June 2004


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Saturday June 5th

After getting an email from Chris yesterday saying people were wondering where I was, but telling me that the plot was mostly alive, I headed up there with relief (and a load of hand tools) to start sorting it out before the inspection on Monday. Had to go via the tool hire place and the garage, to get more fuel for the strimmer. I won't run out quickly! The cabbages were flea beetled but not too bad, the onions are also still there but very sad compared with last year: at the inspection then, I had leaves so big they got trodden on. This year they are still oh so tiny. I shall have to start watering them. The really sad bit is that the foxes have got in the carrot frame (and on the carrot frame) and have more or less demolished it. And dug out my carefully made trenches of compost. I have a few surviving beetroot and two carrots. The rest is gone. Wail. Strimmed the paths and most of the plot 2, and generally tidied the appearance up. Even strimmed the pussy willow, then lost my cool with the now-6 foot bush and pruned it rather mercilessly back to a couple of feet or so, as it was going to cast too much shade on the plot. Weeded the old carrot plot (was tempted to leave one of them to seed) ready for the sweetcorn then uncovered the redcurrant from a mass of bindweed. Lots of fruit! Shall have to net, and soon. Gooseberries already under attack from pigeons as they are very big. Ditto. Looks like a good year for fruit – I have aphids again on my apples but quite a lot of fruitlets. Hope they don't all drop… and the raspberries are humming with bees and I think I'm going to have to make raspberry jam! Weeded the edge of the section by the denuded willow, ready for the beans.

Maggie appeared and we had a chat, and she asked if I'd like a spaghetti squash – ooh! I haven't currently got any full sized trailing marrows as I forgot to sow them: the spags will do in that case! Plot looking a lot better by the end of the day. Picked a lot of rhubarb (quite large stems!) and 3lb 9oz of respectable gooseberries to stop the pigeons getting them.


What´s left of the carrot bed after the foxcubs went excavating

Sunday June 6th

Drove to plot this time, as I had trays of seedlings and a slightly sore thumb which prevented me grasping things properly. Unloaded rather a lot, though the beans look very sorry for themselves as they are very wilted and tangled up. Untangled them but not sure they'll recover as a lot of stems have been bent. Either way, they do tend to grow side shoots under those circumstances so not too much of a problem.

Started with the runners – all painted ladies. Put in 12 poles and started digging holes. Filled these with a good dollop of manure and added a bean. Same technique for the cobra beans (French climbing) except these were a lot sadder looking and I doubled up all but one, so there are eight poles of those. Then moved on to the sweetcorn, and got digging holes again – again used manure to surround the roots and keep them moist. Thumb not happy. By the time I'd finished them (18 minipop, 16 ovation) it was really badly hurting, and I could only just manage to tidy up the pots back to the car. Ooops. Overdone it again.

Monday June 7th

Early trip to plot before work to water the new plantings again before a very hot day. Especially as I couldn't actually do it yesterday because of the thumb. Luckily it's subsided overnight and I think another day or two and some anti-inflammatories should sort it out. Some beans have perked up – all around the bases (good, so they can regrow) but some are too bent for the leaders to be viable. No problem – pinching out usually gives better plants! Corn looks fine: it's a bit drawn, not as bad as two years ago so I know it will recover. Decided to plant the Defender courgettes where I'd thought to put cabbages (and run out of seedlings!)

Back up there after work, armed with the hosepipe and the leeks. Filled up both butts and the tank outside the shed. Drowned the spuds and just about everything else I could reach. Tomorrow is forecast to be extremely hot. Planted the leek punnets - got 40 out of two, which is a few more than were fried, so I've won there. Also planted the bought calabrese, which were only four in the end as two had rotted in the punnet. Oh well! Jim gave me a hand in shifting the large frame off plot 2 and over the cabbages and calabrese. I should be able to weed it by limboing underneath! Nearly came to ruin over removing the smaller frame to elsewhere - string snapped and it plummeted into the garlic bed. One (of course the biggest) was a bit bent, but mostly ok. It's now over the leeks, for want of somewhere else to put it.

Tuesday June 8th

Transit of Venus. A rather mad morning, what with getting up at 6am, finding the sun to be hidden by trees along the whole road and going to the allotments at 6.30am! Maggie was already there, and I set up the EOS with the tripod and the sun filter and managed to find the sun. Could see Venus quite clearly! Took a few shots then some of the amazing poppies (behaving like mini satellite dishes) with bees, then up to plot to start things before it got too hot. Cleared the old leek bed (still sorry I didn't pull them before they bolted - will have leekless freezer for the summer) and weeded it, and bunged in the courgettes. Interspersed weeding with taking photos (and hoping the manual focus was good enough!). Now have all beds bar the carpeted one and the poor carrot bed weeded and planted up. Dug several thistles out of plot 2, as well as some grass. Gradually getting it to look better! Weeded round the edges of the onions and shallots and cabbages. Had fun with some of the broom handles - which are now being used to surround the dessert gooseberry which was blocking the path through the orchard. A bit of wire wrapped round them and the gooseberry is now nicely under control. Didn't take up enough handles so haven't yet surrounded the redcurrant (which is covered with fruit). Will have to lug more up from the garage. They really are excellent posts. Weeded a bit more bindweed out of the orchard (until once again the Great Tit made its annoyance known). Courgettes are now in (with manure) and watered, labelled and canes put in by their roots. All I have to do is mend the carrot frame now, and resow it.

 Went up after work and did just that (with a bit more weeding thrown in). Had to plant autumn king as I don't seem to have any more early Nantes, least not in the trug! Also replanted the row of pickling onions (have one left there) and sowed more beetroot in the holes in the row. Also sowed a few cherry belle radishes to mark the rows. Watered them all in and must keep them watered!




Thursday June 10th

Up early and watered everything before work. Not too hot and very hazy, with forecast to be overcast, so should be fine. I think the onions are starting to respond to the watering. I hope so. Must keep it up!

Planted five marrows (the new ones, as I want them to get going quickly) and potted up some of the coriander and shoved another tomato in a medium-sized pot. Have three more I can put in a basket or something. The temperatures yesterday went over 40oC so the cucumber is blowing the first one up incredibly fast, but I'm not sure everything else is particularly happy. Including the freezer. Must open a window for ventilation! Not sure what possessed me to turn the last of the blackcurrants into jam at 11pm, but I did. Now I have 4lbs of the stuff. Redcurrant jelly next…

Saturday June 12th

Another warm day, but with a stiff enough breeze to keep it bearable. Up to the allotment armed with gloves, long trousers and lots of broom handles. It's amazing how long it takes to make a mini fruit cage. And how much net is used. Created a couple of cages, one over the redcurrant (which is covered with fruit and I now think it will stay covered!) and one of the two very prolific blackcurrants. Didn't quite have enough for the full length of the raspberry canes so after managing to get the second dessert gooseberry more under control (ie I can now get round it to pick the cooking ones) I netted the base (forget the top - bursting out over the handles!). Went on a magical mystery tour to find more netting - nothing at Focus, South Heath or Chenies (or rather none of the green mesh) and ended up in Watford buying it at Homebase. Back to lottie and after some fighting managed to get a few metres over the raspberries, so they're more or less safe now. The remainder got put over the front of the cooker gooseberries and  two more currant bushes. Now have no broom handles left. Watered everything and filled up the butts. I think the onions are responding to the watering already. Least I hope they are! Sprinkled seaweed meal over lots of the plants, to give them a boost. Pulled rhubarb for apf and headed for home.

Monday June 14th

Just watered everything straight after work, after yet another very hot day. Radishes up in carrot bed.

Tuesday June 15th

Walked up to the allotments for yet more watering - the onions are definitely showing better growth, which is as well as there are just a few days to midsummer, the crucial date for onion final sizes. The beans are also getting going properly, with new shoots coming to replace the broken ones. They are nice and compact too, and multiple stemmed, so should have much better plants as a result. The sweetcorn are perking up, though still look terribly leggy! First ripe blackcurrant, and a precocious raspberry is going red. And the potatoes are also growing visibly (I'm watering them too). Spent an hour sitting chatting with Chris and drinking Pimm's and lemonade. I really must plant something where the last bit of carpet is and the broccoli was supposed to be - dwarf French beans if nothing else!

Thursday June 17th

Up to water and hit the gooseberries. Picked half a carrier bag of them - have no idea how heavy as I left them in the car so I wouldn't forget to give them to Dad! Drowned everything again - it's still way too dry.

Sunday June 20th

Got to allotment after lunch and took the car in. Decided to see if I could find somewhere for the flowers, so started to hand dig some of Plot 2 near the boundary. After about half a yard, went for the handleless fork. Discovered it was quite easy to use and all the lifting relied on upper body strength rather than lower back, and I could bash up the clods while sitting cross legged. Every now and again I stood up and went and did something else (there are now broom handles round several more bushes and also tying back the stepover apple). Finished the row finally without any aches (and having taken no painkillers that day) and planted the carnations in a double row. Jimm called out to hurry as it was going to rain. Looked over my shoulder and there was a large black cloud. Sure enough, it started to spot and then rain properly (at last). The shed didn't offer a lot of shelter (though it was fun to watch) so ran for the car, just as it really started to rain heavily. This lasted for about 10 minutes and about ¼" of water. Not enough to do anything, really. Went back out afterwards and found it was dry as a bone an inch down. Watered everything with the can. Laughed at a very wet and bedraggled robin. Sowed lettuces in the end of the cabbage frame, mostly randomly. Sowed the Berggold French beans in between the climbing French, and the Marshall's trial variety from last summer in between the runners. Watered them in. Should fill in some gaps as intercrops, and crop later in the season. Left at 6.50pm after replacing the dug-up slug pub (foxes again I suspect).



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