Sunday 31 May 2020

Another very hot week to end May & 1st strawberry harvest

Did I say strawberry harvest, well yes the 1st of many. 

It's been so hot this week the fruits are ripening every day.
We had more peas ready to go in, so I put up a quick chicken wire support for them to grow up. 
Love the flag iris growing at the end of the pond. 

We spotted 11 Frogs today in and around the pond.
The other peas that were battered by the wind last weekend survived, despite the frame blowing down! 
So I reconstructed it and put extra supports in.
The apples are doing well despite the very dry times we have been having. 

Even our rain butts are empty, but we have a solution to our lack of water, see below. 
Gooseberries also looking good. 
They too are doing well without water. 
See next picture for a top tip. 
Top Tip: I found out that if you put rhubarb leaves under your goosberries its supposed to stop the sawfly rising up from the soil, where they are lying in wait. 
So everytime we harvest our rhubarb the leaves go under our bushes.
More strawberries, so Jo made a lovely victoria sponge cake filled with whipped cream & our strawberries. 
Lovely it was too. 
The brassica patch looking healthy, I had to make the net tunnel taller for the cauliflowers and the sprouts will be next for a taller tunnel.
Picked my 1st radish and had it with my pic-nic lunch, can't get fresher than that.
Rainbow chard looking good, Jo is looking at recipies so we can use it before it gets too tough, best to pick it young & tender.
Now that we are coming down in the evening to water, as its too hot during the day. 
I made little moats around the base of some of our plants, so the water doesnt run away on the dry sandy soil.
I did the same to the broad beans, so they get localised watering.
Because our site doesnt have mains water, we collect off our shed roof into 3 large rain butts, but now they are empty, this is how we are getting water to our plot, we have a small & a large Aquaroll totals 70 ltrs and we have been bringing this amount down twice a day recently!
Another task I have done to complete the pond area, is to put paving in front of the pond, this will stop the weeds taking over and gives us easy access to our other goosberry bushes at the end.
This picture was taken at 21:15 just before sunset, and after tonight watering & strawberry picking. 
We will return tomorrow with more water for our thirsty crops.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo 

Monday 25 May 2020

May Bank Holiday and the days before

CD's make good bird scarers, Jo planted more Sunflowers and didnt want them eaten by pheasants etc. 
So far it's worked as each day we come down they havent been touched.
Jo also put crushed egg shells around each one to thwart the slugs & snails too. 
Leeks planted last year, were ready to dig up, so we could use the space for something else. 
Some were a bit small but they were still nice in leek & potato soup.

This patch at the lane end, hasn't been used for some time, I stored pallets, paving slabs & salvaged wood. Even had a few bonfires on here! 
But now all thats been moved to the new paved area at the front, I started digging it over to remove any weeds & roots, but luckily didnt find many. 
The strawberries in the fruit area are looking really healthy, some fruit is starting to turn colour so we hope in a few days to have the 1st harvest. In fact all our strawberries are in fruit, so it wont be long.
Trays full of leeks ready to go in, there are about 80 here. 
Check below to see where they went.
Tomatoes in the greenhouse, these are a strawberry tom type, we water daily & feed them too.
This is our herb & salad area, it is very popular with the bees as the chives are in flower and we have foxgloves too. 
The rhubarb in the background is the Victoria variety and this year its doing really well.
I love this patch, all in neat rows and most under netting, cabbages, brocolli (purple & green), cauliflowers and brussel sprouts, there are also a few rows of rainbow chard & some lettuce & radish too.
Back to the end patch I had dug over yesterday. 
I have now planted 76 leeks in 4 rows, I firmed the soil so I could make 4" deep holes with my dibber & placed a leek in each hole and watered well. They will be there for the best part of 6 months, plant on the longest day, harvest on the shortest they say (well almost in my case).  
This is where last years leeks were dug up from, Jo cleared the patch of weeds etc & planted 5 various Squashes! 
In this corner, by the other rhubarb bed and the compost bins, Jo planted dwarf beans, they dont need support canes, as they dont get very tall. 
The wigwam on the left is for Borlotti beans, sadly the 1st lot didnt make it after two nights of frost. We have more waiting to go in here.
So our plot is filling up, there is just one patch left, you can see on the right, more Leeks to put in and flowers too!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo.

Monday 18 May 2020

Another week getting the plot looking nice

Finally finished round the back of the pond, a new woodchip path between pond, bug hotel & apple trees. 
Jo took up the old path, over run with ground elder roots & marsh grass roots (they were the worst!).
I laid the new path with weed suppresant fabric underneath 
Sadly a cool night and frosty morning meant the Borlotti Beans didn't make it, but we have more started off at home, so will plant out when ready.
The lavender opposite the fruit area needed new boxes. 
So I made them from decking planks and gave 2 coats of dark oak fence/shed paint.
Jo planted out the last of the Sunflowers, no egg shells this time, but trying bottles on the canes, that rattle in the wind & hanging CD's that shine as they spin. 
Hoping this will help to keep the Pheasants off them! 
Lovely self seeded Calendulas in our salad bed!
Lovely self seeded Foxgloves, in our Herb bed.
Despite the cold nights and a morning frost, most of our Potatoes survived. These are the Maris Piper, all made it and look healthy.
The King Edwards, nearest in photo, are just poking through, so missed the frost. But the International Kidney & Charlotte didn't do so well, but will survive, will only put them back a week or so.
So our plot is looking really good now all the major projects are completed. 

Still have more crops to plant out when ready, so keep checking back for updates.
Another look round the back of the Bug house & pond, the woodchip path looks really good. 
I made a planter box just to the right, Jo put a mix of flowers in it so will show progress soon.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Mid-week Allotment update

 All my Potatoes survived the cold nights, every day we come down I have to earth them up as they are growing fast. 
Even the King Edwards I put a few weeks ago are starting to break through.
In this patch we have Garlic, Shallots, Carrots, Broad Beans,  Borlotti Beans, Peas, Spinach & Swedes. 
But there is still space to put more in, Dwarf Beans & Courgettes. 
The Strawberries in the fruit area are full of flowers, the bees have been busy and some strawberries are forming, so we have put straw beneath & netted them all.
More Strawberries, these are a later variety, but we have put straw beneath & netted them, to protect them from the birds!
We have finished the pond refurb. 
A new rockery with spaces between the rocks for the Frogs to discover.
Harvested the winter Garlic, now that the leaves have started to wither and dry. The garlic bulbs seem quite plump and the scent of garlic is quite strong too.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Saturday 9 May 2020

Allotment Pond Life

 Been tidying up around the pond, it was very overgrown & choked with ground elder, marginal grasses & comfrey!  Now we have cleared it and put a few large rocks around the back with plenty of gaps for the frogs to explore. I'm hoping snails will move in as they like cool dark/damp places, then the frogs can feast on them!
We love the chives in flower and the Bees love it too. 

In the background we have a Laburnum tree, with bright yellow flowers, its also buzzing with hundreds of Bees.
Jo has been busy again on the brassica patch and planted the last net tunnel up with Purple sprouting Broccoli.
This patch is filling up fast too!
Put another wig-wam up with 6ft canes & netting then planted Shiraz Peas. 
We have more peas starting off at home & will put them in when ready. In the foreground we have left a space to plant out Dwarf French Beans also starting off at home.
Giant Sunflowers are planted along the back, Jo also sprinkled plenty of crushed egg shells all around each one, to stop the slugs & snails munching on the tender stems & leaves!
So tomorrow is supposed to be a bit cooler, not a frost we hope, but I still earthed up all the Potatoes just in case.
The Frogs seem to like the new style pond surround, this big one popped out to see. 
We have spotted at least 8 of different sizes, so we know they stay to spawn each year. We also have a Hedgehog, it was sleeping around the back of the pond, not where we were clearing luckily and it stayed a few days after we finished the upgrade.
This patch I also earthed up, not because of the cooler night, but because all the spuds have come through, we are just waiting for the King Edwards to show now.

Just a few things left to put in, mainly Squashes & Pumpkins, so keep checking back for news on these.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo