Monday, 23 June 2008

Summer dreaming

It's here. It's official too. The summer solstice has passed so the nights will get closer but until it gets noticeable, I'm spending my evenings down on the plot when possible. It's this time of year when I can easily pop down for an hour and not come home until dusk.

This sunday I drove down at about 11 o'clock, not early I know but it was sunday, and I eventually floated home immune to any of life's worries just after 3 pm. If I had taken some sandwiches with me I may well have stayed until dark but as I hadn't I couldn't ignore my stomach and left to fill it. Fresh gooseberries and all the lettuce I could eat wasn't enough.

The plot itself is looking good. The broad beans have finished, thankfully as I was beginning to get sick of the sight of them. The first row of new potatoes has been emptied so I have some fresh soil to start sowing again.

I can still get some carrots in and I'm determined to give them another go despite the soil being clay and a little lumpy. I may try some late parsnips and I have some calabrese seedlings to transplant. I will off course sow more salad crops, radish and lettuce and some beetroot for christmas pickles.

I lifted my shallots as a couple had gone to seed. I don't know why but my soil is rubbish for Alliums. My red onion sets all went to seed again this year. Last year both red and white went to seed. Now my shallots are putting up the pointy stem. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my garlic and I'm not growing leeks.

With each failure comes the chance for success. Although my onions have disappointed by going to seed, the radishes I left in the ground have thrown up the most delicious seed pods. I know the germans like to crunch on radish pods with their beers so I tried to grow some a few years back. They are only the common french breakfast variety, not the specific german beirkellar types but they are lovely and crunchy when added to a salad or, as our german friends do, eaten as a bar snack.

I believe, although I've not tried, you can eat marigold flowers too. I have some to attract hoverflies and other friendly insects but I don't eat them. I do eat lackerries though and mine are looking great already. They are just starting to colour up now and as I grow the largest fruiting variety, Black Butte, I am in for a good harvest. Each fruit is already longer than any other I've seen.

The Tayberry is cropping for the first time. Not huge amounts but promising for coming seasons.

I am glad I haven't grown tomatoes this season. Last year the site was hit y Blight, a terrible airborn disease spread by spores and brought on by damp and humid weather conditions. The flooding in mid summer last year was ideal for it. This year looks like it could follow suit.

I hope it waits until we've all got our potatoes out of the ground.

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