Allotment Adventures: Some Rain

Last Friday night, there was actual rain, but it didn’t really seem to make a lot of difference to the plot, which still  needed watering on Saturday morning.

The plot is doing well right now, the tomato plants all have fruit or flowers on and the tally for courgettes from Sunday to Saturday, was 12. That’s what they do, they make you think that they are never going to produce at all and just when you given up hope……blam, courgettes everywhere.

The crookneck is about to start the same thing, we had one last week but there are so many other fruits on it, it’s only a matter of time. We also had two cucumbers, which makes me happy.Other than harvest, water and feed which takes forever, we did other things. We pulled up the sweet peas, they had aphids on them, and the California poppies that were taking over the rhubarb and also beginning to look a bit messy and thus were offending Ma’s sensibilities…

it also clears the space for feeding the rhubarb later in the year, we also have plans to wood chip up here to make it easier to weed and help the soft fruit.

I potted up the 21 kale plants that arrived on Thursday and have already given four away but that still leaves 17 plants to find room or homes for.

We started a new bed where the strawberries were. The ground was rock hard so they may require some hammering in when it’s a bit wetter. It was half filled with the compost from the potato bags. I’ll fill up some more next week and then some of the kale is going there, the rest of it is going to replace the French beans when they are done and maybe in pots until much later in the year when some of the other beds are finished.I also planted out some more mint in the bath and trimmed the tomatoes some more, tomatoes are a labour intensive crop but they do reward the effort.

The three sisters bed is going nuts but if we do it again, it will need to be in one of the bigger beds. In my typical worry wart fashion, I’m worried that the corn isn’t doing as well and I have no tassles, but having done a quick calculation in my head, I’m going to worry about that after August. Corn needs 80 to 95 days and I planted this on 19 May. So I have some time to go..

I’m impatient for the cucumbers and tomatoes to really start coming in but the work list for next week is pretty light (for a change)

  • plant kale out
  • net kale bed
  • weed
  • water and feed
  • tidy the shed
  • harvest
  • maybe pull up the french beans


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The joys of a day off work (or even two days)

I’m naturally very lazy, my perfect life would be me in my flat and lounging about reading books.However, life, with work, the flat, the allotment, having friends and a life generally, I don’t get to spend all that much time doing what I love. Also that life has been pretty busy, it’s summer and I seem to spend all of my time watering and socialising and not much time at home. All of this is good, I wouldn’t want anyone to thing that my life is no fun but last week, I hit a wall. I felt like my house and my life needed a tidy. So I took Friday and Monday off to sort it out (and spend some time lounging about with a book!)

I really needed it. I also spent some time watching Dr Who!

The house is tidy, all the laundry and food prep are done and this week should be relatively hassle free and I only have two more weeks until I have a week off.Life is pretty good…

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Monday Miscellany

Bonjour, bienvenue dans une nouvelle semaine. (That was my limited attempt at French in honour of the winners of the World Cup!)

In other news, it is the beginning of a new week, but I am not at work today. I’m back tomorrow and in Southampton on Wednesday, overall I’m looking forward to a calm week at work and praying for rain!

We did have some on Friday night and quite heavy but it barely made a dent at the plot.One of the advantages of working in town is when things like the RAF 100 anniversary fly past happen, we get to watch from the roof.And you get to see the wobbly bridge full of people, like a traffic jam…Also notable this week, Christelle’s amazing orchid, it’s so perfect it looks fake.And Gabi the wonder dog. She is a boxer, but given that she’s only little (nine months) and a boxer, she’s actually very chilled, once she gets over her initial bouncing. Also Mike and Christelle have the most realistic fake grass, I’ve ever seen…It’s been a very social week for me, I was at Mike and Christelle’s on Saturday night and at Kathy and Adam’s on Sunday (where I also got to see some other friends), so I’m a tiny bit peopled out and looking forward to a day of sorting out and straightening out the flat.

What are you all up to this week?

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Sunday Music

A couple of weeks ago, Kirsty MacColl’s, England 2 Columbia 0 was doing the rounds because of the World Cup match. I love that song but it got me to thinking about this one.

And I love that she’s singing this song, wearing very sensible shoes!

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a week, I went into the World cup quarter finals with four teams and came out of the semis with no teams. The most heart breaking being the match on Wednesday, but they are a young team and that really showed again Croatia. I will be cheering for France on Sunday and given that tomorrow is Bastille day, I’m taking that as a good omen for Les Bleus for the final!

This week has been light on posting and I’m hoping that this weeks links will made up for it, the news this morning was all about Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. If Theresa May wants to unite the country, she needs to tell that orange faced buffoon to do one! Seriously though, if was terrible for Obama to weigh in on Brexit before the referendum, it’s terrible for Trump to do the same thing now.  Also it’s just bloody rude.

Here are this week’s links…

Power, not Brexit, is behind Boris Johnson’s decision to quit

Boris Johnson Has Ruined Britain – I never liked him and he has stupid hair but Jenni Russell, God bless her, has summed him up perfectly!

Boris Johnson, a politician whose ambition and superficial charm far outstrip his ability, judgment or principles, is destabilizing the British government and threatening the country’s future.

A no-deal Brexit survival guide: what food to stockpile. I think I’ll be working extra hard on preserving, growing and seed saving over the next couple of years and I really need that other half plot!

‘There used to be a bus every hour. Now we hardly leave the house’

It’s not only Londoners who rely on buses and trains. Yes it’s true and I’m keen that spending on infrastructure isn’t just done in London. Ma and I get the bus from Amble to Newcastle when we’re on holiday but it costs me £6.60 return. There are two of them the X18 and the X20 and you can’t just turn up and hope for a bus like I do in London, they go every half hour Monday to Friday (I think), and on the weekends the X20 doesn’t run at all. So yes we do have a problem. There needs to be a structured long term plan for re-balancing the economy and the population of the country, this isn’t helping London either. The other thing though, while London’s transport infrastructure is better than in the rest of the country, it’s still pretty broken.

How philanthropy breathed new life into a forgotten Salford suburb

It’s time for Britain’s millionaire pensioners to pay up. I agree that it’s a problem but I don’t agree with the solution…

Is it OK to share an ice-cream with your dog? No it’s never ok, neither is letting them lick your face. I get it, dogs are lovely and they are part of the family but they are still dogs…

Brett Kavanaugh Was a Mistake. One thing I do know is that Democrats have to fight this as much as they can, and I’m glad we don’t appoint judges like this.

Courgette fritters and summer squash recipes. The glut has started…

Tamal Ray’s recipe for raspberry and lime bars. I really want to try this.

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Allotment Adventures: The constant watering 

This week I have been pushed for time, which is why this is going up late on a Thursday, rather than its traditional Wednesday amazing what you can do on a phone during the commute! 
We have still not had any significant rain and last week I needed to up my watering game. So I bought a new watering can, I now have two 10 litre cans and almost very bed needs two cans (well 11 of them) that are squash, tomatoes and cucumbers, I remember my first year when watering took half an hour, now it takes at least an hour and a half and from next week, I’m going to water Joe’s plot as well because he’s away. Who needs sleep?

As ever at this time of year, the weekdays are for watering and some harvesting, the weekends are for work, with it being so ridiculously hot, Ma and I were on the plot at before 8am on Saturday. As well as the usual watering and feeding. I trimmed all the tomatoes, Ma dug up all the strawberries and made a start on tidying the raspberries, which are more or less finished. Removing the strawberries made us realise that we have space for another bed, so that’s on the work list. 

We filled the cleared chard bed with a layer of compost and planted out some leeks. The foxes have been at this a bit but we have another pot to plant out in August, so I’ll fill in the gaps then. Ma also sowed some chard in the old pea bed, the plan is for them to stay there over winter as the others did.

I did not get around to sowing kale this year so I’ve cheated and bought a set of plug plants from Suttons which, when they get here, have three types of kale, Black Magic, a calvolo nero bred for our climate, F1 Reflex, a curly kale and F1 Redbor, with is red. There are 21 plugs, so that’s more than enough for us, I’ve promised Dionne one of each and I’m sure what I can’t use will get used by someone else. I’m planning that some will go in the new bed, some where the French beans are now and some in the cucumber bed when they are done. Finding room is my biggest problem right now, I want to overwinter broad beans, garlic and shallots (they can quite happily wait for space until after the tomatoes and summer squash are done. But I need to find another bed for more leeks and sow some pak choi, black radish and mustard greens. I know that Ma’s heart sort of sinks when I say that I need another half plot but I’m probably ready for expansion!

I planted out the mint and summer savoury in the bathtub where the strawberries had been. The savoury is an annual, so I’m happy for the mint to take over there. I also have some mint that I bought in the supermarket and stuck in a glass of water that has rooted so I’ll plant that up with a view to planting in the tub at some point soon.

I made a frame for the cucamelons to climb up, it does look a bit make shift but will be covered pretty soon, I reckon.

We had a first pick of the French beans, they haven’t done as well as last year, I think because it’s so dry and I know that there is blackfly. The winter squash is doing well though, and the butternut squashes have just started. They have a long way to go but I’m happy.

After all my moaning about the courgettes, I picked 6 this week. I can feel the beginning of the glut. The crookneck is on the verge of production and looking very healthy. 

The cucumbers are also on the verge of going bananas, we should have lots of both by my birthday, and tomatoes have flowers and fruit although they are ages away from being edible.

I have a work list for the weekend that feels a mile long, so I’m probably not getting to all of it.

· Water and feed everything

· Frame and fill the new bed

· Trim and tie up the tomatoes (again they are like triffids)

· Find space and plant out the carnation dianthus and verbena

· Sow some more coriander and parsley

· Either pot on or just plant out the rooted mint more likely both

· Sow the gaps in the lettuce spinach and carrots

· Net the leek bed and the lettuce spinach and carrots bed

· Weed the top of the plot and the paths

· Identify a space for my lavender ‘hedge’ and work out how to prep the soil

· Plant out the basil plant I bought last week at the school fete

· Clear the bolted radishes out of the bucket

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Monday Miscellany

It’s so hot. It’s so hot that Sarah and I walked the dog at 7am on a Sunday. I’m done with this weather, completely and totally cooked. This week I have cooked some chicken and roasted some vegetables and the oven is not going to be switched on again this week. They are promising it will be cooler on Tuesday and all I can say is that it better be.

In other news. I got two of my four teams through. So I have Belgium, who play France on Tuesday and England, playing Croatia on Wednesday. I’m not going to start shouting “it’s coming home” I remember all of the times England looked like they might be doing well and honestly, I find our defence, casual and Raheem Sterling needs to stop trying to score every time he gets the ball and pass it if he doesn’t have a shot. But I do need to take a moment to point you towards this…

I’m afraid that Kathy and I watching football on Saturday may have been a bit of a shock to the Baxter babies…. I will try to keep the noise down and restrict my use of the phrase ‘fannying about’ as in “stop fannying about and pass the ball” it doesn’t translate well for an expat American who knows both the US usage and the UK usage (which is ruder) but has never heard it in that context…I do love cultural difference!

Goals for this week. Watch the football, try not to melt and water the plot in the mornings. Yes, that is going to hurt. I know it.


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