Friday, 24 May 2013

Spring 2013: Two steps forward, one back...

 The topsy-turvy weather continues, with a few warm days followed by cold ones, alternating over the week.  The only good thing, and an improvement on last year, is that we have not had frosts or very heavy rain which can do a lot of damage - we had both last year and it affected a lot of my crops.  This is the Katy apple tree, which has now started blooming.
 And here is the Katy tree in full flow, I will need to thin these fruits this year.  To the right of this tree you can just see my new Spartan apple, which is now entering its third summer and for the first time has a good covering of blossom - last year due to the weather and the youth of the tree it only produced one apple, should be more this year.
 I've managed to make good progress on the weeding before the weather turned nasty and cold again.  Here you can see the broad beans, with the garlic behind them.  These beans are very late this year, and growing slowly due to the low temperatures.
 The soft fruit is setting now, these are redcurrants.
 And here are some gooseberries.
 But this doesn't look too good, this is the other side of the redcurrant bush.  When I pruned it this spring I noticed some deadwood, so cut it out, but the die-back has continued.  These branches started to grow leaves and flowers but have now given up.  So I will have to take these branches out.  This part of the bush is quite old, so it may just be a natural thing but I will keep a close eye on the redcurrant this year.
 Elsewhere, the Victoria plum has set a lot of fruit, which is pleasing as the tree has been damaged two summers in a row by the weather, losing entire branches, so I'm crossing fingers for this tree now.  The risk is that disease gets into damaged wood in wet weather.  Once the leaves are out, I should be able to see how healthy it is, but this is a good sign.
 This was the first cloche planted up this year.  There are a lot of weeds in here, but the taller plants centre to right are summer cabbage, while on the left you can just see the first sowing of lettuce, both green and red (at the back).  I've opened up both ends of this cloche now to harden  off the seedlings.
 This week I also did my first beetroot sowing.  I've learned from bitter experience that beetroot seed likes to be warm and dry.  The soil in this bed has less clay than some others, as light as soil can be in north western climes, so it's a good choice for beetroot. I planted them earlier in the week when the soil had dried out a bit and before the temperatures dropped again, so I'm hoping they will germinate well.
 We still have some of last year's crops left - the purple sprouting broccoli is phenomenally late but should be ready to eat next week.  I can honestly say I have never had any plants producing in the last week in May before!
 These are the last of the lees, not a great crop but edible and tasty.
Finally, just for fun, a picture of four chickens not crossing the road but walking along it instead!
Have a great holiday weekend!
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