May 2003


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Thursday May 1st

Got hold of a piece of carpet that was being thrown out at work, so took it up to the allotment with P and he cut it into strips for me. (Not trusting me to not injure myself with Stanley knife.) Laid them along the beds so shouldn't get muddy feet from now on, and hopefully a lot of weeds will now die or not grow.

 Saturday May 3rd

Nice day. Allotment was looking good – carrots are indeed coming up as are lots of pickling onions. Just had a look round and pulled some rhubarb.

Sunday May 4th

Even nicer day. Hot. Up to allotment after lunch, and discovered that I now have nearly all the potatoes through. No more earth to build them up, so I guess I'm now down to dashing up with fleece if it's frosty. Lots of weeds coming through on the carrot and onion bed, more's the pity. Mostly grass. Spent an hour with my nose about 6" away from the soil trying to selectively weed the grass. Gave up. The nantes carrots are definitely up and off, though the later sown flyaways aren't yet. I think I've got a few of the pelleted ones too, but can't be sure as they are very well spaced. Pickling onions are doing best. I'd taken up a bottle of made-up glyphosate so sprayed the now racing bindweeds both pink and white, mostly those in the orchard. Hopefully that will put paid to them. I can't be done with trying to lose those beggars organically! Life's definitely too short! Planted one of the pots of tulips and the three pots of narcissus canaliculatis around various trees, and found that the soil there is more clay than the rest! No wonder there's an orchard there. Hoed everywhere that looked like it had weeds in it, so hopefully they don't now. Flea beetles have arrived, and so hello, derris. The spring cabbages are finally growing! Went home and sowed 15 climbing French bean Cobra. Hope this year I get them going a lot faster!

Monday May 5th

 Yet another nice day, though cooler. Went up to allotment as it grew sunnier and spent time with the onion hoe going over the whole of the allium bed. Planted another two sets of module onions in the leek bed. Ho hum. Might put fleece over the spuds for the weekend. Watered them and the winter onions with maxicrop so we shall see. Onions doing well – even Keith remarked on them, as his aren't doing terribly well. They ought to be ready in the next month, so will keep them well watered and fed. Then won't need to buy any for the summer. Pegged down the carpet strips with the galvanised wire so they don't go flying any more. Hopefully they will last the season. Must get the other large piece from work when they take it out! Filled up the water butts and drowned a few fruit bushes while I was at it. The gooseberries are doing stunningly well, including the red ones (which aren't hairy!).  Must start to construct fruitcages for the currants. Pulled more rhubarb. The sage is flowering!

Tuesday May 6th

Bought some rootrainers on the way home as there weren't any of the modular 3" pots left, and had fun persuading them to stay shut. Filled up 32 of them and planted 20 runner beans (I need 12 to grow) and 12 sweetcorn (full sized) and bunged them in the propagator. Split up the cucurbits so I now have all the needed ones in separate pots, and discovered I do indeed have all the ones I need, including three long green trailings, apparently (hoping the labels didn't get mixed). The gold rush were again the biggest seedlings. This is incredible, really. I can only assume that this success is entirely due to the heated propagator. Let's hope it improves the germination of the sweetcorn from last year's dire levels of 20/36 (62%).

Wednesday May 7th

 Hot day. Acquired second piece of old carpet from work so bang went the tidy car. Hoiked it up to the allotment and had fun cutting it into strips until I realised the Stanley knife blade was blunt. Replaced it. Then it was easy. Found I had more carpet strips than paths so donated the two remaining strips to Chris. Had a good chat and decided to swap globular courgettes – she has de Nice à Fruit Rond and I have Eight Ball, one is light green the other dark, so we are going to have fun. Discovered that the flyaway carrots are up! Excellent. Seems the compost method works very well. Will sow the next row like that, too. Need to get beetroot in as well. Spent a while crawling about on hands and knees doing some more grass weeding from the carrot bed. I see it's going to become an obsession, as no way can I get it out any other way. Cabbage minicole getting perceptibly bigger, Savoys looking a bit nibbled. The ones still in the tray at home are now doing much better… think I may have to transplant them soon! Watered and derrised them all.

Still to plant: 16 more sweetcorn Ovation, 16 sweetcorn minipop. Beetroot. More lettuce. Yellow French beans.

 Sunday May 11th

 Discovered I had got 100% germination on the Ovation sweetcorn and a lot of runners up too.

 Thursday May 15th

 Nice relaxing evening pottering about, in which I got rather more done that I'd expected. Moved the runners out of the heated propagator, which is definitely worth every penny, and planted some more beans into it, this time French, together with more sweetcorn (ovation and minipop). Have enough runners for my supports now. Just need a few more French climbing to have all poles filled. Planted some saved seed Berggold too, saving the Marshalls experimental dwarf bean for reserve (ie the inevitable loss of half the first plantings). Sowed 24 beetroot. I think that's the lot! Tied up the now-massive butternut squash so it's going vertically, and realised it's got tiny little females on. Hope there's enough males to get them to take… Should get a cucumber any day now. There are three huge ones on it already. In May. I still have two weeks before I dare put stuff out, and there was a frost in large sections of the country last night (though not here). Gherkins are getting a bit big for their boots too.

 Tuesday May 20th

Picked cucumber #1 and added it to sandwiches. Nice.

Thursday May 22nd
Went to Chenies GC and had another wander about. Found the Wolf garten interlocking stuff on offer (pole more or less for free when buying a hoe) and so treated myself to those and the draw hoe I really wanted. Now I can take lots of tools up to the allotment and carry them all as there's only one long stick! Handy birthday pressies etc. Went to water, and spuds now looking half decent.


Sunday May 25th

Went up with the beans and had fun winding them around the canes. A few of them lost their tops en route but had enough spares to wind a second one in those cases. Planted the first dozen ovation sweetcorn too. Found someone had roughly strimmed the main grass paths – dunno who. Did a fair bit of weeding of the carrot and onion patch by dint of lying down lengthways on the carpet. Quite a few carrots are up, but not as many as I'd expected. Must plant more. The flyaways are much better – the compost method obviously works well! Went hunting to see if I could find my missing gardening gloves and had nearly given up when I found them hiding in the cold frame store. Can't remember putting them in there at all! Maybe I left them out and the mystery strimmer put them away. Butternut squash females flowered. Gherkin females flowered. No males on either! :-(

Monday May 26th

Bank Hol. And another big purchase. Decided to lug P out to B&Q and get a petrol strimmer, since the silly battery one has snuffed it and I wasn't about to waste money on either another one of those or an electric one when what I really wanted was one to use up at the allotment. Dropped himself off, then went back out, filled up a few litres of petrol into the petrol can and went to the allotment to try it out. Great fun trying to start it. Nearly flooded it on first attempts, but got it going and strimmed my way round the place. Much tidier. Also strimmed Julian's path so I don't forever trip over his ants' nests. Glad of shoes and goggles! Then tried out the Wolf tools. They definitely fit the bill as I could carry both the pole, the two hoes and the strimmer without dropping any of them. Replaced the sulking cabbages with new seedlings (and found the sulkers had no roots so had been nibbled). Hoed the netted beds then hoed everywhere I could see and a few more places besides. Hoed/weeded the orchard so all bindweed clumps are now in a couple of piles ready to be destroyed. Weeded the rest of the onion & carrots beds. Ready for more planting now. Got to the amazing state of not being able to do any more, so went and chatted to Maggie and strimmed half of her path too. There's an art in using those machines and it's not as easy as it looks keeping the throttle at the right level. Accidentally left the bottle of fuel and two-stroke oil up there so went back with P and then on to get a Chinese. :-)

Wednesday May 28th

Out to allotment at 7.30 and sauntered home at 10… still vaguely light and pleasant too. Took up the box of leeks and the box of pickled onions and planted them in the leek bed. That now has all 32 leeks (most quite small) and 32 p. onions. The rest of the p. onions are in the carrot and onion bed where the spring onions should have appeared! Least that bed looks complete now before the competition judging. Watered stuff with the seaweed extract then spent some time tying up the sweet peas so they are actually going up the canes rather than wandering along the ground. Pulled a load of rhubarb for Kate.

 Thursday May 29th

Almost a repeat of yesterday except I got home earlier – about 9.15pm. And I'd cleaned out the potpond beforehand. Both fish seem to have forgiven me, and the waterlily is growing two buds already. And the flag has three flower spikes! Nice to be able to see the bottom (it was really murky). This time I planted the rest of the sweetcorn (which had a whole day's hardening off – and with nighttime temperatures of 14oC at the moment I took my chance to get them in as well. If there is half a sign of frost I'll be up there with every pop bottle I own. I'll need them. There's 28 sweetcorn… 16 ovation (supersweets) and 12 minipop (baby). Must remember to snap off pollen tassels of the minipops so they don't accidentally pollinate the supersweets. Assuming they grow larger than the 5" they currently are. Bit smaller than the ones I put out last year! But then again I deliberately planted later to avoid the space problem I had with the monsters. Also planted some more cobra beans, doubling up yet more canes, and the Berggold saved seed. If these turn out yellow I'll be amazed, since they've got more than an evens chance of having being pollinated by the green Kenyan beans. Still, it will be entertaining. 12 of those grew, so they got shoved along the edge of the carrot-onion bed, along with a row of beetroot seed. The home beets are a bit pathetic so far, but should be plantable as a catch crops somewhere. Also sowed some more lettuce seed in between the happily growing foursome (one Webbs and three romaine). That bed is awaiting the marrows etc, the broccoli needs to go in opposite it and then that's about it. Nearly there. Must sow more carrots though… Then the fun begins. Gooseberry season is nearing, then the currants, then blackberries and raspberries, then… :-)

 Friday May 30th

Up again, watering before the forecast thunderstorm, which I'll believe when I see it. Also planted a fair few courgettes etc, so have nearly all of them in place now. Yet more weeds seem to have appeared overnight. Dunno how they get so big before I notice them… Need to net the currants soon as I'm sure the reds are disappearing… and they're not even ripe… Dug out some of the encroaching grass from the side path by the cabbages. Need to do rest gradually.

 Saturday May 31st

Incredibly hot day. Mad dash about getting bedding plants and topsoil and stuff before Puff disappeared to Portsmouth, then decided it was far to hot to go to the allotment, certainly not on a bike! Cycled up to allotment later, having left the last cucurbits and a hidden watering can up there. Planted the cucurbits, though the gherkins had wilted badly in the heat. Drowned them then continued watering the rest of the recent plantings. And managed half the plot when the water just stopped. Humph. Decided I'd done the crucial stuff and gave up. Was about to leave when Chris appeared with her courgettes and so swapped a "de nice a fruit rond" with an "eight ball". Ok so the eight ball was the one I'd just planted, but I have spares and it saves me having to remember to try and get one to her tomorrow or in the week.  Dug out some more of the path grass to have room for the de nice. Should look quite neat if I can get the rest done tomorrow. Still no sign of thunderstorms, though it's certainly close. We usually get one this time of year anyway. Went home, with another poppy in my rucksack :)




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