I decided to take things a bit easier today, as I spent a lot of time up the allotment yesterday and weather is scorching hot here still with not a glimmer of hope of any rain in the next 5 days (that is as far as they forecast with any sort of accuracy!)
So a little bit of harvesting and a lot of looking was called for.
As usual, the first stop is to let the girls out – and as is usual lately, just the one egg from Adelaide untouched and the shell of a white egg! No point in dwelling on it – I love them dearly and they run to me when I call, talking to me, and following me about – KoKKo, Adelaide and Ginger are really obedient in all ways even going back in their run at lock up time without me having to throw anything in to entice them.
I did a bit of weeding at home yesterday evening – the gravel patio, so I had a large trug of annual weeds for the horse manure compost heap, and another big one of chicken litter – a really good mixture I am creating for next year, with layers of vegetable matter, shredded paper, and all sorts.
So off I went to the fruit cage to pick some more red currants which should have ripened in the last few days – and I was not disappointed.
The bushes were dripping with them, and what a glorious sight. I filled up a big bowl and another container, not expecting so many – I had top stop picking them when they were both full, so there are more to be picked tomorrow.
They reminded me of those long dangly earrings - but the currants look better than those.
It does take ages picking them though – and preparing them – but you don’t see them in the shops these days, so it is worth it.
Whilst on my hands and knees and behind one bush I had another lovely surprise………
And more to come during the course I was picking there.
Look, the blackcurrants are starting to ripen – so I shall be kept busy the next few weeks jam making or preparing them and freezing them, as I think that I might not have enough hours in the day to cope with my harvest – but I am not complaining, I am so very happy as it is my first proper fruit crop.
So the fruit cage harvest turned out to be (after preparation) 5lbs of redcurrants and a full punnet of strawberries – I discovered some more later after the photo was taken.
Talking of currants - the whole length of my plot is littered with the rabbits calling card. Everywhere, I have never seen so many rabbits and it is in broad daylight and not at dawn or dusk! Nightmare!
As I put my fruit harvest in my car, an elderly chap who had 2 plots up near the end with the grown up son stopped to talk. I only usually see him at a distance as he usually is in a pickup truck with his son, so we wave as he either goes past or across the field.
He was telling me that he is 74 bless him. They have tractors and all manner of things. The son does all that sort of work now though, understandably, on the plot. When I was first up there, he told me that a few years previous he had bought a rotorvator which cost over three thousand pounds. They don’t keep it up there, but the son brings it when he wants to use it on the back of his pickup. It is a beautiful machine and I have not seen one like it. It goes through the soil like butter and has so many gadgets and gears, you’d almost need a pilot’s licence I should think, to use it. Something else to put on my list if Pat wins the lottery – and a gardener to drive it! I thought at the time what an enormous expense, as the only time they use it is on their plots, and the only things they grew were broad beans and potatoes.
This year though, they are growing runner beans, onions, shallots, as well as their broad beans and potatoes.
He was telling me that he had 10 rows, 150 feet long of broad beans, and he leaves two of those rows for seed for next year. His son has 8 rows of broad beans – and he said that they eat them themselves and don’t sell them! I have forgotten how many rows of potatoes exactly, but they had the same amount of rows as me, and where as mine are 25 feet long, theirs are 150 feet long – and he reckons that they run out by October, so they buy them when the farmers dig theirs up then!
He doesn’t do much any more he says – except pick the broad beans, and now and again dig up a root of potatoes. He said that he was having some of the broad beans for tea as his wife was doing fish and chips for lunch. Wednesday is her baking day he said, and she makes sausage rolls, jam tarts, cakes, and pies to last the week. She told him that as he was so fat that he shouldn’t eat so much, but he said that he wasn’t going to cut down, he enjoys his food, and that he is 74 so he doesn’t see the point. I jokingly said that he should mention to his wife that if she didn’t make all those sausage rolls, etc it might put temptation out of his way! He toddled off down the track, so I decided to pick some broad beans myself – and ended up with a carrier bag full – another 12 lbs to be shelled. But not tonight, and not by me! I have redcurrant jelly to get started on.
Where there were gaps in my broad bean row where the plants had either been eaten, trampled or did not recover from the frost and snow etc. I stuck in a bean – a bit late, but I had them spare anyway. Imagine my surprise when I saw that not only did they germinate, but they have grown lush and tall and are in flower – with only a couple of showers of rain!
You might have noticed that you have not seen any photos lately of my flower beds down that end after the broad beans. There is a good reason for that – they are looking rather sad. You may remember that the rabbits really tucked into the plants. The irises put on a good show and are now putting on a lot more ‘leaf’, the asparagus patch looks really healthy with the ferns now one big block. I sprinkled 30 packets of annual seeds after I weeded one bed and since then we have had just a couple of light showers of rain. The weeds are appearing and I am in a dilemma as to what to do. At the moment the weeds are manageable – not big yet but getting more plentiful – so do I dig it all over when the weather permits as it is like concrete at the moment – and by doing so it will look neat and tidy with the remaining perennials that survived the onslaughts. Or do I leave it in the vain hope that some of the flower seeds will sprout up quickly if we get some rain, and remove the weeds then when the annuals are recognizable? Don’t know yet.
None of the chrysanthemums grew. There are rows of sticks which I left in, in the vain hope that they would sprout – but they never did, despite the fact that I prepared the sites they were being planted by barrowing in 10 loads of well rotted manure. Dug it over well, and it was wet when I did it and also for a few days so they got well watered in. My friend who had about 50 of them, and is an excellent gardener, did not have any success either. An old farmer friend of hers said that they have to have some green on them when you plant them otherwise they will not grow – seems he was right, but I wish we had know a few months ago.
I noticed that there were some large gooseberries on the bushes, even though I have picked pounds of them. Some of the branches were so weighed down they were resting on the ground – so I used my last carrier bag to pick some of those – not all of them as by now I had been up there almost three hours and I was worn out!
So I called my three little friends and they trotted back home and into the run, packed up and locked up and just as I was getting into the car I got a call from my husband to say that he was home – good timing huh?
One last thing - a spot the difference.............
I took a photo of this struggling Atlantic Giant pumpkin plant the day before yesterday (26th)and got another surprise today - nature is incredible. I think that it is going to survive.
And again - since yesterday - a new variety of courgettes that I am trying out this year.
Melon courgettes - I am looking forward to my first mised courgette meal next week hopefully.
I thought that I might water the climbing beans and squash up the allotment nearest the water tank - but I am too tired - so I prepared all the redcurrants and started the proccess of making redcurrant jelly. More of that tomorrow though.