Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Starling aerobatics

Below is a video of the spectacle we are subject to every evening as the local flock of starlings performs it's aerobatics. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen, they cover the roads, houses and cars in muck but for us it is a small price to pay to watch this natural phenomenon.(Excuse the quality and VERY anoying clicking it's from a digital camera)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Keeping a note

I started this blog for two reasons, the first reason was to keep a record for myself, I wanted to be able to keep a digital record of my allotment from day one before we had done anything and it was an overgrown meadow, to have somewhere that I could have notes and records plus photos of the progression. The other reason was that I wanted to make my notes and musings available to others, to offer other people my experience and mistakes so that my experience may help them ( that sounds big headed and it's not meant to!) I gained so much information and help from other peoples blogs before I took on our plot and I still refer to lots of blogs to see what others are doing, so I wanted to do the same and offer up my experience.

I've also kept notes in an old journal in which I draw a plan and keep copious pages of notes and diary entries, as much as this blog is a fantastic way to record stuff there is something very satisfying about putting pen/pencil to paper and doing little scribbles and notes which by the end of the year has produced (in my mind) a thing of beauty. My journal from last year ended up with scribbling, things crossed out and others added when we decided to add a new crop, it has left a mish mash of a plan, sometimes splattered with mud when we were at the plot, I can look at it and remember at a second what went where and it instantly brings back memories of the previous growing year, the successes and the failures. Technology is great but sometimes good old pen and paper can serve much better.

Monday, January 21, 2008

One potato, two potato, three potato, MORE!!!!!!! Lots more!

Ever heard of a potato day? Well basically it's an idea that has gained huge following in the last few years as growing your own has become more popular. Potato days (or in this instance an entire weekend!!) are events where a nursery sell around 100-200 different varieties of potato by the tuber or by weight. Obviously there are lots of different types of spuds available to the home gardener and this is a brilliant way to be able to buy just a couple of a variety to try out rather than having to buy an entire sack.

Our local potato day was held at Dundry's nursery between Gloucester and Cheltenham a fab small nursery that is a rare small nursery that seems dedicated to the gardener and very unlike one of those huge 'garden centres' that seems set on selling you perfumed candles and has an overpriced bistro cafe.

We went on Saturday afternoon not long before they closed and we were greeted by a HUGE selection of spuds in one of their glasshouses, I'd worked out before hand roughly what I wanted but I still ended up buying more than I had planned, the list as follows...


Belle de Fontenay (10)
International Kidney (Jersey Royals 10)
Winston (10)

Main Crop

Cara (10)
Pentland Squire (5)
Picasso (5)

Chitting is the process that now follows, this is the process of allowing the spuds to sprout in a cool place before planting them, some people disagree that this does any good but others swear that this helps produce quicker and better plants. One of the best ways to put spuds out to chit is to put one per section of an egg box and then put them into a shed, greenhouse or garage to form shoots, then plant them out in March (sheltered areas) or April in more exposed areas.

Potatoes in egg boxes ready for chitting

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Seed Swap Heaven

Box of seeds on dining table

I've just been involved in a seed swap 'pass the parcel' through the fab website Allotments 4 all. I'd seen several 'pass the parcel' swaps being set up through the forum over the last year or so that I have been a member but I'd never been involved with one.

The basic idea is that a dozen or so members are involved in a parcel of seeds being posted to each other, one person sets it up and posts a parcel of seed packets to the first person on the list who takes out a selection of what they would like and then adds unwanted seeds from their own seed collection. By the time it arrived to me it was a small box packed to bursting point with an amazing collection of seeds. I had a really fab time sorting through the massive selection and selected quite a few varieties of seeds that I probably wouldn't have gone out and bought and it gave me the chance to go through my own collection of seeds and pass onto the parcel those seeds that I know I wont sow or I just have too many of. Such a simple idea but a really good one!!