Sunday, 31 May 2009
The tomatoes are planted out. All 66 of them. Phew! Digging trenches in the sun is hot work. We've saved six tomato plants - three of each variety - to put in growbags in the garden so hopefully, if the dreaded blight* strikes again we'll have some tomatoes at least.
They looked pretty big when they were in their seed trays, but they seem a bit weedy now they're planted out in the Big Wide World.
Hang on in there guys! Don't wilt!
*I now have strange images of an allotment-themed range of superheroes and villains in my mind. The Dreaded Blight would obviously be the criminal mastermind of the piece, but I guess he'll need some henchmen. Bindweed Boy and... urr... umm... ... .. Dr Weevil?
Maybe this train of thought has already gone too far...
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Another sunny day down on the plot. And lots of watering to do. We're running low on water - we have lots of containers of water in our sheds which the last plot owner stockpiled, but even then, it's scary how much water you get through just watering the essentials. Out allotment site doesn't have taps or standpipes - instead everyone relies on their own water-catching devices and water butts, and when it's sunny or there's a long dry spell, there are a couple of wells on-site, one of which gets a hand pump attached. Not the one near us, unfortunately, that remains a bucket-on-a-rope job. And when I say 'near' us, it's two plots down and three across, so it's best to take a couple of containers and a wheelbarrow. It's all very eco-friendly, but not so friendly on the legs as there's a lot of walking involved.
On the up-side, we've nearly have our first strawberry. It's red - just not quite red enough to pick yet. At least, not today. Maybe tomorrow.
The peas are podding, as are the broad beans. The other beans - runner, borlotti, french - need some canes adding. The tomatoes need planting out, so hopefully it won't be too windy tomorrow. And a friend from work gave me four small brussels sprouts seedlings, which is great, as we were really late sowing ours.
Sometimes I long for a small veggie patch with a few raised beds where we can only plant two potatoes and have three tomato plants in a grow bag and a small selection of other things. It'll be small and manageable and rustic and pretty. Then I try to forget the fact that we need to dig over the tomato beds before the plants can go in - in this heat! - and that the chard and spinach needs pulling up, and instead I try to remember the fun we have and the great sense of community we get - not to mention our own amazing fruit and veg - and it's much more worthwhile.
Even if I do feel like I'm going to scream if I have to lug a watering can about once more...
Monday, 25 May 2009
After my moan about the weather last time it seems Mother Nature listened and pulled some fantastic sunny days out of the hat. What a couple of scorchers! In fact, it was almost too hot to do anything at the allotment, so we were grateful for Dad's help, as he came for a visit and strimmed our nearly-overgrown pathways.
Over the weekend we... added more supports to the peas, planted the courgettes, cucumbers and squash (winter, butternut and acorn), weeded the carrot bed - there are some carrots coming through, I'm sure of it! - earthed up the potatoes, weeded the garlic and onions, sowed about a million brussels sprouts - a bit late, I know - and watered everything, which takes many, many, many trips to and from the water butts.
The early potatoes are flowering, as are the broad beans...
We also picked some mint to take home and made some mojitos - Cuban cocktails with white rum, mint, lime and lots of ice. Refreshing and delicious. If anyone wants the fool-proof recipe, let me know and I'll post it.
Now we just need to go and do a serious weeding session to get rid of the couch grass around the edges of our beds, and it'll look neat again!
The chard has bolted with the warm weather. Need to sow some more now, and some more spinach. And we have to plant out our tomatoes which are hardening-off in the garden at home.
Wonder if we have any ripe strawberries yet... yum.
Monday, 18 May 2009
The weather is definitely against us. Not only does it seem to rain every time we want to go to the allotment, but the wind somehow up-turned the mini greenhouse so on Saturday we found pots of compost and just-sprouted seedlings flung liberally all over the patio. I was not a happy bunny.
We have three parsnips growing. Three. After all that effort. Hmm. That's another thing I am Not Best Pleased About. And the carrots aren't germinating either. Whoever knew carrots were so picky? They grew fine in our first allotment year! Maybe I'll have to try growing them at home in a trough instead, to give them a bit of TLC.
The tomatoes are getting leggy on the windowsill - we need to somehow give them some more light but don't have any more space. It's a dilemma. Having said that, one of the Italians on the allotment was planting out the smallest seedlings a couple of weeks ago on his plot. But then he's probably got the time to pop down every day and potter about, giving them all the love and attention they need. Ours need to be a more rugged, determined, Bear Grylls type of tomato, able to stand anything the world throws at them. Even blight, if possible.
So, I have no idea how things are at the plot, haveing cruelly neglected it for two weeks. Tsk tsk. Last I saw, all the beans were merrily growing away. Maybe they need some supports already with this wind... And HOW is it mid-May already??? We haven't sown any courgette yet! Agh!
Ever feel like things are getting away from you?
Friday, 15 May 2009
No allotment news from last weekend, as we were off celebrating ten years of being together by staying in a yurt in a forest clearing in the Cotswolds...
It was all pretty basic...
but we had a whole forest to ourselves...
where we could make a fire...
hang our hammocks...
cook good food...
drink some beer...
and enjoy the peace and quiet...
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Forgot my camera on the last allotment visit. And it's always when you forget something that you want to take a picture. One of the bulbs in the planted-up wheelbarrow is just starting to flower. I thought we'd planted bluebells but it looks different to how I'd expected. I'd show you a picture and see what you think, but... *shrugs*.
We only had a short visit to the lottie at the weekend as we had a busy bank holiday visiting friends, but on Saturday afternoon Adam got all busy-like and pootled off to the allotment to do some more digging and bed preparation. Then I wandered down, sans camera - doh! - and hoed around the onions and shallots. And we sowed sweetcorn and squash. In the same bed. Hopefully the corn will grow nice and tall and the squash will meander around the bottom, keeping down the weeds.
We've got to the point when we're almost running out of beds, can you believe it? Even though it looks like we're got lots of space we've worked out we need three beds for tomatoes (yes, maybe we've been a bit over zealous with the toms this year, especially if they get blight again, we'll end up with three beds of mouldy sticks) and we haven't even thought yet about the pumpkins, cabbage, leeks or sprouts. Gah!
Anyway, here's a pic from last weekend, just to brighten this post up a bit...
I think the grass needs cutting...
Saturday, 2 May 2009
When eggs seem to be getting more and more expensive in the shops, it's nice to have our own supply.
We fenced off half of the garden this week to re-sow the grass. This the hens did not like.
Angie (possibly THE most stupid chicken In The World) tried to climb through the plastic netting. The holes are about 1"x2". Her head and feet could fit though ok - through seperate holes, obviously - but she seemed confused as to why the rest of her body then wouldn't follow.
She didn't get through.
We also put a board across at the top of the garden to stop them getting to the pots by the back door (these plants are especially interesting and peck-able now that the majority of the garden is off-limits). Lola then decided to try and fly over this barrier. It seems no one has told her that chickens' wings are less than useless. She made it about a foot into the air - mainly by jumping - then decided to hold onto the top edge of the board with her neck, while frantically flapping her wings, scrabbling her feet, and with a slightly manic look in her eye.
She didn't make it over.