May Heatwave

After a wonderfully relaxing holiday, I trudged down to the allotment this morning dreading what I would find. In my mind’s eye, the weeds were waist deep and would require days of hacking back to rediscover the plot below. Having seen the amount of sunshine Crewe has had over the past week, I knew the weeds would be out in force. And the less said about the willow arch the better!

Putting off the inevitable moment when I would have to see the state of the plot seemed like a sensible thing to do. So I went into the Main Coop to check on the girls and refresh their water. Geoff has done a stirling job looking after them all! Mollified with a handful of sunflower seeds, I headed off to check on the New Coop. Looking around the coop, it took me a few minutes to spot Gertie. She was hiding in the nest box, occasionally popping her head out to listen to what the others were saying. I had been quite worried about how she would manage while we were away. When I picked her up she instantly began pecking at the food. So fast in fact that I was worried she might choke. A few crop adjustments were required but she ate heartily and took a long drink afterwards.

Looking around I counted five bantams. One short. Who was missing? Not Gertie, obviously, as she was by my foot. Elsie and Connie were strutting around like they own the place (they do!), Foxy was standing in the food bowl and Ginny was cautiously managing to sneak the odd beakful of food when Foxy’s back was turned. So where was Bonny? I walked around to the door of the nest box and looked in. I know I had found her even before I saw her as the door opening was met by a shrill, angry yell. There she was, that ridiculous bird, attempting to sit on eighteen eggs! Clearly she wasn’t big enough to cover all of them but that wasn’t going to stop her trying! If she was bigger, I would have been more nervous about moving her. Each time I deal with a broody hen, I get flashbacks to Emily. That was a spectacular broody hen who dealt with anyone coming near her, the eggs or the chicks ruthlessly, often drawing blood from whoever was foolish enough to get within beak range. Bonny being less than a third of the size, was much less intimidating and I removed her from the eggs without any damage to myself. However, if looks could kill….

With a staggering number of eggs removed, I headed slowly over to the plot. My first impressions were that it was massively overgrown. But upon closer inspection, it wasn’t half as bad as I had feared. Yes it was most definitely weedy and would require some graft but nothing too arduous. Collecting my gloves and the weed bucket, I headed across to Geoff’s raised beds. The deepest bed was like a jungle and due to there being ninja nettles hidden within the weed forest, I had put off tackling it until we got back. But I could put it off no longer! After half an hour of hard work, my arms and hands had been stung all over by the nettles but the bed was clear. For good measure, I also tried clearing away some of the nettles at the end of the bed to allow for better access when weeding.

Strolling across to the greenhouse, I decided I would plant the sugar snap peas in the big bed. I also managed to find the pack of bamboo canes I bought last year which was a bonus. Utilising my trusty trowel, I planted the peas and set them against the canes. I was rather pleased with the result!

Spurred on to even greater exertions, I cleared the worst of the weeds from the bed next to the fruit section before planting courgettes and climbing french beans. I’ve never tried the climbing variety before but I hope they will produce a good crop! By now it was very hot and I retreated for a while into the shed to cool down. Next time it’s this hot, I must remember to put up the sail for some protection from the sun.

By now I was beginning to flag, but I carried on weeding here and there. The plot does need a more thorough going over with a hoe and probably the fruit section needs a longer work session to get it back under control. I took another break, enjoying the evening breeze and downing a cold drink.

The plan for the next few days is to continue weeding and plant the last few plants in the greenhouse. I haven’t bothered with tomatoes this year but maybe I’ll put in a few just to see what happens!


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