Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Our First Harvest!

Look!

This evening we picked our first harvest; thirteen beautiful big strawberries. (And just two months after getting the baby plants in the post!) I know it’s a clichĂ©, but they really are the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted! We laid straw underneath the plants at last to keep the fruit off the soil, so hopefully there will be plenty more soon!

My lovely mum bought me a box of petunia plants which I planted around the asparagus the other day, and while there are still a few asparagus beetles around, the numbers do seem to be reduced. Hopefully as the plants get bigger they’ll do even better at keeping the beasts away. The flowers make a nice splash of colour anyway, and some of our marigolds and nasturtiums around the place have started flowering at last too.

The lavender has started flowering as well, although it’s swamped by weeds, like most other things. We’ve had a lot of rain recently and it’s really not helping in the battle against the green carpet that comes from nowhere and spreads over everything!

The beans are pretty swamped too, but they’re making a good effort and have started climbing up their canes. The pesky slugs are still doing them some damage, but the battle continues...


And the borage is about to burst into flower, which will help attract more bees and predatory insects. You can see one above between the bean rows; there are quite a few dotted around.

I had thought our first harvest would be new potatoes or lettuce leaves; our patchwork of lettuces is growing nicely (though it could do with a good weeding like everything else!) and the potatoes are flowering with enthusiasm. It’ll only be a couple of weeks before we start picking these too!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Progress!

As promised, we got pretty busy at the weekend! While mum and I did various bits of weeding and planting, Eddie and Dad cleared more than a third of the 'jungle' half of the plot! It still needs a quick fork-through for roots (which I have made a good start on already) but that's two more squares nearly ready for planting (and thank goodness; if we don't get it done this month it'll be pretty much too late).

The strawberries are busy producing fruit, and we pinned some of the runners into the soil each side to create new rows, and put some net up over the plants to protect the developing fruit from birds.
The potatoes have started to flower, which means we'll be able to dig for our first baby new potatoes soon!
And the onions seem to be doing really well despite the weeds. A few of my red onion seeds have finally sprouted now too, though I doubt they're going to have time to develop fully before the end of the season. Next year I think I'll stick to onion sets and not bother with seeds!
The pond is doing really well, despite last week's rock-fall which I cleared up at the weekend. The plants are really flourishing, and if you look closely below you can see two little red water-lily leaves starting to show...
And the tadpoles are turning into frogs! Lots of teeny-weeny frogs!
We're going away in a couple of weeks and it really is getting to summer now, so I'm determined to plant lots more before we go. The two squares clear now will be for brassicas and tomatoes, but that still leaves sweetcorn, more brassicas and two squares for curcubits to clear. But the progress we've made has been really encouraging, and I can't wait to do more!

Friday, 8 June 2007

A Quick Update

I've got no pretty pictures today but I just thought I'd tell you how things are going.

I'm losing the battle against asparagus beetles I'm afraid; I pick them off whenever I visit but they seem to do so much damage so quickly. It's not as if they're destroying this year's crop, but they defoliate the ferns so they'll weaken the plants for the future. Petunias are supposed to keep the beetles away and I had planned on a border of them, but for some reason none of my seeds grew. If I can scrape enough pennies together I'll buy a load of plants from the market... On the plus side, the asparagus seems to be putting up lots of new shoots, which is good.

Slug and snail damage has been greatly reduced but still not enough; there must be millions of the things living in the overgrown next allotment (and of course the overgrown part of mine) and they've completely destroyed the sunflowers I planted at the border. Thanks to a suggestion from a friend, I'm now considering a wall of bristly doormats to keep them out!

The weeds keep on coming, and it's not just my lack of enthusiasm which is stopping me from digging the next part of the plot; there's always too much to do to look after the planted patches all the time!

The strawberries have started fruiting! How exciting! The fruits are still white at the moment so I need to protect them from birds soon before they ripen, and put some straw underneath to keep them off the soil, which can spread grey mould. Where does one buy straw, that's what I want to know!

Someone has kindly knocked most of the pile of rocks by the pond into the water, killing a huge frog that must have been visiting. It can't have been the wind; I spent ages building that pile and making sure it was secure. Next time I visit I'll have to fish all the rocks back out and build it again...

The potatoes are doing well, as are the onions, and I think among the forest of weeds yesterday I spotted some parsnips and red onions finally coming up too! The seedlings in my garden are starting to really suffer from being in tiny pots, and the cats keep digging up my leeks, so I really need to get things planted out or it'll be too late to bother (though I keep telling myself not to worry if not everything happens this year; next year we'll be able to get a much earlier start and we won't have such a battle on our hands!).

This weekend we're planning to spend a whole day there, do a decent amount of weeding and dig that next strip at last. Wish us luck!
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