The first day of August it rained - heavily, it had started raining in the night. I opened the back door and it hit me. That wonderful smell of rain on dry ground. There is nothing quite like it. I just had to pop up the lottie to have a look around in between cloud bursts. It smelt wonderful up there too. There was a lovely warm smell coming from the horse manure bin - not a nasty smell at all. Steam was rising off the decomposing pig muck bin. The soil was as dark as chocolate and everything looked fresh and green from the showers. I walked right down to the end of the allotment where the flowers are and saw something sparkling in the sunlight - really bright - and when I got closer, I saw that the asparagus ferns were flattened - yes those tiny feathers not three inches high that I planted a couple of months ago,have turned into what you see in the photo. Unfortunately you can't see the spectacular scene before me. It really looked like they were covered in diamonds. I was spellbound and took some pictures, but they do not recreate what I saw and experienced. But if you look closely you can just see what look like little glass balls on Christmas trees!
The clusters of tomatoes seemed to have swelled overnight too, and were the size of shiny snooker balls.
I was up the allotment every day for the next 18 days. I made another bin for the horse manure, but had to protect the rose cutting - it is in the wrong place but can't be moved until Autumn. I like to do flower arranging and two winters ago I used bits of rose stems that I had cut off when making an arrangement, to peg down black membrane up the allotment. Some of these cuttings took, and this year I have this beautiful velvet red rose, two equally gorgeous lemon roses, and another that has yet to flower. So my 'waste not want not' philosophy has paid dividends.
There was quite a bit of tidying up over the first two weeks of August. The broad beans had finished, the onions needed pulling, and the peas were on their last legs. So I cleared these sites, and rotorvated, and covered where the beans and onions were with black plastic - the old fish pond liner. I just needed a bit of a break from the weeding. So now it sits weed free (hopefully), until Autumn when I will put muck down. I took the netting down from the peas, cleared that site and covered it with pig muck. I don't know if it was the right thing to do, or at the correct time, but again, I hope to suppress or at least cut down some of the weeding as there are so many weeds seeds blowing around from the other allotments.
I took all the milk bottles off the winter purple sprouting broccoli and moved the pea netting to cover them.
I planted January King cabbage seedlings under a homemade fleece cloche to try and keep every pest known to man from getting at them. I also popped in 30 leeks which I topped and tailed before puddling in, and they have outgrown the original 25 that I planted a month ago without cutting. When I look at my diary, it shows a daily round of weeding, hoeing, staking, clearing, harvesting and grass seed sowing. I have been picking rhubarb since July,(in my ignorance), then a neighbour told me that you should not pick it after June. Is that an old wives tale? Why can't I pick it? I just take a few stems from each plant and they are tender and pink. Answers please! It has been lovely to start picking runner beans - late because of three failed earlier sowings, and I have learnt yet another lesson. I sowed some where I planted them last year, and added a well rotted manure mulch. This I think was a breeding ground for slugs. I lost two sowing of climbing french beans and one of runners. After the last sowing, some of them survived and are just cropping, but they are not very impressive. I made another site where the fish pond had been. In early July I dug a deep trench and filled it with layers of torn up newspaper and pig muck. These runner beans are now fantastic. Long beans, not stringy and lots of them. So the moral of this story is........ Well you don't need telling. Over winter, now that I am more organised I shall be digging trenches and filling them with kitchen waste etc in preparation for next year. And I won't use the manure as a mulch, but in the holes!
Look at this view over the hedge at the bottom of my allotment taken Friday lunch time, just as I was about to come home. I had rushed up there to dig up potatoes, harvest cucumbers, tomatoes, runner beans, courgettes, for goodie bags for my friends to take home for themselves and family. I know that I am 'growing for England' in my beginner's enthusiasm. But I am sure that you agree, the pleasure in giving home grown food to friends and relatives and seeing their faces, far outweighs the hours and hours spent sowing, weeding and nurturing. And besides, you do have to sow a bit more than you need to take into account the losses from pests and climate. It is a difficult thing to gauge I think. But I might be better at it next year.