Typical

I spent 2 hours carefully watering and feeding everything on the plots Tuesday morning, even getting up at 5am to make sure I wasn’t hogging the tap. It persisted down pretty much ever since, and I made a stop off yesterday on the way to the stables* to tip out all the trays!

Tuesday was also plot inspection day. As a committee member I really enjoy them – we’ve got some absolutely cracking plots on site and this is a great excuse for a proper look. I am a bit crestfallen to see that Ruth already has a pumpkin the size of a football. I think that’s her carrying off the pumpkin prize AGAIN this year…! There are quite a few neglected plots this year, though on my field at least half of them are in the process of being given up and re-let. It’s sad to see people go who’ve been around for a long time – Mike & Charlotte, you will be missed.

Thanks for all the comments on the Charlotte Russe post, they’ve given much food for thought. A second flush of berries is now appearing on the plant, now outside, and I’m looking forward to seeing if they are any different.

I’ve been a bit pants on the diary front. Getting 3 extra (large!) beds on other people’s plots in order has taken longer than I thought and has taken time away from doing things on my own. That said, I am very grateful for the space and very few of the weeds are reappearing. Horsetail is trying to resurface amongst the Charlottes, but I am vigilant and it’s whisked out whenever it pops up.

Wendy’s bed has been weeded/sifted to 45-60cm deep. I took out 6 sacks of horsetail, bindweed, couch & buttercups. It’s now planted up with Charlottes, onions, and Sucrette squashes for my contribution to the Heritage Seed Library. I had to be rescued on that front – my seed tray’s drainage holes got blocked and I drowned the first batch. All 15 of ’em. I’m very grateful to Rachel and Catriona at HSL for sending out replacement seeds and for not laughing at my waily-waily mishap! These were sown into leafmould with a few remaining ones of my own, germinated in about 3 days and were set out early, at seedling leaf stage because I was panicking! Ten plants are now growing away strongly, hopefully with a flower border of cornflowers and cerinthe, and with Crimson Crush tomato armpits set along the centre line. I’ve got a total of 32 squash and pumpkin plants this year. It might prove to be overkill…

In the same bed my onions are looking great. They’ve gone from wispy blades of grass to actual oniony things in just 8 weeks. I know onions are cheap. But they are really rewarding to grow from seed, and the flavour’s pretty pokey too.

Down on #92 I’ve made a new strawberry bed for next year, finished planting up the greenhouse (finally!) and am loving the lillies, which are flowering away and filling the air with gorgeous scent. I breathe in deeply each time I go past. I am not far off having dahlias too. The mignons for the Blooms for Bees trial have just started flowering and my surviving bought plants (City of Leiden, Creme de Cassis and April Heather all succumbed to Death By Slug) have plenty of buds. I can’t wait to see them!

Another surprise has been Red Swan dwarf beans, which I got through a seed circle 2 years ago. These apparently produce dusky pink pods and the beans themselves are certainly a lovely red colour. The flowers though are gorgeous. Rose pink and white, held up above the foliage, they are very pretty.

Also going strong are the Guernsey Half-Long parsnips I’m growing for seed. The flowers are covered in pollinators and it looks like I’ll have enough seed to supply the seed circle and next year’s charity fundraiser. The stems do have quite a few aphids on, farmed by nasty red ants, but ladybirds have moved in and are scoffing multitudes per day.

One of the few things that hasn’t worked so well is garlic. I have mono-bulbs again. This is overwintered garlic, so I know it had a fair bit of cold. It’s disappointing, and I think I’ve had it with growing the stuff. I obviously don’t have the knack.

Foxes are also being a right pain in the proverbial, digging in my pots & beds, scent marking every upright and crapping everywhere. We have quite a few of them, and my plot’s on their route through to the other field, where some silly bugger’s still feeding them digestive biscuits and all sorts, despite being asked not to. I know this because they leave a fair bit on my plot – chicken bones, bits of biscuit and the odd bit of cake. I see rats in my future. The last straw was finding my neatly raked sown & netted salsify bed all cratered, with bits of biscuit on top. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

I’ve made a start on the fruit cage area, infested as it is with docks, nettles and red ants. I need to replace the soil I oh-so-carefully dug out 3 years ago to make a path. Fortunately I have a huge heap of ex-turves which would do nicely. If, that is, there weren’t a small issue…This is the face you make when you realise Sod Mountain is now Wasp Mountain!

*I got to hack out on Archie, my favourite horse at the RDA – it consisted of a prancey walk, VERY FAST trot (he really wanted to go faster) and a sideways dance on 2 legs when a pigeon exploded out of the undergrowth. I am delighted to report both that I stayed on and this morning I am not walking like John Wayne.

6 replies

  1. Well, my garlic was wonderful !! I planted late November, and for some reason they were ready at the beginning of this month! Marvellous. They’re drying nicely at home in my shed – and no, you can’t have any, so there.

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  2. Sod ’em wasps! You might try the old mint trick – 2 or 3 old buckets (buckets have handles so you can carry 2 or 3 at a time to nip in and out quick!), planted up with common garden mint (tends to have the strongest smell). Place them next to the sod pile (in evening when it’s quieter). Wasps hate the smell of mint and, if the nest isn’t too well established yet, may well relocate. You could always add a few squirts of peppermint oil (50% mix with water) for good measure. Even better is to add 15-20 drops of “essential” eucalyptus oil to 250 ml of water which you can also spray on plants to deter ants.

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  3. I had exavtly the same disappointing crop of garlic too. Also overwintered but only small mono bulbs. Had a fantastic crop last year. Don’t know that went wrong. My hard neck and elephant were fine though.

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