Thursday, March 27, 2008

Likal ... Gloucester Community Website

I received a rather interesting email the other day from LIKAL a community website saying that they hoped it was ok with me that they had taken a picture from my blog to promote Gloucestershire allotments!! I'm slightly stunned and quite chuffed to think they feel my plot and blog are that good. (D is more suspicous and wants to know who they are!)

Anyway when you go onto their home page there is a thumbnail pic of my plot advertising allotments and then when you go onto the allotments page there is a bigger pic and a link to my blog saying ...." Gloucester Guy Blogs his Allotment experience - read and be inspired."

How nice is that, if only they knew I haven't got a clue and make it up as I go along!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter weekend

D with his Mum and Dad

Well, we had HUGE plans for Easter, then I saw the forecasts on Metcheck and BBC weather and didn't hold out much hope for our planned allotment bonanza.

Our main plans for this weekend (apart from the plot) was the arrival of D's Mum and Dad for the Easter break, they came on Friday morning and stayed until Monday and we had a fantastic weekend of too much wine, food and some allotment visiting!

The forecasts had promised snow and more but in the end although we had the odd flurry we luckily escaped with just freezing wind and the odd hail storm intermingled with sunny periods (see I have the technical talk now!) We took D's parents up to the plot on Friday to have a look, they'd never been to it before so it was great to be able to show them where we spend half of our life! I took up some broad beans that I'd grown in newspaper pots to fill in the gaps where the slugs/pigeons had taken some.

Spuds in shredded paper and manured trenches
Saturday we decided to get some spuds in, tradition has it that they go in on Good Friday as this was the first holiday for the working class man when he was able to get the spuds in and the veg patch started. I have decided to try a new method of planting preparation this year to see if it makes much difference to the crop. I dug out trenches and filled them with a layer of shredded paper and well rotted manure, then in went the spuds before being covered up with soil.
As Easter is a bit earlier this year I decided to only put in my earlies (International Kidney, Belle de Fontenay and Winston) I'm going to give it a couple more weeks before I put in the maincrops as we could still have some bad frosts especially the way it's been lately!

Green Manure ... Phacalia Tancetifolia
I then dug in the green manure, I planted Phacalia Tancetifolia, a plant which is sown as a green manure, in a vacant patch of ground to prevent goodness in the soil being leached out by the rain. Before it gets too big and flowers, you dig it back into the soil so that it breaks down in the ground and deposits back all the goodness it has taken from the soil and it also creates a blanket cover to stop weeds growing on empty ground.The mad Strimming Dad

D's dad came up with us on Sunday and strimmed some of the grass, our mower seems to have given up the ghost so we had to use the petrol strimmer in the meantime, we only thought there would be enough time to go around each bed to define it and keep the main bits down but he was like something possessed and just went for it and never stopped. We'll have to invite them down sooner next time!!

On Monday I dug out the remaining leeks and prepared the bed for the French and Runner Beans, I dug the whole bed over to get rid of any perennial weed roots and then I dug trenches out where the bean poles will be going. Similar to the potato trenches I filled them with sheets of newspaper and composted manure, the idea with this is that it will help to retain the moisture in the soil during the hot summer, presuming we don't get flooded out like last year! Beans don't like to dry out when they are setting flowers otherwise they won't produce the bean pods, so hopefully this method should help keep them in peak condition.
I did a very quick video on Sunday afternoon just to show what it looks like now and maybe I'll do another in a month or two to see the progress, excuse the comedy wurzle impersonation at the beginning, I don't know what came over me, maybe too much exercise!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roses and beans.

The broad beans that I sowed into some of my newspaper pots have developed really well. The above picture is about a fortnight old so they are now well established little plants and probably ready to go into the plot just as soon as I can get there! When they do go into the ground the entire pot will be planted and the newspaper will just rot away leaving the plant to romp away without any transplant shock. I went mad the other day and spent £2 on a new rose from Woolworths, I love allotments that have a mixture of ornamental and veg and places like Wilkos or woolies are great for these sorts of bargains, I'm going to take regular pics of this rose throughout the year to show how it does and see if cheap roses like this do any good. I have a large bed at the front of the plot which already has one rose in it (from a cutting I did last year) and a Globe artichoke which I love for it's architectural leaves. so I threw 'Woolie rose' in there (with lots of manure and TLC!)
You can also see in the above pic the autumn sown broad beans in the 2nd bed back. They're doing well despite a couple of casualties either from slugs or pigeons. Once I get up to the plot with my bean plants from home I'll fill in the gaps.

Behind that bed is the remains of my leeks, these were a smaller crop than I wanted but due to me not potting on the seedlings earlier than I should have, I'm thinking of starting them in a seed bed at home this year rather than seed trays and then moving them up to the plot once they're tall enough.

We haven't manage a trip up to the plot for a few weeks now, a combination of appalling weather and us spending time decorating at home. D's parents are coming to us for Easter and we stupidly told them that we would have a nicely decorated bedroom for them to stay in so we've been slogging our guts out to try and finish it. One of the joys of living in a house built in the 1800's is wonky walls and crumbling plaster, so normal decorating takes twice as long to do. I mustn't grumble really, this will be our third year in this house and we've been very lazy in our restoration approach, gardening just seems to get in the way!!

Anyway, Easter is the BIG weekend for working at the allotment, last year was amazing weather at Easter but then this year it falls much earlier, so fingers crossed for a bit of sun. We plan to do lots there anyway and the first potatoes have GOT to be put in on Good Friday (it's gardening law!!)