Friday 21st April 2006 - Weather: bright and sunny!
What a perfect day to spend on the allotment! Lots to do so as soon as the kids were tucked up safely at school, I shot off to the plot and was there just before 9am. As usual, I was alone but Jack was next door in Loretta's garden cutting the grass and Ken from the other side of the site came over and mowed his paths.
Glad to report the slugs and the pigeons haven't decimated all of my newly planted brassica's.....yet! So, first things first, get planting. So much to catch up with so I knuckled down and cleared all of the old bolted cabbages and sprout plants and got them onto the compost heap. I forked the patch over, raked it down, and planted number one daughters 'Mini-Pop' sweetcorn. These are the baby corns that you pick before they are mature. I know it is still early, but then were becoming pot bound so I wanted to get them out, but as a safety measure, they have a lovely fleece duvet to keep them cosy. Next I planted a dozen white haricot beans. Again, early I know, but they are snuggled up alongside the apple tree and I put pop bottle cloches over them to keep them warm for a week or so. In went a dozen celeriac seedlings, still tiny and I forgot to put any slug protection down, so they might be all gone already!
The broad beans have flowers on now so I removed the fleece jacket and replaced it with chicken wire. I am hoping that this tight fitting prickly wire wrap will keep squirrels, mice and birds off the beans so this year I can get some! The peas under the glass cloches are now nearly a foot tall and have flower buds appearing. Hoping for an early picking as they have been kept so warm. The other peas that were sown direct have now germinated. It looks like the mouse or vole has had some, but I sowed thickly to compensate for losses. I really don't know what to do about these little furry critters. I don't like to trap them on the allotment, I figure the cycle should work if I don't interferre, but these little whiskered pests don't seem to appreciate my lenience.
The strawberry plants are now all in flower and had lots of bees buzzing around so I weeded around them and did my usual trick, planting 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard in amongst them. Well, it seems like such a waste of good planting areas! I also weeded and tidied the rapsberry canes and around the rather spiteful gooseberry bushes. Looks like it could be a good year for berries as already there are masses of flowers and teeny immature fruitlets. The apple blossom hasn't opened yet but I am sure it is only a matter of days. The apple trees at home aren't in flower yet - only the cherry trees are.
I marked out the bed that the main 'tender and true' sweetcorn will go because if I don't, I am likely to plant in it and then have a panic on when I have 60 plants and no where to plant them.
I sowed carrots 'early nantes', beetroot 'detroit', radish 'french breakfast', lettuce 'australian yellow leaf' and spring onions 'white lisbon'. I then squeezed in a row of peas down at the bottom of the plot when I planted an emergency row of spuds. Another row of lettuce plantlets were planted in between the brassicas - they should be long gone before the brassicas are big enough to cause competition. I also sowed some dwarf french beans called sprite. They were given to us by one of his workmates, and they went out of date in 1998 so I have no idea if they will germinate or it the mice will just scoff them all! However, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
On to plot number two. The onions and garlic are looking fab. Really pleased as the white rot on plot number one really takes it's toll. I weeded around them and up around the daff bulbs which are now going over. There are a couple of rogue ones - smaller flowers, more white with dark orange trumpets. They smell gorgeous and the buzzy things were having a great time. I had to carry out some minor repairs to the runner bean/tomato house and now we need to sort out a roof for it. It needs to be clear to let in the light, but not let in the rain. This is the only way I know to reduce the risk of blight.
I picked a carrier bag full of purple sprouting brocolli - a really good value crop, a pile of rhubarb, the last of the red kale, some lettuce and a couple of spring onions. By 3pm my hands were sore, my legs aching and I was gasping for a cuppa as my flask had been emptied at lunch time. Bag again next week as I have lots more seedlings to get in. I really need to keep on sowing and planting and harvesting as things are ready.
On the wildlife front, the male mallard duck is still around - he came for a chat when I first arrived, then flew up into his tree stump and watched proceedings for a while. Plus I had the great satisfaction of squishing many, many slugs! Some whoppers and lots of tiddlers. Every little helps. A coot was wandering around the site - wish he would eat the slugs, and the Jays and Magpies were making a real racket in the woods.