Water Nymphs…

First runner bean flower of the year – hooray! And a band is playing in celebration… ( I think there is an event on the nearby common but a fanfare feels appropriate !)

 

 

Runner bean in red on the left / french bean in fetching pink and purple on the right.

( I didn’t want the french bean to feel left out…)

Watering watering still no rain. The curcubits seem to be loving it –  I looked up ‘curcubits’ to make sure I was using the right word –  the dictionary says ‘any plant of the mainly tropical Curcubitaceae family which includes squash. pumpkin, cucumber , gourd, melon….’ – they are growing like triffids, reaching out long searching tendrils in an almost threatening way –

20170624_10350620170624_10353520170624_132409and usefully shading the greenhouse from the hot sun…

 

Taters!20170624_101755These are very experimental.

I wasn’t going to grow any potatoes this year. Last year I threw away about half the crop –  mostly Charlotte and Nicola –  after Christmas. I didn’t use enough as I try not to eat many carbs plus they all got blight when they were growing and looked really sad.

Then I had a last minute panic and recognised that I couldn’t live through a winter without jacket potatoes. Or leek and potato soup. Or bangers and mash. So I ordered three bags of maincrop – of course there were too many. And of course I just bought the varieties I love (King Edward, Maris Piper….) which are probably not very blight resistant.

THEN I had nowhere left to put them. Plot 2 is absolutely full of volunteer / self set potatoes which I keep trying to dig up and get rid of. I have been told by other allotmenteers that the previous owner grew potatoes almost exclusively. So I want to leave them out of that ground for a couple of years.. meanwhile plot 1 was full of daffodils and tulips.

So I resorted to a hotch potch of solutions, planting some on top of my ‘full’ compost bins and using some old wooden boxes. I didn’t have any spare soil for these so I filled them up mostly with grass cuttings, then a few inches of compost, then my sad and oversprouted spuds ( I was hoping the grass might give added warmth to make up for how late they were planted!)

I have covered them and earthed them with ‘Strulch’, my new favourite thing. It is a mineralised straw mulch, it is light and easy to handle and it smells absolutely delicious. I want to eat it. I need to top it up a bit as I noticed today the edge of a small green potato poking through.

(Note, the Strulch is also very useful and pleasant in my composting toilet…)

So, back to the subject of watering ( I know, it is getting monotonous),

these notices appeared overnight on our water tanks –

20170623_075033

In case my photography is too fuzzy, it says ‘Dipping tanks strictly to be used for watering of allotments only – please replace lids after use’

?   The water fairies?

Most odd – because   – well – what ELSE would anyone use them for?

Are the local townsfolk queuing up to bath their babies?

Has the site become the latest water park for the children? Or perhaps there is a secret cold water car washing business!   (Bucket and sponge extra…)

I am intrigued. Answers on a postcard please…

20170624_132608

Ah… that’s where I left my tea…

Hoe hoe hoe….

I have been hoeing around the ‘estuary’ beds on plot 2. I have my dad’s little old onion hoe ( I think they call it that?) which is so pleasing to use. A smooth wooden handle and good balance. I feel almost neanderthal squatting down and hacking at weeds in the dust.

It would benefit from having the edge sharpened. The weeds are quite large and I believe the secret to good hoeing  ( a word with plenty of vowels! ) is little and often. However watering has been the priority recently, of necessity. There is not much point in having weed free paths if all the vegetables and flowers are dead.

20170622_073222[1]

I think that I am fond of the onion hoe because I chose it for dad as a birthday present one year. I am not sure if he ever used it much – his preference was probably more for good fishing gear and perhaps it was one of those gifts we sometimes buy for others because we covet them ourselves?!

There is a nice breeze today and thin cloud cover sliding over. I can’t decide whether to get back on the watering cans or cross all my fingers and toes for a bit of rain. The forecast offers the hope of 1.4 mm(!) which at least would make the world smell nice for a while.

It is interesting to me how taking a picture of something changes what you see. The small hoe looked nice on the shed bench but when I framed it up to photograph mostly what I noticed was the edge of the white wooden stool and an old packet of tissues on the side!

Likewise below – I wanted to show a lovely Thyme in flower ( my original post said Time! Now I keep thinking; what would time in flower look like?  It would be fun to make a flower clock, or seasonal flower calendar…) The toes were included by accident but does that make it a more interesting picture?

Who knows! I haven’t often worked with soil this dry before. It is challenging but the thyme does love it.

Allotment elder tells me that if you dig down 12″ you hit solid chalk and flint. One of the many reasons I am choosing not to dig my plots! Certainly my neighbour has an enormous heap of large flints beside his plot – perhaps we should start supplying an artisan walling business?

Usually I munch on almonds and bananas while I work. Today I am treating myself to a ‘proper’ breakfast. Oatcakes and butter and hard boiled eggs.

20160923_054011

This is slightly complicated by the fact that I haven’t got  a table knife. I must have taken the shed one home for a much needed wash after it got marmited by my best helper. So I am buttering my biscuits with my pruning knife!

I only wish that I had checked the greenhouse for a cucumber. I ate the first one last night – delicious. I know from previous years that they all come in a rush once they start. I have tried to grow several different varieties this year – maybe that will spread them out a bit.

I have a ridge cucumber outside on the allotment but watching out for male flowers makes me anxious! The one I ate last night was a plant variety called ‘Passandra’ which I bought at the wonderful Linton plant sale. That was 50p well invested. Very good and I will look out for that one again.

Reluctantly to work now. I sometimes wish I could stay here all day…

 

20170621_061233[1]Marmite coloured sunflower! That boy knows what he likes….

A.W.O.L….

I am rather disappointed in myself. (A common state of affairs…)
– yesterday I set to on my second blog with enthusiasm. I don’t need to explain that I am winging it with this lark.
I had originally intended to practise it / endlessly rehearse / learn carefully before I started posting…. to be honest I am not that person.
I am more likely to throw myself at things with lots of effort and little experience and then get very frustrated and cross. Followed by mentally beating myself up when it isn’t all easy and straightforward.
20170623_051638[1]
So… I typed for one and a half hours (I am very slow) and downloaded photos and fiddled about and had ten words left to go and… GONE. Lost it.

Texting sis frantically but no luck so far. I appear to have posted one picture and a title and I have no idea why or how.The rest simply vanished.
So today is an apology for yesterday and tomorrow might be a repeat of yesterday if I can find it anywhere in the ether. Or if I can face typing it again.

Off to get help from my sister the technology guru ( and endlessly patient wonder woman…..)

20170623_152149[1]

Allotment bliss…

June 19th. 6.30 am

I had such a lovely start to the day at the allotment.

20170527_134031

Reasonably early but already very warm – I picked a few Strawberries, dug up my first garlic and onions –

I am impressed with them! They are good. But how long do you leave the stalks on for?

Tied up sunflowers and planted leeks. I am the only one here so far – peaceful. The sparrows are very chirpy and cheerful, but no sign yet today of the red Kite. I am just having a cup of tea on the bench and smelling the ‘pinks’ – warm clove saturates the air.

Trying to make myself remain seated for a whole cuppa although I itch to leap up and ‘get on’. Satisfying jobs but lots to do!

Managed it. Rewarded  for those few extra minutes of stillness by a blackbird and a thrush in close up and interesting gurgles from my relaxing tummy.

It was a relief to uncover the strawberries with an excuse to dig up some garlic.   I spent ages covering up crops in a very inelegant and ‘Heath Robinson’ way. I  am aware that I am much too keen on aesthetics to ever be a good veg gardener. However I hope in the long term that I can make more efficient and more attractive crop protection than these early efforts!

In the meantime I will have to sacrifice either the crop or the look. To be fair I only had enviromesh which is a bit over the top and ugly for strawberries. In a shop window in Cambridge I saw soft wire – it looked slightly copper coloured – formed into an arch as part of a clothing shop window display. I would like to find some of that!

Need to find some solutions soon. Something is eating half my lettuces ( only the right half so far)… and not deer this time. And I hope to fill the onion space with broccoli if I am not too late but the pigeons will love it more than I do.

 

9 am. Steaming hot! More tea needed but the weather is so warm it doesn’t cool off enough to drink… must remember to bring an ice pack for the milk. I had hoped to float the milk in the water bin but it is already dry! Also the only time I tried that the milk filled up with baby blackfly. They managed to crawl right under the blue plastic screw on  lid. I wonder why they wanted to? Or why there were so many in the water tank in the first place?

Almost finished cutting the grass. I am covered in the grey dust kicked up by the mower and I just need to move the car to mow under it… but it is SO WARM. I often put a wet cotton scarf  around my neck and shoulders but I forgot to bring one          – If I go home for it I doubt I will make myself come back…20170620_083029… cool as a baby cucumber…?