Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday 23rd January 2006 - Weather: grey, damp and misty (3')

Once the kids were safely tucked away at school, I headed off to the garden of Eden! Sorry, I meant my allotment. Bbbbrrrrrr, it was soooo cold! Damp to. My boots are great, but even though they are chunky walking boots, and waterproof, and I wear a pair of thick tights and a pair of ski socks, my toes still go numb after about 20 minutes, and the feeling doesn't properly come back until I have a bath once I get home! Bad circulation see. I blame my dad! Well, he can't argue back.

Anyhows, busy busy busy. Started by raking over the area that used to be the runner bean bed. Last year was a runner bean failure thanks to Mr & Mrs Vole who have moved in to the plum tree hedge that seperates my plot from Mr & Mrs Miserable beyond, so this year I have decided to grow some flowers along that edge. I think a row of sunflowers first along the edge of the path, then after that alsorts of pretty things - I have sooooooo many seeds it won't be hard to fill, but it will be hard to decide. I hope to grow things that I can cut and bring home as I don't like to cut flowers from the garden, but it will be different on the plot. I have a little patch of flat leaf and curly leaf parsley still in the ground up there. I am in two minds whether to dig it up and bung it on the compost heap. Think I will leave it for now, it isn't in the way yet, and see. It might produce some fresh young leaves before it flowers.
I then moved down the plot, raking areas that I had previously forked over now the weather has started to break any clods down. In some areas the ground is so wonderfully soft. My home made compost has really made a difference to the heavy soil.

Next big job was to decide where I am going to plant the peas that I have started off in paper pots. I need to get the ground warm and decided the glass cloche/greenhouse roof would be ideal. Plus I could keep it in situ to start with to keep the pea plants cosy, and hopefully prevent any pests (like the Vole family) coming in and making a meal of those tender shoots! I had to carry the glass pieces from plot number 2, and was certain I would have an accident, but someone was looking over me as I got them there in one piece and using the angle iron rods I have, I made a cosy glass house to get things warm. I used some old corregated plastic for the ends. Job done!

There are still a few leeks hanging on in there, but I did dig a bunch as I fancy leek and potato soup tonight for tea. Means I can use up some of the soft spuds from last year, and I have a ciappata bread mix in the cupboard I think I will make to have with it. YUM! Now there are only 8 little leeks left in the ground. I will leave them until I really need them or need that bed clear. They may bulk up a little now the days are warmer and very very slightly longer. Of course, they may bolt, but nothing ventured..... In the leek bed last autumn I sowed a few spring onion seeds, and they are growing very quickly now. Perfect timing as the Italian mixed salad leaves are still growing strong, so should be able to stop buying salad from the supermarket in a couple of weeks time.

I cleared the swede patch. They aren't going to do anything now other than get woody and hollow, and although they are only slightly bigger than a golf ball, they can go in tonights soup for some extra flavour. I have a new are for those this year, and fresh seed, so am hoping for a better success rate. I also pulled up a couple of celery plants. Although the outer stems are pretty split and rough - I guess from being frozen, the inner stems and leaves are wonderful and lime green in colour. I munched some whilst I was pondering whether to dig the lot and bin them, and the stem was so sweet and crunchy and full of flavour that I decided to keep them there but use them over the next few weeks. Minestrone soup overload I fear!

Next my workout! I edged plot number two. Phew, hard work. I went around the entire plot with my spade and cut a nice clean sharp edge. I think my neighbours have given up, so their plot is covered in weeds - not ideal for me as the weeds spread. Shame. Wonder who my new neighbour will be? After doing that I was puffing and panting and very warm (although not my toes!), so I sat down on my pallet stack for a cuppa. I thought I would have a good look around at the birds, but it was such a grey day I could see them, but it was hard to tell what they were. The woodpecker that was tap tap tapping was obvious, and the pigeons that were coo coo cooing the same. Also, as usual, a little robin followed me around as I worked. I saw magpies and crows and stacks of small birds all roosting in the very top of a tree. I guess they were starlings, but as they didn't come close, I can't be sure. They would all take flight together and swoop around like little arrows, flapping their wings like mad, then gliding for a few seconds, then flapping away again! I could hear birds everywhere, constantly, but as there are so many trees and hedges, it is hard to see them. One thing that got them all airbourne was the arrival of two fabulous flying machines! Two chinook helicopters slowely roared over. I could hear them coming for several minutes, and long after they had gone out of view I could hear the engines.

By now it was lunch time, and I took the opportunity to walk around the plots and make a planting plan for this year. I never stick rigidly to a plan, but I like an idea of what is what. Now to try and put it onto the computer. If I succeed, I will then try to get it on here! This could take a while!!

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