Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday 14th April 2012 - weather: bright but chillsome

Chapter 2 - plot 2

We meet again. Plot number two is next door but one and has the permanent tomato house running across it. This not only keeps the blight from my toms, but provides yet another roof to collect precious rainwater from.

So, starting from the top end, towards the gate end of the site, I have a block of dahlia tubers that went in, deeply, about a month ago. Glad to report, no show yet as they wouldn't like the cold mornings we are currently having. Next visit I will heap some rotted manure over them just to cosy them up for a bit longer. Alongside them is a currant bush then number one sons patch which at the moment has 3 kestrel spuds in. Moving down the plot towards the stream I have a germinating row of beetroot, radish, cut and come again and a total now show of carrots. Then the bean wigwam is in situ and I have planted a block of cos lettuce and lollo rosso in the middle as they will be gone before the beans are even a foot up the canes. I have planted some bean seeds - Polestar I think. No idea if they will come up in the cold, but I have a batch of Scarlet Emperor just germinating at home. Next turnips, then a row of pre-chitted parnsips. I haven't had a great crop of 'snips for the last couple of years, so this year I have tried chitting them on a piece of damp kitchen roll, covering with clingfilm, then left in a dark warm place until a little root emerges. This happened within a week and these little growing seedlings are then carefully placed in a shallow drill. I also sowed some unchitted seeds to fill in the gaps, just in case my experiment fails.

Tomato house, empty for another couple of weeks at least, then last years brassica bed. This end of the plot is looking rather scruffy as it still have a few greens left. Sprouts have all gone, there are a couple of small savoy cabbages, the white and purple sprouting are desperately trying to join the cardoon and bubby in taking over the world, and the caulis. Hubby has rotovated half of this area and has dumped about 10 loads of manure at the end ready for raking in and planting the squash bed.

I still have loads of seeds to sow, and loads of young plants at home to get in, and already both plots are looking full. I shall keep squeezing more and more in until there are no paths left, or room for weeds to rear their ugly heads.

Fingers crossed, weather and family permitting, I might get to the allotment on Sunday for a few hours to get a few more plants in and more seeds sown. Until then.
Saturday 14th April 2012 - weather: bright but chillsome

Episode one - plot one

Happy belated Easter.

After a long awaited week at Centre Parcs with mum, the kids and hubby, a week actually only being Monday to Friday, I had put aside Saturday to get to the allotment and do some planting and sowing.

What a joy. At last, even with the sudden drop in temperatures, spring really seems to have sprung. Thanks to the recent rain, my seeds are germinating, so there are radish, turnips, lettuce, cut 'n come again leaves and peas a-plenty. Also the rhubarb is making a bid to take over the world and in the every shrinking brassica bed, not only a bucket full of purple and white sprouting brocolli, but my first 2 EVER proper, unslugged, uncatterpillared, unscorched CAULIFLOWERS! Over the brassica moon. I sent the smaller and practically perfect one home with mother so she can brag to family members on my behalf and it was a perfect 2 meal cauli cheese size head, just right for a ladee on her own.

So, a recap. Plot number one (the one with the shed and apple trees). Top end (furthest from the shed). Daffs still in full bloom with wall flowers about to burst out and my new clump of alstomera up and growing fast. Then comes the strawberry plantation, all looking lush with flower buds already showing. Amongst these stands my cardoon, a gift from an Allotments 4 all chum, Cleo, sent to me many years ago. I have never enjoyed the cullinary benefits of the blanched stems of the cardoon triffid, but grow it purely for decoration and bee food. The bees adore the flowers and dive drunkardly into the purple spikes. The more bees buzzing around my plot, the more beans and peas for the table. The similar but different, the Globe Artichokes. Last year, not a bud to be had, and I blamed the weather, so they had a reprieve. If they don't produce flower buds this year for me to enjoy, then out they will all come. I believe I read somewhere that they are shortlived, and as they have been on the plot for at least 8 years, maybe they have come to their productive end. Alongside the artichokes is a block of 2011 bright lights chard which is now growing like billy-oh. This will eventually start to flower so I need to start using it, or give some away to chums who are keen on spinach. Now, there is an obvious gap in the onion patch, it looks like the white rot has taken an area of my Japanese red onions already, so I filled this area with little gem lettuce and erected a wigwam and planted sweetpea plantlets around it. On to planting, my 2012 brassica bed. I planted 2 different varieties of cabbage, a row of bright lights swiss chard and a row of cavalo nero kale. These were all interplanted with little gem lettuce which will be long gone before the greens start to bulk up. I still have more kale, caulis, brocs and sprouts to go in. Next, alliums, then a block of young swede plants, a row of sugar snap peas and a cheeky block of dwarf French beans under a cold frame. From here we lead into the fruit trees and cage. The apple trees have masses of buds but none open yet. The rasps, currant and goosegogs are also covered in buds - they never fail me. So far so good.....take a breather for a mo as I head on towards the shed.

Growing up the outside of the fruit cage are Italian peas, a tall variety that can reach 5 to 6 foot. These have been in for several weeks and are growing well. Under a cold frame I have some Italian salads but they are so bitter, I fear their days are numbered. Even the guinea pig and rabbits don't like them. I wonder if blanching them would sweeten their flavour....? Spuds fill the ground more or less from here in. International Kidney, Anya, Kestrel and Pink Fur Apple. Kestrel are already through and I have earthed them up as frosts are still likely (and at the time of typing this, I can reliably report, we had a hard frost this morning - Monday). My rhubarb patch is amongst them, attempting to join the cardoon for earth supremacy and then tucked away, right at the end of the plot, close to the shed I have a row of young beetroot plants, a row of radish, a patch of sorrel and my Jerusalem (f)artichokes, given to me by my late chum, Supersprout (aka Sarah).

As I start to think about chapter 2 covering allotment number 2, I would like to add that hubby spent the day erecting more deer proofing around the top end of plot number one, he then, with the power of syphoning, filled my half empty waterbutts from the huge water tank, which will refill quickly when it rains....again.... and finally he humped barrow after barrow of stable manure and filled my compost heap. As usual, my gratitude holds no bounds.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sunday 1st April 2012 - Spring

Mr and Mrs Wren have been busy filling my little wicker nesting basket with moss from the lawn. They are both very vocal but I have no idea if they are planning to use this nest. I have a feeling male wrens build several and then takes the wifey to check them out and she chooses the best. I would definately choose this one if I were Jenny as it looks so snug and it is in such a desirable location.

It is true, I do have greenfingers, after all, just look at the size of those toadstools!

My dessert island flower, the snakes head fritillary. I just adore the intricate checker board pattern on the petals. I have several clumps of this colour and one growing clump of white frits. It has taken me several years to get them established, but at last we are off and running.

And lastly some conservatory blooms. My bird of paradise have been flowering since December. I grew them from seed so each bloom is a joy.

Saturday 24th March 2012 - weather: hot and sunny

I know readers, I am a week late with my lottie update, but better late than never huh?

The usual routine. BBQ supplies, kids with i-pods, flasks, seeds, spuds and the rest of the allotment paraphanalia.

I didn't think it would be a long visit to start as daughter number one wasn't in the mood for a day playing in the dirt, but I soon talked her round and of course, once the fire was alight, she was happy.

First job of the day, get the last of the spuds in. I have a row of Pink Fur Apple, Kestrel, International Kidney and Anya. I then have a row half planted with Int. Kids and half with Anya. I still have a few seed spuds left and they may get poked in somewhere, but I do have one of the potato growing sacks at home in the shed, so I might bung them in that in the garden.

Next in, broad bean plantlets. They are about 6 inches tall, good, stocky plants, so they went in, but the peas that are romping away, just infront of the fruit cage, shed end of plot number one. From here I trundled over to plot number 2 and planted 15 little gem lettuce plantlets and 12 lollo rosso plantlets. These have gone down the middle of the runned bean canes as they will be gone long before the beans are high enough to be a problem.

Now, I know it is only the end of March, and I also know now that a cold snap may well strike the middle of the first week of April, but I did plonk in a few runner beans and a row of dwarf French beans. The Frenchies have the cold frame over them, so they might be okay if they do poke their noses through....I don't hold out quite so much hope for the runners, but if they aren't too keen and stay underground for a bit longer, they might pull through. I also sowed some more peas, carrots, beetroot, spinach and turnips, and I station sowed some sunflowers and finally I planted some red onion sets that a customer had given me.

Hubby cut all of the paths for me and finished rotovating plot number 2 so our end of the site is looking really neat. We have some very keen newcomers and after a stroll around the site, it looks like only 2 plots are currently being neglected by their owners. Fingers crossed that all changes before the weeds start spreading their seeds everywhere.

The last job of they day for me was weeding the fruit cage in amongst the rasberry canes. I have membrane down amongst the bushes so they are fine. Then hubby dumped my rotted compost in the cage and I raked that around the canes to give them a good feed to help with yet another bumber crop of raspberries. Meanwhile, he was humping barrows full of steamy manure over onto plot number 2 and heaping it up in preperation for Operation Squash planting which will happen at the end of April, start of May.

A good five hours spent on the plot and it really is looking good. Next visit will see me planting sweetpea, lettuce and swede plantlets as well as sowing loads more seeds.
Sunday 1st April 2012 - weather: blue sky and sunshine

Animal Gallery

Travis, the Hermans with the pretty shell, then Tom and Bertha, our spur thighed who we adopted last summer. Happily out of hibernation and back in the garden. They had just put themselves to bed when I took this photo, they really aren't shy.

Some of my Quail brood. They are laying well now and we are getting 8 plus eggs a day. Unfortunately, 2 of the boys became oven ready today as they had the most horrible shrill crow and I was worried we would start to get complaints from the neighbours. However, they aren't pets, they are livestock producing eggs and meat, but I do love them.

He is dosing in the afternoon warmth. I know this bird is a he as he has all of his feathers on the back of his neck and since spring sprung, the boys have been doing what comes naturally to the girls, and they are all now bald on the backs of their necks....male brutality!

Here is Pebbles, our last Guinea piggy. She is about 4 or 5 years old, and she is a grumpy little pig. We handled her and loved her when she was a piglet, but she has always been nippy and timid. However, we do let her and the rabbits in the run together, and I know, I know we shouldn't, but since doing that she has become a lot more friendly and inquisitive.

Leccy, our Bearded Dragon. We have had him at least 5 years and I think he is terribly handsome. He scoffs locust and avoids all veg and fruit so the locust have to be well fed so he gets his vitamins by proxy. He spends summer days in the garden in the old guinea pig run catching some rays, and other days he has the run of the conservatory where he climbs the walls, sits on the cactus and generally stretches his legs.

This is Flumps, the big daddy rabbit. He is so loving, but can give me a real good kick when I am trying to put him away. He is in his hutch here as we can't let him and the wife out together yet as we do not want any more baby bunnies!

Here is Floppy, names for obvious earry reasons. She is out in the run without her kids for an hour to stretch her legs, scoff as much hay as she can and generally ruin the lawn. She has been an amazing mum considering she was only a matter of monthes old when she had the babes. We didn't loose any, they are all big and beautiful. I am now trying to build her up as having 7 kittens did take it's toll and she has lost a lot of weight. Plenty of fresh grass, hay and greens and she will be plump and cuddly again in no time.

Babies! Originally we had 4 caramels, 2 patches and the little runt was all black. A caramel and patch went today to a lovely family who I have known for years and who I know will love them immensly.

This little fella is the mirror image of mum. They are all loving as we have been handling them since they were days old.

Here is our runty. We are keeping him. He was always a lot smaller than the rest of the gang and got trampled a lot, but he has caught up nicely and is just adorable.

The caramel bunnies, good enough to eat.

We do have a corn snake, but she was playing hard to get after scoffing a mouse. We also have an array of fish from Goldfish to Oscars and pretty little tropical fishies. Hubby keeps insisting we have enough pets, but the incubator has just been dusted off, and he is a sucked for puppy dog eyes more than the kids. Watch this space.