Friday 4th January 2008 - Weather: chilly but bright
As promised, and as Mr Titchmarsh would say, day two. Less digging on the agenda today after a hard slog yesterday.
Firstly I remember the sacks of willow leaves from the back garden and I filled my leaf mould cage. Then, the big one, removing a large part of the apple tree that overhangs the fruit cage. I don't know why we didn't take it out when we built the new fruit cage really. What a job! I lopped out all of the smaller branches, but I didn't really appreciate quite how big the bough was. When I finally sawed through it, it went with a crash. Nothing broken and what a difference. Hopefully there will be more fruit this coming year, and it should ripen quicker as more sun can reach the fruits. Once all of the tree bits were removed, I got into the fruit cage and cut back all of last years fruited raspberry canes, a job long overdue. Lots of lovely new canes so hopefully, another bumper soft fruit year. I did cut a few branches from the gooseberries, red currants and jostaberries, just to open them up a little. I still need to get in there will my hoe and scrape over the ground to cut out all of the weed seedlings - I would dig them out, but raspberry canes are shallow rooted and I don't want to damage the plants. I could do with a good mulch in there really.....maybe I shall take a couple of barrows from the compost heap and spread around in there.
From here I moved to the globe artichokes and cardoon. Such monsters. They haven't died back at all this year and have been in full growth all through the autumn and winter. I even have a few teeny gobe artichokes, but I removed them so the plants don't waste any energy. I keep a metal fence around the globes to try and keep them from flopping all over the beds either side and taking up room. There were plenty of weeds around the globes, that horrid creeping buttercup which infests my plot if I don't keep it in check, so I took the fencing down and got in and got mean with the weeds. The plants looked fab once they were tidy and the fences were put back. I shall give them a sprinkling of pelleted chicken manure in a couple of weeks time, give them a boost so they do me proud this year. The cardoon wasn't quite so bad as he stands alone. I removed the old flower spikes now and any dead leaves and just tidied around the base. Lots of young pup plants around it. I don't use the cardoon for culinary purposes, just for architectural stature. I know it might seem like a waste of space, but I don't mind, and I have plenty of room. Maybe one day I will find out exactly which part it is one should blanch and then have a kitchen experiment.
After a bite to eat I started digging out the old strawberry bed. At the back end of the autumn I moved my best strawb plants to a new position in lovely straight lines! Very out of character for me, me with the wonky allotment. I was left with the old strawb bed, packed full of that bloody creeping buttercup again so I have that to dig through and get rid off. I shall keep any healthy plants and plant up another row as we do love strawberrys in this house, but they had become such a jungle that is was almost impossible to pick the fruits, the slugs and birds had a field day and the buttercup was definately out competing the strawb plants. Did some digging, did some raking, did some levelling, and did some more raking, and before I knew where I was, it was time to pack up and head on the school run. I did gather a lovely big handful of carrots and had a rootle around the Jerusalem Fartichokes and came home with a lovely trug of roots.
Things on the plot are looking really ship shape. I probably won't get back for a week and I need to start thinking about sowing some bits in the greenhouse now - especially things for the forthcoming horticultural shows. I also have big plans for my own back garden. So I may have the odd blog entry about the homestead.