Tuesday was another hot dry day in London, with temperatures in the mid-twenties. We’ve been speculating about the temperatures inside our growing shed. Our allotment neighbour R has a thermometer in his shed and told us on Monday that temperatures inside his shed was 36ºC!!
So after our first session of the day – working with the woods volunteers – we broke for a brief lunch then went down to Kentish Town to pick up a thermometer or two for our own shed.
The big dude bought two big thermometers – one for inside the shed, and the other outside (in the shade). And in the meantime, the seeds I started yesterday were left outside in the ‘nursery’ area (shady spot behind our massive stand of blackberries). Seeds started include sprouting broccoli and kohl rabi. Go seeds go!
Up at the plot the strawberries are almost done and the leaves were going crinkly from lack of watering, so we gave them a splash and hopefully the remaining berries don’t rot off.
But the loganberries, planted in front of the rose arbour, are coming into their prime, making that whole corner a riot of various red tones.
Malink harvested berries while I puttered in the seed shed and found one berry that had twinned and looked heart-shaped. Sweet!
And I’ve been delighted with the way everything’s growing – despite set backs with the seed trays. Poor results with bean and pea seeds – and I’ll have to start more. But we have had some successes with seeds. We started from seed a tray of hollyhock – the seeds were collected in Antwerp when we were there for a Luka Bloom concert last year. They should flower a deep pink/ fuchsia colour. The plant from which the seeds came towered seven or eight feet tall and was growing in the grounds of the church that stood outside our rented room.
The plan is to transplant these to the back patch wildflower area in the middle of the lawn. (Newly defined by blond bricks which were removed from the woods because children in the neighbourhood had taken to playing with the bricks, making trip hazards on the pathways. I decided to remove all the loose bricks from the woods, and trundled them all by wheelbarrow from woods to the back patch first thing in the morning yesterday.) So in truth I was on four major missions yesterday: meadow/bricks; woods; our plot; M’s plot. Whewf what a day!)
We also have six or so seeded sunflower plants which I’ve potted up but need planting out somewhere. I’ve not decided where… We have almost no more space on our own plot. We could plant the sunflowers into M’s beds… Or perhaps add them to the back patch? Not sure.. still thinking…
The other flower development is the emergence of the lily bulbs I planted on 23 March. The first growth was poking out at the start of this week.
Again, this is a bit of an experiment (albeit poorly controlled), as both sets of lilies were planted at the same time and given the same amount of water and care. One is in a plastic pot, and the other in a terracotta pot. It looks like plastic is winning as there are healthy plants emerging in the plastic pot, whereas there’s not much sign of life in the terracotta pot. But one major variable here is that they are different types of lily so maybe the other pot’s lilies (asiatic lily – stargazer) are slower growing? We shall see….
An amazing feature of these emergent lilies is that the small plants already show flower heads! You would imagine they take time to develop, but the flower tips are there on the small plants, just needing to expand and grow.
And so it goes. Our plot is pretty much complete – we’ve even cracked the summer shower project and have a working watering can / summer shower set up at the top of the plot – so there’s not much to do these days but do things like install thermometers, and harvest and water the crops that are growing. We harvested yet another delicious red lettuce which provided us our main meal last night: a simple salad of leaves, store bought vine tomatoes and grilled halloumi, with a dijon, apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing. Super-yum! (So yummy that the big guy is now talking about digging out the strawberry beds to expand the salad beds, which really says a lot as he’s been loving the berries).
Having not much gardening and digging to do suits the big guy just fine as we’ve been working very hard and it’s nice to take a break from all the back breaking work.
There were new delights to behold – including a surprise appearance in the froglet/newt pond of father frog. He’s an impressively handsome character who seems to like burrowing in the soft silt at the bottom of the shallow pond. Super dude watched the frog come up to the water’s edge for a breather, and then descend to the murky depths several times.
Not much sign of the many little froglets that were in the pond in numbers only a few days ago. Yesterday we only spotted four or five…
We’re hoping they were taking cover under the ivy and well away from their marauding tadpole siblings. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry, for sure, but mother nature can be brutal and the drama in the frog pond sure makes the point. Yikes!
But we had visual confirmation on the newts and all three newts were spotted healthy and happy, unmolested and frolicking, in the pond waters yesterday. Very happy about that as we’d be sore and very sad if anything bad happened to our beloved family of newts.
There were birds aplenty – including this handsome chirper – but no sign for days and days of our trusty robin. Not sure where king of the plot has gone…. Busy with fledglings maybe?
The other flying marvel who caught our eye was this gorgeous dragonfly, which we identified as a female Black-tailed Skimmer.
This photo shows the amazing detail of the wings – so intricately wrought! Awesome.
We hung out a bit and then went down to M’s plot to plant in her winter squashes and the overflow summer squashes and my one pumpkin plant, from our plot. (In the photo below the pumpkin is the plant closest to the green watering can, whereas M’s winter squashes were planted above, into the beds close to the red watering can)
We’d met M earlier in the morning to collect her plants – two winter squash (butternut).
She’s also started some purple sweet potato, but these were delicate and have not yet been planted.
She very kindly gave the big guy a hot pepper plant that she’d started from seed. It’s tiny and delicate and resting in the hot house (aka allotment growing shed). As we worked many people walked by and asked of M, so we’re collecting well-wishes and sending them back to her.
After planting up at M’s we were dripping in sweat, so went to rest for a bit in the peaceful shade under our umbrella before heading home.
Our other bottom allotment neighbour wished us farewell – he’s heading out of country to see his folks back home. Super-dude offered to water his patch when he goes. Oh my! We’re going to be stretched, watering so many allotment plots, as well as our own flower gardens in the back patch and the woods to the side of the building. Just as well we’re both on furlough and have time on our hands.
What the overground train mumbled as it rumbled by: “June is Every Love Matters month. Black lives matter. We all matter. Every day, no matter the month. Love the days. Love one another. So say I. Grumble, grumble, grumble, clickety-clack.”