Water, water everywhere

I promised myself that I wouldn't apologise again for not writing the blog in a while, so I won't. That's not to say it hasn't been a while, just that I'm not going to beat myself up about it (well, not in public, anyway).

Last weekend I finally managed to catch a bit of sunshine to take a few photos for the blog, including these gorgeous flower heads on leeks that have gone to seed. They are currently being devoured by bees and butterflies, so it just goes to show that some lackadaisy gardening techniques do pay dividends in the end.

So, what's new? Well, it has rained. A lot. For some plants on the garden, this hasn't been too much of a problem, such as the raspberries, blackcurrants and the like, but although they've grown well and the yields have been ok, they have all been noticeably less sweet thanks to minimal sunshine.

It has been a very poor year for apples, which seems to be a national picture, with a few exceptions such as the Katy in the orchard which had some lovely bright red, large fruits on and did much better than usual (happy to see they were scrumped before I got the chance to photograph them).

Strangely, the hops survived my complete lack of attention, with the Fuggle and Challenger intertwining to make a pretty decent display (below), largely due to a brief Indian Summer a few weeks back.

The Greenfingers Club have been busy, and some wonderful volunteers (a very belated thank you to Gary and Liz, along with the head teacher and others) have built them some new beds out of donated pallets (below). These are perfect for learning about crop rotation and are much easier to keep weed-free than the low willow beds we have used for years.

The first crop was peas, followed by cabbages in that bed now, and the leeks are ready to be pulled for some tasty delights in the school kitchen (I think a leek dumpling may have been on the menu this week). The sweetcorn in the third bed was barely knee high to a grasshopper, let alone knee high to an adult, by the 4th of July (as the saying goes for a good crop) and has now been bashed by the recent storms just as the cobs were forming, so they might be food for pigs rather than kids this year.

We've finally got our compost toilet, thanks to a successful Community Foundation grant, which is going to be a real asset to the garden and will hopefully make it easier for volunteers to stay longer and for us to run more events. At the moment, it is standing where we managed to drag it to just inside the gate (this took four strapping men and a land rover) as it wasn't quite as 'flat packed' as I imagined from the online description, and weighs a tonne (well, half a tonne if you want to be picky, but basically, it's very heavy and I wouldn't advise trying to lift it).

So, we've prepared the ground where it is going to be but it now needs to be taken apart on a day when we've got enough willing hands to help move it. This is proving the stumbling block and we desperately need more volunteers as the kind of people we know who would love to help are those who are most busy doing something else equally worthwhile!

It's a bit of a Catch 22 at the moment I don't have the time or energy to put into recruiting volunteers and have a little person who will tolerate a bit of gardening but not a whole morning (fair enough) so I can't even guarantee I can supervise if enough people did emerge out of the woodwork, although if you're reading this and have always wanted to help construct a compost toilet then do get in touch with us as come hell or high water this toilet must be up and running soon…..

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