Thursday, July 20, 2006

86f - a nice 'cool' day in the twilight zone

The heat still dominates all that we do, and it is like living in a twilight zone with curtains drawn to keep the sun out. I have visited Australia a number of times and as much as I love the beautiful country, I always said that I could not live there, because of the heat. It is not until you are there for a few months that you appreciate what it is like. Having my curtains closed these past couple of weeks, reminded me of times spent at my friend Maxine’s home. She had to keep the blinds and curtains and windows closed against the sun and the different bugs, and sitting in the garden was out of the question for a lot of the time. You can wrap yourself up and do lots of things to keep yourself warm in cold weather, but keeping cool in hot weather certainly is a challenge without air conditioning.

So with that in mind we went up to the allotment to let Ginger, Adelaide and KoKKo out early. There was a lot of activity going on in the farmyard alongside my allotment, so I knew that if there were any foxes about, they would not risk visiting with all the noise and people.

I let them have the freedom of the meadow and half the allotment up to the rhubarb bed. The rest was ‘off limits’ until I went up there later.

At 10.45 I was up there - with factor 50 sunscreen liberally coated on my skin. First stop is always the chickens, so I went off to find them. I call them and clap my hands and they come running – my heart sank Adelaide and Ginger did their usual ‘hell for leather’ run, but not KoKKo. I gave the other two a little reward, and collected yet another just laid egg – then set off in search of KoKKo. I called her, but could not hear her usual reply. I looked around the plants in the area that they roamed in and still couldn’t find her. As I neared the rhubarb and called again, I heard her calling back. She was the other side of the corrugated fence in the ‘off limits’ area. Cheeky thing must have flown onto the upturned chair that rests again the iron, and then over the top – so I opened that ‘gate’ and let them roam where they wanted in my enclosed plot. Firstly though, she ran back to their run to see what she was missing out on.

I left them to it, and went off to pick or salvage some fruit. I took two boxes one for us and one for the chooks. The fruit that was over ripe or wizened the ‘girl’s had, and the good fruit we had. The loganberries had suffered the least, so I got a couple of pounds of those, about a pound of raspberries and a couple of ounces of black currants. The chickens had a pound of the same mixture. There was just one strawberry – which was perfect – so I ate it. It tasted warm, fruity and just wonderful. I sincerely hope that I have better luck with mine next year. I weeded the raised bed where I replanted the surviving strawberries and mulched them with shredded paper. That was the only bed that the weeds had grown in – so it must have been because of the paper which is interesting.

A couple of hours soon flies by, and I was really feeling the heat so decided to call it a day, but not before giving the girls the lovely fruit mix.

Ginger and KoKKo were in the run having a drink and ran out to meet me when I called. But no sign of Adelaide – she is normally the first one to come running. I began to feel a bit unsettled after KoKKo’s little escape this morning, especially as I noticed that from an iron bench in the meadow under the trees, it would be possible for them to fly across to the big compost bin - which is now pretty full of foliage, and for them to gain access to the fields beyond.

I called and called and searched but couldn’t find her, so I called the other two and gave them the fruit and locked them in. The chickens made excited happy noises and I called Addie. Obviously she had heard the girls shouting out about the fruit, because she came running out from a big red leaved persicaria plant (her favourite place is usually under the rhubarb leaves), then she had the cheek to stand the other side of the fence complaining that she couldn’t get through. So I had to walk around and show the daft thing the six foot wide entrance to the meadow and she raced off to join the others, and was jumping up and down impatiently whilst I unlocked the run.

They certainly continue to give me so much pleasure.

I took a few photos on the walk back through the plot - of the veggies.

Tomatoes outside the netted tent.

The floppy leaves of the courgette plants next to it.

The sacrificial peas on the right, and the late sowing of Kelvedon Wonder which might just make it if we get rain soon.

The last few cans of water will as usual go on these.

Very sad potatoes. Mainly earlies and one early main crop.

Now is the time that this maincrop needs water, so that the tubers will swell and grow - in fact they have needed it for weeks now and haven't got any. So I guess they will remain small, unless we get lots soon and more than a shower.

The runner beans surviving without water. Thank goodness I dug those trenches over winter and filled them. That is all that is keeping these plants alive.

One plant has even managed to grow beans.

Swiss Chard on the left and yellow haricot beans - all surviving without any water from me. I just kept the soil weed free.

Another variety of chard which we are eating. The stems taste like celery, which is just as well as the celery has failed in the drought.

These are dwarf beans - the seeds of which I planted a few weeks ago. We had one ligh t shower of rain, and that is all. But bless their hearts they are trying really hard. How they even germinated baffles me.

The salad leaves are surviving the drought too - and it has not affected the flavour either.

This is the squash and pumpkin bed that I created. It too is doing well in the drought conditions, but I don't know how long before the leaves will shrivel up and die without water.

Climbing french beans next to them, surviving only on the compost and manure from the winter trenches.

And finally......

My very courageous Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing beans. Growing without a drop of water since planted, and I have every confidence that these will survive the worst conditions.


  1. Karen9:58 pm

    There is nothing quite so nice in winter as being indoors in front of a log fire reading a book, preferably a gardening one planning next years garden. Not quite the same ambiance in hot Australian sun.

    If your peas have gone to seed could you not use them for next years pea plants if they are not FI hybrids ? At least then one would feel that they served some purpose.

  2. you are doing well on the garden considering you have a water shortage. great pictures. i so enjoy you blog.

  3. If the plants can just hold on a little longer surely there will be a thunderstorm or two soon! A very interesting set of photos of your allotment - thanks!
    The sheer scale of what yiu do is breathtaking.

  4. We too had a lovely break in the weather yesterday, wow was it welcome!
    I know what you mean when you say time flies!
    One item I would strongly recomend is a cordless radio, I got mine from Argos and can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever bought to help me in the garden.
    If I am working on a laborious, labour intensive task I tune in to Radio 4 and before I know it I am transfixed on the radio and just getting on with the task in hand!

    Great set of photos.

  5. The photos are lovely Lottie. It's nice to see how your plants are doing in the dry weather because like you we too have had very little (well more likely no) rain. I fear my maincrop potatoes will be little this year because there is just no water for them. Thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow, I just hope they bring a decent downpour rather than a meagre sprinkling.


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