Saturday, 14 July 2012

Good harvest regardless of the weather

I picked all the blackcurrants today.  There were some that were still green but these will not affect the taste of jam.  Blackcurrants make exceedingly good jam.  I was going to use the blackcurrant picking tool that I bought from the shop at the Alternative Technology Center in Machynlleth, however I endeavored to pick them all by hand.  The blackcurrant picking tool lies redundant in the shed again this year.  I will make sure I use it next year.

As I have said before on this blog, picking blackcurrants is an exceedingly tedious task that should be done when you have something good to think about.  It seems that, for the first time ever, my allotment got "pointed" for the local town competition.  Pointing, I am lead to believe, means that your allotment is deemed to be of a high enough standard to enter the competition.  Non pointed allotmenteers are just not up to the high standard of us "pointed" growers.  Is there any point I wonder?

Well the judges came today and looked over the allotment and sounded suitably impressed, which means that I probably got something between 5 and 10 points out of 35.  If I got over ten then I might take the competition a little more seriously next year.

The judges came while I was layering the sweet peas.   Not the most convenient time with sweet pea plants littering the ground looking as though I had taken a machete to them.  So I was backwards and forwards having to show them where things were and tying up the sweet pea plants.   They had to wade through the quagmire that is the track way alongside the allotment because all the springs I knew about were flowing with abandon in a little stream down the path.  (Together with about three that have just recently started to flow).

The sweet peas have been a great disappointment this year loosing all their buds due to the cold wet weather.  Next year will be better.  Well, I got to layer about ten plants before I gave up and gave the judges a guided tour around the allotment.  A good job they all had their wellies on.

Not only did the judges want to look at the veg, they also wanted me to remember what varieties I was growing.  If I knew this was going to be a memory competition I would have stayed at home and left them to it.  That's why I have a computer and a subscription to the Sutton's Seed Garden Planner.  That is the only way that I can remember what varieties I have planted and where I planted them.  

And that is why I ended up trying to remember the varieties I had planted while I was picking the blackcurrants.  A little late because the judges were long gone and were not that bothered anyway.   Still it gave me something to think about while I was picking the blackcurrants.

Now that they have been judged I decided to harvest the summer cauliflowers and one or two of the cabbages.  I do not usually grow summer cauliflowers or cabbage because the cabbage white butterflies  Pieris brassicae devastate them during the summer months.  This year, however, I did grow them for the competition.

They were planted on a Hugelkultur hot bed and this seems to have given them a boost because they are really big now.

I carefully covered them with enviromesh and I have got several very good cauliflowers.  Unfortunately, they have been devastated by slugs and snails.   How the beggars get through the barrier I don't know because I bury the edges in the soil.  It has shown me how important soil preparation is and the effect of a good barrier.

The rest of the first sowing of peas needed harvesting.  I took out the plants and took off the peas as I went. The chicken wire that was around them was put around the Early Onward peas to give them a little more support.  They are already 3 feet tall and they have not flowered yet.  They will get to 4 feet or more before they are harvested, which means they will flop everywhere under the weight of the pea pods.  You can't trust these seed packets that say Onward will not grow higher than three feet.

Still picking the strawberries
There are still strawberries on the plants and these were harvested too.  I got more than I expected and they were quite large ones.  I got half a tub of gooseberries too.  The gooseberries were going a little soft because we have had so much rain.  No matter they will make fine jam.

The second sowing of lettuce has passed its sell by date and needed to be composted.  About five lettuces have got stem rot and a lot of slugs by the looks of things so they went on the compost heap.

I gave the onions, leeks, curbits, tomatoes and sweet corn a foliar feed with comfrey liquid fertiliser.   I have red tomatoes on the outside Latah.  I haven't even got red tomatoes on the greenhouse tomatoes so it is true what the Real Seed Company says about them.  I will have a little ceremony to eat the first one tomorrow.

I will put down the empty parts of the allotment to green manures so that they can establish themselves before the winter.  I  will use grazing rye where the peas have been taken out.


  1. healthy looking garden.... it doesn't matter if we cant remember the varieties, as long as the plants grow well and healthy.