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...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Beer garden weather

Last Sunday was a lovely day. We went to the plot but weren't feeling particularly industrious for some reason, so we didn't get loads done, but just enough. Adam planted the maincrop potatoes 'Cara', and I sowed another row of peas and broad beans, then I mostly mooched around taking pictures.

There was just so much blue sky and fluffy clouds and flowers and new green growth, I ended up lying on the ground in strange positions trying to get my camera at the right angle to capture what I could actually see.

The mange tout Sian sowed are just starting to poke their heads above the soil. The broad beans are doing well (though must remember to try overwintering this year as some plots have at least a month's headstart on ours) and the peas are also reaching for the sky. Need to get some twiggy sticks in there...

Weevils have already started taking notches out of the peas and broad beans, but they don't seem to do any real damage to the actual crop? Is that right? Anyway, everything looks quite pretty with little crimped edges!

The purple-sprouting broccoli has well and truly bolted, but I don't mind, it's so beautiful...

And what about the rhubarb? I know I've squawked about the colour before, but I think it deserves another 'wow'... More sweet, sugary compote has now been made - delicious swirled through greek yoghurt, or double cream and natural yoghurt a la Granny's Barbados Cream. Yum!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Beans, beds and bacon

So. Almost a whole week has passed without me managing to update. Again.

Let me fill you in on last weekend.

Sian and James came for a visit and a potter at the plot on Sunday in the sunshine. James and Adam cracked on with some more pallet-splitting and raised-bed-making, as well as attaching a length of guttering from the sheds to our mammoth water tank. So hopefully if (IF!) this summer turns out to be a good one we're now prepared and won't need to make countless trips to the well with buckets.

Meanwhile me and Sian sowed a variety of beans down the far end of the allotment - runner beans, borlotti beans, french beans and mange tout. Yum. So now I need to think of a way to keep the slugs off as the runner beans got ravaged last year. We also weeded the raspberry canes, which are sending up loads of new shoots from the roots. Maybe we'll need a fruit cage this summer.

Then it was bacon sandwiches and cake for lunch for the hard workers. Thanks guys! And congrats on the new house! :)

Back home we've got sunflowers which need planting out. But that's assuming they'll survive the cooking they got in the greenhouse this week thanks to the near-tropical weather conditions and my crappy efforts at watering. The tomatoes are doing much better since I brought them back inside. Maybe I was too hasty and they were too small - anyway they seem to like the windowsill much better. And the troughs of salad leaves are doing fine.

Oh! And parsnip news! On Sunday afternoon I searched through my allegedly-chitting parsnip seeds on the kitchen windowsill and found some which had sprouted! Woo! I forgot to take a pic as it was just too exciting. So I sowed them in toilet rolls, and also sowed other parsnip seeds - ones which were looking kinda plump and hopeful - into a trough of compost to see if any take root. Then maybe I'll be able to transplant them onto the plot and fulfil my craving for home-grown roast parsnip at Christmas.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Easter fun and frolics

Had lots of fun down at the allotment on Monday. It felt a lot more Easterey than Sunday did, mainly because it was sunny, which made a change, though it doesn't look that bright in the pic. Here's everyone at the allotment for a little gathering we had, with bacon sandwiches, tea, coffee and cakes, and an Easter egg hunt. Oh yes. You're never too old. And I put up bunting. And there were Easter-themed napkins.

Thanks to everyone who brought extra delicious treats - home-made chocolate chip cakes, chocolate brownies and hot cross buns (Terry I want the recipe please!). Yum! And everyone seemed to have a good time. Maybe it'll become an annual event.

After people had left we pottered about for a while. I sowed the last of our broad beans but I don't think we've got enough rows yet, so we'll probably need to buy some more. Adam started putting together the next raised bed, I picked some more rhubarb and weeded the spinach. Here's the view from inside my shed...

And then I mainly enjoyed the sunshine.

I tidied my shed a little and caught this view in the light...

I quite like it. Must remember to take more pics like this as they seem to capture the mood more than a generic snapshot.

Back home the tomato plants were looking a bit pathetic in the greenhouse. Maybe I put them out too early? So I've brought them back inside again for some TLC. We've also got some sunflowers which I potted on. I think they could probably manage outside now but what with the chickens an' all I think it'd be a massacre. Anything they can get their feet onto they scratch to death. I also sowed some lettuce a couple of weeks ago - a mixed variety of cut-and-come-again plants - and they're just starting to show. So I'm looking forward to fresh salads soon!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Hello Angie

Meet Angie, our new hen.

And yes, she's laying (rounder, pinker eggs than Lola), so we're now a two-egg-a-day family again. Hurrah!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday...

Adam went to check on the hens this morning to find that Ruby had died unexpectedly in the night. She'd been a bit wheezy on and off since we first got her, and we'd been giving her some medication, but she still seemed perky and she was eating and drinking, scratching around and pestering us for treats like normal only yesterday...

But we seem to have done quite well in maintaining the view that our chickens are egg providers rather than pets, and there were no tears. Lola seems completely nonplussed by the whole event, even - somewhat morbidly - clambering over her deceased friend to lay her egg early this morning. (Sorry if that's too much information.)

Anyway, we toddled off to get Lola a new friend, as chickens are companionable sorts. She's not named yet, and I'll post some pics once it's stopped raining and she's settled in.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Bloomin' marvellous

I've decided the allotment needs a bit of prettiness so I'm adding to my tiny flower bed and making it more permanent. I've been wanting to grow sweet peas and tulips since we first got the plot, but vegetables have always taken priority. Plus I've been more than a little useless in getting organised. I bought a pack of sweet pea seeds last year, and then I lost them, and I couldn't force myself to buy any more, knowing that they were around here somewhere. And Adam's mum Chris gave me some dwarf sweet pea seeds last Easter, and they just sat on a shelf too... until now.
A few weeks ago (or it may be a couple of months now...) I planted some dwarf allium bulbs in the empty patch of earth in front of the compost bins which was to become my flower patch, and today I sowed three rows of the dwarf sweet peas too, and started edging the bed with bricks.

The raised beds we're building using old pallet wood look really good, they're pleasing, but not really very pretty. Functional. So I want my little patch of our patch of earth to be a bit more rustic. We only had enough bricks lying around to edge one side, but I might start recycling beer bottles and embedding them neck-down
. God knows we'll have enough of them... And I'm sure I have friends who would be only too willing to help provide me with a few more empties.

Adam planted our first early potatoes - Arran Pilot. We've got 5 rows of about eight, so that's 40 potato plants which we'll hopefully be digging up in June for our first potato crop. Mmm. Next week well put the second earlies in - Wilja. Not so many of them but they seem to be bigger seed potatoes. Has anyone ever tried cutting a seed potato in half - with a chit on each half - so you can double your crop?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Handy Adam

We have a raised bed! Adam worked long and hard nailing and hammering and we now have a lovely beautiful Bed With Edges. Frank the Italian from a few plots down came over and seemed most bemused by what we were doing. His plot is one big... field, I guess, and he uses the rotorvator to turn the soil each year, then plants wall-to-wall tomatoes. ("My wife, she make-a tomata souwce". His words.) Why anyone would want to put egdes on their beds, or even have beds at all was beyond him. "But then you can't-a use the motor!" I told him they looked nicer, but he was having none of it. I could almost hear him thinking "crazy English..."

And we have new neighbours! The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that the plot next to ours - behind Adam in the pic - has been cleared. An Asian family has taken it on, kids, parents, grandparents, the lot. They've started digging, and seem very friendly, even to the point of incurring the wrath of Frank by agreeing with me that raised beds do, indeed, look nicer.

Thanks to Dick and Debbie who donated a million bags of leaves so we can make leaf mulch. It's another one of those things that we think about each year but never get around to collecting any. And thanks to Terry for bringing them over!