Sunday, 20 April 2014

That burning feeling.


It hasn't rained for a while around here and it has been quite warm for the time of year, so much so that all of this week I've been coming to the allotment to water the brassicas that I had planted out last week. Luckily I have two large water butts as the taps aren't switched on until May. With it being so dry, the pile of brambles seemed just right for burning. It didn't take too long at all before the bonfire got going. I had the radio on listening to the football and with it being a home game, I had the all the atmosphere of the game as it's only about a mile away. I managed to clear the whole pile you can see in the above photo and then some more. While the fire was roaring, I dug up more brambles, root and all, and in it went. This is the result. I must say I am pleased. There is still a little more to do, but I'll soon have some berry bushes here that I can keep under control.


I did have a bit of a break for a while, it was hot work and I needed a drink. I must have stopped for longer than I thought because I found a snail on my glove.

After my little break and the end of the game, I had the easier and less warmer task of planting my decoy marigolds. I have it on good authority that marigolds attract bugs away from brassicas. I had fifteen plants which are now evenly spaced in the brassica bed. I watered them in and the rest of the plot and went home. All this happened yesterday, I'm glad I didn't wait until today because it absolutely chucked it down. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

I'm desperate for a pea.

This week at work I had a 'Lightbulb' moment. Not quite a 'Eureka' moment, I'll leave that for the ancient Greeks. But a definite 'Lightbulb' moment. As you may or may not know, I am crop rotating. Six beds, two bed per group, as instructed in my book by Dr. D. G. Hessayon. I've always wanted to grow peas, but until I dig out some more bed, I haven't got the room. Most of the space has been taken up by the onions. Which is great when you think that we have been self sufficient in onions since last harvest time and will continue being so till next year some time. Not so great when there is so much more I would like to grow.

So my 'Lightbulb' moment. When we first got our plot, my wife bought something like a potato grow sack with a frame that sits inside of it for beans to grow up on. Sadly, both the sack and frame are no more. But I do have an old bin, plenty of soil and I'm sure I can find some canes somewhere. So this is what I've done so far. At the very bottom of the bin, about one third full, I put clumps of grass that I have at the back of the shed that needs to rot down. On top of that I put some cardboard, tucking it around the grass to hopefully stop any weeds from coming through. After that I put some topsoil in taking it up to two thirds full and finally, some of my own compost on top. I know it looks a bit of an eye sore, but hopefully in a few months time it will look a whole lot better. I put the perspex on top to protect the peas from the bird and to act as a greenhouse. I have another bin and still plenty of soil, if in a few weeks, if it works, I'll do it all again.

Grass clumps

Cardboard layer

Top soil

Homemade compost
It wasn't only peas that was sown today, some more radishes and beetroots. I'm glad to say that even though the soil looked very clay like, the moment I stuck the fork in, it just crumbled.

Last year I had left my seed planting far too late. The plants grew, but nothing to harvest. This year I'm guilty of being too eager. All my sweet corn and a lot of courgettes just haven't germinated at all. At least I still have time to try them all again.

All morning at the allotment, I could hear a strange noise. Like a crazy chicken. It was getting louder and louder. Then I saw this pheasant just walking along the path. I tried to get closer to get a better photo, but he just ran off like the road runner. Till next time and thanks for reading.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Dual Cabbage Way.

Well I was bound to use a title like that at some point. As you can see, today was a great day to be out gardening. I had never seen so many people on their plots this year as I did today. I even got to see my neighbour and while chatting, he mentioned that one year he can grow hundreds of carrots, the next, probably just a handful and he always sticks to the same method. So I'm not the only one who struggle's.

Today was brassica planting day. The bed needed a bit of work doing to it, no weeding which was great as I had cleared them over winter, but the soil needed loosening. So I thought, fork it, after that I went over the whole bed with the shovel. With the soil as fine as I could get it, I planted one row of cauliflower and two rows of cabbages (hence the title). Not as straight as I would have liked the rows to be but I'm sure that they will still grow. They were all grown from seed in my coldframe. After watering them and a few fizz bottles covering each plant to protect them against the frost, the job was done.

I did do my usual checking over the plot to see what's happening. The first earliest have just started to show. The parsnips all seem to be fine so far. More and more radishes are coming up. The onions are all growing nicely, the Japanese whites should be ready to dig up in a month or so, the reds, although taking it's time are still growing and the sturon yellow onions I planted months ago are really doing me proud. I haven't had much experience with onions, but the sturon variety isn't a bad one.

First sign of the first early potatoes



Japanese white onions

Sturon yellow onions
All in all a good days work and it was nice to be working in the sunshine. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sneaking a few hours at the allotment.

I wasn't expecting to make it to the allotment today, but who would have thought the weather man would get it wrong. I cleared a few more items today. Four more slabs, some trellis that I've had in the shed for a few years and a bucket of compost. There are some seeds you can see and some plastic thing sticking out of the bucket. More about that later.

Straight into 'Garden Connect' part of this blog. To be honest, although it's a short one, it will be nearly all 'Garden Connect'. You may notice that the Crystal Palace has gone. I took it out a few weeks ago thinking it's job was done, packed it away in the shed, lots of other stuff got put in front and I'm buggered if I'm getting it out now. As luck would have it, as I tidied a bit of litter around the plot, I found a large plastic sheet that turned out to be a small polytunnel. I had the wire frames in the shed from an old broken one, well I'm a hoarder, never throw anything away. So now I have myself a bit of a polytunnel. Now, with the lack of activity with the lettuce and carrots, I decided to restart them both, but this time with a bit more order.

With my dibber, I made five holes and filled it with compost, popped a few seeds in each, watered them and covered it with my new found polytunnel. This was done with both the carrots and lettuce. Unfortunately the tunnel doesn't fit all the way across the 6×2 bed and it was never part of the plan for today anyway. But not to worry, last night we had a supermarket southern fried chicken and the container it came in was ideal as a closh for my kale. With just two holes instead of five, but otherwise the same as the carrots and lettuce. The closh is pegged down to stop it blowing away. And this is how it looks.

Yesterday I forgot to mention that there has been a bit of movement in the greenhouse regarding the lemon cucumber. I did take a photo. But even though I know what I was looking for, it just looked like a pot of compost with a bit of white in the middle. So, just for now you'll have to take my word for it. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Friday, 4 April 2014

So much to do.

I looked out at the bottom of our garden this morning and it was like looking into Steptoe's yard. Fence posts, the old greenhouse frame, slabs and planks of wood to make raised beds. For those of you who may be wondering, there was a sitcom on the BBC, 'Steptoe & son', they were rag and bone men who collected anything and everything. Now I don't usually do this but I decided that today I would take the car to the allotment and fill it with as much as it would carry. The car is a right bloody mess now, but that issue isn't for this blog. Luckily there is a parking space about 50 yards from my plot, so it was easy work to empty the car. Once unloaded, I prepared the ground to lay the slabs. Well it seems pointless to move them to one side then move them back into position at a later date. I only had four, but it was enough to finish two of the paths. I'm rather pleased at how its all looking now.

The soil I have been trying to dig the last few weeks is still very cley like, so I've mixed in some compost. I have been told that mushroom compost would do the trick, but time and money you know.

Normally I have a look around the plot first to see what's happening and as it says at the top of this page, there are 'Downs' and 'Ups' in my veg growing. Firstly, half the leeks I planted have gone. Don't know if it was slugs, pigeons or if the just didn't take. There is activity with the radishes and the parsnips are still growing. The Japanese white onions are doing well and hopefully will be out by the end of next month. The red onions are finally growing. They still have till the end of summer, as do the yellow onions which have all started to poke through.

Japanese white onions

Red onions

 Not quite finally, but here is the 'Garden Connect' section. I sowed the nasturtium seeds directly into the soil. The kale which did rather well in the greenhouse isn't doing so well in its square foot. The parsnips in its square foot are doing well, as to the spinach and the onions. Nothing to show in the beetroot square. And I'm still not sure what exactly is growing in the lettuce and purple carrot square. Back at home I've planted the French beans in pots and put them in the green house and I've given in to the needs of the tomato family seeds. I have planted plum tomatoes and sweet peppers again, but this time they are on the window sill. While I was at it, I planted some aubergine and pimientos de Padrón, also know as roulette peppers. They are not really that hot, but occasionally you will get one that is. They are originally from the North West of Spain, Galicia. If you get a chance, try them.

Sad looking kale




French beans

Pimientos de Padrón  

Plum tomatoes, sweet peppers and aubergine

A bit of a photo fest again. Sorry. Just think, its less to read. Till next time and thanks for reading.