June 2005


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Wednesday June 1st
Peeked in conservatory first thing to evict the sweetcorn and found the soybeans are up and running! Have only 8 so far out of 15 in the tray, so shall have to plant up a few more in order to fill the bed. Or I go for the beautiful pole beans that Lee's dad sent him, and which Lee split with me. They're white and burgundy. Very very pretty.
Sweetcorn duly evicted (they will now only go back into the growhouse during the hardening off process) and rain appeared mid-morning.

Thursday June 2nd
Dry again, so up went the scaffold boarding and the first lot of sweetcorn. Now have edged the courgette bed at the boundary of plot 1, and shoved in the corn. That has gone in a new bed and what a difference it makes to be able to plant them in flat soil and water them and it not to run off… After the rain of the last 24 hours, the soil's damp again (but still not desperately wet) and therefore perfect for weeding as I can get the trowel in the ground much easier. Weeded the top edge of the garlics as planned, before the light got too bad. Took the cloches off the French Beans. Poor things - looking very scorched, though this was sun scorch not frost, as I'd taken the cloches off during a hot day and they dehydrated. They are growing new leaves happily though. As are the cabbages! I am very pleased - I've lost four plants outright, with most of the others already with two now leaves on. I think they'd established well, so the roots were able to provide enough food to grow fast. Lettuces also looking good. But I'm not taking the fleece off. The unharmed cabbages are shooting up rapidly. I shall buy a punnet of red cabbage seedlings and replace the dead ones with those.

Friday June 3rd
Got out of work on time for once, with weather holding. Called in at Chenies for the red cabbages and was queuing to pay when the heavens opened. Bummer. Went home grumbling and had tea, by which time it was clear again. Went out, not expecting to be able to do much but took the rest of the sweetcorn in order to plant it. Couple more showers, one quite infuriating as I'd not taken either a mobile or a camera for once and there was a fantastic whole-sky rainbow. *sigh* Got the sweetcorn in; there are now 35 in the bed, of which 19 are Lark and 16 minipop. Still had a tray of minipops which were baffling me as to where to put them until I had a brainwave. They are now filling the space by the tomatoes, as they will only shade the forsythia and shallots and don't need pollinating. So that was another 10 minipops. Went back to weeding and finished off some more edges.

Saturday June 4th
Out quite early for me and paid a visit to Focus. Acquired the required netting, green wire and some more large labels, and a lump hammer. Shan't have trouble with wobbly posts any more… least not for long! Carried them up and used the hammer to drive in eight more broom handles as protection for the sprouting broccoli. Stuck bottles over the tops, planted as many seedlings as would fit (16!) and then got caught in a shower. Ran for the shed, barricaded the door with a cloche so I could still see, and made root fly protection from underlay until the rain stopped. Fastened them round the broccoli then wrestled with netting and the wind until I managed to get it nailed down over the posts. Pleased. Moved on to the cabbages, which are a lot better than I thought they would be at this stage. The undamaged ones are now quite huge, which shows what the others would have been like. Oh well. Only four have died, so replaced them with red cabbages, weeded the patch and put the netting back. Lee offered some spare climbing beans, but not sure if I've the space either! Put the tray on the soya patch, and will plant up if I've room. Should do - soya now up to 20 seedlings but not sure how many more will grow.
 Chris arrived, so we chatted and grumbled over how peculiar the season is so far, and then I went home for more plants (the runner beans), the strimmer and lunch. Upon returning, strimmed the plots and the edges so it all looks a lot tidier. Runners very long and lanky yet again - despite my determination to get them right. I think I still need to hold them back a week or so from when I planted them this time. Have half a dozen spares still, just potted up from the chitting experiment, so they'll plump up the planting when I've hardened them off properly. Tied the first lot to the canes and watered them well. All the beds are now occupied - hurrah. Just need more French beans and the soya beans and I'm done. Got weeding again, this time the bottom path. Looks really nice. Put netting on top of the partially-done blackcurrant cage in the orchard and I still have enough netting to do a couple more. Lots of jam will result I hope, especially as the Wellington XXX is fruiting for the first time properly and they are very large berries. Didn't have enough wire to do them today so packed up for the day.


Sprouting broccoli and pigeon-proofing!


Plot 1 now...


Across the salsify rows to the runners and cabbage cage


... and plot 2

Tuesday June 7th
After a cold start (frost in the hollow according to Jim) the day warmed up nicely and by the evening it was very pleasant. Took up the gangly Berggold beans and planted them alongside the nicely compact direct-sown Safaris, then sowed more of them directly. Think some of the later-planted Safari have been moused, so it´s anyone´s guess as to whether the latest lot will grow before they´re munched. Sowed the last remaining Enorma runner beans direct into the bases of the supports, so that should help. Watered everything I could including myself. Soaked when the hose flew out of the butt and water got me right in the midriff. Cabbages definitely perking up now. One´s not so good but the rest will survive. Gave them a good drink. Lettuces are also doing well under the fleece (which won´t have hurt last night either). Salsify is up! Lots of little red-brown shoots, almost invisible against the soil. Hopefully they´ll turn green at some point. Finished netting a couple more blackcurrants. There´s one main one left to do, which will use a chunk of the new netting. The one under the apple tree is the one I tend to leave for the birdies. Gooseberries will need picking soon. And the Salad blue and Burgundy red spuds (maincrop) are FLOWERING! Eeep.  Carrots new row up. (They were sown 29th May so it´s taken 1½ weeks to germinate. Impressed.) Summer raspberries are absolutely heaving with bees and flowers, so I hope for a bumper crop.


Regenerating cabbages. Big ones at the back are the untouched ones.  Lettuces doing well.


Mad gladdies


Carrots: Early Nantes, Autumn King row 1 and just starting to appear Autumn King row 2.


Even madder raspberries.

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.

Friday June 24th
Thunderstorms! At long last rain, and a fair amount too. Storm was spectacular enough for P to unplug the TV aerial. And with some relief I don't have to go to the lottie to water tonight. Hopefully because I've been keeping it wet, the rain will penetrate further than in the very dry powder that is most of the soil.

Saturday June 25th
Beaconsfield Farmers' market for some stuff for next weekend, and then massive houseclean. Didn't get to do much else. Freebie coriander in the AG mag so that saves me buying any!

Sunday June 26th
Up to lottie after lunch and stayed there a few hours. Picked 4lb gooseberries (a lot of them mildewy as they all seem to be this season) and the first redcurrants from the unprotected bush. The protected bushes are doing superbly, with the Jonkheer van Tets having almost completely ripe strigs now. First ripe raspberries! And a bit tart, so shall leave them a few days before attempting to pick any more. Blackcurrants not really going yet. This time last year I'd picked lots of currants, so we are still behind thanks to the very cold May. Pulled some carrots and was irritated to find them forky. But at least clean, so that's something. Dug two more Royal Kidney spuds (? gone now) and sowed some of the coriander in the bean bed. They are romping away - despite a huge slug hiding in the grass. (Now very ex-slug.) With the look of some of the set ones, they may be ready come the weekend! Sweetcorn now really motoring. I am always amazed at how fast they thicken up and go mad. Pity I can't say the same about the courgettes yet. The one I gave Chris is huge - so I guess it's my soil. Must do something with manure in the autumn. Went to the large elder and picked a heap of flower heads for some more cordial. Dug half a dozen garlic - the Marco that had bent over so was ready. And wow - the bulbs were huge, way bigger than the past few year's worth.  I can only hope the rest are even bigger once they dry off. Chris donated some amazing pinks that had been given to her by Mr Carnation (neither of us know his real name!). So we're off - first real produce pick. Going to have fun with the gooseberry bottling again.

Tuesday June 28th

And more rain! More precisely, torrential thunderstorms. Very wet indeed, all late night and so hopefully it will have time to sink in.



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