Thursday, 18 August 2011

More produce and a chewed door.

Today we took a break from building work at home and went to harvest some more produce. Jim gave us another of his lovely cucumbers and we pulled some carrots, courgettes (of course), beetroot, French beans and spring onions. Some the onions we dug last time have dried gently in the greenhouse and are ready for use. A few are slightly softer than others so we took these to use first, hoping the others will store for longer. All of the onions look good, with the average size much bigger than last year.

The sweet corn is coming on nicely. Cobs are forming, with the tassels collecting precious pollen. The top, male flowers are bursting with pollen, so things look good. I suspect the first ripe cob is still a couple of weeks away, and there looks to be lots of cobs forming so we should be overrun with wonderful sweetcorn very soon.

The site is on the edge of the village, largely surrounded by fields with a woodland nearby. There are often wild visitors on the site, especially attracted to so much food in such a compact space and like all allotment holders people here try to stop their precious produce falling into the clutches of crop-noshers. Fences keep rabbits out most of the time, nets keep birds and some insects off fruit and cabbages, more elaborate fruit cages and green houses help too, string, silver foil, CDs and other deterrents dance in the wind and a couple of plots even boast scarecrow. None of this stuff protects my shed door from attack.
The close-up picture shows the way the surface of the door has been systematically scraped away, probably by the jaws of wasps to carry off to make the paper that their nest is made of. Oddly enough, we haven't seen may wasps this year, but they must be out there ...

Friday, 12 August 2011

End of the peas

The mange touts have been pretty good, after a sticky start with partridges helping themselves, but now they have finished. I pulled them up while Jean did some much needed weeding. I checked our hazel nuts, which are ripening nicely and have not been found by squirrels or jays. The sweetcorn is producing more cobs. They are beginning to get tassels and the male flowers are beginning to open. I've been trying to shake the pollen onto the cob tassels.

There were some french beans to take. They have not turned out to be as prolific as people told us they would be, but they are very good to eat and they freeze well too. There were some more carrots, which are a good success this year, after a couple of failed years. Naturally there were courgettes. The neighbours are beginning to hint that they can't keep up with the supply. Next year we must grow fewer plants.  The onions are laying down, so I pulled about half of them and laid them out in the shelves in the greenhouse to dry. I would have pulled more but the shelves are full. They smell fantastic.

Our leeks are fattening up now the ground has been soaked. One thing I noticed is that Tony has just planted out a bed of very small leeks. I think these are intended to be picked in the spring, which sounds a really good idea. It's too late to grow them now, but we might try that next year.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Rain, produce and weeds

The latest dry spell broke with very heavy rain showers. The plot has benefited from the rain, which does so much more good than we can ever do with a watering can. Over the last week we have had some beetroot, which is very sweet and succulent. We have had lots of mange touts and a few good harvests of French beans. The courgettes have been prolific, one harvest produced 8 good sized courgettes and then more a couple of days later. Our spring onions have been delivering well. Carrots have begun to produce very good roots which are sweet and so crunchy.

Sweet corn is showing the male flowers on some stalks and the beginnings of a few cobs are forming too. The rain should help them. The rain will also swell the leeks which look good, but the need the water to swell while the days are still long. The onions are looking very good. Some of their tops are laying down, but they are not shrivelling yet so we will leave them in the ground until they do.

Jean has sown some broccoli, which is growing very fast. It was sown a bit late but it is experimental winter crop this year.