Welcome to our allotment blog. We've got a plot, now we're trying to figure out what we're doing! So please join us - put the kettle on, sit back, and dream about Living The Good Life...

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Rhubarb crumble, here we come

Rhubarb! We had a sneaky peek under our bucket yesterday and it's coming along nicely. We'll probably pull a few stems next week and see if it's as tasty as Sian says it is (I have my doubts). She recommends 'rhubarb a la sherbert dib-dab' - just dipping the stems in sugar and eating them. Hmm... I'll also have to do some research as to how many of the forced stems we can pick at this stage as we don't want to stress the plant.

Adam did some more digging yesterday, tackling the ground at the far end of the plot. It's been covered over for almost a year now and - look! No weeds!
Except for one giant massively-huge dandylion which sneaked in at the edge. Adam said it had 'roots to China'.

While Adam was a-diggin', I was a-sowin'. I made one of the beds into a seed bed - which basically involved doing a bit of digging and raking to make it a fine tilth. Ta daa! Here's my tilth...

: )

Then I sowed a row of kolh rabi, a row of brussels sprouts and two rows of leeks, so in a few months we can transfer them to their final positions. I'll sow more rows in a few weeks so we don't end up with everything ready to eat at the same time.

Oh, and Adam hates bindweed.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Beans, bulbs and herbs

Well, we did manage to get down to the plot yesterday, though it wasn't exactly the sunny day that the weathermen had predicted. After being there for half an hour, it started to hail! Eeeshk! But we persevered, determined chaps that we are, and got lots done!

After seeing the broad bean seedlings coming through the soil on Friday, and then seeing the snow on Sunday morning, I wouldn't have been (bean!) too surprised if they'd curled up and died. But they seem ok. Nice, green and vigorous-looking. Yeay! So I planted another three rows to fill the bed and - fingers crossed - the weather won't get any worse than it's been recently and they'll germinate in a few weeks.

Adam also finished off the cold frame, with a minimal amount of cursing and swearing. We need to give the glass a bit of a clean but it's good and sturdy and will keep little seedlings nice and warm. So now I just have to get my act together and plant some seeds in pots so that we've got some plants to harden off in it! And we also need to decide where to put it so that it gets a decent amount of sun but doesn't get in the way.

We also took a trip to the garden centre and bought some bulbs and herbs to plant in one of the old rusty wheelbarrows that we found behind our shed. Pretty, eh? And it was Adam's idea! (Creative fellow he is). We've planted bluebells, dwarf daffodils, a couple of sad-looking ivy plants which were being neglected in our front garden, plus some little white flowered bulbs which I can't remember the name of. Think it might be Scilla. We've also planted some oregano, marjoram and thyme, to keep it useful as well as a bit allotmenty, and give us tasty herbs when they're a bit bigger. Our next-door-but one-plot neighbour Phil was quite impressed. Plus, it's the first thing you see when you walk around the corner of our sheds, so it'll be nice, especially when the bulbs are flowering.

By the way, that green thing next to the wheelbarrow has our rhubarb underneath, growing nice and tender while desperately searching for a chink of light. If I remember, I'll take a picture next time, they're looking really good.

Just before we left I chucked some mixed radish seeds in the ground. ('Chucked' is a technical allotmenteering term, don'tcha know.) I sowed 4 little rows, just to see what would happen. The pack says to sow from March onwards, but the ground's still quite cold, what with the hail and snow an' all, so I'll be pleased and more than a little surprised if more than half of them germinate.

Creating a seed bed to sow leeks and brussels sprouts in is on the cards for next weekend...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter!

We had great plans for this weekend. Finishing the cold frame, making a seed bed to sow leeks, sowing
another row of broad beans, labelling the rows of things which are already in... the list goes on.

On Saturday, it hailed, sleeted, snowed - there was a generally chilly vibe. "So", we thought to ourselves, "tomorrow morning will be our time of busyness, before Easter lunch 'en famille' ".

Well, Easter Sunday dawned bright and sunny... Actually, no, it didn't. There was actual snow. This is our garden...

After an initial panic about the poor broad bean seedlings (we popped down on Friday and they were just emerging) I then realised that anything that is killed off now we can re-sow and they'll just catch up in the warmer spring weather which is (hopefully) mere weeks away.

So we went for a walk just to visit the allotment instead...

Our crookedy fence, and spinach.

Broad beans - poor ickle things. Must be a bit of a shock!

Onions, just showing on the left, and garlic. Plus, our piece of essential allotment equipment :)

Snow can even make a pile of junk (sorry, useful allotment stuff) look pretty.

Monday, 17 March 2008

All grown up...

Well, another busy weekend... but not on the allotment. We headed off on Friday afternoon for a weekend in Hunstanton with friends. Despite optimistically referring to the trip as 'Sunny Hunny', it wasn't. It rained - a lot. I s'pose it rained most places, in fact, so I shouldn't feel too guilty as we probably wouldn't have been able to do much allotmenteering. But after our trés busy day last weekend, and what with having an unfinished cold frame to finish, I feel like our poor little allotment is being neglected. Things may have Started To Grow, and we'll have missed it!

Ah well. Now the Six Nations has finished we're like regular people again, with Actual Weekends, and we can potter aimlessly as and when we want, rather than have to plan it out in advance like a miltary operation so that we're in front of a telly (preferably in a pub which serves good beer) by 1 o'clock.

Dear me. I'll be getting my pipe and slippers out next... Allotment, real ale, rugby... Whatever happened to the me that scuttled off to university thinking nothing of wearing 5-inch heels all day and drinking vodka-lime-and-lemonades? Now it's all wellies and a thermos of soup and daydreaming about what to do with a bin full of compost...

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I actually said this to Adam as we were driving back from Hunstanton... "Oooh, look - that field's got really good earth..." (In my defence, it was a Particularly Nice Shade of Brown.)


Hope it doesn't rain all Easter weekend. We've got Stuff To Do.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Busy bees

Well, we arrived at the plot bright and early this morning (we were there by 9am... on a Sunday!! Do we have no sense?) to find a number on the shed! Seems like the new secretary Louise is getting things sorted out in preparation for the spring when (hopefully) there'll be lots of new people wanting allotments.

We were busy today. Adam started building a cold frame so we can harden off seedlings, but in actual fact ha
d to spend most of his time ripping apart an old pallet to get at the wood. They're surprisingly hardy, those pallets. But he's got three of the four sides built so it's nearly done.

I got on with planting our Early potatoes, Home Guard, which had chitted nicely at home in the living room. We've now got 5 rows - this was the first one, which I remembered to take a picture of before I covered them with earth. (Makes for a less interesting picture, covering things with earth.)

Then I sowed three rows of carrots and one row of parsnips,
and covered them with a fleece to keep the chill off. We'll do another row of each in a month or so, on the other half of the root veg bed, and hopefully will be able to get three sowings of carrots this season. Yum!!!

The carrots and parsnips are under the white fleece on the left, and the potatoes are in the 4th bed back on the right.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

You say potato... ?

Potato Chitting Update!

I think they're ready to go in... Another job to add to the list!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Freecycle rocks!

I’ve been a bit rubbish updating the blog recently, I admit, but we’ve had Stuff To Do - Mothers Day, an indoor-sky-diving father, a long lost marine returning from the depths of the Welsh borders, and a terrible and tragic head-cold which almost made my sinuses explode, I'm not kidding (sorry for creating that image, by the way).

I should explain my heading… Freecycle does indeed rock. 'Tis true.

A few months ago I contacted a woman called Jill, who lives a couple of streets away from us, via Freecycle as she was offering some strips of carpet For Free, and we all know how good old strips of carpet are at suppressing weeds at the edges of allotments… Anyway, a week or so after we’d got the carpet she emailed me to see if we wanted the compost out of her compost bin For Free. She said it was quite a small bin, but when we
went round (this was the weekend before last - seems an age ago now!) it took us three trips with the wheelbarrow and 5 rubble sacks to shift it all to the plot. About half of it has gone into our allotment compost heap, which was looking a bit pathetic and twiggy, and not the dark, moist, crumbly stuff we were hoping for. (But then it is the end of winter – come spring it should all kick into action.) The other half which was really well-rotted and lovely we’ve kept separate, and we’ll use it when we plant greedy things like runner beans, squash and courgettes. Thanks Jill!

So, last weekend the weather wasn’t that great but we went down to the plot briefly last Saturday to have a poke around and check that our little pallet fence hadn’t blown down in the gale-force winds. Everything seemed to be in order, and we gave the compost bin a good stir. Was it our imagination or did it look better already?

Good news too - we've got loooooads of garlic growing nicely. The little green shoots front right of the pic are apparently a red garlic variety which nearby allotmenteer Phil gave to us. And - more good news - we've got at least ten onion sets poking their little green points above the soil. Hope they don't mind the recent sub-zero conditions. No sign of any broad beans and shallots, though I'm keeping hopeful that they're just being sensible until it gets a bit warmer. I would if I were them.