Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday 25th March 2011 - weather: blue sky sunshine Actually, the date is a bit of a fib as I went to the allotment on Thursday and Friday. The weather was gorgeous, so much so, I actually got a bit of colour on my otherwise palid skin. Both plots look great. All weeded, all neat, all ready for this coming year. First job on Thursday, spuds in. International kidney, Kestrel and Maris Piper. I do normally grow more but always have mixed results, and last year we were lucky to get half a sack from a row thanks to the lack of rain, so this year I am scaling down. I may well get in a row of Pink Fur Apples yet but I am not decided. Then followed lots of little jobbets. Planted 3 stray strawberry plants that I had at home. Planted a row of you pea plants which I had started at home a few weeks back. Pulled some rhubarb, picked some spinach and cut a handful of white sprouting (photos to follow). I also sowed a row of carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Last thing was planting a pot full of broadbean plants - 12 in all - that I had brought for a pound from the little local country market. It wasn't a full day on the plot, I didn't arrive until nearly 11, and after a chat with old Jack, that was my day filled. Friday was much of the same. Again, I didn't arrive until 11 but sowed 2 short rows of radish, a patch of carrots, a patch of mixed salad leaves, planted 12 cos lettuce plants under glass and sowed a patch of calendulas. I sowed 2 rows of peas and rather daringly, I sowed half a row of climbing French Beans. I did give them the protection of a corregated plastic sheet which should keep the worst of the cold off....if only it were as easy to keep the mice off. I also moved a large sheet of weed supressing membrane from allotment one to allotment two and pinned it down ready for the squash plantation. Husband has purchased a mass of cheap tent pegs so I will be able to put down the rest of the membrane. It is such a godsend as I means I don't have to waste so much time weeding and it keeps the ground beneath damp, great considering the constant lack of water on our site. I had a long chat with Lorette, our site secretary, and we watched a bird or prey way, way up in the thermals and she reakoned it was a Black Kite as they have been spotted in the area this spring. I left with an armful of daffs and a big bunch or rhubarb and a big smile on my face. I am so ahead this year.....don't fear readers....this efficiency won't last. NB: Quails eggs hatched...not great odds. From the 7 eggs, only 3 hatched. Two were infertile, the other 2 had chicks in which didn't make it. However, 3 is better than nothing and it is the beginings of our new flock. Two are pale with faint stripes and the last is much darker, and bigger, with thick dark stripes. We had also ordered more eggs from another breeder, this time, English Whites, and they are safely tucked up in the incubator due to hatch in 17 days. Yes yes, I do have photos, but they are on the camera which is downstairs, and I am upstairs and it is nearly 11pm so I am going to wimp out and sort them out tomorrow to post. Thank you for your continued patience.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Monday 7th March 2011 - weather: glorious spring day

Firstly, an apology. I have been very lax at updating the blog of late, but spring is just the busiest of times...well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I have been to the plot several times for long bouts of digging, weeding and more digging. The strawberry bed is weed free and orderly - now I have to 'acquire' some tube piping to create a tunnel to keep the birds and darn deer from scoffing the fruits before we do. The spinach didn't mind the winter freeze and is growing away quickly now the days are warmer. It will quite probably bolt by May, but I will get a good few harvests from it before it goes over. The chard on the other hand suffered before we really got a good meal from it. There are 3 tiny plants still struggling, but the big meaty ones are all gone. The onions and garlic are growing really well, again, they didn't seem to mind the cold winter. In fact, it should have encouraged the garlic to split into lots of juicy cloves. The sorrel is growing well. Boy is it lemony. I really should use it more in salads and when cooking fish, I forget how zesty it is. Also, the bubby is growing like crazy. It is always a joy to see those red and pink leaves breaking free. I reakon I will be pulling my first few stems next week for a small pudding.

I still have turnips and a few parsnips in the ground, but I can't imagine they will be any good by now. I will have to get them all up next visit and cut them open to see if they have gone woody. I suppose the guinea pig (only one piggy now as we lost one over the winter) will enjoy them. I also have an array of greens still in the ground, but they all need to come out now. I did harvest a trug full of mixed kale which I will enjoy stir fried. I loves me greens. The brocolli plants still look so handsome so I might leave them in a bit longer until I need the space, just in case they suddenly get the urge to produce flowers. The daffs are all up and have lovely plump yellow buds just waiting for a few more sunny days before they burst open.

The great news is, no more digging in 2011. Hoorah. I still ache, and it is Tuesday evening, but then I did dig all of plot number 2 on Monday, and then humped 10 barrow loads of manure and dumped onto the pumpkin patch area, and then humped a similar amount of compost from my heap onto the seed sowing area. Phewie, a good work out at the green gym.

Hopefully, weather permitting, this weekend we will finally get the fruit cage sorted. The work has been promised time and time again, but life, and mother nature keep getting in the way. Nothing planned for this weekend, so fingers crossed.

At home I have seeds a-plenty growing. Tomatoes and chillis are all up, along with a couple of aubergine plants which I am delighted with as I can't normally get them to grow. I also have an array of brassicas growing, some salads and at the weekend, I sowed at least 16 different varieties of squash, both ornamental and edible. I am determined this year (yeah yeah, I say this every year) to grow some of the large gourds up a frame with net on it to leave me with more ground space for bush squash.

The other big news is we have 7 eggs in our incubator. Hoorah. The quail project is off again. The quailarium will be completely renovated over the next few weekends and made as fox proof as poss, including electric fencing! Eeek. We are going to have a hatching frenzy and buy a selection of eggs from different breeders to have a good mix of colours and genes. I am going to ring each family, and also ring males and females so we can segregate as necessary when we want to start hatching our own eggs.

So readers, hopefully more pics and news at the weekend....fingers crossed.