Thursday, January 04, 2007
Thursday 4th January 2007 - Weather: Bright but very windy
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
At last, the children are back at school, I have the day off, so I can get to the plot. I have been desperate to get to the plot, not for the digging, or weeding, but because I just wanted to get out into the fresh air, all on my own. I know it sounds selfish, but my allotment really is my selfish time. The family get the benefit of great fruit and veggies, and a very happy and refreshed mum.
We have a new gate. Wow the sercurity at our site is high, don't you think? However, for our allotment site, this really is high tech. Up until Christmas time, our gate was hanging on by 2 rusty screws and a good storm would have probably seen the end of it. Also it didn't shut properly which meant the deer could wander in. Lovely to see, but boy do they like young brassicas and runner beans. Hopefully now things are a little more secure.
The first job of the day was a slightly cosmetic one. Over Christmas we have received our lovely new range cooker, and it was packed inside a box, inside a box, leaving us with a vast amount of thick, plain brown cardboard. It was destined for the recyling men, but I asked around, and the general consensus agreed that if I lay is out under the apple trees, the card would smother the nettles and brambles that grow beneath, making weeding under the trees problem free (well almost), would look better than a jumble of horrid weeds, and in time, the card would break down, and add more organic matter to the ground. Well, the card looked okay, but ugly, when I had a brainwave. I had 4 sacks full of shreddings that my boss had given me for the compost heap. I tipped these onto the card, and not only did they look much nicer, they weighed the card down, stopping it blowing away in the gales, and now, the combined pile of card and shreddings will break down and really improve the ground, and hopfully give the trees a boost.
The wind had played havoc with the brassicas knocking most of them flat. Job number two for the day was untangling the pigeon proof netting, restaking the brassicas - purple sprouting broccoli, caulis, cabbages kales, and sprouts, and then re-draping the netting over to try and keep the flying cabbage munchers away. At one point when I looked up, I was certain they were circling over head like a pack of vultures.
By now, I needed a pee, so unlocked the shed for the first time in probably 2 months. Now I have known ever since owning my shed that I am not the only resident. I have found signs of our furry rodent chums in there from time to time, but when I opened the door to be confronted by rat poop on the floor, I knew I had to have a clear out and block up any holes. As the shed was a second hand one, it came with plenty of holes around the edges. This was fine as they were covered by a work bench and stuff. Of course, rattus rattus and his mates have been coming and going as they pleased. I suppose with the cold snap a couple of weeks ago, they moved in for the warmth. So, rather dubiously, I emptied the shed. No sign of him or his mates, but plenty of chewed up netting, net curtains, fleece, a couple of chewed rotten apples and a stripped corn on the cob, all I guess from the compost heap. Patched the floor, swept the shed, and refilled it. Filled three bags with rubbish for the dustbin. I now have a lovely tidy shed. I am sure Ratty will come back, but at least I am taken away all of the nesting type stuff, and have made it a bit harder for him to break in.
After my lunch I started to dig over the plot, starting at the top end. I had dug it in the autumn, this was more of a fluff up and general weed. I also dug the last of the parsnips, a few leeks, some black winter radish, a big bunch of carrots and a few small beetroots. I am making lamb casserole from tea tomorrow so they will all go into the pot. Also cut the last of the romensco broccoli. This has been a lovely late performer and I will definately grow it again this year.
Once exhausted, I did a little more fruit cage construction. By the time I left, the basic cage was up and very strong. It is about 6 foot tall this time, so my darling better half won't have to duck when he is in there scrumping for rapsberries. I plan to buy some better netting for it as I was using a bit of a patch work quilt of different nets, and they were a pain in the bum to remove. I want something easy to use...any suggestions?
All in all, a great day. Got loads done and the plot looks great. Jobs outstanding are finishing the fruit cage and buying some corregated plastic and fittings to make a proper, permanent roof on my tomato house, because, as it does every year, it has blow away. The corregated plastic on their was recycled when I first got the plot and it has become more and more brittle over the years. I am going to go to a builders merchants and try to get something a lot more robust, and buy the proper fixtures and fittings so it stands the test of time.