Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sick day.

It's been another great day to be at the allotment, but the chesty cough has turned into a full blown 'Man Flu', so as much as I wanted to go, I couldn't force myself to go. So instead, I started sorting out all my seed packets that I mostly get free with my gardening magazines.


I've got a four drawer box labeled with the four seasons, which will help me sort the seeds out. Luckily they are all within their 'use by' date. Carrots are the only seeds I have tried sowing directly in the soil and I've had no success with them at all, so I've never tried it with anything else. But now I know that they can be very difficult to grow, as you can see, I've got plenty of other seeds to experiment with. What's the worst that can happen? They don't grow. I've got a lot of planning to do. Because I'm crop rotating, I'm looking up which ones are part of which group. 

I've also got a scrap book for my newspaper cutting with tips on planting, weeding, etc. One tip for the spring, that now make obvious sense, is to wait for weed seedling to start showing before you sow your own seeds. 
Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Times they are a changing.

I've been away for a week and even after a four hour drive and a bit of a chesty cough, I still wanted to make my way to the allotment. It had nothing to do with the fact that City were playing at home. Well more fool me, the wind must have been blowing the wrong way, because I could hardly hear a thing from the football stadium.

The main reason for the title is that we haven't had a frost yet. I'm certainly no expert, but I'm sure that by this time of the year I've had to scrape ice of off the car windscreen when I've got up for work early in the morning. Is it global warming? Can we follow what our fathers and grandfathers did at any time of year any more? We need the frost to come soon, I want my parsnips. They taste so much better after the first frost.

Aside from the lack of frost and having to wait till I got home to find out the football result, (another good win for City) it was a good day for digging. The sun popping out of the clouds every so often and the soil is still so soft, the weeds and the couch grass roots are coming up nicely. As with my strawberry patch, I'm going through every clump of soil to make sure I don't miss anything. I also re-dug the strawberry patch, grass seeds were starting to show, so they soon came up. Just a short one today, but till next time and thanks for reading.


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Man's best friends.

Rockin' Robin

I carried on for a while today with the brambles. While I was clearing, a robin had come quite close, pecking at bugs I've uncovered. So rather than boring you with saying the same thing over again, I thought I would mention all the animals that I've seen on my plot since I first started here. It is very common that robins, in the UK, are not so timid. Over the centuries they've worked out that gardeners need them as much as they need the gardeners. The European robins not so much. I came to the shed once after some time away from the allotment, and the damned birds had made a nest on the shelf in the shed, on top of my gloves. Had to get a new pair. It was funny every time I went in and made the slightest noise, their little beaks popped up, open and chirping.

Toad in the Hole

 This toad was hiding under a paving slab. Didn't actually notice it at first, thought it was a big pebble, then it started to move. I'm not saying I jumped three feet high, but it did give me a start.

Busy Bee

As we all know, without bees, there would be no gardening. So I will be looking into which plants will be best to attract them.

Frog in a Bucket

As well as toads, I'm always seeing frogs. This little fella was in one of the buckets I have dotted around the place to collect all the stones, it also had quite a bit of water in it, but not enough for it to be able to get out, as much as it tried. Carefully, I moved my hand underneath the frog, lifted him out and put my hand flat on the grass. He just walked off. 'Now go and eat some slugs' I said to him. 
I hope to see many more creatures, great and small, that are helpful on the plot. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Dig for victory.


Another good day for digging, so I carried on next to where I left yesterday. I'm trying to not only get rid of the grass path to replace them with slabs, but also win the war against weeds and keep them at bay. It was much the same as when I was digging the strawberry patch, plenty of twitch and dandelion roots, but it was a bit easier with the soil being so soft. Some people walked by and stopped to chat. I was glad to hear that I was doing it all properly, pulling out all the roots, more accident rather than design. Still clueless, but learning bit by bit.

I didn't think I could compost the twitch and dandelions, but I'm letting them dry out and when it has all died off, then I'll put them in with the other stuff. It was killing my arms, taking them home to put them in the bin.

Normally, at this time of year, I've stopped going to the allotment, but it's usually because I'm doing the same thing over and over and I've got bored, not returning till March or even April. What I've tried to do this time is to do different things every so often, have two or three jobs on the go at once and it seems to be working. I'm getting lots done because I keep going, and this time of year, it's not growing back so quickly if at all. Keep checking this blog to see if it works and how I get on. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A good day for gardening.


Today was a good day to do the gardening. A warm dry day and because it's rained all week, the soil's nice and soft. So I planted my onion sets, Red onions and Japanese onions. I thought it was going to be a five minute job, but it was fifty bulbs of each. I put a trail of pebbles on top of each bulb planted, like the Hansel and Gretel trail. In the photo, the Red onions are furthest away and I have to wait till August to dig them out. The Japanese onions can come out in May. I put in some bricks as stepping stones so I don't disturb the soil too much when I have to weed.


I finally put my finishing touch to what will be the strawberry patch. The original brick path goes along the length of the plot and as it reaches the end, it's a curved right angle. I wanted a definite end so, with some spare bricks I have, made a small path across. As yet I don't know what  going to do with the rest of the area. The grape vine is near by and I would only like to grow plants that will either provide me with food or will benefit the plot in any way.


I brought home the cauliflowers today. They are not much bigger than cricket balls but I'm not leaving them any longer because they will probably go to seed. 
I left the brambles today because it too much of a nice day to be in the shade, plus I wanted a break from clearing that area. Change is as good as a rest as they say. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Not quite prize winners, but hopefully tummy fillers.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

One potato, two potato.

Today I went to the allotment 'Hut', where you order your seeds, compost and where all the big decisions are made. I went to order my potatoes for next year, my first earlies will be 'Rocket' and my main crop will be 'Maris Piper'. I have never done earlies before, only ever had a main crop. I chose them because they are supposed to be resistant to eel-worm which is what I had in my potatoes this year, and I also found out which variety I had this year, they were King Edwards which are definitely not resistant, great for roasting but are no good to just boil, they turn to mush, not mash. While I was there, I spoke to the chairman of the allotment committee. I told him about planting potatoes where the rose bushes were to then loosen the soil ready for the strawberries. He told me it was a good idea, but to feed the soil with compost and just leave it on top, let the worms work it in over winter, because both the roses and potatoes take a lot out of the soil, and so to give the strawberries the best chance possible, I went back later on in the day to do just that. With another bin full of my own compost I waited for the rain to stop and made my way down there. And it was another nice evening at the allotment. I had also spoke to him about the nest in the compost heap, just keep moving the compost about. they will soon go. I had asked a lot of questions and I felt that there were no stupid questions. Just because he knew, he didn't automatically think I should. Always good to ask, I'd never learn otherwise.
Till next time and thanks for reading


Friday, 11 October 2013

That fine rain that gets you soaked through.

Can you spot the difference between today and yesterday?

It was one of those days, today. You open the curtains in the morning and the sun's beaming. You get yourself ready for the day and it starts tipping it down, actually, it was that fine rain, gets you soaked through. And I did get soaked through, while cutting the brambles. I managed to clear quite a bit today, even with the misty rain, but then it really started to throw it down. I stayed in the shed for a while hoping it wouldn't last, but sitting there wet and getting cold, I decided to go home. But it was because of this blog that I went back, if I don't do anything then I've got nothing to write. The rain had stopped and I still had nearly two hours before I had to fetch the girls from school. All in all I was pleased with the amount I managed to do today. The pile of clippings is about as tall myself. I will burn them this time around. It's only going to get bigger. Let's hope the weather stays dry. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Welcome to the jungle.

Today, before starting

We did quite well with the blackberries this year, but now they are all gone and the fact that they are weeds and out of control, today was a good day to start cutting them back. Armed with my hedge clippers, I got stuck in. I felt like Indiana Jones, without the whip though, poison darts coming at me from every direction. I did get attacked, but that was due to nettles and brambles piercing my skin. I was bilingually foul mouthed every time that happened. It wasn't much fun having bramble branches springing into my face either.

Spring last year

Eighteen months ago, I did have it all clear to ground level. I did think that was a good job well done, but as you may have read from a previous blog, they all grew back, worse than before. This time I dug out the root ball, and boy did it have balls. I'm not even half way through yet, I still need to get the plum trees under control, but it was good having the afternoon sun shining through and warming my face in an area of the allotment that hasn't really seen any light this year.

Left hand side of picture is the pile of clippings for this year, and last

I managed to clear a way to my compost heap which I haven't seen this year. And a member of the wildlife community has made the most of that fact, having burrowed in and making itself at home. The hole is too small for a fox or badger, but what ever it is, it can't be doing my veg any good. So the landlord is back now and an eviction note is in the post. I'm just hoping they will see that they are not so hidden now and go somewhere else.

And now for the 'And finally' part of the news. The mystery of the bashful brassica has been solved. I have cauliflowers, heads no bigger than a cricket ball or baseball, but this time I'm not waiting for them to get any bigger.

Till next time and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Versatile Blogger Awards.

I was nominated for this award by EJEbeauty who is a beauty blogger (and also my daughter), the basic principle behind this award is to give up and coming bloggers, who provide a good quality blog, in terms of images, the text and engaging posts regularly, more of a chance to break out into the limelight as when blogger's are just starting out it can be very hard to get your blog noticed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my daughter for nominating me for this award and helping me with this chance to further my audience.
The Award Works Like So:
- Display the Award Certificate on your blog.
- Announce your win and thank the blogger who nominated you.
- Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award
- Link your nominees in this post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.
- Post 7 interesting things about yourself.
Blog's I Nominate:
7 Interesting Facts About Me:
- Even though I'm of Spanish descent I love a Sunday roast, real ale and a cuppa tea
- In a house full of women I've learnt to let go of the TV remote control
- And can appreciate a good chick flick!
- Despite the fact it's a children's film I have a lot of love for Despicable Me
- Thanks to my music taste, my two teenage girls have a love for The Beatles over Beiber
- The last concert I went to was Monsters of Rock!
- I was in Spain and saw when the replica ships of Christopher Columbus, La NiƱa, Pinta and Santa Maria set sail again.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Little baby steps.

My shadow helping me today.

 Yesterday, I don't mind telling you, I was wondering if it would all be worth it. But today, after only doing another meter, I did feel like I was progressing, even if it was only a bit at a time. But what I am doing is making sure that for each little bit I do, very little or even no weeds or roots are left behind. If this was a business, then it would've been cheaper to either to put some weed killer down and keep it covered over for a while or to dig the whole lot out and put in new soil. I'm just glad it's not a business, for a start, I'd be sacked by now (or fired if you reading this in America), secondly, I am enjoying digging it all over, making sure I'm getting everything out that shouldn't be there. And today I had my little shadow with me, my youngest daughter. Both my daughters have helped me out. My youngest has helped me at the allotment by collecting stones, weeding, planting, watering and, because I can't leave her at home alone, just keeping me company. Today she was there helping me get rid of what I missed. And picking bunches of grapes just to nibble on. Well the strawberries are about all gone. My eldest has helped me with my blog and all the problems and stuff I can't work out. The night I, no, she set up my blog, she can down stairs to make herself a cup of tea, saw me with the laptop and asked what I was doing. "I've set up my blog" I said all chuffed with myself. "No dad, that's an email account". So I ended up making the tea. She actually started me off thinking about having a blog because she has one herself. Hers is about make up and beauty products. Not in a way that 'hey, I look 18 now', but more as a make up artist. Her blog is here

I'm hoping that next weekend will be just as nice as today. I don't want stop. I want to finally get my plot looking how I want it. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the light at the end of the tunnel will be switched off.

Another afternoons session trying to clear the strawberry patch. But all I'm digging up is twitch or knot grass or whatever it's bloody called. It's like sticking my fork in, lifting it up and getting what only looks like spaghetti. I managed to fill three bags full of weeds and roots from only one and a half meters. There must be about another three or four meters left. It feels like it's never ending. I do hope it all be worth it in the end. On the plus side, I came home with four strawberries today and we are into the first week of October. There could've been more but them pesky slugs have been at them. With it being October, bonfires are allowed on the plots now. They are band from July through to September, but now I can start getting rid of the old rose bushes that I dug up last week. I still have a massive pile of dried brambles that I cut last year. I plan to have a major clear out of all the brambles by next spring. Keep an eye on this blog and see I get on. 


A quick update on the marrow soup, today was leftover day. We had a roast chicken dinner yesterday and with what was leftover, chicken and vegetables, we put them in what was left of the soup. Delicious! Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

God gave us rain so gardeners could do other things.

I had planned to spend about two hours at the allotment today, carrying on with the strawberry patch. But with the rain, I switched to plan B. The title of this post was a quote I read earlier this week. Whoever wrote it meant that the gardener could do stuff around the house, DIY etc. So what did I do? I made a marrow soup. I've had the recipe for a few years now, but this is only the second time I've made it. It's very easy to make.

All you need is:
1 large marrow
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
3 cups of water

All you do is:
Peel, core and dice marrow. Peel and dice potato and onion.
Boil them in large pot with 3 cups of water and stock cubes until veg is soft.
Either blend with a stick blender or just use a potato masher depending if you want it smooth or chunky. 
If it's a bit bland you could always add some paprika or chilli flakes, once served, to give it a bit of a kick. 
The best thing about this soup is that it's all come from my allotment. Don't forget to save some of the marrow seeds for next year. Till next time and thanks for reading.