The plot is really beginning to look like its summer. Flowers are flowering and we are getting properly close to planting the summer garden.
Usually, I feel perpetually behind but this year I’m a bit more relaxed. I am behind but we had a cold spring and I didn’t have the physical or mental space for all the seedlings. The good news is that the polytunnel is going to revolutionise next year and there are and will be plants and vegetables this year, so I’m not going to worry too much.
This week we took the decision that we weren’t going to hit our (ok my) aim to grow everything from seed this year and ordered brassicas from DT Brown. We did it on the Kitchen Garden offer, so we bought 10 brussels sprout plants and got the winter brassica collection for free, which consists of 10 savoy cabbages, 10 sweetheart cabbages, 10 cauliflowers, 10 broccoli plants and 10 cavolo nero kale plants. Eagle eyed readers will notice it’s the same one we had last year, and we really liked it. With delivery charges it’s going to cost £11.90, which breaks down to about 20p per plant. I know, especially right now, that we’re lucky to be able to throw money at it but it’s really worth it to save me the hassle, I just don’t have the time or the mental space to manage growing 60 brassica plants from seed and I don’t think that means I’m cheating.
I’m not actually that bothered by what people think but I had a conversation last week with one of the people on our garden plots and she was really concerned that she wasn’t doing gardening properly. I really hate gatekeepers, my love of something is not invalidated because someone loves what I do and does it differently. We all start off lacking knowledge and we learn what works for us and how we do things changes as we learn. My sister-in-law has a plot and gardens completely differently from me, she also has a ‘hungry’ job, a husband, two boys and a dog. Which means she has to garden differently from me, she still loves her plot and still manages to produce food and teach her boys about the value and cost of growing food. All that to say, I want to be honest about the fact that my gardening and my plot are not perfect, and sometimes I need to buy seedlings because I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with seedlings.
Anyway, back to the work we did this weekend. We started in the polytunnel, all of the seedlings came outside for some sunshine and we cleared the back bed of the salad leaves and the stray potato plant to let the sweet potato spread themselves.
We have two beds of garlic, and one of them was ready, so we pulled them up and left them to dry in the polytunnel. We’re very impressed with ourselves. The second bed is of later garlic and I think that next year we’ll just go with the early types. The entire site has allium rust and leaf miner and early garlic seems to do better.
We covered the blueberries with netting. So in the photo below, you can see the dark blue netting covering the gooseberries, the white netting covering the big black currant bush and the lighter blue netting behind that.
We trimmed the overgrown path down the side of the plot next to Dennis (our plot neighbour on the other side had trimmed the other path – for which I’m thankful!). We watered the beds and then we assessed the tomato situation. Last week I had 25 tomato plants and 19 spaces in the beds. Some of the plants had rallied enough that I was happy to put them in the ground. So the four healthly Black Russian plants went into the bed with the Tigerellas and the four remaining Yellow Millefleurs went into the cherry tomato bed.
The Peche Vilmorins, were looking worse, I think they were waterlogged, but some of the Ethel Watkins and remaining Amish Pastes were a bit better, so we put all of them in what I’m calling the ‘hospital bed’, we’ll see how they do. If they survive, great, if not I’ll plug the gaps with the Sungolds (that still aren’t here and I suspect I won’t see this side of the Bank Holiday!). Two plants ended up in the bin and that left me with three Orange Queens and three tiny Black Russians. They had recovered a bit but I was pretty sure that they needed to be in a bed, so I decided that they could go in the polytunnel bed, I’m hoping that they’ll do well but if they don’t no harm done. The other side of that bed will be for melons and I’m planting them from seed straight into the bed tomorrow.
We also discovered the two of the camomile lawn pots had been colonised by ants, the downside of encouraging wildlife is we seem also to encourage those buggers. We had a terrible ant problem a couple of years ago and I thought it had gotten better (despite everyone saying that ants bites are just annoying, I’m convinced that the two extreme reactions I’ve had were due to red ant bites!). One plant went in the bin, one at the back next to the wild garlic, that isn’t doing so well. The other two I put in the bed with the jasmine and thyme, we’ll see if they live.
We picked rhubarb, chard and herbs to add to our produce haul and finally went home.
That done we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. Due to the Bank Holiday we’re having two days on the plot this week. I want to get the arches built, fill up the beds, and sow more beans, cucumbers, melons and some flowers. I need to clear the chard bed and we really need to get to some weeding and sorting out the boysenberry bed.
I also got bonus time at the plot on Sunday morning with Tom and Ivy. She seemed to enjoy it!