Saturday, 28 January 2012

Finished path

Managed to get the path finished off though we didn't get to the plot till gone 3pm and there wasn't much sun left so it was a bit chilly.
We used up one of the bags of bark chips which was left over from last year. It had turned into a snail farm with loads of different sizes hibernating huddled together - we put them all over the hedge.
It's fairly level and reasonably straight apart from the one really obvious bulge - well, the plank was warped, not our fault :-)
The path doesn't actually go to the end of plot 8A - that is intentional. We're going to plant some Leonaris flowers (orange) in the corner.

I need to start moving the raspberries to the other corner so we can finally dig out the area where we move them from. We inherited the raspberries so that section of 8A has never been dug by us and there are quite a few docks and other weeds that pop up each year.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Mostly Compost

We decided to make the path between our Plot 8A and next door's 8B a bit more permanent; our bark on weed suppressant didn't do very well in that location and basically got scattered all over the place by birds and us. It was a lovely sunny day, not too cold (7° in the sun) and not too wet.
The little vole didn't know what to do with himself; running backwards and forwards, as we were working in his area!

We're adding wood surrounds along the path this year and also extending it so we have access from the grass path - that meant that the first job today was to move the compost bins.
The first bin which has been full for about a year turned out to be lovely compost - nice and crumbly and lots of happy worms. We started riddling it and filled one big compost bag with that. The rest, which we weren't going to have time to riddle, we piled on this year's sweetcorn patch - we'll sort that out when we have a bit more time.
The second bin which we're still filling has got clear layers - though we have been trying to mix it (you wouldn't think so!) but looks interesting! At least with having to do this move it'll get a really good mix.
The third bin (the wooden open one) will probably be put into the first one when they're back in place and to mix it up a bit we'll divide the fresher contents and mix that in too.

By the time we'd finished the wooden edging of the (rather wonky) path it had started to rain and really felt like January- brrr - so we went home. Will have to do more sorting tomorrow and hopefully get the path finished, though the temperature is meant to be dropping...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Another warm January day

A warm day (11°) with wind, drizzle and dazzling sunshine meant we got quite a lot done today. We were clearing the area where the sweetcorn was last year. It was soon apparent that it hadn't ever been dug very well - there were masses of roots (not sure what sort, felt like the tree!) and some very big stones.
Also composted all the remains of the celery and weed clearance on Plot 8a

Having read that sprout tops are delicious I took one home and had it with tea. Not all that impressive, not as strong flavoured or sprouty as I would have expected.

We took a photo of this little caterpillar on the sprout top (haven't been able to identify it yet) and when we got the photo home we could see a whitefly was piggy-backing on it! There are masses of whitefly in our compost bin - apparently coffee grounds can help reduce this, but it's not helped us so far, I may see if I can get some from the coffee lounge at work.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Old Beetroot

The beetroot which had been in the ground for months wasn't too woody but it did fall apart a bit whilst cooking. I had it in a salad - it didn't have a huge amount of flavour.

So, as if we didn't know, it's better to eat it when it's not been in the ground for more than half a year!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A drizzly day

I had the day off work today - not a great day for working on the plot, but at least it was only drizzling for part of the day (unfortunately that was the part while we were there!).

We made up an enviromesh cage for our onions - we're hoping this will keep them clear of leek moth which was all over the site last year :-(
We did say last year that we're going to cover the whole site with enviromesh, but we'll stick with just covering individual beds for this year :-)

Yellow is this year's colour for enviromesh
We cleared the beets which have been in the ground for about 10 months  - this ugly giant and most of the others have gone into the compost but we took a couple more reasonable-sized ones home; Boltardy aren't meant to go woody even when they're old - we'll see...
The vole/mice hadn't even ventured into this big one, but some of the others had severe slug/snail damage.
Me, with the ugly giant
We hoed and levelled the potato quarter where the onions and other alliums will be going. We're making sure that the chicken manure pellets are well worked into the ground before we get the onions and shallots planted.
We also cleared the cabbage patch and there are only a few sprouts left and then that quarter will be ready for the potato trench preparation.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Chitting Our Potatoes

Not quite so cold today - only about 0° and very sunny. Unfortunately no time to go to the plot though.
We took our seed potatoes to my mum's cold spare bedroom to chit for a few weeks (months actually as we don't intend to plant till end of March/early April). Along with the Orla, Belana and Kestrels I couldn't resist buying 3 Duke of York Reds at the garden centre yesterday. The Orla we intend to keep in the ground for a bit longer as they were tasty last year and kept very well.

One of the Belana was damaged (by a spade it looked like) so we only have 4 of those, but hopefully we'll get plenty of small new potatoes from each plant.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Brrrr! Very frosty

We intended to work on the plot this morning but it was too frosty with hard ground and it was still foggy. A low of -5.5° last night.

The sun trying to get through the fog
We were shocked to see how badly affected the broad beans were. Perhaps they'll recover as they're meant to be Winter ones... (Aqua Dulce Claudia)

Sad-looking broad beans!
We measured up for our shallots and onions which were delivered from T&M this week, along with our spuds which we'll chit round my mum's as we have done previous years. They've arrived a bit earlier than we expected, so we've got to start working the ground - but not today!
Our ever-present friend!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sprouts and Wind

Today was our first visit to the plot since the really windy weather last Wednesday and Thursday. First thing I noticed was that our sprout cage was missing, then Jamie pointed it out in the hedge!!
Wind damage
We had secured it in the ground with bamboo legs but they'd snapped off and all the bricks holding down the mesh hadn't done their job. It was a bit tricksy getting the mesh off the hawthorn hedge but it's not badly damaged, so now it's back in place protecting our sprouts from the pigeons!

We bought 3 bags of organic farmyard manure from the garden centre and have piled that on the area which is for the sprouts next year - after Jamie dug it over. The ground needs to be firm to prevent getting blown sprouts (where the sprout is leafy rather than solid) so a bit of weight on the area for the next few weeks should hopefully do the trick.
Firming the sprout bed
I turned the compost and added more cardboard and veggie cuttings. We chatted with other allotment holders who were taking advantage of the amazing weather for January - 11° in the sun today and 0° minimum over the last week.
And, of course, we picked some more sprouts and a carrot!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Angle Shades Moth

Jamie found this big Angle Shades moth on the kitchen window. It very likely was hidden amongst the cabbage we brought home the other day - we've found quite a few of its bright green caterpillars on the plot.
The moth doesn't cause damage but the larvae are damaging to foliage and flower buds.
Angle Shades Moth
Great looking moth!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Rainbows and Carrots

We took some compost up the plot - including the cellophane wrappers from our Quality Street (it says on the tin they're compostable - made of corn starch apparently) Interesting to see whether they do actually dissolve; we've found the biodegradable plastic bin bags take longer than 18months to dissolve so we don't use them anymore.
We cleared the original carrot trench - which we sowed in April! Most of the remaining Rainbow Mix carrots had split wide open, so they went in the compost bin, but the Early Nantes looked so good we had to take them home.
Also picked some spring onions, which have been in the raised bed for months, parsley and one of the green cabbages - we were hoping to have some lovely coleslaw. However, apart from the slugs which were tucked well into the cabbage there was mould on the edge of the leaves throughout. So, that went into the compost bin and I made carrot and parsley soup instead! The carrots were really tasty even though they'd been in the ground so long.

Now, when we walked to the plot it was reasonably sunny. While we were up there there was a torrential rainstorm and we got soaked. Walking back we did get to see a lovely rainbow though!