Saturday, 24 June 2006
I got all excited when I got up to see a little splatter of rain on the windows, but alas not enough to fill a thimble - but I am off out to sow some beans to replace those that got eaten.
I tried the rhubarb leaves tip - about spreading them around to deter the slugs, but I do not have a definite result to give you. It was so hot that the leaves dried up and shrivelled in a matter of days - but I do use them as mulch on the beds to keep the weeds down.
I am off to try something new. I am going to cut up a rhubarb stalk and drop a piece into each hole that I plant the seeds - and see if that makes any difference - once they show I will then do the rhubarb leaf trick again - a double whammy might deter the slugs - but will it keep the rabbits off - no chance - so it will be back to plastic milk bottles over them for that!
Bovey Belle Left me comment on my frozen fruit photo page regarding making jam in the microwave. Yes please BB as I have halogen rings on my hob too, and would love to make use of my microwave which only gets used to hotting up my bedtime milk in the winter, and lately softening my home made butter. (I hang my head in shame)
So useful ideas of making the most of the microwave would be a good thing!
Back later - off I go to sow.
As usual it was only my intention to let the chickens out up the allotment and to spend a few minutes sowing some beans seeds. In fact I was so confident that I would not be there long, that Pat came with me, so that we could drop of our stash of glass bottles in the recycling bin enroute (well in a circular route around the village.) Luckily I suggested he brought his newspaper so that he could sit and read and top up his tan for the short time I would be up there!
After letting the chickens out and giving them a treat of apple an pear cores and a ‘bolted’ lettuce, I collected their eggs – 2 enormous ones, so big that the lid to the egg box would not close.
The courgette plants that were tiny, at last are starting to grow. The watering once every few days, and the mulch of grass cuttings seem to be working at last.
Another view on the long walk from the chicken meadow - so far so good, it is not a pretty sight, but it is detering the rabbits and the parsnip survivors are growing nicely now, so too the carrots under fleece.
The peas and mange tout in the netted tent are growing without any watering help from me. How they do it on the little rain we have had I do not know.
The tomato plants next to them are faring well too. They are not lush with leaves as they would be if they had rain, but they are surviving and one even has a little tomato on it - a bit early though.
The onions and potatoes are doing fine - one onion was about to go to seed, so I pulled it up and we had it for lunch - let that be a warning to the others who will suffer the same fate it they don't hang on a bit longer to get bigger.
Here are the Colleen potatoes that I dug up yesterday - just two plants and a heavy crop from each. Again in these dry drought conditions it is wonderful - and amazing.
Colleen - No.1.
Colleen - No.2. plant
The usual view over the 'gate'
Walking back to the car I spotted one or two weeds in the raised beds that I had missed yesterday – they were well hidden amongst the rows of salad leaves, so out came the kneeling pads on went the sun hat and old shirt, and off I went with trowel, hoe and box with seeds in.
You would not have thought that we had had rain half an hour earlier – there was not even a smidgeon on a leaf or chair – maybe it was only over our part of the village that the little shower had occurred?
I set about on my hands and knees wheedling out the sneaky weed seedlings that escaped me yesterday.
Have you ever noticed that the weeds growing next to any particular crop tend to look very much like the crop? I notice it a lot. I seem to get bindweed seedlings, growing amongst or next to beans. The bindweed, when in its infancy looks like a dwarf bean, with a single stem and then stems going off it as it gets bigger – on the look out for somewhere to climb up. Fern type weeds grow amongst the carrot seedlings and it is not until they are taller that they are distinguishable from the carrots – and so on.
Once the stray weeds were taken out, I thought that I might as well sow another crop or two in the gaps where the lettuces and salads leaves had been, but were now eaten - by us this time.
So in between the sorrel and the chard I sowed two rows of carrots. On the other side of the chard in the gap, I have sown corn salad – two rows – then spinach – two rows.
And still have room for more sowings of mixed salads at fortnightly intervals to keep us and visitors in salads all through the summer.
I then moved on to the next bed – which looks bare in the photo – and I only include this so that in weeks to come you can see the transformation (fingers crossed of course).
If the forefront you can see some more sorrel, and behind that the dwarf beans that survived, and on the right three different varieties of onions that I have left to go to seed in order to harvest the seeds for next year. (An experiment)
In rows behind I sowed haricot beans and yellow dwarf beans, and green dwarf beans – with a third of the bed still to be sown with another crop. It should look very pretty and colourful over the summer. I have had to net it to keep the birds off, so that the seeds get a chance to germinate and grow on a bit.
It was getting rather hot and past lunchtime by then. Pat had resigned himself to sitting in the car with his newspaper and was doing the crossword puzzle. I asked why he had the windows closed and was not sitting outside – he said that it stank of pig ****. I must be immune to the smell up there as I hadn’t even noticed!!!
He was forced to open the windows a bit and the tilted ‘sunroof’ as he was rather hot, bless him.
I was feeling rather guilty by this time, and decided to just plant up some runner bean seeds, in the gaps where the rabbits had got them. Just for good measure I planted four or five around each cane, having made holes with my dibber, filled them with water, and dropped the bean seeds in the hole. As I was doing it, I, of course, weeded any little seedling that had been daft enough to pop their head through the mulch or set them selves in the soil, so the time went on. When finished – 12 canes, so a minimum of 48 seeds instead of the 2 to a cane, were all planted. I then finished it off with a barrow load of horse manure around the newly planted seeds to deter the rabbits.
We had been up there for two hours!
Home to salmon and a huge salad of home grown lettuces and leaves and herbs – shame it is too early for tomatoes and all my cucumber plants got eaten first time around. Still the new potatoes made up for it though.
It was after lunch, when I went to the garage for some lettuce leaves for the banties, that I noticed a brown paper bag on the worktop in there. I had a feeling of foreboding, and my heart sank.
The reason being that for the first time I bought my broad bean and runner bean Enorma loose from a shop in town. Yes you have guessed it. They were both in plain brown paper bags – and the broad beans I bought last autumn and the runners this year. Yes I do know that they look different, I have been growing them long enough, but the beans this time were coated in pink to deter the mice. I only decided to try them this once after loosing so many to mice, rats, and other rodents. The broad beans were very small, I recall, when I planted them last year – but they have produced a really good crop despite their setbacks which have been well documented here.
So – I have spent an hour carefully planting broad beans next to the runner bean canes – all that effort for nothing.
I now have found a bag of pink runner beans, which look exactly like the pink broad beans and are the same size!
It is not a big problem as I will just pull out the broad beans if they germinate, and will plant the runner beans another day – hopefully tomorrow morning. It is just so annoying.
I have planted other varieties of climbing beans – organic ones – I was just tempted out of desperation to grow some early broad and runner beans that might escape some of the pests.
The moral of this tale is – stick to the organic ones – even if you do lose most of them.
That is why I have a big plot and grow far more than I need – figuring that if I grow three times as much as I need at least a third should survive to feed us, the rest being at the mercy of the weather and pests.
Sometimes I get gluts – which is great!
Off to put my feet up.