Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Produce of the rain

The rain has helped to water the plot in a way that watering cans never can manage. Today the first of our blackcurrants were ready to pick. We took about 600g with much more to come yet. The strawberries have been very poor this year, small and not many. I'm going to allow the runners to grow and root so we have a few more plants next year. We covered the raspberries with a net to keep the birds and the berries apart.

There were many more mange tout pods to pick, with more to follow and a few pea pods to pick too. They are both very good to eat, but I'm not sure that peas give a big enough return for the space they take up. There were also a few sweet peas to bring home too. We took some spinach to eat later. The remaining spinach plants seem to be bolting so that might be the last for a while.

I dug up the garlic and hung it to dry out in the shed. It looks good, decent sized bulbs and quite firm. All but two of the winter onions were ready to take today too.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Strawberries, leeks and dry ground

This morning we went to try to water as much of the plot as possible. The north west of England are close to a hosepipe ban. We are not quite as dry, but it has been a very dry start to the year. The local weather man says the driest since 1964. We did what we could, concentrating on the most vulnerable stuff, but we will need to water some more in the next few days if the weather forecast is right and no rain falls for the next week. Watering is boring, lugging watering cans is a nuisance and I always manage to water my feet.

Jean planted the last batch of leeks. They looked really strong and I expect them to do well. We took some more spinach and a couple of winter onions. The best harvest was about 300g of ripe, little strawberries. They are a bit small, more water would have helped, but they do look perfect.  There are more berries to come and with the extra water they might swell a little.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Peas

The dry spell is now extending. The weather is hot and dry and the plot is beginning to be baked dry. Some heavy duty watering is going to be needed soon, but some things like courgettes and sweetcorn will benefit from the sun if we can deliver some water too.

The peas and mange touts have yielded pods ready to pick, so we'll see what they taste like shortly. The strawberries are producing fruit, I left it to fully ripen on the plant. The blackcurrants are beginning to turn black. There's a decent crop coming and, because we have watered them, the berries look a good size. Raspberries are covered in small, swelling fruit, but they haven't had much water yet so they need gallons. Our potatoes do not have any sign of flowers yet we might have new potatoes in late summer at this rate.

The newly planted, small plants need water almost every day. The forecast is to stay dry and get hotter.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Grass, plantings and harvest

The grass around the edge of the plot has got out of hand.  It is a nuisance because it grows in amongst the fence so cutting it is awkward. I tried to deal with it with some weed killer, but that's awkward too, I don't want to risk anything on the plot. Jean did a good job with the shears, but it will need attacking again, and more regularly.

I planted the remaining sweetcorn, so we now have 18 plants out at varying stages of growth. The remaining spring onions went out as well as the spinach. While I was watering in the new plantings I put some blood fish and bone onto the asparagus and watered that in too. The tomatoes have the first truss of flowers opening and two other trusses are appearing. I fed them and the strawberries with tomato feed. I was expecting to feed the courgettes, but they still have no open flowers, although the plants look very strong.

We gathered some of the older spinach to eat, norman gave us a super lettuce and we took our first mature winter onion home.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The rain works its magic

The past few days have seen much cooler weather and quite a lot of rain. We popped up today to check the stuff in the greenhouse and do a couple of jobs. We came away with some spinach and some rhubarb.

I tied up the sweet peas. The plants are growing well now, but they were not climbing the canes so I tied them in. The mangetouts, next door, are growing up the old raspberry canes I provided and a few are getting flowers. Last year they quickly went from flowers to pods, so maybe we'll see some crunchy mangetouts in a stir fry soon. The peas have pods, not yet filling out, but looking good. These are a new crop for us, so I'm not sure how to tell they are ready, but they certainly are not ready yet. The broad beans have shot up on the last few days. They were already covered in flowers and now even more so. The first pods are appearing too. I added an extra layer of support strings above the existing one. It is breezy today and I don't want to see any damaged by the wind.

Our potatoes are looking strong, but no flowers yet. Some people's earlies are getting flowers, but there's no hurry. Our tomatoes have their first truss of flowers. They look tidy and strong, but they will need some support soon; they won't stand up with the weight of fruit that I hope they will get. They need feeding and perhaps pollinating with a dry finger to ensure the fruit all sets.

The rain also makes the weeds grow - I wish they were edible too.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Strawberries

The rain has finally fallen and everything is damp. We took the first two strawberries, hardly a feast, but very tasty nonetheless.

Monday, 7 June 2010

First leeks go out

Today was greenhouse emptying day. We had a few spare tomatoes, courgettes and cabbages. No one wanted any of them, and they looked so sick that today they went on the compost heap.

The big event of the day was planting the leeks. Leeks get planted in a hole about 15cms deep. Last year we used an old hoe handle as a dibber to make the hole, but the ground was hard and it was difficult to make the hole deep enough. This year I added a couple of metal brackets to stand on to help push the dibber in. It failed completely. The first time I stood on it the bracket bent and collapsed.

The ground was hard again, so Jean loosened the ground with a fork and then the dibber went in easily. Each of the 85 leeks went into a hole which is then filled with water.  We still have about 65 leeks to plant, but they need to be a bit bigger first.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sweetcorn

This morning we planted out our first sweetcorn. Seven plants looked big enough to go out, with as many again to plant out at a later date. The ground is damp, there's only a light breeze and the sun is out.  This is the forecast state for the next few days, so the corn should get established.

We replaced two of our courgettes with spares. That doesn't leave us with any more spares, but the warmer weather should do them some good.

We took some asparagus and some rhubarb both looked very good. The rain yesterday seems to have released some pent up urge to grow, but especially in the weeds and the grass around the edge of the plot, so they need dealing with quite soon.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Spring onions and beetroot

Yesterday we planted out some spring onions and some beetroot. I fed the strawberries with tomato feed to encourage the fruit.

Today it rained hard for a few of hours, which was very welcome. The next few days are forecast to be warm, dry and calm, so the plants can make the best use of the rain.