Sunday, 25 January 2009

The weather man says..

....its raining.

I'd planned to do a little allotment work today in the forecasted gap in the rain, but the gap has not appeared at all. Owen's weather house (a Christmas pressie from gran) has been much more precise than the BBC. I love weather houses when I was a girl I had a 1970's style orange one that I looked at every day with out fail, its a shame that it didn't survive into my adulthood as it would look very cool and retro now. Owen seems quite pleased with his and I catch him checking it regularly - perhaps one day the lady will come out.

As it was raining we all took part in the RSPB garden birdwatch today and counted for a hour through the patio windows. Owen was much more engaged in taking part than I thought he would be, Huw also made squawking sounds when he saw a blackbird. I wasn't hopeful that we would see much as we haven't got feeders in the tree this year. We actually saw a lot more birds than I thought we would and I'm now sure that a wren is living in the ivy on the back fence. I'll be submitting our results later this evening.

I bought a red gooseberry bush yesterday on a whim and the afternoons are getting lighter so maybe I'll get a quick visit in in the week to plant it. that is if Owen is willing to go after school.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Seedy Sunday

Today was seedy sunday in Trumpington, nr Cambridge. I have never been to a seed swap before and wasn't too sure what happened at them. The problem with not having many plants outlive the munching army of slugs is that we ate anything we had, rather than let it go on to produce seed that I could save and swap. What I didn't know was that I could swap unused and part used packets of seed at the event.

I turned up empty handed, despite this I left with plenty of seeds to plant. There were heritage seeds for sale and the heritage seed libary also had seeds available, I took some packets in exchange for donation.

What I have to plant are salmon flowered peas, a pea called 'poppet', dwarf french beans 'emperor of russia' and some climbing french beans 'jack edwards' from the heritage seed libary. I then got some kohl rabi 'purple vienna' and asparagus pea from Thomas Etty seeds. (All of which might become slug fodder, but if I am lucky I can save some seed for next year, I'll need to look into how to do this).

I also discovered that there is a community orchard that runs activities such as moth trapping.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

looking back, looking forward

Yes it's a review of the greenpatch year, as I came to the conclusion that if now is not the time to do it when is?

It was in March that I ventured into the world of blogging and I am not sure why I did. It coincided with starting to get the patch going. Being on maternity leave and with the brain cells a little depleted I thought it would be a way to record all the things that we have done, what went well etc. It would hopefully show me which of the mad plans I hatched for the patch actually managed to be put into action. I fear it became a list of things that were eaten by slugs. In the spirit of learning from the experience this is what I think of 2008.

The thing I learnt the most over the year was don't count your produce before it is ready to harvest, something just might happen before you can get to eat it - the gooseberries were a good example of this - I still don't know what happened to them.

The best weather moment for me was the day I spent dodging spring showers under the tree in my waterproof. There is something so lovely about the sun glistening through the curtain of rain bucketing down beyond the cover of the tree branch. It was fun. I was full of hope with what we were going to achieve. But I didn't know that the rain would not stop and the slugs would have their own jungle to roam around.

The best produce we had in 2008 was our sweetcorn it was just so tasty and fresh, Owen just loved harvesting them so we must grow lots in 2009.

growing disappointment were the peas I tried several times but failed miserably to grow any, but there is always 2009

Funniest moment, I've been meaning to share this for ages, I arrived with the kids and laden with stuff. I put the baby into the red three wheeler pushchair and piled stuff on top. As I went through the gate one of the old boys was approaching in his car and gesticulating. He obviously wanted something and despite the kids and all the stuff I thought I would be helpful and open the gates for his car. More gesticulation later it wasn't the gates that he wanted and he was rather gruff and rude I think I heard him mumble about getting his potatoes in. I was completely frustrated and confused by his rudeness so grabbed the pushchair and headed to my plot. The old boy at this point seemed to have made a sulky retreat. I spent the next few days thinking about how unfriendly and rude some of the old buggers are. It was at a subsequent visit next to the club house I noticed there was a wheelbarrow that obviously some of the older members consider they have earned the right to use (this is not offered to us newbies as far as I know and is the shops to deliver manure I think). Yes you have guessed, what colour is it, red of course. I laughed, until I realised that the old boy really couldn't see my baby in the pushchair and this old boy is driving his car around town.

The thing I wished I had done most on the patch in 2008, is actually doing the marrowthon (not just buying the seeds) and other competitions for the open day I definitely will do the 2009 events and hopefully our corner of the site won't have to hang its head in untidy shame this year.

What I am going to grow again this year: definitely more sweetcorn and I am going to try and get the pak choi and kohl rabi to make it to harvest.
What I am going to grow new for this year: lots and lots of sunflowers
What I am definitely not going grow again: nothing really falls into this category apart from waist high weeds but I can't promise on that one!

I will be waging war on slugs in 2009 as I think that can lead to rapid improvements, I may even like many bloggers before me, try different methods to see which is best and blog about the results

It is really the end of our first proper year at the patch and I think I understand how to improve things. Next year I have to have a bit of a better show on our patch as rival patches have now been revealed during the year. No I have no intention to compete with the neighbours, but teachers patch is on the site and there is the other mum from school who made better progress than me this year and she has four kids and spent less time at her plot than I did. Arrgh... I resolve to have less of a scatter gun approach to cultivation in 2009

My other resolutions for 2009. This might not be what you expect as it is not a detailed work harder plan. No, I just resolve to visit Harlow Carr and the Malvern Show, there should be nothing difficult in that!

What now for the next few weeks?
Dig and tidy the patch before the weeds spring to life, then think about what we need to sow and when, oh and maybe I might get a new gooseberry bush.