Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Toms and beans

WOW, can someone hold the clock hands still whilst I get some planting done pleeease!!!! I have so much to do and it feels like the year is whizzing by, our forthcoming hols add to the pressure of getting plants in and settled.

I managed to get another row of canes in for beans, this time I have planted 'Best of All' runner beans and my 'Borlotto' beans (the Italian ones with red streaked pods) I've got just enough space left for french climbing beans which I've sown in modules inside.

By the look of the pic I've also got a carrier bag tree....nice 'aint it!

The other VERY over due job was to sort out the toms. Due to the watering side of things I decided that these will have to stay at home. Directly outside the back of the house is an area that I always call the 'Ginnel' area (a good northern name for a narrow passage between two houses or a back lane behind terraced houses) anyway, this ginnel area is directly outside the back of the house before you go into the rest of the sprawling estate. It's the perfect spot for my toms in grow bags and I also put a big pot with 3 canes in to grow some french climbing beans on (as if I didn't have enough beans!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I grew beans there last year before the allotment entered our lives, it was so nice to be able to walk out the back door and grab a handful for tea, hence me doing it again.

In both of these pictures you can see one of my plastic planthouses that I've used to propagate most things. I'd love a 'proper' greenhouse but I just don't know how we'd fit it into this garden, it's big enough but there just doesn't seem to be the right space anywhere, I'll have to ponder that one a bit more though and convince 'D' that it's a good idea!!! :)

Some of my Sweetcorn, Leeks and Nicotiana seedlings

Friday, May 25, 2007

Madeleine McCann Missing

Not horticultural but a very important posting..... people all over Europe are being asked to keep the image of Madeleine McCann in the public eye. Anyone can download pictures of her to make into posters or include a phot of her on their blog or website so that hopefully (please God) she can be returned to her loving family. Please do your bit. This took me less than 2 minutes to include in my blog....I'd love it if it helped to bring her back!

These photos show her very distinctive eye birthmark. Click the title of this posting or click this writing to be taken to the official Find Madeleine website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Evening therapy

I decided that the runner beans that I've been growing at home in loo rolls really needed to be liberated so I went up to the plot at about 7pm last night. My day off was full of important stuff like going for therapy to sort out my 'flying phobia' (Greek holiday looming ahead) and going to the dentist, so I didn't get chance to get to the plot in the daytime as planned.

To be honest there is something quite magical about the evening time at the allotment, I'm not sure what it is but I always love the feeling of peace. Most of the time when I've been up there at that sort of time I'm the only person there and I just love the feeling of pottering which is when I find gardening really therapeutic.

I've got loads of stuff almost ready to put in the plot all growing like mad at home in loo rolls, newspaper pots and modules. The beans that I planted last night are 'Wisley Magic' runner bean and I have 'Best of All' runner beans, French climbing beans and Borlotto beans to put out as well. The plan is to have 2 double rows of canes with a different variety bean on each side to accommodate the 4 different varieties. I think my problem will come when we have the harvest to end all harvests and we're eating beans until we go blue in the face....I just can't do it by halves!

Video below shows the plot on Easter Monday (9th April) once we had dug all the plot and before we'd put many things in. If you have your speakers on you can hear the birdsong (very peaceful) and then at the end the train going by, the track runs right behind my plot. For some reason you have to click the arrow twice to play this video. (Wed 23/5/07 Just found that at work I don't have to click twice! Oh the joys of modern technology!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I managed a quick jaunt up to the plot on Tuesday evening, it's still been raining like mad and I was intrigued to see what had developed at the plot in my absence. I'm chuffed to say that after a failed attempt at the beginning of April, my second sowing of carrots has germinated!!!!! I almost danced for joy that I'd managed to get them to grow, I think it proves that it was just too hot and dry for the last lot.

The above picture is a panorama that I took of the plot and shows next door's traditionally cultivated plot (immaculate!) and obviously my bed system (not immaculate!)
We have left the first 5 metres of the plot (far left of pic) undug so that we could park the car on it when we need to, the only problem though is that I'm starting to feel like I'm running out of space and also when I went there the other day, on the bike, the lady who has a plot almost opposite me arrived and parked on my plot without saying a word (apart from 'Hi!' ) She just parked up like it was a local car park and walked over to her plot to work on it. I do feel a bit scrooge like that I have now put obstacles in the way to prevent it happening again but it does seem a bloody cheek and to not even ask if it was ok! I really do need space for the squashes etc. so I do think I'll be digging some of it up soon anyway.

The potatoes had grown amazingly well in the week or so of rain that we'd had, it just shows how essential water really is. The picture to the right shows the potato beds, the nearest one shows 2 rows of first earlies and a row of Pink Fir Aplle which are only just poking through!

The garden is looking great, unfortunately it appears devoid of flowers when viewed from afar as in this picture which was taken from the bathroom window (my overhead vantage point for planning changes and viewing my vast estate!!)
The iron tree plant support from Malvern spring show can just be seen in the bottom of the pic with clematis now attached to it.

The other pic shows the garden as dusk is taking hold, on my home pc this is quite a good pic but on my work pc it's crap!! Apologies if you can't make it out.
What I'm trying to show is the lighting system that I installed recently which consists of small lights strategically placed amongst the plants and a spotlight bathing the apple tree in light to create a feature at night. I think it looks great, D is slightly unsure and has made comments about 747's wanting to use it as a runway! Cheeky sod! You just can't find the right class of partner/garden help these days! :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

... and the heavens opened!

OMG (as the yoof of today say) it has rained like it has never rained before! I was very kindly given complimentary tickets to the RHS Malvern Spring Garden Show (as seen on 'Gardener's World' no less!!!) D was hesitant to go due to the expense of tickets (complimentary tickets sorted that out) and the imminent bad weather conditions (NOTHING could sort that out!) We set off on Sunday morning around 11 am on our 20 minute car journey to Malvern. Approx 1 hour later we were walking around the wettest show ground I have ever had the misfortune to be at! But we had the most amazing time. We had watched Friday's Gardener's World programme with salivating mouths, I always love the big RHS shows. We weren't disappointed. The show gardens were brilliant (especially Chris Beardshaw's)
These sort of shows are very tempting but we try and behave ourselves and only buy things that we have never seen before or we would kick ourselves for not buying. Both these pics show these. Above is a picture of our latest Obelisk/willow wigwam (Top Pic) Although we've obviously seen these elsewhere before we never find ones this well constructed and they seem almost impossible to come across, so I quickly snapped this up and walked around the rest of the show with a bloody great big wigwam attached to me!!
The other purchase is the wiggly iron tree in the other picture.
This was bought from a really lovely couple who sell under the name 'Straysparks' They were seen on Friday nights GW programme when Carol Klein borrowed a wrought iron wigwam they had made for the presenters border that she was making.
I would have loved to have bought one of those but finances dictate otherwise (forthcoming hols etc!) Anyway this is their plant trees, designed to be pushed into the ground or a pot and then used to support a climber (in our case a clematis that we bought 10 minutes later!)
By around 3.30pm we decided to call it a day and trudged back to the car. When I was a child I remember getting as wet as this after playing in the local stream, as an adult I don't think I have EVER been so wet whilst still in clothing! I almost expected to be told that I was not allowed back into the house in that state and that I would have to strip off at the door! Obviously I am a grown up (apparently!) and the only person that could have told me to strip was D and he was as wet as me!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ne'er cast a clout till May is out

Well the old saying may be correct, the weather is changing but we still managed to wizz up to the plot today and spend a few hours pottering about. D strimmed all the paths which makes such a difference to the look of the place. I dug a couple of bean trenches to fill with half rotted compost and newspaper to help hold in water for the beans when planted. I also erected one of the bean pole rows, it's amazing what a difference it makes to the place, it almost looks like an allotment!

As important to all the work that we did was sitting, enjoying and planning. We set up a couple of fold out chairs and put the whistling kettle on the camp stove for a quick brew whilst we planned what else there was to be done and where other crops would be planted. Nothing like a bit of procrastinating with a good brew!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Garden holiday

I'm just coming to the end of my 'Garden Holiday'. I did the same last year, took a week off work and spent the whole week doing all the overdue jobs and spring cleaning in the garden that never get done in a normal day off or weekend. I managed to stain and varnish all the furniture, as we have two patios there is a fair amount of it and it is bloody tedious and laborious!

We had some friends from Glasgow come and stay, we became friends with them years ago when D first met them in Corfu and we meet up most years in Corfu but they'd never been to our place back home in the UK. Anyway, we'd rattled on about how our garden has progressed from when we first move in 18 months ago and that we'd won best city garden in the 'In Bloom' competition so the pressure was on to make sure that it did look good when they arrived (It's looked totally crap all winter!). To be honest I don't think any one else would notice if it wasn't perfect but when it's your own garden you notice EVERY imperfection, well I do and I become like a thing possesed trying to kill myself in the process of cleaning and sorting. So true to form we spent ages blast cleaning the patios, mowing, digging, weeding etc and by the time they arrived it looked great but better than that was the fact that the weather was fantastic, their company was superb and we had a really relaxing and over indulgent few days.

D and friends on top patioI went up to the plot mid way through the week to weed, water and hoe. The carrots and parsnips that I sowed hadn't appeared and to be honest I think it was through lack of watering. I re sowed the two rows of carrots and today I managed to repair my mountain bike which has only taken 2 years ! So now I am able to ride the bike from house to plot in 5 mins, water hoe and back in no time! It was great to do actually, it felt so good to be able to get to the plot without having to take the car.

The other big job for this week was to sow all the outstanding veg that I have been meaning to do. I spent around 2-3 hours sitting on the patio at home in the blazing sun sowing beans, courgette, squash, peas, sweetcorn, cucumber and lettuce into loo rolls, modules and pots, a very therapeutic way to spend an afternoon (especially if you've got a good red wine and fab weather!!) The runner beans always intrigue me, they're just beautiful, the markings on them are amazing, the feel of the beans is like a worry bead, they are so tactile, they really are beautiful things.

So, now I've got the bike up and working there shouldn't be any excuse to pop up for 10 mins or so when I get home after work to slosh some water around and a quick bit of weeding...well that's the idea anyway!