Things are looking good at the plopment! I'm managing to get down there most days, especially during this current spell of very hot weather, and "I'll be gone just an hour" turns into "Whoops - where did the last three hours go to?"
I recently invested in a stainless steel hoe and I have to say it's worth its weight in gold; because the ground's so dusty-dry at the moment, it really doesn't take long at all just to push it through the top inch or so of ground to cut through the stems and roots of the opportunistic weeds! You then leave it all on the top to dry to a crisp in the sun - brilliant! Of course, the Mare's Tail is more than a little recalcitrant and I'm fully aware you can never really get rid of it properly so I just pull up what I can when I find it. Now if there were only recipes for Mare's Tail.....
As I've mentioned previously, I make and sell jewellery at craft fairs and the most recent one I exhibited at was last Sunday (8 June 2008) at Chiddingfold in Surrey. We had a fabulous day - it was unbelievably hot and attendance was really high. It's a typical English fete with lots of stalls, tug-of-war, maypole and country dancing, beer tents (hooray!), etc., and I managed to pick up two gorgeous-looking and extremely healthy Cucumber plants that I thought I'd have a go at growing outside. They are both Telegraph which I believe is traditionally grown in a greenhouse but with global warming is apparently starting to be grown outdoors as well these days. So I thought I'd give them a go. I built them a little wigwam and planted both of them at the base (shame there wasn't a third available but guess you can't have everything!). I believe I'm meant to leave the main growing stem to produce 6 or 7 leaves and then pinch it out. It then produces side shoots/stems which need to be tied to the poles. The fruit will then hang down and grow straight. Alternatively, you can leave it to sprawl on the ground but then I understand the fruit tends not to grown straight (not sure what shape it does grow into though - corkscrew? square?) This is all new territory for me so I'll keep you posted. I also planted my first 10 decent sized Parsnip plantlets (bigger than seedlings but not quite plants) just beside the Cucumbers, as you can see from the picture - they're the plants at the bottom of the picture, the ones on the left are my Sweetcorn. The black plastic at the top is covering the weeded ground that's going to be home to the Leeks when they get big enough to transplant.
I've also extended the brassica net cage yet again, sideways this time, in order to slot in the last of my Red Cabbage plants. And, yes, I can't either dig or plant in a straight line, it really is all as curved as it looks but as long as stuff gets put in the ground and grows successfully, who really cares? I've left enough space now for the Savoy Cabbage which should be going in fairly soon.
This picture shows a better view of the first six Red Cabbage and six Sprout plants that went in. I'm so pleased (and desperately smug!) that they're looking so healthy AND I grew them from seed - yay me!!
Yes, I know this is a picture of lettuce under a small polytunnel but I'd already put the tunnel back over them before I decided I wanted to take a picture and it's so fiddly to do that I decided you'll be able to see the size of the lettuce anyway! I'm very pleased with them, they're all totally untouched by both slug and pigeon so hopefully we'll be able to start harvesting some leaves from them soon.
Finally, because they've not made an appearance on the blog for a long time - check out my onions! This is a variety called 'Turbo' grown from sets and look pretty fantastic, although the round bit at the base that you eat has yet to get round. I cleared some soil from around the neck of one of the onions and it just looks like a massive spring onion, so I'm hoping they'll fill out before long.