Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Life on The Weald - June 2022

Life on The Weald - plot 247 - 

and in the Kitchen & Garden, June 2022

6 June - Hot lips Salvia at home

1st June We were still harvesting the last of the Silver beet chard from last year.

1 June - Silver beet chard

It was time to conduct some repairs and erect a climbing frame for the cucumbers.

Frame for cucumbers

It was also time to add some poles to the rather rudimentary bean frame

Bean frame

6 June 
 As my home sown purple sproutingt broccoli had failed to thrive, I ordered some plugs from a garden centre.  I also sowed some more cucumber seeds (
Akito) at home.

7 June Both the front and back gardens at home were looking colourful.

Back garden: Philadelphus (mock orrange blossom)
Salvia (hot lips) and Weigela

Front garden: Iris
Anemone & Paeony

On the plot the nigella (Love-in-a-mist) was in full flower.

Nigella - Love-in-a-mist

But it was not only the flowers that were thriving - so too were the weeds, especially plantain, ragwort and blistery ox-tongue.  I say "weeds" but basically a weed is a wild plant growing where you don't want it to grow.

"Weeds" around the blueberries

More "weeds"

 making a start - a little bit clearer
Many gardeners will get rid of ragwort, thinking it is poisonous to animals - it is if eaten in great quantities by horses and cattle, but we don't have either of those. It has the unfortunate common name of "stinking willie" but is is of significant value for its nectar which feeds insect pollinators, especially bees and butterflies, so I leave it growing in waste areas. (I am told it is in the top ten for nectar production!). It is also a major food source for many beneficial invertebrates, including some threatened species such as the beautiful cinnabar moth as well as the threatened Sussex emerald moth (which hasn't been seen in Sussex since the 1950s and is now found only around the Dungeness area in Kent). A recent conservation project at Rye appears to have been partially successful in re-introducing the species to the county.

I removed the cloches (made from plastic bottles) from the courgettes that I had planted out earlier, hoping that they were now sufficiently far advanced to avoid being destroyed by slugs/snails.

Courgette (Zucchini)

The black currants have some way to go before they are ripe, but the red currants are almost ready to pick.

Red currants

8 June   Several plot holders have commented on the absence of bees and butterflies this year.  I wonder if they have all migrated to my plot as the bees seem to love the nigella (and the ragwort and dandelions!)

bees visiting the Nigella

bees visiting the Nigella

Apart from the indigenous self-seeded "Flanders" poppies, a number of garden poppies have found their way to the allotment.  If they're not doing any harm to vegetable crops, most people leave them as they are very attractive, but it is best to remove them before they scatter their seeds! When dried they make an attractive addition to a flower vase at home, as do the Nigella seed pods.

Invasive poppies

9 June I picked the first mangetout peas.


Earlier, I had mixed up the seedlings of Hurst Green Shaft and Kelvedon Wonder peas, but now was the time to harvest them, while young and sweet, without worrying which variety they were.

a variety of peas

In the pond, the water lily was just coming into flower

Water lily

Above ground, the foliage on the parsnips looked very green and healthy. I just hope there is as much activity below the surface!


It was time to harvest our first red gem lettuce

Lettuce - red gem

I don't pull them up, I cut them just above ground level with a knife in the hope that the stump will grow some more salad leaves.

The patty pan squashes were putting on growth....

Patty pan squash

.......and the water lily was now in flower.

Water lily

Despite the unreliable weather - we had rain when we should have had dry sunny spells and we had dry windy weather when we needed rain - the garlic had done reasonably well.  I raised some up gently with a fork to help them dry off before lifting.



We were also able to start lifting the first early new potatoes - red Duke of York

Red Duke of York First early potatoes

11 June What a difference a couple of days of sunshine make! The patty pan squashes are now flowering - but only male flowers so far.

Male flower on the patty pan

Sylvi managed to pick more than 1.5kg of redcurrants....

...which we transformed into redcurrant jelly.  The raspberries were a lot smaller than last year and many should have been picked earlier when we were away.  We did manage to harvest the remains of the chard and spinach though.

12 June saw the flowering of the first corn cockle

12 June - first corn cockle

13 June At home, the broccoli plugs had arrived but they were rather "leggy".  I potted them up and put them outside to harden off.  I also sowed some more Kelvedon Wonder peas in trays at home.

16 June  Back at the allotment, one week after the arrival of male flowers, the first female flowers were appearing on the Patty pan squashes.

16 June - Patty pan squash -potential fruits

18 June We were about to go away again, so it was time to check on the various plants and give them a good watering (hopefully, if there is a dry spell while we are away, Luke will be able to water them).

18 June - Courgettes with blackcurrants in background

18 June - Butternut and other squashes

18 June - Courgette with French climbing beans
and Borlotto behind

18 June - Cucumbers

30 June Back from a few days away with granddaughters celebrating the end of GCSEs, we returned home to find that the Marmande tomatoes at home had put on quite a bit of growth. We had given them a feed, before we left, with a liquid fertiliser/feed for tomatoes (which we had also given to the courgettes, squashes and peppers on the allotment)

30 June - Marmande tomatoes

30 June - Marmande tomatoes

On the plot, the courgettes, squashes and  cucumbers had also put on some growth

30 June - courgettes and squashes

30 June - Squashes

The patty pan squashes in particular are showing good potential.

30 June - Patty pan squashes

We seem to have a productive July to look forward to.

John Austin

Hove, June2022

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Life on The Weald, May 2022

Life on The Weald - plot 247 - 

and in the Kitchen & Garden, May 2022

Ceanothus early June

The garden at home was coming alive with colour but we have rather neglected the allotment this month.  We were up in London at the beginning of the month for the Westminster Mile and the London 10k.   Both events were taking place for the first time since Covid lockdown in 2020. Mo Farah was returning to running for the first time since his pre-Tokyo Olympics injury.  He returned to the streets of London to defend his title - but it was not to be, and he was beaten to second, outsprinted at the finish, by a relatively unknown club-runner, Ellis Cross from Aldershot and District Club.

Eilish McColgan powered home to win the women's event (beating her mum's Scottish record) and only 2 seconds outside Paula Radcliffe's 19 year old British and European record.  The reigning wheelchair champion, Danny Sidbury, won the men's wheelchair race with a dramatic and close fought battle for second between David Weir and JohnBoy Smith.

As we come out of the worst of the Covid pandemic we are beginning to welcome visitors to Hove and we were pleased to welcome my sister-in-law,Siew, and my nephew Gregory later that week - we had a great couple of days visiting the beach and the Downs but it did, of course, keep us away from the allotment.

On 8 May I managed to directly sow some Purple French beans (Tepee) which had done so well last year.  I will do successional sowings this year to avoid the sudden glut that we had last year.

On inspection, the parsnips appear to be doing well above ground! And the peas are beginning to flower. 

8 May - Parsnips

8 May - peas

I hadn't provided any sticks for the peas, which were said to be self supporting, and they looked rather tangled and untidy but it is too late to separate them..

One of the beds where we had grown Kale last year was now completely overgrown with weeds, mostly Blistery Ox tongue. Fotunately it is relatively easy to pull up (with a good pair of gloves as it is rather prickly).  It does take time, hand weeding, however, to ensure there aren't any roots left behind which can grow again.

8 May - a weed infested bed

I was tempted to pick a broad bean to see how they were doing.

8 May - October sown broad beans

They looked fine and the ones sown in the autumn will be ready for picking in a week or two.  Sadly, however, there were signs of blackfly.   Normally the autumn sown broad beans mature before the blackfly arrive - but not so this year.  One way to deal with them is to regularly hose down the plants to wash them off - but this is wasteful of water and provides only a temporary relief as they soon return.  As we don't normally use pesticides, spraying with a solution of soapy water usually does the trick for a while.  This year I followed advice on a gardening internet site which suggests adding a few drops of vegetable oil to the soapy water spray. Any vegetable oil will do and you can buy special horticultural oil but it is expensive.  Strong smelling oils are recommended such as rosemary or lavender oil or clove oil. As I had some culinary mustard oil in the cupboard I tried this and it was 100% successful.

At home, I sowed some more borlotti beans, courgettes and cucumber (Ataki) seeds.

On 12 May, I planted out some Patty pan squash (Sunburst) plants grown from seed at home.
For some reason one of the plants was dug up each night, I think by a squirrel, possibly looking for something in the soil.  I replanted it three times, moving it slightly each time until the problem was solved.  The seeds were left over from last year and I was pleased they had germinated but I had none in reserve in case the seedlings I had planted failed - or were destryed by squirrels! So I bought a new packet and sowed some more seeds in pots indoors.  I also sowed some Crown Prince squash.

All the Kalettes that I had grown from seed had been eaten and earlier I had bought some plugs from a garden centre which I had potted up. These now looked ready for planting out and a moved and re-erected a net cage to protect them from the pigeons.  I also moved and re-erected a second cage in preparation for planting the purple sprouting broccoli  which I had grown from seed but which did not appear to be thriving.

At the garden centre, I bought a variety of chilli plants in small pots which seemed a bargain at 5 for £7.  I have potted these into larger pots ready to be transferred to the mini-greenhouse when it is finally erected and I also bought a couple of Jerusalem Artichoke tubers (Fuseau) which I directly planted.  I did give in to temptation and bought a White Iris water plant which was in the sale and have placed this in the pond.

12 May - Kalettes

12 May - Kalettes

The front and back gardens at home were showing some spring colours and on 13 May the Paeony and the Irises in the front garden was in full flower.

13 May - Paeony

13 May - Iris

The temperature had been a regular 15C for days and the heavy winds had subsided so we thought it was time to re-erect the mini-greenhouse which would give us an opportunity to clear the bedroom shelves and the table in the conservatory of the many seedlings.

13 May - the greenhouse is up!

There is a constant supply of rhubarb and Rhubarb & Ginger Yoghourt cake  is part of our regular diet!  We assume we can burn off the extra calories by our physical activity at the allotment!

14 May - Rhubarb & ginger yoghourt cake

14 May - Rhubarb & ginger yoghourt cake

In the back garden the clematis, Hot Lips (Salvia),Weigela & Mock Orange blossom (Philadelphus) were all flowering.

16 May - Clematis

16 May - Salvia (Hot Lips)

16 May - Weigela

16 May - Philadelphus

There had been a long period without rain. The weekend 14/15 May was very sunny and 16C + during thew day but Sunday evening brought very heavy rain. The sunny weather returned Monday and Tuesday 16/17 May  with a temperature of 20C on Monday and 18C on Tuesday but breezy.  It clouded over in the evening with showers just as we were about to go away again!  We had asked Luke to water whilst we're away but it wasn't necessary as the UK experienced a prolonged rainy spell.  We made a final check that all was well before leaving.

18 May - peas

18 May - peas are flowering

18 May - spinach

18 May - Butternut squashes

18 May - Patty Pan squash

18 May - Red Gem lettuce

The Asparagus bed that we had created two years ago was in a sad state as it had been invaded by raspberry  canes which spread from underground suckers.  Only three of our six plants had survived.  I'm not sure haw we can stop further raspberry invasions so we may have to move the asparagus elsewhere which means waiting another two years for them to establish themselves and produce 😒. We did manage to pick another 8 spears and they were superb.

Before we left we harvested some broad beans (about 5kg) which when shelled produced over 1kg of beans which we have frozen.  Broad beans are one of the few vegetables which freeze well.  In fact we have only recently finished last year's crop.

18 May - Broad beans

18 May - Broad beans

On the day of our departure, I made a quick visit to check again and was delighted to see that the Patty Pan was flowering (just one male flower but it's a start!)

19 May - Patty pan in flower

We were in Spain from 19-27 May which, after weeks of rain, was experiencing a heatwave with temperatures in our part of 30-35C but they were approaching 40C in some places but we were pleased to have missed all the wet weather in UK.

On our return the weather was much more seasonal, regularly 15-20C and very little rain.  I was pleased to see that the plum trees were fruiting, but suspect we will lose quite a few in the June drop.

28 May - plum tree

There was a plentiful supply of broad beans and we picked another 5kg.

28 May - Broad beans
And the directly sown borlotti beans and climbing French beans  had germinated during our absence.

28 May - climbing French beans

The pond was surrounded by Ox-eye daisies (which were not there last year) and Love in a mist (Nigella) which had self-seeded.

28 May - Ox-eye daisies

At home the Basket of Fire chillies had produced loads of chillies. This was a plant grown from seed indoors last year and then planted in the open ground in the summer.  I had dug it up and put it in a pot which I brought indoors in October and it survived through the winter and is still producing flowers and fruits!

28 May - Basket of Fire

We hadn't yet managed to move all of the seedlings from indoors

more seedlings

Out on the plot, the love in a mist was now flowering

28 May - Love in a mist (Nigella)

Although most of the spinach beet and chard had gone to seed, there was still a lot to be harvested. 

Silver Chard

Despite our neglect, there has been a good supply of produce and a promise of more to come over the summer months.

John Austin

Hove, May 2022