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Should've Gone To Specsavers

Apart from 2 short posts recently its been almost 3 weeks since I've had time to sit down and reflect on happenings down my plots. The time has passed unnoticed, with a busy schedule of d.i.y., re-designing some areas of N2 Plot, harvesting and more seed sowing taking place. The main time consuming work has been harvesting currants. The hot weather up until last Tuesday has meant harvesting was best done on an evening to avoid continual standing in strong sunlight. The vast amount of currants ripening, especially Red currants has taken approximately 2 hours per evening for the last couple of weeks to harvest, with still more to pick in the coming week or so. To save myself time I have stopped weighing and recording the amount of fruit gathered. After a loud and angry thunder storm in the early hours of last Tuesday and some further rain later that morning the weather has cooled here slightly since, with more rain showers yesterday and today. Although the rainfall has only penetrated the soil a couple of inches, most plants are now refreshed, if not fully recovered from the last month or so's hot dry weather. By Tuesday midday the sun was back and it didn't take long for the soil to dry. I decided to clear the remaining Gooseberries from N1 Plot and set about stripping down the 4 bushes of their berries. I had already harvested several punnets of Gooseberries a couple of weeks ago but decided to pick the remaining berries, mainly due to the fact that one of the bushes was suffering from stress due to lack of rainwater.  I don't normally wear gardening gloves down the plots or in my garden, maybe on this occasion I should have done so. It's almost impossible to pick Gooseberries without getting a few scratches from the thorns. By late afternoon I had stripped the bushes and cleared out various weeds and foliage from underneath them, working around the Strawberry plants growing in their shade. I had several scratches and cuts from the gooseberry thorns, on my hands and arms but nothing serious I thought. An hour or so later my arms became unbelievably itchy and irritating and my left hand and forearm was swollen up like a balloon. It was only then that I noticed 2 fang marks on one of my fingers which I decided was a spider or other insect bite. Later in the week I was informed it was an Adder bite. I didn't see that coming, should have gone to Specsavers. Well it's o.k. now and it seems it was a glancing blow rather than a full on bite. I was told yesterday, that a previous allotment holder had caught 2 adders on his plot a few years ago and released them into the drainage ditch which runs past my plots, well at least that adds up.
Frog in Tank
Frog In My Water Tank (He Was Rescued)
The remainder of the rainwater guttering was fixed into place on the drainage ditch side of my shed on Monday, just in time for Tuesdays thunder storm. With 2 more water butts installed, taking water from the said guttering, I now have 7 butts installed around the shed. I think they will come in handy in future, if the recent dry weather is the same again next year, or indeed later this year. The remaining soil dumped on top of the drainage ditch, from N2 Plot during last Winter, has been removed, cleared of Dandelion roots and other weeds and applied to the raised beds at the lower end of N2 Plot. At the moment I am in the process of building a low wooden fence along the area where the soil was, to keep back the vegetation under the hedgerow. As my regular readers will know I recently moved my poly tunnel to its current position where an old compost heap used to exist. I decided that the original door on the tunnel, consisting of a flap and 2 zippers was a nuisance to open and close, having to bend down to completely close the zippers didn't do any favours for my arthritis. On Wednesday I constructed a wooden outer frame and door frame which, hopefully, will be fitted to the tunnel tomorrow. Funny what you can achieve with an old bed frame, wooden mantle shelf, some pallet offcuts and some battens left over from my recent shed repair, oh and the screws and metal braces used were also re-cycled.

Poly Tunnel Door
Replacement Door For The Poly Tunnel Made From All Re-cycled Materials 24/7/13
Thursday was more relaxing with one of my favourite jobs of seed sowing. Although my successional sowing has been hit and miss this season, I've decided it has to be a priority for next. Anyway I raked over the 2 larger raised beds on N2 Plot, leveling off the soil and removing small stones and some other bits of debris. One bed was sown with Carrots (Autumn King) and the other bed was sown with Radish, Spring onions, Beetroot and Cauliflower seed. O.K. so I know its probably the wrong time of year to sow Caulis, but they are in a fertile bed, sheltered and if they germinate will be easy to cover for protection. On completion of the seed sowing it was more fruit picking time, by the time I had harvested 2 large punnets of Black currants it was time for home and a cuppa.
Raised Beds Seeds Sown
Carrots Sown Into Raised Bed At The Back. The Bed To The Left Has Radish Spring Onions Beetroot And Cauliflower Sown Into It 25/7/13
 One of my favourite veggies with some meals is Swede but I don't use much Beetroot. As both crops were ready for harvesting and with a glut of currants and a lot of Rhubarb, I decided to take some of the veg to a car boot sale. Things were organized by late on Saturday evening and a successful morning was had at the sale this morning with the Rhubarb selling extremely quickly along with lots of Black currants. This afternoon  I spent a couple of hours harvesting some more Red currants for the freezer. Jam making will have to wait for a while, probably when the evenings start to become darker earlier or it rains again.

Red currants
Red Currants Just One Branch Worth
White currants
White Currants
Black Currants
Black Currants Last to Ripen
Gooseberries & Black Currant
Gooseberries & Black Currants for Boot Sale 27/7/13
Red currants
Red Currants Picked Today 28/7/13
First Carrots
First Bunch of Carrots (From the Barrels on N1 Plot 27/7/13)
Beetroot 27/7/13
First Batch of Beetroot 27/7/13
Swedes 27/7/13
First Batch of Swedes 27/7/13
Rhubarb 27/7/13
Rhubarb Ready for Car Boot Sale 27/7/13
Drainage Ditch Bank Soil Removal
Drainage Ditch Bank Soil Cleared Back Near the Shed
Blackberies Ripening
Blackberries Beginning to Ripen N1 Plot
Common Frog (Male)
Another Frog on Dry Ground This Time
Butterfly on Waterbutt
I Didn't Drink All That Water, Honest
Only 1 Plum
The 1 and Only Plum
Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash Taking Over the Area 26/7/13
Apples N1 Plot
Some Nice Looking Apples 26/7/13
Grapes Developing
Grapes Developing 26/7/13
Watermelon Developing 26/7/13
Pak Choi
Pak Choi Falling into the Cracked Earth 26/7/13

There's Always Tomorrow!!



  1. Some great harvests there Rooko - it takes an age to pick currants doesn't it - what a messy job as well - it's been a great year for them this year - last year I didn't have any. Looks like you are still finding plenty of jobs to keep you busy. Hope you swelling has gone down now - fancy it being a snake bite - I shall be treading a bit more warily from now on.

    1. Hi Elaine, With this years bumper harvest its taking an age to harvest the currants. Trouble with the jobs is several half finished ones at once and new ideas every 5 minutes. The hand is better now thanks.

  2. Currants do take ages to pick - no wonder they are expensive. I pick off strands of redcurrants and then strip them later at home sitting on the patio in the shade. It's blackcurrants hat are most time consuming.

    Funny that you didn't feel the adder bite - maybe thought it was the gooseberry fighting back. I thin out the gooseberry branches to give more room for picking hands.

    1. Hi Sue, I've been using the same method as you to pick Red currants lately and yes the Blacks take longer to process. I felt quite a few sharp pricks from the Gooseberry thorns whilst stripping the plants down and I really do need some new spectacles. I pruned the bushes last year but some of the lower branches are still a problem. I found 2 dead Blackbird chicks recently in the vicinity of the Gooseberry bushes, 1 on the path alongside them and 1 under the currant bushes next to them. Just wondering if the snake got them as they didn't have any visible injuries such as a cat would inflict and they had been foraging underneath the bushes recently.

    2. Wouldn't the snake have just eaten the birds? I'm not sure how large a prey an adder can swallow.

    3. Adders will eat small birds (nestlings) but I think the 2 I mentioned would have been too large. Adders will also eat frogs, lizards and large insects too.

  3. Brilliant harvest. Drastic action needed to get a crop like yours ... throwing these bushes out and buying new ones might help! Careful of those adders - calculating little blighters .... sorry! :)

    1. Fangs for the comment Patricia, the currant harvest was worthwhile despite the danger. I've been pretty wary down the plot since.


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