Thursday, 26 May 2011

French beans

Our first attempt at growing french beans seems to be going well so far. We planted six bean plants out today, they look strong with great roots. I covered them with a side frame and netting clipped to the fence - I don't know if hungry partridges like french beans, but I'm not taking any chances.

When we arrived at the plot it was raining, quite hard too. I still watered much of the plot, which seemed a bit odd in the rain, but the effort-free water had only dampened about a millimetre, my watering cans go further. The rain soon slowed and stopped, but it all helps.

We took another batch of the quite delicious spinach. There looks to be one more batch to take before there will be a gap since the next sowings are growing but not quite ready to go out, let alone ready to harvest.

We found a few pinkish strawberries, with many more growing which is great news. Gooseberries are fattening up too. The first batch of beetroot is looking in good shape and spring onions are picking up after a few good doses of water.

Watering is time-consuming and boring but it does mean we will get crops that otherwise would have failed completely.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


 Anyone who has read this blog will know I want rain. The ground at the allotment is bone dry. Our plot is the furthest from the each of the two water tanks, so fetching water is a slow business. Our water tanks gathering rain from the shed roof were empty months ago. I refilled them with a hosepipe from the mains supply, using a hosepipe is frowned upon, but they were quickly emptied again. Our fruit bushes have produced berries, but now the black currants are dropping the fruit and some is shrivelling up. I just can't give them enough water. It is disheartening to put the effort in only to see the plot shrivel up in front of you, and it isn't even hot yet.

Various plots on the site have been raided by partridges. We know it was them because they were seen. They have stripped brassicas and peas of their leaves, mangetouts in our case. I have covered them now, but some cabbages have been stripped under netting, it seems the very strong winds over the last couple of days blew the netting open.

We planted out the courgettes, french beans and sweet corn will be soon, though that just makes more stuff to water on the plot and they are all thirsty. I have stopped taking asparagus already to give the plant chance to grow. They were suffering with the lack of rain and I need them to continue producing for years to come. Our latest attempt to grow carrots doesn't look good. There may be a few seedlings, but only a few. The tops of some of our winter onions look to be starting to turn down, which is the sign that they are getting ready to harvest. The problem is the bulbs are only the size of golf balls - the drought again.

I am very glad this is not how I earn my living.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Looking forward to peas

It has rained a little bit over the past few days. Only a bit, but it all helps. We popped up to water the plants in the greenhouse and a little shower met us as we arrived. The mange-touts look strong so we planted them out. Their roots were very dense so they should do well. We only watered the mange-touts in and left the rest of the plot to rely on the rain showers. I cut some more asparagus which was a bit bigger than I expected, it just keeps growing, but only because we watered it. The local growers are complaining of a largely stunted crop because of lack of rain.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Lovely onions

Three more winter onions bolted. They were lovely, but I would have prefered to let them grow to full size. Some rain has fallen, but the ground quickly dried up and no more rain is forecast for days.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bolting onions

The winter onion bulbs are beginning to swell but unfortunately a couple have developed flower bulbs, known as bolting. We know that as soon as the flower starts to grow the bulb suffers, so I pulled them up and we will eat the small bulbs in a salad. A couple of years ago we grew both white and Japanese winter onions and the Japanese ones didn't bolt. This autumn I will try to get Japanese ones (the current ones are white) to see if that really makes any difference. Maybe we'll grow both again.

The long promised and awaited rain shows no sign at all of appearing. Today is bright and sunny. There was a sharp frost last night, with some potato tops on other plots getting nipped. We have continued to water, especially the tender stuff. The beetroot we put out is really not doing well, but we have another batch in the greenhouse and more seeds to sow. There is no sign yet of the carrots sprouting.  One thing that has become abundant is the wood pigeon. They seem to be everywhere and in great numbers. We will need to protect things that go out from the pigeons. This can be either by netting them (the plants not the pigeons) or hanging CDs over them on strings as a scarer which seems to help keep butterflies off too.

Courgettes and French beans are both doing well in the greenhouse. I hope that our timing is right, so that as they as big enough to plant out the frosts should be over - neither will stand any frost at all.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

It really has been dry

A quick visit to water and harvest. We took our first spinach of the year and cut some more asparagus, this time to give away. We watered most things again. Still no sign of any carrots.

The new month means the weather statistics are being published for April. it seems that it has been the warmest April since 1659 and the driest month (not just April) on record. The recording station at Leeming only received 2mm of rail all month. This is following a record-breaking dry March, so all of the watering really has been necessary. The temperature extremes are most marked given that December was one of the coldest on record too. Climate change really is happening, though predicting the details is almost impossible. 

The last time we had a hot, dry spring (2007) it was followed by such torrential rainfall that Hull and surrounding areas were very badly flooded, even leading to loss of life. I would like some rain (lots of rain) but not that much.

Many people have told me not to water the allotment, with stories of how it will encourage only surface roots or how the plants will be dependant on me watering. I don't know if any of this is true, but I do know that last year when we didn't water we got poor crops. I'm still not sure why watering is any different from rainfall. It's not as if rain somehow fills the ground from below. Water is vital to all plant growth, leaves need the water to combine with carbon dioxide (and a few trace nutrients) to make all of the sugars the plant needs to grow, light being the energy source to drive it. Plants are largely carbon from the CO2 and hydrogen from the water. Without water they cannot grow. I'll see what happens, but our plants will be watered if it doesn't rain.