Sunday, 30 March 2014

OK Slugs - it's War!

The clocks have gone forward an hour to British Summer Time so we should get a few evenings up the plot quite soon! This weekend was a good start, with warm temperatures and no rain.
We bought our potatoes yesterday: Chopin and Desiree. We may get a few more but had decided to be a bit more selective this year.
So, today, Jamie watered in the nematodes which have been waiting in our fridge for three weeks. We had enough to share between our potatoes, onions and the raised bed. That should protect the ground (by killing slugs) for 6 weeks and then a second lot will be delivered and a final delivery will complete the programme. Let's see if that does the trick...
Plenty of nematodes to go round!
There were a lot of butterflies (mostly tortoiseshells) around today and I found a good deal of millipedes whilst I was digging a bit more of the legume quarter - still pulling handfuls of roots; we think it's tree roots!
Here's a pretty pied shield bug that Jamie spotted on the earth - it looks like an adult, but I'm no expert (unlike these people!)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Two weekends for the price of one!

This weekend we were planning to buy our potatoes but that still hasn't happened! We were expecting the weather to be worse than it was, though we had a few very heavy wintry showers. We did manage to visit the plot and replenished the raised bed by adding 125l of multi-purpose compost and a generous sprinkling of vegetable fertiliser - my florence fennel should enjoy that!
The grape hyacinths are providing a welcome splash of colour. So pretty and fragrant, so the bees and butterflies love them too.

Last weekend was perfect as a HAHA Working weekend: Blue sky and sunshine always help the volunteers - as do the refreshments! So now we have a reasonably tidy-looking allotment site and a water supply with no leaks - thanks to our Water Boys!
Partying after the work!
Apart from the work party Jamie and I managed to get more of the plot dug for onions, broad beans and potatoes. Jamie finished working on the potato plot during the sunny days during the week too so we're certainly not feeling so far behind now, though there's plenty more to do. This is Plot 8B ready and waiting for potatoes and onions (and nematodes).

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Celeriac a-no-go

The fog cleared, as forecast, as I made my way home for an afternoon at the plot. We got a few hours of warm sunshine to work in. It's so great when the weather people get it right!
I'm still mainly clearing and Jamie's digging. I pulled all the salsify and celeriac. We could have eaten some of the salsify, or kept it in the ground to produce pretty flowers (apparently), but the area is needed for the spuds so it got chopped up and put in the new compost bin on top of all the dry strawberry cuttings from last weekend.
This is the reason I'm not bothering with celeriac this year. A poor show. When I cut into these they were brown but they'd never looked appetising because the root didn't bulb up nicely. 
Jamie's having another try at growing celery this year - in containers so we can keep it good and wet (there's not going to be a drought, is there?!)
The birds are in full song at the moment, including this redwing. More bird visitors on my wildlife blog.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Wall-to-wall Sunshine

Such a beautiful day and 17°! So we had a very lovely few hours on the site joined by fellow plotholders, butterflies and bees! We saw large numbers of tortoiseshells and brimstone butterflies.
Tortoiseshells on Dead Nettle
Jamie finished working through the onion plot so that's ready and waiting for our sets to be delivered. I cleared all the dead growth from the strawberry plants and transplanted a couple of runners which had been pegged out in the autumn.
The raised bed is clear of weeds and moss now so I can start sowing some salad - will have to wait till next weekend, at the earliest, though. It may have felt like Summer but it soon goes chilly when the Sun gets low. No evenings on the plot for us yet!

This moss against the blue sky and sunshine is fiery!
By the way, if you saw my post from yesterday... Summer seems to be the time to propagate herbs from cuttings and the cuttings should be ~10cm, not ~4cm like mine. Caroline (a plotholder) told me that rosemary can be rooted in water - well, I can try that if my potted cuttings fail...

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Springing into Action

At last! We've started! And the birds know it too - the site was alive with bird-song and plotholders again!
Last week Jamie cleared and raked over the Brussels patch, after adding fertilizer and lime - we're putting the sprouts in there again this year. There aren't any pests and diseases there (that we're aware of) so they'll hopefully be ok.
And today the sun shone and the temperature rose so we had a busy day with two visits to the plot. Jamie cleared and dug the area on Plot 8 where the onions are going. Jamie wants to add a bit of chicken manure (because the onion fertilizer hasn't been delivered) to the ground and we're expecting the Santero onions to be delivered in the next few days. We're giving parts of Plot 7 a bit of a rest this year so spuds and onions are out of the usual rotation plan.

I mixed the compost bins. We've seen mouse action in one of the bins over Winter but I didn't come across any in there today. I managed to combine the contents of both bins into one and add a lot of 'brown' waste, that was the remains of the wildflower patch. There's a good mix of wet, dry, green, brown compostible waste which will stay in the green bin for a year now, but we need to keep stirring it regularly.
The worms have had a good winter in the black bin - lots of lovely shiny new pink worms in there! Yes, I do see that slug in there too!
I started clearing the raised bed. It's full of tiny thyme plants which self-seeded. I planted a few up and also a few cuttings from the rosemary and sage. Not sure if they'll work but we'll see - of course, I should have looked up what to do before I did it, but, well, you know how it is!
So another sunny day tomorrow for more clearing, tidying but no sowing patient...