Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The one with all the spuds

Firstly, the weather this year is appalling. This time last year I was nursing sunburn after an unseasonably 20 degrees at the end of March. This year I am trying to avoid frostbite in my extremities. SORT IT OUT weather gods!!

Anyway, there was a brief gap in the minus figures and the ground was not totally frozen, and the children were all away, so it seemed perfect opportunity to spend 6 hours on the new plot digging out couch grass and dandelions and then planting the first early spuds.

OH (who officially owns the new plot) I think is just starting to realise the enormity of the task *he (*I) have taken on!

Due to the amount of weeds/couch grass that have been inherited I am thinking of using some glyphos just to help get the top growth down and loosen the weed roots to make digging slightly easier. I'm not a fan of using chemicals at all, but in order to get the job done slightly more time efficiently it may be what is required. At least with a glyphos it wont damage the soil and may prevent damage to our backs. It's a tough call when I try to use nothing but natural products on the plots.

Anyway, here's some photos while I ponder the best course of action...

All dug ready for spuds 

First row of Pentland Javelin in the ground 

Look more like burial mounds than rows of spuds lol!!
So far 4 rows of Pentland Javelin and 3 rows of Charlotte. 

This was a kit that I bought a few weeks ago and was promised a box full of deliciously fresh mushrooms. So far only one large solitary one. It needs a few friends to join it!!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Shed ramblings

As I'm sure many other plot holders will find, the site reps can be, to put it politely, challenging to deal with at times. No exceptions here. Our recently acquired plot came with the normal detritus from previous tenants  but also a shed, in fairly desperate need of some TLC.

Upon taking the plot we were told that someone had purchased the shed from the previous occupant and were making arrangements to have it shifted. 'No problems' we replied, knowing that the current plot has a shed on it which is fine for our needs at the moment. When I saw the rep during the week apparently the said sale had fallen through and he was looking into some other means of removal of the shed. Again this was greeted with 'no problems' as we hadn't signed any contracts for the plot at this time and there was no reason to get shirty about anything.

Anyhow today, contracts having been signed and there being no moves from anyone to have the shed moved we kind of assumed that the shed came with the plot and that was the end of that. It would appear not. The site rep still seems intent that we either have to pay £20 to the previous owner for the shed (which when it needs the window boarding up and reroofing seems quite steep), or it has to be moved. I'm not entirely sure this should be the case.

There was some further discussion with the rep and it has been 'agreed' that there be a further couple of weeks waiting to see what happens and if nothing further we shall assume it does come with the plot.

Anyway, after all the ranglings it was a very productive day. The kids painted the compost bins and then we set about marking out the new plot and digging commenced.

Had no idea how much we were going to get done, but a lot more than anticipated.


After - about 4 times as much dug over as expected.

And started clearing a patch for my eldest to have a flower garden
This is particularly hard going as it's 90% couch grass, but the soil is good once cleared.

Also today some broad beans were planted - 2 rows of The Sutton on the original plot 

So busy day, but lots done. Probably back tomorrow for some more!!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

February roundup

At the beginning of the month sat down and did the plot planting plan for the year. As usual trying not have grown anything in the same place in the previous 3 years which should help guard against a build up of soil pathogens.

Then the weather did this

But I got some lovely icicles

But my neighbours icicles were much better!

With the promise of spring not far away I decided that some seeds needed to be started at home; much later than I have done in previous years
They were set on the 9/2/13 and inc: Leek - Musselburgh; Melon - Arava F1; Sweet Pepper - D'asti Giallo; Tomato - Moneymaker, San Marzano, Costoluto Fiorentino, Cuor di bue, Cilliegia, Alicante, Gardeners Delight; Onion - Ailsa Craig, Sweet Spanish Yellow, Aubergine - Early long purple 2; Sweet basil; Cabbage - Golden Acre, Cauliflower - All year round; Sweet Pea - Spencer Waved Mixed; Stock - ten week mixed

The onion and aubergine really havent done anything so I will repeat sow at the end of the week, but the rest are looking like this today and almost ready for transplanting.

Anyway, so our next visit to the allotment consisted of compost bin construction. The previous ones had been constructed when I first got the plot 6 years ago and were in desperate need of a) repair, and b) expansion.

Then with some considerable effort we (I say we, but the majority of the construction came from my super fella) constructed these beauties. 

In a moment of complete madness I agreed to take on another full size plot 2 away from where I currently am which has had little in the way of work done to it in the past 5 years. Now my family has expanded to 6 having even more space to grow food is very important, but I know how much work is involved getting a plot from where it is now...

...to something a bit more productive. But, it will save on gym fees, so silver lining n all that!! Plus the cost of the rent for both plots for the year comes to around 2 weeks food shopping, so really we're quids in.
All the kids are going to have a space each where they can grow whatever it is they want. So far one has chosen tomatoes (favourite food and eats them like sweets!); one strawberries, and the other flowers - 'as without the flowers we have no bees and therefore no food'. The child clearly has been listening!!

The first plot has the beginnings of spring evident. The rhubarb is sprouting...

The leeks are delicious...

I finally, after years of trying actually succeeded with proper shaped sprouts!

 And the purple sprouting broccoli is about to do it's thang.

When we visited the Eden Project last summer in their allotment garden they were growing onions in a way similar to how shallots look as they're growing. Given the amount of onions we get through I've decided to try this technique this year. It hasnt gone down well with the traditionalist allotmenteers and I'm fairly sure it counts as heresy or witchcraft as far as they are concerned, but hey ho, I'm not usually one for following the rules and we'll see what happens.

Yesterday about 200 Radar were planted in this way. The theory is that the onions dont actually need the traditional prescribed spacing and therefore in a smaller space you can get a much higher yield. As these onions sets were bought for 10p per packet just before Xmas and have over wintered in the shed they werent all necessarily in the best planting condition, but they owe me nothing, and if they grow the reality is that they've cost me an hour of my time.

Today there is garlic to be set, and then that pretty well sums up where we've got to so far.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment if you wish!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Happy New Year!

A lot of time has passed again since I last blogged. And a lot has happened. The allotment is getting a bit of a maker over and new compost bins are in progress along with plans to get a bigger shed down there. A planting plan of sorts has been devised but still final decisions to be made on varieties to try this year.

On a personal level I have got engaged to be married! This time last year I would never have dreamed that this would be happening. No plans have been made as to where or when the event will happen, but it's likely to be fairly low key and as little fuss as possible (2nd time around for both of us).

This year looks to be a busy one. Hopefully I will update the blog more often than I have been doing, but as usual my primary reason for keeping it is mainly to keep a record for myself as to when things have been planted; to note what has worked well; and what should probably not be repeated.

Anyway, if you're new, welcome. If you're reading me again, thank you for returning.

Happy New Year. I hope it is happy and prosperous for you all x

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Celebrating an allotment award

Ok, so it's not an RHS Gold award, but this morning when I arrived at the allotment site I was greeted with a sign on the reverse of the gate announcing that I had won first prize in the plot/compost competition. One of the criteria for any plot being entered was that there was a working compost system (and regular readers will know I'm a bit of a compost fanatic!)

(Of course the first thing I do is post a picture to facebook and tweet about it!!)

According to a fellow plot holder my win hasnt been greeted with the same joy as I had by others. I expect my gender and my being under 40 have gone against me, and that I pipped someone who has had his plot around 40 years to the post by 4 points (me being a mere novice having only had mine 5 years!)

But I care not for the griping of these people. I WON *skips*

My prize is £25 of garden centre vouchers which I am thrilled about, though the kudos really was enough in itself.

Anyway, the lovely tweeps have been asking for pics, so I shall show you around what is currently happening.

 Rhubarb - can probably have one more cut before the crowns need dividing

The raspberries are producing beautifully - see further down 

Strawberries are done for this year and have done well to say they were all new plants 

Red onions and shallots cleared and ready for planting leeks 

White onions are nearly ready for lifting 

Sweetcorn will hopefully produce well 

Purple sprouting broccoli is nearly big enough to be uncovered 

After a very slow start the butternut squash have finally got going, but maybe too late for this year 

Hiding among this lot are 5 really good size pumpkins that look like they will still get even larger 

Where the blight ridden tomatoes came out from a late sowing of peas went in

Beet looking good, carrots looking fly infested 

Parnsips doing really well, and some salsify 

Main crop will get lifted when I return from my holiday 

My little flower garden which I love

Aubergines, chillies and peppers not doing as well as their greenhouse counterparts, but making progress

Bird seed growing! 

So pleased these came true with their colour - self seeded from last year

Bees enjoying last years leek which I purposely left to go to seed

Hoverfly on a fennel flower

More bees enjoying the leeks

A view down the plot

The biggest raspberries I've ever grown

1 of 4 bowls of peas picked and frozen today