Sunday, 28 June 2009

Unexpected afternoon on the plot

Should have been in Switzerland for work but I had to cancel so I found myself with half a day of the weekend free for the allotment, perfect to catch up, and blimey there were things to do: where to start?

Maybe with the fascinating purple mangetout that are in season now, or the carrot seedlings timidly emerging, that I covered with fine netting.

Overall I spent the whole afternoon digging, weeding, picking, sowing, transplanting. It felt really good, it was such a long time since I managed to go at the weekend, and it did not feel like a was on duty but leisurely as it shoud be. I got knackered nonetheless.

I have now two beds cleared and ready for brassicas, and sowed it all over again: kohl rabi, cabbage, cavolo nero, caulifower. More sowing involved capers and beetroot.

As planned, I dug out the greenhouse potatoes (almost 2kg of them) and transplanted tomato seedlings in their place.

Fingers crossed for some strategic rain this week, which is forecasted to be hot and sultry.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Lesson learned the hard way

I went to water tonight, as tomorrow I am having a day off at Wimbledon and it is unlikely that I can make it over the weekend.

Gloom on the brassica patch is confirmed, but yesterday's poor soft fruit crop was just because it was the wrong day: I get enough red fruits for two portions every other day. To tell the truth, it's more than enough for two, and in just one week since their first appearance, raspberries seem to be overtaking strawberries in number.

The seedlings in the greenhouse are doing very well, even the soya bean is sprouting, although reliability of the seeds seems very low.

After I got over yesterday's horrible discovery on the brassica patch, I can npw say I have most definitely learnt to soak seedlings for a good while before doing anything with them. And possibly check the weather forecast, so as not to transplant anything before a scorching sunny day.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Is this the worst evening of the year?

Condolences accepted as 90% of the brassica seedlings transplanted yesterday have wilted away. I was so happy they looked healthy and strong...

To boot, I am bloody tired again and dragging myself home I tripped, so today's rather meager crop of strawberries and raspberries went crushing in the middle of the road.
-- Post From My iPhone

Satisfactory crops but tired me!!

Being that a good number of the people I know are collapsing with tiredness, including myself, I am not doing a lot at the allotment lately.

However, I am picking strawberry every other day, and on Friday night we got the first raspberry as well. Broadbeans are cropping, albeit not too heavily and so is spinach and beet. In a while we will have carrots and beans as well.

As it is quite sunny in England these days, I have to keep watering, which takes most of my time on the plot, especially as we get a severe water pressure problem when more than three people are watering together, which, incidentally, is the case every time I have to do it.

However, yesterday I spent three hours planting out and watering the brassica seedlings, and - as I have run out of space again - digging new small beds here and there where there's a bit more space along the paths: there's so much I should be planting now and it really bugs me that I do not have enough stamina to keep up with it: capers, kohl rabi, salad and pak choi, new leeks...

I dug out the old parsley in my search for space: today there's a complimentary bag for all my colleagues that want some!

Next step will be picking the potatoes in the greenhouse to make space for tomatoes: if I'm lucky I will manage to do it at the weekend. In the meantime, tonight I will have to go and water the seedlings - urgh.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The brassica bed is ready - once again

Cleared the weeds that had covered it once again, now that it's time to plant out.

Sowed some more carrots, as it seems that the previous batch are actually growing, then it was time to go, after picking today's strawberries and some spinach.

Wonder whether I shoud put plastic bags around the spinach flowers, to collect any seed that might develop: the plants are now 2m tall - there's plenty of them!

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, 15 June 2009

Is this the perfect evening of the year?

Everything that I sowed was out tonight: beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, borage, courgettes, all the brassicas... everything except soyabeans! And not only seeds had germinated, they were thriving, for example I had to transplant French beans that had grown more than 20cm!

Besides I picked 500gr strawberries and 700gr broadbeans.

And as I was leaving, it started raining. This must be the perfect evening for whoever hates watering, like I do.

Anyway, the broadbeans are not doing well at all compared to last year when I got 8kg: I have to keep in mind this autumn to plant many more, much closer, so that I have a better chance to get some.

WOW that's rain outside!

Time to cook dinner... by the way I have tried the elderflower cordial and it is not bad at all - here's the recipe I followed for 3 bottles:

1.35 kg sugar
1.15 l water
30 gr tartaric acid
2 oranges
2 limes
2 lemons
20 elderflower heads
Slice the citrus fruit into either a very big bowl (5l) or two smaller ones with the tartaric acid. Put the water and sugar on the hob, and keep stirring until it is melted. When the liquid starts boiling immerse the flowerheads (I have washed them before to take the insects etc), then bring to the boil again before taking off the hob. Pour in the bowl(s), stir well and leave for 24 hours, covering lightly. Then pour the concoction in sterilised bottles, through a muslin and a funnel. Seal and keep in the fridge. S.Raven (whose diary I took the recipe from) says it lasts for up to two months.

Friday, 12 June 2009

So happy I did a sowing tour-de-force last week...

... in fact, the cime are out already, so is the cabbage and some tomatoes! No sign of courgettes though.

I was too tired to stay, but I have picked another 200gr of strawberries and almost 1kg of broadbeans! There is quite a few holes (slugs?), though, possibly due to the fact that they grew slower than last year.

This weekend I will do another round of catching up, and taste the elderflower cordial, of which I got 3 bottles in the end.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

300gr delicious strawberries

For a combination of rain and chores I only managed to get to the allotment quickly once over the last week, but - oh mine - how good the strawberries were, and this time nothing less than a couple of handfuls!

Next time I go, the broadbeans will be ready to pick as well, and the potatoes are flowering, so they are on their way too.

Made elderflower cordial tonight for the first time ever: the moment in between the end of cooking and the tasting of your creation is always a bit of a leap into the unknown, but this time I am a bit uneasy as I have used tartaric acid for the first time. Anyway, if I survive the tasting I will share the recipe :)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Massive catchup

In the last three days I have been catching up for the whole of May, sowing as many seeds as possible before it's too late:
  • Sweetcorn
  • Courgettes
  • Beans
  • More tomato and chillies
  • More spinach

The kiwi plant is finally on the mend and putting out shoots, and broadbeans are on their way. But this is most definitely strawberries time, and I'm picking a handful every day. They taste as no shop strawberry: worth having an allotment for that alone!

On another note, I think I am running out of land, with potatoes taking up two beds and the greenhouse (and over my compost heap!) and another three beds taken up by alliaceae.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Nematodes survival efforts

Another evening spent watering on a trickle, as nematodes require wet soil to survive.

But I had a little more stamina, so I transplanted the self-blanching celery, which beat my record of tinyness of transplant, as the seedling were just a few millimiters. However, I decided that last time round celery grew better in the ground than in the tray.

I had a nice meal on my spinach and cime (complemented by some broccoli), and even went as far as to buy citric acid and a couple other antioxidants to stock up my larder: I will make elderflower cordial, and possibly try some of BBC James Wong's herbal remedies.