May 2020

25th May - Three days of high winds, two five minute bursts of virtually horizontal rain... and then wall-to-wall sunhsine for the rest of the time. I am trying to stick with a rough rota for watering, both at the plots and at home, to ensure everything manages to grow, but if anything gets missed, it soon flags. No rain is forecast in the coming week, so it is going to be more of the same. A bit like everything else really...more of the same, with social distancing and the very small bubble of any kind of contact with others, and a very strange Eid this year here, a bit of a non-event

Life at the plots still turns with the season though, as you can see from the header photo, so let's take a look at this Week's Harvest Monday:

Yes, Strawberries! These are from the plants I took into the shelter of the polytunnel about two weeks ago, and it has certainly helped them ripen a bit earlier than the ones outside. Just a few so far, but enough to enjoy

And then, also from the tunnel, is a very good crop of Broad Beans. These are De Monica, and have been grown interspaced with Perennial Spinach, which worked well, making good use of the space. I took all the plants out at the same time, as no more flowers were forming. The Spinach is also  finished, which gives me a 1.5m length of bed for another crop

 

 

Another first for the season is Potatoes. These are Rocket, and although this is not a massive amount from one plant, I have six plants, and they are really just to get me through until the outdoor first earlies are reday to start digging... there were a few more than this, I had eaten some before I remembered to photograph them! Pleased to have some though before May is out

And then there are Carrots. These are only the thinnings from today, but I didn't want to just compost them, and although they really hardly even make enough between them for one whole full sized Carrot, they do taste delicious. I like growing them like this, thinning at regular intervals, as then I get to see how the roots are developing

The last picture is of Coriander. It is so good to have enough to cut and use as a vegetable, rather thna only as a garnish. This was enough to use in place of Spinach in a chicken curry, and very nice it was too. Definitely time to sown some more though, as this was a quarter of the row used, and I don't wan't to have too big a gap without any at all

Other harvests this week have included Spring Cabbage, Spring Onions, Cos Lettuce, Radishes, Chives, Thyme. Mangetout & Rhubarb

 

On the Plots This Week:

The first news is from the Wren's nest, where the baby birds are large enough to be seen at the nest hole... I wonder how many there are altogether?.... and have little feathered faces, so it may not be long before they fledge. Their parents are tireless in collecting tiny insects and spiders for their brood, and removing droppings in little white sacs. They are delightful to watch, and it is easy to get distracted from the jobs list

Plot 145 is looking pretty good now, with plenty of flowers to enjoy

 

The Dahlias are growing well, and there are multi-head style Sunflowers planted along the middle of the bed now too

The Autumn-sown Onion sets are bulbing up well now. One or two have started to develop a flower stalk, but I have cut this off so the plant doesn't waste energy on growing something unwanted. Covering them with netting has certainly saved them for the ravages of Allium pests, and I am really pleased with how they are growing. Keeping them fairly free of weeds also helps, water too of course, and this week I added some seaweed meal to the soil too, for a bit of a boost

That seaweed meal might help the Garlic too, as although their are plenty of nice green leaves, they could do with starting to bulk up the underground heads of Garlic cloves. So far no rust, but it is early days yet!

The Winter Squash plants were huge, and as they had been hardened off in the garden i thought it would be OK to plant them out... how wrong can you be?? I hadn't realised how strong that wind was going to be, and the poor things lost a lot of water through those huge soft leaves, worsened by the sunshine. They look pretty bedraggled, but the main growing points of the plants are developing new leaves , so hopefully they will be fine. There is plenty of good compost in the soil to retain water for the roots to access, which will certainly help

This year I have part-sunk plastic bottles by each plant, with a cane pushed through the neck ino the soil. I hope this helps me find the rootball of each plant to water thoroughly, once the bed is completely covered with big leaves. Let's hope so

That just leaves the Courgette plants at home, and now the wind has died down, I can get their bed ready for them to be planted out

Over on Plot 146, I have weeded the beds of Calabrese, Spring-planted Onion sets, Raspberries and the Carrots. The Carrots were also thinned out again. There will be a further thinning in a few weeks I expect.  They will stay under this mesh their whole life, as it fends off the dreaded Carrot Root Fly. 

Usually around now I would be making a further sowing of Carrots, and there is space left under the net for this, but to be honest, there will be enough Carrots for me from what is already growing, so I shall instead sow some more Beetroot. I don't really have space to dedicate a particular bed to Beetroot this year, so they are going wherever they fit... and this looks like a good space to use. I hope I have some seeds of cylindrical ones as I'd like some of these

 

 

The pond needs topping up every couple of days or so, but even though it is really small, there are lots of species of Damselfles around, which may have lived in the pond as nymphs. This pair of Large Red Damselflies were busy repopulating the pond for next year

In the Polytunnel This Week:

I am really liking having the two tunnels as one again, it looks like such a huge area, and no space remains empty for more than a day or two, as it is at a premium, being so sheltered from the elements

The Tomato plants are flowering away. This particualr one is a variety new to me, Koralik and it looks as though it is going to be very prolific if the number of flowers in each truss is any indicator. So far I am keeping up with removing shoots in the leaf axils, so that the plants grow into nice straight cordons. Regular feeding is also important of course, so I shall try to remember this once a week for now on

The Peas and Mangetout are flourishing, and are about two weeks ahead of the ones growing outside, both planted on the same day. Mangetout plants produce masses of pods , enough for  picking almost every day. Growing them up a piece of mesh means they have a very small footprint, which is excellent in the tunnel, leaving  plenty of space for French Beans and Cos Lettuce. 

I think I may have mistakenly planted climbing beans rather than dwarf beans, as they seem to be waving rather alarmingly. I might end up with a further bean wigwam!

I have planted the single Courgette plant, even though there are still a couple of Spring Cabbage in that section. It really needed either potting on or planting out, so I chose planting out, as the Cabbages will be eaten soon.

The two Diva Cucumber plants are also planted too, in a nice deep bed of rich compost, which I hope they enjoy. I found a few self sown Malabar Spinach seedlings, so I added them to the bed too. I don't really need a lot of it, but a picking now and again will be good I think

At Home This Week:

In the greenhouse, which is almost empty of plants now, the Aubergines are developing flower buds, which is a very good sign! I shall keep one Black Beauty and one Green Emerald plant for the greenhouse, and plant the remianing three plants in the space in the polytunnel vacated by the Broad Beans and Perpetual Spinach. This might be better than growing them in large pots I think, as they do need  a fair bit of water. 

It is almost time to dismantle the walk in plastic greenhouse, the extra reenhouse staging and the staging in the tomato house, and get ready for planting the grafted Tomato plants in their final pots. 

Despite that really strong wind, these two small temporary plastic structures stayed up, which I was really pleased about. They were well anchored, and in shletered spots, but even so..

At long last, the Lemon Grass stems, that have been in water since just after Christmas, actually have grown some roots!!!  The other three stems still remain resolutely rootless however. I shall plant up the two that have been so far successful though and put them in the greenhouse, in the hope that I get some stems to harvest eventually

The Bonsias need a lot of watering in this hot weather, but they seem to be OK overall: these two are flowering now. One has opened flowers and you can see the pink buds on the other

Most years, the Peony flowers get weighed down by rain and don't last, but in this hot weather they seem to be doing well. They smell terrific!

And the Honeysuckle is coming into bloom as well, and add to the scent in the garden , especially in the evening

But best of all are the flowers on the Sharifa Asma Rose, which was always Abi's favourite. It certainly has responded well to being cut back hard earlier in the year, and this week the first of many flowers to come opened, with a pefume good enough to eat. I had to put in this photo for my Brother-in- Law, who also has one in his garden. I hope his blooms well too

And that happy thought finishes this week's blog entry, which I hope you all enjoy. 

A big thank you to all of you who read this every single week, and the lovely messages you send, and also to anyone who dips in and out ocasionally, or indeed is reading for the first time. Hope you enjoy your growing!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

18th May - Here we are again, staying alert and keeping away from other people, but still spending time gardening in the sunshine.In fact, there is so much sunshine, that watering is now a daily activity, to make sure everything keeps growing steadily

As is traditional, we shall start with Harvest Monday, where we join with people from around the world to share what we have harvested this week. (Link to follow at the end, if you would like to see these other posts, hosted by Dave of Our Happy Acres, based in the US)

First to my harvest table this week are Lettuces. This one is Cos Lobjoit, planted amongst the Dwarf French Beans under cover, with the plan that by the time the beans need the space, the Lettuces would be eaten... they are in fact ginormous already so I am eating/sharing these pretty quickly. I can highly recommend this variety, which seems to grow even more quickly than my old favourite Little Gem

The Lettuce in the second phot is a Butterhead type, sown last October, which has over-wintered very successfully in the polytunnel. It does seems strange to be eating Lettuce ... which a  neighbour described as "magnificent"... sown that long ago

Chive Flowers are a lovely harvest, adding  areal zing to salads, as well as being a fetching shade of mauve. The bees do like them too, but as I do have a lot in bloom at the moment though, I don't worry I am depriving them

Beetroot Leaves are able to be harvested for salads, now that the plants are larger, although I try to make sure I leave plenty on the plants so that they can grow as quickly as possible

And Coriander is growing really quickly now, and I can see it won't be long before I shall be harvesting it as a main ingredient for a meal rather than a garnish,

Spring Onions are large enough to harvest, and having sown them in modules and planted them out in their little clumps, they are easy to pull as a bunch. Their fresh flavour is very welcome, and with havng three rows of them in the polytunnel, will be available for some time yet

Another addition to salads is Red Orache, a plant in the Amaranth family, looks gorgeous growing on the plot, especially with the sunshining through its deep red leaves. My plot neighbour grew some last year, and so this year, thanks to wind action, I have some here and there too.

The leaves are quite thick, almost fleshy, and taste very "green". They can be cooked like Spinach, but with only a few plants I am keeping them for salads so far

(The slightly odd grey colouring in the photo is water.. I had just washed the leaves before taking this picture)

Radishes have been a regular harvest recently, but these are the first outdoor harvest. I accidentally spilt some seed of Scarlet Globe, so just roughly spread it over the area with my fingers, and these are the ones I found when I went to thin them out a bit. There are plenty more growing, half  a packet in fact!

Spring Cabbage, although coming to an end, is still a good harvest. It does not forma heart as such, but makes clumps of loose leaves, on what looks like small branches from the main stalk, which makes harvesting the required amount possible, whilst leaving the main plant still growing. This one is a whole plant though, as I shared it with a plot friend

I shall certainly be growing this again in the coming Autumn

On the Plots This Week:

I saw an insect new to me this week, whizzing past like a gigantic Hornet, but when it settled, it looked far more like a Dragonfly. At home , I looked up information to identify it, and ... a female Broad Bodied Darter Dragonfly. Males are pwder blue, and I have seen these most years, but never a female before!

She certainly gave the Wrens nesting just behind where she perched something to think about: she was nearly as long as they are! 

 

I was really pleased to see her again the next day when, having found a good hunting perch, she sat for ages watching for a suitable sized fly, before skilfully cathcing one and flying off. She did return though... Dragonflies like to keep the same perch for a while.... a real priviilege to see her at such close quarters

Last week I told you about my path-clearing work on #146. This week I managed to clear the path on the other side of the fruit cage as well, and the fruit cage itself. Obviously this led to another vast quantity of compostable material, and the two daleks pressed inot service again last week were quickly absolutely stuffed. Luckily, a plot holder from a little further afield gave me another one, which he described as "not much use", because it had no lid or little door at the base. No proble, I used some old carpet for both purposes, and was extremely grateful to him. It is now half full

It was my week for gratitude: Clive & Theresa, who live opposite me and also have a plot further along the lane, were kind enough to help me put the huge fruit cage net on. The process has been fine tuned over the years, and I had all the wood in place to weight down the edges, which meant Social Distancing could be easily observed: the cage is 14m long. Big thank you there!

There is a particularly curious Crow around at the moment, always on the look out for something that might contain food. He threw all the contents of my friend next door's basket out onto the ground, and I caught him eying up my allotment bag from the back of a chair too. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the net though.

The Honesty seed pods are an exceptionally bright purple this year! I have quite a lot of these dotted around on both plots, all self sown, and they look very attractive. They are small enough not to be bothered by the strong winds we had for two or three days, unlike the Flag Irises, where their flowe stems were blown all over the place. I cut these to take home, as theye would never stand up properly on the plants. They looked good at home for several days, so I was glad I had taken them home

After frosty nights here last week, the night time temperatures rose sufficiently for the hardened off Beans and Tomatoes to be planted out on the plots

I have five wigwams this year, although this one in the picture is there for a variety new to me: Black Valentine. This is not a climbing bean really, but it grows about 45cm tall, so needs some support. I planted it around this wigwam and expect to have to tie it in as it grows. It is a drying bean, with fairly long pods too, so I am looking forward to seeing how this gets on

One further wigwam has Butler Runner Beans, one has Climbing French Beans: Python, Blauhilde and Sunshine (another newbie), one has Helda-style flat beans Algarve, and one Cave Beans (third newbie, mainly for drying)

Unlike previous years, I haven't set aside a bed for all the Tomato plants, instead planting them in small number in different places. They are all Blight Resistant Varieties: Crimson Crush, Ferline, Mountain Magic and a Large fruited variety new to the market, Crimson Blush.

As I have re-purposed almost half of #146 asa Forest Garden, some re-organisation of other crops is needed, not only the Tomatoes. I shall be swapping the beds for Winter Sqauashes with the one for late Brassicas in this coming week, to take into account the timing of available ground space

 

In the Polytunnels This Week:

The Pea and Mangetout plants are flowering... will there be a Mangetout harvest next week? Let's hope so!

The Chinese Red Noodle Bean plants are at last starting to grow, although they are not yet attaching to the support net, and everything else is steadily growing nicel

At Home This Week:

This morning I planted up the large pots in the driveway with vegetables and fruit. It was heartening that several passers-by though they looked attractive and someone even said they would try growing a Toamto plant in a pot in their garden. Now that would be good! There is still an Aubergine and a Butternut to be planted: they are not quite fully hardened off yet, but will be there before next weekend. There is a little smattering of Nasturtium seeds amongst them as well

 

The Winter Squash plants have moved into the little "walk-in" greenhouse, to start their hardening off process so that they will be ready for their permanent spot at the plot in about a week's time

While the Sweetcorn plants, that have been in the tomato house now for a week, are good to go

Moving the Squashes out of the greenhouse has created lots more space, which the Aubergines are appreciating.... one is out in the tomato house, as it is destined for a pot on the driveway

And these are the Chilli plants my daughter sent last week, all potted up and straightened up after their journey. Not sure of these wil stay in the greenhouse as they grow: some may moev to the polytunnel. I will depend on their eventual size

In the garden, the new Fern fronds and white Cllematis make an attractive combination

And the Sharifa Asma, Abi's favourite, that I cut back really hard, has more buds than usual. Even ones that are only just showing their pink colour are strongly scented. When they are all out it will be an absolute delight... something to look forward to

The yellow Pilgrim rose has responded to now being trained horizontally, by producing this mass of flowers

 

 

And the climbing Handel is waving above the garage with its pretty two-toned blooms

 

One morning during the week, there was a strange rustling sound in the greenhouse, which turned out to be these two little mice in the depths of the empty rubbish bin. They must have fallen in from the staging, and not been able to get out.

Although they are a pest, I couldn't bring myself to despatch them, so decided to take them to the allotment and release them under the hedgerow. I gave them some birdseed, which they ate very quickly, plus a piece of pear, put the bin outside the front door, came back in to get my bag etc, and when I went back out... they had managed to leap out of the bin and were gone. I was glad I had closed the front door when I went back in, as I knew they couldn't have come indoors!

On that happy and quite amusing note I shall finish for this week. Hope you are still all well and able to adhere to the regulations without too much stress.

See you next week!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

11th May - With only minor changes to Lock Down announced, it is pretty much business as before, with working at the allotment, which is a private and safe space, being mostly what I do. I do feel fortunate not be restricted to the confines of my house and garden though and try to make the most of the tiem

This week's harvests have been a little repetitive, so Harvest Monday will be brief. Various Lettuces are ready to cut, and I am tending towards taking a few leaves off several different sorts, rather than cutting whole heads. I have Cos Lobjoit, Red Salad Bowl and Winter Density to choose from, with other leaves for additional flavour, such as Wild Garlic (the last harvest this season, as the seeds are starting to form and the leaves are now much tougher) Feathery Fennel, Coriander, a range of Mints and Basil

 

I did remember to photograph the Radishes this week, the last from this sowing, so I shall have to wait now for the next batch to be ready.

Other harvests this week have included Rhubarb and Spring Greens

On The Plots This Week:

The first job this week was to put up the temporary cold frame so that the Brassicas for Summer planting have somewhere cool to live. There are late Calabrese, cauliflower,  Red Cabbage, White Cabbage, Savoy Cabbge, Mixed Sprouting Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts, and since they have been out here they have had a real growth spurt, so I must keep a close eye on them as some may need potting on fairly soon

I have put the coldframe between the two polytunnels, as it is out of the wind and any hot sunshine, and when the tunnels are joined by the netting section next month, they can stay where they are. Currently the frame is covered by debris netting, which will keep both pigeons and butterflies off, and I may leave this on through the Summer, as butterflies can find their way in through the damaged netting of the polytunnel windows, and last year there were issues with caterpillars munching Brassica leaves. No thank you!

The weather has certainly changed dramatically and along with strong winds, night time temperatures are particularly low for this time of the year. I would usually be thinking about planting out Beans and Tomatoes, but not this year!  All the Bean plants and outdoor Tomato plants are still safely in their plastic grow houses in the garden at home =, and there they will stay until at least next weekend.

I have covered both Potato beds, as the plants are now quite tall, and earthing them up any further is not really possible.

If the top growth gets frosted, it sets the plants back, so delaying the harvest dates, and as harvesting as early as possible, especially for those First Early varieties that will be eaten as "new potatoes", is the aim, protecting the plants in some way seems a sound idea

  • First earlies got the fleece

  • Seconds & Mains have plastic

 

Another long and relatively strenuous job is clearing the paths of weeds, which are growing in the mulch underneath the current layer of woodchip. Some section are knee-high in weeds, whuch makes walking about difficult, looks hideous and leads to more weeds if they go to seed, so I made a start on path clearance this week. Without anything to plant out right now,I do have time though

There is a shortage of free woodchip at the moment, so the paths look denuded, but the majority of mulch has been taken off too, to discourage further weed growth

The long path along the side of the fruitcage is clear at last, and today I started the area along the back fence and in the orchard. It was chock-a-block with nettles and Goosegrass, both of which have the added bonus of making good compost. The plants in the furthest bed appear to be fine though: the Blue Geraniums ven seem to have multiplied, and now I shall be able to see them when they flower

Most of the weeds are now chopped up and in Compost BIn No 1, mixed with shredded paper and well watered. I cut the roots off the nettles and chopped the rest into sections , and they will add a good deal of Nitrogen to the mix.  Any soil on the roots of other weeds will add to the bacteria and fungi etc for the composting process of course

The top is covered with black plastic sheetng to stop the contents drying out, and it won't take long before the heat of composting will be felt and the height of the bulge reduced by quite some way

I still have a large pile of compostable material, so I may have to press an old dalek bin or two into temporary use. as I do not have time right now to empty BIn No 2. I shall try to find space for them as near to the main bins as is practical, as eventually the contents will need to be moved into a bin

And yes, Bin No 1 does need a new front, which I shall attach next time it is emptied. It is currently lying in te orchard, along with some other pallets needed for the back fence when there is time for that.... 

 

Flowers are brightening up both plots, with a range of Flag Irises and Columbines combining rather well: these unplanned partnerships often work well somehow, it seems

You can just see the Dahlia bed in this photo, covered with plastic to protect the tender new growth. Hopefullt it will only need to be on for a coup,e of days/nights

And the ground in the Forest Garden is thick with Forget-me-Nots. These not only look beautiful, but are the foodplant for Scarlet Tiger Moth Caterpillars, and the flowers provide a huge amount of food for pollinators of all sorts so are even more welcome

Lupins are looking pretty too... no nast fat lLupin Aphids yet. I have my eyes on them this year

I mentioned the back fence needing attention, but it is still rabbit proof so it not an immediate concern. Early in the morning there are numerous rabbits that appear from their burrows under the site hedgerows, and in the past few months severla plot holders have been working hard to rabbit-proof their plots, with good reason! These litle lovelies can do an enormous amount of damage to a plot, not only by eating some of the crops, but through their constant digging and scraping at the ground.

This is why  always keep the gates to my plots closed, even if I am only goping out for a moment or two: rabbits run fast, and once they are in your plot, your rabbit-proof fence does a good job at keeping them in!!

This one, together with his three friends, had a good "wild" meal on the bonfire plot opposite my front gate

In the Polytunnels This Week:

The plants I set out last week are all tender: Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Sweetcorn and French Beans, plus the earliest Potato plants are in the tunnel too. I replaced the cloches over the Potatoes and the Chinese Red Noodle Beans (which have not started climbing the support netting yet)

I rescusitated an old idea to give a little bit of extra heat to under-cover growing spaces: a candle burning all night under a terracotta flower pot. The heat from the flame is taken up by the terracotta and radiated out into the air. It is enough to raise the temperature by a couple of degrees, which is all that is needed. There is plenty of air gap along the edge of the flowerpot, but the flame will not get blown out by draughts. I stuck down the damaged window covers as best I could too, and last night it seemed to work just fine. This coming night will be very cold for most of the hours of darkness, so I hope it is enough to keep the plants from freezing

At Home This Week:

On Saturday there were five Rose Chafter Beetles on the newly opened Rhododendron flowers, after the plentiful pollen. It as quite amusing watching their clumsty attempts to push down deep ino the flowers, and sound of them buzzing throught the air very loud indeed, a much lower note than a bee's flight makes. They always seem full of character somehow

I now have half a dozen Chilli plants to join the inhabitants of my greenhouse, thanks to my daughter, who posted them to me. They arrived in excellent condition, and once the compost has warmed up (It has been outside) they can have nice new pots to settle into

 The temporary plastic grow-houses seem to be standing up to the strong winds, and are proving their worth, as both are packed with Tomato plants, Dwarf and Climbing Beans, Lobelia and French Marigolds. This leaves greenhouse space for Courgettes, Winter Squashes, Cucumbers, Sweetcorn, Aubergines and now of course Chillies. All good! The first job of the morning is to open up the fronts of these plastic constructions, and open the greenhouse vents, and do the reverse as the last outdoor job of the evening, along with putting out food for the Hedgehog. Tonight however there is an extra plot visit: going to light the candles!

That's it for this week's news. I hope everyone is managing to stay well and keep safe, and enjoying the extra time for growing related activities!

I aim to be back next MOnday... who knows, maybe the Beans will be able to be planted out by then. I do hope so, as they are huge!!

 

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

 

4th May - The Swifts returned from their Winter break today, streaking through the sky with their screams, almost as though they are delighted to be back for their three month holiday here. They arrive on 4th May almost every year, and this one is no exception. We may be still in Lock Down, but Nature continues around us as usual. May is a pivotal month really, where we move from the last of the Winter crops still hanging on, quickly through lots of "first harvests" of Spring into the edge of Summer

Harvest Monday this week is the start of this change-over. First to the table is a harvest I really claim no credit for (aprt from swapping four cauliflower plants for it), but as it is one of those seasonal "firsts" I shall show you some Asparagus. My plants are all growing, which is an improvement of last year when some died, and I look forward to my own harvests in another two years, but for now, thank you Joe for these fat juicy spears. It is certainly worth the effort of looking after the crowns for several years before even tasting a single spear, as they should be productive for about twenty years. I look upon these few as a taste of things to come, and hope lots of you are cutting big bunches already!

 

 

Another first,this time all my own work, is fresh Coriander. I carefully snipped these little stems with scissors, as the plant will grow more, and it was totally delicious as a garnish for Spicy Meatballs with Spinach

Last year I found that sowing a metre row about 10cm from the edge of a bed in the polytunnel, then watering it right along the edge of the wood, kept the plants growing right through the Summer, supplying me with as much Coriander as I wanted. I then left it to go to seed for an extra scrummy harvest to store for the Winter. If your Coriander does bolt, all is not lost, as those green seeds are just lush.. I ate lots of them before they were dry.

The next harvest is definitely one of those that is coming to an end: Perpetual Spinach. I know it is not a true Spinach, but part of the Beetroot family, but i really like it, and that square metre of polytunnel bed has kept me well supplied for months. The plants are trying to grow flower stalks now, which I keep cutting off, but it won't be able to hang on for much longer, so I am enjoying it while I can. A half carrier bagful is about enough for a meal, once it is cooked, but there is also the bonus of the small tender leaves to add to salads. 

Spring Cabbage is still going stong, and i have four or five still left. They are tender enough to eat the outer leaves, which is just as well as there is hardly any heart to them, which is the nature of Spring Cabbage to be honest

This one provided me with a side dish of Cabbage with Butter and Black Pepper for my roast dinner yesterday, and then some Cabbage and Potato with Coconut and Mustard Seeds tonight. There is still some left, so I shall shred it finely to make a Coleslaw

I am still finding Potatoes that I missed when harvesting last year, and I still have Onions in store, those huge ones, as well as a few smaller brown ones, but Carrots are now finished, so I had to buy some last week, the first in about nine or ten months. 

Then of course there is Rhubarb, which this year, being unable to share with my family, I am giving to neighbours here, left on their doorsteps, neatly wrapped in its own huge leaves,  Good to know other people enjoy it too.

Most days I have some, gently cooked with either Star Anise, Ginger or Vanilla, and it is very easy to eaat indeed! Tonight, the last spoonful will be mixed with chopped fresh fruit, served with thick plain yoghourt, which I am really looking forward to

I have also had Lettuce leaves, Salad Bowl Lettuce leaves, Wild Garlic leaves, Chives, Flat-leaf Parsley, Basil and Rosemary, and, once again, I ate the Radishes before I rememberd to photograph them. Thet are called 18 Day Radish, which is new to me this year, and I have now sown some more!

 

On the Plots This Week:

The rainy days certainly helped the weeds grow, so one big job, which I really don't enjoy, was weeding the Carrot bed and thinning out the seedlings. It takes forever! Every year I try to sow really thinly, but once again I didn't quite manage it, but, and it is a Big But, leaving them all squashed together means fewer usable Carrots in the long run. I find it a difficult job to do with gloves on, as it is quite fiddly, and weeding amongst the seedlings is tricky too. However, job is done!

I can understand if you think they don't look very "thinned" but this is just the first round. The second round in a few weeks should provide small but tasty little Carrots to eat, as well as giving the remaining roots more space to grow, and i shall do that again too, so that eventually , all being well, I have a good harvest of nice sized Carrots: Amsterdam Forcing and Nantes 5.

I have also sown some Sweet Candle in a deep box of compost, and these I did manage to sow thinly, virtually individually really, so I hope for some shapely roots from these, especially useful should we be able to hold the Annual Show at the end of the Summer. If not, they will make good eating anyway! The box has a fine net cover to keep Carrot Fly out, in the same way as those grown in the bed

I have noticed that soft fruit is beginning to form now, so one job for this week, another one I don't enjoy, but is very satisfying once it is done, is to clear the fruit cage of weeds as far as I can, as it will soon be time to put the net on so that the birds don't eat it all. Now that will need thinking about, if I am to do that single handed.....

Strawberry plants have plenty of flowers, and Potatoes are growing well. Let's hope we don't have a frost now as that will set both crops back. I do have plenty of fleece to cover them with, but warmer conditions would be preferable for sure!

 

Next to these Potatoes is a small Apple tree, now in its fourth year, that grew from a pip my youngest Granddaughter planted. This year it has decided to produce some little branches, which is interesting. It seems quite happy where it is, and being near the front gets plenty of water in dry spells when i am going past with the hosepipe.

I have no idea how old it will need to be before it flowers. I thought Apple trees grew much taller, much more quickly, but maybe that is only ones on a grafted rootstock...

I put together my second £5 bargain, in the most sheltered spot on the plot for these three Tomato plants: one Koralik and two Cyril's Choice. I do have a fleece cover for them though if the nights do turn cold. 

There are some self sown Cerinthe plants in one of the planter boxes, and they are much loved by the bees. Its common name is Honeywort. The flowers are able to replace their honey-flavoured nectar really quite quickly. No wonder the bees visit so often! 

In The Polytunnels This Week:

It is a really busy time of the year, with so many plants needing to be set into their final positions, but at the same time needing to consider what the temperatures at night time are forecast to be. I have been hardening off plants out of the greenhouse at home, and decided to take a chance with the big Tomato plants, as they were forming their first flower trusses and starting to outgrow their seven inch pots. In the header photo you can see them, all neatly in a row, with the Pepper plants in front (Empty pots will go on the end of the sticks so I don't poke myself in the eye bending forward) The Coriander is in the very front, and a row of 18 Day Radishes is sown further along. There are also some Vulcan Onions at the end, plus a few Radishes ready to pull. 

On the right hand side is the Perpetual Spinach and Broad Bean plants, then some French beans, Early Peas and Mangetout, with Cos Lettuce 

 

 

In the second tunnel are the Ailsa Craig Onion plants, Chinese Red Noodle Beans under the cloche.. these will climb up that netting once the cloche is off... plus half a dozen early Potatoes (Rocket), which are now starting to flower. On the left side are Winter Density Lettuce, half a dozen All The Year Round Cauliflowers, Beetroot, Spring Onions, Sweetcorn, more Lettuce and French Beans, then the last of the Spring Cabbages. These wlll be replaced by one Courgette plant (Sure Thing) which does not need pollination to produce fruit. A support net for the Cucumber plants will be going up too. The plants are still quite small so I shall leave these at homefor a while. Eating some of the Lettuce will make space for them to be planted later. There is also a smattering of Antirrhinum plants which have self seeded from outside somehow, and once the flowers are opening I shall cut them to take home

As you can see, space is already at a premium, so the Brassicas growing on in pots, out of shot in the first photo, will be moving to a temporary coldframe this week, so that two of the Strawberry troughs can come inside to bring on an earlier crop. The Aubergine plants which are in the greenhouse at home will be grown in large pots in the polytunnel 

Take a deep breath and hope it all works!

At Home This Week:

The everlasting juggling of pots goes on of course. All the various Beans are outside in the temporary plastic structures now, and so are the second round of Tomato plants, the Blight Resistant ones to grow outside on the plot. The weather is still too uncertain to risk planting either Beans or Tomatoes outside yet, so they will be at home for a another week at least. The trays of Salad Leaves and Basil are very lush now and there is plenty to harvest

In the greenhouse proper are the Winter Squash plants, the Courgettes and the Cucumber, all of which are very tender, so another two or even three weeks before they leave home

The flower seeds I sowed are all germinating, and the Sweetcorn and Corsican MInt in the propagator are coming along too. Teeny tiny Mint seedlings like little dots!

long One job today has been to remove the grass that had been encroaching on the path and the stepping stones from the lawn. It took ages, cutting away the excess grass with a sharp knife, and it does look much neater. The path is about six inches wider down at the far end, and the stepping stones look hexagonal again rather than small circles

 

You can't see the lawn at all from the house, now that the big Acer has filled out again

 

You might wonder why on earth I have taken a photograph of a snail!  This is no ordinary snail, just look at its shell. Last Summer my youngest granddaughter and her friend decided to paint snail shells with nail varnish and let them go in all sorts of places around their gardens here, and see if they could find their way back to where they started off. Between them they must have painted at least twenty, if not more....and we never ever saw one of them again...until this week, when this huge one was waving its tentacles at me from the top of a Tomato plant in the plastic greenhouse one morning, proudly sporting a bright pink stripe!

On that slightly amusing note I shall end for this week, hoping you are all staying safe and well, and able to find things to enjoy as our challenges in Lock Down continue

And in case you are wondering, the snail had a reprieve, and Iet it go amongst the Bluebells

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com/