Friday 29 June 2012


Half the site was under water yesterday after a severe thunderstorm. The Association secretary had her hallway flooded, which is worse.

My broad beans, looking even more miserable than before. They were perking up and growing with the warmer weather.

There's a sewer under the lane on one side, and it always blows in a severe flood; this manhole cover has lifted right up. Part of the problem is that floodwater goes down the same pipe as the sewage, which obviously saves a great deal of money, but it means that the system floods. When it gets overloaded, it blows into the streams, so any time we get a flood it's safe to assume it's diluted, untreated sewage, with all the health implications that implies.

This is the culvert at the bottom. The curved line of masonry is the brickwork over a three-foot tunnel running under the railway and canal. Normally the water's an inch deep; if it had been any deeper, it would have started backing up, and the whole lower end of the site can flood.

On a brighter note, a large swarm of bees, bigger than it looks here, moved into one of my empty hives on Tuesday. I've been expecting them for several weeks. Every time the sun came out, there would be excited bees staking out the hive. Every time it rained, they'd disappear. Bees only swarm on good weather, but they moved in as soon as we had a sunny day.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Miserable Broad Beans

 These are the broad beans I planted at the begining of March. As you see, they're a fraction of the size they ought to be, owing to the dismal weather. I put in seven varieties; the tougher ones have survived well, and are flowering well considering their size. The weaker have done nothing but sulk. A lot were finished off by slugs, but every variety has produced at least a couple of plants with flowers. So the plan is to save seed from every one. The stronger varieties have the bulk of the flowers, so everything can be expected to have crossed with them. Next year's seed should preserve 90-odd percent of each genotype, while at the same time hopefully being tougher, which is one of the characteristics I'm looking for. I'll add a couple more varieties to the mix, save seed, and comtinue the process the followint year. Meanwhile, I'll have at least some beans to eat!

A dog rose in the hedge. 

A Small Copper butterfly sunning itself when the yellow god in the sky made a brief appearance.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Yellow Flag Iris

When they dredged the local canals about 15 or 20 years ago, they did a certain amount of planting along the banks. These irises are brightening up the view on the way into the city centre.

These baby orb web spiders were in a hedge I pass on the way to the allotment. I think they must have been affected by the carbon dioxide in my breath - I know bees react to it - because they were clumped a lot more tightly, and began to scatter as soon as I took a close look.

And here's variegated Daubenton's kale flowering on the allotment. It flowers rarely, and it's propagated by cuttings, so it's interesting to have a few flowers - it's a very weak flowering stem for a brassica - a year after I planted it. It's right next to some Ragged Jack kale which is flowering like mad, so it should produce some interesting crosses.