Thursday, 16 April 2015

Welcome In!

Yesterday was officially a scorcher! And I booked it off as leave - perfect! So we spent several hours on the plot putting our giant cloche up - 3 metres by 2 metres looks bigger than it sounds.
Jamie has secured the corners with stakes so hopefully it will stay put! Here's a little timelapse of part of the setup (I really must remember to film in landscape mode). We had quite a few breaks because the temperature was above 25° and I even used our sun umbrella - look at that lovely blue sky.
We're not too sure what we're going to grow in the tunnel once the seedlings are planted out. Certainly gerkhins and maybe some peppers. Of course it'll also be a handy spot for a couple of chairs on a rainy day!
Look at the temperature in there - phew, we couldn't stay in there too long today.
It seems to attract bees and flies at the moment, maybe it smells funny because it's new. We zipped the door down overnight but left the vents open, so will see what we've captured when we go up after work. I think it could be a good spot for a moth hunt later in the year.
Exciting to have something new to think about. And we can really start sowing now!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Potatoes R In!

The light evenings and lovely weather over the last week have meant we could visit the plot a couple of times after work. We've taken broad beans with us to fill the gaps left by the sneaky mice. And now we've protected all round so that the pheasants don't clear up what the mice leave behind (like they did last year). So, it's a bit Fort Knox but broad beans are one of our allotment favourites so needs must!
The evening sun looked lovely as we were leaving the site on Thursday so I had to get a photo - wish I'd had my better camera with me.
Yesterday (Saturday) morning was raining so a perfect time for shredding all our old bills and other paperwork to use as water retention under the potatoes. 
On top of the paper we put a layer of grass clippings and then some rotted farmyard manure before the final layer of dirt and then the seed potato. The Kestrels also had a layer of Christmas tree needles - all this acidity should prevent scab... And the nematodes should prevent slug damage...
We haven't gone mad with potatoes this year, just 7 Kestrels and 6 Rosabelles across two short rows. Previous years we have found there are just too many so hopefully this will be plenty (along with our Tenerife potatoes, which aren't going in for a couple of weeks)
Oh, and we re-barked our paths on Plot 7 - someone had left a load of wood chippings at the main gate for general use. The plot is looking loved again!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Monday - A Lovely Sunshine Day

What an unexpectedly beautiful Easter Monday! We spent several hours out in the ~20° sunshine. The site was possibly the busiest I've ever seen it, with plotholders enjoying the lovely weather.

Jamie worked really hard clearing and digging the remainder of the plot where our brassicas are going this year. The last of the manure was Dug in along with some chicken manure pellets.
I was pleased to get the compost bins sorted and moved to their final position. I mixed all the compost together and managed to completely fill one bin, which can sit doing its thing for the next few months and we'll just put new waste into the black one for a while.
When we got to the plot there were butterflies all over the grape hyacinths: Commas, tortoiseshells, brimstones (the lovely yellow ones) and peacocks. So, I rushed home to get the wildlife camera and set it to do a timelapse video. As a result, we got 278 photos of this!
Not one visitor for the next hour - except me and Jamie sitting on the bench occasionally!
So, I moved the camera to another position on the plot and that provided over 1700 versions of this image!
I thought the clouds against the blue sky would have made for a nice timelapse, but the camera didn't pick them up - all rather unsuccessful!

Garlic also enjoying the heat
When we first got to the plot I counted 11 broad beans which had sprouted; when we left there were 16! I should have pointed the camera at them, or at the rhubarb!

I'm happy to have now sowed some seeds into trays and modules - protected under a netted cloche until the poly-cloche is up:
  • Beetroot (cylindrical type)
  • Florence Fennel
  • Little Gem lettuce
  • Cos lettuce
  • Celery

Friday, 3 April 2015

Life on a Bench and Beyond

It may be traditional for Good Friday, but still too early, this year, to plant spuds (in our opinion) so I was mainly fiddling about, turning the compost and taking photos during the couple of hours spent on the plot this afternoon. The weather was drizzly but not cold (13°).
This is our trusty bench, which is likely to be replaced this year as its falling apart, but it's supporting a lot of life and the tiny lichen and moss patches are very pretty in macro-mode!

I was going to look up the types of lichen, but it's a lot more complex than I expected! It'll take a bit longer than I currently have, but here's a good place to start!
We know the wasps like to skim the top layer of wood for their nests; we've watched them do it over the last couple of years - fascinating.
Our rhubarb has sprung into life and appears well on its way to being a monster again this year (fingers crossed!).
Look at those intricate leaves starting to unfurl.
Forming from what looks like an egg (Or maybe I've got Easter eggs on my mind!)

Some of the raspberry canes are at last showing that they're still alive and the strawberry plants are producing fresh new shoots.
The photo below was taken after the winds last Wednesday/Thursday. The protective acrylic over my salad seedlings was snapped in half by that flying netted cage, so I've attempted to cover them - otherwise they look just too tempting for passing pheasants!
The netted cage from the other end of our plot! Wish I'd been filming
Our bottle cloches also blew away (twice). We managed to recover most of them, but the broad beans which were left unprotected are at their tastiest right now (because they're just sprouting) and a mouse has enjoyed at least one of them... We'll fill the gaps with Express seeds when we get some more cloches made up.
It was the first day of the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race so canoeists were going past on the canal (beyond the hedge). Only another 100 miles to go!
And Hungerford had the flags out as it's one of the checkpoints, at about 25 miles from the start.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hmmm, 400th Post...

It's a milestone, so allow me a little time to reminisce...
Our lovely Marsh Lane site opened in April 2009 and I wanted to record our allotment progress. I much prefer electronic records for ease of searching so posted updates on our personal website - but after 2-and-a-bit years I found it too annoying to update and needed an alternative and discovered blogging!
Day 1 of the site

I opted for Blogger, can't remember why, but it's free and offered Picasa for photo storage so suits my needs. My first post was on 12th June 2011 - what a dull post that was...Not even one photo!
Moving swiftly on...

Blogger offers stats, I'm not sure how accurate they are because of robots but I find it quite interesting. These are apparently my top 3 posts ...
  1. Fungus Gnats! Well, I'm assuming the title is an oft-searched phrase (523 hits!), not all that catchy or interesting though to be honest.
  2. Salad, Garlic and Compost. That wasn't a recipe suggestion! It has a nice photo, so maybe that's why it got 184 hits.
  3. French Bean Chutney. Well, that is a recipe and a lovely one so I can see the appeal there for 158 visits.
Well, that's enough of that, back to today...
It was a very windy day, with quite a lot of rain. It wasn't a day for spending much time at the allotment but we did what we intended to do, we got this year's nematodes on the go.
Now, as you know, we don't like killing things, but these slugs are taking liberties! So, nemaslugs strike again - in our potato plot, our carrot plot and in the raised bed where my fennel and salad are going.
(as long as you don't consider slugs as wildlife...)
They needed to be well watered in and they got that! The ground temperature needs to stay above 5° otherwise the nematodes will die so hopefully this is timed right  - not that they'd keep in the fridge any longer anyway.
And now it's British Summer Time! 
Hooray, lighter evenings so we can go to the plot after work!