Monday 25 June 2018

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on The Weald May 2018

Life on the Weald, May 2018 

One of the consequences of living by the sea is that children, grandchildren and the wider family and friends visit quite often.  This was an intended consequence and we love having visitors but we do tend to lose weekends on the allotment!

We hadn't done as much preparatory work as we should in April as we lost a whole weekend for the London Marathon, then we went away for a week to coincide with Sylvi's birthday and then my daughter and family came down for a weekend (although it was so wet and miserable that in all honesty we wouldn't have ventured to the allotment).

In May, my eldest son and family visited for the early bank holiday weekend and shortly after we disappeared for a week to Spain.  The weather for the early May holiday was extremely good and whilst we neglected the allotment, we made good use of the garden

We also got the barbecue out for only the second time this year and also put the smoker to good use with smoked pork ribs and a slow smoked been joint. 

Chicken and lamb kebabs

smoked beef and pork ribs
Surprisingly though, we grabbed a few hours later in the week and got some work done on the plot and its looking reasonably good.

On my first visit of the month I was pleased to see that the rhubarb which we had transplanted had taken well.

And in those dark November/December days I had sown some winter lettuces in seed trays at home.  They had germinated indoors but spent January and February outdoors before being planted out in March.  I was surprised to see that they had survived!

Vailan, winter sown lettuces

The peas were also doing well......

Kelvedon Wonder peas
 ...........and the broad beans sown in March were coming along.

Meteor broad beans
 Early May and the blueberries are in full flower...........


............. and the apple is in blossom.

We also had signs of the first gooseberries in early May 

gooseberry 4 May
And by 25 May we had a prolific crop

Sadly, two days later the entire crop had disappeared - squirrels? pigeons? herring gulls? We just don't know.  Unlikely to have been people as they weren't ripe.  But next year I will have to think of netting them.  We lost our entire crop of blueberries last year so netting them is a priority for this month.

The first early potatoes are doing well...

First early Rocket potatoes - 4 May

Vivaldi and Charlotte first early potatoes - 4 May

At the beginning of May, the pond was covered in pond weed and there was no evidence of frogs or toads returning, but the water irises planted last year are looking good and hopefully will flower this year.   If there are no signs of our amphibians returning by the end of the month, I think I might import some spawn or tadpoles.

Garden pond and irises - 4 May

We still have plentiful supplies of chard and perpetual spinach, some of which is beginning to go to seed.  There are also bluebells everywhere.

chard and bluebells - coexistence

We have had a good crop of broad beans from the Aquadulce sown in November

Sowing in November gives a crop a few weeks ahead of those sown in February/March which usually means they avoid blackfly - and sure enough the ones sown in February are now infested.

I have repaired the frame that I built for last year's tromboncino and have used it to make a frame for the runner beans.

I confess that I haven't grown them from seed but bought some plants from the garden centre and supplemented them with some bought from the Allotment Federation's plant sale.  I also bought some courgette plants from the plant sale but am not sure of the variety.  I have cleared the jungle where the sprouts and cabbages grew last year and had to dig out nettles and brambles and it will be a challenge to keep both under control.

By the end of the month the water iris was in flower

But still no sign of any frogs or toads.  By chance someone on the local "Nextdoor" social media site was offering tadpoles so I collected some and transferred them to the pond

By the end of the month we were harvesting Broad Beans and Peas and the raspberries were just beginning to ripen. Looks like we'll have a good harvest in June.

John AustinHove, May 2018