Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Photos as promised from the last couple of visits

My newly divided compost bins, half green, half black gold.

Plenty going on in the greenhouse. Now this was taken 10 days ago and things have moved on somewhat and I now have completely covered all surfaces and the floor!

And let me introduce you to my taddies that are living in the pond in the garden, not at the allotment. This is the first time we have had spawn. We have plenty of frogs, toads and newts in the pond and garden, but they always go elsewhere for their nookie. Not this time! An orgy took place and we had lashings of spawn.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday 19th April 2008 - Weather: Overcast and damp

Managed to convince the family to pop to the plot with me today. Daughter number one wasn't very impressed to start with, but she soon got into the swing of things. Mum gave me her old fig tree a few monthes back and it has been sitting in it's pot on our deck since. Well, I decided to plant it on a corner of the plot where it wouldn't shade or bother anyone, and hopefully, it might produce a crop of one of my fave tropical fruits. I plan to train it as a fan to allow maximum air circulation and sunlight so we get a ripe crop. We shall see. Anyhow, that was the first job for the old man. Once that was in situ, he then created a small bed for the children to have as their own to grow sunflowers and whatever else takes their fancy. I had a large section of 'log roll' which they used to create a fenced area. We then raked it over and it is already for action. The old man then did some weeding whilst I sowed a row of Peas 'Greensage', a patch of early nantes carrots and a small area of spicy salad leaves. At last, a start at sowing directly on the plot. Almost finished clearing the old strawberry bed of weeds as I need to get another 4 rows of spuds in! I may only do 3 and plant the 4th batch in tree buckets that I have at home. All in all, a productive couple of hours. The kids played in the stream, collected stones for my cobble path I am slowely creating at the end of plot 2 and they raked lots. They enjoy raking. I don't know when I will next get to the plot as I am working all of next week, but I might try and cram a couple of early morning hours in over the weekend. Fingers crossed, if I keep ontop of my work commitments, I will be able to then spend a whole day there the following week. I shall keep you informed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sunday 13th April 2008 - Weather: sunny the cold, then wet, then sunny, then windy, then hail, then big rain!

At last, I got to spend some quality time at the allotment. Got up bright and early and was on site by 8am and the sun was shining and all was well with the world. The plan for today, get last years seed area on plot number 2 dug and prepared for the brassicas that will be arriving from my greenhouse in about 3 weeks time.

The plot was incredibly noisy and thinking about it, I could have probably recorded the deafening noise on the camera but at the time I just listened happily. The birds were everywhere and honestly, they were all shouting at the top of their beaks! Even the woodpeckers seemed to be out in force sending morse code messages all over the trees. I love the location of our allotment because it is in a very rural location with a farmers field one side, private huge gardens at each end and a dirt track lane the other side. It is very peaceful with the occasional rambler or horserider using the lane and the distant chug of the tractor in the field. It is just lovely.

Anyhow, I digress. I dug and dug and forked and weeded for hours until I was bored rigid, so I decided to sort out the compost heap for this coming year. I have always just had one big heap which I pile up during the spring, summer and autumn, then in the winter and early spring I pull off all the chunky, not rotted stuff at the top, use the compost then fling the chunky stuff back in and start filling it again. So, the plan for this year is to divide the heap into 2 halves, which I did with a pallet, and have one half filling, and at the moment, one half full of useable compost. Once all the compost is gone I guess I will cover the other heap with some carpet or sacking and start filling the empty area. This is the plan anyhow. Plenty of black gold to enrich my plot and I plan to use it on the squash bed and around my sweetcorn. I never produce enough to cover both allotments, so in the same way I rotate my crops, I also rotate my compost adding it to different areas. I also have leaf mould at home in sacks which needs to go to the plot and I will use this to mulch my brassicas I think.

From the heap I went back to plot number 2 and finished off the digging. In the bed nearest the onions, which I must say are coming on strong, thanks to the lovely Growmore who sent them to me, I needed to plant my broadbeans. This is the first year ever I have grown an abundance of a variety called Express. I seem to loose lots every year to furry and feathered critters, so this year I have planted them in a sunny, more exposed spot as nobody else seems to have this problem. I may use net later in the season, but we shall see. I forked a couple of barrows of my compost into this bed, and then the torrential rain came down. But, I had started the job, so I got on with it. Planted my lovely broadies, and mother nature watered them in for me. I also planted some sweetpeas up a few of my runner bean canes. I am hoping to grow them up and get some really lovely long stemmed blooms for the summer show.

Before I left for the day, having been on the plot for a fab 6 hours, I sprinkled some lime over the soon to be brassica beds. The weather should have worked this into the soil and I will use more when I plant them out in a checkerboard fashion like Tee Gee from a4all once showed us. This helps deter the slugs, resist clubroot and give the brassicas a tasty treat.

Back home, as you can see, I hope....the greenhouse is bulging. I have a mass of brassica's, tomatos, chillis, peppers, aubergines, flowers, lettuce, chard, onions, sweetcorn and squashes already growing like mad and I have so much still to sow, and so little room! I am pricking the brassicas and chards out and hardening them up like crazy to make more space for the more tender plants and the seed trays. Must not fall behind with my sowing this year!

Can't put on pics at the moment so will add them later. Bugger!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday 8th April 2008 - Weather: freezing cold but beautiful

Not an allotment visit, just checking in as I am planning to spend the whole of Sunday on the plot...oo, should check the weather so I might swap to Saturday. Anyhow, I have been sowing like crazy over the last few weeks, determined to be organised this year, and have a host of brassica's up, along with a selection of squashes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, chillies and flowers. Broadbeans and sweetpeas are a good 8 inches tall now and growing fast, so they will go to the plot at the weekend to be planted out. They are hardening up in a shelter against the conservatory. Not sure of the best way to do the sweet peas this year....last year I grew them up netting, but they collapsed everywhere and I lost a lot of flowers. I don't want to grow them tall for showing, although that might be an idea for the summer show.....okay, me thinks I will do some investigating and I might grow some up canes to try and get show flowers, and the rest up a wigwam with netting wrapped around it.

This year I am determined to have a better go with melons, so have selected where I am going to grow them and they are off to plot number 2 at the top end which gets drenched in sun all day through. Brassica's are going at the bottom end of plot 2 in dappled shade. Beans and toms are along the centre of plot 2 in the growing tunnel - not a polytunnel, I should be so lucky, but I have a structure with a corregated roof on which serves several purposes. Firstly, the roof provides a huge surface to collect rainwater into my 3 butts, secondly, keeping the rain off the tomato plants helps slow down the risk of blight - mine are normally the only ones producing in the autumn, and thirdly, it does raise the temperature a little, keeping the toms warm for an earlier crop. Plot number one has spuds at the bottom damp end in dappled shade, apple trees and fruit cage along the middle then the top end will have the directly sown stuff and 'others'. The strawbs, globe artichokes and cardoon are also up that end, along with a row of glads at the very end.

I shall get up to the greenhouse over the next couple of days with the camera and take some truly exciting photos of my veggie babies and post.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday 3rd April 2008 - Weather: gorgeous, warm and sunny with a light breeze.
At last, normal play is resumed and I got to the allotment for more than a 10 minute visit. Today was only for a couple of hours, but in that time I managed to get nearly all of my spuds planted. I got in, Epicure, International Kidney, Kestrel, Romano, Picasso and Red Duke of York. I still have Ratte, Pink Fur Apple and 2 others whose name escapes me, but they are destined for plot number 2. I also moved 3 asparagus crowns, but luck rather than judgement as the new spud bed is where the 'sparagrass grows. I have no idea if they will survive the move, but to be honest they are so unproductive for me, producing only a couple of spears a year that I have stuck them in a corner with my sorrel and jerusalem fartichokes, and of course, they will grow like the clappers!

Picked some rhubarb which is growing better this year than ever before. I don't know if that is the chicken manure I have been using throughout the season, or the thick layer of home made compost I piled over the crowns last autumn. I also puled the last of the kale and picked a bundle of young chard. Plot one is ready for action and the far end is going to be my seed bed this coming year for roots like carrots, snips, nips, swedes, spring onions and salads etc. Plot number 2 is going to be divided into squashes and brassicas and onions. I am trying to be much more organised this year - famous last words - so I get plenty in, staggered, making the most of the room. The toms and beans will go in their usual place along the centre of plot 2.

Before I left I picked a lovely bundle of daffs. They have been great this year on plot one, those on plot 2 struggle as I am forever digging them up or damaging them because I planted those when I first took on plot 2, and I only had half of the plot so planted them at what was then, the end of my plot. Of course, once I got the lot, I ended up with them running smack bang through the middle. Oh well, maybe if I am organised enough, now they have finished I can dig them up and dig a big hole under the apple trees and chuck them in there.

Glad to see Peter, my lottie neighbour, is back and working hard. He also has 2 plots and it seems he has turned one completely over to fruit with strawbs, rasps, currents and goosegogs all planted. I wonder if he will build a fruit cage to protect them becuase on our site, any fruit is stripped the minute is starts to colour up. His other plant seems to be 50% spuds at the moment. Hopefully, once the kids get back to school and my job levels out, I will get to the plot more and I will see him and be able to catch up.