Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Root of the problem.

Well, so much for 'No dig beds'. I've made a start on roughly digging this area that will become my six raised beds. I say roughly because all I'm really trying to do is remove bramble roots and the other woody roots that I've uncovered. I haven't identified the other weed, but to be honest, I don't give a monkey's what it is, I just want to get rid of it. I'm led to believe that any other weeds that are left will all die off, hence the rough digging. So far, from this small area dug over, I've got quite a pile of roots ready for the bonfire. I had to leave the plot early due to the first snow fall of the winter. It never really settled, but it was bloody.

This weekend I've paid my rent for the plot for another year. It's cost £21.50 this year. That's up on last year by only 25p. I mentioned it on twitter and got quite a response. As it goes, for 300 square yard's, I pay very little for what I have. Now, I don't want to get on my high horse and I haven't done any research, but for similar sized plots, I've found out, you can pay from as little as £10 to the dizzy heights of £200. The most expensive plots I've heard of aren't even in the London area. It does seem a shame that our basic need to grow fresh produce at a time when we're told the government, doctors and the media in general that we all need to eat healthier, seem to be out of many people's reach and affordability. I hope that something can be done to make allotments more accessible to everyone and that it doesn't become a hobby for the rich. Let's see what the New Year brings. Have a Happy New Year everyone, till next time and thanks for reading.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Digging for Christmas.

This weekend was the last chance I had to dig up some root veg for Christmas dinner as I will be working constantly till late on Christmas Eve. I've dug up what's left of the swede and some more of my bloody great big parsnips, which I'm still astounded by. As regards the size, they really should be the other way around, but they both taste equally as good. 

It does feel like I'm harping on about my parsnips this year, but I don't often get to boast, besides come next year, everything will be back to normal and I'll be back to a harvest of just seven pathetic parsnips. So my point really is, how many different ways I can cook them so it don't get board. So far I've had leek and parsnip soup, really nice, roasted parsnip, goes without saying, parsnip crisps, both fried and in the oven. They cook really quickly when you slice them thinly you know. I did burn a few batches, luckily the fire alarm didn't go off. If anyone has a tried and tested method of making parsnip crisps, please let me know via this blog, twitter or Instagram and any other ways of cooking this lovely root veg, but not pie, I like the filling in pies, it's just the pastry that gets in the way. 

Little progress has been made on my 'No Dig Beds'. I have managed to acquire quite a bit of corrugated cardboard sheets from where I work. It was going to be thrown away, so I've taken full advantage of the big recycle bin. As for the actual No Dig side of things, I fear some more digging will be involved. While I was removing some bramble roots, I discovered some other roots, very thick and very much alive. No amount of cardboard would stop that from coming through. I won't go crazy on the digging, just enough to get rid of the big roots.

Now, I have a confession to make. Due to my change in circumstances, it's not so viable to walk to the allotment any more, I have to drive there now. There, I've said it, it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. But fear not Eco warriors, I make the most of every journey, this last week, for example, I brought all that cardboard in the car. I would never have been able to do that without the car. These fexable white plastic strips you see pictured below were transported at the same time. It's hard to explain exactly what they are used for, but my boss knows that I like to make use of anything if I can and said to me 'Make use of that if you can'. It took me less than ten seconds to realise that it would be perfect to arch over my strawberries to support the netting. Another thing put to good use rather than being thrown in the recycle bin. 

No strawberries here yet, but you get
the idea

Now I had this great idea to show off my plot by having my daughter on my shoulders to take a photo from the highest angle possible. Trouble is, she doesn't like heights, even if it's only five feet off the ground. So that explains the view of my plot at a jaunty angle. Not looking to shabby for the time of year.

An arty shot of the plot

Well I don't think I will be writing another blogpost before Thursday. So with that, have a Merry Christmas, till next time and thanks for reading.

Sorry for the glum look,
Sunday morning and the sun's in my

Friday, 12 December 2014

No dig please, I'm lazy.

I've heard a bit about the 'No Dig' method of gardening and as with most things I do, whether gardening or otherwise, I find out the basics and fumble my way through, wondering afterwards why it didn't work and think what a stupid idea it was in the first place, or on the rare occasion, be bloody amazed that it did work. This I think will be no exception. I did take a look at Charles Dowding's website, he's quite an authority on the subject, but with so much information and so little time, I quickly found what I needed and set of to the allotment. Basically, you can turn a lawned area turn into a veg plot without any digging. All you do is mark out your bed, put cardboard down in that area and wet it, put some leaf mould and/or manure at least 2 inches thick on top of the cardboard and then compost and topsoil on top of that. As far as I can see, that is the bare bones of it, but click on the link to get the full picture. In fact I strongly recommend you do, I'm sure that in my haste, I may have missed some details.

So pictured above is how the area looked as I arrived at the plot. I thought it would be an easy task, clear everything to ground level and put the cardboard down. If only, so much for being lazy. The dreaded brambles had taken root, 'No Dig' was out the window before I had even started. So of I trot to get my fork. Where I was digging out the brambles is also where the raspberries are growing from when I first acquired my plot. To be honest, until they fruit, I can't tell a raspberry from a blackberry. I think it may be a case of starting from scratch with the raspberries and dig it all up. After being whipped in the face a few times by the brambles and a hawthorn piercing through TWO layers of leather gloves, it was a bit chilly today, this is how it was left this afternoon.

I know its hard to tell from these photos exactly what I've done, but I can tell you that I've cleared the width of the plot by five foot deep. I have been working away at the plot these last few weeks, but I've been doing the same task for a while now and it wasn't really blog worthy. Till next time and thanks for reading.