Thursday, 23 January 2014

Not quite what is meant by 'Double Digging'.

I do know what double digging is and if I had done it properly first time around then I wouldn't have spent an afternoon digging over again two squarers that had a spot of couch grass starting to grow back. Around about October is when I first cleared the area, checking through every clump I dug up for weeds and roots, knowing full well that any bits of couch grass roots left in the soil would grow again. I'd like to think that the roots that got left behind where small, easily missed and with the mild winter, had grown and started to take hold, because I managed to fill a shopping bag full of roots and some of them were quite long. It was also very hard work digging due to the soil being so wet and boggy. It's not surprising with the rain we've been having all winter. To be honest it has felt like a long drawn out autumn that winter. Something I will have to remember when I see the results of my Japanese white onions and Red onions. Talking of which, the whites seem to have slowed down growing and the reds are still being a bit timid with only two showing through. But I still have until August so I'm not too worried, the whites have until may.

My path is coming on quite nicely, although you can't really tell from the photo. I am still in need of more slabs, but I have my eye's on some leaning against a garden wall en route to the allotment. I think I need to knock on some doors again to finish off the path. The sooner I can finish it, the happier I'll be. But I'm already way ahead this year compared to last year, the ground work you understand. With spring only five or six weeks away, I feel I'm in strong position for a good year at the allotment this year. As they say 'Every cloud has a silver lining', all my back breaking work will hopefully pay off. I must say, I'm looking forward to this year, not just for what I hope to grow, but for the 'Garden Connect' project. I do hope that you can follow my progress in this project as well as the other people around the world taking part. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Hangover cure.

Last night, for the first time ever, I managed to drink a whole bottle of wine all to myself. It did take me all of six hours, but even still, I woke up with a bit of a hangover. I'm not proud of myself, so rather than sitting on the sofa all day watching TV, I set about making my 'Garden Connect' sign for the allotment. I've got an old slate and a lenth of wood which would do the trick. With the best paint brush I could find and some gloss paint, I was ready to go. I don't have any experience in sign writing and I literally had to wipe the slate clean, twice, but all in all I am quite happy with the result.

My actual cure for my hangover was getting some fresh air at the allotment. The patch for my 6'x2' plot had already been dug over once. It is, what will eventually be, my strawberry patch. But for this year it can be my 6'x2'. As with everything that was covered in couch grass, even though I went through every clump getting all the roots I could find, there have been small bits left and with the mild winter this year, it has started to grow back. An important lesson learnt, you've got to keep on top of things, because it doesn't take long for them to grow back. Today was a case of digging deep and rooting out the weeds. Even though I only needed to turn over a six foot length, I carried on to do the rest. I still need to do a lot of re-digging in other areas, but for this week it will have to wait. Once that was done, I marked off the 6'x2' with a line of bricks and my new sign for people to see as they walk past.

With only a few minutes of daylight left, I got the last few slabs I have and put them in place for my crop rotation squares. It was just as well I ran out of time and slabs, because I am nursing a bit of a twinge in my back. I think I would rather have had the hangover.

The date for the 'Garden Connect' planting scheme announcement is on February 1st. With every blog post from then on, there will be updates as to how I'm getting on, good or bad. That is the idea as far as I'm concerned. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Friday, 17 January 2014

A rest from the Rat Race.

Ok, so I'm not a city banker, I'm not a stock market broker, I don't even work in an office of any kind, but even us factory boys and girls are allowed to be stressed by life in general. What have I been stressed about? Car trouble. It seems to be a domino effect of problems. Time spent trying to sort the car out has lost me precious time at the allotment. It wouldn't be so bad if the weather played a part in obstructing me, but it had been fine weather for pottering on the plot. The car is still not sorted, I think it will be a case of cutting our losses. That was the conclusion this morning and with that I planned to take it out on the weeds today.

I was given as a gift a new incinerator bin, the old one has seen better days, so I tried again to burn the bramble branches and some dried out couch grass roots. I spent at least three hours just braking up the driest branches and dropping them in the bin, but to look at the pile still left you wouldn't believe it. At least there is a bit less to do next time. I have untill July to carry on burning. After that we are not allowed for three months. 
To give myself a break from the smoke in my eyes, I set about digging out the last part of the old grass path. It's fair to say that if there was a category for 'Best in show' dandelions, either longest, heaviest or funniest shape, then with the ones I've just dug up in this small stretch and all the others I've dug up these last few months then I could be in with a shot for first prize. I'm sure you all may have a good shout for the prize, but just for a moment let me bask in the glory of my fantasy.

I've just had a look at the weather report for the weekend and it ain't looking too bad for another visit. I'm hoping to make a start on my 'Garden Connect' 6x2 patch, eagerly waiting to find out what I'm going to grow. Well till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The shape of things to come.

It's seems to be quite hard to get to the allotment these last few months, and if you consider we are half way through winter and no sign of snow yet, you may be wondering what my excuses are. Christmas and all the preparations for the day have taken most of my time, when I do have time it has been the wind and rain that has kept me away. When I do have the weather on my side, it's the lack of daylight hours that forces me home. I only managed just over an hour today and that was with the cold wind and the occasional five minutes of rain bursts before it got dark and had to go home. On the upside, the days are starting to get longer and with that Spring shouldn't be too far behind. The only downside to the mild and wet Winter we have had in these parts is that the bug's and pests will have survived and the weeds have carried on growing.

So what did I manage to do today? I put more slabs down. My six sections are now starting to take shape ready for my crop rotation. I am finding that having all different size slabs means that when I getting to the end of a row, I find myself looking for a slab that is the right size. I still need to do a bit more scavenging to complete my paths, but I'm starting to get an idea of what it's going to look like.

I mentioned before the holidays that I am going to be involved in a transatlantic project. It's called 'Garden Connect' and the idea is very simple. Gardeners from around the world have a 6×2 foot plot and we all grow the same plants comparing the progress and the results throughout the year, good or bad. It's all the idea of Matt Hiemstra, a young gardener from Canada. He is also a blogger and I hope you get a chance to read his blog and see how things progress with his, mine are all the other participants. It would be great if you wanted to take part.Here is a link to Matt's blog with all the information I think you'll need.
Happy New Year, till next time and thanks for reading.