Sunday, 26 April 2009

working weekend

I really feel that this weekend we have had a big push on with things down at the plot. So don't let them refer to me as being uncultivated now.

It started on Friday night with a quick dash to the plot after dinner, we all went down as I need John to help me fire up the strimmer as often I have trouble starting it. I think the pull cord might need tightening. I gave the plot a good strim until I could do no more, thats the point when I start to shake. The paths looked better than before.

On Saturday I returned with big plans and alone. The ground is far to hard to dig at the moment as we have had no rain for over a week, so I gave up quite quickly. I desperately need to clear some couch grass but will wait and see what the start of the week brings softer damp earth hopefully. I planted out sweet peas instead. Filled the raised bed with top soil and my strawberry plants went in. Then did loads of weeding around the blueberries.

Once back home it was time in the quiet of the evening to sow more seeds: courgette, additional sweetcorn, celeriac and leeks.

Finally, today we had a little family trip to the plot. Owen and I planted out some rather ropey and spindly sunflowers. Don't tell the allotment association but I put a little more ground cover down, they don't like the fact that the land is covered. but I have little choice as the weeds are about to go nuts. I did have a major grumble in the shop about my letter, but I think it was just to make me feel better.

John was an absolute star he set about weeding the raspberries without being prompted.

We are looking better

Friday, 24 April 2009

A secret to share

I have a little secret and it might be said to be a dirty secret, its so bad that it has taken a week for me to share it with you. I needed to calm down a bit first. I probably am not calm enough yet even.

Last week we returned from a couple of days away camping (first time with Huw it went well!). On the door mat was a brown envelope and inside a letter. 'Your plot is uncultivated' it said.

I don't think that John has seen so much steam coming out of my ears in many a year. How can they they say this, it is not as if I haven't been trying, I've been there regularly and I think that the patch looks better than last year. Its true that I might have poor cultivation skills compared to some, especially when you consider my broad beans are taking their time. There is not a lot to see at the moment. However, no matter what, I am attempting to cultivate the plot.

When did they do the inspection? Who did the inspection? I want to know. The members of the allotment association have seen me down their doing things, buying supplies it is not as if I have be AWOL.

Well the letter says I have until the 29th of May to rectify things. I want to say here and now the things I am doing now are the things that I was going to do anyway and are for me and not to make the town council and allotment association happy. So there!

It should also be remembered that there is an area of cow parsley, nettles and tree stumps that may take me a few seasons to get round to tackling (I thought a more formal wildlife area might be best for this bit of the patch). The tree stumps might never be removed due to expense. They can't be expecting me to have this area under control can they?

Monday, 20 April 2009

Sweetcorn out

Wow it would be fair to say that Owen was very keen to go to the allotment today when I got back from work, I'm not sure that I can believe it. I think he really sees the sweetcorn as 'his vegetable' from all of the things that we grow and he wants to ensure that they are planted in the ground properly.

It's funny I asked him to count up the plants (25 he said) so we made 25 holes and then popped the plants in. We ran out of plants for the holes, did we make too many holes? Or is Owens counting a little bit off? The bed does look a little bit odd as there is a bare patch in the middle it will give our neighbours something to talk about.

We also put the competition onions on the plot one labeled for Huw and one for Owen, let the competition begin maybe the slugs will be the winners.

Sunday, 19 April 2009


I am probably the last allotmenteer in the UK to get my spuds in the ground. In fact I only have half of my chitted spuds in the ground I don't think that I had fully appreciated how much space that they would take up. I have filled three quarters of the bed that I had prepared with just the first earlies (lady christel), I still have my maincrop (romero) to go in. But where will they go in?

Last year I made a couple of mistakes with my potatoes. The rows were probably too close to each other. It made earthing them up a little bit difficult and I just made one bad attempt at doing this 'earthing up thing' over their growing season.
This year I have carefully watched other plot holders and how they have put their spuds in. Most people seem to dig a trench rather than pop a spud into a hole. There does seem to be huge variations in the size of ridges that these spuds live under. Some of the ridges are real architectural constructions.

What have I done this year, well I dug trenches for my spuds but when I had finished they seemed to be very flattened disappointing ridges on top. Luckily because I spaced them a little better this year, I dug a trench between the rows and used the earth from the trench to build the ridges into mini mountains. I can now see where the earth to earth up with will be coming from later in the season. It took me two whole hours to do this task at the end when you lean back on your spade and survey your activity you do ponder how what you are looking at could have possibly taken two hours.

After the spuds went in I did not want to do too much more in the line of digging and took the route of planting out and sowing. I have now got my poppet peas planted out and surrounded by slug pellets, I wove a frame for them to grow up from some of my saved raspberry canes. I am not sure if it is bit enough for them its a case of crossing that bridge if we get to it and the frame needs extending. A short row of spinach has also gone in today, I can see the broad beans I sowed a little while ago poking their little heads up.

I'm hoping that after work tomorrow Owen will be in the mood to plant out his sweetcorn, we have discussed doing it but he is known to change his mind, it would be fantastic if we can squeak a visit to the plot in - all of the usual obstacles excepted .

Monday, 13 April 2009

Busy day at the patch

After a bit of enforced break with working at the patch, we returned for some Sunday (oops no it was Monday- bank holiday disorientation!) sun. We all got down there today the children were less keen, Owen's friend from the patch next door turned up so that helped keep him entertained and I think his parents were pleased that he had a distraction too.

I put together the link-a-board bed today the company had been great sending me the missing board and it arrived really quickly. the bed looks great I just need to prepare it a bit more for the strawberries. I planted some cheap (98p) freesia bulbs along one of the outside edges for a little colour if they turn out to be any good.

The weeds are growing like crazy. John was fantastic today he has cleared the area for the spuds (I had hoped to have them in by good Friday -hey it can't be helped). The plan is that I should just be able to dig the trenches next weekend and get them in.

I sent John and the kids home for lunch, this works well as I get at least another hour of work in before they return to get me. If I'm really lucky they return with a sandwich! Whilst they were away I strimmed the grass but I find I can't do it for long as the petrol strimmer really shakes me to bits. I found my chives and cleared away the weeds that were choking them.

I am amazed that the salmon flowered peas are still alive although they do look very ropey, my poppet peas are ready to go to the patch next weekend too. I am hoping to improve my success with peas this year. To that end I sowed some asparagus peas in some guttering this evening, I like trying new things and want to avoid sending them on to the compost heap in the sky.

Also following Friday's gardeners world I have fished out some tin cans from the recycling box ready to plant up with sunflowers. The ones I have planted already in little pots are not looking too good -rather leggy in fact, Owen has a school sunflower for some competition that hasn't germinated yet. So overall its not looking good so far on the sunflower front. There is still time, still time I think.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Garden change

Our garden has undergone a change that we didn't do. Its a change that has really got me thinking.

Yesterday our neighbours replaced the fence where our trees had been, it is different to how it was before as it has concrete at the bottom. The concrete is a necessity as their garden would fall into ours without it because of their landscaping. However the concrete is ugly so I want to hide it.

Do you think that its screaming out for a raised bed? I think I do. I've been inspired by the gardeners world raised beds on tonight's show and over at carrots and kids they seem very chuffed with their new garden acquisition.

Now how will I get one made high enough to cover the concrete at a price I can afford. Hmm.