Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not as bad as I feared

First visit to the plot this afternoon, after an absence of two and a half weeks in which it's rained quite a bit. You'll understand my trepidation. I was expecting to have to scythe my way in, grass shoulder high, tigers in the undergrowth; that sort of thing. Not a bit of it. The worst I could say is that it looked a bit unkempt. Wilma often says the same of me.

An hour with the strimmer soon saw it looking positively dapper. And nothing seems to have died or gone AWOL. Well, apart from the cherries. This was the first year in which I was expecting some and there were certainly some, quite a lot in fact, on the tree when I went on hols. Today, just a single solitary one clinging grimly on. At least I think it was clinging grimly on; it's a bit hard to tell with cherries, notoriously tight-lipped emotionally they don't give a lot away. What could be the cause? We've had a lot of high winds, apparently. Perhaps they just blowed away; the tree was swaying a lot. Or could it be birds/squirrels? Hmm, possibly, but the cherries were a long way off ripe. Either way I take two lessons from this (shrugs philosophically) - stake the tree so it don't sway about so much (should have done this already; Doh!), and net it to keep thieving blighters off (Ditto, Doh!).

The plums and sloes are holding up well on their trees, the salads are coming on well, Fort Brassica is intact and the contents are growing and the Blackberries, although listing heavily to port following the strong winds, are coming on nicely.

But I always hold the best till last (come on Wilbury, get on with it, you're such a tease).


Aren't they just yummy? I'm really pleased with them. They've had no protection and hardly any of them have any bird or slug damage. They're Marshmello and I can assure you they taste just as good as they look.

Fort Vancouver gardens

No, we haven't run off in despair at the British weather. In fact we haven't been experiencing British weather at all. We've been on hols in Oregon. But their weather was mostly the same as ours! In some places it was decidedly worse. At Crater Lake we had snow; quite a bit of snow in fact.

But at Fort Vancouver, just outside Portland, Oregon, we had great weather.

Fort Vancouver is a [pretty good] reconstruction of the original Hudson Bay Company fort which stood on this site from the 1820s. I've been to it several times because it is a key site in the David Douglas story but Wilma Wilbury had never been.

Just outside the fort is a small facsimile of the gardens which were once there to feed the fort's inhabitants and the small army of labourers & native Americans based in the village which grew up around the fort.

The gardens are clearly only a fraction of their original size but I was pleased to see them growing Scotch Kale, peas

and spuds.

Meanwhile, nearer home, I haven't been to the allotment since we got back. But the jet lag is nearly gone now and it isn't raining much at present so I guess I must steel myself. More on the full horror of a fortnight's neglected allotment in due course.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Not so Sloe after all

Remember my post last Autumn about the miserly quantity of Sloes the Blackthorn bush managed to produce? Well, if these

manage to stay on the tree we might be doing a bit better this year, and there are lots more all over it. Sloe Gin in prospect already, and it's only May! Yummy!! Plum is looking pretty good too, provided they stay on.

And in another full-on bash yesterday, I managed to transplant:
  • Lettuce - Green Salad Bowl
  • Lettuce - Lollo Rosso
  • Lettuce - Romaine (anybody would think we liked lettuce; well, it is a mild soporific!)
  • Pak Choi
  • Sorrel (one of this year's finds; it's got a really sharp vinegary taste. But then with a name like Rumex acetosella it would, wouldn't it? The clue is in the acetic acid bit)
  • Rocket
  • Mizuna
  • Stonehead Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Climbing French
  • Mangetout peas
  • Courgettes

In response to the hoots of derision I got last year for planting 10 courgettes, I've only planted 4 this year. Well, OK, 10 was perhaps a bit excessive! But I've got another 4 in reserve so may yet go ape on ratatouille.

I've had to build some more forts around the beans

and peas

and everything in the (now full) nursery bed

is protected too. I hate doing this but the alternative is lose everything to pigeons. Anybody got a catapult?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Fort Brassica.....

.....has been rebuilt.

It's the only way to keep thieving pigeons off my cabbages. It's actually, I think, really good design. The blue hoops are external water pipe from Wickes, sold in 20m rolls and cut to length with a handsaw. The netting is pegged down at the sides, slid up the hoops to meet in the middle and joined with clothes pegs at the top. For access, just remove the clothes pegs and the netting slides smoothly down to the ground. It's by far the easiest way of using netting that I've ever worked with (ordinarily, I hate using netting!).

They, the pigeons, that is, have also been known to attack sweet peas. So here's Fort Sweet Pea,

which you'll notice has the virtue of being vertically expandable as the sweet peas grow. Nothing if not innovative here you know.

And finally, for ye who doubt the purpose of nursery beds, here are the leeks nestling in the nursery bed for a week or two.

They're almost, but not quite, ready for transplanting. So why don't I just wait a bit and transplant them to their proper home? Ah well, you'll just have to wait and see.