Monday, April 16, 2012

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.

No comments: