After all our gallivanting around the Welsh countryside, it’s nice not to be driving. In fact the car agrees on that and has gone on strike. Hopefully the garage can persuade it to start working again. Incidentally, I’m sure the correct highway code action when the car in front’s hazard flashers come on and it coasts to a halt is not to toot your horn and shake your fist as the driver behind me did.
Pretty much caught up with work after a fortnight effectively out but the weather has hardly been great. I don’t tend to pay much attention to the forecasts, I’ve literally heard the weatherman on the radio saying it was sunny here as the rain poured down outside the window.
From those forecasts I have listened to, it seems we have two countries. The wet one and the dry one. The north and west being Wetland whereas the south and east are Dryland. Occasionally, they swap ends for a day or two but that’s the general pattern.
Anyway, Saturday afternoon it was down to the plot. In the greenhouse the one cucumber had 8 fruits for me! I’d sown 3 types of cucumber this year and raised 6 small plants. The greenhouse snails had reduced these down to one plant, a Romanian variety sent to me by forum member Hazem.
They’re spiky skinned and tend to be a little seedy, but they’re flavoursome and I can’t complain at the productivity. I rewarded it, and the rest of the greenhouse plants with a feed in their water.
The peppers are forming, except for the grafted chilli pepper from Sutton whose fruits are now ripe! I know they’re expensive compared with ordinary plants but they certainly do really well.
There’s one tomato looking ripe in the greenhouse. Last year at this time we had masses of tomatoes but this year the lack of sun is holding them back. The two plum tomatoes in the house have a load of green fruits but the first signs of blight are there.
All of the outdoor tomatoes have been devastated by blight, it’s not surprising really as there have been loads of Smith periods this year. One of the drawbacks of allotment growing and urban plots is that there are lots of blight spores floating around. It’s a bit like any disease, there’s more chance of catching it in a crowd than in isolation.
I was thinking about our attitude to food, we’re the first society with a general expectation of being able to get what we want when we want it. The old Victorian great house gardeners invested huge amounts of time and (cheap) manpower to provide the big house with food outside of its normal season. Now we expect our supermarket to have fresh fruit and vegetables available 365 days a year.
We tend to take the view that what doesn’t grow we don’t eat. Tomatoes are a bit of a staple though, so if worst comes to the worst then we’ll probably cheat and buy some tinned tomatoes for cooking with.
Val won’t be too please – she’s got a passata machine she’s dying to use. A friend of ours who is very self-sufficient in France reckons they’re brilliant so Val had to get one when she saw them in the allotment shop.
Broad beans are my favourite vegetable. I don’t like them prepared as they do in fancy restaurants, removing everything but the inner green part. I like them as they come from the pod, steamed a little and covered in a parsley sauce with a hunk of thick bacon. Traditional, good English cooking.
We’ll be blanching and freezing these and they should keep us going until the next crop arrives.
Final job of the day was to clear some weeds and take a cut of comfrey. You’ll be glad to know that I’m a champion weed grower. Not for me a few scattered, small specimens. I grow giant weeds worthy of the show bench if only there was a weed class.
The problem is that the wood chippings on many of the paths have rotted down and are providing a wonderful growing medium. Hopefully there will be another delivery to the site soon and I can top them up.
Having got the weeds and bean stalks, I started filling the compost heap. A layer of green waste and a layer of comfrey. Comfrey is so rich it acts like a manure, activating the compost heap and adding loads of nutrition.
By 8 o’clock I was feeling pretty tired, so a rest on my bench seat with a bottle of Lucazade (never mind all this energy and sports nutrition nonsense, I love the taste) and then to home.