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Catching the Sun

Well we’ve had a few nice days for a change in this miserable, cold June so a chance to get a bit more done outside, but not all I wanted to do by any means. It’s surprising how long some jobs take, things you think will only take a couple of hours end up taking most of the day. Like getting rid of a pile of hawthorn clippings.

My master plan was to shred these but hawthorn grows convoluted and twisting which makes it a really difficult wood to feed down the hopper. Not to mention the nastiest thorns. The thorns are sharp enough to go through a glove and have a habit of breaking off under the skin where they fester unless dug out with a needle.

As well as being difficult to feed in to the shredder’s hopper, it’s a really hard wood so you can’t shred the thicker branches. Back to plan B, a fire to turn them into potash. I constrained the fire in a galvanised incinerator which holds the heat so that once burning well, even greenish wood will be consumed. Easier to feed the wood in to than the shredder but still a fair amount of chopping down in size.

By the end of a very long and tiring day, one of the piles was gone, transformed into valuable ashes and some fuel wood for the house and I was transformed into a 103 year old. Well that’s how I felt. Must get more exercise.

Runner Beans

The runners were ready to plant out, the roots just starting to circle at the bottom of their 3” pots so into a raised bed. This bed has some partially rotted turfs at the base which should help hold water for the beans like a sponge. Assuming we get some more dry days! Above the turf was soil with the rocks removed to which I’d added some organic fertiliser and nutrimate. Finally a layer of the Moelyci compost. To support the beans I’m using wigwams of canes.

Tomatoes

Over in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are looking reasonable. One of the French Marmande has got golf-ball sized fruits but they tend to produce large fruits and I’m betting that the Sungold will be first to table.

Cauliflowers

Harvested the last of the over-wintered cauliflowers. A little slug damage on one of them but if it’s not good enough for the bugs to eat then it’s not good enough for me! Actually did quite well with the cauliflowers; they’ve all been a reasonable size and quality but most important, unlike shop bought, they’ve got taste.

I suppose most shop bought vegetables are the same, grown for a range of qualities defined by a supermarket buyer. When you grow for yourself you select for flavour. Not the flavour most liked by a focus group in a blind tasting but the flavour that you and your family like best.

Potatoes

The new potatoes are flowering, which is the signal that the tubers are ready to harvest. Well usually so but not this year. The weather this year has been so stop and start. One day it’s warm and sunny the next you could be forgiven for thinking you’d slept through to autumn. Anyway, just about scraped enough for a meal from two plants.

My daughter discovered the same with her potatoes, grown in sacks on the patio and from this email, we’re not alone:

I planted my first earlies in March. There have been no flowers at all on the plants. I believe 10 weeks for your first earlies to harvest and about 13 weeks to harvest main crop?

As my first earlies did not flower, I am a bit confused. I have dug a couple of the plants up but the tubers  did not seem ready to harvest. Could you please advise me on this and should I just wait a bit longer as it is over 13wks now?

It’s frustrating, but we’ll just have to wait another couple of weeks for the potatoes to catch up and crop. Incidentally, Main crop are usually 20 weeks from planting. There’s more info here: Grow Your Own Potatoes

Visitors

By Thursday the weather was changing from summer to autumn yet again although not quite as quickly as the weatherman predicted. Joyfull from the forums and her husband came over to see us. They’re taking a holiday in N Wales so dropped in. We’re so fortunate to have made so many friends from the web site. I don’t mean ‘Facebook friends’ who clicked a ‘like’ button but real people who have become genuine friends over the years.

We took them for a little drive around, stopping for a cuppa in a seaside cafe in Criccieth and then an exciting visit to Aldi in Porthmadog before heading for home via Beddgelert Sadly we couldn’t show them Snowdon which was wrapped in cloud.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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