Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spring Bank Holiday weekend

It was, largely, a dry, extremely windy and rather chilly weekend. The weather boys and girls had been promising rain "tomorrow" but as each tomorrow turned into today - the promised rain remained at tomorrow. It was nice to have a dry weekend, but we did need the rain.

Could have done without the wind as well. I tried to pot on my tomato seedlings, but had to give up. Everything kept trying to blow away! I also haven't sowed my flower seeds. Another day! The Builder and I have, however, "fenced" the gooseberry bushes in the same way that the raspberries are fenced. Will keep the longer branches off the path.

I have been harvesting, chopping and freezing mint. I have a huge abundance of mint up by the pond - and never store it. Then I buy it in expensive sprigs over the winter! I'm going to freeeze more. And I'm planning to do some oregano and marjoram as well. Plus, we have been harvesting our rhubarb glut. I have chutney in the larder and rhubarb in the freezer, plus crumbles and pies, also in the freezer.

The beans, which were accidentally exposed to frost last weekend, suffered horribly from it. But I think they're going to survive. They all have green growing tips. One or two lost their central ones but are sprouting side tips. Fingers crossed! Lesson to be learned. DO NOT plant out tender things in May, no matter how clement the weather has been! All remain in the propagating tent for the time being. Oh - and I have five, perhaps six sweet potato plants ready to go to the allotment. I think I can probably risk planting them out. There is little chance they'll be hit by frost in the greenhouse. And there shouldn't be any proper frosts now. (Having said that, I've had the heating on at home today!)

The Builder has finished digging over the third potato bed. I've planted the remaining seed potatoes there. It's a mish mash of pink fir apples, Aaran Victory, a couple of Lady Balfours and some that were last years crop that we never got around to eating. In the pea bed, I've thickly sown two rows of Feltham First. They're an autumn or very, very early spring planting variety that I found at the bottom of my seed tin. I'm not intending to grow very early varieties in the furute - I don't think you really gain anything. My mid-spring sowings of peas and broad beans are at least as advanced as the autumn sowings and the germination rates were twice as good. But I figured I might as well use the peas and see what happens. Plus, I've put in a couple of rows of Hurst Green Shaft. I think there is probably room for three more rows. Must get some more seed peas!

For the first time since we got the allotment, we've had to water! Obviously, we've been watering the greenhouses, but we didn't water outside last year at all. I grant you that last year was fairly wet throughout the summer - and that we didn't grow anything the year before because we didn't get it till fairly late and it was somewhat overgrown. I would expect to have to water outside most years. But in May? The last couple of weeks have been strangely dry! We seem to have been living under a huge, invisible umbrella. Everyywhere else in the country has been getting more or less the usual amount of rain!

It started raining on Monday evening and has been drizzly, misty and damp since. At least the wind has dropped. And the small water butts, depleted both at home and on the allotment (Can't get to the large ones - the one at home is hidden in a huge swath of long grass and the one on the allotment has its tap guarded by a vigorous crop of stinging nettles!) are now filling up nicely again.

The pond is no longer the colour of tinned pea and ham soup. It's kind of a milky grey-green now. I don't know what else to do to clear it, short of adding industrial quantities of pond clearing chemicals which doesn't seem entirely desirable. The Builder and I are pondering the possibility of catching all the fish (!!), putting them in one of the water butts and emptying the pond, fixing the leak at the back and refilling it. After the frogs have gone!
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