Wednesday July 2nd
Went up to the allotment on a dry-ish but damp evening and ended up with 14oz raspberries and a few others too. They are really steaming away now – glad I netted them though! Another bunch of sweet peas too, and the climbing French beans are producing already, which will compensate for the runners being their usual sulky selves as regards setting. The dwarf Frenches are in full bloom, and so it's anyone's guess whether they turn out yellow or green. One thing for sure – they're a lot better plants and a lot further forward than last years', so another roaring success for the heated propagator.
Saturday July 5th
Another dry day after two more days of on-off rain, so went up to allotment with several takeaway boxes and the intention of picking at least one of the blackcurrant bushes. It took ages – and three full boxes – just to pick over one of the two netted bushes. This one was so covered that the branches were initially horizontal – they are now somewhat more vertical but not sure if they'll recover for a while! This is the bush with a lot of new growth from the base, so the branches may well get pruned out in the winter in any case. The other one isn't quite as prolific this year, but not far off. Though goodness knows where I'm going to put the berries until freezer 2 is switched back on in September! It's bad enough having four full tubs of blackberries still… but they can be eaten! Hoed quite a few sections, dug up another pound or two of spuds and cleared the autumn onion bed. Most of them didn't bolt, so are storable for a few weeks while we eat the other ones that did bolt and are definitely not storable! Pulled up the rest of the garlic Marco and cleaned them off, so they can get strung up easily. Also pulled up a thermidrome just to see what it looked like (much less purple!). Those and the much later planted long keepers can stay in the ground for a few more weeks – not as if we'll need any garlic for a while! The summer onions are totally amazing – the bulbs are uniformly large already. I will have a decent crop this year by the looks of it. Thinned out the beetroot and the chinese cabbages, and picked a yellow UFO courgette. I also have a couple of Table Dainty marrows coming – one of them is about 4" long already. Pity the beans are so far behind! The summer cabbages have come on in leaps this last week, and are heading rapidly. Picked another tubful of raspberries and on the way out, discovered another way to get into the middle of the redcurrant patch, so have quite a few more of those as well. And more sweet peas. In a way it's as well they only last a week, as otherwise I'd be overrun with them! The only sad thing today was picking the Webbs lettuce and discovering it was mush in the centre thanks to two industrious slugs. Yuk. Upon weighing the berries it turns out I have 2½lb blackcurrants and another 11oz raspberries.
Tuesday July 8th
Humid, muggy day and evening. Didn't stir out of the house until it had cooled off a bit and decided against taking the strimmer up as it was too hot for all the gear. Settled by taking up the new hosepipe instead, and gave the plot a good water. Need to get it sloshing by Friday so it can survive drought before I get back! Picked another 12oz raspberries and 14oz blackcurrants, though the latter are off to work, destined for Kate's summer pudding, after Patsy's massive donation of red and white currants. Also picked a tennis-ball sized de Nice courgette and a smaller eight-ball, though didn't want to get back and discover it was a football. Also got the first decent-sized gold rush. Trailers are off now, with leaves almost totally obscuring the patch. Loads of visible females, though it's anyone's guess which plants have shoots where! Picked another bunch of sweet peas, gave Jim the pickings over the weekend and got both him and Chris volunteering to chuck water in its direction if needed. The Eclipse sweet pea is now flowering, subtly different to Hard Times. Only Lady Susan left, and I think I know which plants they are. Also got a few more French beans, and the first runners are off! I really don't know what I'm going to do with half this stuff…
Friday July 18th
Pulled the 20 or so remaining thermidrome garlic (some cloves were huge!) and another potato plant. They have gone over now – need to get rest up in the next week or so. Got two bunches of sweet peas and lots of marrowlets (too big for courgettes!). First Table Dainty marrows too. Found two marrows which should be large enough to take home for next weekend, and picked a pound of yellow beans (Yes! They came true to type!) as well as 13oz green ones. Raspberries are just about still going; got another 11oz of those (though quite squashy after not having been picked for a week). The runner beans have set, and I expect to get the first pickings inside a week, so again perfect timing for going home. The summer onions have started to bend over and go orange skinned – urk – didn't expect that quite this early. I suppose this is because of the heat. But they are still reasonably large sized bulbs. Have cucumber central in the conservatory, despite picking some before I went to Canada. Took one round to Ursi. Marrows already cover the large chopping board, though I managed to prove a point – the horizontal yellow one is a Table Dainty stored from last year… so they do last!!! Cleaned up and plaited the garlics and hung them to dry in the shed. Froze the beans, raspberries and some of the courgettes.