Another week of extreme weather here in the UK. We’ve had thunderstorms, rain, ridiculous humidity and the hottest day of the year so far, which, of course was the day we’d arranged to travel to Richmond on public transport! Very pleased to see the side of a London Overground train with ‘#EveryLoveMatters’ on the side of it but not quite so pleased to spend 3 hours travelling home in boiling hot temperatures. Richmond is lovely though and we’ll definitely go back – but maybe wait for a slightly cooler day.
I started the week by visiting my local nature reserve. I pay an annual membership fee to be able to visit it and this was my first visit this year. It’s an amazing place and one of my favourite places to just sit quietly. It’s also the place where I’ve seen kingfishers the most often. I love kingfishers and I often forget how privileged I am to have seen them so many times. I didn’t see any kingfishers this time but I did see a heron, loads of little egrets and a woodpecker, and, much like the allotment 2 hours passed incredibly quickly.
I took my 2 helpers to the plot on Tuesday afternoon. We left it until a little bit later in the day this week due to the heat and, because I didn’t want them collapsing from heat exhaustion, I didn’t work them too hard! The whole plot needed a good water and when they’d done that I showed them how to weed properly using the hoe.
We then set about harvesting some fruit and veg. I showed them how to dig up potatoes. We dug up LOTS of potatoes! I kept telling them we had enough potatoes but then I’d turn round and find one of them had dug up another potato plant. Helper number 2 took some home. I’ve been cooking with them all week and I took a bag full to the cafe this week and we made wedges with them.
We then had a go at the blackberries. Again, we found lots. There were loads more we couldn’t reach but we were pleased with our haul. They’ve gone into the freezer to be used next time I do any baking.
Next, we pulled some rhubarb stalks. I made a rhubarb crumble cake with them. I found the recipe online – I wanted to find something to do with the rhubarb other than crumble, and it turned out surprisingly well. I took it to this week’s cafe where it sat alongside a courgette cake made by one of our other volunteers. The courgette cake was really tasty – definitely on my list of things to make (shame I’m not growing courgettes this year!)
While we were there I remembered to remove the boards from the ladder above the squashes. It seems to have made a difference, now the squashes are seeing more sunlight they do seem to have grown – well, I think so anyway. No squashes on the plants yet – we have flowers now though. The photo on the left was taken on Tuesday, the day I removed the boards, the photo on the right was taken 5 days later – removing the boards was a good idea!
The chrysanthemum seems to have exploded with growth! I guess it really likes the combination of lots of sun and rain. I’ve decided I may have to move her, though. My original idea was to position the water butts at the back of the shed but the more I think about it the more I realise what an utterly ludicrous idea this is (I know right, not like me at all!) I think, having to walk all the way round the shed to fill the watering cans is going to slowly drive me bonkers. There is no other route to the back of the shed unless I move the pear tree which is totally not going to happen! So, my plan is to move the chrysanthemum, the strawberry/raspberry plant, the greenhouse and anything else in that bed to clear enough space for the waterbutts. This will make the water much easier to access but means I’ll lose a bed, a bed which, to be fair mainly has flowers in it. I really like having flowers on the plot and, of course without them we would have no fruits and vegetables so I will find somewhere else for them to go.
We definitely have at least 2 cucumbers and around 6 pumpkins so far – one of them is pretty big.
We have quite a few peppers – all green and all quite small. But look at what’s happened to the biggest one – it has stretch marks! Michelle and I were laughing about peppers having stretch marks until I googled it and found that’s exactly what they are! And, like humans they happen when the flesh of the pepper expands faster than the outer layer. I can’t leave it there like that, showing its stretch marks to the world – I’ll pick it the next time I’m down there.
I haven’t mentioned the leeks or spring onions for a while because, quite frankly they’re not really doing very much. They are definitely growing and, while I don’t expect them to do anything as exciting as jumping out of their beds and dancing round the plot they’re really not doing much of any interest. I can’t show you fruits or flowers on them, they are, in effect just leaves sticking up out of the ground. Obviously, if they do ever start dancing round the plot you’ll be the first to know but please don’t hold your breath!
The cucamelon has grown beyond its support, with quite a few tiny cucamelons on its stems. We’re all waiting excitedly for them to be big enough to eat since finding out they go very well in gin!
Here’s how I left the plot this week. No definite plans for next week really. The area behind the shed needs to be cleared (again!) so I may start the job of moving the waterbutts but we’ll see.