Tuesday, 25 May 2010

What a scorcher! Costa del allotment

The sun was cracking the flags all weekend, and it got to a sweltering 40 degrees centigrade in the greenhouse.  At last, our first glimpse of real summer weather, it's definitely been a while, and it feels like longer because of the bitter winter we had.  I've had to do lots of watering to stop all the plants wilting, so I feel like I haven't stopped all weekend.

On Friday I planted a large terracotta pot with lysimachia, a dwarf sunflower, an orange nasturtium, a yellow nasturtium and a red pansy and a yellow pansy.  I've put this in the front garden.

On Saturday morning I shipped 3 trays of tomatoes and 1 tray of peas and pumpkins to the allotment.  I planted 14 tomato plants into the bottom greenhouse.  I also finished off the row of sweetcorn (3 successional sowings), and planted 5 pumpkins amongst the sweetcorn.  It was like an oven in the greenhouse but I stuck it out.

Chris planted out the peas, 2 per cane (for next year's reference, this wasn't enough - I should have done a full row with netting above, but I'll plants some seeds in the gaps and they'll soon catch up).

I took a cold frame full of bedding and hanging basket plants from the greenhouse at home into the back garden to harden off, there's loads of them, all ready to be planted out when I get chance.  Some of the trailing plug plants from Brookside nurseries look ace, and I'll certainly buy them again next year.

In the evening I went to my friend's 40th birthday party at a local vegetarian restaurant.  I planted an orange nasturtium in a terracotta pot for her present, presented in a yellow tub trug (she loves yellow and orange things).

To eat, I had Carribean curry with sweet potato, banana, apricot, green sultanas, corn, green beans in a green apple and tomato curry sauce, served with coconut basmati rice and some kind of salad.  Followed by caramel apple pie, cream and ice cream.  Washed down with 2 tequila sunrises and a fresh coffee.  MMMMMmmm!

On Sunday I tied up the allotment tomatoes using twine, to stop them flopping.  I still need to tie up the tomatoes at home, I just haven't had time.  My Dad showed me a good knot for tying up tomatoes, but I've forgot, so I need to look into this.  I think I may have remembered but I need to double check.  I weeded the onions and the 3 raised beds, so these look under control now.  I sowed some more beetroot and some mixed leaves.

Chris started my Dad's memorial area at the allotment - a brick planter 3 rows of bricks deep.  We need to finish it by next Saturday as his birthday is Sunday 30th May, and we're having a service to place some of his ashes in the ground there.

I took all the beans from the home greenhouse to the back garden to harden off, as well as the squashes, marrows and courgettes, with the exception of the hunter butternut squash which is not being planted outside (it's going in the top greenhouse).

I also dropped the staging above the tomatoes in grow bags so they've plenty of room to grow now.  The greenhouse is less cramped and I'm trying to narrow it down to just cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, aubergines and peppers.

On Monday I realised I'd made a very silly mistake.  DT Brown sent me some trial cherry tomato seeds with my order earlier this year and the plants germinated and grew really well.  But I have mistakenly removed the top shoot thinking it was a side shoot!  I did this with a cherry tomato last year. So I've had to dig up the plants and replace them with some others, otherwise the plants would have grown really squat and bushy.  Now I don't have any trial cherry tomato plants left.  Well, I'll still feedback to DT Brown about the seeds, and say how well they were going, and to maybe warn people on the seed packet to not mistakenly remove the top shoot.  Cherry tomatoes grow differently from normal tomatoes and that's why I cocked up.  I'll know better next year.  Half of this allotment lark is learning from mistakes.

My beautiful greenhouse lettuce have also started to bolt - it was obviously too hot for them in the greenhouse over the weekend and they've decided to go to seed.  I need to eat them asap as they'll be going bitter.

I ate my first strawberries and gooseberries fresh off the plant - very tasty.

I've booked next week off work, so I'm looking forward to catching up with the garden and allotment and getting on top of things.

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