Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Stand By Your Beds!

Tonight is the annual allotment inspection. The committee processes around all the allotments they administer in Farncombe and decide whether you're doing well enough to be allowed to continue to next year. I feel a bit ambivalent about this - on the one hand it does ensure that only those people who take growing veggies seriously get to do so and it ensures the site is kept looking nice (no vast beds of enormously tall weeds or plots full of rusting metal) but, on the other, it does feel a bit like being back at school, where some stranger is judging what you do and how you go about it. You have little option but comply to their requirements. Having said that, though, the requirements are not that onerous, just keep the grass weeds down, edges and paths mown and ensure that a minimum of 50% of your plot is cultivated.

So yesterday I popped down just to ensure the edges of the beds were trimmed and the longest of the grasses were cut down but I'm quietly confident the plot will pass muster.

Things have been growing apace since the last pictures and, I'm delighted to say, out of all the seedlings/plantlets I've put in over the last month or so, I've only lost one lettuce, so that's not bad at all. Everything is now in except for some successional lettuce seedlings and another 8 Climbing French Bean seedlings which will go in once big enough. I'm still sowing Carrots though. Oh, and I did have to pull up all the Broad Bean plants (so, actually, that probably does count as a loss, a big one too - oh well...) but have used the space where they were to sow carrots and plant beetroot and chard seedlings.

Current overall view of the plot - veggie section nearest camera, fruit bed further away to left of frame

Courgettes and Pattypan Squash bottom to mid right; Butternut Squash and Cucumbers round wigwam; Sweetcorn bottom to mid left; Dwarf Yellow French Beans mid top; Mange Tout and Climbing French Beans round wigwams on far left

Mange Tout & Climbing French Bean wigwams on right. Next to it, going up the picture, is where the Broad Beans were. It now contains - from the left hand edge in - a row of Chard, Lettuce & Rocket, Carrots and Beetroot. Clicky for biggy.

Finally managed to weed the onion and garlic bed - there are about 350 onions and 50 garlics in here!

The lettuce hedge is coming along.

I'm going to start harvesting Salad Bowl leaves (the bright green ones) this week - it's a 'cut and come again' variety so you only use the leaves you want. The red Lollo Rossa are a bit behind, and, this year, I'm also growing Little Gem (the darker green, more upright ones in the pic) which is a cos-type lettuce, meaning you harvest the whole thing in one go.

The potatoes are doing fine.

The smaller row on the left of the picture are my Earlies and should be ready for harvesting in 2-3 weeks' time. The taller row on the right are my Desirees which are a main crop. You can't really tell from the picture but the row was more or less equally split between those planted on ground that had been manured in the spring, and those that hadn't. I think there's definitely better, healthier looking plants on the manured half of the row which is nearest the camera. It'll be interesting to see the difference in the size of the spuds themselves.

As far as the fruit bed is concerned, so far, as of today, I have picked a total of 2658g of strawberries (= 5lbs 13oz). Sainsbury's are currently selling organic strawberries at £9.97 a kilo, so multiply that by 2.658 = £26.50!

The raspberries are all autumn fruiting varieties and, as they were only planted last autum, much like the blackcurrants and gooseberries, they only start fruiting in the second year so I have to wait until next year to get the benefit of these. But the Blueberries are coming along and are starting to turn blue:

Blueberries turning blue

Again, I don't expect a large crop this year (frankly, I'll be lucky to get a punnet's worth) but I'm expecting good things next year, especially after the pampering the 3 bushes have had and will continue to get!

So, it all looks okay, doesn't it? Fingers crossed for tonight and I'll post an update later.

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