Friday, June 20, 2008

Reclaimed pergola

I've been wanting to do this for ages and we finally managed it. Our neighbour at home gave us a load of old wood for use on the allotment and we have constructed a pergola to sit under and admire all our hard work. When I say 'we' built it I of course mean 'D' built it with good advice and foreman skills from me!!!

I have said this before, and sometimes I sound like a broken record, but I do love allotment architecture that is made from old reclaimed and recycled materials, it is supposed to look a bit wonky and home-made, to me that is part of the charm and apart from a handful of nails it didn't cost a penny.

I still need to tidy up bits around it but we have already started the beds alongside it, on the left hand side is a 'Golden Hop' (Humulus lupulus Aureus) which is a prolific climber. On the right hand side I have planted a climbing rose that I produced from a cutting at home. It's a rose called Veilchenblau which I found rambling through our hedge at home when we first moved in , I have tweeked it out and trained it over an arch and I have taken this cutting from it. It produces the most beautiful small violet blue roses and it really is a beautiful rose. The other plants are Origano, Lavender and a couple of 'Gentle Hermione' rose cuttings.

The other rose cutting of 'Gentle Hermione' that I put up at the plot last year is blooming fantastically at the moment, much better than the parent plant that it came from at home.
I love taking rose cuttings because of all the plants I feel it is the one that feels like you are getting a lot for free by creating a new plant. They are so easy to do and I have done ll of mine by taking a stem approx. 18" long and literally just pushing it into a pot of compost and watering in. I don't use hormone powder or any other fancy tricks but I do quite a few so you cover for failures.

Our broad beans have been great this year, we've had masses and we've had some really imaginative meals using them like Brod bean pesto and pasta and broad bean,lemon and feta linguine (sublime!) They are tarting to slow down a bit now but still loads to go and if anyone is wondering about double podding then the answer is yes, do it, it does make a big difference to the taste.

The next crop to come through for us I think will be the new potatoes which I'm disappointed with so far as everyone else seems to have been having theirs for weeks. I think I plant them incorrectly to be honest. I put them into trenches and the put the soil back over them in a ridge so they were earthed up from day 1 and I haven't really earthed them up since. So in effect I have planted them too deep so they have taken longer to grow and flower. Oh well, you learn something new every day I suppose!

The days are drawing out more and more as we head to the peak of the hill tomorrow, I wish this time of year would last for ever.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Allotments really do EAT time!

When I first thought about taking on an allotment I really didn't appreciate how much time it takes. Now obviously it is relative to the amount of space you have and how low or high maintenance your plot is. I don't say this to put off anyone from taking on a plot but it really is (I think) one of the factors that make people give up plots so quickly. Our plot has large areas of grass, the paths and the space where we park the car are grass and this take a lot of my time in mowing but I do like the look of the grass but I must admit it is tempting to do away with some of it.
On the flip side of that though is the fact that when I'm at the plot on my own I disappear into a place of my own. Our allotment site is tucked away behind housing estates and next to a railway line which doesn't sound idylic but it is sufficently private enough that it's like a hidden oasis.

One of the jobs I did in my 5 hour marathon session on Monday was putting in the leeks, a job that I find really nice to do. For leek planting virgins it couldn't be easier, you make a hole with a dibber, drop in a leek and pour in some water to settle it and that's it, no filling in with soil or anything else, it really must be the easiest veg ever to plant.
Leeks in holes, Gladioli in background
The parsnips that I chitted in the tupperware tub are doing really well, I spent ages hand weeding the bed as last year we fell behind with weeding and I really do want to keep things tidy. I also thinned the carrots which is why they look a bit bedraggled in the picture!!!
Parsnips and Carrots

Generally things are looking great and we've just had our first crop of broad beans which were fab. Loads more to go in but it's filling up nicely!