Along with most allotmenteers, I am heartily sick of all the wet. I have standing water on my plots and most of the raised beds are pond-like just six inches down. It feels very similar to 2012, when I started out on plot #100 and most of my potatoes drowned.
Weeds are loving the conditions. Dock seedlings are popping up everywhere in the damp warmth. Arrrghhhh!! Creeping buttercup, hairy bittercress and willowherb are expanding into new territory. The soggy earth is just that bit too wet to make weeding a joy. Roots hang on to balls of earth rather than easing out clean, and shaking the plants results in me being covered in muddy splats. I found some in an eyebrow and my left ear this afternoon…
My fruit cage challenge has begun. I have ripped off most of the creeping grasses and old weed stalks from the top of the bed-to-be. Which is probably where lots of the splatting happened. The surface water is an inch or two in places. Frogs like it though – there are lots of yellow and black jumpy bodies and I just wish they would turn more of their attention to my local slug population. As soon as it dries out a bit I can turn my attention to some serious digging & eradication of tap-rooted evil.
The few things I have sown or planted seem to be coping well. In the greenhouse I have 100% germination on 2-year old Magnolia Blossom Tendril Peas, broad beans have only minor slug damage so far and wild garlic is poking up in the hedgerow. Admittedly the latter was planted 2 years ago, but it looks to have bulked up a little more than last year so perhaps it’s finally established enough to start spreading.
Rather belatedly I’ve embarked on Dahlia Rescue. Surprisingly, given the horrible sucking sound made by the soil, most of the tubers are sound – rotting dahlia tuber is a smell that truly turns your stomach. The little tubers shoved into a bed of almost 50/50 manure & soil last year have grown to an immense size. Dark Butterfly is bigger than all the pots I have and has had to go into a crate. All of them are being painstakingly rinsed free of the slug eggs a careful slimy parent has laid amongst the roots.
There are a couple of other small issues. Firstly, I didn’t think any of them would have survived winter, what with all the frosts, snow and general wet. So I bought 5 more: Striped Vulcan, Hanan Gold (might be Hamari – the writing on the paper bag is blurry and I can’t find a variety called Hanan anywhere), Verrone’s Obsidian, Gerrie Hoek and Vino. I will need to be inventive in finding space to put them all.
Secondly, several labels have disappeared over winter. I did have the foresight to draw a dahlia map last year when I planted them, for which I should be feeling very smug. If I could only find the ruddy notebook I used…
Seed sowathons have begun in earnest at Mudandgluts Towers. All the tomatoes are in and chillies have been sown with devout finger-crossings that I will still get a crop. I haven’t done a plan for this year, which makes me a bit nervous. I know I will forget something important if I don’t have a plan – like sweetcorn for example, and a plot without sweetcorn is a very sad thing.
And in other news, after 30+ years of long hair, it’s now something of an asymmetrical crop. The verdict is still out on whether I look more like a Bananarama reject or a Cold War spy. When I have a less gloomily-lit photo the profile pictures on this blog will also get a revamp.
Categories: Diary 2018