Saturday, 28 September 2013

Not quite a late run, more of a jog.


Well, my second courgette and another one looks well on the way. Who said it wasn't going to happen. I could end up eating my own words, as well as courgettes. I think the warm weather we have been having lately has helped a lot. I've been watering this week hoping to give it a boost, and it's worked.


My grapes also look ready. I know they are no good to eat, I tried one yesterday and I pulled a face like in the 'Tangfastic' sweet ads. They are very sour. Maybe they will be ok for making wine. I'll have to look into it. If not, I'll ask around the allotment to see if anyone want to take them off my hands. It'll be shame to let them go to waste.

I only spent a couple of hours at the allotment today, but it's Saturday afternoon and the football ground is less than a mile away as the crow flies. City are playing at home and you can hear all the cheers and chants. No need to be plugged into my iPod today. It was a good win for City though. But back to the main point of this blog, I carried on with digging the strawberry patch. It was full of twitch grass. I'm hoping that if I keep on top of the weeding it won't be too bad. Still got a long way to go before it's all ready and it's back to work on Monday, so less time at the allotment. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Strawberry fields part II.


What a fine day we've had today. It was more like early summer than early autumn. I've even got the tan lines and white bits to prove it. I spent most of my time at the allotment getting my strawberry patch weeded. The rose bushes have been uprooted. I have been told that they take a lot of moisture and goodness from the soil. Not only that, the roses I dug up were old and diseased. With all that in mind it was an easy decision to make. Digging was hard going, the soil was dry and compacted, I could only push the fork in half way. I've still not got to the end of the plot yet, but before I fill it with strawberry plants next year, I'm planning on planting potatoes to break up the soil.

I always find things in the ground while digging, old glass and pottery, a toy car once and plenty of stones. This one stone I found put a smile on my face. I love the allotment. Till next time and thanks for reading.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Ooh, me plums.


Today, while I walk to the shed to get the tools for the day, I noticed that I still had some plums left. Hadn't touched them at all this year, so I was surprised to see them. They were quite high up and I'm only 5'6", so the rake came in handy. As I've mentioned in a previous blog, my plum trees have run wild over the last few years. It was like walking through a jungle, trying to get to the middle where all the plums were. I had plastic bag looped on my trouser belt so I could just pop the plums in as I went along. With rake in hand, I went in. In amongst the plum trees are brambles and it's all very dence, hardly any room to manoeuvre the rake. But I managed to get about 1lb of fruit. On my way out of the thicket, the bag got snagged on the brambles and all my plums just fell out. Only me! 

As well as fruit picking, a lot of weeding was done in readiness for next year. As I turned the soil, I found a copper coin. Quickly, I got some water to clean it up hoping to see Queen Victoria. No, it was Queen Elizabeth II. A 2p coin. It probably fell out of my own pocket at some point. 

I'll be back to the allotment tomorrow I hope. As long as the weather holds out. Just to let you know, I'm now on twitter as well @losttheplot235. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Just another day off.

It's that time of year again. The boss came up to me last week and said you have a few days holiday to use up. Use 'em or loose 'em. So I'm hoping to put in quite a few hours at the allotment. Well it's a dirty job but some ones got to do it. Who am I kidding, I love it. The site I'm on is like a little village within a city. It's quite big and a very friendly place to be. I can walk from one end to the other and everyone I see will say hello or stop what they're doing for a chat.

Today I planted the rest of my strawberry runners. Where I'm planning to have more strawberry plants, I have two old rose bushes. I've been told it would be better to get rid of them. Not too fussed myself, if I can't eat it or if it's not benefiting the plot, then I don't want it.

I also dug up the rest of the potatoes. Half a bin full. Good job I had my sack barrow with me today to bring them back. I still hate it when I put my fork through a potatoe, especially when it's a good one. I did get some with bugs in. I'd like to know if there is a variety that isn't affected or if there is something I can put in the soil to stop them.

I did mix in a bin full of my own home compost in after I dug up the potatoes. I've done it in the past and it's not done any harm. And it was just as well I had the bin to put the spuds in. Till next time and thanks fot reading.


Friday, 20 September 2013

And you thought the carrot crop was bad.


Well that will teach me to leave my planting so late. This is my late run on my courgettes. No chance of a glut this year. I might get another courgette in a week or two, but I'm not going to hold my breath. All that said and done, it tasted very nice roasted with a mixture of other veg. In my first year here, I did do quite well, thinking "These are easy. I'll keep planting them every year". But I did buy the plants from a nursery, they went straight in and did me proud. Some got too big to use, they just popped out quicker than we could pick and eat them. So next year I'll need to start earlier. In general, I need to get all my timings right. Not just planting, but the picking. I had some cauliflowers one year. Thought "Looking ok, bit small. Not as big as the ones in Tesco. I'll leave 'em for a bit, let them get bigger". They went to seed. Oh well! I'll get it right one day. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hang 'Em High.


I'm sat on the kitchen floor. Around me I have all my onions, string, scissors, a cup of tea (essential), a copy of 'Kitchen Garden' opened at the right page, a bag for the rubbish and a dustpan and brush, because let's face it, I will make a mess. I've got the string hanging from the kitchen door. It never occurred to me to close the door. Not the easiest of things to do at the best of times without it moving all over the place. With the first onion string, I just grabbed the fist one that came to hand. It didn't look very good until I started to cut all the loose stalks and stringy roots. Apart from being un uniformed sizes, it didn't look too bad. With my second one, I arranged the onions in size order first (large to small). They do look better for it. I did think I had enough for more than just two strings. I can't say I wasn't disappointed. But when I picked them both up, there was a lot of weight. As well as having the instructions in the magazine, earlier I watch a YouTube video by 'Farm in my pocket'. Just wanted to make sure I was doing it right. If I get a good crop next year, I will do it again. Looks better than them sitting in a hessian sack. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Raindrops are falling on my head.

Well, an evening planned at the allotment has been dashed by the rain. If I was on my own, I may have braved it for longer. But I had my youngest daughter with me,  and she does have a bit of a cold coming. So I thought it best to come home. We did have time to dig up some more potatoes, still doing me proud, and a couple of marrows. Of all the squashes this year, the marrows have been the best. I did plant them late, but it is good to know they can be left till late May and still get something out of them. They aren't quite show winning marrows, but they'll do for me. I did start pinning down the strawberry runners with some U shaped wire, but then the heavens opened and today is not that warm. Here's hoping next week will stay dry. Till next time and thanks for reading.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Strawberry fields forever.


I've dropped the girls off at school, my wife has gone to see a friend, I'm not at work today and it looks like a nice day to be at the allotment. I've got myself a packed lunch and my 'Insect repellent' because I am really prone to bites, a few squirts on each arm rubbed in and I'm good for the day. I read in this months issue of 'Kitchen Garden' that now is the time to tidy up the strawberry patch. With me having quite a good year with my strawberries, I thought I should repay the favour and look after them. I spent the best part of four hours on my hands and knees pulling out all the weeds and grass seedlings I could see. It was a good job I had a kneeling pad in the shed, I didn't realise that I'd got to the age that I needed one. I've not yet finished. There is still a bit of weeding to do and I'd like to put the runners in ready for next year. I also have a few plants at home all from runners and eventually would like to have my strawberries going all the way to the end of the plot. Well, that's the plan anyway. Here's the before and after shots. Hopefully there will be some more after shots as I get more planting done.


I have found that writing this blog is giving me more of an incentive to be at the allotment. So if you think you need to give yourself a little push, give blogging a go. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Bringing Home The Onions.

With the damp weather we've been getting lately, I thought I'd bring home the onions and let them dry out in my greenhouse. I'm quite pleased with them this year. From one little bag I've got a Tesco hessian bag full and by god they are heavy. Think it was the four strawberries, which I'm still getting, that tipped the scales. I do have some very small onions. I don't know if I can replant them next year. Answers on a postcard...
I did look over at potatoes, thinking "Shall  I dig up more?" But after a 12 hour shift, I came over all Spanish "Mañana, mañana" (Tomorrow). If the weather stays fine, I'll dig some up then.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Can you dig it? Yes you can.

It's on days like these that I'm glad that I stuck to it and not given up. Last year I came close to calling it a day. I've just dug up one of six rows of potatoes. Had I dug up any more and carried them home, I would have arms like King Louie from 'The Jungle Book'. It is a great feeling when you put your fork in and ease the soil up to find potatoes as big as your fist. If what I have left in the ground gives me the same per row, I'll be very happy. It's just a shame I can't remember which variety they are.

Not only am I pleased with my potatoes, my onions have come up trumps too. Well one kind did. I put two kinds in, one was pre packed the other was loose when I bought them. Luckily for me it was the pre packed ones that have done well and I still have the label, sturon yellow onions. I'm still continuing my form with everything else. My cabbages, thanks to the caterpillars, have more holes in the leaves than a tea bag and as for the brassica next to it....well I know it is a brassica, but no cauliflower head or broccoli flower to show for all the watering my daughter and I have done this summer. No pumpkins this year I think, we might get a late run on courgettes and hopefully a few marrows. But otherwise, same old, same old. Till next time and thanks for reading.


Sunday, 1 September 2013

One of my best carrot harvest!

Well this is the sum total of my carrots for this year. The best I've had for a few years. In the past, sowing straight into the soil had not worked at all. Didn't matter if I covered them with a fleece tunnel or left them to their own devices. This year I made newspaper pots and started them in my greenhouse. But my issues with my greenhouse has dogged me the last few years. It's cheap one, pole frame with polythene cover. When I first got it, it was fab, but there was a split in the seam by the end of the summer. So I got a replacement cover that was re-enforced. That also ended up splitting. The last one I got wasn't even the right size. Turns out they don't make them in my size anymore. I will have to think about a more permanent solution. Space is the only other problem. As for my carrot problem, I'm going to get some tubs, cut the bottoms off, fill them with compost, sow the seeds and cover them. It's a variation of something I've read in the gardening magazine 'Kitchen Garden'. It said that carrots can be the easiest and most difficult crop to grow and it showed a trial experiment using large tubs but in a greenhouse. As I don't have the luxury of a greenhouse, I'll go with bottomless tubs pushed into the soil slightly, I can use my own compost and hopefully get better results. When I'm done for the year, I'll lift up the tubs and mix in the compost ready for the next year. Well that's plan anyway. Watch this blog. Till next time and thanks for reading.