Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ups and downs and spuds in!

A jaunt up to the plot yesterday to dig more and to check things over. I also decided that I'd put some of the potatoes in (some from the potato mountain in the shed at home!)
I have a small journal type book for the allotment to keep a check on things and I'd written down in it how far apart the pots needed planting and how deep etc, so there I was hunched over one of the beds with a book in one hand and a spade in the other, refering to the book as I'm planting the pots, like a novice cook refering to a recipe book "....now plant your potatoes 4" deep, cover with soil and leave to grow for 3 months"

Pic...Duke of York spuds & a GIANT silhouette

I do feel like such a novice, I keep wanting to feel much more at ease and not so pent up about it all, I mean for God's sake it's only growing veg! Things happen though that you don't expect and it leaves me wondering what I did wrong. The one thing that has puzzled me are the broad beans. When I planted the first rows I covered them in lemonade bottle cloches (apart from one plant) I removed the cloches last week as they'd reached the top and I left them to it. When I arrived yesterday all the 'cloched' beans had gone black on the edges of the leaves and bits of the stems, they also look a bit leggy and floppy. I think I know the answer, I think they should have been left without cloches in the first place, I've made them too tender and with the cold snap we just had I hadn't hardened them off properly. The one that hadn't ever been in a cloche is fine. Of course if anyone has any other thoughts on this please let me know!

I attempted to dig another new bed, previously we have had to de-turf each bed first and then dig the soil over but as the plastic has been down for a fair time now it is not necessary to do the de-turfing, the grass layer has broken down more so I am just digging through it all with a fork but it's still BLOODY hard work. I hate this bit, I wish the beds were all dug over so that I could get on with the growing bit! Just reading back over this entry I sound very 'down' this week, I do feel it and I'm not going to delete this, much as the temptation is to do that! I think there will be lots of ups and downs with the allotment...I prefer the ups!! :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Allotments and recycling

I love the way allotments are made up of begged, borrowed and found materials and objects. When we were looking at getting an allotment we visited a couple near by and I was instantly taken by the ramshackle way in which they have been created, on one site a shed had been made using an old glazed door for a window and a great big old window for a door! MAD! But it has a fantastic charm to it, it worked and what's more it's free!

I am saving anything and every thing to use in the garden and the plot and today I took a load of lemonade bottle for cloches and lots of little bottles from the yogurt bio drinks that we have every day for cane ends up to the plot.

When I arrived the broad bean plants in bottle cloches were escaping out of the top of the bottles, I'd decided they were going to be liberated today anyway so I quickly set them free. I planted up 16 more broad beans that I took up with me and covered them in bottle cloches. Total broad bean plants now 26.

...Broad bean plants in trug ready to go to plot (spot the snail!)

Now, the idea of the yogurt drink bottle going on top of a cane is for 2 reasons, the first is that any cane tops are covered to protect your eyes and the second is that in the wind they will rattle and scare away any birds trying to eat the crops. Good idea you may think but while I was crouched planting (having set up the yogurt pot canes already) a blackbird flew down and landed on the bed about 2 feet away from me and just stared at me! Oh well, you can but try!
I also managed to dig 2 of the beds that we'd already de-turfed, I haven't made the seed bed as hoped (soil still bit too wet) but at least I have space now for potatoes to go in soon.

Broad beans in bottle cloches with number 1 helper in background!

There has been a fair bit of work on the site by different people since I went down there 2 weeks ago. It's really nice to see actually, I've only been on site since November and not really seen much activity and the site looked a bit rough to say the least but now it's starting to wake up for the spring. The forecast cold snap hasn't been too much of a problem either, I've covered a few delicates in the garden with fleece and put the paraffin heater on in the greenhouse as a precaution but I think it would have all coped anyway. Isn't it great as things are waking up, even small set backs like a cold snap seem less of a problem and only a slight hiccup in the start of a gardening year.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


All the tweaking of newspaper has paid off, here is a pic of all the busy lizzy plants potted up in their little paper pots, when ready to plant in the borders they get planted ... pot and all! The pot rots away like a peat pot. I did this last year and it worked really well, the greenhouse that they are in is a cheapy polythene planthouse from Focus, once it is free of plants in the summer I aim to grow a couple of Capsicum pepper plants and maybe a cucumber in it if there is room. (it is bigger than it looks!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


View from balcony of our holiday home!

We went to Pembrokeshire (Wales) last week with some very good friends for a much needed quick break. I lust after the main fortnight holiday of the year when we go to hot climates but equally these shorter breaks in our own country are bliss!!

When we got back on Monday Spring had arrived in our 4 day absence, the garden has changed SO much in such a short time and we have been able to work in it without fear of getting stuck in the mud. New roses planted and new herbaceous plants placed on beds ready to plant.

The one thing that I really love to see at this time of year are the hedgerows coming to life. We're lucky to live in an outstandingly beautiful area on the edge of the three counties Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and we have some amazing, wonderfully maintained ancient hedges and hedge laying appears to be on the up in our area rather than neglecting them and or worse still grubbing them out altogether.
I love the almost acidic lime green colour of the new foliage unfurling and the way in which the hedges and trees are just speckled with this green as if someone has loaded a big paintbrush with lime green paint and flicked and sprayed colour all over them, pure magic and such a welcome sight after the barren months of winter.

This weekend is supposedly going colder again but hopefully it will remain dry and I can get down to the allotment to attack some more beds, the chitting potatoes in the shed are coming on well and I really need some beds prepared for them and a good seed bed created too...hopefully!

Friday, March 02, 2007

by 'eck

Well, I'm a Derbyshire lad by birth and spent a large chunk of my early years growing up in the Peak District so you'd reckon I'd be quite hardy to the weather down here in Gloucestershire considering that it's the south in comparison but we've had some cold weather again that's been a bit of a shock to the old system!

I've spent the last couple of nights making newspaper pots to transplant seedlings into and I'm glad that it's a job that could be done sitting in front of the fire in the sitting room, folding paper around a jam jar and tucking the ends in creates a surprisingly robust little pot which of course can be planted out complete once the weather and seedling are right.

I was hoping I could get down to the allotment this weekend but I'm not sure it's worth it, as I sit here typing the rain is battering the window and the wind is howling, a real horror movie type scene!

I've just bought some plug plants for the garden, Tesco of all places are selling a good selection of plugs so I bought up a load of busy lizzy plugs. I had busy lizzies last year and they really were amazing, I planted them in May and the first frost at the beginning of November finished them off...not bad going! Lets hope the weather improves so I can start the potting up process, I feel that it's going to suddenly get warm, spring will arrive and I'm going to have to be working every hour God sends to keep up with it all, let's hope he's on my side through out spring!