SRAA – The Plot Thickens (an occasional observation from plot 17)

Only a few weeks ago I commented that the odd weather in 2013 had delayed the arrival of Spring.
Immediately I did so the grey clouds evaporated to reveal clear blue skies and glorious warm sunshine,
the temperature zoomed up from 10°c to 20°C......
by day...
...not so clever after dark, as many found when long-delayed pale green seedlings were whizzed out from polytunnels,
cold frames and window sills into the warm sun – and into the seriously chilly nights.

This year I hadn’t time or space to pot anything in advance but I had sown half-rows of all the ‘standard’ stuff -
carrots, parsnips, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, swede, beetroot, runners & broads plus ‘early’ Casablanca potatoes.
That was in April. By the time the calendar had turned two pages into June I was beginning to wonder – other than a few reluctant runners nothing had appeared; plenty of new weedlings but no edible growth.
I presume the soil was still too cold to launch the seeds, despite the large deposit of good quality manure I had stirred in earlier. Certainly it had retained moisture, it’s probably never been so well prepared, but despite the early work nothing grew.
Strangely, I also struggled to persuade potatoes to chit this year, they just didn’t want to know.

Usually I despair of ever producing salad greens good enough for human consumption – although the tortoise benefits – but I succumbed to the persuasions of our team of growers at the first SRAA plant
sale this year and found myself with several partial trays of different green leaves, various and anonymous.
Entirely in contradiction to my own plantings, these purchases leapt into action as soon as they touched the soil – and the plot transformed from blank to bright green in two hours.
Fortunately I thought to cover them with some clear plastic, mainly because the new greenery just looked so
vulnerable, so I’m pleased to report that nothing immediately capitulated despite the almost rain forest climate they started in; reasonably protected at night but being baked under plastic in full sun every day.
Not an environment usually recommended for lettuce & cabbage by Monty Don and his chums but – so far at least – it seems to be working.
Soon these fine specimens will be ready for the slugs & caterpillars - and the blasted pigeons.

In the Hobson’s fait accompli circumstances, I planted these instant salads in a hotch-potch of allsorts - lavender, onions, nepeta cataria (catnip), marigolds, chives and a few rediscovered tulips - in the hope
of completely bewildering the bugs into submission.
While I’m in this experimental mood, I’m going to try sprinkling a curry, salt, pepper, chilli and talcum-powder dry homebrew on the next swathe, as I’ve found ants - and rats & mice - absolutely hate it and clear off, so it’ll be interesting to see if it has the same effect on the slimy world too.

DT Plot 17 nr2 10 June 2013

Read blog entry 17.April.2013
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