July 2005


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Saturday July 2nd

Up to allotment with fork and a tub for potatoes, and dug up another two plants. Soil moisture down to the roots, so the storms did exactly what was needed. Not sure that the Kestrels haven't got early blight though - they are looking most dreadfully spotty. Did a quick check of the plots and found the raspberries were in need of their first pick, so got an overflowing tubful. And found three courgettes too! So we're finally in production…

[sorry for delay in update - ran out of hard disk space so had to rejig system a bit!]

Saturday July 9th
Finally dug some of the Red Duke of York spuds, which are a bit nibbled but otherwise ok. Spent ages picking raspberries again - picked several more tubs. Blackcurrants still aren´t really ready yet - I got a tubful from the outer branches of a couple of bushes but the inner berries are still green and hard. The garlic is now harvested too - wow I´ve got a lot! I have never had such a good crop - even the smallest bulbs are larger than the normal size from last year. Made a start on cleaning them up. The weird bit is that a few bulbs have an extra bit growing in the stem! I have no idea why, but they are certainly amusing!


The bizarre garlics

Sunday July 10th
More garlic cleaning. There are over 50 bulbs (including the ones that grew from the bulbs I missed last year so were a bit shallot-like!). The scrappy ones are going to be pickled, the rest are now trimmed and placed in a very old hanging basket in the shed, where they´re easy to pick out when we need more but have plenty of air circulation. Have sore fingers! Did pop up to lottie for a while, mostly taking progress photos but did pick a load of the Jonkheer van Tets redcurrant, which were like little jewels. The sweetcorn have thickened out a lot, too.


Wednesday July 13th
Finally able to get up to plot in between work trips and noticed that since the last visit I´ve got a missed courgette which is now some 8" long and too big... I reckon that if I water it enough I´ll have a decent marrow by the time I visit home next week.

Friday July 15th
Day off, and too hot to really do much outside, so stayed in and made blackcurrant jam with last year´s frozen berries. Lots of jam. Watered stuff well later on when it was cooler.

Saturday July 16th
Perfect day, so what did I do? Sat inside the conservatory and read the new Harry Potter! Sometimes one just has to relax...

Sunday July 17th
Very fast dash up before a picnic outing to throw some water on the courgettes and beans, and pick anything that looked ready. This was mainly sweet peas and some courgettes. There´s never enough time in July, even for writing diary entries!!!

Tuesday July 19th
Another quick dash up to allotment with the fork to get a load of Royal Kidney spuds for Mum and Dad. Also added some beetroot, a tub of raspberries and the marrow which has indeed got to a reasonable size. Picked a nice bunch of sweet peas, the first carnations and three intensely prickly teasels. These have fallen over rather badly so will need to be staked so I can get at the blackberries, which are going red already...

Saturday July 23rd
Went up in the afternoon with as many plastic containers as I still have this side of the freezer. And it still wasn't really enough! Also took up the strimmer, the hoe and the portable gas stove (with a flask of milk and some tea bags). Initially had a panic as all the drying autumn onions had vanished - then I peeked in the shed and sure enough, Chris had put them out of the way of any rain. Need to dig the rest of them out! Spent the first half hour or so strimming until it ran out of line *again* and then took the tubs and a cuppa over to the blackcurrant by the bramble. Discovered the bramble had also gone a bit mad, and was blocking the path. The teasel cluster was also looking like a cartwheel after it splayed out so decided to tackle those after the currant. Spent an hour picking blackcurrants, and got two more tubsfull. Then put on the gloves, bashed a broom handle into the ground in the centre of the teasels and managed to tie them all up with the broom in the centre in case they go over again. Then bullied the bramble back into the right direction, fastening two new stems together in the centre. Finally I could get into the area, despite the comfrey also needing a chop. Blackberries starting to go ripe. Took the remaining tubs and another cuppa down to the raspberries and picked another load; they are slowing off now (just as well) and I should be able to do some jam now with the squashy ones as I've got a large bagful. Discovered I've got a courgette glut - picked nine of them! Picked a fair few of the red start redcurrants too, but they aren't quite ripe so gave up and parcelled up the bush in its netting again. I shall try again in a couple of weeks or so. Meanwhile, as I've got so many of them from the Jonkheer van Tets bush, I shall turn these with the remainder from last year into redcurrant jelly. Yum. The French beans were next: a silly number of yellow ones (given I only picked them over last Tuesday) and a not-insubstantial number of green, despite the latter being smaller. Still haven't got any soft soap spray - had tried in Focus on the way over but they didn't have any suitable for vegetables. So I still have a lot of blackfly being farmed by the red ants on a couple of the plants. Tempted to put Nippon down the ant nests too. Made another cup of tea and then pulled a trio of beetroot too, so I'm definitely getting into the full season now! Almost as an aside I dug up a shrivelled looking potato, discovered it was a Kestrel and the tubers were huge! So didn't stop there, got some more Royal Kidneys too. Still a few left, but the Ratte early maincrops are now starting to die back so I shall have a dig around there soon for the next lot of waxy salad spuds. Watered the cucurbits (got marrows, a pair of spaghettis and a butternut coming too!) and the beans, hoping that the forecast rain would indeed appear to water everything else.
The Lark sweetcorn has now got tassels and anthers full of pollen so shook the plants and emulated the wind a bit - hopefully this will ensure at least some full cobs! Minipops are as usual still growing taller, so by the time they show their anthers, they won't be able to cross with the Larks. Runners now 4" long and growing happily, and the beans Lee gave me and which aren't dwarf at all are now going up canes at a rate of knots. Soya beans are flowering - teeny weeny purple flowers. Thinned the salsify to 1 every inch - should get intermediate thinnings at some point. Lettuces have totally bolted, but cabbages still getting bigger gradually. Head on biggest is now 2.5" across. Need to weed them a bit! I'm going to put some lettuces in where the garlic was, and sow more carrots and beet in their bed. Picked more sweet peas and carnations, dead-headed the calendula and spotted that the first gladiolus flower spikes are appearing. :-) Did a bit of hoeing but still have a lot to do. Left at a reasonable hour, ie it wasn't going dark!

Wednesday July 27th
Went up in the rain and managed to pick yet more courgettes and some beans. The courgettes are now full steam ahead and I'm having trouble keeping up with them!

Saturday July 30th
Weeding day 1. Got up to the lottie with the gas stove, a large supply of teabags and milk, lunch and various tools. Started off with the carrots – the early ones are now huge and cracking, which means I really ought to pull them! Not many weeds though – the carrots have suppressed those nicely. There were a lot of flies. Tiny, irritating flies, which took not one whit of notice of the Off! insect repellant.  They landed everywhere, arms, face, inside my glasses… ugh! Gave up after half an hour or so and went home for the Jungle Formula and to find the hand fork. Sort of helped, though not as well as I'd hoped. Moved on to the brassicas. The  ??s were easy – not many weeds at all. After furtling with the middle leaves of the largest, I'm now convinced they're caulis. As usual the cabbages were worst – and the intercropped bolting lettuces weren't helping much. Pretty though! But they were stopping light getting to the cabbages, as is plain by the after picture. There are some rather leggy plants in the centre!
   Having sorted all the netted beds (ie the biggest pains to do) I moved on to the courgettes and then steadily worked my way across Plot 1. Rain stopped play a few times, starting with a light shower (and excuse for a cuppa). Decided to use the clear cloche plastic to rig an overhang to the shed so I could have the door open and still stay dry, but it kept sliding down. Tried to tie the bits in position and ended up standing on the chair to reach. Didn't watch where I was putting my feet and fell through the plywood seat. Ow. Have a lovely set of bruises on my right calf now. At the end of shower 2 (a bit longer duration) Chris appeared: turned out she'd been sitting in the car for 10 minutes waiting for it to pass! But her timing was excellent – the kettle had just boiled! Carried on working my way through Plot 1, and dug up the last overwintering onions while I was at it. Left them in a pile to supposedly dry, got stuck into the runner bean bed and got rained on again! Third shower was long and rather heavy, with both of us taking shelter in the shed.





Before and after on the cabbages



After it stopped, finished off the runners and started on the salsify/soya bean patch. The soya was quite weedy, but easy to clear, and to my delight there are small furry pods appearing! So I shall hopefully get my Eda Mame after all. I could have done without all the germination hassle, but I shall know for next time. Pulled the proper shallots as against the massive mutie ones and chucked some lettuce seed on the cleared area. Realised that Plot 1 was done (bar the orchard, which is a jungle and no hope of it being otherwise) so moved on to the onions in Plot 2. The cheapo pack have done nothing except give me some pickling onions, and the New Fen Globes are all rather weedy bar one of them. But some are getting large enough to store rather than pickle. Wish they were as big as the overwintered ones! Sweetcorn was the worst for weeding – lying sideways on the paths between the raised beds in itself wasn't the hard part – it was more the trying not to sit on the floppier French Beans as I did so. I can't believe the corn is flowering – a month ago I had weedy little bits of grass, now I have 5' towers with two cobs per plant on the Lark! (One up on the Ovation, which only ever managed one cob per plant). By now it was getting rather late so picked a marrow, some courgettes (help – there are now over a dozen in the fridge) and loads of French beans. And then we started chatting about spuds so I had a rummage round and ended up digging a Kestrel, an Estima, a Ratte (huge number of tubers), a Red Duke of York and half a Salad Blue. Which also netted me a single Burgundy Red which had grown over into the Blue's space. The Rattes (early main) are dying back now, though all the other maincrops are still going strong. So then I had to take a bucket home, what with the shallots and spuds and a marrow… Rather a heavy load, but at least the first chunk of weeding was done even if it had taken 9 hours. Didn't realise how much I ached until much later, when I tried to get out of the chair and couldn't!

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Parsnips and beetroot



French Beans


Soya beans!

Sunday July 31st
Weeding day 2. Ouch ouch ouch soooo stiff this morning!
Started off by having another go at the overhang shelter. Tied the two pieces together firmly and then attached a piece of string lengthways to each one. Put it on the roof and  put the knots a third of the way down on the underside and then used the string to tie it securely to nails in the shed. Attached another piece of string over the back of the plastic to give it some anchorage against the wind. If it stays there I'll have to bring up wire and do it all properly though.  This will at least give me a bit more collecting area for the water butt, as well as the shelter.
    This time the weeding was the tomato bed, which was overgrown with spinach seedlings which are now huge. This took some hours, as I was transplanting the larger seedlings into the shallot bed (the lettuces will have to be shifted if they grow!). The gartenperle tomatoes also had to be tied up somehow – they are definitely a trailing variety which isn't ideal in beds. Tied up all the floppy stems to the support rope in the end, which worked well. What with bindweed in the loganberries and couch and spinach, I was just about there when Chris appeared. Moved down to the flowerbed and evicted thistles, couch, bindweed and loads of fat hen. The claw cultivator was great here – made it very easy to scratch up the soil so water will go in rather than run off. I think the first gladdies will be out by the end of the week. Finally all the weeding was done (least of the bits I am able to reach!) and so was able to go and do other stuff. Got the last half-punnet of raspberries off the Glen Amples. Have had loads – hardly any left though so left the net up for any inquisitive birdies to get in and hoover up. The brambles however are off. Couldn't get to the plants thanks to the teasels and comfrey, so the latter got the chop and so there went another half an hour shredding leaves and stuffing them into the container. Much neater, though am slightly worried that I've got another plant off to one side so will have to check if it's spreading. Picked a tub of brambles. Picked yet more French beans ( I swear they've been taking lessons from the courgettes). Picked another marrow, which was HUGE. Picked three more courgettes. Picked flowers. Sowed a row of beetroot from the packet we found in the shed (and which had two lots of seed in – just what Chris wanted for the patch she'd just cleared) and a row of radishes. Was donated a sputnik by Chris (kohlrabi!) and finally called it a day just after 6pm after another 7 hours. Not quite as stiff thank goodness, though bruises on leg after yesterday are now looking quite spectacular. Must repair the chair!



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