Sunday, 31 May 2015

Final spring bank week round up

As the school holidays come to a close we haven't done anything too drastic this week to change either plots but have been busy all the same, despite the various weather conditions.

Before taking on the challenge of allotmenteering I seldom watched the weather forecast unless it was winter with the prospect of a snow day, or summer and we were taking the troops camping. These days I find myself planning my week very carefully around the weather forecast and checking the BBC website twice a day, although I can quite honestly say it wasn't very accurate this week. This week we found ourselves gardening in beautiful sunshine, being blown away (there were reports of a mini tornado in a nearby town) and soaked through during a spell of heavy rain that hadn't been forecasted.

So anyway as well as having an unhealthy obsession with the weather, this week I have found myself staring at what we have taken on and have been often found deep in thought. Only today has it truly sunk in how much more of a commitment it will be having a second plot.

We spent some time doing a rough outline of plot 47 and found we ran out of room and needed to sticky tape another sheet of paper to the original one. Not the tidiest but it doesn't need to be. We've decided not to make huge changes in the fruit cages other than tidying them up for now. We've planned what is going where and need to do some weeding before we get planting, will keep you posted.

KP and JJ went through the hundreds of seed packets and from the 30 odd different seeds which were still within planting time, chose what they liked to eat. They used the excuse of a wet day to start planting. To speed things up they planted the seeds in modules and small seed trays in the greenhouse instead of directly into the ground. Of course CP had to help ;)



The flower bed is taking shape with Mark clearly defining the edge and inserting wood for a border.

Straw is now down under the strawberries and we have dug up our Early Purple Picardy Wight garlic

This is the first time we have grown this variety. We have had mixed results as you can see. looking forward to using it in our cooking. Last year we had issues with rust but so far so good although not sure if the bulbs have split.
So what's on the plans for this week?
Mark has banned me from the plot for a week. Its that time of year that all teachers dread, report time! I am under strict orders to abandon tools and don the laptop for work. On the plus side it will be a nice surprise on Saturday to see what Mark and JJ have achieved this week.
Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Plot 47

We have expanded !!!

We have taken over plot 47 which is the second plot across from our own. The previous owner came to me at the start of the week after reading my application for a second plot and offered to sell me his. He had two full plots but was struggling to keep on top of both plots, deciding to downsize to just a single half plot. I remember when we first took on Plot 45 we were very impressed and envious of the owners on plot 47 and 48. Their Plots were so well organised and looked beautiful with an abundance of fruit and vegetables.

So lets take a look around. Looking at the plot from the well maintained lawn at the front....

.... and from the back of the plot across what was once a cut flower bed. Anybody recognise any of these plants? It would be nice to return it to its former glory.

So break down from front to back:
The flowerbed is more established than the one on 45 with the additional Fuscia JJ planted near the sign.

There are five beds between the flowerbed and the fruit cage. The little P's have decided they want one of these beds to grow their own crops. We can't wait to see what they come up with.

One of the beds has become overgrown with rhubarb but not a big issue to sort out.

The fruit cage has a cultivated Blackberry that has been trained around the frame.

There are also Loganberries that have also been trained around a frame.

There are a further 2 raised beds inside the cage...

.....and raspberry canes making a comeback.

Behind the fruit cages there are 3 fruit trees: an apple...

A plum tree....

and finally a cherry tree.

There are two beds both around the same size, but slightly smaller than the potato bed on Plot 45.

And finally 2 more beds which have become very overgrown or as Mark calls it, 'our wilderness'. The Little Ps would like to turn the bed with the branches and wood on it into a play area with a swing and slide.

There is what every gardener needs, a shed, which I have been informed has been standing for over 10 years, however it is starting to fall apart.

We were also very kindly gifted a petrol lawnmower by the previous owner although some TLC may be needed before it sees any action!

Overall the plot isn't in too bad a shape. Most of the beds are ready to be planted following a dig over. The beds that are overgrown needs some TLC but we will get there.

The previous owners said they were pleased it was going to someone they know will love it and love it we will.

Thanks for reading :)

Flower bed

Being half term I have managed to get to the plot every day so far. The little Ps enjoy the freedom to explore nature as well as cultivating the plot.

Whilst the older of the little Ps did homework, socialising etc, the two younger Ps helped me replant the flower bed.

I took out the path between the two beds. It was left quite bear once the tulips had gone over so have initially put fuscias in which will spread over time. We picked up geraniums and pansies reducing thinking they would give some initial coverage. We've also planted chrysanthemums and white gazanias. We also have yellow and orange gazanias and a dozen marigolds we planted from seed to go in but they will wait until Mark has finished the edging. Our wood chip pile is now depleted so I was only able to cover around the new plants. Another job to add to the list.

Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

bank holiday weekend round up

Fairly dry Bank Holiday weekend meant plenty of opportunities to work on the plot and visit our local garden centre. So what did we do?

CP spent her time beheading any dandelions. She is really getting into 3D nature art with bits she has scavenged around ours and the neighbors plots. 

I re heaped the mounds of potatoes as the the leaves were poking through on the back two rows of Charlotte potatoes. After many hours of playing with the rotavator Mark had managed to get the last of of the potatoes in earlier in the week, so we now have a full bed of spuds. :)

We started our melons off in the greenhouse and finally decided the weather had warmed enough to get them in the bed. We've not grown these before so it will be good to watch how they develop. 

We picked up a discounted sweet potato at a garden centre a few weeks ago thinking it was a shame to leave it and would eventually find space for it. We have planted it in the corner of the raised bed with the dwarf french beans and mange tout after deciding we had a large section  of their raised bed going spare

KP is definitely developing her green fingers repotting the marigolds she had planted from seeds (with some help from Mark of course.)

We finished the afternoon with a trip to the garden centre. We headed straight to the seasonal clearance section and picked up several pots of various different flowers, herbs and vegetables drastically reduced but with a firm plan of where all will go.

We finished the day with a trip to the pub for dinner followed by a slow walk home enjoying the sunset.

Bit gloomy and drizzly to begin with but then again was a bank holiday and as we all know its not a proper bank holiday unless it rains one day at least! ;) We took the chance to get together with friends and family.

Back to the plot for some digging. Cleared the doc leaf out the flower beds and joined the two together again by taking out the walkway that went up the middle. Back breaking work digging one armed. Next job to edge the border and plant the fantastic array of plants we picked up on Saturday.

Whilst I was digging a friend came and offered me several Jerusalem artichoke tubers she had dug from her bed that day. Having never eaten Jerusalem artichoke before I thought why not and accepted the offered tubers. Not knowing where to put them and using my bucket for nettle stew, I have dug a hole and given them a temporary home for a few days while I clear an area towards the back of the plot. One thing I am very aware of is that once they get going they grow tall and  dense blocking the sun. for whatever is behind them. Some of them came attached to two and a half foot long foliage. 

JJ planted Rosemary, parsley and basil in our herb bed and Spinach, rocket and more radishes in the salad bed. I will post a picture once they have started to come up.

 The little P's are getting excited about the prospect of strawberry picking and it is looking to be a bumper crop.

Not quite sure how we've managed it but CP hasn't noticed the bean pods growing on the broad beans. Last year she stripped a plant in half an hour!

Our first garlic crop is close. Early Purple Wight bulbs we picked up during a trip to the Isle of Wight last Autumn. We'll be watching these closely over the next week or so.

So that's the bank holiday round up. Thank you for reading, hope you've had a good bank holiday too. :)

Monday, 18 May 2015

Weekly update Monday 18-5-15

This week's focus has been transplanting and hardening off. We put our Turks Turban and pumpkin plants in. The fantastic thing about the bark, not only does it keep the weed down, (when it does come up, it is a quick rake through,) it also retains moisture and keeps the ground warm. Just what is needed for young plants.

The plants themselves are obviously thriving as we have seen new growth on them already.

All three plants in a row. As they grow they will be trained towards the front of the plot as we harvest our leeks, onions and garlic.

I have tamed the flower bed on the right hand side.

While I tamed weeds, Mark set out the border edge once again.

I started on the left hand side. Got just over half way before it was time call it a day.

 In the process we had an opportunity to enjoy these beauties:

As we were digging we noticed this guy watching us intently. He was true to his nature and came within a foot of where we were working, picking up grubs and small worms as we unearthed them.

We are trying to be as organic as possible and whilst our TomTato is a little unusual, it is hand grafted not genetically modified, so it kind of fits. We picked ours up at a garden centre for £1 as a struggling plant that had been damaged. Since then it has nearly doubled in height and is starting to flower. If you would like more information

We still have the herb and salad beds to net however touch wood the wild rabbits seem to be leaving them alone. I think taking Charlie to the plot is helping scare them off, unlike this pair at home who have decided the freshly dug flowerbed means free access to everything growing in it!

We managed to usher them back into their cage before finally planting the flowers we bought for the bed.

Next job.....
keeping these pair off the bed whilst letting them have the freedom they need to run.

At the plot...
Looking at the weather forecast going to be mid week before can get too much done outside. Perfect time for Mark to get the rotavator stripped whilst I re-pot and tidy in the green house. ;)

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Weekly update

Trying to get back into the routine of doing weekly updates, so sat here with a glass of wine at the end of a busy weekend.

As promised to Mr P, here's a picture of our rhubarb looking great! Will have to do some experimenting as we're all tired of rhubarb crumble, although can never beat a rhubarb and boozy plum crumble, just make sure you don't need to drive afterwards. ;)

We've netted three of our beds and started planting them.

Our first 40 pea plants have gone in, with another 20 seeds planted ready. The plan is to plant 20-40 every week until the bed is full. Peas are a big hit in our household! The net is to keep the rabbits out until they are tougher, given the problems we had last year.

Not sure how well this will turn out but planted purple dwarf french beans and mange tout in the same bed. Again have more to go in but staggering the planting.

We've planted our courgettes in grow bags this year. Last year they took over the middle large bed so decided to keep them separate this year and have put them up against the grassy bank along the drainage ditch.

Potato buckets are ready for a final top up, with shoots appearing in all buckets.

Next to be netted, the strawberries, full of flowers and fruit starting  to form, definitely need to keep the birds off.

Thankfully we don't seem to have had the same slug problem this year that we had last year. Over the bank holiday weekend there seemed to be a lot of slugs and snails drawn out by the heavy downpours, however we didn't appear to have more than the odd one.  Perhaps this is because of the bark or on the other hand, tonight we found this little guy living on the plot under a pile of bricks. I say 'little' he's the size of my hand. Think we will need  to encourage others to help him keep up the good work

So, whats next? ...

Getting lots more peas and beans started off in the greenhouse, finish off netting the remaining beds and getting the last of the spuds in the ground providing the rain holds off long enough to stop us sinking in the mud!  We might even get some flowers planted at home if we can find a spare moment  seeing as we bought more than a few a week ago.

Thanks for reading, hope you have a good week.