Saturday, 28 April 2007

'oh no' ... [said Lola .. 'what' said Charlie]

... it's not only a meanie, but it's now had babies .. hundreds of meanie specks now floating around.

Tried to tell the taddies that they need to eat the meanie specks, but they seem a little lacking in the grey matter and spend most of their time chasing duck weed around the pond instead of eating it - it's a wonder they have grown at all.

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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

oh no, it's a meanie ...

Was so excited about my boatman, but it turns out that he is a bit of a thug and likes to eat tadpoles and other pond inhabitants ... rethinking his welcome now and may try and catch him at the weekend ...

Sunday, 22 April 2007


well I never, yesterday when I visited the lottie I discovered a skip had been delivered to the car park. Seems it was filled on the first day (Friday), but there is an area next to it, inviting us to pile up unwanted stuff.

The car park has become a bit of a tipping ground recently for what looks like household rubbish, vs allotment rubbish, so presumably it is a one off to tidy up the area.

I donated a wooden box of rubbish left over from the ratty shed, a paint tin (contents unknown), the hessian cocoa bean sacks (which I'm sure attracted my mouse / rat), a bucket full of broken glass, and old window frame and various bits of rusty barbed wire and metal. I took it down to the car park in the wheelbarrow, picking up the rubbish that seems to be taking over the lane, and a mouse (definitely a mouse) jumped out of the wheelbarrow ... hmm, wonder if he was in the sacks after all.

April update

Took my sweet potato slips to the lottie to pot up today. I potted up 7 in total, they look really good and I have high hopes for them. There are about another 10 slips still forming / growing on the potatoes back at home.

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My folks paid a surprise visit last week to help dig the sweet potato bed and I think they were stunned at just how weed ridden the ground is - especially when we'd managed to fill a wheelbarrow after just digging two half rows. I spent a few hours digging it again today - it has a carpet buried under 4 inches of earth and under that are the remains of several fires. Today I dug up two steel toe caps - perhaps the strangest thing I've dug up yet.

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My rocket potatoes have finally broken through the surface (will have to watch for frosty weather now). Not quite sure what's happened but my lovely straight lines look a little wonky now.

Jerusalem artichokes have also appeared - I'm excited to see what the flowers will be like, although a little intimidated by the height they are supposed to reach - currently they are at the back of the pea bed. I'm hoping the peas will have finished before the artichokes start to shade them. By coincidence I learnt today that they are called 'sunchokes' in the USA. My globe artichokes have set their first fruit / flower. They are a little crowded and I had thought to move one to the pond and leave it to flower, but it may be a little late now. I need to do it fast if I'm going to do it.

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One of last years globe artichokes, saved for the wildlife: 2007-04-21  Allotment  023 copy

Planted out my cauliflowers which were starting to look a little ill. I'm hoping they were pot bound and that they will spring back into life. Their leaves were yellowing slightly and looking a little limp. I've put them under netting to protect from pigeons and butterflies. OH looked at them and the cabbages distainfully and asked 'who's going to eat those' ... 'maybe me' I said (he doesn't think I should grow anything he doesn't like).

I have my fingers crossed for rain next week - the ground is so hard and dry and 3.5 of my waterbutts are now empty ... we were graced with 5 mins of very light rain this afternoon which didn't even manage to change the colour of the paths. I can't believe the difference between this year and last.

All eight courgettes have germinated (of course) and are growing very strongly. Note to self - start them later next year.

Butternuts have appeared, along with the Baby Bear, Sunshine, Winter Festival, Jack Be Little, Turks Turbans (home saved seed, so not sure what I'll get !) and Dill's Atlantic Giant.

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Carrots; 2007-04-21  Allotment  043 copy

Sowed my Crystal Lemon Cucumbers today. Have heard really good things about them and can't wait to try them. Unfortunately they are the only variety I'll have this year (the flippin mouse ate my Bella).

Here are my melons - will be preparing their bed next month: 2007-04-21  Allotment  034 copy

OH went to B&Q today and finally got some breeze blocks, which we'll use to raise the greenhouse and give more growing height. I'm hoping that he'll visit the lottie next weekend and get them laid, so that we can start to glaze it - at the rate everything is growing I think I'll be needing it soon.

The pond is teeming with life and the surface is now rippling non-stop as the tadpoles nibble anything in sight.
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I've also got snails, shrimp like thingys, damselfly lavae (I think), underwater woodlice type things, leeches and loads of pond skaters. The skaters are so comical, I could watch them for hours - when they get too close to each other they have a little scrappy fight, which seems to involve one biting the others leg before flipping it over - a bit like wrestling. The loser scuttles off - usually into someone elses territory and it starts again !

My most exciting and newest visitor is a boatman.

Today a tiny frog was hiding amongst the iris, but sadly he was camera shy.

Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me ..

When I took over the allotment the previous tennant had planted an apple tree next to the path at the entrance to the lottie ... I have no idea why, maybe they didn't realise it would grow branches.

Anyway, last year there was just too much going on to bother with it, so I chopped off the branches obstructing the path and I left it to produce apples. I planted my potatoes under its branches and they seemed to fair OK. The apples themselves were rather sharp tasting - granny smith taste, but with the look of golden delicious.

This year I've been giving the apple tree a lot of thought and had wanted to try and relocate it to the bottom of the plot but when I started to dig it out, unfortunately the graft was just too weak and it snapped.

OH popped up for a visit towards the end of the day - "see anything different" I asked ... "um, those logs weren't there before" ... no, they have been there for 3-4 weeks ... "um, that bush down the bottom looks different" ... no, that's the blueberry and it's unchanged.

It's a much bigger change I hinted ... blank look. Sigh, sometimes I wonder...

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

This time last year ....

... it SNOWED !!!!

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Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes

I spent today planting my main crop potatoes - am I the only person who finds planting potatoes such a chore ? It takes ages, moving all that earth, then wrestling with the paper, barrowing the manure up the plot, then moving the flippin earth back again. AND I had to dig up the leeks to make space for them.

I've been laughing at my lottie neighbour who went to a potato day and came away with ten different varieties - he has 100 potatoes in total to plant (well actually 95 as his step son accidentally ate 5 for tea) and is desperately digging to try and make space for them all. I've been feeling quite smug that I've only got four varieties, but I actually counted how many I've planted this season - 10 x Charlotte, 10 x Pink Fir Apple, 31 x Rocket and 40 x Cara ... and 4 rockets still loitering around the greenhouse (2 cara were eaten by the meeces) - that's 95 in total ! Confessed this evening - put a smile on his face.

I don't want to see another potato for quite a while.

In between potato planting I also managed to move some rhubarb from the wild area to the end of the new strawberry bed.

Bought some more butternut squash seeds yesterday to replace the ones that were munched by the meeces. The pumpkins are through already, so hopefully the butternuts will be along shortly. Pricked out 40 poppies ... as another 350 glared at me from their tiny plant pot, along with the Ox Eye Daisies.

I've twisted off three of the sweet potato slips and put them into water to root - fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Control - we've reached base camp

OH spent the day at the lottie yesterday and managed to finish the greenhouse base - it looks brilliant (and is dead level !) Next job is to get some breeze blocks to give a little more growing height inside and then glaze it.

... honestly anyone would think it was hard work .... 2007-04-09  Greenhouse Base Complete  022  copy

Whilst OH was preparing the greenhouse base I was preparing the strawberry patch which is directly in front of the greenhouse. Got the area dug over (no mean feat at that end of the plot) and transplanted the strawberries from their temporary home further up the plot.

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One of my neighbours has their strawberries in impressive lines, so I thoughts I'd copy them and before I knew it my strawberry patch had turned into a strawberry bed ! We were both a bit speechless once they were all planted.

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Need to make a cage to protect them from the birds next - we didn't get even one last year ...
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Sunday, 8 April 2007


The allotment site is bursting with activity, think the sun has brought them all out ... but no sign yet of my phantom lottie neighbour.

Things are really starting to progress - on closer inspection of the broadbean bed, I can now see that the resown beans are just pushing their way through the surface. This is good because I thought the mice had eaten them all again, but it's bad because in despair I decided to resow at home ... so now I have about 25 surplus beans ...2007-04-07  Allotment  012  copy

This photo was taken a couple of days ago and today the flowers have all opened !! I also appear to have had a visit from a bean weevil as the leaves are now all nibbled around the edges.

The forget-me-nots have turned blue ! I knew I was not imagining things

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Finally we have found some stone to edge the pond with - it's going to look great when it's been bedded in.2007-04-07  Allotment  014  copy

The frogspawn has now developed into tadpoles - I look to have two different types: one is a very bright red-brown, with an obvious head / tail, and the other is a drabber brown, with a thicker tail and less obvious head. I'd like to think that the latter are newts, but it's probably a different frog.

Need to get the pond area finished before they turn into frogs and start hopping around.

The potting shed is bursting at the seams - I've got quite a nice turn over of plants / seeds now. I've been hardening off the hispi cabbages and today they were planted out under a fruit net cloche to keep the dratted pigeons away. The cauliflowers will go out soon hopefully, followed by the sunflowers. That should give a bit more room for my squash / pumpkins.

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I know that I was only going to grow two courgettes this year, but I've ended up sowing eight (!) BECAUSE I'm growing the tri-colour balls this year, but you can't tell which are which, so I've had to sow the contents of the packet and will have to nurture them until I can tell them apart, but I am not, I repeat NOT, keeping them all.

The apline strawberries have just started to flower again 2007-04-01  Allotment  015 copy

Here's my latest project:
2007-04-01  Allotment  025 copy it's been filled with 80l of multi-purpose compost, 75l of river sand and 25l of John Innes No. 1. It is currently covered with a large piece of plastic and has 7 different varieties of carrots (although I was a little heavy handed with the watering can and suspect that my nice sections have all merged)

Violas enjoying the sunshine along with the rest of us:
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Slip sliding away

here's a photo of some of my sweet potato slips
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I need to seek advice on how and when to remove them from the potatoes. They will then need to go into water to develop roots. Once they've got roots I'll pot them up and keep them inside until they are planted out at the very end of May.

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At the moment it looks as though I'll get 17 if they all survive - I think last year I planted out 15 and got quite a good crop. Unfortunately it's not just me and OH that find them irresistible - not sure if the holes are slugs or other creepies.

The bed they are going in this year has had manure stood on it for a while, so it should be nice and rich and will hopefully have the new greenhouse in front of it, so it should be toasty too. I'll plant them under black landscape material again (to keep the heat in and also let the rain in) and then leave them as long as I can resist.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Froggie Flash Gallery

Check out the new link to my new Froggie Chorus flash gallery ------>>>>>

I've got sunshine ..

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Normal service is resumed

Finally life seems to be back to normal - I spent all day at the lottie in the beautiful sunshine and got loads done. Considering that very little has been done recently, it is looking pretty good. I'm behind with my digging, but hopefully will catch up at Easter - weather permitting of course !

Strawberries which will go in the new fruit bed, once the greenhouse has been done (OH actually started on the base today)
2007-03-31 allotment 056 copy The parsley has overwintered extremely well
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wallflowers still going strong 2007-03-31 allotment 054 copy

Garlic - looking a little windburnt, I also think it may need feeding as its going a little yellow
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Foxglove - gorgous pink last year, hoping for the same this year (can you see the spider) 2007-03-31 allotment 044 copy

Globe artichoke - gawd, it's huge. Its just had a birthday - now one year old
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One of the 13 broadbeans that the meeces decided to leave for me ... it annoys me everytime I look at the bed - huge gaps everywhere. I've filled the gaps with new beans, but the meeces just come for seconds. This time I've put beans into cells and I've taken them home to germinate in safety 2007-03-31 allotment 037 copy undiscovered peas 2007-03-31 allotment 088 copy

The rhubarb is making an appearance 2007-03-31 allotment 073 copy

This year I'm intending to introduce a lot more flowers into the allotment, especially around the pond to try and give a little protection / shelter to whatever decides to move in. I've sown some cyclamen,but nothing has happened, so I bought this plant a couple of weeks ago. It has the most gorgeous markings on its leaves - not sure whether I've missed the flowers.

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Cowslips - one of my favourite flowers. Again I've sown some seeds, but nothing has happened with them yet. Got 6 plants for £1.50 to give some colour down the herb path.

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Pink forget-me-knots ... I'm sure they were blue last year .... 2007-03-31 allotment 021 copy

this is the lottie next door to me, which has not been worked since I took on mine (over a year now) ... any takers ... 2007-03-31 allotment 090 copy 2007-03-31 allotment 089 copy

lottie on the other side: 2007-03-31 allotment 092 copy
and mine 2007-03-31 allotment 094 copy

Weeds !

If weed growing was an olympic sport, I would most definitely be the winner. Here's a selection of my worst: bindweed, thistle, bramble and a tiny bit of couch - managed to fill another wheelbarrow full this afternoon. Its quite difficult disposing of it - most of it has gone on bonfires recently, but I've nothing left to burn, so am piling it up on the old rat-barn base. Not ideal, but I'm hoping it'll dry in the sun and die. There has been some debate on one of the lottie forums recently about similar roots - the thistle and the bindweed are practically indistinguishable at the moment ...

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Now this is a very strange weed - it has an enormous tap root and from memory has a pale lilac flower. It's coming through from the allotment at the bottom of mine. I'll sray it with round up, but as with all of my nasties, it usually makes a super recovery. 2007-03-31 allotment 060 copy

seedling progress ...

marigolds:2007-03-31 allotment 012 copy

sweetcorn - really needs uncovering, but the meeces'll have 'em: 2007-03-31 allotment 010 copy

Tomatoes, Peppers & Aubergines: 2007-03-31 allotment 004 copy

Cabbages: 2007-03-31 allotment 002 copy

Leeks - bought, not sown: 2007-03-31 allotment 003 copy

Remains of pea bed - left had fleece, right had polythene tunnel:2007-03-31 allotment 015 copy