Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Monday 24th April 2006 - Weather: Overcast but warm

Wow the birds were noisy today, and a swan flew over....gotta say, I wondered what the hell it was! In the distance I could hear a whoop whoop whoop noise and it got steadily louder. I thought aliens were about to land, and then I saw her - gorgeous, pure white, elegantly flying above my head and the noise that she was making as she flapped those huge wings was astounding!

Anyhow, down to business. Main job of the day really was to get the tomato house roof on. Following on from others, I now have a roof over a wooden framework in which I grow my toms. The theory behind it is as no rain falls onto the tomato plants, blight spores carried in the rain do not infect the plants. Also humidity around the plants is almost non existance, so again, preventing the start of blight. Last year we had a HUGE crop from all of our toms, so I am keeping everything crossed for the same result this year - especially as we have just run out of frozen tomato pulp!

Thankfully I had a couple of long sheets of clear corrugated plastic for the roof which I screwed down and then using some thick green netting, I created a guttering to collect any rain that falls into a bin. We have no tapped water so I really need to collect every drop I can. Obviously I used plastic sheeting inside the netting to catch the water, the netting just provided the gutter shape until such times as I can scavenge some gutter pipes.

Very pleased with the tom house, so I weeded around the spuds and earthed up the first 2 rows that are poking through. Then Jack came over. He kindly gave me 2 huge beetroot to try which he grew last year and then stored in a clamp on his plot. (I baked them in the oven this evening wrapped in foil for a good 4 hours as they were monsters! Have never tried cooking them this way but it was recommended. I will post back how they were) He also gave me a nice new tap for my water but as some nice creature at some point chewed the tap up and then with use, the handle turny bit has snapped off. It is still useable, but very hard and hurts! Hubby will have to undertake that massive job at some point as the whole butt needs emptying, the top sawing off as it doesn't have a lid but is a sealed unit, fixing the new tap, and then making a lid and repositioning the butt so it can collect maximum water.

Now the maintenance was complete I planted a row of lettuce, sowed 2 rows of beetroot 'red ace' and sprinkled a patch of candytuft seed in a bare patch in the brassica patch. I also planted a row of Bright lights swiss chard over on plot number 2 to create a hedge along the elderberry boundary.

The rain and warm sunshine had really moved things on. My garlics are standing tall and strong and I can see the autumn planted onion sets are begining to bulb up. As I mentioned, the spuds have started coming through, some quicker than others, and I have a lovely strong row of mixed lettuce leaves growing. The seedlings I planted over the last couple of weeks have all benefited from the rain and are all looking lush. Of course the grass paths are now in full growth so I really must look into getting a cheap little petrol mower to just run around the edges. The boarding around my plots is helping but over on plot number 2 I am currently next to a vacant plot so the path is hardly used, so of course the grass is like a meadow! I wonder if I could ask Jack to walk along it with his mower for me....I could give him some petrol money....I will have to ask.

Roy has given up his allotment now as he has had 2 replacement hips and is wobbly on his feet and is worried that if he were to fall over, knowing how quiet our site is, he could be stuck for some time. Apparently a young couple have taken over, but I am yet to see them. Of course, I miss a lot of people as they work their plots at the weekend, whereas I am a week-a-day allotmenteer.

So, the plan for my next visit, which will be sometime week commencing Monday 1st May, plant my runner beans and give them a fleece wrap for a week or two; plant a few tomato plants and use the greenhouse roof cloche to protect them for a week or two; plant a selection of squashes and give them pop bottle cloches for a week or two, to protect them from the weather and the constant march of the slugs; earth up spuds as necessary; and sow more salads and peas. My sweetcorn hasn't germinated yet - but hopefully it will by the weekend, and that will go out in about 14 or so days, along with the rest of my squashes and tomatos. Now somewhere in all of this I need to erect a few bamboo wigwams as I have lots of unusual beans germinating and nowhere to grow them!

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