The plot is well and truly full, all beds are now taken, and it’s always my aim to do this by the longest day (21st June) so we were well ahead doing this by last Sunday (15th). I’m going to be away over the next couple of weekends, and then we’re into July, so it was our last chance really.
I had the first sweetpea flower a week or so ago, and by Sunday there were 3, so there’s hopefully enough for a small bunch by now, I must pop down in the morning to check. The variety is called Blueberry Mixed, sown back in early spring, and they’ve grown really well so far. I’m too lazy to pinch out side shoots to grow them cordon style, I just let them bush and do my best to keep cutting them and tying them in.
The sweetpeas are a beautiful fragrant flower to have in the house, but unfortunately they don’t last very long, unlike the sweet williams which seem to last for ages so long as you keep them topped up with water. These have been a big success this year. I offered a bunch to one neighbour who declared he hadn’t taken flowers home to his wife in all their years of marriage. I’m not sure how long that is, but he’s 78! So I insisted he take some home to her, and I hope she appreciated them, and didn’t question what he’d done wrong! And when I offered some to my other neighbour, he told me he was off to visit his dad in hospital that afternoon and he loves sweet williams, so he’d gladly take some for him. That made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I admit it, I’m just a wannabe florist. Giving someone your spare veg, or jars of chutney are one thing, but there’s nothing like randomly giving someone a bunch of flowers. An allotment allows you to do all of this and more.
So I decided enough was enough with the disastrous broad beans. I did manage to harvest a handful of them, all very small, but the plants had suffered on every possible front. Attacked by slugs while young, meant some didn’t even get off the starting blocks. The spindly ones I bought cheap had obviously suffered from root restriction and never recovered. Most of those that had survived since autumn, got knocked over by the wind, and were growing at an awkward angle. Then they got attacked by blackfly and ants decided to take advantage of this and used the beans as mini storage bays for collecting the aphids for their honeydew, as ants are prone to do (see above).
And if all of that wasn’t enough, they then caught rust from the garlic. Worse than an episode of Eastenders. It was time to put an end to all this misery.
So the bed was stripped, de-weeded, a bag of manure added, and planted up with 2 small butternut squash plants that I bought on the local market, along with some lettuce (which has since been cloched) to harvest before the squashes take over. I would normally have pretty big squash plants by now, so I’m not sure whether they’ll have enough time to grow, fruit and ripen before the nights start drawing back in, but it’s worth a shot. The nasturtiums have been completely unaffected by the broad beans woes, and are happily spreading out in the sunshine, so they can stay and mingle sociably with the squashes.
As for the rest of the plot, it’s all looking pretty good. Dwarf beans and potatoes here.
Climbing speckled birds egg beans (they’re similar to borlotti) and red lettuces growing in between. I’m determined the slugs will not deter me from growing lettuce! A mulch of shredded wood from the garden is helping deter them I think.
My posh Romanesque broccoli is growing well under cover.
I wasn’t planning to grow cucumbers again this year (too much of a glut last year) but then I couldn’t resist buying a couple of these lemon cucumbers. They look more like mini melons – small, round, yellow cucumbers. It doesn’t say they taste of lemon which is a bit disappointing, I think it just refers to the colour. It’s a new one anyway, and always nice to try at least one new plant. They’ve been given some manure for a kick start too.
And finally John did a heroic job of planting out the leeks. He reckoned there were about 90ish, 5 and a half rows anyway. We’ve decided that we need to start eating them a bit earlier while they’re still babyish, or else we’ll never get through them all.
I’m still harvesting strawberries and flowers, but not a lot else just now. I’m eagerly anticipating my first lifting of potatoes, the first beetroot and the first french beans. It’s funny, you would never get excited about fruit or vegetables from the supermarket (maybe some people do) but when you’ve grown your own, and you have to wait for something to be in season, just perfectly ready for picking or lifting, the anticipation is like the lead up to Chistmas or a holiday. Boring once you’ve had your fill of it, but the lead-up is always the most exciting part. Even after 6 years of doing it.
Hopefully it still will be for many years to come.