July 1st Week: Harvesting Shallots, Potato Blight, Trinity, Jobs To Do This Week (From The Westmorland Gazette)
When news happens, text KENEWS and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
July 1st Week: Harvesting Shallots, Potato Blight, Trinity, Jobs To Do This Week
HARVESTING SHALLOTS: Shallots planted on the shortest day of the year are now ready for harvesting.
Pulling ripe shallots is best done during dry and sunny weather. The tops are browning at their ends.
Up to ten chestnut-sized, or larger, bulbs have miraculously been borne out of each individual set. Lifting the crop is both gentle and pleasurable.
A fork is inserted diagonally beneath the cluster and levered up slightly to loosen the soil. Shallots sit on the surface. Dirty Nails takes hold of all the yellowing greenery on top and shakes the plants free of earth.
When ripe, the multiple bulbs break apart easily in the hand, and he rubs off excess soil before putting them in a wheelbarrow.
Shallots store well. The crop will be tied into bunches of a dozen or so and hung in a cool, airy spot to dry off until the tops have withered to a crunchy brown husk and the papery skins are crisp and flaky.
An open-sided shed, or under eaves, is an ideal place. Dirty Nails will then remove any loose, dry exterior shell and keep them stacked in well ventilated vegetable trays.
In the kitchen, Mrs Nails likes to simply peel whole shallots, place them on a flat tray, drizzle with olive oil, then roast until glistening and golden brown.
Cooked thus, they have a deep, intense and rich flavour which gets the families taste-buds drooling.
POTATO BLIGHT: It is a serious fungal infection which can strike anytime, anywhere. It is especially prevalent in warm, damp conditions.
Spuds need to be regularly and thoroughly looked over throughout the growing season, with an extra-keen eye cast over the crop during thundery, humid spells in high-summer.
Blight shows itself initially as brown blotches which appear at the sides and ends of leaves. Turn them over, and a fine ring of white fluff around the brown patches is visible in damp conditions.
When left unchecked, the leaves and stems (haulm) quickly die back. If earthing-up has failed to cover the tubers with sufficient soil then blight spores can infect the plant underground as well.
This will ruin a crop, turning it into an unpleasant soft, wet, smelly mush.
Blight prevention measures include applying the copper-based ’Bordeaux mixture’ via spray or watering-can following the manufacturer’s instructions, avoiding the use of an overhead spray when watering, and patting smooth the earthed-up ridges with the back of a spade so that spores cannot easily be washed down into the soil.
Once blight has taken hold, the only safe option is to remove the haulms altogether. Dirty Nails has been forced to do this with his blighted First Earlies.
Although the crop will be reduced as a result, it won’t be lost altogether. Second early and Maincrop varieties, although cultivated elsewhere on the plot, may not escape so lightly.
Therefore Dirty Nails will be taking precautions by using Bordeaux mixture at the beginning and end of July, and once more mid-August at three weekly intervals, all the while holding his breath and keeping his fingers crossed.
EXTRACTS FROM DIRTY NAILS’ JOURNAL TRINITY: “Trinity is cut! Untouched since May 16th, the decommissioned churchyard was a meadow of seeded grass heads that danced like a heavy brown mist over the thick sward below.
"A sanctuary for bugs and yellow underwing moths, offering rich pickings for both insect eaters and seed feasters. And now it is tamed, brought back into the fold as it were, reclaimed from nature where yesterday it was like a graveyard a hundred Julys ago.
"It has been strimmed and mowed into a beautiful subservience. Indomitable avenues of pollard limes stand proud on three sides. Their long shoots reach out across the path like dozens of thin-armed, green-fingered hands groping at the passers-by.
“I sit, back to a tombstone that is encrusted with gold, black, grey and cream lichens. Blackbirds hop and skip amongst the drying hay, tossing it in all directions and swooping low across the open space.
"Greenfinches wheeze their lazy summer calls whilst hidden amongst the foliage with chirping sparrows, wrens and tits. Three clumps of ox-eye daisy stand out. Left untouched, they frolic with their guard of long grasses, facing the afternoon sun and absorbing the warm rays.
“The limes seem to adopt a different character when they are in full leaf. They may be old, some are as rotten as a pear on the inside, and folk may see them as both hard work and a liability to look after, but discerning wildlife-friendly eyes see them as haggard old giants that stand thick and hunched, as though simultaneously both protecting and embodying the spirits that inhabit the Holy Trinity.
"Of course, such cosmic speculation may be just frivolous nonsense. They are simply lime trees after all, albeit managed by people for generations. They have assumed their present directions as a result.
"But nevertheless, as trees they may possess different kinds of magic known perhaps only by some beings and not others. Even if it is only to provide homes and atmosphere for fellow travellers, their standing is overlooked or ignored to the detriment of those who either cannot see or will not acknowledge."
JOBS TO DO IN THE GREENHOUSE Water crops daily.
Liquid feed for tomatoes.
Check tomatoes for signs of blight on foliage; remove any showing signs of discolouration and burn.
On the plot Cut back vegetation overflowing onto paths.
Keep plot edges clean and tidy.
Harvest garlic and winter (Radar) onions.
Water leeks every other day.
Use stakes and string to support ferny asparagus tops and prevent wind damage.
Start to train climbing cucumbers up their supports.
Generously water fruit trees.
Carefully weed amongst Cylindra beetroot seedlings.
Water crops as needed.
Thin winter spinach.
Whenever signs of blight start to appear on spuds, don’t delay; cut off and burn all top growth (haulm) immediately to check the swift spread of this disease.
Thin Perfect 3 beetroot.
Apply Bordeaux Mixture to healthy looking spuds.
Sow White Lisbon and Ishikura spring onions.
A Vegetable Gardener's Year by Dirty Nails (ISBN 9781905862221) is available from www.dirtynails.co.uk and good bookshops, rrp £12.99 Copyright, Dirty Nails June 2009
In this section
- July 2nd Week; Harvesting Garlic, Developing Froglets, Working With Nature, Marbled Whites On Walnut Tree Farm
- June, 4th Week: Red Cabbage, Watching A Drowning Bee Recover
- June, 3rd Week: Downy Mildew, A Much Needed Present, Mid-Summer In St James
- June, 2nd Week: Cylindra Beetroot, Working From Home, Weekly Jobs To Do
- June, 1st Week: Sunshine, Showers, Weeds & Tomatoes, Song Thrush
- May 4th Week: Cucumbers, Beans, Feast & Fast, Apples, 'Of the Woods'
- May 3rd Week: Succession Sowing, Bird Watching, Enjoying Pine Walk, Jobs To Do This Week
- May 2nd Week: Planting Out Kale, Looking After Water Boatmen, Christies Lane In May
- May 1st Week: Earthing Up Spuds, Greenhouse Slug Patrol, Tess' Story, Jobs To Do This Week
- April Week 4: