July 2008

Earlier in the year I planted several perennials to bring some colour to the plot… more photos at the bottom of the page under ‘This month’s photos’. But none are more striking than the globe artichokes I planted in my first year in one of the diamond beds & at the end of a path. As the picture on the left (click to enlarge) shows, they’re in full bloom now & attracting lots of bees. Not managed to eat any yet though, after three seasons!

You may remember the broody chicken last month, confined to a box with chicken wire bottom. Good news… within 36 hours she was back to normal as though the previous three weeks of sitting on imaginary eggs & behaving like a scalded cat whenever I forced her out had never happened! And by mid July she was back to laying, the daily egg count returned to four a day.

The chickens are again sleeping in the hut after a particularly wet few days… though not when I inadvertently left the door to the chicken run open at the end of a planting session one Sunday morning. As I merrily returned late Monday afternoon they were waiting at the corner of the plot nearest where I’d first appear strolling down the allotment path, and look like they’d spent the night there waiting for me to appear. They gave me a good telling off with some very strident clucking, asking how I could do such a thing!

There’s now a chicken fan club drawn from Sammy’s classmates. He’s been taking his chicken letters (the weekly cluck) into school for his teacher to read out to the class. In return quite a number of them wrote their own letters which I found in the chickens’ post box one day. Had it not been the end of term the chickens might have struck up a correspondence with the whole class. Let’s see what happens with the new term & a change of teacher in September. I’m still working on my other grandson, Connor, from whom a new chicken letter still raises a reaction of ‘Oh no, not another one’.

It’s been a battle to get enough time for all the jobs this month, though the bed in front of the shed is looking good as shown in the picture below. In between almost daily sessions hacking the grass back with the strimmer I’ve planted:

· Seeds for Canterbury bells, spring onions & spinach

· Seedlings for butternut squash, lettuce, rhubarb, tomatoes, beetroot, peppers and a whole bed of leeks

Things I’ve been harvesting during the month are:

· Broadbeans, but got far more than the extended family can cope with even though I only planted half a bed

· Beetroot

· Garlic, though the cloves aren’t looking right & fall apart, no doubt caused by the rust that affected the foliage

I’ve been getting on my bike more often, though I’m having to use my back up bike since the Gazelle Impala went back into Halfords some time ago. Good news though… after a bit of chasing & threatening of small claims court action Halfords have agreed to replace the bike, pretty good of them given that I’d had the Gazelle for almost a year. I’ve chosen a Pashley Roadster Sovereign, a similar ‘sit up & beg’ bike hand built in Stratford upon Avon & available in any colour so long as it’s black. I like that bit somehow. Was vastly encourage with its staying power when I popped into Cambridge… heaven on earth at any time to visit, with its wonderful architecture, interesting markets & fantastic open spaces… to browse the bike shops that apparently stocked Pashleys. None to be seen, until I went into Cam Cycles & saw several vintage Pashleys in the back, all still in working order. Pashley supplies the post office bikes, & are very popular in Oxford & Cambridge where the occupants know a thing or two about two wheeled transport, so I’m looking forward to many years of untroubled pedalling when the bike gets delivered mid August.

But never without a grumble, I’m now onto my pear tree, which cost almost £30 in Spring & has looked pretty sickly ever since. Early in the month I took a twig sample into the supplier, Huntingdon Garden & Leisure, showing the leaves with brown spots. Barry thought it might be fire blight, but the gardener there didn’t agree & suggested a couple of other possibilities with the happy news that pear trees are susceptible to attacks from all kinds of bugs & fungi. Pity that wasn’t highlighted when I bought it! By the end of the month the whole plant is dying back & looking terminal as shown in the picture above… strange, given that my neighbours have got a very healthy specimen growing nearby. Think I may have to uproot the plant & take it into the garden centre on their busiest day to see if I can get a better response!

Had a first attempt at making raspberry jam, encouraged by the taste of the wonderful jam I’ve been getting from Fullards Farm, the jammiest jam I’ve ever tasted & so good my son John has been tucking in as well. My own attempt didn’t go so well… followed the instructions a little too literally on how the mixture should fall off the spoon and had it boiling away for far too long. Only question now is how I’m going to get the jam out of the jar to start again, since it’s set like concrete!

Other things to be cheerful about in July are:

· My daughter Becky is getting married to Barry in August 2009. I missed my chance when Barry asked for my permission… I could have asked him what his prospects were, whether he could keep her in the manner to which she’d become accustomed (he’s been struggling over that bit for years anyway), & whether they intended to start a family (maybe Sammy & Izzy were only practice).

· Beat my son David 5 squash matches to 4 in July, to start my recovery in the second half of the year… do you think I might have left it a bit late, given that the months’ score is now 1-6 and I have to win every month from now on to draw 6-6 at the end of December & set us up for a New Year’s play off? Who said I’m an optimist?

· Fixed my grandson Connor’s robot wall clock, resulting in him going into ecstasy over it… think he likes to fall asleep to the sound of its ticking. The hands had broken & it looked like all was lost when I couldn’t find replacement parts at less than £15. Linda then had the brilliant idea of looking round the charity shops for a clock with similar parts, of which there were two. £1.50 & a bit of red paint later & all was well.

But the first sign of the end of summer has arrived… the last band played at The Waits in St Ives at the end of July. It’s a favourite Sunday afternoon amble for Linda & I, to sit in the garden at the Norris Museum basking in the sunshine & listening to the band playing, followed up by a walk around the nature reserve on Holt Island. Must hurry & make maximum use of the remaining summer!

I’m going to try a different approach from August onwards, updating my blog every day or so. I’m reducing my working days to two a week, Tuesday & Wednesday, so I think I may just stand a chance to update more regularly as I’ve wanted to do for some time.

Thanks for reading my blog. More photos below, & you can leave a comment at the foot of the page by clicking ‘Comments’. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)

Weed suppressant on rear plot

Flower of sweet pepper

Ripening strawberry

After giving the buddleia in my garden a spring prune I planted a few sticks on the allotment. Having done nothing to them, not only have they sprouted, but also flowered in their first year!

Vine tomatoes ripening

Bed of sweetcorn & pumpkins, apparently the way North American Indians used to combine planting.

Pumpkin flower

Giant scabiosa flower

A typical daily haul... eggs, spring onions & beetroot

My favourite chicken, Paige. She's inquisitive, bright & very friendly

My other favourite chicken, Izzy. She's very placid & lets my grandson Sam carry her around without complaint (usually)

View from back of plot

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...