Sunday, 23 May 2010

What a difference a week makes!

After the trauma of the hard frost, my potatoes have now recovered well - you can see the dead brown leaves atop the nice new foliage. I reckon they're a week behind where they were before the frost. Growth this week has been extraordinary across the vegetable plot, as we suddenly got good temperatures.
The strawberries are now flowering - a few weeks ago they were just a scattering of leaves on the ground, now they're growing bigger by the day. Looks like a good crop again.
These broad beans have doubled in size this week, undeterred by the pea/bean weevil which has been taking bites out of them. This week I've spent most of my gardening time weeding, but as you can see, didn't get as far as the broad beans! Instead I've been weeding the spinach and chard bed now the seeds have all germinated.
And the peas are going crazy, growing by 3-4 centimetres every day. One of my neighbours has copied my stringing technique - she saw it from over the wall and so asked to have a look. Like me, she hates pea netting and wanted something different, so this will be a good trial as she doesn't grow tall peas like me.
Behind those peas, the second sowing is coming through nicely now, though with frilly leaves thanks to those pesky weevils. The only problem we have now is the lack of rain - normally our climate is damp and our soils full of clay. But this winter and spring we have had lower rainfall than usual, and none for a couple of weeks now. This is causing problems for gardeners and farmers, with insufficient grass growth in the fields for the animals. So they're having to supplement the feed with hay or root vegetables (for the sheep).
So yesterday, for the first time in years, we had to water the fruit trees as they were looking a little sad - most of my apple trees are extremely dwarfing and so don't have the root system to withstand prolonged dryness. This picture is of the Blenheim Orange, which is actually a larger tree - I was pleased to see it flowering, at the same time as my new Spartan tree, which I bought earlier this year as a companion pollinator. The Blenheim Orange has not yet produced any fruit, despite being 6 years old, so I'm crossing fingers that this will be my lucky year...
Another job I did yesterday morning before the sun got too hot was plant out these beetroot. You're supposed to plant beetroot directly in the soil, not transplant, but in the normally damp northwest you can lose a lot if the weather turns - I lost my whole sowing last year. So this year I decided to hedge my bets and start them in the shed. I planted the seed individually, 4 or 5 to each pot, then yesterday tipped the whole lot out and carefully separated them, with compost attached to the roots. Where two were growing together, I planted them together so as not to upset them. I have done this before with success, but never a whole planting like this, so this is another one for crossed fingers!
While it will be some time before we get serious crops, we have been able to start picking the radish (Rudoph) - delicious!
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