Saturday, 6 February 2016

Across the Marsh

It's extremely windy and very wet today but we thought we'd wander up the allotment via Freemans Marsh. The River Dun was running fast and the paths are muddy and slippery.
There wasn't much wildlife to be seen, just a few pigeons and crows letting the wind take them where it wanted. The moles have been busy though! Look at that lovely soil, it always looks good after the moles have worked it :-)
I noticed that our greenhouse is visible across the marsh, through the leafless hedge. The canal is between the marsh and the allotment site. You can tell it's our greenhouse because that's our ash tree (in the centre of the pic).
It was a blustery walk, not too cold though and, not surprisingly, we were the only ones on site. There's so much to be done, but today was not the day to be doing it!
Lots of the grape hyacinths are in flower, but the colour is a bit washed out - perhaps because of the weather? There are certainly more flowers than there were at this time last year though.

Our new pot raspberry bush has some lovely shiny, hairy new leaves growing, which must be a good sign.
And the rhubarb plants are just beginning to reveal new growth under all the dead remains of last year.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

One Potato, Two Potato,...

So many potatoes to choose from...
We opted for a few different varieties and bought 24 tubers in total:
They only had big bags of Anya, so we didn't bother with them. It's so much better being able to buy the individual tubers.
I'm very pleased with my choice of Salad Blue. I'm looking forward to blue baked potatoes!! I hope they're as successful as our Purple Congo were in 2011, which produced some amazing purple mash.
We're mostly going to be growing in bags this year, hopefully to avoid some slug damage... Hmm, we'll see..
Charlton Park Garden Centre has a good setup, with information to hand and catalogues from the Potato Days they attend at Whitchurch
There they are, all ready to start chitting under their grow lamp in the cool hallway. And a photo opportunity to show off my green fingers (Joanne!)
Oh, and I bought the garlic. I got 1 bulb of Solent Wight (softneck) and 3 bulbs of French garlic Favor (hardneck) - I doubt I'll plant all of those. We didn't eat half of last years cloves, though this year I really do intend to pickle or store some in oil...

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Now That's a Turnip!

I have recently heard at least three people say they get confused between parsnips and turnips. I have a solution, this book cover can now be in your mind's eye whenever a turnip (or parsnip) is mentioned!
An enormous parsnip would be more difficult to pull, even for the whole family :-)

Forgive the unusual post, but it came to mind after reading this Brown Envelope Seeds blogpost today. I've been inside most of the day reading blogs and sorting out our seeds for this year. We have a few more to buy. Hopefully we'll get our seed potatoes bought from Charlton Park Garden Centre in Wantage this week. They do a large selection of varieties and it's possible to buy individual tubers rather than huge bagfuls. It does mean the potatoes will be chitting for a long time, but it should mean we get the varieties we actually want!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Strange Birds

I was pleased to see the sun was due to shine this afternoon, so got prepared for an hour of birdwatching while Jamie went off to clear some old raspberry plants from Plot3.
I had my logbook (haha, funny, huh?), our new monocular, my fancy camera and hot liquorice & blackcurrant drink (so delicious).
I turned the bench round so I had a better view of the hedge. Our robin, looking stunning in the sunshine, arrived for the worms we put out. Good start...
And, then another robin. Lovely, always nice to see robins.
Jamie saw a chaffinch, but it was flying over so I didn't count that..
And that was it, for 25 minutes. I decided to move along the hedge to another location and start a new hour of counting.
It wasn't so comfy; (I didn't like to sit on Tui & Glen's bench), I sat on the ground, but at least I was a bit protected from the chill wind and it's nice seeing the site from a different viewpoint.
Woodpeckers have been seen in that skeleton of a tree in the centre of the photo. I saw a flock of pigeons fly out of one of the trees and I could hear a lot of birdsong. It was very pleasant, but the birds didn't want to show themselves, apart from these:
  • 5 Wood Pigeons
  • 1 Chaffinch
  • 1 Blackbird
  • 2 Robins
I don't think they were the same two robins that were by our plot!
Where were all the long-tailed tits that we usually see? Where was the bullfinch? Even the magpies and pheasants stayed away!
Tut, strange birds!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Squelch Squelch!

Last night was Burns Night. We aren't Scottish, but any excuse for a little celebration! So, we had a lovely Stahly's vegetarian haggis with our neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes). And enjoyed tasting 5 varieties of Scottish whisky. I, sensibly, had pre-booked today off work, but it wasn't really a day to spend on the allotment!
The ground is sodden but we needed some sprouts so just a quick visit.
Plenty more sprouts to pick...
And plenty of work to be done before any sowing, if it stops raining for long enough!