Don't Lose the Plot

Friday, 25 July 2014

Salute The Kernel

First pick of sweetcorn today (at 15-30 and 17 seconds) worth the wait? I expect so its almost tea time.

There's always tomorrow!!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Some Rain At Last

I was woken up this morning at silly o'clock by the almost forgotten sounds of raindrops splashing against my bedroom windows. Relief at last I thought for the plants and the ground down my plots, both of which have been starved of any appreciable rainfall for several months. Watering of my plots this season has been done by utilizing water from the drainage ditch situated at the lower, southern end, of my plots. Even that supply was about to dry up. About three quarters of an hour after the first downpour of rain, another followed, only lasting for about 10 minutes, but enough for a reasonable drenching of the ground. I ventured down to my plots later at about 10-30 a.m. to pick some veggies for this weekend. Having thinned out 1 row of cabbages yesterday and replanted some of the thinnings I was glad for the earlier rain, needed to re-establish them. Most of the parched clay on my plots had soaked up the rainwater down to a depth of about 4 inches (10 cm) or so.
Garden Peas
Another Pick of Peas (Mid July 14)
Since my last post and during possibly the busiest time of the gardening year, many tasks, other than sowing and planting, have been carried out on both of my plots, whilst fruit and veggies have been developing. The fruit cage I was constructing on N1 Plot, is finished apart from about 50% of the wood preserver still needing to be applied to the wooden framework. The netting for the roof of the cage will be added next year, as most of the fruit growing within the cage has now been picked and frozen or sold at last weekends car boot sale I attended. I am currently covering the ground of the cage with weed prevention fabric (where my strawberries will be moved to and planted). Stronger fabric will be used for paths between the planting areas or "strips", until the full area of ground is covered , except under the currant bushes.

More Gooseberries (Mid July 14)
  For some time now I have been considering removing the wooden edging surrounding most of my vegetable beds on both plots. After the fruit cage was built I began to remove some of the grass paths, along with the wooden edging, running between many of the beds. No easy task during the hot or muggy weather of late. Several paths have now been removed and the turf stacked adjacent to one of my compost heaps to break down ready for re-use as soil. Recently, watering of the plots has mainly been carried out during evenings as the sun was going down, to avoid rapid evaporation during the mornings or afternoons. I am currently constructing a metal cage (box on legs), which, when completed will stand on the bottom of the drainage ditch, with a submersible pump inside the box. The whole contraption is being made from part of the framework of an old greenhouse and the leftover pieces of chicken wire from the fruit cage project. I just hope I've measured the depth of the mud in the bottom of the drainage ditch correctly, at 2 feet 6 inches or just short of a meter, otherwise the project is sunk.
1st Pick of Carrots (July 14)
Harvesting has been fairly regular lately, with a good crop of marrows, lettuce in abundance (and strangely left alone by the armies of slugs and snails), beetroot,  some excellent carrots, runner and french beans are just coming into their own. Most of my peas have been picked and along with currants and gooseberries are already stored in my freezer. My courgettes and main crop potatoes should be ready for harvesting this coming week, with a while to wait for cucumbers and squashes which are slow in developing at the moment. What to sow next week is the next puzzle.

O.K. Lets Get This Years Deformed Carrots Out of the Way

Fruit Cage N1 Plot
Fruit Cage Finished Ground Cover Going In (July 14)
Gardeners Delight (July 14)
Asparagus Picking Up At Last (July 14)

Grapes in Abundance (July 14)
The End of Another Day (July 14)

There's always tomorrow!!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Gimme A Correct Weather Forecast Here Please

With rain forecast for last Friday, part of yesterday and again for today it was no surprise to find myself down my plots, enjoying hot sunny weather with an intermittent cooling breeze. Well at least MY crystal ball was still working correctly the last time I consulted it. At present the unproductive rain clouds have passed overhead leaving a clear blue evening sky, so I assume temperatures will drop considerably overnight with more hot weather again tomorrow. Just finished watering most of my plants using water from the drainage ditch at the southern end of my plots, about an hour ago, with thanks to the crystal ball.

Fruit Cage Building
Fruit Cage Under Construction N1 Plot 4/July/14
  A busy week yet again down the plots, with the construction of a fruit cage on N1 Plot being the main center of attention. My intention is to protect the currant bushes growing in one of the beds, mainly from birds taking the fruit. The strawberry plants from the adjacent bed will be lifted and re-planting into the southern (lower) end of the same bed, inside the cage alongside the currant bushes. As I already had a few re-cycled fencing posts I decided to purchase half a dozen more, 4 corner posts are now in place with 1 post positioned midway between each corner post. The posts have been sunk into the ground and held in position by packing them in with stones and clay to avoid the use of concrete or meta post supports. 2" X 2" wooden battens are connected to each post at a height of 7 feet (just over 2 meters) above ground level. The total area being covered in will be about 288 square feet or approximately 30 square meters, that's as far as my maths goes. Chicken wire is being attached to form the "walls" of the cage with the usual nylon type netting being used to form the roof.

Poly Tunnel Left From Door 4 July 14
Poly Tunnel Right From Door 4 July 14

Fruit picking has been one of the priorities this weekend with enough red and white currants and gooseberries picked and already in the freezer. The black currants require a few more days to ripen fully before they are picked. The remaining currants and gooseberries will be picked within the next few days and prepped for selling. I lifted a few carrots today which were of good quality, size and flavour. With 9 fifteen feet (5 meters) rows of garden peas growing on N2 Plot, several picks of peas have taken place during the past week. I thinned out my turnips (Purple top milan) today, cooking a few of the baby turnips (thinnings) along with the carrots for my tea. More sowing has been done with dwarf french beans and a second sowing of runner beans completed on N1 Plot. 63 leek plants have been planted out during the past 2 days on N2 Plot where the 4 small beds (now 1 large bed still being cultivated) is situated. After 5 earlier sowings of spring onions failed to germinate, 2 further sowings are now growing well, one row in my poly tunnel and one alongside my asparagus on N1 Plot. The sweetcorn plants on N2 Plot are enjoying the recent spell of hot weather, with many of them bearing up to 5 good sized cobs already. I sow the same variety (lark F1) each year and generally speaking each plant usually produces 2 cobs at most.
Frog Weighing In At Under A Pound 4 July 14

Another Pollinator 4 July 14

Leek Seed Collecting
Collecting Last Years Leek Seeds

Leek Soup A.K.A. Nitrogen Feed 4 July 14

A Nice Show of Lettuce 4 July 14

Marrows Looking Good 4 July 14
A Single Poppy 4 July 14

First Few Carrots This Year 6 July 14
Behind the Sheds
It's A Mess Behind My Sheds 4 July 14
Leeks Planted Out 6 July 14

 If you want a larger image click on the picture.

 There's Always Tomorrow!!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Its Busy Lately!!

Gooseberries & Cherries
First Pick of Gooseberries & a Few Cherries (29/June/14)
Raspberries & Strawberries
First Pick of Raspberries & a Few Strawberries (29/June/14)
First Pick of Runner Beans (29/June/14)
Garden Friend Dragonfly Amazing Colour You May Have to Enlarge This Shot (29/June/14)
Another Garden Friend Hedgehog (29/June/14)

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Rooko's July Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. When you have finished boiling your veggies for a meal, use the water they have been boiled in (after it has cooled down) to water your potted plants with.

2. If you have a compost heap don't forget to turn it. The heap should be kept moist but not saturated with water. If the heap smells sweet then it is decomposing correctly.

3. Have you ordered your Autumn planting bulbs yet? It'll be Autumn before you know it.

4. Use a high in potash liquid feed each time you water your tomatoes.

5. Ventilate your greenhouse or poly tunnel during hot spells of weather. Leave the doors open if necessary and remember some plants and vegetables are pollinated by insects overnight.

6. If you have an over abundance of fruit on your fruit trees, thin some out to prevent branches snapping due to too much weight bearing.

7. Wooden structures such as fences should be painted when the wood is dry. Use a good preservative that soaks into the woodwork as well as looking nice on the surface.

8. When thinning out and re-planting or planting out vegetables and other plants, ensure they are watered frequently until they become established.

9. A recent trick I have tried when planting out my cabbages from pots is: leave the plastic collars (made from soft drinks bottles) around the stems of the plants permanently. Earth up around the collars once the plants have established. When later hoeing is done around the plants you are less likely to chop the stems accidentally.

1. Sow French Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage Spring Cabbage, Chicory, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish.
1. Watering is usually a major task during July.
2. Mulching may help to retain water in the soil but be on the lookout for slugs and other pests.
3. Keep weeds at bay with more hoeing.
4. Feed tomatoes and Onions.
5. Check Brassicas for caterpillars/eggs.
6. Water brassicas with a salt & water mix to keep caterpillars off them

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