Saturday, 27 February 2016

Digging, Stoning, Composting

The last week has been dry and today was too, even though it's a Saturday in February 2016!
Jamie wasn't IN the compost bin!
We were digging up the raspberries on Plot3. They are a real mess. It seems like the ground wasn't dug before they were planted, probably about 6 years ago. It was tough digging through the couch grass, raspberry roots and mares tail which is pretty bad on that plot. 
And we gathered a bucketful of big stones. But among the stones we found this one...
We're sure this has been shaped by man rather than by nature. Would love to know if anyone has any advice on this type of thing. This is the other side.
And this one...

This stone has a hole, it doesn't go all the way through, but I love the look of it in close-up and I'm thinking that little bit of grit may be what caused the hole in the first place... Maybe(?)
I replenished one if the compost bins, mostly with tea and coffee bags and other kitchen waste. Then topped it off with a load of dried-out calendula. There are lots of worms and other critters that will enjoy tucking in to that lot.

And lastly, the garlic has sprouted - yay!
I've also updated the wildlife blog.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Word in your Ear

Another very windy and wet Saturday, so just another quick visit to the plot. Really not very much going on on the site, but I found these Jew's Ear fungi on an elder tree branch which had blown down.
The name Jelly Ear or Wood Ear is perhaps more politically correct, but the Latin name is a bit more specific Auricularia auricula-judae. It is edible, but I didn't pick it. We have eaten it in the past. I've got a vague memory of its chewy texture, but not the taste.
Most of our visit was spent in the greenhouse looking out for wildlife. Something with four feet had walked on our raised bed and one garlic clove had been pulled up, but no other clues and no sign of mammals or even many birds today.
We walked home through the wind and rain, with a few of last years garlic harvest to have with dinner tomorrow. I hope they haven't grown when I cut into them.
Our seeds arrived in the week - look at that little lot! It'll be good to get started, but there are a few weeks and lots of preparation to do yet...

Sunday, 14 February 2016

All Routes Lead to the Allotment

Ooh, that's a chilly wind out there! We went to the allotment with a plan and stuck to it but I was happy to be on the way home when I took this photo in the St Lawrence Churchyard - it's looking so pretty at the moment with daffodils, snowdrops and crocus.

On the allotment we now have about 20 cloves of garlic planted (too cold to count) in the little raised bed. I sprinkled onion fertiliser around and dug a bit in before pushing the garlic in, just below the surface.
Here are the leeks that Jamie pulled and we also got some sprouts for tomorrow's dinner. Tonight we've got leeks and Quorn lardons (like little bits of bacon, without the piggy) in a cheese sauce, topped with potato - yum yum!
I pulled some carrots (which are way past their prime, even though they're Eskimo). They're rather slug/fly eaten and the two-legged monster may be rather tough... I may make soup, but haven't got any onions. I may use some of the miso we have left over from Chinese New Year - if the carrots are ok once I've chopped them up. Or I may just have a bath instead :-)
This blogpost got me thinking about the various routes we walk to reach our Marsh Lane allotment (as you probably know, this may be the last year for this particular site). It's pretty much a mile from home no matter which route we take.,-1.5241545,1314m/data=!3m1!1e3
  • We can walk along the canal towpath from the High Street
    • and cut through the Churchyard
    • or walk along further to the lock
  • We can walk across Freeman's Marsh, along the River Dun and then cross the canal
  • We can walk up the High Street
    • under the railway bridge and go past the library (currently under threat of closure due to Government funding cuts) 
    • or cut through The Croft past the Hungerford Club
What a lovely location we have, but, if we need to move so-be-it. I'd rather have a permanent site, in a not-so-pretty area than go through this lease debacle every year or so! The Council and HAHA are working on a plan - well, there's a workparty which I'm a member of so hopefully we will get something worked out.. soon.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

They're He-ere...

No, not these little potato chitting dolls 'Sprouting tuber mimics by Karly Perez', Aren't they sweet? Although they are rather sad in this photo as they haven't got hair or clothes yet!

Here's the real thing. This is the Salad Blue.
And these are the Athlete, much more hairy! We were trying to work out whether the hairs are roots or whether they let the potato that it's buried and time to grow properly (Jamie's theory). I couldn't find the definitive answer, but now we reckon they are the beginning of roots.
It's worth zooming into the photo a bit more if you can...
It's a rainy day (of course) so we stayed in this morning and ordered lots of seeds online from Thompson & Morgan. We used our Tescos Clubcard vouchers so got all the seeds for a third of the price and T&M had a deal too, so we added a few more flower seed packets to the basket. I included purple honesty; the flowers are so pretty and, of course, the seed heads are too. My mother always has lots in her garden (I should have collected some seeds in the Autumn).
In the afternoon we went to the plot to feed the birds. There were couple of robins and we also saw thrushes and a tiny wren. Brrr, it was cold. Some of our leeks aren't looking that healthy, but they should be tasty - we intend to have some for dinner tomorrow.
In fact, the whole plot looks a real mess, but there's plenty of time yet...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Across the Marsh

It's extremely windy and very wet today but we thought we'd wander up the allotment via Freemans Marsh. The River Dun was running fast and the paths are muddy and slippery.
There wasn't much wildlife to be seen, just a few pigeons and crows letting the wind take them where it wanted. The moles have been busy though! Look at that lovely soil, it always looks good after the moles have worked it :-)
I noticed that our greenhouse is visible across the marsh, through the leafless hedge. The canal is between the marsh and the allotment site. You can tell it's our greenhouse because that's our ash tree (in the centre of the pic).
It was a blustery walk, not too cold though and, not surprisingly, we were the only ones on site. There's so much to be done, but today was not the day to be doing it!
Lots of the grape hyacinths are in flower, but the colour is a bit washed out - perhaps because of the weather? There are certainly more flowers than there were at this time last year though.

Our new pot raspberry bush has some lovely shiny, hairy new leaves growing, which must be a good sign.
And the rhubarb plants are just beginning to reveal new growth under all the dead remains of last year.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

One Potato, Two Potato,...

So many potatoes to choose from...
We opted for a few different varieties and bought 24 tubers in total:
They only had big bags of Anya, so we didn't bother with them. It's so much better being able to buy the individual tubers.
I'm very pleased with my choice of Salad Blue. I'm looking forward to blue baked potatoes!! I hope they're as successful as our Purple Congo were in 2011, which produced some amazing purple mash.
We're mostly going to be growing in bags this year, hopefully to avoid some slug damage... Hmm, we'll see..
Charlton Park Garden Centre has a good setup, with information to hand and catalogues from the Potato Days they attend at Whitchurch
There they are, all ready to start chitting under their grow lamp in the cool hallway. And a photo opportunity to show off my green fingers (Joanne!)
Oh, and I bought the garlic. I got 1 bulb of Solent Wight (softneck) and 3 bulbs of French garlic Favor (hardneck) - I doubt I'll plant all of those. We didn't eat half of last years cloves, though this year I really do intend to pickle or store some in oil...