Archive for March, 2012

Busy Days and Suggestions Needed re Rabbits…..

Busy few days – had this week off and spent lots of time down Plot 119 mostly digging but also a little bit of sitting and enjoying the sun!  Tomatoes and cucumbers are doing better now I’ve moved them into the polytunnel, no more scorched leaves thankfully.  Might need to invest in some greenhouse shading, however the seedlings in the seed bed in there are doing fine, no problems at all.  Bought some grow bags, bought ones that were a little bit more expensive than the cheaper thin ones but they looked so much more substantial.  Also had some of the thin ones at home so will compare the two and see which ones produce the best veg.

 

 

So, most of Plot 119 dug over now…. pics to follow!  Spent the day at home in the back garden today, potted up my turnip seedlings, sowed the celery and brussel sprouts into module pots and generally pottered around poking things and telling things to grow.  The shelving in the greenhouse at home is full now of seedlings and I have my window sills back!  Lovely to see the garden coming to life, flowers on the broad beans, peas looking very healthy, carrots looking more like carrots and the radishes, lettuces and rocket are all looking enthusiastic.  Had to sort out my netting today though as Rosie the cat decided one of the raised beds would make a nice spot to sleep in the sun…..

 

And then sulked because I moved her off my suffocated lettuces.  Poor Rosie.  Put a short cane up in the centre of the bed with a plastic bottle on top, that’ll stop her in future!

 And about the rabbits?  We have evidence of furry fings down plot 119, piles of currants and grey fluff……. have knee high chicken wire fence all around the plot with a small gap to walk through which we can put a chicken wire fence in, will they get over/under/through it?  Am I wasting my time?  How do I keep the funny babbits out???

Spuds n’ Sunshine

Gorgeous day here today, had been away for a nice weekend by the coast and came back to do some hard graft today but think we spent a bit too long out in the sun!  Shattered!  So what did we do today?

Plot 119

Simon put up the arch which will hopefully have sweetpeas growing over it and bushy sunflowers at the bases, will make a nice feature.  And a bargain, found it for £4.99 in a sale.

I dug trenches for the maincrop spuds and put them in, Cara, King Edwards and Sarpo Mira, 50 of them altogether, not the straightest of rows but they will taste the same, wonky lines or not!  Also the beanpoles went up for the runner beans today.  Simon used the old canes instead of having to cart some across from our other site.  Still room the other side of the beans for a couple more rows of broad beans too which I’m very pleased about.  Managed to start digging the other side of the plot today too but just got to hot to carry on.

What else on plot 119 today?  Had to move the tomatoes into the polytunnel as the leaves are looking slightly scorched in the greenhouse, I suppose it has been really hot over the weekend and they didnt like the direct sun.  Polytunnel is a little more shady and cooler so put them in there, the cucumbers too just in case.  In the seed bed in the greenhouse however, the aubergines and peppers are doing really well.  Planted some more sweet peppers today, and 30 courgette plants, and filled the rest of the space with calendula.

So then up to…..

Plot 69

Forgot to take pictures of 69 today but all doing ok, onions and shallots are looking healthy, fruit bushes have lots of new growth, broad beans are surviving and herbs are still alive!  Just lots of watering needed up there today, everything really dry and dusty.  Gave it all a good soaking, especially the newly planted rhubarb which was looking a bit sorry for itself.

Home

So finally, after dropping off a car full of rubbish from plot 119 at the local tip we went home but the work didnt stop there.  Planted up my Root-trainers, 32 runner beans and  32 climbing (Blue Lake) beans.  Then started off 28 more broad beans and began soaking the sweet pea seeds overnight.  Watered all the seedlings, all doing ok, despite a cat knocking the cabbages over and nearly causing a catastrophe.  All in all a very busy and productive day.  But tired now!

Day 2 on Plot 119 – Strawberries!

Very busy day, into town for a couple of plastic chairs for plot 119 and some other sundries that we needed there, then went to get our seed potatoes – all maincrop as we have the earlies at home already.  Also picked up a reduced garden arch which we thought would be nice with some sweet peas growing up over it.  Finally got down to the allotment mid afternoon and had lunch there in the sunshine before getting to work!   Jobs for the day – I worked in the greenhouse, planting up my peppers and aubergine seedlings that I started at home.  Also took half my tomato plants down there to make some room on my windowsills at home.

Then Simon and I got digging, handy having a fork each now, makes the job a lot quicker.  Worked on the strawberry patch and the spud section today.  A lovely lady gave us lots of strawberry plants today and we got those in.  And also got two rows of broad beans (Bunyards Exhibition) in next to them.  Still room for a couple of rows of climbing beans before the spuds start.  Got 50 seed spuds, a mixture of Cara, King Edward and a Sarpo variety, hope we can fit them all in!  We used the Growveg calculator to work out the number we needed…. we shall see if it works!

So what else is left to do in terms of backbreaking labour?  Not much….. just THIS BIT!……………………..

Day One on Plot 119

Started the day checking up on Plot 69, nothing much to do there today, just a bit of weeding and poking around, broad beans are looking healthy and onions are starting to look a bit more lively.  Then headed over to Plot 119 for our first day of sorting it out.  Simon got to grips with ‘life behind the greenhouse’, lots of pallets, canes, rubbish, compost heap and odds and ends to sort out.  I tackled the polytunnel first, lots of litter, old compost bags and general debris, bit of a mess but soon had it sorted.  Brilliant to have a polytunnel – will have room for aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes and courgettes now and will take some of the pressure off the plastic greenhouse at home!

Bob, the man that sorted out our paperwork yesterday came over with two garden forks, a rake and a hoe for us to keep in our shed and we had a lovely chat with a fellow allotmenter who offered us all her strawberry plants as she is moving plots and doesnt want them, also had an offer of a cup of tea from someone else, everyone really friendly.  Including a lovely fluffy cat who kept us company and did lots of purring and enjoyed a cuddle.

The greenhouse didnt take much tidying at all, lovely compost all ready to receive some seeds…… and relatively intact, only one pane broken, but we are calling that the ventilation system!

Tidied up all the general debris lying around on the plot then managed to get a little digging in before we had to come home, pulled up all the veg that had been left behind and had gone over and dug over the spud bed.  Lots of jobs left to do tomorrow but think we have done enough for one day!   Already looking so much better.

Our 2nd Plot!

Went to see one of the available plots on our first choice allotment site today.  Our second choice is working out really well but had to go and have a look anyway! Wasn’t expecting to get too excited as really just wanted an extra bit of land to grow spuds.  However….. got more than we bargained for and very excited about our next adventure!  We have another half plot so in total we have a whole single plot now, albeit about  a mile apart!  This second one is great – has a shed which seems to be watertight and in very good condition, a polytunnel in pretty good nick with bark chip flooring, and …………. a greenhouse!  Not sure if that is staying yet, the previous tenant has a few days left to take it away but it looks doubtful, and its pretty entrenched and would take a big effort to do.  So fingers crossed it will stay.  There is a compost heap there and two big water containers, close to a tap and lots of pallets/netting/canes/general useful recyclable debris lying around too.

 

 

And the bit that I like?

Right by the railway line!  Thought that was really cool!  And not as noisy as you might think.  Got a nice new fence running along the back of the plot too which will be perfect for Simon to grow hops along for his brewing.  So that is our plot 2 and very pleased with it, now we will be able to grow everything we want.  Felt a little guilty at first having two plots on two allotments but it seems there isn’t really a waiting list issue around here, we seem to be quite lucky, hardly waited any time at all for both of them.  Can’t wait to get started…. again!

PS.  Just heard back from plot manager – greenhouse is ours! Was a gift for the allotment site and is a permenant fixture.  Excellent!

A Good Day!

First of all, a huge thank you for the free seeds, am going to have a good browse in a little while and put in our order…. Simon is already thinking of getting onion seeds for next year and some chilli peppers.  It’s a good excuse to try something different that we wouldnt normally consider.  So what else made it a good day?  Went to the garden centre after work as finished early today (Simon had banned me until next Spring but I NEEDED to go!)  I was very good today and only bought what I went in for (though was tempted yet again by the chicken runs…….)  Came away with these two………………

 

 

They will be perfect to start our runner beans/French beans next month and reusuable so a good investment.  That was my excuse anyway!

And a bit of good news today was we had a phone call from the allotment ‘manager’ of our first choice allotment site.  We were on the waiting list of two sites and we got an allotment from our second choice.  However, 2 plots have come up on our first choice and we have been invited to take a look.  Leaves us with a bit of dilemma.  2 allotments on 2 different sites.  Both half plots.  So technically, space wise we would at last have the full sized plot we wanted.  Just not conveniently in one place!  Would take a bit more effort and planning and would certainly keep us busy!  Going to see it tomorrow morning and will have to make a decision……..

Between the Showers!

A wet weekend here, heavy showers at times but still managed to get up to the allotment for a short time to see if anything is happening.  Was deserted except for a couple of other hardy individuals who were taking also taking advantage of a lull in the weather.  I planted the broad bean seedlings I had brought on at home, Suttons.  The ones I had planted directly in the ground are yet to emerge.  Simon planted a gooseberry bush we bought yesterday, a Hinnonmaki Red, and also one we dug up from our garden at home as it wasnt doing very well and thought a new site may give it a boost.   Now follows a boring picture of lots of earth with some broad beans poking through……….

 

What else?  Sowed some grass seed on some of the paths just to brighten them up a bit.  Then rain stopped play and went home to spend some time with eldest daughter on Mothers Day.  Got her helping me with the parsnips….. had started chitting them 2 weeks ago and felt some of them were ready to pot on today.  I had previously planted 30 or so modules and only 2 have come up.  By chitting the next lot of seeds I am hoping for a much higher success rate!  So about 40 or so more planted up today and still more in the ‘chitterbox’!

Gardening at Home today

Pottered around in the garden all afternoon and got lots done.  Cleared out the ‘greenhouse’ and prepped it for growbags.  Will be putting my peppers, tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers in there (if there is room for them all!) Will move the shelves out when things get too tall.

Next job - planted up sweet pepper seeds, and more celariac seeds as first lot are all doing quite well but needed more!  Then filled my cheapy veg sacks with lots of lovely brown stuff and planted carrots, rocket, cos lettuce, radishes and spring onions.  Will be doing this over and over again with the salad veg – right by the kitchen door so can ‘pick and grow’ all through the summer hopefully.  Also filled in the gaps in the raised beds with more salad veg.

 Not used these types of bags before but they feel pretty sturdy and have decent sized drainage holes so fingers crossed.  Simon has been using them for his spuds and seems quite happy with them and he has greenery coming up now from his Swifts.  He kept himself busy today oofing around the bags of compost and grow bags as I was too feeble to lift them,  potting on his morning glories and french marigolds, starting off his nasturtiums and Calendula and sorting out troughs for his chilli hothouse.

All in all a very pleasant afternoon getting dirt behind my fingernails and enjoying the sun and spring flowers in the garden, planted crocus and daffodil bulbs in the lawn in the autumn and seeing the benefit of them now – beautiful!

Fruit bush added

Didn’t plan on buying anything for the allotment today but that didn’t last long!  We met up with a friend for lunch at the garden centre and came away with a Jostaberry, a gooseberry/blackcurrent cross, should be interesting!  Also picked up some more netting today, netting pegs and twine, a little mini rake and some Growmore.  Jostaberry all planted up now and cant wait to see what it does, it has meant that our last bed has become our ‘F’ bed.  We have beds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and now F.  For fruit and, at the moment, for anything else beginning with F!  So, pumpkins and marrows, fruit and fennel.

 

Also Simon put roofing felt on the bench, seemed like an exceptionally good idea and saved bottoms from getting splinters.  Then we read a comment on here saying we might get tarry posteriors in sunny weather….. mmmm, hadnt thought about that one.  Might have to invest in a long cushion and keep it in the shed for such occasions….

 

 

First direct sowing of the Spring

Beautiful day today, warm and sunny.  Whilst Simon was sorting out our bench I planted the first seeds of the Spring outside, done lots indoors and the windowsills are full and the greenhouse is busy but today – direct planting.  Put in a row of Autumn King carrots, a row of Nantes carrots, (left a gap then for the Chantenay carrots to be done in April), then put in a row of calendula seeds to brighten the bed up, provide salad flowers and also I read somewhere that they deter carrot fly.  Then 2 rows of Boltardy Beetroot.  Plenty of room left in the bed for another row of later beetroot, the parsnips and some celariac.

Then planted the rest of the Suttons broads beans that we had left – got 34 plugs with them started off at home and had about 25 left to plant direct.  Used my new little griddle to get nice fine soil on top of the seeds, less than £2 from Wilkinsons and really good, it came with two dibbers and a seed dispenser too.

 

                            

 

And Simon also dug up the fruit canes that were growing up through the path and replanted them next to our boundary – not sure what they are yet, think some may be tayberry as we found an old label saying so!  But maybe some raspberries there too, will have to wait and see when they fruit!

 

 

Allotment Bench

Decided we needed somewhere to sit and rest our aching bones and have a cuppa so looked at getting a bench.  First looked at plastic storage benches but pricey and we didnt really need any more storage.  Then looked at wooden picnic benches but quite large and would have taken up too much room.  Then thought about a couple of plastic chairs but they would have taken up space in the shed.  So we decided to make a bench and made it functional in two ways, as a seat and a planting area……

 

 

We had the two planters at home already and only had to buy a £4 plank of wood from the local DIY store, soil from the compost heap and a few £s on some ‘erbs and there we have it, comfortably seats two and you can lean up against the compost heap as well!  Plenty of room to put your cup of tea and a sandwich too.  Simon is going to cover the wood with some left over roofing felt from when he did the shed roof so it will be protected from the elements and we wont get splinters in our bums!  Very pleased and a bargain!

 

Potential Slug Busters!

Pottering around the garden at home today, planted some more peas to fill the gaps where the overwintering Meteors didnt make it, planted some more cabbage seeds and chitted some parsnips seeds.  Then, very excited to find a big ball of frogspawn in our pond!  Had a resident frog there since last autumn and he was joined by a partner a short time ago and was seen ‘doing the deed’, now we have a pond full of tadpoles-to-be and potential frogs to look forward to.  The slugs wont stand a chance!  Really pleased as the pond was a new addition last Spring and we weren’t expecting it to turn into a wildlife pond so quickly.

 

Even though we didnt get up the allotment today, we did get the wood to make our sitting area, and some herbs for our pots there.  Will have lots to do at the weekend!

Dug the last bed.

That is the last bed all dug and with a little space left for somewhere to sit and have a cupper. Once the rain has stopped another good raking over to help level it out and that is all the ground work all done.

Weeded the paths to get rid of the dandelions and re-raked the other empty beds to break up some of the larger clumps of earth and level them off a bit more.

Removed any weeds that where growing in the beds as well as any grass shoots that where missed the first time around. Picked up all the stones that made their way to the surface and stacked them by the flower bed.

Prepping for Beans!

Finished work at lunchtime so home to pick up wellies then we went up the allotment and Simon put up the bean poles in preparation for our runner beans and Blue Lake beans, still plenty of room in the bed for the broad beans (which still have not poked their heads up in their pots at home yet) and the dwarf French beans.  Might even be able to get a row of peas in too.

 

 

Not bad I think for a first attempt at bean pole architecture!  Just waiting for the beans now.  So what was I doing whilst Simon was being constructive?

 

The final bed!  Putting in a semi-circular area for the bench (when we have made it!) and this bed is going to be our ‘experimental’ bed, basically a bed for things that won’t fit anywhere else, one offs, special things, odds and ends and maybe our pumpkins and marrows…  Dug over half of it but pretty hard going, lots of plastic and bits of general garden debris, will hopefully finish it on my next day off.

More Spuds in bags planted

Planted up my Anya potatoes after chitting them for about a month with the help of one of our cats who liked to sit on them and keep them warm on the windowsill. Didn’t seem to do them any harm being looked after that way.

So they are now out in the back garden sat next to the Swift potatoes that where planted  0n the 15th of Feb 2012 and are now showing signs of poking through. I still have some Pentland Javelin‘s still chitting, but may plant them up next week as they seem to be getting a bit soft. This is our first go at potatoes and have chosen to grow 1st & 2nd early’s this year, as salad and new potatoes are the most expensive in the shops.

Tags: , , , , ,

Wet and Soggy Raised Beds

Too wet to do anything on the allotment today so just pottered around at home checking on all the seedlings, got some cauliflowers up now and one celariac!  However, the raised beds are looking very sad, it was all a bit of an experiment as we had never done it before and the winter hasnt been too kind to our little plants.

Our broad beans are leggy, think they needed more light, our over winter peas are hardly worth bothering with and the winter carrots have been the same size since about November!  But the onions are doing ok, and the garlic is very respectable, and the spring greens are good, we have eaten quite a few of them already and they taste amazing and are the most incredible colour when cooked.  As you can see from one of the photos though, the beds are quite waterlogged, they are full of good quality top soil and compost but they are sitting on very heavy clay soil and I dont think they are draining particularly well.  Thinking we might have to move them, but as the whole garden is heavy soil I dont know that it would make much difference, even the lawn is waterlogged.

 

Waterlogged ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ broad beans and sad little Meteor peas who didnt like the cold

 

 

The slowest growing carrots in the world!  Onions are ok, and garlic too, planted in the gaps between the beds

 

Very pleased with our spring greens!  Will be having some more with our dinner tonight!  When they are all gone, this bed will be prepared for salad.

Seedlings

Progress so far – some cabbages seedlings are up, no sign of the leeks or parsnips yet though – going to try chitting some more parsnips seeds and put them on damp kitchen paper just in case the first lot dont come up.  No sign of the broad beans yet though…..  all sat in the greenhouse doing their own thing.  Today I planted up the kale and brocolli seeds, not vast quantities, will see how these do and then do some more to stagger the planting a bit.

 

Can’t fit much more on the window ledge with all the propagators too!  What else is going on with seedlings?  Ah yes, the pumpkins are doing well, planted one from a shop bought pumpkin as an experiment and a few Racer F1s and all came up and looking very vigorous.

   Only got 4 plants on the go though – they grow so huge that I didnt want a whole allotment full of pumpkins!

What else?  Sunflowers, a new bushy type called Wahoo – just to brighten up the allotment, tempt in the insects and provide nice cut flowers, and sunflower seeds of course, these shouldnt grow too huge either being bushy, and they apparently provide lots of flowers per plant.  Just poking their heads up at the moment but expect they will go mad very shortly!

Cucumbers seem happy enough on the kitchen windowsill, and the aubergines and sweet peppers are behaving themselves, and the tomatoes are starting to look more respectable, were very leggy at first but now seem to be getting their act together.  So, all in all, quite happy with progress so far, its so exciting seeing things come up!