Friday 29 February 2008
I was reading Soliman's excellent blog this morning and saw the fantastic close up pictures of his chitting potatoes and thought I'd have a go at something similar. When you have a proper look at those strange coloured shoots they're really quite beautiful. Well worth a closer look anyway.
Almost all the red cabbage seeds I planted at the weekend have come through now, 8 out of 12 to be precise. I've taken them out of the propagator now to try and stop them growing too fast, their place in the warmth will be taken by something else in the next day or to no doubt.
Wednesday 27 February 2008
On the same subject, I've seen various poly and fleece mini tunnels for sale that all have metal hoops that you feed through slots in the fabric to create the tunnel effect. Now, we've got a load of metal hoops that were left on the plot by a previous owner and we bought a load of fleece at the weekend. My question is would my plan of simply laying the fleece over the hoops and securing to the ground with something (bricks? pegs? ummmmm... ideas?) work ok or do the more experienced amongst you see a fatal flaw in that plan?
Next bed to be dug is the root veg one as we want to get some early carrots in it under some form of cover hence the sudden interest in all things cloche related.
Monday 25 February 2008
In terms of jobs jobbed we got another bed weeded and dug over before covering two of the beds in manure from the large pile that had appeared at the top of the site.
Talking of starting things off at home, Sunday marked the official start of our sowing season. I've got a sowing diary all set out and I'm going to try to stick to that as best I can which should mean sowing little and often rather than starting a million things off at once. First up were some red cabbage (Fuego) and bell peppers (California Wonder) for the allotment as well as some chilli (Capsicum Twilight) and three different types of basil (normal, lemon and dark opal) to grow at home.
Monday 18 February 2008
Ahhh, life is good.
Thursday 14 February 2008
That was about all we had time for, it was nice to get a chance to have some time up there midweek even if it wasn't long. Roll on lighter evenings when midweek sessions will become far easier.
Monday 11 February 2008
Saturday was ‘Allotment Day’ so first we took my parents up to see the plot under the guise of asking them for help identifying the fruit bushes in the netted tunnel but also because we wanted to show it off. After the Ooooh’s, Ahhhh’s and looks of envy we all crammed into the fruit tunnel to have a mooch. The slightly inconclusive verdict was a number of confirmed gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes as well as some as yet unidentified specimens that could be anything at this stage. We’re thinking the plan should be to leave everything as it for now to see what ends up growing, then we'll know what we're dealing with for next year and can prune etc as required come the autumn.
Since it was turning into a lovely warm day once my parents had gone we popped home to make up a little picnic and brought it back up to the plot to eat. I think we probably looked a little strange picnicking on the allotment in the middle of February but at least it shows we're keen and it was far nicer than eating sat inside at home.
Then it was time to graft, Melanie set to work clearing all the old brasicas that had been left in the ground. There were two long rows of old purple sprouting and a few manky looking cabbages as well all to be pulled up. These were then cut up and put into the compost bin leaving the ground nice and clear apart from one lonely looking purple sprouting plant as there was a decent looking final crop almost ready on it.
While she was doing that I set to work marking out the rest of the beds to join the two we'd done last weekend. Using my trusty measuring stick (a bit of bamboo with marks on it at one foot intervals) I soon had them all marked out neatly with string allowing us to get a good idea of how it would all look when finished. The final plot design has given us a total of seven 4' by 13' beds, a slightly larger 5' by 13' one for some early potatoes and a big double sized one, 11' by 13', for our main crop.
Talking of spuds, here's all the ones we've got chitting at home, some are for tubs in the back garden but even so I think we’ve gone a little overboard. We can't wait to get them in the ground as all that window space will be needed for seeds soon.
Next it was time to move the bit of manure we collected last week to somewhere a tad more useful. We gave the rhubarb crown a good covering and covered one of the dug beds in a layer which left us just enough to fill a couple of polystyrene tubs we'd brought from home which we're going to use to try and grow mushrooms in the garage.
Then it was home time, and the end of a really enjoyable afternoon on the plot. Looking back it seems like we didn't really 'do' much in the four hours we were there other than clearing stuff and marking out beds, we didn't even dig anything for a start. But, we've now got the plot completely clear (bar weeds) and our plan for the year, in terms of beds etc, all marked out and ready to go so it means we're ready to hit the ground running next time with the digging. Here's how things look now anyway...
And, just cos I can't be the only one in the pics here's Melanie in her lovely pink wellies as she tells me not to take a photo of her.
Wednesday 6 February 2008
I'm also getting a little concerned that my plan of ten identical 4' by 13' beds may cause problems for things like potatoes as that may not leave enough room for two rows in each, esp. with all the earthing up they need. Has anyone worked out an 'ideal' size for a potato bed?
I'm also coming round to the idea that I need to take a day off work in the next few weeks to either burn through some of the digging or do all those little jobs I keep putting off back at home because I want to be on the allotment. Taking a day off to garden? I suddenly feel like a grown up! ;)
Before I go, a quick question for anyone reading this, I'm assuming other people get the black plastic they cover their plots in from garden centres. Am I right and if not where's the best place to look?
Monday 4 February 2008
So, when Sunday morning dawned, cold and windy but thankfully rain free, we pulled on our gardening clothes and made out way up to the plot to see what was what. Everything was much as we'd left it; all that seemed to have gone were the rickety netted frame from over the brasicas and the wheelbarrow. More importantly the netted fruit tunnel remained intact and now had a key hanging from the padlock and the intriguing locked box was still there, although it was now simply an intriguing box.
First job was obviously to see what was to be found in the storage box, the previous owner had said he’d given away most of his tools so we weren't expecting much. However, inside were three different hoe's, a sturdy looking fork a, bag of twine and numerous sticks and poles which could be used for, well 'something' I'm sure. Not bad really, especially since a hoe was the one thing we didn’t have.
Next we had a quick tidy around the plot, picking up any odds and ends we wanted to keep and stowing them in the storage box. Then it was down to the real work. We were aiming to mark out and dig the first two beds so the first thing to do was to clear out the long rows of carrots and beetroots that had seemingly been left in the ground to rot over winter. There were loads of the things; most of them tiny and all packed close together where they hadn’t ever been thinned out. Once they were all removed we marked up the beds, both 4' by 13', with some string then set to work weeding and digging them.
Here they are. They don't look it in the pic but honestly, they're the same size. Two down, eight more to go!
Not many other plot holders had braved the freezing winds but we did have a chat with a friendly woman who introduced herself and said congratulations on being given such a lovely plot. She also mentioned that the local stables dropped manure off at the top of the site and it was first come first served when they did. It looked like there’d been a delivery recently because there was still some left, so, cursing the lack of wheelbarrow, we used a big metal tub thing we'd been left to drag a bit onto our plot. We'll probably take half of it home to grow mushrooms in (Melanie's little project) but the rest will go on the plot somewhere.
Friday 1 February 2008
After months of finger twiddling now we’ve finally got an allotment the fates are conspiring to keep us off it for as long as they can.
When we took on the plot we did so on the understanding that any plants etc still growing weren’t to be disturbed since they were technically the property of the former owner since his lease didn’t officially run out till April. Not a problem, in fact it seemed like a nice gesture because although he’d indicated he wouldn’t be renewing his plot he perhaps hadn’t realised it would be re-let so soon and may want to collect/pick something.
After our initial look around and the realisation that there were three padlocks still on the site locking the gate, the wooden box and the netted tunnel it seemed like a sensible idea to try and contact the old owner and ask if we could have the keys and at the same time check if he actually wanted anything kept that was still in the ground. So, we wrote him a letter, passing it on through the parish council clerk who looks after the allotments.
I’d not heard anything for a week or so till I got an email last night from the council clerk saying that the former owner had promised some of his tools etc to other plot holders so would be having a final clear out of the plot and its contents this Saturday, weather permitting, so could we hold off doing anything major till at least next weekend to give him a weeks grace in case his plans change etc.
So, that’s another week of waiting before we can really get to work. I don’t mean to sound grumpy about it, I think it’s nice that he’s getting a chance to have a final clear up etc and pass on his stuff to his friends, it’s just another week of frustrating inactivity after all the excitement of getting the plot and all plans we’ve made. But hey, we’ve still got some plot related shopping to do and there are jobs to do at home as well so no doubt the weekend will be more than full enough.
I just hope we don’t get so much rain he puts it off till next weekend, or we find that he’s taken not just his tools but the netted tunnel and the handy lockable box with him at the same time… I'm thinking of taking a walk up there tomorrow morning and seeing if he's around so we can say hello and sort out whats what face to face, sound like a good plan?
Oh, and still no mention of the bloomin keys…. Anyone got any bolt cutters?