I can't believe that it's September already - where did the year go? And when's summer going to arrive? To be honest, I think we've had what little summer we're going to get back in May and June when it was really hot and sunny. The hottest day of the year was 11 May when The Husband and Da were putting up my shed down at the plopment. Oh well, not much we can do about it, perhaps that's the way our weather's going to be from now on - hot and sunny in late spring, and then damp and warm until winter starts hoving into view.
Yes, I'm expanding! Admittedly I've just had a 3 day Royal Visit from the venerable parents-in-law which always involves sitting around and eating a lot, but this year was entwined with sister-in-law's landmark birthday (i.e., one with an '0' at the end) including a big party with people attending from all over the country and, frankly, I'm feeling poisoned from all the food-that's-really-bad-for-you-but-tastes-SO-good plus alcohol that I've been forcing down my neck and now my clothes have mysteriously shrunk, but, more importantly for this blog, I've now taken over the top half of my plopment! Yay!
If you recall when I started posting all this drivel way back when, I told you that I had actually only taken on a half-sized allotment as an old girl, S, had been allocated the top half. Now the occasions when S and I visited at the same time where very few and far between but when we did happen to be there at the same time, she always said that she thought she'd taken on too much, that it was a lot of hard work and she felt a bit overwhelmed. Therefore I knew it would only really be a matter of time before she gave it up. With this in mind I decided to ask the Site Secretary a few weeks ago about the protocol for taking over when S decided she wanted to give up - could I just have it? Or would I have to go to the end of the waiting list? The Secretary said that as I was already working the lower half, then I could automatically have the top half, as and when S decided to jack it in. Annual rental is paid in Spring so I thought I'd have to wait until then but last Wednesday the secretary rang me to say that S had contacted her to say she was giving it up and that she'd taken everything off the plot and out of the ground that she wanted. The secretary said it was now all mine and that I wouldn't have to pay any extra until next Spring because S had already paid until then! So now I'm really excited and daunted at the same time. I can now plan for soft fruit (which I couldn't grow before as I had no room) including proper raspberry and strawberry beds, gooseberries, blueberries, (possibly) rhubarb, a small apple tree (strictly speaking I'm not allowed to plant trees on the plopment but I can't see that a small one, no more than 5 feet high say, can hurt...), Victoria plum tree, etc. But the site is overgrown - mostly with grass I have to say, but still overgrown and will need to be cleared properly, so I'm back to where I was, ground condition-wise, in February this year. I'll have an autumn and winter of digging and weeding ahead. The two pictures (you can click on all the pictures in the blog to make them bigger) show the full length of the plopment taken from the end of S's plot (my existing plot is the bottom half - you can see from where the french beans are growing up bamboo canes? I was growing stuff just in front of that, and then down to the shed - have I explained that properly? oh well, you get the idea hopefully!) I think what I'm going to have to do is clear as much of it as I can and just buy loads of black weed-suppressing plastic to cover the ground until spring. I'm also going to have to look into getting a petrol-driven strimmer as well - a rechargeable cordless one just doesn't have enough power or battery life to do the job, and I really can't manage a full size plot with a pair of garden shears - even doing the half plot was a pain.
So that's my Big News at the moment, but what's happening in the growing half? Sadly, as I suspected, my big, beautiful tomatoes have all contracted blight and have had to go on the bonfire (or will do when it dries out enough to burn stuff). You can't put them on the compost because the spores will survive, and they're too heavy to put in bin bags to take home to go to landfill so I'm going to have to burn them. Like most people, I enjoy a good bonfire but I'm extremely aware of how close to people's houses the allotments are and if I lived there I would be livid at bonfire smoke constantly drifting through my washing, so I'm going to have to time it properly. Actually, as a group of people, the allotmenteers at my site are pretty good about keeping bonfires to an absolute minimum.
I'm digging my way through my second early spuds, Maris Piper. The yield for these has been at least 2 or 3 times that of the Pentland Javelin, but they are prone to scab. Scab is unsightly but doesn't affect the eating quality of the potato once you've peeled them, so while it's a bit of a nuisance, scab's not really that much of a problem.
We've started eating the sweetcorn and it's fantastic! I've got 18 plants and they've all grown beautiful large cobs which we're currently eating for lunch! They're a variety called 'Applause' and they've been really successful.
Oh, hey, look, the sun's just come out - I think I'm going to have to sign off now and shoot out to do some digging, while I can.....