Sunday, 29 May 2016

Ta-Daaaa! 500th Post

"Three of our peppers look fine, but ones's a little chilly". 
Courtesy of Jamie for my 500th post.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Buried Under the Beans

Our plot neighbour, Neal, has been making offerings of bones to us recently. He certainly seems to find a lot on his plot and hopes that we can identify them for him. We can't (sorry Neal) but here's my attempt to create the creature this little lot belonged to and now the skeletal creature is at the bottom of the hole under the Benchmaster runner bean wigwam.
While Jamie was preparing that bean area, I was doing various bits and bobs.
I planted up a tub and small trough with the Night Sky petunia. They are very pretty, such a beautiful deep purple and like paint-spattered white.
I sowed 30 sunflowers. Half are Russian Giants and the others are Big Smiles - these are dwarf ones but they still have big flower heads. That's the pumpkins and luffah on the shelf underneath.
I sowed some more Boltardy Beetroot, Apache spring onions and asparagus pea into the raised bed. And put some slug pellets and netting over the areas where our willdflowers and night stock have just germinated.
The Paris Silverskin onions that I sowed last month look a bit pathetic - We're sure the slugs have eaten them, so, although rather late in the year, I sowed some more in the garlic/onion bed. The potatoes on Plot3 have also fallen foul to slugs. At least two of the plants didn't re-appear after we had earthed them up :-( 
And the ants have found something interesting where the stems have been broken/eaten.
At least this little bee is helping out with the broad beans!

Monday, 23 May 2016

VegFest Bristol 2016

We stayed in Bristol for a long weekend of music and vegan food. What a beautiful and vibrant city. And look! They grow veggies in their flower beds! What a fab place.
Nice giant shiny ball!
video

Having been vegetarians for over 25 years it was a great experience to attend a food festival where we could just tuck into whatever food we fancied! We bought some tasty pumpkin seed oil (it makes fried onions go green - interesting!) and vegan marshmallow kits to take home. There was a great herb stall, with every type of basil you could think of and more besides - chocolate basil anyone?
The rainbow directly over the stage and the ship made everyone happy
It's been a good few years since we attended a music festival. I'd forgotten how much fun it was, bopping about in the rain wearing soaking wet clothes! It was great, but better on Sunday when the sun shone most of the time.
SS Great Britain and colourful houses
We got home this afternoon and had time to visit the plot. It was busy on such a lovely sunny afternoon. We stayed longer than we expected. Jamie trimmed the grass edges and paths. It was hard work with the little hand mower. We sowed a wildflower mix and also some night stock in a couple of areas. And we moved the florence fennel tubs outside - please let them be protected from slugs!!
I planted out some chard and also the radish rats tails - the little pods are nice to add to salads, after the plants have flowered.
Come on little poppy! That's our one and only blue one! Hang in there, not long now I hope!
And this is my favourite shrub that I planted at home about 15 years ago. I love it 'silk road'. We don't have a garden - this is outside our front window. Beautiful!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

An Aide-Memoire

Mostly as a record for us, but the weather was dramatic when I picked Jamie up from the plot this evening, so there are a few photos. Jamie has potted on 44 marigold seedlings and they're outside under netting.
The pumpkins all sprouted (the day after I wrote the last post) and the luffah popped up the following day and have been moved up to the greenhouse. Jamie sowed minicole cabbage.
The Benchmaster beans are about 15cm tall so should also go out soon. The mangetout have been planted out with plastic bottle cloches to protect them from pigeons until they're established.
The broad beans have flowers on! Hooray! 
I've sowed a row of Radish Maribeau and the chilli plant (Prairie Fire) for my office has been delivered. Oh, and we put the next stage of the nematodes into the raised bed, potato bags, potato row and fennel tubs yesterday before the rain started. Perfect timing!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Planning and Planting

We had plans today and I'm pleased to say that the weather was perfect.
Last night a frost was threatened so we put some fleece protection over our potatoes - we needn't have bothered. The temperature last night only got down to 7.3°; underneath the fleece it stayed at 12.5°
Jamie earthed up the row of spuds on Plot3 and I earthed up the bags - look how much they'd all grown! Helped by the 40mm of rain we had in a 24hour period during the week.
Before I did the earthing up I planted out the beetroot - they'd definitely had enough of being in their little modules. I've planted 24, but a couple may not survive the night as they were such weaklings! They're planted in a square-ish patch behind the raised bed with the garlic in it.
I also planted up my Florence Fennel. I've put some in a couple of old recycle bins. The plan is that they will be blanched in the high-sided boxes so the bulb will stay nice and white... that's the plan. I had 5 plants left over so I've put them in the salad raised bed. All of them are protected by netting and lots of slug pellets :-(
This is one of our pepper plants. I think I've mentioned that we're growing them 'cordon' style. Jamie cut off one of the two growing stems, so just one grows on. At the top you can see the little pepper growing in the middle of the two new growing stems - one of those stems will be snipped off when they grow a little longer...
During the week Jamie sowed a loofah seed and some pumpkin (Jack Be Little and Jack of all Trades). No signs of germination yet though...

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Sunday Sunshine

I had things I should have done today, but it would have been mad to stay inside on the second hottest day of the year. It felt hotter because the sun was on full, but the thermometer showed 22° The site was busier than it's been in months, so nice to see.
Here are our potato bags.
We weeded the area behind, where the wildflowers will go, and all round the rhubarb monsters. I potted on the lovely hibiscus syriacus 'Marina'. I really hope it grows and flowers well, it promises to be beautiful! The two blue poppies We were given for Christmas are tricky to grow (from everything I've read) but gorgeous when they work. I put them in a pot because of the uncertain future of the site. One has disappeared but the other is still hanging on in there. (Fingers crossed).
I found a funny shaped stone, so thought I'd share it. How do they get to be that shape?!
Reminds me of the doorbell moose in The Banana Splits (blast from the past!). Now I've found a photo, it doesn't really look that similar!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

One Swallow does not a Summer Make, nor One Fine Day

It definitely seemed like Summer; my post title is just being smart, because actually we saw more than one swallow and we've had several fine days over the last week :-)
We actually got to the plot reasonably early this morning, well, it was still morning. The sun was shining most of the time and we were treated to temperatures of 24°
All the potatoes in the bags have emerged over the last week and 12 of the 13 plants in the row on Plot3 have also broken through the surface.
Jamie's been working on Plot3 for several days in the last week and I've been meeting him up there after work. It's so lovely to spend an hour or so before coming home to have dinner. And we've picked rhubarb to have for our dessert a few times now. Today we've picked the thinner red stems from the Raspberry Red plant for the first time this year.
We walked home at lunchtime just as the clouds gathered and there were a few spots of rain. It didn't make much difference to the plot when we returned after 3pm. It was a bit cooler but still very warm and the birds were in full song.
The broad bean leaves are being nibbled along the edges by the bean weevils as usual. I shook the plants, hoed between them and then watered them to try to shake off the critters. But they were back and attempting to reproduce when I looked later in the afternoon. The plants are probably (hopefully) strong enough to withstand the onslaught now though...

The trouble with tulips is they look a bit sad when they die back, though the colour of this with the sun shining through is still rather beautiful I think.
The Flavor garlic bulbs have much bigger stems that the Solent Wight which are at the front of this photo. I expect they'll catch up.

Monday, 2 May 2016

When the Wind Blows...

...in the right direction we can hear Hungerford Town Football Club from the allotment. I rather like hearing the occasional whoop, whistle and boo! Our Marsh Lane site was the location of the first football ground for Hungerford - those poor players with all our stones! Here's a map from 1898 - from the excellent http://maps.nls.uk/index.html
Today we heard cheers and when we got home we saw that Hungerford had won the play-off and as a result are promoted to the Southern League South, just 5 steps away from the Premier League :) CONGRATULATIONS!!

We actually got to the plot before the rain arrived and Jamie spent time adding lime to Plot3, where the cabbages are going to be grown this year. It may help against the horsetail.. We'll see...
Mangetout seedlings
Then we both ended up sheltering from the rain and gales in the greenhouse. 
The following have now been sowed:
  Radish Rats Tails 
  Apache spring onions
  Little Gem lettuce
  Salad leaf
  Calendula
  Asparagus Pea
  Paris Silverskin onions
  Common Valerian
  Benchmaster runner beans
So that's a mix of flowers and veg. Some are in the greenhouse, some are in raised beds and some are at home under the grow-lamp.
We left in pouring rain. Perhaps May isn't quite as bright as I thought yesterday! But, it is bluebell time! Hooray!


Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Little Bit of This... A Little Bit of That

Hooray! It's May! And it's been a bright, warm(-ish) day on the allotment with lots of other plotholders on the site. Jamie spent the whole time digging Plot3 but I couldn't face that, so I did lots of different jobs...mostly involving the compost. Not a very interesting picture...
But look at the animated version! The bins are alive with woodlice and worms - both very welcome in the compost to help breakdown the plant material. You have to be quick to see them though, they scatter as soon as the lid is opened.
I pulled up and composted last year's Brussels Sprouts plants. They've been re-growing so I chopped the new growth up but the stalks were too thick so they'll go in the green bin at home. I added some dried out weeds, a wheelbarrow of manure and a pile of shredded household bills - that's the best place for them, if not in the potato trench!
I potted on the petunias. They'll appreciate the extra-growing power from that multi-purpose compost. Their next move will be into tubs and baskets.
I even managed to sow a row of radish into our protected little raised bed on Plot3. (Hungerford Town and Manor have taken away lots of the stones to shore-up the river. Hopefully lots of slugs were taken away too!)
And finally I helped Jamie with a bit of digging, but I did an easy bit with no horrible grass and roots.
Aah, I like May Day.