Week 68 – Ladders and Lunches

Half term for us this week and we’ve had a fairly relaxed week. With nothing much planned we were able to pop in to the allotment most days in between cinema visits, lunches out and meeting up with friends.

Monday was a bank holiday and it’s pretty much law in the UK if you’re a gardener, you must visit a garden centre. Michelle and I drove to our local one just for a cuppa, and it was packed (all the gardeners following the law, see!) We had a wander round after our cuppa – well, you have to don’t you really? I was looking for something to grow the squashes and pumpkins up. After last year’s take over I want to try and grow them vertically if I can. We looked at some trellises and the idea of putting one down each side of the bed but they didn’s seem sturdy enough to hold even one pumpkin. I looked at some arches as I liked the idea of the pumpkins and squashes growing across the bed and from that idea I decided I need a ladder. I could picture my dad’s old decorating ladder but realised the chances of it still knocking round mum’s house somewhere were slim. So I set my good friend, F. on the case. F. is the lady who found the free compost bin. Every so often she’ll send me messages filled with water butts, compost bins and other useful garden bits and bobs. True to form, within minutes I had at least 3 wooden ladders all for sale locally sitting in my inbox. The woman is a marvel at finding stuff!

As it turned out I didn’t need F. and her marvellous searching skills. When I was next at mum’s I had a look in her garden shed not really expecting to find the ladder (based, mainly on the fact she kept telling me she no longer had it) and there it was, leaning against the wall of her shed. Yay for parents not throwing anything away! It’s now leaning up against the wall in my shed until I’m ready to plant the squash and pumpkin plants.

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Michelle helped me pot on 27 sunflowers this week. Yes, 27 of the 30 seeds I planted last week germinated (noy bad for a woman who can’t keep a houseplant alive!)

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Obviously I don’t have room for that many so we decided to do a mini plant sale at the cafe on Saturday. I’ve kept 4 for myself which I hope will give me a fighting chance to win Dan’s sunflower competition. I also took the excess squash and pumpkin plants to the cafe and Michelle donated some of her excess spinach and cucamelon plants. I kept one of the cucamelons to try for myself as I’m fascinated by them. If you haven’t heard of them before, they’re cucumbers that look like tiny watermelons. The plants went very well and they’ve all gone to new homes.

On Thursday, Louis’s friend, M. and her mum, T. visited the allotment with us. It was a lovely day and Louis was keen to show off what we’re growing. I showed M. how to weed and she also did a bit of watering. We didn’t spend too long down there as M. announced she was bored of weeding after about 20 minutes (I feel her pain!) so we drove to the local garden centre for lunch.

We have our first ripe strawberries. Louis ate one straight from the plant. He thought he’d got away with it but Michelle spotted him.

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Louis and I spent some time laying straw around the base of each plant. I know Dan showed me the straw isn’t necessary but it just felt like the right thing to do (and what the hell else am I going to do with the bag of straw?!) So we now have strawberries on a bed of straw.

I’ve planted the second raspberry cane. I chose a spot near the fence where most of the blackberries grow along from the compost bins. I have no idea if this is a good place for it but it seems sensible to have them mixed in with the blackberries. Hopefully this one will do better than the original one.

I decided to start the hardening off process with the squash and pumpkin plants. For those of you who aren’t forced to visit garden centres on bank holidays this is the process by which you slowly acclimatise your plants by gradually moving them outside. I started the process by leaving the greenhouse door open overnight for about a week. The next stage is to leave them outside overnight. The aim of all this is to try and reduce the shock when they’re planted outside.

I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong but I don’t think the pumpkin should look like this!

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This is what it looked like before I left it out overnight.

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Needless to say, it’s gone back in the greenhouse. I don’t think this little plant is quite ready for the big bad world just yet. The squashes, on the other hand look like they’re not only ready for the big bad world they look like they’re going to show the big bad world not to flippin mess with them!

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I’m going to be a bit peeved if the pumpkin plants die as I’ve given away all the other ones I grew.

Rhubi’s looking a bit spindly. There’s plenty of growth but the individual stalks look a bit thin. Not sure why – I’ll have to investigate.

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Today was a lovely day. Bright sunshine and quite warm. Louis and I went to a local car boot sale with J. from Random Cafe. Louis bought lots of WWE stuff and I found this allotment book written by Carol Klein who is one of the experts on Gardener’s Question Time. Louis and I had a very peaceful couple of hours eating our lunch and reading our respective boot sale finds on the plot this afternoon – bliss.

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Here’s how I left the plot this week. Back to college next week and I hope to plant out the squash and pumpkin plants (if they’re still alive!)

2 thoughts on “Week 68 – Ladders and Lunches

  1. The pumpkin plant may just want to shed the old growth as it develops new growth for the outside. If so, the affected leaves will not even try to defend themselves from mildew. The new leaves are what is important. Hardening off is not a pretty process.
    My old rhubarb typically wilts as the weather gets warm for the first time in a while. I don’t know why. It really likes warmth when it gets going.

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  2. Thank you Tony. That’s really useful to know. The day after the night they were outside was a very warm day so maybe that’s what’s affected them – the warm day rather than a cold night.

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