Monday, 16 July 2012

Actual, proper, genuine, sunshine!!

It's been over a week since I wrote anything on here, and with good reason; we've barely been down the ol' plot.  The weather has been what they refer to at the Met Office (probably) as "utter shite", with the only question being how many months worth of rain will fall on any given day.  But hey, you know all this right?  I mean you noticed didn't you?  Thought so.  I was all set to write some grumbly screed about how awful it all was when KA-POW!!, we've had a weekend where it only rained a tiny bit, and the sun even came out!  Weird.

Blue sky not photoshopped.  Seriously.

So we've been down the allotment both days of the weekend and have managed to get a bit done.  I decided to hoik up some more of our first early spuds.  The couple of plants dug up so far had delivered not very many tiny spuds so I was reticent to dig more up yet, but a few of the plants had got some dodgy yellow colour to the leaves and looked knackered, so no point in keeping them in the ground I thought.  Three plants delivered this many spuds.

I was happy enough with that considering that a) the soil is pretty waterlogged in places and b) the seeds were cheapo ones from Wilko's.  I don't know what the yellowing thing is that has afflicted some of these plants, I don't think it's blight as I heard that makes them stink like death.  I'm guessing it might just be because of how wet the soil is?  Any suggestions, and what to do about it in future, much appreciated.
Dodgy yellowing spud plants 
We also weeded and earthed up our leeks a bit.  They're looking not too bad I reckon.
Leek valley
One thing we had managed to do in spite of the ongoing monsoon was to start off some radishes and turnips in modules in our newly acquired mini greenhouse thing.  They had nearly all germinated, so we decided to rake over a patch and plant them out.  Planting these in modules first was in reaction to our first batch of turips and radishes getting thoroughly decked by a flea beetle/ slug combo before they even got started.  We'll see if getting them going this way helps.  I'm dubious, but then I am a pessimistic sod.
Stuff germinating

Planting out Radishes
Our pumpkin plants are doing great, far better than the courgettes, which are idiots.  Our one decent courgette plant keeps pumping out male flowers with not a courgette in sight.  What's it's problem?  Anyway, I digress, look at these pumpkins:

And look here, pumpkins are in the post!  This is pretty exciting stuff.

On Sunday we made an impromptu visit to Wylam Nurseries to see if they had any plants going cheap ( thanks to Kasia's folks for driving us), as we've still got a fair bit of unoccupied territories (So we're basically the opposite of Palestine, or something?). We picked up a couple of globe artichoke plants, some bronze fennel, some wild strawberry plants, some amazing smelling chocolate mint and some more leeks, and we planted out the whole damn lot.  With the exception of the leeks actually, which were seperated out and put into compost to get a bit bigger before they go into the ground.  It's probably a bit late for most of these, but what the hell, we've got space and they may all come back strong next year.
Bronze fennel with globe artichokes languishing mischievously to the rear 
We'd been having a chat earlier in the day with Karen from the allotments, she's got some lovely looking artichokes, so if these get established and come back strong next year, that'd be great.  Here's hoping.

In "ugh, rank" news, I pulled up a thistle and it had what I thought were loads of white eggs attached to the lower stem, but on closer inspection they proved to be weird white things as per here:
Friend or foe??
I've no idea what they are but I didn't like the cut of their jib.  They were binned, along with the nefarious thistle.  Continuing the insecty theme, when I was pulling up paving stones to try and eradicate the bindweed that was under them a few weeks back I found a massive ants nest.  I hauled it up again to see what they were up to.

They were busy!  I'm guessing those things are eggs, or larvae or something?  Anyway, when I pulled the stone up all the ants went mental, grabbed the nearest egg/ larvae thing and dashed for cover.  I can respect ants, they know a thing or two about teamwork.  Plus, they eat the blackfly eggs off our broad bean plants.  When there are so many malignant forces conspiring against you, it's good to know that the ants are pretty much on your team.

Excitingly, we also got to eat some of our veg this weekend.  Saturday night was a curry made with beef, OUR onions and OUR broad beans.  One day we'll grow a cow, but not yet.  Not yet.  Also in the curry was this Burmese paste, which, if you're interested, can be bought from the fantastic mmm... deli/ food shop in Newcastle's Grainger market.  This stuff is pretty spicy, but very good.  Can't say I've ever had a Burmese meal before, and I probably still haven't.  Do they put broad beans in Burmese food?  Who knows.  Tonight we had a cracking dinner of salad, including OUR sorrel, OUR nasturtium leaves and flowers, and other stuff that's got nowt to do with us, plus loads of spuds that have got everything to do with us.  It was great.

Would it be too much to ask for a bit more of this sort of weather?  Probably, but screw it, I'm asking for it anyway.


  1. FIrstly ants are not always on my side - one of the little devils got up my trouser leg and bit me 20 times on its progress upwards - they stung and itched like crazy. The white things will be a mixture of eggs, pupae and grubs. The weird white things are aphids which come in all sorts of colours.

    Must admit with potato blight I've only noticed a smell if the tubers are affected but as for your yellowing - if the potatoes are an early variety they may just be going over and dying back.

    We are the opposite to you no pumpkins or squash (the seeds didn't even germinate)) but the courgattes seem to be setting fruit.

    1. Sorry to hear about your Ant experience; that guy (or gal) must've been having a really bad day.

      Some of the spuds went yellow before they really grew at all. Think I'll put it down to the sogginess of the patch.

  2. A fine day makes such a difference!
    Love the pumpkins. Both my courgettes and the pumpkins are on the point of expiring.

  3. whenever we get a glimpse of sunshine I'm out on the patio lapping it up like an addict! By the time I've put the kettle on to have some tea... it's raining again!

  4. Well it looks like you had some fun. It could be blight on your potatoes and no it doesn't always smell...or they could just be dying back.

    Aphids on the thistle aren't something I like around too much.

    My pumpkins are doing great and the rest of the squash I have are now starting to flower and I even managed to harvest a courgette today. Hopefully you will get some fruit on your courgette plants. Haven't tried digging up my spuds yet but it's on the agenda for this evening hopefully!!


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