Slow painting

Friday 13 July 2012

Dodging showers

I heard on a TV weather forecast this week that Edinburgh has only had 1.5 hours of sunshine so far this July.  It certainly feels like it.  We have almost given up expecting anything of this summer.  Getting any work done at the allotment has been a struggle:  June is always a busy month for us, and this year with the end of our daughter's schooldays it's been especially hectic.  But constant rain, particularly at weekends, has held us back even more.

The arrival of an order of brassica plants this week from Delfland Nurseries meant that rain or not we had to get to the plot at the weekend.  I expected that the soil would be waterlogged, but wasn't prepared for the depth to which my foot sank into the soil when I stepped on to the strawberry bed.  Actually it wasn't so much soil as liquid mud.

Still, a few strawberries had ripened despite the lack of sun.

A very kind work colleague who keeps horses supplied me with several leaves of hay to spread around my strawberries.  It was fun getting the hay home on the busOf course I now realise after reading Monty Don's 'Ivington Diaries' that it would have been smart to put organic slug pellets down before I spread the hay.  So I may have created a snug home for slugs and snails, but at least the berries are raised off the soil mud.

Ideally we would have  moved the netting cage that is over the broad beans, peas and French beans, but the chances of being able to fix the poles in the liquid mud made us abandon that idea.  A floating fleece protection against pigeon attach was the best we could do, but we'll have to loosen it as soon as we can.  We're away from Edinburgh at the moment, so the plants will have to survive until next weekend.  Two types of sprouting broccoli, calabrese, two types of kale, spring cabbage and winter cauliflower.  Planting into liquid mud was a horrendous experience.  I'm not sure what the plants will make of it.  All instructions to 'firm the plants well into the soil, drawing it up round the stem' had to go by the board as I inserted them into the mud as best I could.

Otherwise, not a lot is happening.  One of the garlic varieties has rust.  The shallots, seen behind it, are rather thin and weedy and I can only hope for some sun to plump them up.

The broad beans, alas, are what we call 'couped' (pronounced 'cow'pd') in Scots, i.e. fallen over.  They were supported by twine, but since I only had metal poles to hand (ex-children's climbing frame) the twine has slid down the metal with the pressure of the bean stalks.  We had no time on Sunday to put things to rights, so this may be another casualty of weather and lack of time.  The beans on the lower part of the stalks are forming well, but higher up the pods have all shrivelled away into little black remnants.  Advice please, from any experienced broad bean growers!

For the moment we are up on Speyside, where conditions are pretty much the same as in Edinburgh.  Perhaps slightly drier, as there hasn't been the absolutely constant rain we've had, but everything in the garden is very backward and shrunk in on itself.  I have the left overs from my brassica order up with me to plant out in my Dad's garden.  The soil here is lighter, since it's on a river plain and was once good arable land rather than inner city goodness-knows-what.  It will be interesting to compare the fortunes of the two brassica plantings.