Tuesday, 20 June 2006
Today I spent three and a half hours up my allotment in the hot sunny weather. But I am covered from top to toe, my face is always plastered with factor 50 sun lotion and I wear a floppy white sun hat, gloves, and sun glasses!
I was tempted to get one of the farm hands to take a photo of me – as I looked like a scarecrow – but had second thoughts!!!
It looks ever more likely that we are going to have another dry summer this year with very little rainfall in these parts. We are one of the driest counties in the UK in the East of England, but the past few years have been drier than ever. The little rain that is forecast this week is going to miss us yet again, so my crops will have to fend for themselves.
With that in mind, my task today was to weed the runner bean frame, and to mulch it to help preserve any rainfall that we do get.
It doesn’t look like a lot of work – but bear in mind the row is 30 feet long, and I have to do it all on my hands and knees with a trowel. The ground in like concrete, and it was really hard work getting out the deep rooted weeds that have sprung up.
This is what it looked like before. All the fencing has to come down first.
This is when I was part way through mulching it.
The inevitable ‘after’ photo.
You will see that there are lots of gaps which I will have to fill. The rabbits and birds and mice all have their share of the seeds and the baby plants, -oh and the slugs too. Some of them are making a remarkable recovery; some of them are stunted and destined to be dwarf beans by the look of it. It does look a bit ‘Heath Robinson’ I know, but I just have to put up temporary fencing to keep all the pests off to give the plants a fighting chance to reach maturity.
The next job I did was to weed the salad raised bed – and I picked salads for us and for my neighbour who has just come out of hospital having had a hip replacement. I made up an organic veggie box as a welcome home surprise and dug up some potatoes and picked some broad beans – his wife was very surprised and delighted.
Now that we have cleared the fruit cage, I can get to the red currants that are ripening, and further along are black, and white currants, strawberries, loganberry, raspberries, and another gooseberry bush.
I am looking forward to my fruit harvests this year. I also have jostaberries, blackberry (its first year so probably no berries), and a cross between a blackberry and a boysenberry plant (again its first year too). More currants and more raspberries, autumn and summer fruiting. I think that I will have to designate a freezer just for the fruits.
Now that I have the vacuum packing machine, everything will take up much less space, thank goodness, and you can clearly see what is inside the bags – so no more boxes or labelling.
Remember the devastated carrot and parsnip crops that I had to re-sow and cover to keep the rabbits off. Some of the original seedling that were just stalks have re-grown.
Just to finish – this is what over 6lb of broad beans look like in a huge washing bowl. We had some for lunch today, boiled with mint until they were very soft, newly dug up potatoes, and bunny burgers that I made in the winter, seasoned with a game herbs.
Now you know why my dearest has to wait for me to come home – I have to dip up or pick our lunch!
I have also made a nice rhubarb crumble – but didn’t have time to make the loaf of bread – must do it tomorrow!
My total time up the allotment this season so far are 174 ¾ hours, and other half has spent 50 hours. There is still lots to do though!