Thursday 30th March 2006 - Weather: Bright but very windy!
Well what a perfect day to get to the plot. Although there was a gale blowing, the sun was out and in between the gusts, it was lovely and warm. It is great to finally feel the suns warmth on my face. The plot is looking great. The apple trees (Bismark and Orleans Rinhart) are all in bud, and the fruit bushes are very green. The globe artichokes are still growing. To be honest, they never really stopped! As you can see from the piccy, I have wrapped strong netting around them to try and fence them in as last summer they threatened to take over the world! I have done the same with the cardoon and she really is a monster. I grow the artichokes because I love to eat them, but also they look amazing where as the cardoon I grow only because it is stunning. Last year the bumble bees were fighting over the big purple flower, tunnelling right inside the huge spiky flower. This year I am hoping for lots of flowers. I wonder how long they would last if I cut some and brought them home? I think they would make an amazing table centre piece.
Anyhow, down to business. The plan of attack was to sow seeds. I had a selection with me of flowers and veggies. Up where I grew runner beans last year, by the old plum trees, I am going to grow flowers this year as the beans were scoffed by voles last year...however, the old plum trees are in the process of being cut down by my neighbour! Bit of a worry. Does this mean the voles will be homeless and will move even more onto my plot, or will it mean they will seek dense shelter elsewhere and move onto someone elses plot? I digress...I raked the ground over - lovely stuff! Four years of rotted compost and leaf mould has left me with lovely soft fluffy soil which after the rain and frosts has broken down into an incredibly fine tilth. I sowed Clarkia, Chrysanths, Cosmos and Calendula...all the C's! Then the other side of the path I sowed parnsips 'Gladiator', radish 'Scarlet Globe', spring onion 'Red Barren', turnips 'Snowball' and carrot 'Kingston'. I covered the carrots with fleece to prevent carrot fly damage, and to give them a warm bed so hopefully, a head start! I also scattered a few flat leaf parsley seeds amongst the remaining parsley plants as I guess they will go to seed this year. Looks like I will get a plentiful cutting before then though. Further down that patch I managed to sow another row of carrots 'Early Nantes' and a row of mixed lettuce leaves.
As I worked up and down the plot, I weeded and weeded and my compost heap is filling up nicely. All I need now are a few sacks of hot horse manure to get it going again. I picked the last of the brussel sprouts 'brilliant, and they have been! Filled a bowl! Also picked a pile of sprouting brocolli and pulled the last of the cavalo nero kale. I find this black kale bolts very quickly in spring, where the purple kale is still growing well and fresh looking. I also dug up a couple of rogue parsnips that had started to grow again, but they had a touch of canker, and weren't looking great, so they ended up on the compost heap. I have lots in the freezer so I didn't mind dumping them really.
Down the bottom end of the plot I am planning to grow all of my brassicas this year, so I sowed half a row of kohl rabi, green and purple mix. They are old seed but I thought I might as well bung them in and see if they sprout. I do have some in the greenhouse at home in little jiffy pots already growing, so maybe next visit they will go in and make up the row. I protected the row with a few slug pellets (cringe) and a wire cloche so if they do grow, the pigeons and slugs won't make a meal of them!
The spinach and swiss chard are all in full growth again and I reakon I could have a good pick from both in a week or two. I will use the kale up first as this is going over quickest. Again, I have chard seedlings and spinach seedlings in the greenhouse to go down to the allotment next visit.
No sign yet of any spuds, but it is still early, and rather chilly! Of course there are plenty of weeds growing, but I ran out of time today to see to them. Plot number 2 will get some attention next time. The onions and garlics are growing very well. I am wondering if this plot suffers from white rot like my other plot does. If not, I could get a decent harvest, however, it seems likely to suffer as I stomp from one plot to another, and I know others suffer terribly from it also.
I really do think spring is trying to spring now. As I said, inbetween blustery gales, the sun was warm on my face, and by the time I got home, my cheeks were quite ruddy. Also the birds were really making their presence felt. The ducks from the neighbouring farm were quacking and flying to and fro most of the morning. And I watched a group of wrens in the brambles hopping around for ages. Also, as I was pottering, I unearthered these two doing what comes natural at this time of they year.