Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Tale of Three Poppies...

... the Himalayan Blue, which has pushed up several flowers this week and sits by the front door where I can admire it, protected from snails by copper tape around the pot
 ... the common (and endemic round here) Welsh yellow, which finds gaps in the paving stones to its liking
 ... the Oriental red, which is showing a bit more life this year but still seems to struggle, I don't seem to be able to find a position it likes.  Anyway, some lovely poppy flowers this year, so I can't complain!
 I will post more on the vegetable garden next week, but here are the highlights.  Wood pigeons took the heads off all my early peas and then moved on to the cabbages in an orgy  of gluttony.  They are all now netted and recovering, though I will have to take precautions with every delicious seedling now, plus the redcurrants which they had a go at last year too.
I have planted out my pumpkins, marrows and courgettes, though my courgettes did not germinate well due to the cold.  As it's warm now I have sowed direct into the soil under bell cloches for safety.  The courgettes are a new variety, supposed to do well in our climate, but it's not looking good so far!

Happy gardening!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Mad Dash to Get Ready for Summer!

 Now that we finally have some warm weather, the weeds are growing strongly and it's time to get planting.  The apples you can see in this pic are flowering well, with no frosts this year I should have a good crop.  But you can see my problem here - beds full of weeds which I just didn't get to last year due to the weather.
 This bed is right in front of the apples, and here it is sorted out!  But you will notice the distinct curve in the bed on the left side.  I have spent a fair bit of time this year shovelling soil back up the hill all over the allotment, as the torrential rains of the last two summers shifted a good bit of it downwards.  In this case it bowed the plastic side of this bed outwards.
 This photo shows it clearly - the weeds mark the line of what used to be the edge of this bed!  I moved some of the soil back to the top and realigned the edge, with the help of a couple of bricks.  I made a snail homeless too- you can just see him meandering along the edge of the bed in the centre of the pic!
 I didn't make this toad homeless, I do keep some wild edges on the plot to shelter helpful predators like this.  Unfortunately this makes me unpopular with the Allotment Gestapo who regard every stray blade of grass and every weed as a mortal enemy to be eradicated.  If you want to do that and have the time to spend 6 hours every day gardening, then fine, but it really isn't compulsory or necessary.  My plot is awkward, being on two levels with grass banks in between, so it's a matter of striking a balance.
 This is where the toad is living - on the right of this picture.  This bed has now been planted with runner beans, I've also got the second sowing of peas in nearby.
 I bought a few small tomato plants last week and put them under a cloche to acclimatise.
 With the warm weather they are now outside, and happy to be so!
 Sometimes when you're weeding you find something unexpected - this was a decent sized marjoram/oregano plant which had self-seeded in a wild bed, so I have moved this to a better spot.  Bees love this when it flowers.
 Here are the summer cabbages and lettuces, which are coding on well now.  I have also sowed parsnips, earthed up the potatoes and...
 ...sown my carrots.  I use Autumn King, as I've found early carrots do badly here.  Since we do have problems with carrot fly, they have gone under a mesh cover to keep them protected.  I'm hoping this will solve the problem of holey carrots this year.
The rhubarb is cropping well, so well I really can't eat any more for a week or so, hence much of my latest picking has gone in the freezer!