Sunday, 17 August 2014

Alas Poor Polytunnel...

...I knew him, Horatio. Although thinking about it, people usually give inanimate things the female gender, don't they? And you're almost certainly not called Horatio, so what the hell am I on about? Oh well, at least I didn't get the quote wrong like everyone always does. Never mind Shakey Bill, the big news I'm trying to communicate here is that our polytunnel is shafted. Again.
Last time it was our stupid fault for not anchoring the frame properly and it promptly blew away in the first decent waft. This time I anchored the shit out of it and everything was going great. I'd taken to leaving the "door" open to keep air circulating and allow insects to pollinate the toms and cucumbers. We'd had some strong winds and everything was fine. I guess I got complacent, so when the fag-end of Hurricane Bertha swung into town I didn't bother to head down and shutter it up. When down at the plot earlier in the week, we were greeted by the above scene, the tunnel's plastic corpse flapping abjectly in the breeze. Sigh.

I think we're done with these "kit" plastic tunnels now. The frame is still fine, I wonder if we can fashion a more permanent structure from it. For the time being, our tomatoes are now all al fresco and at the mercy of the elements. Green as they nearly all are, a decent blast of sunlight over the next week or so is going to be needed to get them "over the line".

Pissed off at myself and moderately depressed at this turn of events, I looked elsewhere for crumbs of comfort.

Carrots provided some solace. Some of the ones w're pulling up now are proper full-sizers, but still taste fantastic. These really have been a runaway success.

After the near-total failure of our first and second earlies, it was great to dig up a couple of Desiree main crop plants and find the above. Not stunning quantities, but all a great size and not a spot of damage on any of them. What is more, they taste great. Hurrah! These went into a Boulangere type thing.

This whole allotment game takes a certain caste of mind; you have to lean to accept failures, some of which remain completely mysterious, others being without any doubt your own stupid bloody fault. But then you find something has done really surprisingly well and the world seems a less harsh place for it. I find my mood zips and darts all over the place, from dark thoughts of packing it all in to smug triumphalism. There's some sort of lesson in here somewhere, probably.

I went back down today for a spot of harvesting and a bit of a tidy-up.

Our climbing bean wig-wams are positively dripping with the things. We've picked two large bags so far, and there's a zillion more in the post. No complaints, I love french beans.

The brassica raised bed has by and large been a success. A couple of the cabbages have been hammered by slugs/snails/caterpillars, but others are doing ok and forming heads. Cavolo Nero on the other hand has been brilliant, and left completely alone by the forces of darkness. What's that all about? This stuff tastes amazing, looks great and is quite expensive in the supermarkets, so well worth growing on every front.

Even with the help of Kasia's mum, who can de-weed a section of the plot faster than you can say "perennial bastard", we've found that taking on the extra side of the allotment has stretched our ability to keep things under control to the max. As you can probably see from the pics below, things are pretty damn weedy.

We like to do quite a lot of stuff apart from the allotment, but then you can end up resenting the fact that you haven't been there often enough to stop it becoming a total weed-storm, which is no fun. We spoke recently about maybe "giving back" half the plot in the no-too-distant. Better to garden well on a smaller space than to be running about like weed-pulling mentalists on those occasions we do get ourselves down there? Food for thought.

Whereas food for me today was this amazing salad of red lettuce, french beans, pickled shallot, cucumber, pecorino and toasted sesame seeds. The entirety of the veg content coming from the plot, this was delicious enough to make me think "sod it, we're keeping the whole plot". Ups and downs.


  1. Polytunnels are a common victim of windy weather but to look on the bright side - if it had been a glass greenhouse and you had left the door open then you would have had broken glass everywhere. I'm impressed by how upright those beans are.

    Re the weeds. - weed control favbrc?

    1. Yes, I've noted how you've used it on your blog. I sort of think it doesn't look great, but am tempted nonetheless.

    2. We mulch ours with either bark chippings or manure and once the plants grow you don't see it.

  2. I feel your pain....but everything else looks great!
    And weeds, pooh what's a few weeds matter. As the previous commenter says, cover the bits up that you aren't currently using, not as aesthetically pleasing but practical.

    1. Thanks Anne. Whatever tomatoes we do end up with are going to be just about the most expensive ever!

  3. Talk about slings and arrows. If you can laugh that off.... then you're an allotmenteer, my son.


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