Yesterday and today I have had a busy time up the allotment – so what’s new about that I hear you ask.
It was a miserable weather wise, and rain was threatened but never arrived. It didn’t put off though. It was windy and cooler so much more comfortable to work in.
I planted two rows of raspberry canes just two years ago, and despite following directions to the letter, they have gone ‘mad’ and unfortunately they got an infestation of bindweed in amongst them. Seeds blown from neighbouring plots, alas, nothing I could do about that to prevent them growing. In the open beds I keep digging the seedlings up, but in spikey raspberry canes it is hard to see them.
I took drastic action to try and solve the problem. I cut all the canes down from the row next to the fence which was the worst affected. This year has been a bad year for raspberries – well the ones not in my fruit cage, as they are small due to the drought conditions. I left short stems above the ground as I would like Pat dig them all up for me. They are notorious for spreading, but I never realised quite how much, and there is only so much that we can freeze, and preserve and give away. So now that I am more in control of my site, I will be getting rid of some of the plants that are not working.
I will leave about three in the second row and move the autumn fruiting ones in the winter so that they are in just one row. Either side I will sow grass paths, which will serve to keep the weeds, especially bindweed under control, will look nice and will give me room to pick the berries from either side comfortably.
My three chooks had a great time running to eat the berries that fell off and scratching around in the lovely soft manure mulch and finding insects. The followed me about and got under my feet, pecked my boots to get attention – great company.
Adelaide and KoKKo dustbathing
I also picked some more courgettes – 25 of the melon shape ones – that reminds me Patsy, I haven’t looked up the name of the variety yet – will do that tomorrow. This variety is really prolific, so I shall be busy making ratatouille to freeze and using them in other ways. Any ideas anyone?
There were more tomato plants to sort out which are outside the netting ‘tent’. I have been removing the lower leaves to conserve any moisture that the plant gets. The little tomatoes need it more than the lower leaves, and there are plenty more on the plant for photosynthesis. They have put on quite a bit of growth despite the lack of water, but desperately need some rain.
The grass paths that I sowed earlier in the year have failed. One grew a lovely new thatch, but the sun has burnt the grass and it has died. The grass seeds never really germinated on the other path, you can see the grass seed on top and the weeds are starting to take hold – so I will have to weed those, and will leave the paths until autumn, before I sow again.
I picked some loganberries and raspberries from inside the fruit cage; it still surprises me that every other day there are always plenty to harvest.
The replacement runner beans are just showing – so too the broad beans that I planted in error. The climbers are being eaten – probably by slugs – so putting a bit of rhubarb in the planting hole before you put the bean did not work this time for me.
Today I decided to take it easy and harvest the last of the gooseberries and blackcurrants. It turned into a marathon job. I just thought it would be picking the gooseberries from the one bush in the cage that I hadn’t harvested yet. I got a big bowl full of that one. The blackcurrants yielded two containers, they take ages to pick but are really worth it.
Then I decided to have a look at the four other gooseberry bushes next to the rhubarb bed. I thought that I had done a really good job of picking all those – wrong. There were tiny little ones that I had left, which had turned into nice big juicy ones – I got a full carrier bag of those – plus lots of scratches to my arms. Yes I did wear long sleeves and thick gloves, but the always seem to get me through or between my clothing and gloves. My back, and especially my old knees are really painful. It is all bending down this harvesting lark. The berries all seem to hang underneath the branches and as they fruit on old wood you have to really reach down into the bushes or under them.
I did have a nice incident which ‘made my day’ apart from the antics that the chickens get up too that is. I was sitting on the ground, with my work clothes on, plus a big white hat to shade my head and face from the sun. There was a deep rumble above and when I looked behind me then up, it was a huge low flying airplane, a blue grey colour. It was so low that I could see the man in the cockpit. I think that it might have been an ‘old’ plane, as it looked that way. I waved to the pilot as it went past, and kept looking at it waving – and guess what – this huge plane slowly dipped it’s left wing then straightened up and carried on its course. When I first saw it happen I thought that it was going to change its course but it didn’t. I sat there smiling to myself whilst picking the gooseberries for quite a while.
We are not far from several air bases, so I am used to seeing fighter planes screeching over the field high in the sky in tight formation. They go so fast that by the time you hear them, they are almost out of sight! We also get low flying helicopters sometimes the men are sitting on the side with their legs dangling out – they wave back too.
Just spoken to Pat and he said that it flew low over the golf course (it was heading in that direction) and his friend said that it was a Viking. The name meant nothing to me, but it was really sleek and beautiful aircraft with really wide wings and a long spike on the front of the cockpit. Like something out of an old movie.
I had been up there so long, that the chickens had eaten their full of fruit and insects and had done all the exploring that they wanted too, and had headed on back to their run for a spot of lunch and sunbathing.
So I took the hint, and shut them up for the day, with a handful of apple and pear cores, and headed off back down the allotment.
Shallots put out on a grid to catch the sun and dry ready for storing
As I passed the shallots bed I pulled them all up, so let the courgettes have more room. They were not growing any bigger and the tops were drying out, so it was time to lift them.
I bent over the stalks of the onions too as I passed – they had grown to a nice size and if I leave them much longer they will only go to seed. They can ripen in the sun now. Eight rows - they do make a nice pattern though don't they?
Just had one last job to do and that was to lay the shallots out to dry.