Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Basil galore

The greenhouse is full of masses and masses of basil. The smell on a warm day is phenomenal. I am picking and using it by the bowlful: at supermarket or garden centre prices probably about £2 each time.
Whenever I have tried to grow it outside it has been devoured by slugs and snails, so I am delighted with this crop. It is almost making up for my dismal failure with coriander. Don't know what I am doing wrong there...But let's not dwell on that. Let's think instead about all that basil, and the tomatoes which are ripening just in time to go with it. Shame this isn't smell-a-vision.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

At last: sweet peas

It has been a long wait but at last the garden is full of the fragrance of sweet peas. Last night they smelt fabulous in the sultry evening air.
I know I need to keep picking them to encourage more flowers, but it is so warm that no one is spending any time inside. I think a vase full of them on the table in the garden is the best bet.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Abandoned but beautiful

Anyone on a waiting list for an allotment may wish to look away now.
This is the plot next to mine.
Believe it or not, a huge amount of work was done here up until around April. It was completely cleared and rotivated, and lots of planting was done.
Close up you can see that below the weeds there are neat, straight rows of beans, onions, potatoes and lots, lots more. Anyone hoping to acquire a plot take note: weeding is not a once a year activity. It is constant.
Technically this plot isn't abandoned: the plot-holders have just found it almost impossible to get any work done on it since the spring, given all the days lost to rain plus work and other family commitments. They are planning to return to it and start again in the autumn. But I think they have pretty much given up for the time being. I know the feeling and I sympathise: I have been close to it a few times myself.
In fact I'm just recovering from what I am starting to recognise as my "annual wobble". It seems to occur in early summer when the weeds just keep on coming but nothing is really ready to harvest, and it seems like bloody hard work. Today saw yet another trip to the lottie abandoned due to rain, and that's the last chance I will have as I am at work for the rest of the week.
Over the past week, though, I have harvested tates and the first of the beetroot and spring onion; and that has cured my doubts for now. Kohl rabi, coriander, rocket, leeks and more French beans have gone into the spaces vacated by the potatoes where the soil is beautiful. That's made it all seem much more worthwhile.
As for the plot next door, the poppies are beautiful but I just don't know whether my neighbours are going to attempt to harvest anything from beneath the weeds, and if so what they'll get. Otherwise all their hard work earlier in the year will have been for nothing.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Drunk in charge of a lawnmower

We have barely been able to walk on our grass for the past few weeks as it has been so wet: more of a swamp than a lawn.
But suddenly, after a whole 48 hours resembling that which we used to call "summer" the water table is back where it belongs i. e. lower than the turf, which was my cue to leap into action with the lawnmower. This, however, was late in a Sunday which we had spent on Spanish time: everything happening at it's own pace including a long, late, slow lunch with (possibly) slightly more wine than falls within Department of Health guidelines.
The electric cable tangle had to be seen to be believed. At one point I managed to get it simultaneously wrapped around a plant pot, the protruding edge of an uneven paving slab, a tree, and my right Fit Flop. The combination of a high voltage cable and vicious pyrocanthus thorns is also probably not to be recommended.
Thankfully both I and the National Grid emerged unscathed, but not before I managed to mow up a concealed dog poo.
You will understand, I'm sure, why I have not posted a photo with this update. Be thankful, dear reader, that you are not reading this in Smellyvision.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

I appear to have a new dog

Today I finally washed the dog. And properly. Two shampoos. No mercy shown to eyes, nose or mouth (although I was very gentle and careful). And no squeamishness - even the cling-ons and Intimate Areas got a jolly good scrub.
I was stung into action by a fellow dog-walker who greeted us saying "Blimey Caspar, that's the dirtiest I've ever seen you". Needless to say, her dog is black...
Now, however, he looks fabulous: the whitest, softest and fluffiest he has ever been. And totally pissed off - hence refusing to stand still for a photo. I want to show him to everyone who has shared my despair at his love of filth, mud and fox poo.
For now at least he is even banned from the garden.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Bloody dog

The bloody dog ate the first very nearly ripe raspberry in my garden today. Feel like I've been here before somehow......

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Good enough to eat

I'm growing broad beans in the garden rather than the allotment this year. That way it is easier to grab a couple of handfuls when they are just big enough. Last year I found that if a couple of days passed without getting to the lottie the pods grew into whoppers with that tough grey skin on the beans.
I have some in the ground and I'm also experimenting with a later sowing in pots to try and extend the season as we all enjoy these vegetables. I chose a Heritage variety, "Crimson Flowered". They are recommended for pots and containers and just look at their beautiful dusky pink pods. They have been in flower for quite a while now and the lower pods are starting to form. I'm hopeful of a reasonable crop, but even if the beans don't amount to much these have earned their place on my patio.
I'm now sitting in the sun for the first time in ages, about to pod some of the previous sowings of broad beans. I had almost forgotten what sun on my skin felt like. This is a reward for hard work at the lottie this morning. Ah...bliss

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Arghhh! Bird in the greenhouse!

For the third time this week a stupid bird got stuck in the greenhouse. I've got a bit of a bumper basil crop going on in there at the moment so the last thing I want is it covered in sparrow poo.
The bird is coming in through the autovent then failing to find its way out.
On Sunday Him Indoors sorted it out. On Monday I sent the dog in to chase it out, since I really don't do birds. I hoped that in his usual hyper terrier way he would create a commotion and get it moving, since at that point the bird had actually got itself wedged between some garlic that is propped up to dry in there, and the window. Unfortunately, the dozy hound just stood transfixed in the doorway, staring at it.
Today the in-laws discovered it first and chased it out. If they hadn't been there it could have been stuck all afternoon. Don't fancy our chances of making pesto with the after-effects of 4 hours of panicking sparrow, do you?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Please don't rot...

The garlic isn't looking too good. I gave up waiting for a warm dry day to harvest them and ended up lifting them in the rain last week. Since then they have been on slatted shelves in the garage, but the leaves are not drying out. I have already found three which are starting to rot.
I've got rid of those and shifted the rest into the greenhouse. Can't think what else to do.
Any tips anyone?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Productive at last

Youngest daughter helped me harvest the rest of the Rocket potatoes plus the Arran Pilot today. She immediately claimed them as hers and told everyone she grew them.
The soil they came out of is absolutely beautiful. No waterlogging at all and a fabulous texture. It is so much better than the soil at home - there's really no comparison. It reminded me why it is worth keeping the lottie even in tough spells like the past two months.
Later on I replanted with a row of kohl rabi seed and a row of French Beans. Naturally we had to eat Madam's potatoes for lunch along with pork, lots of roast garlic, and a fabulous salad of beetroot, spring onion, orange and baby broad beans.
Sugar snap peas made a gorgeous appetiser dipped in roast garlic mayo. Nearly everything homegrown.
Despite the rain the garden and lottie are productive at last.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Where to start...?

I think nearly every chance I have had to get to the plot in the last month has been rained off. Everything is growing fantastically but that includes the weeds.
I managed an hour and a half there today between the kids' swimming lesson and the first downpour. I got the red onions out and they look great. Did as much weeding as I could without compacting the soil, gathered some beetroot, strimmed the path and then started harvesting the tates. They're huge but I fear they are going to fall apart in the pan. Full of water. I lifted half a row of Rocket before the rain started. Just another four and a half rows to go!
It was a good amount of work for a short amount of time. But the weeds are still overwhelming. This shot is from the far end of the plot near the compost bins. There's a row of tates in there somewhere, honest ...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Still waiting for someone to "bring on summer"....

Monty Don pronounced at least two weeks ago that if garlic was showing signs of rust it was time to harvest it. I already knew mine was pretty much ready, but Monty's word was, as ever, my command. Trouble is, every chance I had to go to the lottie coincided with it pouring with rain. That's great for the spring sowings but hopeless for onions and garlic which need to be stored.
Today's visit followed that depressingly familiar pattern but I was passed the point of no return by the time it started raining. And here are a few of the Early Purple Wight Garlic which, along with Albigensian Wight and Picardy are now filling four shelves in my garage, waiting till they are ready to plait.
Yes, they are muddy. Yes, they came in wet. And yes, I will have to keep my fingers crossed they dry out and don't rot. But in the back of my car and in the garage too, it now smells like summer no matter what the weather throws at us.
Now what shall I cook to go with the odd bulb of garlic tonight...?

Lincolnshire Sky

Lincolnshire Sky