Monday, 22 May 2017

Sunday Shining

(Oops, this was meant to be posted yesterday 21st May)After all last week's rain we had a lovely sunny afternoon today and we got lots done.
We earthed up the potatoes - look how much they'd grown in the bags since they were planted 3 weeks ago. We added a little potato fertilizer to the compost we covered them up with and left a few leaves poking out to see daylight.
We've moved the tomatoes into the greenhouse, rather than keeping them at home any longer. We potted them into slightly larger plots and their next move will be into their final growing pots. We've moved the seedlings out of the greenhouse and put them in the netted 'nursery bed' to harden off, then they can go in the ground quite soon - or to the plant sale (3rd June 10-2 at Fairfields allotment site, Hungerford).
Moving them under the netting means that the beetroot and pak choi are open to the elements. The beetroot won't mind, but not sure if the pak choi will survive.
I was enjoying watching all the bees on the plot today - particularly on the raspberry and valerian flowers. (This is the same bee)
I planted out this poppy (multi-coloured possibly) that I bought the other day at Savages - it was a bargain at less than £2. It has lots of buds. You'll notice that it's actually in the ground and that part of the plot was swamped with slugs last year. I'm really hoping that plant is slug resistant or (preferably) there are many less slugs about as that's where the other flowers are going this year. I sowed some eschscholzia (Thai silk mixed) directly into that bed today too.
I'm pleased to say that I have had a couple of allotment salads already this year. I'm sorry to say that our plots are currently only providing the radishes and I'm relying on spinach and rocket from new plotholder, Maria, whose raised bed started producing very early on.
So that was a lovely afternoon and we left the plot with neatly trimmed edges and fewer weeds. It looks like it'll be a nice warm week to take us into June so there's plenty of time to look after the other plots too..
Finlay Quaye provides the title - I love this song, enjoy and feel the warmth :-)

Sunday, 21 May 2017


Yep, we've started another plot - I know, I know! This one's previous owner enjoyed show-growing, so it's got raised beds and barrels of soil which he mixed with a cement mixer! That top photo is to draw the eye; it's a silk road shrub at home...This, unfortunately is what the plot looks like..
It's been abandoned since about September and the weeds are very happy - there's some good soil under that lot...We aren't ready to plant anything yet, we just couldn't leave all those thistles and other weeds to go to seed. Especially with new neighbour Ivan's immaculate plot next door!
We won't be growing for show, but hope we can grow some attractive veg for the food festival in October.. we'll see... The Jam provide the title song, but we didn't get much done as it was so rainy and we couldn't fit any more bags of weeds into the car :-(

Sunday, 14 May 2017


It's been a great weekend of allotmenting. Seven hours(!) yesterday on a dry warm day but very windy at times. We got a lot done between us, including setting up the carrot protection and sowing two rows of carrots: Primo and Eskimo 
The netting is off the onions now and the weeded plot looks much better, especially after some rain. I sowed a whole packet of coriander between the carrots and onions - hopefully the slugs won't eat the whole lot like last year!
These seeds we sowed into modules:
  •   Russian Giant sunflower
  •   Elite Sun sunflower
  •   Scarlet Empire runner beans (these are at home, still not warm enough to trust the temperatures in the greenhouse)
And  these little seedlings were potted on to individual pots from their modules:
  •   French marigold (Honeycomb)
  •   Aster (Duchess mixed)
A short row of Little Gem lettuce has been sowed alongside the transplanted lettuce seedlings which have perked up in their net cloche.
We've sown night stocks near the bench and a patch of large poppies (Ruby Bonanza) in the flower section. This poppy has edible seeds, most are poisonous apparently, but these can be used in baking recipes - if they live long enough to get seed heads!
Today we spent most of the time tidying Plot3 - the broad beans have flowered and the valerian has grown taller than me and the flowers are just opening up.
We're not sure whether these runs are mole or vole but they've made the brassica patch much less solid than we'd planned! So we've hoed it over with added lime and will see if we can get it compressed again for when the seedlings are ready to be planted out.

During the week we received our deliveries of tomatoes (Aviditas) and the Redcurrant tomato plug plants so Jamie potted them up.
They look significantly healthier than my grown-from-seed Tigrella tomato plants...
So, after a week containing a frosty night (luckily we fleeced our potato plants), wind, rain, hail, even a flash and thunder with occasional hot sunshine I'm feeling HAPPY! Like Pharrell Williams :-)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Waiting (All Night)

I seem to have been waiting a long time for these chive flowers - they've still got a little way to go before I pluck them off and pop them in some vinegar! I think the lack of sun may be holding them back - I've made the photo look rather brighter than the real world.

We haven't got much time for the allotment this weekend, but we managed a few hours this afternoon. It's a bit cool for May but still bone dry so we need to keep watering outside as well as in the greenhouse.
A Baby Brussels Sprout
The seedlings are coming along okay, even some of the florence fennel has germinated now. I planted out the salad leaf into the raised bed as it was beginning to look a bit sad in its seedtray. I sowed an extra row in the raised bed alongside it for cut & come again - if the beasties don't get at it first. The beetroot is looking happy in the raised bed and so far the mangetout and sweetpeas haven't been spotted by anything that may want a piece of them.
The salad and silverskin onion rows seem to be getting shorter each time we visit, so I think a slug has got a taste for them again this year. I'll attempt a re-sowing next weekend. The potatoes in the ground are all up and the Orla are the first to reach the surface in the bags. We hope it doesn't go cold again so we don't have to earth up too soon.
The valerian is close to flowering. We think the flowers will be a bit more interesting than this - though it looks good in close-up, there's no fragrance yet.
And this cabbage white butterfly seems to have already taken a fancy to it! Just waiting for the flowers to open a bit more so that he (or maybe she) can get to the tasty nectar.
Rudimental's excellent track and amazing video provide the title track - I added the brackets to make it a bit more appropriate - I think we'll be waiting longer than a night for some of these things!

Monday, 1 May 2017

White Rabbit

Do you say "White Rabbit! White Rabbit! White Rabbit" on the first of the month? I don't, I say "Pinch, punch 1st of the month" but maybe that's because I was the youngest of 5 children and it's more fun to pinch and punch :-) Anyway, it's May and a bank holiday for May Day is always welcome. The sun even shone for us (some of the time).
The May blossom is just beginning to open up on our hedge and the dark clouds provided us with a huge downpour in the afternoon, so the earth looks a much healthier colour now.
I was mostly washing up old pots today. We (HAHA) have a plant sale on 3rd June so I transplanted the chard seedlings to sell there; there are far too many for our plot. They should look a bit bushier and colourful than this in a month's time.
I also did some sowing: Parsley, 3 Speedy french beans (as a special early sowing) and Early purple sprouting broccoli - this seems to do so well with other plotholders and it'll be nice to have something else to harvest early in the year. Something else other than rhubarb that is...
Our giant rhubarb plant has a flower on it - it has gone to seed like this in other years but doesn't seem to upset the plant particularly. I chopped it off, at ground level, and popped a pot over the cut stem to avoid it filling with rainwater and rotting the plant. Jamie says this is a myth, but it seems reasonable to me.
While I was fiddling about with these various things Jamie was digging the area on Plot3 where the broccoli will go. We won't need many plants as it seems to get pretty huge. That should mean that there are a few spare plants of that to go to the plant sale too - I'm hoping it will have germinated and grown a bit by then.
Those plastic cloches are covering the parsnip seeds
So, I'm sure you can guess the title is courtesy of Jefferson Airplane.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Remind Me

The seedlings all survived their first night outside and even the beetroot had perked up a bit. The brassicas in the greenhouse have germinated. And look at the leeks unbending themselves, with their little spent-seed hats on!
We spent a blustery few hours on the plot this afternoon. Rain threatened but we still only had a few drops and the ground is very dry. Still all we have to eat from the plots is rhubarb, but not long now...
We mixed up some compost for the potato bags - a mix of multi-purpose, coconut coir and John Innes No.2: Orla, Chopin, Kestrel and Bergundy Red. One seed potato per bag, apart from two Chopin.
This post is mostly as a reminder for us and the title song is one I'd not heard before but I like it, it's by High Contrast.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Metal Guru

The fanciest thing on Plot 7 is its new number. Kindly made by plotholder, Alfie, sturdily-made from old horseshoes and other scrap metal. I know there will be a few more of these appearing around the site - he only asks for a £15 donation to the Heads Up charity, helping the Churchill Hospital fight head and neck cancer
We've visited the site after work every day last week to check the temperature and earth up any potatoes that peeped out of the ground. The coldest reading was -4.3°, by our thermometer in the greenhouse. That was the morning that the cars, roofs and fields were white with frost. A few flower seedlings got frosted, but it's the strawberries that suffered the biggest setback - look at those black eyes. They won't grow into fruits, but the plants will soon recover.
Every single strawberry flower outside looks like that. The strawberries in a tub in the greenhouse got away with it, so we may get a handful of early fruits.
We did some sowing and planting outside this afternoon! Parsnips Albion are sown on Plot3. The mangetout (Shiraz and Golden Sweet) seedlings are in the ground. The mangetout have some serious protection until they're a bit bigger - the pigeons would eat them all by tomorrow otherwise! 
The sweetpeas haven't got so much protection.... I'm hoping they aren't as tasty to pigeons :-{
I planted several chard seedlings out; some pink, red and yellow. Also planted about 30 Boltardy beetroot seedlings in a raised bed where the pak choi have germinated. Transplanted beetroot seedlings are always the saddest looking things, but usually they recover.
 So Alfie is our site's 'metal guru' and isn't he lucky? He gets a T-Rex song and a photo on my blog :-)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

This is England

Happy St. George's Day and another warm and reasonably sunny day.
We were mostly tidying and weeding. We erected a netted frame for the mangetout but we're waiting for this week's expected cold spell to pass before planting or sowing anything outside.
Strawberry flowers are blooming everywhere, but sadly won't become strawberries if the frost gets them. This visitor is one of my excuses for not achieving much. A 9-week old trainee guide dog - adorable!
The Clash provide the title song.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Earth Song

It's Earth Day - a day to celebrate our amazing planet and encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. Making compost with food scraps and waste paper/card has got to be up there as one of the most satisfying and environmentally friendly things we can all do.

I mixed up the contents of our bins today. Mostly because there was a hole under one and we were worried that there would be a rat nesting in there - I'm pleased there wasn't! Our compost seems a bit wet, but the worms love it and it always turns out good in the end.
There it is, earth in the making!
It was an unexpectedly beautiful day, with pretty much full sunshine all afternoon while we were on the plot. This is our valerian, with its lush greenery - looking tropical in the afternoon sunshine.
The flowers are forming but the stems are hollow so don't seem like they'll be frost there really a snow/frost risk for us next week??
I sowed some more seeds: Red Brussels sprouts, Nelson Brussels sprouts, Minicole cabbages, Victoria Florence fennel - all in modules and under cover in the greenhouse.
The Toledo leeks have germinated but the other year-old leek seeds haven't. I love the way leek and other onion seedlings always start bent double like this.
The Aster seeds haven't germinated as well as the marigold seeds have, but hopefully there will be enough for a nice show of flowers.
The mangetout has grown well and I hope to get the frame up for them tomorrow but will probably wait another week before planting them out.
We're living on rhubarb, it's delicious, but the plants will need splitting later in the year. One of the plants isn't so happy; the stems are short and the leaves look a bit yellow.
I broke open this stone - I was hoping to find some crystals inside.

It was full of chalk - interesting, but I would have preferred crystals!
So, for Earth Day, here's Earth Song by Michael Jackson...