Saturday, 23 November 2013

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.

OK. It's not yellow, neither are they bricks, but I really enjoyed my day of digging today. So please forgive my over excitement with the title.

After a bit of running around this morning with usual weekend happenings, I was hoping the weather would hold out for the afternoon, and as it turned out it did. With only about two hours left of daylight and my iPod tuned into the local BBC Radio station to listen to the football, I carried on where I left off on Thursday. Now I know I've mentioned in the past that I'll have two or more tasks on the go at one time so that I don't get bored and can flit from one to the other, but the thing is, I'm doing so well and getting so far that I want to keep going. If it wasn't for the fact that it was getting dark and I was loosing the feeling in both my little toes, then I think I my still be there now. The path does go one more slab further, but as I said, it was getting dark and the other photo I took doesn't do my work justice. The mound you can see is clumps of grass, roots and all. That will be put in a pile upside down behind the shed and covered. I've been told it should rot down in two years ready to be mixed in with my compost. As for the two shopping bags, the are mainly full of couch grass roots and dandelions, with the soil being so soft, they are coming up really easily. I think I need to start bringing over from home the rest of the slabs which I've collected over the last year, because I've used up most of the ones I have at the allotment. That will be an interesting day. But for now, a bowl of steaming soup made from potatoes, onions, parsnips and a marrow, all grown at the allotment to warm my chilled bones. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Is Winter just around the corner?

We are well over half way through November and it was a glorious day at the allotment. We have only had one or two frosty mornings so far in this area, Winter is only a few weeks away, yet today it felt like very early Autumn.

Oops! Anyone got any glue?

I started to lay the path that will go down the middle of the plot. Now my plot is starting to look how I want it to look, except for the last slab I laid which I dropped on account of it being so big and heavy. I managed to get them across town intact and the last step of putting it in place, it breaks. I still have more slabs at home to lay and the broken one can be replaced, but for now, it can stay were it is.

Finished squash patch.

Once those slabs were laid, the squash patch needed clearing. No more is going to grow this year. It took no time at all to clear, so in my task to get rid of the grass paths, I set to work on more digging. I am happy to report that all the trouble I've had in the past with the couch grass seems to be coming to and end at this side of the plot. So I'm hoping that if I keep on top of the weeding, I should see the end of it or at worst, keep it to a minimum.


I'm feeling quite pleased with myself with the way things are looking so far. I've never really carried on with my plot after September harvest. I've always taken home what's grown, when things have stopped growing, that's when I've stopped going. Only to spend weeks try to get rid of weeds that had established themselves during Autumn and then get myself behind when it came to planting in the spring. So I'm really hoping that Spring 2014 will be the easiest so far and with that one of the best harvest to come at the end of the year.

I will also be taking part in a transatlantic project. A few things are still to be sorted yet, but I'm sure it will make for good reading. It won't be me crossing the Atlantic to do a spot of garden. If only. I'm hoping to make a proper announcement soon, so watch this space. Till next time and thanks for reading. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Ugly veg? Who cares.


I just dug up, this afternoon, the first of this years parsnips. As with the carrots, it was an experiment. Only this time I'm rather pleased with the results. In my five years on the plot, I have never had any real success with any of my root vegetables. If you've read one of my previous post on my carrot crop, the parsnips are bigger by far and even digging them up, the sweet smell of the parsnips seemed to fill the air. They are certainly not the kind of vegetables you would find in the supermarket, but they are the best, sweetest, roasted parsnips I've had. It makes you wonder if the supermarkets have got it so wrong. As Joni Mitchell said 'I don't care about spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees, please!'. I have re-named my parsnips as octoparsnips, I just need to get to myself to the patent office.
My experiment was to start off the seeds in my greenhouse at home in some newspaper pots I had made, then when the seedlings got to about three or four inches, I transplanted them to the allotment, paper pot and all, so as not to disturb the root at all. I had tried it before in the past in modules, but only a few worked after transplanting, too many fell apart as I tried to plant them.  


My Japanese onions are doing very well at the moment. Some have sprouted up about three inches tall. Nothing with the Red onions as yet, but they'll be in the soil for nine months so plenty of time I guess. And even though the strawberries won't ripen, they are still trying their best to fruit.

Never say die strawberry.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Re-use and Recycle.

This week I haven't been able to get to the allotment due to work, but it hasn't stop me thinking about being there. Sometimes, I can look at an object and I think of how I could use it in some way. For instance, I bought a cheep hose pipe, no fancy holder, just a hose. With a large empty reel I found in the bins at work, I can store the hose pipe neatly in the shed rather than have a skinny green python covering the shed floor. 


The neighbouring plot looks so well kept, it makes mine look like wasteland. But let's face it, it doesn't take much, believe me. He has these metal poles with two loops at the top at right angels from each other to rest canes then drape your netting on top as the picture shows. I don't know how much the metal poles cost, but even if they only cost a few quid, how many would I actually need? How much would it all cost? I got to thinking, I have some plastic curtain rings that haven't used for years and at work there are always some meter long plastic poles in the plastics bin. So with I've managed to fix in two curtain rings in to do the same job. Best of all, it's all free. 


As long as it keeps the bloody pigeons off, I will be happy. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Digging in the dark.

Back to digging away again. It feels like I haven't done much. But looking at old photos, and not just from this year, I can see how far I've come.

For a long time, this part of my plot has been left to fallow. Because in one year I had left it untouched, it has just got worse and worse over the years. But I've been told it's not all bad for the soil, it's just digging up all the weeds that's a pain. I was getting so stuck into the task at hand, that I didn't realise how late it was. Well it wasn't actually that late, but it was getting quite dark, thanks to the clocks going back a few weeks ago, that, and the on set of autumn. I'm now getting close to where the squashes are, and it has pretty much finished producing for this year,  so it should only be a case of just tidying up. The rest of the plot will be plain sailing after that. I did give burning the brambles another go, but again, it's still to damp. I think I'll just dump them behind my shed and be done with it. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A game of two halves.

I been very lucky with the weather lately, whenever I've been off work it hasn't rained. Today has been no exception. It did rain, more on than off, up until this morning. But when I opened the curtains, the sun was beaming. So straight after breakfast, a lunch packed, on with my boots and away I went.

The first thing I always do when I get there is an inspection to see what's happening and what needs to be done, even if I already have a plan of what I want to do.

The two and a half marrows are still OK, the courgette has seen better days in its short life, the pumpkins are not getting any bigger, the parsnips are still there waiting for the first frost, and lastly, more and more onions have started to show, not even an inch tall yet, so I apologise for the photo not showing much, but next to each pebble is a little shoot popping up. Still waiting for the Reds to show. 

Japanese Onion sets

So, a day at the allotment, split into two halves. In the morning, because I haven't done anything for a while with it, the brambles was my first port of call. I managed to dig up some more ball roots but one is still so stuck it's like the sword in the stone. It didn't matter from which side or angle I tried, it would not come up. I did start to burn some of the branches that I had cut a few weeks ago, but even though they aren't green any more, it just wouldn't start. I guess all the rain we've had hasn't helped. 

At about mid day, after a lunch break, I left the brambles and went to do some digging and again, all the rain we've had played a part in make my day not the best I've ever had. It was defiantly a day for wellies. I only wish I had realised before. So much mud was stuck to the bottom of my boots, I now know how Elton John felt while filming 'Pinball Wizard'. It's slow progress, but no root is being left behind. And that was my day on the plot today. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Leaf mould.


It's always sounded to me like something trees suffer from and you'd need a tree surgeon to sort it out. It turns out that it's quite good for the soil and gardeners love it. On the down side, it take bloody ages, two year in fact. If you put the damp leaves in a black plastic bags and keep them in a dark place out of the way, you should get some good black stuff to mix with your compost.
Well I've made a start. There are plenty of leave in my garden falling from my trees and the neighbours trees, and plenty more to fall over the next few weeks. I didn't realise how many bags I'd need. I squashed them down as much as I could, hoping that they will still rot down ok and what I've bagged up is all behind the shed at home. Next year I'll have to find a different hiding place and rotate them each year. But seriously, two year. The guy who burgled our house and was then found guilty only got nine months, and he was rotten to the core. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Still life.

At this time of year, even the best kept plots look way past their best. Mine is no exception, but that said, there is still a fair bit of activity going on.
The onion sets I planted a few weeks ago have started to show. The 'Hansel and Gretel' trail of pebbles I left over each bulb has showed me that they are not weeds and I know not to pull them up when I'm weeding. For now it's the Japanese onions that have popped up, the reds are a bit more shy I guess.

 Two and a half marrows
To my surprise I have two and a half marrows that have seemed to come out of nowhere. I was going to tidy up the squash area only to find the marrows, a courgette not much bigger than my finger and two cricket ball sized pumpkins. It would have been nice if the pumpkins could have been ready for Halloween, but maybe we'll get to eat them instead. 

 Late harvest
This lot of veg may look impressive, but unless you are from Lilliput or the Shire, then you've only got a meal for one here. I could see that the cabbage and the cauliflower where small, but the beetroot with all it's foliage and all I got was ping pong size beetroot. Not trying to sound too ungrateful but I would have liked them to have been a bit bigger. Beggars can't be choosers.
I did do a bit more digging. Not much to say that you haven't already heard, more roots came up and I got a bit further along. I'm hoping tomorrow's weather will be OK to carry on. Till next time and thanks for reading.