Monday, 1 June 2009

Instant progress

It was the half term holiday last week and my husband took the week off from work too so we spent a week visiting local attactions with the children. So there wasn't much time for gardening but every morning I trooped the plants out of the cold frame and off the windowsills and into the garden, and every night I trooped the plants back in again. So you can imagine that by the end of the week I was keen to get some of the plants planted out on the allotment.

The great thing about this time of year is that you have (or should have) lots of plants ready and waiting to be planted out so you can transform a patch of ground in an afternoon, unlike when seeds are sown and there is no instant evidence of the work done. On Saturday I transformed one bed by planting row after row of brassica plants. I love variety so I put in spring cabbages, red cabbages, calebrese, two types of sprouting broccoli, romanesco cauliflower, asparagus kale and brussel sprouts. The first of these will be ready to harvest in July and the last will be harvestede sometime next March so they are important plants for a long season. To give them a good start, I buried their stems deeply and firmed around them with my foot (using a rake for balance!). Then I scattered around some slug pellets and netted the whole bed against pigeons. It's not a particularly fine net so it'll be useless against butterflies so I'll have to remove it when the plants are big enough to allow me and the birds in to remove the caterpillars.

On Sunday I planted up half a bed with sweetcorn. I have now discovered why my sweetcorn have been dying - I have loved them to death! Overwatering! Mind you, I'm not entirely to blame, it's that rubbish peat-free compost. It dries out rapidly on the surface but traps the moisture underneath so it looks dessicated from above but is swampy underneath. It's impossible to judge so I shalln't be using it again next year for seedlings. I've planted out what I have and have stuck a few more seeds directly into the soil to boost numbers.

In the meantime, Steve dug out a trench and infilled it with compost from our compost bin then planted French beans into this. I like it when the bean support goes up as it adds structure to the plot. Then he planted out a few dwarf French bean plants and I stuck in some extra seed.

With the addition of tomato, pepper, aubergine, beans, calebrese and cabbage plants to my girls' plots they are now fully planted up apart from a space for a cucumber plant. I've finally got my cucumbers to germinate but they are too small to put out this week because if a slug was to munch them they wouldn't survive.

I'm also pleased to say that the plants from school have enjoyed their holiday with me. We now have 6 healthy French bean plants, 3 tomatoes seedlings and a cucumber.

This week also saw the first of the strawberries ready to eat - the earliest I have ever known. We also ate our first new potatoes from volunteers, and I have harvest about 12 mangetout. And we have tadpoles in a new pond. Yes, it's been a good week.

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