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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The weather continues to be more normal, overcast with drizzle and little sunshine. It seems that August is rarely a great month here on the western shore but September usually is. Something to look forward to, at least.

It may not be scientifically valid but I think our solar panels production gives a measure of the sunshine or the energy transmitted to the ground for the plants to use. We’re actually getting just 40% of the power we were in the previous quarter. Adjusting it for the shorter days, it’s roughly 50% which points up the weather change if nothing else.

The Good

Val’s red tomato chutney experimenting has produced a lovely sweet and spicy chutney that will complement a curry or a sharp cheddar cheese. It looks well too, red and glossy. Being a test she only made a jar and a half but I’ve put a production order in!

Onions

The rest of the onion crop has been lifted. Mainly red Florence onions which are OK but not good keepers due to their thick necks. They’re quite mild too and I prefer a bit more bite in an onion. Next year I’ll stick with a globe red onion along with my usual whites. It’s really been an excellent year for onions and garlic. The store is filling up fast as we string and hang them.

Drying Florence Onions

Drying Red Florence Onions on the Rack

Leeks

For years I’ve started my leeks in large troughs and planted out in dibbed holes. Inevitably this causes some damage to the roots but usually they take well after the initial shock.

This year I started them in deep modules, like large root-trainers. They didn’t grow as well as they normally do and were quite small plants when they went into the ground. But they went in without root damage and they seem to have really taken off well.

I’ll see what they’re like in October and then I can decide what to do next year. Of course, it’s difficult to judge these things on year to year performance. You don’t know how much is method and how much is weather for a start. Still, I’ll have a better idea.

Leek Bed

The Leek Bed after Weeding

The Bad – Chickweed

As the weather changed from scorching sun and dry to cooler and wet, a massive flush of chickweed appeared. It grows really fast and in a matter of days it was trying to swamp the leeks.

The biggest disappointment was the two beds with carrots. To get them to germinate in the hot, dry weather I’d covered the beds with fleece to hold moisture for the seedlings. The concept is one I picked up from a Canadian market gardener and the theory certainly makes sense.

Well the carrots have germinated but the beds are solid chickweed. I can’t see any way to weed the beds and not destroy the carrot seedlings. Perhaps I’ll just have to feed the chickweed to the hens and write off the last outdoor carrots. Oh well, such is life.

Carrots Swamped Chickweed

Carrots Swamped by Chickweed

The Ugly

Perhaps I’m being a bit cruel here but I find it hard to describe the hawkmoth caterpillars we keep finding humping their way across the back path as pretty. I suppose their mother loves them!

They’re quite big, about 10 cm, and look fearsome which I suppose is to put off predators. They blend quite well on the concrete path so I popped this one onto a sheet of paper to photograph it. This seems to have confused the camera somewhat, sorry about the picture quality.

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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