Sunday, 20 May 2018

Busy Earnin

The weather took a bit of a turn since that lovely Bank Holiday weekend. We've had sunshine,  but a chilly wind and clear nights have brought us a few frosts. We've been fleecing the strawberries and shutting the tender plants in the greenhouse each evening.
We've been sprinkling earth over the potato leaves which keep appearing. We don't want them to get frost-bite at this stage in their growth. Jamie prepared the compost for the potato bags and we've put one seed potato in each bag:
Pentland Javelin
We have courgettes germinating at home as well as our grafted pepper (ChelseaBritney and Milena) and aubergine (Meatball!) plants. Jamie's potted them on twice since they were delivered. I potted on the Rainbow chard plants in the greenhouse. A few for me and mostly red-stemmed and yellow-stemmed plants for selling on. They look much happier a week on..

This flower has been in a pot all through the Winter and didn't do anything except grow a few extra leaves last year, but this year it's looking lovely - I can't remember what it is.
That was last weekend and yesterday, in sweltering sunshine, we weeded a large area of Plot3 and prepared a hole for our runner beans.
I sowed a few more salad leaf, radish and onions and, I'm very pleased to say, I planted my mangetout seedlings (Shiraz and Golden Sweet) and also my sweet peas along with a lot of excess plants from Ivan. So good to be getting more plants into the ground.

I've been a bit worried about the tadpoles as I've only spotted three recently, but I'm hoping it's because they've gone to the bottom of the pond, which is very green now. I replenished some of the water and have put a bit more shade over it. I hope they're not afraid of this little Indian addition to the garden :-)

The lily beetle has found the plants that are next to the pond... Aren't they pretty, but not welcome!
So the song title is because I've had a couple of very busy weeks at work. I'm hoping it'll calm down a bit next week so that I feel like doing a bit of work on the plot in the evenings, we'll see... Enjoy the video - Great dancing!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hard to Beat

Three days of sunshine on a Bank Holiday weekend - just what we all wanted. We had several hours each day on the plots, but had to disappear under the brolly at regular intervals to re-hydrate.
And despite the heat we did manage to get quite a bit done.
These little violas have spread around the site over the years. Such beautiful colours. I've potted some on for the HAHA Plant Sale in June, along with some of the houseleeks, in the top photo, which I love.
I planted out the additional 16 broad bean plants which all germinated in the greenhouse. So we have 28 plants - that's quite a lot for us. I intend to use some of the beans for broad bean hummus and although all my salad leaf and spinach looks like cress at the moment I'm hoping there will some suitable leaves just in time for a fresh baby broad bean salad.
The broad beans that were planted out nearly 3 weeks ago have grown quite tall and have evidence of flower buds. They've had their leaves nibbled by weevils, but that doesn't seem to affect the beans.
As expected, we had a couple of frosts during the last week. We didn't have much in the ground which could be affected and we closed the greenhouse up to be on the safe side. The only victims were a few of the strawberry flowers, where the centres have gone black. This means they won't become fruit, but lots have survived ... so far.
We got most of our potatoes planted. This year we used a bulb planter to make a neat hole, dropped the potato in and refilled with the earth and a little potato fertiliser. Much quicker and less labour intensive than digging a long trench for them!
Here's a sketch of where we planted what, for our info. (Kestrel, Catriona, Nicola, Orla and Pentland Javelin), We still have a few to grow in bags but we're not planting masses this year as we find we just don't get round to eating them.
And, here's a lovely yellow/orange poppy just waiting to pop its bud.
There's so much activity and the hedgerow is alive with birds and bees. The robin is feeding its mate and the cuckoo is calling in the distance over the marsh. It's such a fabulous time of year, especially when the sun shines, and we're almost keeping up with nature, but although we took about ten bags of green waste home over the long weekend, we have a lot more to do!
Can you spot the blue tit upside down in the may?
So, how could we improve on such a beautiful sunny weekend? Ah yes! A spontaneous home-made wine tasting session, courtesy of Ivan - quince wine was my favourite, but the apple was good too. Most of us had to go home for a kip after that little session hic, but we did make it back to do some work later in the afternoon and to collect our car..
The unstoppable Ivan - puts all the younger plotholders to shame with his skills
Here's Hard-Fi with the great title song...

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Chain

Here's the reason for the title song. I've read before that worms tie themselves in knots (estivation) to keep hydrated in dry weather - which is certainly not how I'd describe 2018 so far!
But I was amazed to find how dry one part of Plot8 was. It was a weedy/grassy patch between the grass path and the mammoth rhubarb plant, so they must be taking all the water from the soil.
It was really cold today, and grey, with not a glimmer of sunshine. Luckily we had lots of digging to do, so that kept us warm-ish, but we still needed woolly hats and I had my big Winter coat on.

There's Plot 8 when we finished (ignore the bit on the right which still needs a lot of work). Jamie pulled all the old strawberry plants out, so we just have one row now - the flowerpots are for ease of watering once the plants have spread out.
Sadly all those flowers will probably get frosted this week, so we're unlikely to be getting an early harvest this year.

With aching backs and 4 bags of green waste we returned to the warmth of our flat. I wonder if the frost will strike over the next couple of nights.... But no matter if it feels like Winter, here's some beautiful evidence that it IS Spring.

Fleetwood Mac provide the song title.

Monday, 23 April 2018

One Week

A lot can happen in a week in the Spring. We've had sweltering sunshine, tremendous thunder and lightning (sadly, I managed to sleep through it), torrential rain and now back to a little chill in the wind.
We've started harvesting our rhubarb and this is our 2nd harvest of purple sprouting broccoli. It is delicious but we definitely need to look after the plants more this year - the straighter stalks are more productive than the ones which fell over, so staking is going to be required. Especially as Marsh Lane is such a windy site.
I chopped all those chives to add onion-y flavour to the celery soup I decided to make (I had to buy the celery, but for 49p I think it was worth it). And the soup is so delicious and will provide me with at least two days of lunch - though I must admit I had to add a pinch of MSG and some mustard powder to enhance the flavour.
The seedlings, sown one week ago, have loved the heat in the greenhouse - at the front you can see our next batch of broad beans which have sprouted so are nearly ready to go out. Then there are our trays of marigolds (Durango Bee and Honeycomb). Some of these will be planted on our plots but the rest will be sold at the HAHA plant sale in June - we're holding it on the Town Hall steps in the centre of town, so we hope to get even more passersby than we saw last year.
The cauliflower (Amazing) have germinated - they look like cress at the moment. I hope they survive - we've never grown cauliflower before. The mangetout (Shiraz and Golden Sweet, in the drainpipe have just popped through the compost. They're now at their most vulnerable to mice who love the tasty new shoots. I have lots of twigs to protect them from (mostly) pheasants once they're planted out.
That was yesterday (Sunday). Today is St George's Day but we forgot to put our flag up - see here's a gif from our plot last year. It seems that it was better weather than we have today - we've returned to grey clouds and a fresh wind :-(
And the song title is provided by Barenaked Ladies - enjoy and have it in your head for the rest of the day!

Sunday, 22 April 2018


It's been an extremely hot few days and we've visited the plot each evening to water the seeds and feed the tadpoles. Even I'm struggling a bit with the lovely heat as it arrived too quickly for my body to go from chilly to sweltering - but, really, I shouldn't complain!! Especially as it's really helped the plants to come to life...
I left work a little early on Friday - it had to be a barbecue evening and we got to use our new enamel mugs for the first time too. They were on sale through Photobox and only cost £6 each with our own photos.
It was so lovely to sit on the plot as the sun disappeared and the slice of moon became more visible. We were so pleased to be joined by the first bats that we've seen this year - flitting about under the ash tree beside our plot.

Then wandering home, slightly tipsy from the wine, along warm roads - just like Summer. This blossom photo, and the daffodil, were taken at night with the flash - it's a good effect.

Yesterday (Saturday) we spent a few hours on the plot transplanting marigold seedlings and Jamie sowed some Russian Giant sunflowers. And I stared at the tadpoles quite a lot, they're so fascinating - I don't think I paid attention enough when I was little. They're not just black anymore, which again confirms that they're frogs, not toads.

I (and a few other plotholders) went to Hungerford Primary School for an hour to help with their Make a Difference Day. I planted up some grape hyacinths and took along a pot of wildflower seeds, collected last year, plus some herb plants (sage and chives). The site looked more cheerful and loved when I left and a lot of volunteers were still working - hope it stays that way for a while at least!
And here's Coldplay with the title track...