Monday, 27 May 2013

Post Number 300!

Not a terribly exciting post but still it's a milestone :-)
We visited a very windy plot in the afternoon. It was very busy and we have new neighbours (on the plot where we saw the toad yesterday).
We took our tomatoes up but have protected them with fleece as they aren't used to being outside. A very good job we didn't take them up yesterday - it was 1°. Some people's potatoes and squashes had been burnt by frost, but it looked like our end of the site was protected - possibly because of the canal or the hedge.
Look how cosy our toms look.
The wind didn't make working with fleece very easy! We've round it round one of our bean wigwams for the time-being. We sowed another 11 Scarlet Empire runner beans yesterday as we've only had 3 germinate so far.. and still no sign of any french Speedy beans yet.
We shouldn't get any frost now but the next few days we're expecting rain and more wind - bleah!

I snipped off the excess parsnips, so just one per station now. We did some weeding around the rhubarb and removed some more rogue spuds which are appearing all over the site!

We left with three lovely leeks which will be soup quite soon - they're the leeks Malcolm gave us and have been in the ground since 8th August last year! I left a few in the ground but they'll have to go soon as they're in the way of the squash/brassica plantings.

I wrote a small piece for our local quarterly magazine. Some people on site think I have information about the end of our tenancy - I don't. Along with the 80+ other plotholders I'm waiting/hoping for a decision soon...

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunshine & Buttercups

Another lovely day so another few hours on the plot. I have to admit, most of the time I wasn't actually working; I got some good wildlife pics though. We saw a toad and a couple of ladybirds - we haven't seen many of them this year so far. Pictures will be put on the wildlife blog later.
This buttercup is one of the many on the empty plot next door to ours. They're so beautiful when the sun shines on them. Jamie got fed up with the edge of the path looking so awful so tidied it up and that's where he found the toad.
We're just waiting for the chives to burst into colour. We've seen a few more bees and hoverflies around over the last couple of days so the flowers will keep them happy.
I sowed five more jack-be-little pumpkin seeds. Only one germinated under the light at home and that looks rather leggy. We'd like to have two plants really.
We also transplanted the french marigolds into modules - 96 of them; I think a few of them will be re-homed!
The weather forecast is threatening 2° tonight so we earthed up the potatoes again (just to be on the safe side) and where we couldn't fit any more earth we put grass cuttings on them. The thermometer showed it got down to 3° last night but nothing had been frosted. Maybe the wind helped or it may be that the ground is warm enough now...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Seven Hour Day

Yes! 7 hours on the plot today. Much of that time it was sunny and hot - perfect!
There was a bit of construction going on. Jamie made up the sprout cage; 3m x 1m and 1 metre tall - that's for four Brussels plants with a few summer cabbages too. We're still keeping the potting composts/manure bags on the earth under the cage so that the ground keeps as compacted as possible - just what the sprouts like to stop them 'blowing'.

Then we put up the trellis for the Uchiki Kuri squash - it turned out a bit arty! Hope the nylon rope is strong enough to hold the squashes.
I potted on all the squashes which had germinated. Lots of yellow ball courgettes, should be a few of them to give away soon.
I sowed a row of salsify on plot 8 and put a row of transplanted lettuce alongside; Tom Thumb, Red and Little Gem varieties.
I also sowed a row of wild rocket by the onions and transplanted a couple of little self-seeded coriander plants (not sure how well they transplant though). I sowed some more petit pois as hardly any have grown, but the mangetout are looking good - seems the pigeons haven't spotted them yet!
All the while we had Robbie flying around us and eating worms, competing with his nemesis Mrs Blackbird.
We're a bit concerned about our tomato plants, which are still at home in the windowsill. They look healthy at the top....

But, at the base the leaves are dying back rather rapidly.
Really want to get them up the plot, but again the weather is threatening to go cold over the next couple of nights..

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Three Firsts!

Over the last two days we've been up to the plot in the evening as it's been decent weather - more decent than the grey days have been.
Firstly, Robbie finally agreed to sit on the pot in my hand to eat his worms. He had been for a bath somewhere so looked really raggedy, but so cute!
And, here's our first picking from the rhubarb - barely enough to make our rhubarb vodka but we've made it anyway...
And the first harvest for a small salad lunch... I hasten to add that I did add some other ingredients to my lunch! Including some pickled cucumber that we'd made last year.

We were clearing a quarter of the old-HEAT plot. They aren't having a plot on site this year (shame, they used to provide drinks and cake on Thursday evenings) so HAHA are going to use the plot for some things. Jamie and I are going to grow 'unusual veg' on our quarter - purple carrots, purple kohl rabi, asparagus pea and patty pan squash is the plan at the moment.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Plot 8 takes on another tool - and wins

We had such a lovely day on the allotment today. It was warm (16°) and sunny with no wind - yay! And, look! We finished digging Plot 8! Unfortunately whilst excavating one of five huge chunks of concrete the spade broke :}

Here are the squashes, no sign of the Cornells Bush Delicata yet, but the courgettes look happy and the winter squash (Uchiki Kuri) is getting there,,,
Unfortunately the celeriac hasn't germinated yet, but hopefully it will get going soon. The florence fennel, silverskin and salad onions have all started to germinate as have the mangetout.

We did a bit of clearing up - this potato was a rogue spud from last year. Really don't want a potato plant amongst our shallots!
I've updated the wildlife blog. Obviously with a couple of pictures of Robbie (still refusing to feed from my hand), a moth and a knotted worm!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cold Nights

Lucky we covered up; the temperature hit zero in the small hours of Thursday. We saw a bit of frost-burn around the site but nothing too devastating ~apart from for those people who had dared to put their runners out  :-(

The temperatures for Thursday night were forecast to be about 4° so we decided to be brave and leave the strawberries uncovered. At least one seed of each squash variety has germinated and so have some sprouts and cabbages but still no sign of either variety of runner bean. And I think a mouse may have eaten all the peas that I sowed, there are some strange markings on the soil...
Cold sunset
We were chatting with Malcolm and listening to a cuckoo when Paul drew our attention to a barn owl flying gracefully across the site. So lovely to see! We've never seen one on site before. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera ready, but I did (just about) manage to snap it later as we walked home across Freemans Marsh. It had been flying around for a while and then rested on a fence post.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Ugh, Frost Risk

Our preferred weather site forecasts that it's going to be 2° and clear at dawn tomorrow. So, we went to the allotment after work and have earthed up our potatoes - covering every sign of foliage. It's such a setback if they get frosted so simply not worth the risk at this point (we don't think!)
We also covered our strawberries - not sure the enviromesh piled on top will actually work, but it shouldn't be a severe frost so they may get away with it...
A few of the seeds in the greenhouse have germinated; some of the squashes and brassicas but didn't have time to check.
Hopefully they and the other little seedlings around the place will get away with whatever frost hits Marsh Lane. And hopefully it'll be the last frost risk till November!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Seedlings Progress

We had a couple of hours on the plot this afternoon before it started raining. It was quite nice and warm 16°), though cloudy and the ever-present wind was there again.
The lettuce seedlings are good enough to eat but I'm going to let them get bigger and will plant some outside to grow into full-size lettuces - hopefully I'll get to eat them before the slugs!
These are the Moneta beets. They need to get at least a couple more leaves (and get bigger!) before they get transplanted into the raised bed - lots have germinated though.
And this is looking down the cloche at the parsnip seedlings - very tiny at the moment. Only one will be kept so we'll let them grow a bit till we can see which looks the healthiest and then snip the other two off (it's a cruel World!).

Jamie and I were digging Plot 8B, still have the last bit to dig but finding a bucketful of stones with every half metre dug, it's hard work but we'll get there. It's needs to be dug well as that's where the salsify is going - as a long root vegetable it really needs earth, not bricks, under it!
Jamie spread and dug 6x fertiliser into the area where the sweetcorn and Jack-be-Little pumpkins will be going.
Wildlife blog updated with Robbie News :-)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Allotment Stuff, but Indoors

We've been backwards and forwards to the plot during the rainy, sunny, windy week; opening and closing the greenhouse and the last two days checking that the wind hasn't blown everything away! We've lost a couple of the bottle cloches and had gained a bucket but everything else was where we'd left it!

Very pleased to say that nearly all the parsnips have germinated, as have quite a few of the newly sown broad beans, Tom Thumb lettuce and the night stocks. Most of the potatoes are up but we're missing International Kidney and Arran Pilot at the moment - hopefully they'll appear in the next couple of days.

Today I spent the day doing HAHA stuff. We've quite a few empty plots on site and not many people on the waiting list - probably because of the issues with the lease renewal - still no news :-(
Jamie potted on the Lizzano tomatoes which are getting rather leggy but have at least a week before we can risk putting them up the plot - they've even got some tiny buds on them!
The Redskin peppers are looking pretty happy in the window sill. They were delivered on 1st May from Thompson & Morgan.
Jamie also sowed some Jack-Be-Little pumpkins which we'll germinate under a grow lamp in a cloche in our bedroom.

We bought our bamboo canes and plan to work on the plot tomorrow - though now rain is forecast and I think it's chilly and I'm fed up with the STOOPID WIND!!

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Sunny Bank Holiday!

Such a lovely May Day holiday - there were a lot of other plot holders around making the most of the sunshine and amazing temperature. We had a barbecue but escaped early afternoon as it was too hot (my resolution not to moan when the sun shines is officially broken!). We'll go back to close the greenhouse down a bit later.
From Plot 7
Look how dry the ground appears, but a couple of inches down there is some moisture; In the morning there is dew so it's not quite as dry as it looks. Still no sign of parsnips or the broad beans we sowed a couple of weeks ago.
We've moved the flowers and beets which have germinated under the green mesh cloche, in the raised bed, which is cooler than the greenhouse.
Today I sowed these seeds in modules and they're in the greenhouse:
  • Scarlet Empire runner beans
  • White flowered runner beans - we don't know their name but they are apparently self-pollinating
I also sowed 4 small rows of Rondo F1 Florence Fennel. I sowed 3 seeds per 'station' and spread the stations out as each plant should be spaced about 15cm apart.
I also sowed a row of PeaWee 65 petit pois and Carouby de Moussane mangetout. Jamie repaired the pea frame which had gone rather wobbly since I moved it from the other quarter...
More potatoes have burst through!
From Plot 8

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Seedy Sunday

We managed to get most of our seeds sown this afternoon. It was warm and bright and the wind had dropped since yesterday - Thank Goodness.
Our potatoes have started to appear. This is the most advanced in the second row - it appears to be a Red Duke of York which fits in with the plan, so that's a good start!
These are two rows of Paris Silverskin onions, for pickling, and one row of Apache red salad onions. I'll hopefully succession sow a few more rows of salad onions in here too. As ever, my rows aren't straight, but they're labelled and topped with seed compost so whatever :-)
This is Jamie, very neatly, sowing our carrots, Sugarsnax F1. Three rows under the enviromesh cover. He used a wooden pole to make the straight drills - wish I'd done that for the onions!
We also sowed the following and they've gone into the greenhouse:
  • Tom Thumb lettuce (half a tray)
  • Lambs Lettuce (corn salad) Cavallo (half a tray)
  • Swiss Chard Bright Lights (I've sown these in modules so I can keep the most colourful ones)
  • Celeriac Asterix F1 (in modules)
  • Brussels Nelson F1 (in pots)
  • Cabbages Minicole F1 (in pots)
The squashes are sown 3 per pot (apart from the Cornells Bush Delicata). I really only want one of each type but I'm sure the others will find homes if they germinate and grow.
  • Winter Squash Cornells Bush Delicata (in pots)
  • Winter Squash Uchiki Kuri (in pots)
  • Courgette Ambassador (normal green type) (in pots)
  • Courgette Floridor F1 (round yellow type) (in pots)
These were sown into the raised bed:
  • Turnip Oasis
  • Radish French Breakfast 3
  • Radish Chinese Dragon
And night scented stock have been sown around the grape hyacinths so they'll produce a lovely evening fragrance when we're sitting on our bench.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Flowering and Germinating

Various visits to the plot this week - Jamie's been digging during the day (back permitting) and then we went up each evening to shut the greenhouse down. The temperature is ranging from -2° to 20° out in the open and between 2° and 38° in the greenhouse!
The seeds have appreciated it - the marigolds have all germinated but no sign of the beetroot yet.
The strawberries are flowering - this one looks a bit frost-bitten so probably won't fruit.
And the broad beans have real flowers now :-)
And look how much the hedge has grown - so pretty!