Sunday, 29 March 2009

No raised bed

Today's trip to the patch was a solo effort, phew some space to myself. I have had a poorly toddler for the last 2 days and not left the house. I felt so hemmed in.

I got a fair bit done, there are broad beans and shallots in the ground finally. I cleared the last of the leeks which were only fit for the compost bin as they were rotting. I also put a dalia in the ground in the corner by the tulips, it is the bit that is supposed to lift my heart as I walk towards the patch so a need some all year round colour.

The allotment association have started their competitions I bought 2 mammoth onion plants (just 50p a shot) one for each of the boys. Owen allocated and helped me label each plant. They have been in a greenhouse so need to be hardened off and then the rules state that they must be grown on the patch once hardened off. Hopefully we will do better with these than the marrows last year - as at least they are plants not seeds - we never sowed the seeds last year. I just need to do some research with Owen about how to make a mammoth onions really mammoth. Anyone have any secret feed recipes?

I also planned to assemble the link-a-board raised bed today for a strawberry patch. Its been in the box for a few weeks. Why I didn't open it to check it, is beyond me. Having carted its awkward rather than heavy packaging to the plot I opened to find just 3 boards in the box. 3 boards don't make a square so I just had to take it home again. Now this week I will have to see how good the company are at sorting things out. Hopefully it won't be too much hassle.

I spent the rest of the time, until collected by all the boys, digging.

When I had been collected we took an already prepared (and not by me) picnic to the the RSPB at Sandy, I can't believe how noisy the woodpeckers were. We bought some bird feeders for our garden I have to make it back up to the birds for having removed those trees.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Big change in the garden

Our garden is a dreadful mess and very out of control. I have had real trouble with planning what to do with it, especially as all the boys are going to want from a garden is somewhere to play football etc. It is the football obsession that has ruined some of my window box vegi growing efforts last year.

I now realise that one of the reasons I have not been able to get on with planning the garden is the overgrown trees. It is these trees which have actually made the garden look small, dark and depressing - at that is all very off putting if you think that the toil involved with anything you do will make little difference to how the garden looks.

Our neighbours came round; and rightly so as they are fed up with the trees too. They want something done as they are not getting light in their garden in the morning (plus the trees were attracting a lot of pigeons and their poo!) Sometimes you just need the right kick up the backside to get things done.

I don't like conifers at the best of times so I got some men with chainsaws etc to take them down. Wow what a difference it makes just take a look at the before and after photos! I realise that one of the trees is taller than the house. We have light. You could not see our neighbours houses at all before.
I want to put a little tree back in their place because of the birds. My favourite tree is a Rowan but I think this may get too big so I'm considering a Magnolia.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mad Mothers day

How do you make your mother hopping mad on a day where she has been blissfully relaxed?

It is a straight forward and single pronged approach. When you arrive at the allotment site begin to accelerate away from your family, thus arriving at the plot about forty five seconds before they can. It must be just enough time and distance away from them so that they can still hear you and glimpse your actions. Your mums attention wi
ll be drawn by the loud cracking sound as you throw yourself onto the newly erected frame of the cloche. You will lie there briefly arms outstretched like a footballer who has just scored. The frame will be totally unrepairable. Your mum will be ranting and spitting feathers. You will need to cry bitterly in an attempt to downgrade the serious nature of your actions. All this will cost you £10 as you will be told that you will be paying for a new one.

For the rest of the afternoon your mother will be perplexed as to what makes a 6 yr old do this, she will utter strange questions in an attempt to determine the state of your mental health. Job done!

I have a little dilemma my salmon flowered peas have become so leggy in their loo roll tubes that I have just had to put them into the ground at the allotment as there is no other home for them. I have hardened them off but I know that it is not the right time to plant them out, but it is a case of die in the tubes or chance it on the patch. I have no real hopes of seeing their salmon flowers appear, and I'm expecting that the other plot holders will be discussing such a rash move if they spot it.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Booting season too

When the spring sunshine starts I totally enjoy rummaging around at a car boot sale. Other people are spring cleaning and getting rid of clutter, I seem to like to bring home more clutter. Still its good fun for the boys and you never know what you will find. Owen always seems to do well from a visit to a car booter - often a new toy car, book or some lego. I think he loves to do the browsing too.

At my most recent excursion to a car booter I bought the book above "Puffin Parents Pack". It totally propels me back to the early 70's . I definitely remember these books perhaps they were kicking around in school or I flicked through them in the library. When I picked the book out I thought that I would like to look at what was being suggested to parents and see if it differs from today - it might well do as its over thirty years that have passed by!!
The volume "something to do" is great, its laid out month by month format. It is sectioned into something to do indoors and outdoors. March has many suggestions but its gardening suggestions are summed up in this passage....."This month is known for its blustering winds. These help to dry the soil, so that you may now be able to sow a few lettuce or radish seeds."

The book discusses mad march hares and gives lots of information about them such as they live in a form not a burrow. The mother keeps each of her babies in a separate form and visits each in turn at night to feed it, which seems so organised. These snippets of information I did not know. I love the fact that on my drives to work at the moment I do see the hares in the field in the early mornings the hedgerows and fields are so bare at the moment which makes it easy. Only once have I seen them boxing, a couple of years ago on a march evening just before sunset it was a wonderful sight.

I'll try to post a little bit more of the book each month for fun.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Peas progress

The peas that I sowed such a short while ago have shot into action on the window sill. It is amazing how different two varieties of peas can be. The salmon flowered peas are a paler green when compared to the poppet peas, they also have less of the tendrils. The poppet are definitely stocky perhaps that is why they have their name.

The warmer days have caused the peas to go rapidly mad, the poppet are still fairly strong and reasoanbly paced but the salmon have become very leggy. Not a good sign. So I have started to harden them off in the hope of planting them out fairly quickly, they probably won't do well. It's probably a little too early for the peas to be in the allotment ground may be I can find a way to protect them from the cold moments and the hungry slugs.

I have some guttering so I think I will plant it up with some other pea varieties and leave they to do their thing in a sheltered spot of the garden. Just need to find a hacksaw to chop the guttering into manageable lengths.

My sweet peas are coming along nicely thankfully. I donated some seeds to the school gardening club and we have planted up one pot with seeds that had soaked overnight, the other pot had unsoaked seed in it. The aim is to see if there is any difference between the germination in the two pots. Dependant on the results I might consider doing something different next year.

I spent a couple of hours digging at the patch on Saturday so I will have some space to put the peas - perhaps. My link a board raised bed has arrived so next week the jobs that have to be done are more digging, some sowing (things that I am behind on like broad beans) and putting the raised bed together. I also must get the strimmer out and cut the weedy grass that is already gathering strength on the paths, I found lots of slugs hiding in the edges and I want to crack down on them from the start of the year, give them less places to hide. I wonder if it will make a difference

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Make March count

We are really in the mood to make March count this year. It feels as if this is the key month of the growing year and it might be so easy to get it wrong and miss the boat. I have been trying to restrain myself from sowing too much too quickly as I need to have the space to plant things out in, last year I think somethings got a little leggy waiting for me to clear space to plant them out.

We all went to the allotment together today and it seems to work best if we work until lunch and John takes the boys back to eat while I carry on. They then return to collect me (with a sandwich) and we then go off and do something for the afternoon.

Today Huw had his first real exploration of the patch and he seems to be a natural wielding the spade. He made a bee line for the spade as he knows it's his brothers.

The afternoon thing that we did was take our campervan out for a spin to check its feeling well. It was running well and I can feel the excitement that we all had that we will soon be using it again. I love spring!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Happy birthday to the blog

Can you have a blog birthday? How should you celebrate it? With cake? Bottle of Fizz?

To be honest I am surprised that it has lasted to its first birthday as I have never been a good diarist. I lose interest quickly normally and have never sustained a diary beyond January in my whole life. It is amazing to look back and see what we have achieved and what I have learnt in just one year. So its onward to the next birthday and hopefully one year older and wiser in gardening knowledge.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


I finally feel that the growing year has begun. I am brimming with excitement and anticipation. I need to be wary as if I don't build upon the beginnings quickly making big leaps fast then the weeds will catch and choke my plans, the slugs will hide in lush weed carpet and wait for me to feed them. Because of last year I'm on to you and my war has tactics this time. The nettle patch where you slugs lurk in the shade is cut down and some of the new growth covered with landscaping fabric. Nettles are a sign of fertile soil so that is a big up, but I need to get rid of them to plant the fertile soil, mulching and digging out is recommended so hopefully by late spring I will have eradicated the sluggy nettle patch.

My cranberry is in the ground, I have no further information on how to cultivate it so have taken a jump in with both feet approach. I found it a little area near the compost bin that get a good bit of sun, there should be space for it to spread out. I think that it is low growing and covers ground. With a bit of luck I just leave it now and we will have fresh cranberries for Christmas, ho ho ho - it will probably meet its demise in July.

Jerusalem artichokes are another new addition that I have popped into the ground, I am aware of their fearsome wind reputation but remembered liking them (nutty flavour I think) when I tried them many years ago. Well it was just two tubers that we placed in the ground so I'm not sure how much that will yield.

I also stated sowing some seeds this week, my seed swap peas went in - 'poppet' and 'salmon flowered' there are ten of each. I also sowed some flower seeds, I wanted to diversify a little growing flowers I can cut for the house so starting with sweet peas (gift from mum last year of a mixed pack). The colour I least like I am donating to the school gardening club. I don't soak pea seeds before I plant them but I gather that some people do, I thought we might soak half of the seeds and the kids could see if they do better. The other flower seeds I've sown are pinks these are part of a possible new project for the front garden.

Looking forward John has ordered a link a board raised bed tonight that we plan to grow strawberries in. I have to get my potatoes chitting if they are to be in the ground for Easter. I also plan to sow some cabbage and sweetcorn this week.

Owen has sharing at school this week he plans to share the slightly gruesome find I made at the allotment today. I discovered the decomposed remains of a rat and fished out the skull to show Owen, now of course he wants to take it in to school. Should I stop him?