July 2006


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Saturday July 1st
In amongst a hectic day at home (main barbecue of summer for friends) I managed to get up to the lottie and dig the first new potatoes! 12 weeks exactly, and they could do with more time due to lack of water (though they are collapsing, sadly). Got some that were possibles for this afternoon´s show. Still, there´s enough Red Dukes and Int Kidneys for a multicoloured potato salad. Went through the gooseberries and eventually got 20-odd of the dessert ones and easily 20 green ones. Bit mildewy but not as bad as last year, and enough to have a go at the fruit sections. Also found the raspberries were turning - small things they are, again it´s been too dry, but I bet they taste intense. Didn´t dare try as I´ve too few otherwise! Then got some strigs of the Jonkheer van Tets redcurrants - mmmm. They *are* ready, though no really long strigs, sadly. Blacks still not ripe enough, though did pick some of the Wellington XXX in case. Picked my first courgettes!!!! Dashed off at high speed to try and get it all to the show in time, and forgot to cut the two fantastic lettuces. Bah.
Got to venue with 5 minutes to go and had the folk there helping me to set up. I´d taken both five potatoes and  two matched cucumbers from the conservatory´s glut, and was advised to put the cues into the Any Other Veg class rather than the spuds. Left everything, paid my 30p entry fees and shot back to deal with potato salads and the like.

Escaped back out at 4pm and with some trepidation arrived at the show hall. Bought some raffle tickets first, and was filling out the slips with name and phone when the lady selling them said that she´d put a couple of calabrese in but had been beaten by two cucumbers! I was *so* astonished I just burst out laughing. I´d only entered because they had been debating cancelling the early show through lack of interest. I think that it had chivvied a lot of folk into doing things, as it looked very well attended to me. There were seven entries in the any other veg class. Turned out I´d also got 2nd of four in the gooseberries (to Vince) and 3rd in the mixed fruit plate though that was probably more due to the paucity of entries (just three). Got chatting to Vince and so didn´t make it back home particularly promptly. Didn´t win anything on the raffle, and then dashed back off to the barbie with the offending cucumbers and a huge grin. (And the potatoes were really nice tasting!)


Fruit - mine were the ones on the oval plates.


The cues - and there were more where they came from!


Sunday July 2nd
Very hot day - didn´t go up until after church and it was still very warm. Found quite a lot of folk up there too, including Chris so of course we got nattering. Parsnips looking quite decent now - they ought to have got their main roots down a fair few inches so should be drought-tolerant now. Still going to keep watering the bed because of the radishes though. To my amazement, the carrots are up! Patchy still, but am definitely not grumbling. Even risked pulling one of the paltry half dozen which did grow before, and it was a really good one.

Checked the French beans  - still being very shy. One is up but it´s a yellow one, of which I have a fair few. I wish the greens would get a move on!! The climbing French from Maggie are looking good - at this rate they´ll be the ones I freeze as green beans as they will be the only ones I get! Mixed news from the squash bed - the butternuts are starting to flower (hurrah) but one of the spaghettis has been eaten off at the stem. Grumble. The other one is looking happy though. The great rambling self-set monster cucurbit has got a female on it - looks like a squash, but not necessarily a marrow. Too squat a shape, so still a mystery. Probably a cross of several types so it´s going to be fun to watch! The leaf shapes are changing on the other cucurbits so I´m hopeful that soon they´ll start their growth spurt. Shall put some extra nitrogen on by means of 6X to help them. Tomatoes doing nicely, though the cream sausages are noticeably scrappier plants than the San Marzanos, which look lovely. Tomatoes setting on both now; watered them well and shall have to comfrey them soon. Threw netting over the blueberries as they´re starting to blush blue which will attract the birdies very quickly. Chris picked a lot of her amazingly sweet Marshmellow strawberries and gave me some, and we stood nattering and eating them. Much nicer than the watery and sour Elsantas that are all we seem to get in the shops these days. Left at 10.15pm!


A good 6" carrot - seemingly an endangered species this year!

Monday July 3rd
Up to lotties about 8.30pm after an incredibly hot day. Needless to say, everything looked pretty parched. Unrolled the hosepipe and got filling the butts at the same time as bailing water back out with the watering can to water everything. The latest newsletter from the Council Allotments Group has requested we don´t use hoses to set an example though they can´t stop us as we´re still permitted by Three Valleys´ Water, but given my back and knee problems I don´t think I could physically cope with having to carry all the water needed from the tap, so terribly sorry, chaps. (And it would double the time taken, and I work full time!) It took about 1.5 hours to water everything well, and that´s *with* having the butts close to the beds. Had to water the potatoes - the earlies have all collapsed! So did all the vegetables and a bit of the fruit. Lots and lots of watering can trips. Have three yellow beans up now, and no green ones. Even with water, the penetration seems to be about an inch then it´s dust again. Cut another courgette - so have great hopes there. Second butternut flower opened today, so hopes there too. The biggest cucurbits are the trailing marrows in the sweetcorn (admittedly a lot of manure´s in there too) and the ??? one by the greengage. That has a female on which looks suspiciously like a butternut or spaghetti. I think it´s a cross-pollinated weirdie that could end up looking like anything! Watered the red cabbages too - even they are suffering now, with limp outer leaves. Hopefully things will have perked up by tomorrow morning.
Have to pick the gooseberries tomorrow - it´s going to rain heavily on Wednesday and that´ll make them split. I see lots of scratches in my immediate future! Will also try and take photos, as things are looking pretty good. Sweetcorn´s now about 15" high, the runners are flowering (two are at the top of the poles), so are Maggie´s French climbers (possibly the only FBs I´m going to get...), all the brassicas are motoring, so are the tomatoes and I expect the squashes to go boom in the next fortnight. Need to strim, too, and chop down the comfrey mound.

Tuesday July 4th
Thanks to a torrential downpour (12mm in half an hour!) nothing needs watering! But the trouble with lots of rain at gooseberry picking time is that they split, so went up with two large tubs and filled them with gold and green berries. The gold ones really are lovely - I wish I knew what variety they are! Greens are definitely a cooking berry though. Not for eating! They all have a fair bit of mildew and blemishes on, but I´m sure that won´t be a problem. Will put the dessert ones in the rumtopf. Tooks lots of photos of the current state-of-play.

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli at last!

Minicole cabbages, doing well now.

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Sweetcorn and trailing marrows


View down over potatoes, onions, shallots and sweetcorn

Runner beans

Saturday July 8th
Interesting times today. Had a lot of high points and a couple of lows, but that´s gardening. Went up early for a Saturday (9.20am) having managed to organise shopping etc last night. Took up the tray of baby kale and Rudolph PSB that were still hanging on for dear life, and planted four of the best ones in the middle of the existing PSB bed. Hopefully they´ll grow and catch up. Then fired up the strimmer and went round the plots, making sure it´s all nice and neat for Tuesday (when the town´s being judged as part of Britain in Bloom). Then began the main weeding task of the rest of the beds. Worked my way round, starting with the carrot bed, and blast it, the newly sprouted lot have vanished AGAIN. I wish I knew what was eating them! Planted more (sigh). Took off the covering of the red cabbages so I could get at them, and was gobsmacked at the size of the cabbages. That´s my foot in the pic - and I´m a size 7... They are just starting to heart up, which is good.


Moved my way gradually round the beds of both plots, getting shot of as many weeds as I could. There´s a lot of scarlet pimpernel this year - the old compost heap must have been full of it as they are mostly in the topped-up beds. French beans still pathetic - am seriously thinking of going and buying more seed as what I have is obviously useless. Runner beans flowering but not setting: the cooler weather should sort that out. Two butternuts seem to have set. 100% improvement on last year! Shallots doing nicely, onions seem to be ok (no more have fallen over). Courgettes still small (apart from the ones in the sweetcorn, which are huge, and the self-set, which is trying to take over the manure heap). Soya beans are flowering now.

But then I noticed the black patches on the Pink Fir Apple potatoes. Uh oh. Blight? Well, there´s a question... see pic to the right. I have never seen anything like it. (If anyone has, please email me at the address on the home page!). I cut off one piece and took it home to try and see if it was blight, and went through all the pest and disease sections, and a good chunk of Google trying to get a match. Doesn´t look like any blight I´ve seen before.  It was symmetric! Anyone??? (I later went back after Dr Who and cut off all visibly affected parts, and will watch it carefully. Any sign of spread or plant collapse and out the plants come).


Back to the weeding, finally got round the majority of the plot (I´m ignoring the orchard!) and then embarked on the raspberry picking.

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This is why I do this. The first picking of the year, the red delights that are freshly-picked, unsquashed, non-refrigerated to no-taste raspberries. There´s 1lb in the bowl, Glen Amples (which they are, as shown by the pic on the right!).
Then I went to get the Jonkheer van Tets redcurrants, which are more little red jewels in the depths of the


bushes. Picked virtually exactly a pound of those, too. With heaps still on the plant! And the Redstarts are only just turning, so heaps more to come. These ones are a cm each in size. Stunning.
Didn´t go near the gooseberries as I´ve still piles of them at home to sort out! Did, however, pick the giant lettuce from the parsnip bed and take it home. Left the outer leaves and some sideshoots, so it should give me another crop. Did dig three early potato plants up and took the spuds home for tea. Smallish pickings again, but they did us for a large potato salad as ever.  Left the lotties at 3.50pm, after having been out there for 6˝ hours, took the weeds (a whole binliner full!) to the dump and went home for lunch (!!!)

Sucker for punishment, I went back later and got the potato haulms, but also had a chat to Maggie, relocated some cinnabar moths and picked another pound of redcurrants. Gave half to Maggie as well as loads of the golden gooseberries, and picked the first pink of the year. Exhausted!

Monday July 10th
Woke up early so took the chance to go to water the seeds. Was still quite damp after yesterday´s rain (only 3mm, but every little helps...) so quickly sprinkled over some more. Something´s eaten one of the baby kales already. *sigh* Went to get some of the raspberries that I´d figured would be ripe yesterday, and found the netting up and not nearly as many ripe ones as I´d thought. Was rather angry. At least the thief could have put the blinking netting back! Grrrrr... Didn´t have time to peg it properly but I´m going to tonight.

Tuesday July 11th
Beautiful evening after a warm day. After our small brushes with rain, we´re back into the hotter weather again. Perfect temperatures for being up there by 8pm! Finally cut back the massive comfrey and stuffed all of the foliage upside down into the second dalek bin. Should rot quickly and not root! Pulled at one bit and up came roots too, so Yvonne now has a potential clump :) Then on to the raspberries, and got a decent number this time. Then more dessert gooseberries, and there´s still heaps and heaps left. Haven´t even really started on the green ones - that will be tomorrow I fear! But at least with the comfrey out of the way, I´ve plenty of room to get to them now. Watered all the squashes (including the monster self-set) and was delighted to find that the two elongated Defenders which I´d stuffed by the manure heap have taken off. Hopefully everything else will now follow. They do seem to do better in partial shade. I wonder...
The nibbled Kale has been replaced by a less-nibbled one, but they don´t look terribly happy. Might sow some more in case. Weeded the back of the blueberries of the scarlet pimpernel explosion while I was crawling round that area. Out of the dozens of French beans I direct-sowed, about four are up. New seed needed, I think, and some JI seed compost as I´m not using the stuff I tried to grow the last lot in! But the beans Maggie gave me are indeed Borlotti - the pods have turned marbled pink in the past two days! Yellow French are setting, so at least we´ll have *some* this summer. Still no setting runners and it´s about to get hot again. Hopefully they will get some on them soon.
Had an interesting conversation with Chris about the odd-looking potatoes. I told her that someone else on A4A had experienced problems with their Rockets (bought from the same source I got mine, which rotted - think it was spraing) and that the Pink Firs I bought were probably dodgy too (the ones I had saved are fine). She then commented that her Edzell blue were looking most odd - and it was those that I´d bought for her from the potato day. Coincidences are getting too large. Some of the seed tubers must have been contaminated. I shall go back to Coventry for the next Potato Day, even if they don´t have as large a range.

Wednesday July 12th
Judging day for the Britain in Bloom comp at the lotties. Hope they did well - it was a gloriously sunny day so it would have helped! I dropped in Chenies on the way home and bought a couple more packets of French bean seeds and a bag of John Innes seed compost. Planted 15 modules (large ones) of each, and seriously hope that THIS time they grow! These ones are Tendergreen (with purple and brown seeds!) and Opera (normal white). I won´t water them again until I see growth, and hope that the drainage is good enough for the seeds to not rot.

Thursday July 13th
Up to water the seedlings, courgettes and beans, and see what I could find. Turned out to be rather a lot! As well as four courgettes (they´re off!) I got seven different soft fruits: raspberries, loganberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blueberries, yellow gooseberries and green gooseberries. OK not many of some of them but have bowlfuls of the goosegogs at home already. Wish I´d had this lot ready two weeks ago for the show!
Yum. I think I shall have to experiment with summer pudding tomorrow.


Saturday July 15th
Very hot day, and in the grand style of mad dogs and Englishmen, I was out in it. Started off fairly early by going to the wood yard, as I´d decided to have a final go at carrots. Can´t sow them much later than this, so I had to get it done as soon as I could. Trust me to pick a scorcher. This bed was simply four 1m lengths of timber, 20cm deep and 1" thick, attached at the edges by hinges. I decided to do this to make carrying easier - at least at the moment (until the hinges rust or the wood warps!) it will collapse to a flat 2m length for when I need to shift it. Of course the amount of topsoil needed wasn´t small (0.2m3) so it was a take-up-in-the-car job. And even then it was tricky to get the stuff out in the wheelbarrow! Luckily this also meant I didn´t have to physically haul the tool or the dahlias I wanted to put out, either. Have done something to my foot and it doesn´t like being

walked  on at the moment. Pegging down was easy - after positioning, I bashed in a piece of wood on the outside of each corner. It´s roughly level - not quite, but enough. I then put a piece of a topsoil bag at each corner to stop the hinges being in direct contact with the damp soil, and filled it with a mixture of topsoil, fine sand and some compost just to give it some more organic matter. Not the cheapest of carrots, even if they grow this time! But at least they ought to be clean and straight. Watered it and then sowed several rows of carrots interspersed with my other bugbear, spring onions. With luck one of them will grow... Half of it is therefore sown currently, and the other half is earmarked for a seed bed for spring


cabbages and anything else that needs to be started off somewhere. Finally covered the whole lot with the doubled enviromesh. Hopefully slugs won´t find it for a while, given the net is over the wood too and the plastic at the corners (where there´s a gap) will stop things burrowing in. Moved on to picking stuff: yet more gooseberries, few more raspberries, the last few redcurrants from the Jonkheer van Tets (which turned out to be rather a lot as they were hiding!) and a punnet of the riper Wellington XXX blackcurrants. Still quite a few on that bush, but still green so they can stay there another 

week. Picked a couple more courgettes, which are finally starting to run. The ones that I shoved in the old compost heap area are doing best (no surprise there, given the soil´s humus content and proximity to the manure heap!) though the ones in full sun are catching up. I have no idea what theones in the sweetcorn are doing - there´s so many sideshoots now of both plants that I can´t see any flowers... I suspect the first I´ll know of anything in there is when I notice a 15" marrow... Talking of marrows, the self-set  rampant trailing plant has now got a very short very squat fruit on. It looks like a cross between a Table Dainty and a butternut! So quite possibly is! I shall leave it another few days to see what it turns into.
Finished off by planting the four dahlias I´d been growing at home: they got planted a bit late, but should flower at some point! I´m a bit of a late convert to growing dahlias - always adored pompons when Grandad used to take me to his local show way back when, but never quite got the hang of growing. I did try taking cuttings once but they all rotted. Easier for me to just plant the tubers and hope! Now I´ve got the room in the lottie flower bed, it´s relatively easy for me to get cut flowers.
Just need to get some plant pots of straw to lure the earwigs (ugh).


Went back up to the plots after it cooled down at 8.45pm: definitely a lot easier to be out at that time! Watered the beans, potential carrots and courgettes.

Sunday July 16th
An even hotter day, with hazy cirrus (and haloes). Most of it was spent at the Chenies Manor Plant Fair, where I acquired another dahlia - a lovely red pompon which was already quite tall. Struggled to get it in the car, struggled to get it back out at the lotties and accidentally broke off the longest stem and partially break another. Curses. So there´s now a flower in a vase, the top shoot in water (which will get potted up in gritty compost tomorrow) and a slightly battered about the edges plant in the bed above, just a bit shorter than the large cactus-flower one which survived the winter outside and is now 4´ tall... Watered the usual suspects.

Monday July 17th
Very hot day. Ran out of stored water so had to play with the hose tonight. Didn´t soak myself too badly this time, but did get a bit wet in places! Butts now nicely full again and everything in sight watered well, apart from the potatoes which I´m trying to leave in case the extra humidity promotes blight. I ought to go up one morning and do them. The second damaged dahlia stem can´t cope so had wilted - so pulled it and took the remains home. Hopefully the flower will open.
Ordered spring cabbage seeds, the same two varieties that I grew last season. This time I am going to grow the plants myself (and therefore get stronger ones used to local conditions).

Tuesday July 18th
Stupidly hot day. More watering, though back to doing the cucurbits and the beans. Got a handful of yellow French Beans, three courgettes (including the first yellow one), a tub of raspberries, a handful of blueberries and a punnet of baby potatoes. No sign of new carrots yet - bit worried that the seeds have washed down the bed, but can but wait and see. Pulled a few more radishes out of the parsnip bed (carefully!) and was pleased with the parsnip progress. Some of the romaine lettuces are starting to bolt so picked the worst one. Have a load of new lettuce salad bowl seedlings at home ready to go in, so they will have to come up tomorrow (or later in the week, given the scorching conditons at the moment).

Wednesday July 19th
Insanely hot. Couldn´t even bring myself to go up to water, the evening was so sticky.

Thursday July 20th
Up to lottie at 6.45am to do the watering. At least watering in the morning means that I can do things like tomatoes without worrying about the humidity levels overnight. Another courgette ready. And the soil-sown carrots are up! (Sown July 8th. So I expect the newest lot up about the 27th July). Went up again in the evening, and everything was as dry as a bone again already. Slightly cooler day thank goodness, but still things are growing like crazy. Picked quite a decent handful of blueberries. The Blue Jay is doing well, the others are definitely fading now, but then they´re ancient plants really - must be at least 12 years as they spent several being looked after by Dad, and were shipped up to the house when we bought it 8 years ago. Quite possibly we got them in 1990-1; I just know they came from Bridgemere Garden World and I can´t remember what varieties they are. Anyway, gave a handful to Marshall, and have never seen them disappear as fast! He then told me he used to pick them as a boy in Michigan, and he´s not had fresh ones for years... and didn´t realise they grew happily in tubs here. I think he might crack and get some.
On with the watering, and while doing the runners, spotted a couple of 6" beans that had set and grown without me noticing - very much a `where on earth did they appear from?´! Not grumbling - they´ll be few and far between until the weather cools and gets damper, so I shal enjoy them. Glad I planted so many of them now, though. Doubles my chances of getting some, and it´s definitely a poor bean year...
Got given a tub of raspberries by Maggie, who says she´s got more than she knows what to do with, and got home at a sane time for once.

Friday July 21st
After having blueberries in my thoughts, rang up the
Dorset Blueberry Company and asked for advice on what to get to replace the two old bushes, and ended up having a lovely conversation with one of their expert growers on how to possibly rejuvenate the old ones as well. Oh dear - will have to get another of those large pots... have ordered a Bluegold and a Herbert. They are both complementary to Blue Jay (later season) for pollination, and Herbert is what they grow for Marks and Spencer as the flavour is so good. Bluegold is very heavy cropping and not too bad for flavour either, so I should do nicely with these. The lady also suggested mulching with pine bark to help the acidity. I´ve got to do something, as I´ve only got about 2 weeks more rainwater in the butt... unless I import some from the house butts.

Saturday July 22nd
Rain at long last! Three shortish and sharpish showers early on (which stopped me having to go up to water things since I skipped last night) and then a good amount (with thunder) in mid-afternoon. No allotments today! But did receive two packets of cabbage seed yesterday, so they got sown in some of the JI seed compost. And even better, the French beans I sowed in it last week are popping up rapidly, so I shall rescue them onto the garden table so the slugs can´t get at them, and hopefully transplant them tomorrow. The difference? I kept them barely damp, and out of direct sun. Seems to have worked. Popped up to collect courgettes and found a lot ready, and also a huge slug going along my nice new row of carrots grazing off the tops. So that´s where they´ve been going! Slug met a gruesome fate (my gardening knife).

Sunday July 23rd
Toted the latest dwarf French beans and the salad bowl lettuces up and planted them all out. The beans have lovely root systems and I hope they don´t shrivel tomorrow. There are rather a lot of them (I did sow 60...).Watered them in, so they should be ok - they´re mostly at the two real leaf stage or advanced hoop. I wondered if they would be scorched like the last lot, but the ones in the main bean bed are shaded at midday by the now almost 5´ tall minipop sweetcorn, so that should help greatly. The spares went into the old carrot bed by the nice new raised bit. The next lot of carrots in that raised bed are coming up, as are the spring onions, so here´s hoping that the well-pegged mesh keeps out onion fly, carrot fly and giant slugs!!

Monday July 24th
Much relief. After another scorcher, the little dwarf beans are still happily upright and green. Watered them well, and left them to carry on growing (I hope). The patch in the photo is the main bean bed; there´s a couple of the struggling Safaris also in there, but they really aren´t very large or healthy. They´re about 6" apart. The carrots are struggling onwards, but I think some more are up in the new bed, and there´s no sign so far of anything having gone up to have lunch. Parsnips at last doing nicely - the last lot may be in need of thinning soon! And the greengage is getting awfully close to going ripe - some of them are starting to soften up. Typical, when I´m not about at the weekend. Chris is watching carefully, as


is Vince, who lost all his plums to a thief last year, just as they got ripe. Meanwhile, the lettuces I planted have all collapsed. Poor things - the soil was way too dry. But I watered them anyway, and the spare ones still in the tray are fine. Am now thinking to put them in the other half of the raised bed (or plant more spring onions...?). More courgettes and more lettuce picked. Then, proving no good deed goes unpunished, I tried to help Chris do some watering and fell flat on my face. One grazed foot, two twisted knees and a grazed hand. With a half cm gooseberry thorn in the palm. Ow.

There´s only one appropriate word here. Klutz!

Tuesday July 25th
Funnily enough, was a bit sore today... but only knees and right arm (which I broke most of the fall with). Not my back! Which is very good news indeed. I´ve been scared of falls ever since I first did it in, back in `03. I think this means that it´s very gradually healing. Up to lottie at 9pm, just about local sunset, and a lovely one it was too. Temperatures still registering late 20s though. The transplanted lettuces are really rather dead now. Pity. Am leaving the rest in the tray until I can hydrate a bed enough to know they´ll perk up. Of the beans, one´s been munched (stem is half the diameter it was, and the bean bent over at 90o) but the rest seem fine. I hope they manage to survive the weekend, given I´m off to see parents... Picked over the blueberries - have got nearly a full takeaway boxful now. Also looked at the courgettes - will pick over tomorrow and hopefully I won´t then have marrows when I get back! Carrots still growing and not eaten. Parsnips looking good these days. Red cabbages hearting up (and already bigger than they were last season). Sweetcorn starting to flower and tassels just about appearing. So why does the middle of the plot 1 look so darned bare? The ex-garlic plot is as dry as a bone (as the poor lettuces will testify) so will need well-manuring and covering as soon as possible. It´s going to be potatoes next year. Onions have mostly fallen over now so that bed looks pathetic, and the earlies are also being gradually eaten. Plot 2 is faring better, though the autumn onion bed never did anything. That is going to be spring cabbages, so it too will get the manure layer it desperately needs to top it up. But not till it cools off!!! But on the upside, the Spring Hero (ball-shaped) cabbages have germinated already. No sign as yet of the Excels. So I ought to have something to put in it in a month´s time.
Am currently wondering when to dig up the volunteer spuds in the parsnip bed. They look healthier than the deliberates, and some are around the heritage sweetcorn. I think they´re Estima (which I didn´t buy this year) so could be fun. Everything else is dying back with the lack of water. The main volunteer plant is the Salad Blue in the red cabbage/broccoli bed, and this I don´t want to get blight! It´s quite late (dug 29th August last year) so I shall have to watch it carefully. On the good news front, a couple of the cream sausage tomatoes are going yellow! (Even if a San M has got blossom end rot, so I watered them with comfrey).

Wednesday July 26th
Was halfway out to the car with all the gear on to strim the lottie, when I heard rumbles. Large black cloud looked like the culprit, so hastily walked back to the house, thinking maybe not right now. Five minutes later, spots of rain and a dash to get the laundry in. Then we got an absolute clanger of an electrical storm: rain overflowing the gutters and pouring down the outside of the house like Niagara falls (and I have been behind them and know what it´s like!) and sounding like it´s going to punch through the conservatory roof (it was incredibly loud), almost louder than the thunder. Half an hour later it had virtually stopped and I went out in the garden to check the rain gauge (and rescue the flooded spring cabbage seedlings).
We had an astonishing 28mm. In half an hour. That just doubled the rainfall we´ve had in July, and takes us over the monthly average.
Decided I really didn´t need to water anything! Poor lottie is probably covered in mud by now, but at least the raised beds will have stopped some of the soil washing away, and the mesh should have protected the new carrots from the 28l of heavy rain that would have fallen on the 1m2 bed. It normally gets a 9l can! And I ought to have another 61 litres of rainwater in the shed butt to water the blueberries, if it didn´t all bounce off.
Hope I can strim tomorrow. The forecast is another 20mm of rain!

Thursday July 27th
That´ll be no to the strimming. More rain! Another 10mm in another storm halfway through the afternoon, another 4mm in the evening in a second one. Made it up to harvest courgettes (loads...) and deliberately left a large one on cos I fancy a marrow for next week. Had to run for the car as rumbles started again.

Saturday July 29th
Had a guided tour round another lottie today - one of the folk on an allotment forum I haunt has her lottie near my parents, so I went over for half an hour and stayed three. Ooops! But got to see some stunning veg, onions which I have no chance of getting on my silly soil, huge *level* plots, and  relatively stoneless soil. But we get what we´re given (or move house!) so I shall use it for inspiration :) and, as we all do, try again next year...

Sunday July 30th
Back from my travels, and back to my own little lottie. And more rain - we had another 2.5mm last night! Now at 136% of the July average, though we´re still down on the four-month figures thanks to the dry June. All the plants seem to have breathed a sigh of relief with the rain, and so the courgettes have finally got huge (including the poor little one I stuffed in the corner near the firebox) and there were another 8 to pick. Some massive. The sweetcorn, which had barely got any tassels showing on Thursday, has now got 1-2 lots per plant, and the breeze today should distribute the pollen nicely. (As should the good shakes I gave them all!) Tomatoes have got a lot of fruit on, the leeks are doing nicely, the red cabbages are now about 5" across the hearts (and will probably get to 8-9" eventually), the parsnips are getting close to being thinned (!), I´ve got more and more carrots and spring onions coming up and the new beans are growing like rockets! About time... Weeded the plots, digging up the onions in the overwinter bed (pathetic), and also pulled the shallots (larger than the overwintering onions). Cut a panel of chickenwire off the roll and bent into a raised shelf, and supported it with some flints. Put the shallots on top to dry off, which they should do nicely as they´re suspended about 4" off the ground. Watered the tomatoes with comfrey. And thanks, Jane! You´ve made it so I can´t look at a San Marzano ever again without giggling!
Decided to plant the last of the lettuces in the daffodil bed (shaded, so shouldn´t dry out too fast) and did a fruit pick. More blackcurrants, the first decent blackberries, and a few rasps (not good this time). Got a few blueberries again, too. (New bushes haven´t arrived yet.) As usual, a picture speaks a thousand words so here´s the state of the place. There´s rather a lot!

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Mesh beds and the rotation goes out to lunch

Looking through at the new carrots and spring onions


Tendergreen dwarf beans (in the carrot bed...)


Gold Rush courgettes (also in carrot bed!)


Sweetcorn: short ones are Larks, large the Minipops...

Parthenon marrow


Defenders x 2 and a trailing marrow


Shallots on their drying rack


Butternuts trying to escape their bed

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Greengage glut (though they´ve got plum maggot...)

Anyone know if this is a marrow or a squash?! (8" long)


Cream sausage




San Marzano


next month

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Salad bowl lettuces, try 2...