Friday 13th July
I am writing this sitting in my caravan in the Midlands visiting family but realise I've been very lax inn recording my daily visits so I plan a report at roughly weekly intervals from now on. So here goes!
Like most of my neighbours I have been watering much more than i normally do. My seedlings and newly sown seeds get watered most days whenever I can, preferably in the evenings as they stay moist all night and part of the next day. I also shade them, when I can, with one of my net tunnel cloches.
Instead this week I used two planks propped at an angle on each side of the row to form a long tent with a gap at the top. That way I can water through the gap at the top, there is good shade but light gets in. Hopefully that will be better.
Watering seeds and seedlings is the only time I use a spray or rose on the watering can and even then if it is large seed, say peas, I can pour water on through the net tunnel and the net sprays it over the seed bed. I have two huge watering cans of 15 litres each, so big I cannot carry one any distance as I need a balanced load on both arms with that much water. I find I can pour water along the base of any growing plants in sufficient quantities to need a depression to ensure it stays close to the plant or row to soak in. Otherwise water runs away all over the place! That's why most of my plants are placed in a shallow depression and rows of seeds, peas particularly, are in a shallow trench.
When using a hose I use my 'watering stick'. It was the handle of an extended window cleaning brush, a hollow aluminium tube with a Hoselock connector screwed into where the brush was originally screwed in to connect it to the end of the hose. It enables me to deliver a fairly gentle stream of water direct at the base of any plant or into one of my depressions. I hasten to add the idea came from a French friend who was a farmer's son and his 'allotment' at the bottom of his garden in the middle of France where the last few weeks weather would be normal for him.
I have also, rather tardily, set up the old plastic water tank (I have inherited from somewhere) on a flat surface near my shed. I will fill it with rainwater when I can and from the tap when necessary so I don't have to carry my two huge watering cans too far.
Sowing and planting.
In the second (late) brassica tunnel I planted five brassicas, curly kale I think - though it may be purple sprouting! (This is the danger of not labelling!) Each was planted in a 4 inch deep depression to aid watering and to allow for earthing up later.
I also sowed a row of early peas (a mixture of Kelvedon Wonder, Mistry and Terrain), now that the last row of maincrop peas (Hurst Greenshaft) is a few inches high and needs is support setting up, releasing the net tunnel to shade the new sowing.
Additionally I have sown a row of French beans, Florence Fennel and Swiss Chard, all set in a shallow trench to aid watering. Each row has been sheltered from the sun by a net tunnel or planks. Unfortunately the fennel, under the planks, came through thin and drawn and will need the net tunnel to harden up while being sheltered. The chard I then sheltered with two planks propped into a tent shape with a gap between the top edges to allow watering.
Elsewhere I planted a marrow and two green courgette plants of of different varieties, though my yellow courgette seeds failed to germinate.
During the week I harvested my first peas, a few normal peas but quite a picking of sugar snap peas, some of which were big enough to shell too add to the normal ones. My Loganberry also started fruiting. The gooseberry bushes are holding a mass of lovely sweet eating fruit, some of which will cook nicely.
We also ate the thinnings from the beetroot and the turnips.
Having finished my first early potatoes I started lifting my Charlotte second earlies. The haulms went brown and yellow so I removed them just in case it was Blight!
My onions, almost all of which have gone to seed and therefore will not store were eased from the soil, left on the top to start drying and then taken home to completely dry. One or two may be suitable to put in the show but the bulk will have to be chopped up and frozen.
As already mentioned, all this was interspersed with watering copiously, concentrating on the seeds and seedlings - more than I have ever done before - but then I cannot remember such a long hot spell since 1976!