Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mid-June Catchup

Yesterday I went down to the allotment and finally remembered to take my camera.  What I didn't do was take any photographs.  I've absolutely no idea why.  I did, though, go to a nearby field which was full of poppies and looked absolutely stunning and took these pictures:

Gorgeous, non?

And, of course, I managed to forget to take my camera again when I went to the plot this morning! Good Grief!  However, I did have my iPhone with me which has, I think, a pretty good camera (I've used pictures on here before that I've taken with it) so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with those for now.

So, I have finally, I think, finished planting out everything that I'm going to hopefully grow at the plot this year.  As I'm sure you're all aware, we seem to be having a bit of drought in the UK this summer - well, down in the south we are, I can't comment for those further afield, but we're having weeks going by without a drop of rain falling.  Then we might get a few hours - barely enough to dampen the earth - and it goes away again for a few more weeks.  The earth at my site is very fine and free-draining and, in these conditions, is effectively barely anything more than dust.   The one good thing about it being so dry is that it makes weeding and hoeing very easy indeed.  Watering is an absolute must, obviously.  Sadly, even with daily watering, this year some of my plants have just given up the ghost.  I've lost 3 out of the 4 cucumbers I planted, 2 out of the 5 butternut squashes and one of my precious pattypan squashes.  It's too late to sow more butternut squash but I managed to find a supply of plants on sale at Secretts Garden Centre in Milford so I bought 3 to replace the lost ones.  Fortunately I have some spare cucumber plants that were going to go to a friend but will have to go to the allotment now.  Sadly, I'll have to hope the 3 surviving pattypan squashes continue to do so.

When I was at Secretts I had a look at the other vegetable plants they had on sale and I picked up a couple of bargains.  They had trays of Mange Tout reduced from £3.49 to £2.49 so I picked up a couple of those as I'd not sown any Mange Tout this year, and even though I don't usually grow runner beans, they had trays of White Lady runner beans (which I believe are stringless and, hence, more appealing to me) that had grown big and sprawling for some stupidly cheap price, so I took a tray of those as well.

All the allotments in Waverley (or at least in Godalming and Farncombe) are being judged by the council over the next 2 days.  There is more weeding and grass cutting that I could do but I really think I've done as much as I can so I'm just going to hope that they're kind to me - they have been the last 2 years so I'm hoping I'll be okay this year.

So, then, onto the pictures.  Bear in mind what I've said about it being dry and things dying on me, and perhaps you won't notice that it's not nearly as lush as I'd like:

Beetroot - I'm adding to this as the seedlings get bigger.  Hopefully there'll be about 60 of them all told.

Butternut Squash - planted 5 in a circle with one in the middle.  The three greenest are the shop-bought replacement ones.  Remains to see if the two original ones survive.

Climbing French Beans 'Cobra' variety - there are 3 plants around each bamboo pole.  They're all doing fine so far and have established themselves.

The 4 plants at the bottom of this picture are Courgettes 'Defender'.  They're all putting out little courgettes.  I may well have planted too many for just the 2 of us at home, but hey ho....!

Courgette flower

Dwarf Yellow French Beans - a small patch of about 11 of them.  The little sticks with silver discs are flattened mince pie cases saved over from Christmas.  Pigeons are a big problem on the site but they hate shiny things that rattle in the wind.  You might notice I've also tied them to the bamboo poles supporting the climbing french beans.

Leeks 'Musselburgh' - doing their thing.  They seem happy enough.

Various lettuces - the red is Lollo Rossa, the pale green is Salad Bowl, the darker green is Little Gem.  There's also some Wild Rocket in there too.  I'm adding more as I'm sowing successionally.

Mange Tout - I threaded bamboo poles through green netting and then planted a couple of mange tout plants at the base of each pole.  Our site can be very windy so I decided to add poles at an angle for support.

Pattypan Squash - I've lost one of them (you can see it's withered carcass just at the bottom left) but hopefully the other 3 will survive.  Their fruits look like white UFOs and you cook them like courgettes.

Two rows of potatoes - International Kidney and Desiree - and one row of onions.  There are carrots tucked in here too but they're too small to see just yet.

Cherries 'Maynard' developing on our little tree.  I'm not sure if I'll get any more than these two off it this year, but it's two more than we had last year!

Red Hinnomaki Gooseberries - no fruit at all last year as it was newly planted, but look at it this year!

Inside the brassica cage - there's two kinds of kale - the dwarf green curled (pictured) and Cavallo Nero (not pictured), Brussels Sprouts 'Brigitte' in the middle of the picture and at the far end there's Calabrese Broccoli.  

See the calabrese broccoli that's flowering?  After taking this shot I cut that off with a view to forcing the remainder of the plant to put out more heads.  As I was looking at the flowers, I remembered how tasty last year's Rocket flowers had been, so I ate one.  What a revelation!  It was sweet and tasty.  I decided I wouldn't chuck the cut off bit into the compost bin, I would take it home, steam it with some new potatoes, season it with lemon juice and black pepper and slather butter over it to melt. And I did, and it was bloody fantastic!

There's other stuff I'm growing there that I didn't picture because there's not that much to see - raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, blackberries - but if they do well this year, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Blatant laziness - I admit it....

*I originally posted this over on my other blog - Mrs Jones' Home Thoughts From Home - on 30 May 2010 but decided that, as it is actually about something that happened on my allotment (and my postings here have been a bit thin on the ground lately), I would post it here as well.  Some of you lovely readers peruse both blogs, but others won't have seen this.  And yes, I know.  I'm very lazy about posting.  I promise I'll do a proper post soon.  In the meantime, you can read below about My Message From God*

I'm not a believer.  In fact I'm what you would call more of a militant atheist.  I do not believe in any form of religion whatsoever and, in fact, the thought of organised religion enrages me disproportionately.  The fact that a mere superstition can hold such power in an otherwise sensible country like the USA, for example (although there are other countries to choose from, including most of Africa), just beggars belief.  To me, such blind devotion to something that doesn't exist is nothing short of mental illness.

To be honest, I really don't care if this offends any of my readers because - frankly? You can do better than this.  The Enlightenment freed our minds from the straitjacket trappings of the Church and showed us all the wonders of the Universe through the eyes of science. So why voluntarily choose to live in the Middle Ages?

But, today, something happened.  Something weird.

As you probably know, I have an allotment, about which I blog separately (read it here).  The Lovely Husband is away this weekend so I decided that I would spend a decent amount of time there trying to catch up with the weeding and stuff that I couldn't do when I had a god-awful cold earlier in the month. It's a weird thing, this gardening/allotment lark - you can spend every daylight hour breaking your back digging, bending, weeding, hoeing, watering and it always looks like you've done bugger all.  To say it's frequently disheartening is an understatement. But I have faith that it will all come together, as it usually does.

One of the jobs I had to do today was to earth up my spuds -  it involves heaping up extra soil to cover the leaves of the plants as they break through the ground surface.  While I was doing this, my trowel caught on something.  I scraped the earth away and saw something shiny and, sort of, layered.  It was a similar size and shape to those cloth books they make for kids, which is what I first of all thought it was.

Finding a kid's cloth book buried in my potato patch would be weird enough.

But this was way weirder.....

It was a whole bunch of religious photographs.  What the ......?

Yep, a load of photos, in a pile, buried in the middle of my potato patch.

I KNEW it - I knew I was different to all the other kids at school and this was it, this was my message from God.  I'm obviously a modern-day Joan of Arc.  Obviously.  Why did I ever doubt?

The message would be in the photographs (click on them to make them bigger).

There was a crucifix:

I'm not about to nail myself to a cross for anyone, so we'll just ignore that one....

There was the Blessed Virgin Mary balancing atop a big vase of flowers:

A neat trick, to be sure, but one I'm not going to be able to master.  That or Immaculate Conception, which I have tried.  True story.

There was Jesus who was also doing an impressive flower-balancing act:

And then I found The One:

Stands to reason I'm being told that I need to go out and burn some priests. Father Asbestos you ain't.  Right, that's it.  Enough of this banter, I've got God's Work to do - anyone got any matches?