Thursday June 16th
Up to water stuff, and ended up picking a large punnet of gooseberries. There were rather more underneath than I´d thought (good) so should be able to get a few pounds. Picked the biggest ones off the green bush. There are even some on the yellow bush, but I don´t expect the red ones to be pickable for a week or two.
Friday June 17th
Off to BBC GW with Chris, and lots of plants. Took one of my green and purple chillis along to the swap and got a Berryfields´ dahlia in return (cactus flower) so we shall see what we get. Did find a fuchsia called Lottie Hobby so had to buy it! I shall keep it in a pot until it´s a bit bigger then plant out. Hardy in most areas, too, and a quite old variety.
Saturday June 18th
Very hot day. Couldn´t really do much during the daytime so only managed to get up to the lottie in the evening. P dropped me off with the remaining runners and the soybeans, and a bottle of wine (hence no car). And it was still too hot for the first couple of hours. Planted the beans and found that one of the direct sown ones is up. Watered everything very well indeed - had the hose on to fill up the butts and was emptying them almost as fast as they were filling. But at least I managed to perk up the potatoes - they were very wilted indeed. Dug up another two Royal Kidneys (a bit bigger than last week´s) and earmarked them for Sunday lunch. Of the French dwarfs, half the new row is up and a few of the interspersed ones too. Going to have lots of them this year hopefully. Sweetcorn starting to bulk up a bit, and the cabbages are doing very nicely now - they´re starting to heart. So are the lettuces. Planted some of Lee´s spare dwarf beans too (Tendergreen - standard French bean rather than the filet ones in the main bed). Maggie appeared and has no dwarf beans so now she has the rest of Lee´s. I now have another spaghetti squash (she had rather a lot come up). After I´d finished soaking everything, went over to Maggie´s plot and sank most of the bottle of wine between us.
Sunday June 19th
Very very very hot and humid day. 32oC! Don´t know what possessed me to bottle the gooseberries! And still incredibly sticky at 8pm when I decided it was cool enough to go and water things. Found a broken raised bed panel which was weird, but thought it had possibly just broken as it was one of the thin flimsy ones. Unfortunately not. It had been stepped on, as was clear when Chris showed me the line of footprints through my onion bed. Very annoyed. No wanton damage - just someone taking a shortcut. Must have been very late last night (given we didn´t leave till gone 10) while it was still well-watered as the soil was baked by the heat today. At least this helped a bit - it was soft enough to bend most of the onion plants rather than snap them. And after watering again I was able to right them. Doesn´t help the snapped wood though. :-(
Despite all this, got the HDRA seedling onions into the bed at last. Only the last two pots of soybeans left to plant out! And then watered everything in sight again. Most things are enjoying the heat and so I expect the cucurbits to explode into lots of leaf soon and the tomatoes to start growing more strongly. Beans doing well - have three more of the direct-sown runners up, and a couple more French. Spuds look happier than they did yesterday. Picked the first sweet peas (all either Dot.Com or Hard Times blues). Chris very annoyed as someone´s been and picked her rhubarb - and even cheekily trimmed it and left her the leaves!
Monday June 20th
Another hot day though thankfully not as bad as yesterday. Or at least not to my perception, being in work and air-conditioned! Bit of a blast furnace in the car when I got out, and after getting home, went out to water rather late. Up again on foot to do the watering. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk there (even though the steps are killing my knees) and is much greener so I feel somewhat happier about going. Course it only works if you have hardly any tools. Anyway, no footprints (hurrah) but bone dry soil again. Got the hose out (with comments of "Got any `ose ?") but obviously nobody else has my warped sense of humour. Chris and Maggie were both already up, and so had a chat while trying to water everything including me. I must remember that hosepipes that you leave stuffed in waterbutts sometimes have a mind of their own... and a jet of cold water in the midriff can be quite a shock! Filled the butts and drowned everything again. I´m sure I could leave it a day between waterings but it´s been so cold this season that I want the crops to make the best of having plenty of water and sun and warmth to give them a boost. Must feed tomorrow night as well. Plenty of comfrey liquid, after all! Cabbages have cabbage aphid (grr) so also need to get some soft soap to spray on. And have another go with the glyphosate at the thistles as some more have popped up. Picked a couple more sweet peas (another Hard Times blue and a Burnished Bronze maroon). Hope I get some reds soon. Still bone dry here, despite flooding elsewhere. Forgot to pick the elderflowers.
Tuesday June 21st
Lovely day for the solstice. Hot and muggy though. Finally got up to the lottie at about 8.30pm and found Maggie had taken up a very cold bottle of wine. Picked a load of elderflowers for the cordial. Watered everything from the butts (they seem to do one day's worth of watering) and then sat down to watch the sun set and the stars come out over a cold glass.
Wednesday June 22nd
Another hot one - no sign of a break yet in the south-east. Podded up to the lottie quite late and got out the hose again. Didn't manage to give myself a shower this time (though did end up with rather wet feet!) Drowned everything and emptied cans on the currants and the raspberries too. The Jonkheer van Tets is going red! Glad it's netted… Jim's mystery brassicas are getting flea beetled, which shows how well the fleece is working on the main cabbages. Had to water the spuds again. Poor things! Even the second earlies are looking awful, so after watering, made up a couple of cans of seaweed extract water and watered the foliage. Hopefully that will give them a boost. Spotted a cream sausage tomato had set - what a funny looking thing it is! I still can't believe how fast the sweetcorn is bulking up. It's doing incredibly well. Had a long chat to Tony, who was covering everything with bordeaux mixture in case we get blight, picked a few more sweet peas and headed for home.
Thursday June 23rd
Witches brews this evening. Made ginger beer and put the bottles under the stairs, then made a batch of elderflower champagne. That should start to ferment in a day or three so can then be bottled. The elderflower cordial is still steeping in the jug, though given temperatures I might just have to go to the next stage ahead of schedule to stop it going fuzzy. Topped up the ginger beer plant (which is now full size) and so I shall have a giant batch in a week. Wandered up to the lottie with a bottle of Camel Valley. Very nice one too! More watering… but the onions are getting slightly bigger at long last. So are the shallots - at least the ones that are proper shallots instead of the mutie big ones. Garlic still falling over so shall have to begin digging it soon. Read an article on the time to pick, and it said pick when 10% of the stems have fallen over as then you get nice white papery skins instead of having them rot and be uncleanable. I know they do that from last year, so will have to dig soon. Maybe not until we've had some rain though to soften the ground a bit!
Noticed I have French beans set :)
Picked a few more sweet peas (the raspberry ripple one is finally out - as is a mauve - so I think there's only cream and red ensign that aren't represented. Hopefully they will be in the ones that haven't come out yet. Noted the presence of another huge elder bush further over the lotties so may well have to make some more cordial while I can! Nice sunset.