Thursday, June 19, 2008


Isn't it the way, there's always lots to pick just as you're about to go away on holiday!

Tonight's haul also included a big carrier bag of onions, the ones I planted to over winter - but they really weren't very photogenic, very muddy and lots of them have those strange, stalky necks that mean they won't keep very well. J suggested onion soup as a way of using the non-keepers so I might make some tomorrow.

I'm going to make something home-grown to take to the allotment social evening tomorrow evening. Luckily it's being held indoors, at the house of a plotholder on our neighbouring allotments at Redland Green. The forecast's horrible and wet for tomorrow, but we definitely need the rain. It's still very dry up there. So...rain is good. I'll have a night off from watering and the social eveing'll make a nice start to our holiday.

Happy gardening (and picking, of course)

Monday, June 16, 2008

I forgot my blog's birthday!!

It was on Saturday 14th and I was up there that day, watering and pottering about without noticing that I'd been blogging about it for a year! I should have taken some special birthday photos and rushed home to write a bloggiversary post. It's taken me till today to realise.

I still don't remember to take the camera with me half the time. There are so many wonderful photographic opportunities that I haven't taken. I know I'm not a particularly good photographer but having a recorded image, however poor, triggers the memory and the memory provides a multi-sensory experience that I might otherwise forget. It's so good to sit up here in my little office and look at images that take me back to boiling hot summer days perfumed with the smell of honeysuckle, sharp frost with the grass cracking under my feet or hiding in the shed with a thermos of tea while the rain beats down outside. honour of this belated occasion, I just want to say
Happy Birthday
to my blog.

The apparently aerial photo was taken from the new school on the hill and the little figure in the centre waving their arms about is me. I think J took it last year when there was an open day at the school and he was on the roof, looking down and he spotted me and yelled until I noticed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Strawberry update

Well, the strawberries are still worrying me. During the week I carefully scraped off all the straw, rolled back the black mulch and eased the plants through the holes to expose the earth to sunlight. I forked around the base of all the plants and added some peat free compost from a bag of bought stuff, watered well and then stood back and looked at them. The ants have largely been killed off thanks to the nasty powder so I think I've done all I can now, short of ritual sacrifice and naked dancing. I just hope they recover.

I've been searching the internet for strawberry maladies and another problem it could be is crown rot. The pictures of affected plants look horribly similar to the strawberries on my plot. However, it's a big coincidence that each limp plant had a big ants nest underneath it, isn't it? I don't think I can do much more at the moment except wait and see what happens next.

What happens next for me is to go and make a start on supper. Just me and the boys tonight, J's away in the camper van having fun at a balloon event so he won't need to know that we're going to sample the really scrummy strawberry ice-cream to make sure it's as good as it looks. No, he won't mind - he'll be enjoying junk food with a bunch of blokes. All the more for us.

So....what can I put in for today's photo. Not another wilting strawberry, I'm choosing something that's doing very well at the moment. This artichoke is so tall I can't actually reach to pick the top ones. We've had quite a few already, more are stacked up waiting in the fridge and I took some with me to a party last night and gave them away. Partychokes.

Happy gardening

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ants in my pants

The Strawberries were doing very well until a few days ago and I was looking forward to a good crop. My plants are all poking out of black breatheable mulch with straw under the berries to hold them away from the damp earth and some time in the spring I took all the mulch off, added lots of manure compost and growmore and I thought they'd be fine. However, the plants at the lower end of the strip seem to be dwindling away - I'd thought it was just because it's been so dry, but today I lifted the black membrane and underneath each of the affected plants is a seething red ants nest.

The photos show the sad strawberry at the top and the "I'm all right mate" strawberry lower down. One plant has even given up entirely - there were loads of ant eggs under that one.

I have always had a lot of red ants on the allotment, indeed, I have often said that my allotment is a red ants nest infested by a few vegetables - but I was joking for goodness sake and I didn't mean it to get as bad as this! Today I puffed ant killer (very non organic) under the membrane and I'm hoping the ants will give up and let me harvest some strawberries. I'm not even sure if we can eat them now I've used the ant killer stuff which would be a pain.

I would really love to eradicate the little red b*****rds because not only do they kill off the plants I'm trying to grow, I am incredibly allergic to their bites and have to carry all sorts of potions in my bag to counteract the toxins.

Still, I picked enough strawberries before I applied the powder so at least we've got some for tonight. Cheesecake or ice-cream? Hmm. It's got to be good in case we don't get any more strawberries.

Happy gardening (ant-free I hope)