Saturday, 14 May 2011

It never rains but it pours...

After several weeks without any rain, this last week we've had all the April showers we missed last month, with no end in sight. The problem is the showers, while generally short, are frequent and sometimes very heavy, so you can't get an hour of good weather to get out in the garden.
My once empty water butt now has a few centimetres of rain in the bottom, but there's a long way to go! A couple of times this last week I got half way to the allotment and had to turn round, seeing the black clouds coming my way.
Still, it's just what the vegetables need - here are the potatoes recovering after being nipped by the frost. While the temperatures have dropped this week, the weeds don't seem to mind, and my once weed free potato bed is looking a bit scruffy now.
The peas and beans really needed this rain, though they are in one of the damper beds on the plot. The broad beans (left) are just starting to flower, while the peas are zooming up the supports and are now taller than the beans. Today I finally found a 45 minute gap between the showers to get the second sowing of peas in, a little later than I would have liked but between the drought and the monsoon it's been hard finding the right weather for planting.
This bed holds the garlic and salad crops. The lettuce is coming on well now, the radishes in the foreground are growing well too. We've had our first small lettuce picking this week, there's nothing like eating your own produce.
You can just see the carrot seedlings in here - actually there are two sowings of Early Nantes in this bed. The earlier one is at the back, the second sowing in the middle of the photos. They're being rather crowded out by the forget-me-not, which is epidemic in this bed, I can never get rid of it. It is a pretty flower, but one plant produces enough seed to cover several square metres, it seems. Fortunately it has a small root system, so when I eventually find a dry spell in which to weed this bed, it'll come out easily without damaging the carrots. As we suffer from carrot fly here, these seedlings are kept under a cloche full time. I will sow some more carrots outdoors later once the danger season is past.
I also made a trip to the garden centre this week. I bought these tomatoes, dwarf varieties which I can keep under a cloche. I don't have a greenhouse but our climate is too wet and chilly for outdoor tomatoes to produce well, plus we get blight in the rain. The other problem is that starting seedlings without special lights and heat results in poor quality plants which again take a long time to pick up. So I decided to cheat and buy some well-grown plants which have had the best start in life. We'll see how they do, it's a bit of an experiment. In the top left corner of the box is another experiment; a chilli plant, which I'm planning to keep on my bedroom windowsill, the warmest room in the house. One corner of the windowsill gets full sun for 6-7 hours a day, so I'm hoping that will be suitable for this plant.

So this week I'm hoping for a dry spell or two, to get on with the weeding. I'm crossing my fingers...
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