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A.W.O.L.

Although the current overcast, grim looking, leaden sky and the first heavy downpour of rain for some time seems to be clearing somewhat, a visit to my plots is off for today. Although the rain is very welcome after several weeks of mainly dry weather the continual, cold north westerly wind isn't. So what's missing from the allotments recently, I thought?

1. Slugs and snails, a distinct lack of them on my plots for most of the year so far which is good news for the developing seedlings and plants. The topsoil has remained dry for some time now due to lack of rainwater, keeping these beasties at bay and in their hiding places. I expect they will be making an appearance shortly, after the rain today.

2. Wood pigeons, the normal (for our allotments anyway), batch of them, which nest yearly in the trees close to my plots seem to have moved away this year. This appears to be due to the fact that a pair of Jackdaws have built their nest in the trees normally used by the pigeons, effectively scaring the Wood pigeons away. Well done to the Jackdaws.

3. Rainwater has been in short supply for a while now with about 50% of my water butts and tanks needing to be replenished already this year. Although more rain is needed the vegetable beds are still quite damp below the first few inches of topsoil. Many pleasant, warm sunny days recently have been welcomed, despite the temperatures not being hot, long enough to completely dry the soil out to any considerable depth.

4. Greenfly and Black fly, several of my fellow plot holders are already complaining about black fly infesting their veggies. Although I have seen a few on my overwintered broad beans, not enough to even bother spraying them off.

5. Weeds seem to have gone A.W.O.L. this year too with very few infesting my plots, hurray. The main ones to be seen have been chickweed, creeping veronica and thistles. I think the fact that lots of frosts earlier this year stopped or slowed down the initial germination of many weeds this season.

6. The frog population which usually breeds in and around the drainage ditch, situated on the lower reaches of my plots, seems to be depleted compared to last year, with very few sightings of tadpoles or frogs.

7. Peat based composts are becoming more difficult to obtain. Although I appreciate the conservation aspect of peat bogs I think that many "substitute" composts are just an excuse to add other "rubbish" to them. I am currently making my own compost from leaf mould etc. At the end of the day, on a larger scale, if seedlings germinate less well, using none peat based composts, where are future food crops and oxygen supplies going to come from? Even trees begin as seedlings, (not forgetting cuttings, layering etc).

This season I have streamlined the variety of veggies being sown which has cut down my workload somewhat and at present most of my beds are fully sown and planted out. No 4 bed which is this seasons brassicas bed is the last one to be completed. The successional sowing which was hit and miss last season is faring reasonably well so far this year, with, in particular spring onions, lettuce, onions and carrots into their second and third stages of development. Various types of beans have been planted/sown on a variety of dates so that they don't all fruit at the same time, causing a glut. The last 16 of my runner bean plants were planted out yesterday, (prior to the forecast rain today), with 42 more sown from seed earlier, approximately a dozen are just showing through the soil on the opposite side of the rank.

 2 or 3 changes to my allotment plan for this year, were to plant out leeks, in the L-shaped bed alongside the runner beans, switching the planned planting of marrows, squashes and pumpkins to No 5 bed, from the lower end of  the L-shaped bed, into less used soil, which, hopefully contains more nutrients for the benefit of these heavy feeders.  Oriental greens have been sown into the raised bed area instead of into the L-shaped bed where the leeks are now residing.

Several strawberries are currently ripe enough for picking with what looks like a good crop developing close behind, inside the fruit cage. The roof of the fruit cage was covered, a few weeks ago with some old netting which I reverted to using, as apposed to running lengths of string across the top, a method which was becoming too time consuming after several attempts at completing this method. Anyway no problems so far this season with birds taking the fruit or nipping out the fruit buds.

Runner bean planting
1st 6 Runner Beans Planted Out Last Monday (29/5/15)
Water the bean plants well
Water The Pots/Trays Thoroughly Before Planting Allow To Soak In (29/5/15)
Planting Runner beans method
Dig Holes Loosen Soil @ Base of Hole Add Water Allow to Soak In (29/5/15)
Planting Runner beans method
Remove Plants From Their Pots. Separate Plants If Necessary (29/5/15)

Planting Runner beans method
Place Plants Into Holes & Firm In Cover Roots with Loose Soil Part Way Up Stem Don't Water In Unless The Weather/Ground Is Very Dry/Hot (29/5/15)  


1st Strawberries
The 1st Nice Pair (29/5/15)


Carrots Earthed Up Roots Bed Weeded
Roots Bed Weeded/Hoed Carrots Earthed Up Before The Rain (29/5/15)
They'll Be Out In Force After the Rain (29/5/15)

Onions Drying
Overwintered Onions Drying Out (29/5/15)

Comments

  1. I share your views on compost! The multi-purpose stuff I buy has deteriorated very markedly over the last few years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know where all the snails are, they've all moved to Berkshire!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect they will be after that massive cabbage you are holding.

      Delete
  3. I agree with you and Mark compost is totally unreliable. No lack of wood pigeons on our plot - they have decimated the cherry tree and slugs have hoovered up outr emergent carrot seedlings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't gardening fun, waging one battle after another. Flea beetle is the main problem on my plots again, affecting the swedes and turnips. They must be getting well fed as I've seen some larger than normal specimens this year. They are usually difficult to see.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Mark, Yes it seems to be getting worse year on year. Lack of nutrients and plenty of coir etc in the "mixed" stuff, more weeds appearing too!

    ReplyDelete

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