Six on Saturday – 4 August 2018

My Six on Saturday is an allotment update.  The ground is like concrete, I am going daily for about an hour to water and ‘stock take’.  There is little else to do, so I am appeasing myself that I am building up a tan and tightening my biceps carrying heavy watering cans from the trough to the plot.

First an apology I have broken rule 7 of Six on Saturday:

Not too much verbiage. ….it’s easily done, but since there are Six things, and a growing number of Six posts to read in a typical week, consider being a little frugal with the wordcount.

1. Protecting sweetcorn husks

53FDD0D5-C284-4534-9FF4-B6E9E46E5F11The sweetcorn (Northern Extra Sweet) is coming along a treat, despite the strong winds last Sunday.  I have staked them and built up the soil around the base of each plant – there are only 8.   I read that night visiting animals have a panchant for ripe sweetcorn and it’s recommended to protect the husks with large plastic bottles until ready to pick.  Now, I’m not sure if this was a wise thing to do.  I have carefully punched holes in the top so they don’t sweat.  Any thoughts on this?

2. Pumpkin update

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I planted 3 pumpkin plants and have 3 pumpkins,  there is an abundance of female flowers but no more male ones,  I wonder if that is the norm, I don’t needs lots anyway.   The one with the yellow bottom I can’t stand up because the stem is too short, the one at the bottom right of the photo is now on its end so with a bit of luck it will become round in shape.  I’m seeing a lot of posts on FB allotment group pages of pumpkins splitting so fingers crossed mine will be ok.

3. Cauliflower protection 

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This is allotment life on a shoestring.   I had a freebie packet of cauliflower seeds so for a bit of fun I sowed them in pots.  Only 2 came good and because the ground was so hard when they were ready to plant out I put them in a doubled up growbag.  Someone told me an elderly gentlemen on her allotment said they thrive on solid ground, he compacts the soil with a roller and drills thin holes for his plants.  She said his cauliflowers and cabbages are the envy of their plots!   Anyway – my homemade cage.  Despite putting collars around my two precious plants they are still swarming with whitefly.  Rather than buy a cage, or netting, I found an old net curtain I was about to throw away and made my own cage.  It’s a bit rickety but I am hoping it will do the job.

4. Blackberry heaven 

When I took the plot over a number of folks told me that the blackberries were always fabulous and they were not wrong.  Last week I picked a punnet full and decided to make blackberry gin.   There are so many recipes on the Internet but all are roughly the same, however, they vary in the time that the gin is ready from 2 weeks to 3 months and I’m  not sure why or if it matters.  I’m going for 2 weeks in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Ingredients

250g Blackberries

70cl Gin

100g Sugar

Method

1. Put the blackberries in to a 1 litre sterilised bottle or jar

2. Add the sugar

3. Top up with the gin

4. Shake well

5. Store in a dark cupboard and leave for a maximum of three months, shaking the bottle every week or so.

This recipe is courtesy of NicholasJon.

5.  Apples galore

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The little apple tree on my plot would appear to be some type of Pippin.  They are still very small and it could be due to the lack of water. I understand they are usually ready in September so we shall have to wait for a taster session then.   I’ve seen recipes for spiced apple gin 😄😄, so much better than eating every apple from the tree.

6. Baby strawberry plants

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I am wondering if I would do better to put these little strawberry runners into individual pots rather than a new bed.  Any advice please?

If you’ve been a great reader (thank you) and got to the bottom of this post, please now pop over to The Propagator Blog who hosts this weekly meme and has lots of contributors it’s always great to peer over the fence at other peoples gardens.

 

End of Month View – June 2018

I am a complete allotment newbie, so I am learning on the job with the help,of reading other allotment blogs.  If you are new to my blog (hello and welcome!) I am ‘caretaking’ a half plot allotment for an elderly lady who can no longer manage it herself but she is loathe to relinquish it.  She is happy for others to look after it, she pays the allotment fee and it’s mine to do what I wish.  I am on the waiting list so will only manage it until I have my own.  It was terribly neglected and since April we have had almost no rain so the ground is rock hard and it’s been very difficult to get it looking the smallest bit cared for.

The plot at the end of April (when I took it on)

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The plot as it looks today (1 July 2018)

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I have decided to work a few beds and keep the rest tidy.  I’m loathe to spend lots of effort only to have to walk away in March, which is when I believe I’ll have a plot, the waiting list is very short and they have recently released 10 half plots so I’m almost at the top of the list.

The pumpkin patch 

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The plot consists of a few little square beds and I have used one at the back for some pumpkin plants I was given by a neighbour allotmenteer.  They were initially quite spindly but had plumped up a bit after a few weeks and we’re ready to plant.  They now have flower buds so fingers crossed I will have at least one pumpkin for Halloween.  I have left all the dead grass hoping it might work as a mulch.

Flower patch bed

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Not having a garden anymore (😢😢) my main plan is to grow flowers on the allotment.  As I’ve already said I’m not going to invest anything this year, but did buy  a few summer bulbs.  All the gladioli are coming up, which I am delighted to see and should be a bright orange/red flower.  The lilies have struggled and I’m not sure why, but there is still hope they will be late flowering.  When moving the dahlias into my daughter’s garden I inadvertently broke off a shoot, which I put in a small pot and am happy to say within a couple of months it is looking good so now lives in the allotment flower bed.   I think you always have to have sunflowers on an allotment and I raised four plants from seed, planted them when about a foot high.  The snails had two of them before I had to breathe.  The other two I protected with a thick bed of slug wool, which I also put around the dahlia.

The vegetable patch bed

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I had to think carefully what vegetables I could grow in one bed and came up with sweetcorn, sugar snap peas, pak choi and  mangetout peas.  The sweetcorn is coming on great guns loving the sunshine.  I have a few flowers on the mangetout but something has nibbled the tops off the sugar snap.  I’ve strategically placed a few bird deflectors so hope they may get a little protection now.

Odds and ends

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Do you sometimes buy seed packets without any idea as to where you are going to plant them?  I did this with a packet of Thompson & Morgan climbers.   Having started them off in seed trays, they are now happily growing at the back of the vegetable bed.  From left to right they are Morning Glory ‘Grandpa Otts’  Cardinal Climber and Spanish Flag which has a lovely red flower and is great for cutting, it should really be in the flower patch.

And finally…what is this white flower?

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As time goes by it is clearer to see the plan of the plot and where various beds and paths are.  At the front of the plot there is a triangle space which I am keeping tidy with strimmer.  I’m not sure what grew in there but there is the odd verbena bonariensis and a shrub with the most beautiful white flowers.  I don’t recognise it and neither does my PlantSnap app.  It has very woody stems and initially before they flowered I thought it might be a chrysanthemum.   Do you know what it is?

UPDATE:  I’ve been informed it is Achellia ‘white pearl’.

As always, a big thank you to Helen at The Patient Gardener who hosts this monthly meme.  Please pay her a visit and take a look at her wonderful garden.