Sunday, 23 March 2014

All hail the Allotment.

I know it's hard to see, but we had hail falling today. Even though they are not that big, they still hurt when they hit the back of your ears. I had first hand knowledge. If you zoom in on the above photo you can see them. We had one burst just before I set off to the allotment, another burst while I was there and again when I was in the garden at home sowing seeds.

The second burst of hail got me while I was planting out some leeks. They are next to the onions that have been in all winter. The soil did need breaking up a bit, but it was fine. I had also brought with me some spring onions and peas to be sown next to the onion sets I had put in two weeks ago. But the soil was so heavy and more like clay, that it seemed pointless. This is an area of the plot that has been cultivated the least in the five years I have been here. I guess I need to break it up more or mix something in.

A whole row of radishes and beetroots went in today. The radishes, Scarlet globe, are in one of my brassica beds. The beetroots, boltardy, are in the the root's bed, or should I say the parsnip bed. There are so many of them and it looks like the are doing well at the moment.

Now that I had this tray free I wanted to sow some more seeds. Courgette, cucumber, marrow, lemon cucumber, something called squash and aubergine. I had already sown most of these a while ago, but i think I may have sown them too early They are in a propergator which in turn is in the greenhouse. With any luck they will do better than my first batch. I was also thinking of Christmas dinner, so in went some brusselsprouts seeds. That was my day today. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Main crop and some more veg.

Here in an old baker's tray, I had everything I could carry to the allotment. Main crop potatoes, loads of parsnips and little bit of kale. The intention was to quickly shove these into the ground, then go home and get more to plant. Easier said than done.

Starting with the parsnips, using the length of wood as a guide and an old broken seaside shovel as a dibber. I had read that to avoid octoparsnips you need to make a hole, fill it with potting compost and then your seedlings on top. The soil needed breaking up before I started and I was so glad that I had constantly been working the plot over the winter, because it was practically weed free. I wouldn't have done as much as I did today otherwise. It still took me bloody ages because I had so many. Next year I won't do so many seeds.

Next was my main crop of potatoes. Again the soil needed breaking up a bit and again I it was practically weed free. So that's my potato bed done for this year.

And now for the Garden Connect  part of my blog. The onions, spinach and parsips are starting to show. There is something happening in the lettuce and purple carrot square foot, but due to the randomness of my sowing and the fact that I don't know what the seedlings are supposed to look like, then I don't really want to raise my hopes up just yet. I had started the kale off in the greenhouse and today I planted them into it's square foot. So fingers crossed to see how they get on in there next few weeks.

I must say that even though I've had my plot for five years now, it is starting to look like a proper allotment plot now. I still have a long way to go before it looks like I would like it to look, but all in good time. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

First early and other veg.

Spring is a busy time for gardeners. For some crops, timing is important. Sow too early or too late and it will affect whether it grows or not. If you plant out early and get caught out by the frost then you could loose the whole crop. It sounds like I'm an experienced gardener and I know what I'm talking about. I'm certainly no experienced gardener, but I but I have experienced the results of trying to sow too early and leaving it too late to sow. As for loosing my crop, guilty as charged. But each year I'm learning. Sometimes forgetting too.

Parsnip seeds gone crazy

Thursday I planned to go to the allotment to plant my first early potatoes, which have just about chitted. With the space cleared, I sowed the sweatcorn. All I needed to do was tidy up and set off, that's when I saw them. I didn't sow all my parsnip seeds last weekend and had left the Tupperware in the larder. When I opened the tub, this is what I saw. The seeds had gone crazy. I put out a plee for advice on twitter and what came back was overwhelming, 'transplant as soon as possible'.  I had to transplant them. I would stop only if I ran out of pots or patients, which ever came first. In a way I am glad to report that it was pots that I ran out of first. We will all be sick of parsnips come Christmas if they all survive.

First row
Second row
Third row, had more potatoes than I thought

Friday I did make it to the allotment. The first early potatoes were just meant to go in one place, but I had so many that instead of having one row, I ended up with three. I'm still sticking to the crop rotation system, so all is well.

I also planted the onions with the Hansel and Gretel trail. I've done it in the past. It's only so I can see that it's not a weed that's coming through.

Now its not the first time I've dug up a coin. The first time it happened, I got too excited only to find it was a 2p coin. Totally gutted. This time I tried to contain myself. Just as well, an older coin but it was still 'Our Liz' on the head side of a penny coin.

Aside from watering, nothing has changed on the 'Garden Connect' side of things. It was a nice walk home with an amazing red sky, so one more photo for you. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Spring is here.

It has been glorious weather for gardening this weekend and as if the plum tree in our back garden knew it was coming, it has burst into full bloom. Unfortunately I didn't manage to take full advantage of the weather, only spending three hours at the allotment. But any time is better than no time.

I think it is safe to say that we have good drainage on our plot. We have had the wettest winter for decades and with only a few days of sun the soil was not boggy at all. It did need loosening a bit, especially under the Crystal Palace, glad to see my contraption is working. My 'Garden Connect' plot is now off the starting blocks. All of the front row has been sown. Parsnips, spinach, cos lettuce, purple carrots, onions and beetroot. The parsnips I had already started a few weeks ago in the Tupperware tub, they are quite easy to handle, as to were the spinach and beetroot seeds, they all have about nine seeds evenly spaced out in each square foot, I have used onion sets rather than seeds because it is what I'm used to, five onions there, but the the cos lettuce and purple carrots seeds, they are so small and fiddly, where they fell is where they stay. Everything else is in the greenhouse back at home. Talking to my good friend Phill who is also taking part in 'Garden Connect', regarding the plum tomatoes and sweet peppers. They have shown no sign of germination, so a back up is required we think. Well it would do any harm.

The rest of the parsnips are mostly in these three rows. I say mostly because I had so many and it was starting to get dark.I would like to think that up to this point of the experiment, things have gone well. It remains to be seen how well it all goes.

I have been reading lots of tip and tricks. One more I have learnt is that for courgettes, if you dig a small trench put in some kitchen scraps that would normally end up in the compost bin, cover it with soil and when you are ready plant you courgettes there, you should get a very good crop than you normally normally would. So I'm going to try some with and some without.

A little while ago I mentioned that I had bought some peas from a pound shop. The long and the short of it is that you get what you pay for. Hardly any are germinating. I don't want to leave it too late, so I may end up buying some at a reasonable price. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sowing the seeds of grub.

I've had a few weeks of spending a lot of time at work. Lots of overtime to be had, but the down side is when I do have time off, it's a real effort just to do anything and that includes visiting the allotment. However all is not lost. Spring has started, although it seems as if Autumn has been exceptionally long and moved straight on in to spring totally missing Winter.

Parsnip seeds starting to sprout

I did manage to sow some seeds today as well as see how my other seeds are getting on. Mixed results it must be said. First of all the parsnip seeds that I experimented with seem to be, at this stage, doing the trick. In a previous post I mentioned that I had read of a way to start off the parsnips by putting them on a wet paper kitchen towel and in a Tupperware tub. Either left on a window sill or a greenhouse they will start sprouting and be ready to plant out. However, a week later I also found out that if you've had the seeds over a year or so, then they will never germinate. So I tried it again and as you can see some seeds have just started to sprout.

Here are some pictures of everything growing or not as the case may be.

Marigolds doing well
Peas are also doing me proud
Leeks are being a bit timid
Cauliflowers are starting to come up

As to are the savoy cabbage

Today's seeds 

The seeds that I have sown today are pumpkin, courgette, kale, marrow and lemon cucumber. Yes that's right, lemon cucumber, one of the plants in the Garden Connect planting scheme and the only one I had missing. l finally received my seeds that came all the way from Singapore. It was a friend who found and order them for me via Amazon, although for the time it took, it could have been via the Amazon. The last time I tabbed my seeds, I thought I had used a permanent marker. I hadn't, it was just a normal felt tip pen and if it wasn't for my blog, I couldn't remember which was which until it started fruiting. Disaster avoided. Well, as with the cricket, bad light and rain stopped play. In some way I'm hoping that there will be no overtime this week and I can finally get to the allotment. Till next time and thanks for reading.

My seeds from Singapore with some free
 safflower seeds