy up

I arrived home yesterday from a very relaxing holiday and was thrilled to see that everything was still alive and doing well. The blueberries and black currents look like they are very nearly ready, both are the right size and colour but feel a little hard so I will give them a bit more time before the taste test.

The sweetcorn, peas and squash are all doing well in the 3 sister bed, raspberries are flowering and the grape vines have finally found the trellis to climb up.

Before I left i was worried about the courgette plants which had been nibbled by a naughty slug (or snail) but both are growing away and there is no further damage which is a relief. In fact the only disappointment is that the seeds I sowed before I left haven't come through, hopefully it is just a delay rather than a failure but I seem to be struggling with the carrots this year.

Today I just about managed a general clear-up of the whole plot so everything is looking very controlled. I uncovered loads of snails when I cleared the nettles so hopefully the birds are now doing a great job of eating them all. Tomorrow I will hopefully plant out the runner beans, remaining squash, sunflowers and maybe even have another go with the spinach.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Pea germination

I have discovered a completely fool proof approach to pea germination:

1) Buy a large packet of pea seeds, make sure the packet is made of paper and unlined

2) Wait for torrential rain, take seed packet into the rain whilst wearing waterproof coat

3) Open seeds and spend some time poking muddy fingers into the packet in a vague attempt to extract single seeds to sow

4) Roll up remaining seeds in packet and place into pocket of now very wet coat

5) Hang coat in a nice warm place to dry

6) Leave coat in nice warm place for up to 1 week

7) Plunge hand into pocket to discover hundreds of germinated seeds


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Busy busy

I am going on holiday on Friday so this weekend was a last ditch attempt to get the plot into some sort of order before I go. Hopefully the weeds won't manage to recover too much whilst I am away. I managed to get all the weeds cut down to the ground with my new shears, it was quite amazing how much of a difference this made, you can actually see that some areas are planted!

After all the rain and the sun it is now perfect seed sowing conditions so I over-exerted myself to get the whole root bed dug over and sowed with 3 rows of carrots, 1 row of beetroot and 1 row of fennel. I also planted out the nasturtiums that OH's gran had kindly given me and the celeriac which was sowed way back at the beginning of March. Hopefully when I return all these seeds, and the parsnips which I sowed 2 weeks ago, should have germinated.

The first pumpkin plant and 2 of the squash plants were planted between the sweetcorn and finally I wanted to get the globe artichokes, which have been looking a little sad in their mini pots, planted out. I cleared an area by the sweetcorn to plant them in and hopefully they will create a barrier between the compost area and the plants to deter the slugs, I can't imagine they like prickly plants.