Monday, 28 March 2016

What Katie Did

That was a stormy night! Lashing rain and howling winds. We were expecting destruction on the site, but it was surprisingly unaffected. There isn't much to damage at this time of year. There are a few flowers on plots but this tiny wildflower (the flowerhead is about 5mm) is making its own way along the stone pile.
Common Field Speedwell
Not much for a bee to enjoy but we have seen a few. Today this bumblee was put amongst our grape hyacinths when we found her on the grass.
Wildlife blog has more photos
Jamie was on compost-duty; merging the two bins on Plot3 and moving them away from the potato plot. We always end up moving our bins around the plots and then finding they're still in an inconvenient place!
I was sowing some seeds! I've sown coriander, dill and parsley into biggish pots in the greenhouse. I mixed some manure with potting compost from last years potato and grow bags. It may be a bit early, but plenty more seeds if these ones fail. I also sowed some Boltardy beetroot into modules.
I sprinkled Grow-More in the raised bed and covered it with black plastic so the earth will get nice and warm for sowing in a few weeks time.
Blossom bursting in the hedge
Last job of the day - empty last night's rain from the gauge!
Quite a lot for one night

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Across the Marsh in March

It's an early Easter this year, so a bit too soon for our spuds to go in. We had a lovely Good Friday, digging on Plot 3, but yesterday and today have been rainy so no digging. We've walked via the allotment both days though; we're waiting for our broad beans to germinate; the salad leaf has sprouted already. Today we ventured through rain, wind and bright sunshine across Freeman's Marsh and back through town when this amazing rainbow appeared.
Buds are emerging on the trees and shrubs so it won't be long now...
Looking forward to the rhubarb which is normally one of our first harvests.
The birds are pairing up and singing their little heads off in the hedges - masses of robins, starlings and blackbirds, but I can't resist a photo of the swans who look so clean against the dark water today.
The recent rainy weather has made the marsh very wet in places.
I love these grass tussocks alongside the stream.
Red kites are always flying over the allotment and this one was enjoying the windy weather over the marsh today.
Back home now and we've just had some loud claps of thunder - Storm Katie announcing herself I think! I hope there's some lightning when it gets dark!

Sunday, 20 March 2016


It's officially Spring!
And the sun came out for the Northern hemisphere's Spring equinox, as days become longer than nights (even though that's been the case for a couple of days actually. I guess it's some sort of astronomical licence).
We enjoyed listening to the birds who were singing sweetly in the sunshine while we struggled with roots, weeds, strawberry canes and stones. But Hooray! We managed to finish the section on Plot3. We're hoping to plant some potatoes here but there are a lot of roots to contend with...
A few plotholders and neighbouring gardens had fires today. We started one but the couch grass and raspberry twigs were still a bit too wet still so we left it for another day. Shame, I do love a bonfire.
We left with the moon to our East...
 and the sun to the West. I look forward to more of this Spring weather!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Preparing for Sprouts

What a cold, grey day, but it wasn't raining and it's March so we had a few hours on the allotment this afternoon. This is the plan for Plot 7 this year - rather more basic than previous years, but it's enough for now.
Today I worked on the Brussels Sprouts plot. We're having it the same size as last year, enough room for three plants.
Not too bad to dig and looked so much better as soon as the weeds and old swedes were removed. I dug some manure/compost in for a bit of added nutrition, but sprouts don't like too much.
And because it's for sprouts the ground needs to be trampled down - otherwise the sprouts will 'blow', that is, grow with loose leaves rather than a nice tight little parcel of deliciousness (I love sprouts!).
And finally, some weed suppressant which will be weighted down with bags of compost to make sure the ground underneath is nice and firm before the sprout plants are planted in a few months time.
Jamie was still fighting the raspberries and couch grass on Plot 3 to make way for the spuds. I think that will be my job too tomorrow...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Slurp, Slurp Soup

I made the parsnip and leek soup, but didn't bother with the spice. I thought it would be a shame to hide the flavour of the vegetables. Peeling the parsnips really brought the lovely smell out and the leeks being cooked in butter were lucky to get as far as the soup pot!

The parsnips were huge so, it's produced a rather thick soup and needs extra water adding as I heat it for my lunches this week, but it really is delicious. 
Consisting of:
  2 Parsnips
  4 Leeks cooked in butter till soft
  1 litre Vegetable stock
  Salt and lots of Pepper

I do like a simple recipe! But please don't believe my mousemat at work!!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Grow Your Own...

...or, if you're lucky, eat the generous offerings from fellow plotholders! Neal gave us some parsnips yesterday and today Jonathan gave us some leeks. Thankyou, that's a few meals sorted for this week!
We spent another sunny afternoon working on different things. Jamie was doing more digging on Plot3 - really hard work because of the tree/hedge roots. I sowed some salad leaf into a pot in the greenhouse, but my main job was to plant the Santero onions - about 40 of them. Each one had a sprinkling of onion fertiliser. The four rows are covered with netting to protect the early growth from birds. The rows are about 30cm apart with the onion sets planted about 15cm apart.
I think Mrs Blackbird already had an eye on the onions!
The garlic has grown well since the netted cloche was added a couple of weeks ago. It looks like the Flavor variety has grown a bit quicker than the Solent Wight, but there's not a lot in it.
Now, spicy parsnip and leek soup recipes...

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Out with the Sun

We had a lovely few hours on a sunny allotment site today and it was nice to see fellow plotholders also taking advantage of the warm sunshine. We even saw some tortoiseshell butterflies and bumblebees so it was very Springlike.
I've re-discovered my Fujifilm camera, with the Super Macro button...
Well, these crocuses look lovely from every angle!
This is the remains of a squash, I think...
Interesting isn't it? 
It was amongst the green waste that we piled on Plot3 in October. Jamie dug it in to the bean trench today, along with some great home-produced compost - look at all those.happy healthy looking worms from our compost bin!
Jamie also transplanted the little rhubarb plant that wasn't doing very well on Plot3. It's on top of a hole filled with compost now, so perhaps we'll get to taste it this year.
I sowed 24 broad beans into pots - Masterpiece Green Longpod. We've not tried this variety before. We normally sow directly into the ground, but the mice enjoy them so much just as they germinate we've decided to protect them more this year. They're on a shelf in the greenhouse, under a plastic cover so we hope they'll survive till it's time to plant them out!
We left as the sun was going down and the birds were singing sweetly as they were going to roost.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Hail to the Plotholder..

Hail and cold winds, sleet, rain but also sun! Yay! It's March! And the birds were out in numbers. I've updated the wildlife blog, but I can't resist adding this photo here.
So exciting when you see that flash of bright red!

Jamie had a morning session on the plot and I joined him after lunch. He had dealt with the rhubarb; weeding the area and adding manure around the two plants on Plot 8.
We cleared all the dead foliage from the strawberry plants and Jamie planted up a couple of new plants to fill gaps in the row that we planted in 2014.
This row was going to be pulled out this, their 4th, year (they were planted up in September 2012), but if it's the last year on Marsh Lane then we won't waste time on that job. The plants are really over-crowded so don't look that pretty but I'm sure they'll still produce plenty of tasty fruits.
We ate the last of the leeks last weekend, so we've cleared, dug and Grow-Mored that part of the plot. That's where our Santero onions are going this year. They were delivered this week so we plan to plant them out next weekend when the ground has settled a bit.
Uh-oh! Looks like a hailstorm
There were potatoes here last year. We didn't find any today, but I bet we'll find some growing there in a couple of months time!
We were pleased to get that sorted and pleased that after a few years of digging it wasn't too painful!