Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Blooming marvelous and veggie's gone wild

After a week away in Cornwall, we couldn't wait to get back to the plot and what a surprise we got!

Blooming Marvelous

Starting front to back, a few weeds had cropped up in the flowerbed but on the whole the flowers were growing well and the Nigella I planted from seed were all flowering. The algae I put around the Nigella on one side is decomposing and plants are looking slightly stronger than the other side.

I need to weed the path again between the 2 beds, but 10 minutes and the bed was looking good. 

Just behind the bed is our dwarf beans that we have barked.

They are doing well. Plants that were half dead are starting to form buds and all the others are flowering. The soil underneath the bark is retaining moisture and there are only a couple of weeds that have cropped up on the periphery of the bark at its thinnest point. Definitely a success. We are going to start covering the rest of the plot with bark as we clear it.

Our potatoes have died back so will be digging them up this week.

Veggies Gone Wild

Just before we went away I noticed we had some courgettes that were nearly ready, but going away decided to leave them on the plant. 

This is our latest pickings but it is not easy to see how monstrous they are from this picture so to give you a better perspective here is the photo I took just before picking them.

  CP helped me to pick them.  As you can see they are fatter than her legs and the largest is almost as wide as her size 9 foot!

Before we left I found a couple of pumpkins on our giant pumpkin plant.

They were about the size of ping pong balls.

After a week they are now larger than the rose off the watering can.

The plant is spreading well and is full of flowers. Next job to train it and take some of the ends off the runners. Also going to bark the area. Girls are looking forward to Halloween this year having grown their own pumpkins :-)

Finally our beetroot. They are still growing well and the largest are now the size of Jas' small football. They were about the size of a hockey ball before our travels.

All this without the use of Uncle Brian's nettle fertilizer. Next experiment will be using the fertilizer on half the plants to see if it makes a difference, with monster veg already, don't think we will be needing it but will be good to get some nutrients back into the soil.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

#Darren Wilson posted a link to a video on a previous post, 'The constant battle of the allotmentor'. We watched the video carefully and concluded that it was worth a try, especially as it was something we had been debating for weeks. Essentially the guy in the video used wood chips to keep weeds down and lock in moisture in the soil. The chips rotted down to fertilise the soil.

As we are having a year of experimenting with the allotment we decided to give it a go with our beans that have been sat on our patio table for weeks.

We made sure they had a good drink when they went in and have left them to see how they develop. The video suggested that we would have to do very little other than top up the bark every now and again. Let's see how they've survived after we've on holiday for a week.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

This weekend

We've had yet another busy weekend here on plot 45. Mark has been struck down with the dreaded man flu so being a man down it was left to me to keep things ticking over, fitting in a morning of dancing runs, a 30th birthday party and getting ready for the start of the summer holidays. With all this going on I managed to grab a couple of visits to the plot. 

During my visits I gave the raised beds a quick going over and planted the two trays of lettuce that have been sat on the patio table. Winning a little bit back of the patio table each visit.

Mark decided last week to start clearing the weeds from the back of the large planting area so I started at the flower bed at the front. This weekend I finished clearing the small patch of dock leaves at the back of bed. 

Looking good wouldn't you agree?

Went to inspect my beer trap to find it empty except sludgy beer and a half eaten pumpkin plant. :-( 
Obviously don't like the Morrisons cheap brand. Will try Carlsberg next time ;-)
I also found a large patch of nettles that had made their way on to the plot from under next doors concrete pad. 

Half filled the metal bin with the roots and left the leaves to cook in the sun. After speaking to my Uncle  Brian I'm going to try using the nettles to make my own organic fertilizer. Will add the nettle leaves in the morning once the sting has gone out of them. Apparently gives off an obnoxious smell but does wonders. Will keep you posted.

One last organic experiment started this weekend was a bit of a long shot. Whilst clearing the algae out of the water tank I was debating what to do with it when I had an epiphany. As it was a hot day and the flowers I had disturbed weeding were struggling, why not use the spongy algae to help keep moisture in the soil then when dried out will rot down adding nutrients to feed the plants. As I have identical plants on both sides of the flowerbed I have left the right side as it is.

I will compare the two sides as the season goes on.

To finish the weekend I used our beetroot picked the other day and some of our onions to make this delicious beetroot and goats cheese tart. Served with rocket salad and a drizzle of balsamic glaze the finish. Very tasty but next time think will add some chopped walnuts and crumble the goats cheese. :-) 

Monday, 7 July 2014

bragging rights

As a parent of 4 children I claim bragging rights on an almost weekly basis. However I am able to claim bragging rights for my own  achievements as well as the family's on plot 45. I pulled this onion out about 2 weeks ago and realized while looking at photos for my earlier post that I had claimed my bragging rights.

The onion on the left is out of plot 45. The one on the right is a supermarket onion. As you can see it is twice the size of the supermarket one. Not bad for a first crop :-D

Unusual garlic

Don't know if saw this or not but thought would post this picture again. Has anyone ever had a garlic turn out like this one? We found another bulb growing out of the stem. Can't be the only ones with unusual garlic so if you've had garlic like this or can shed some light on the cause then please don't hesitate to comment. Cheers.

the constant battle of the allotmentor

Been a busy few weeks here so haven't been up to plot 45 as often as we would have liked. The weeds have come from no where to take over again. So here's an update as to where we are today.

As you can see we have been invaded again but we are winning the battle once more.

All hands on deck and working as a team, the kids filling the wheelbarrow (not a good idea to try pushing the wheelbarrow one handed) and Mark laying the weed barrier....

Our raised beds have all been tidied again and we have a good layer of bark chippings down.

We've also finally got around to planting our sweetcorn and the last of our pumpkins, they've been sat on our patio table for weeks!

Our beans are going strong and CP enjoys helping herself to a few pods each time we go.

My flower bed has been invaded by dock leaves and nettles. After several hours of wedding...

All in bloom and looking good.

I spent a couple of hours on the plot this morning working on the flowerbed. I managed to clear all the weeds to the left and put a few more nemesia in before CP decided she'd had enough. I only have a small section at the back left to weed.

Our courgettes, pumpkins and squash looked to be struggling a couple of weeks ago.

Amazing how much they have grown in two weeks. The little one in the middle is a pumpkin  plant we've had sat at home waiting to go in.

we've also had the first of our beets. Both bigger than a tennis ball. CP and Jas have decided they like the leaves so very little will be wasted.

We also discovered our lone carrot has a friend ;-)

So what's the next plans?

Somewhere behind the squash and courgettes are our potatoes in need of rescuing.

We have not been able to get to our patio table for weeks! We have sweet peas, 2 different types of beans, lettuce, spinach, red chard, more tomatoes than we know what to do with! Leeks and sunflowers. I also picked up a tray of golden beetroot seen as our beets have been such a success. At the plot we have purple sprouts and broccoli also waiting to go in. 

This weeks mission has got to be getting the weeds managed again and getting this lot in. With the summer hols approaching we need to be able to sit out in the garden and relax after a long day working on the plot.