Saturday, 25 February 2012

Insects and Invertebrates

Allotment holders weren't the only things out and about enjoying the sunshine! The birds were singing happily, we could hear a woodpecker in the trees nearby and we found various insects and invertebrates, especially when we were digging up the raspberry plants.
Ladybird sitting in the sage
It's a bit early for ladybirds to come out of hibernation but probably good for them to take advantage of the sun's warmth while it can.

Chafer Grub
Leather jacket - crane fly larva
These two larvae generally are only a real problem for lawns, so aren't too much of a pest to our veggies. We have grass paths throughout the allotment site so these are likely to be quite happy nibbling grass roots rather than our produce - that said, if we find them they still get winged into the hedge :-)

Transplanting Raspberries & Strawberries

When we took over Plot 8A in 2010 we inherited some raspberry plants which have been steadily spreading, including into the next door plot. Last year I marked some plants which I knew were Autumn-fruiting and had produced some delicious fruits.
So, today was the day to actually move them to where we want them and finally clear the weeds and couch grass from the end of 8A - the only bit of our plots which has never been dug (by us).
They took a lot of digging and we're pretty sure there will be raspberries in that corner for ever more!

But, I got the 5 canes I wanted and they're now in the opposite corner. I planted them in a trench full of compost from our bin. There was some debate with fellow plotholders so I left them tall and will cut them back when they've settled into their new home in a couple of weeks.
Plenty of canes for fellow plotholders - Jane and Malcolm had first pick for their plots but we'll let other people know if there are any remaining plants.

Jane let me take some of her brother-in-law's strawberries so I potted three plants up in the wooden planter. I put stones over the earth to attempt to help moisture retention - not sure if strawbs will be happy with that but we'll see....

We only want enough to have some to nibble while we're at the plot in the summer.

Onions and Shallots

What a beautiful warm and sunny day! The minimum temp since last weekend was -5° but it really felt like Spring today and the number of allotment holders on site reflected this!
We hoed the alliums quarter and then planted
16 Golden Gourmet shallots and
34 Santero onions - which are meant to be downy mildew resistant.
They're all spaced about 15cm apart - onions in 2 rows; shallots in 3 rows, with a bit of space under the cage for our leek seedlings (which we haven't sown yet)

In an attempt stop the pesky onion/leek moth we've covered both patches with enviromesh coverings - though the cloche looks like it may be a bit ineffective as the sides aren't flush to the ground.

Jamie dug over some of the potato quarter but it was hard work - so many roots, as it hasn't been dug that well over the last couple of years - slightly concerned that the tree is going to fall down with the amount of roots we're pulling :-)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

5 weeks of Chitting

It was lovely and warm today but sadly not able to get to the allotment.
We've got the onions/shallots ready for planting at the weekend and checked on our potatoes which have been chitting in a cold bedroom since 15th Jan - they all appear to be doing well...
Chits aren't too long and all the spuds still look healthy. Some have gone more wrinkly than others, but that shouldn't be a problem. They have about another 5 weeks before we intend to plant them.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Plot 8A gets a tidy

We got to the allotment early as we knew rain was due today. It was quite chilly, mostly due to the really strong winds, but we had to get our compost bins sorted - they've been waiting to be put back in place since we made the path on Plot 8A a couple of weeks ago.

We combined the contents of the open wooden compost bin with the green plastic one and a big bag of cut up brown cardboard. Then divided it all between the two plastic bins - they're both nearly half-full now but a lost of that will compost down fairly quickly. Oh yes, the broad beans went in there too :-(

Because of the path we had to shift our bench and other 'furniture', so we re-layed the weed suppressant under the decking and put the stones all round the compost bins - this is to provide a bit of cover for insects - we found quite a few centipedes, beetles, spiders, larvae and slugs. The slugs and larvae went over the hedge towards the canal but the others can stay as they tend to eat other nasties rather than our produce!

There, that looks better!
We're intending to put strawberries in the wooden planter - the basil didn't do well in it last year - but I may move the herbs (in buried pots) up to the corner. I'm getting rid of the mint and sage (didn't use any last year) but will grow some par-cel (like parsley but tastes like celery) and coriander instead - these along with the usual rosemary, thyme (both so pretty and bees love them), parsley and chives.

We left just as it was raining - is so often accurate to the hour for us!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

After the snow

Well the snow did arrive, but wasn't very deep. We only got a couple of centimetres but it was VERY cold....
-9° minimum on the plot over the last week.
It was cold while we were dropping some compost off at the plot, but the sun shining on the snow is so beautiful and it was very pleasant wandering around. There was about 10cm of ice on the water troughs. We broke it up so that the birds could get a bit of water. I attempted to photograph a robin who was watching me - got a lovely shot ... of a stick :-}
Aquadulce Broad beans don't like -9°
Now we're really convinced that our broad beans aren't going to make it. There are so few left in such a sad state that we've decided to remove them and sow new ones when the weather is a little happier. As usual we'll protect them with their little plastic bottle cloches.
Lots of bird-life around the site at the moment - mostly robins and blackbirds but we've also seen a thrush, wren, rooks, moorhens and pigeons (of course!).
There's evidence of moorhens all over the place when snow's on the ground, but no rabbit tracks inside the fence so that's good.
Moorhen footprint

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Snow's a-coming

Frozen canal through the hedge
The Kennet & Avon canal is frozen and we're expecting (and I'm hoping there will be) snow later this afternoon. Blackbirds and robins were eating everything in sight - including a tennis ball by the look of this robin!!
Just went to the plot for a walk round - we knew we wouldn't be doing anything up there today. Far too cold! The minimum temperature recorded was -9° but it was about 0° while we were at the plot.