Saturday, 14 July 2012

What is eating my potato flowers?

Anyone have any ideas? I have never ever seen potato flowers disappear like this before?

What a challenging year this is proving to be on the allotment! The rain continues - unrelenting. In the past week we have had thunder and lightning, hail stones and rain the like of which I have never seen before.
And the plants struggle with so much wet and the attacks from slugs and snails which are delighting in the conditions.
Some things have been good - strawberries were amazing albeit two weeks late in coming - but they are now over. The new potatoes are tasty and abundant and the perpetual spinach and swiss chard are keeping me in healthy greens!
The broad beans need another week probably to swell up but the crop doesn't look too bad, as long as the pigeons stay away. And the various brassicas, totally protected by netting from the unwelcome attention of birds and butterflies, are growing well.

As soon as the ground dries a little (if it ever does?) I shall tidy up the strawberry bed, digging out the oldest row and planting a new row from healthy looking runners, on a three year rotation plan. Then I shall put plenty of manure down between the rows, to feed them and also to keep weeds at bay  - then I can forget about them for another year.
I also intend this year to sow some broad beans where the potatoes are being cleared, hoping for an early spring harvest next year. I've never done this before but others do with seemingly good results. And I shall sow some more spinach and swiss chard to keep the supply to the kitchen going.
My main hope now is for a late summer burst of warmth and sunshine to give the poor courgettes, pumpkins, squash, etc a chance to grow and mature - otherwise I shall be missing out on beautiful squashes to store over winter for lovely roast vegetables.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Flaming June. What a month it was! Everyone is saying the same thing; plants on the allotment are just sitting there, doing nothing, especially the runner and french beans, and the courgettes, pumpkins etc, that need sunshine and warmth to really get going. And they hate the wind. It has battered all the young plants relentlessly for weeks and they simply hate it.
Nonetheless, not all things have been bad. I am still picking and enjoying spinach and swiss chard, carried over from the winter and last year's sowings. They are tending to bolt, but even the flower heads can be chopped up and steamed with the rest of the leaves. I must sow some more soon to carry over to next year, as surely the existing plants will give up soon and end up on the compost heap.
And talking of compost, I have just emptied one bin and used the contents to top dress the asparagus bed.
And the strawberries have been amazing. They loved all the rain to swell the fruit, and then a week or two of warmth came just at the right moment to ripen them. Yes they have been very late, but for the last ten days I have been picking up to 6 pounds every day!! And that is after the birds and mice have had their share and in spite of the many that have gone moldy on the plant.

And in case any of my readers wonder why I have been silent for a while, it is because I have had my head down getting my next book through the copy editing and proof stages. The cover is now designed and it is all very exciting! But with the allotment and garden to look after as well, there are simply not enough hours in the day to keep blogging as well. Mea culpa.