Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mad dogs, Englishmen and the odd duck

well having said that I was going to the lottie this weekend come hail, rain or sunshine, I did indeed get all three weather elements and a few others thrown in too.

I had good intentions of being up early, but having not got back from dancing until 3am it was more of a mid-morning start.

What was left of the morning started promisingly with sunshine. I started by potting up the vegetable seedlings that I bought last weekend at Hunmanby ... Nick next door says its cheating, so I told him to shut up. I got some Musselbrough Leeks, Red Drumhead Cabbage, Kohl Rabi and Snowball Cauliflowers. I potted them up inside the glass greenhouse which sounded like it was going to blow over at any second as it has so many missing panes of glass. I've got some spare pieces - they are not quite the same size, but will do, but it was too windy to tackle the roof, so maybe next weekend I'll have another try. Supposedly we are due to have frost tonight - hope my seedlings are OK.

Nick next door had his shed broken into yesterday - they have kicked in the bottom of the door and tried to smash the lock. It looks like all they have taken is an old whiskey bottle that is filled with some sort of vinegar ... hopefully it made them ill !! They had a look in my brick greenhouse too, but don't appear to have taken anything or done any damage.

Next job was to pot up two more blueberry bushes. They are now happily sat in some rather fetching black pots from Wilkinsons ...however, I'm almost positive on reflection that the compost I found in the brick greenhouse wasn't eracious, but for acquatic plants ... doh ! I blame the wind & rain - its very distracting when its driving into your face.

My fruit twigs look to be springing into life and I also stumbled across what I think is a blackcurrant bush that was planted and forgotten about some time last year. My crab apple tree looks as though it is developing blossom and the brambly apple tree looks none the worse for being transplanted. The raspberries are greening up rapidly and my rhubarb is slowly growing.

No sign of the sweetpeas yet, but the daffodils are in full flower and were bobbing happily in the gale. Looks as though the cowslips will be in flower next week. There are lots of baby violas in the Jerusalem Artichoke bed that I need to transplant somewhere.

The pond has frogspawn, not as much as last year though, wonder if I'll get anymore. No sign of any frogs - last weekend we went by a pond that we used to visit as children, it was teaming with frogs. I'm sure when we were children the pond used to have lots of newts but I didn't see any.

Bracing the rain, I was determined to plant my early potatoes (Arron Pilots). They have chitted really well and I decided to give them some space in the brick bed which has very rich soil. After a few minutes the rain turned to hail ... very hard and cold hail !!! I managed to get them all tucked up but then decided enough was enough, called it a day and went home to have a shower and thaw out.

photos later

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Spring is in the air !

Well I was up bright and breezy this morning and as promised went to the Heeley & District Allotment Committee meeting. Topic of the day was the proposed Eco-Building which will replace the existing shop and shed. The shop is a metal portacabin type affair and the shed is a fabulous wooden structure that's sadly seen better days.

The Eco-Building sounds very exciting and if I understood the sales pitch correctly it will be the first of its type in Sheffield. The plans are at a very early stage and it sounds like there will be a lot of fund raising needed to help compliment any grants that we can get, but the next stage is to get planning approval. The building sounds quite cutting edge, but I think people were more excited by the prospect of an onsite toilet :)

If you have successfully applied for a grant or been involved with fundraising, I'd be really grateful if you could get in touch with advice. It looks as though I'll be joining the committee next month as an official society member (run I hear you shout).

An hour and a half later and I made my way back to my allotment. Job number one of the day was to fix a bolt to the inside of the door - it has made me feel a lot more secure and comfortable.

My garlic has finally deigned to make an appearance, still I'm not complaining as it took ages to appear last year too - hope the bulbs are as big and tasty :)

IMG_0424 copy

I've been very busy today, I've sown some broadbeans - they are terribly late, but I'm hopeful that they will catch up and at least give me a small crop. I popped 8 greyhouse cabbage seeds into the propergator too - OH doesn't like them, but I quite enjoy growing them. I dug up the last of the potatoes, they've been in a little too long and ideally should have been lifted a couple of weeks ago, but of course the snow had other plans. Jenny gave me some leeks, so we'll have some leek & potato soup later in the week.

I've finally potted up my Darron Blueberry Bush that was a Christmas gift - it looks very well and has lots of new growth.

blueberry copy

blueberry2 copy

Finally I've sown my sweetpeas. Ideally I would have liked to have started them over the winter, but never mind, there's always next year ! (I know, I know ... I keep saying that, but one of these seasons, I'm going to be so organised). I've planted them at the end of two beds and started a frame for them to grow up - I'll finish stringing it next time I go up and tidy it up a bit.

IMG_0468 copy

I've been given some more raspberry canes by one of my work colleagues. He gave me the original canes that fruit in early summer. I'm hoping that these are the same variety, as they are bigger than the other variety I have. I realised last season that I'd planted my rows far too close, so today I dug up the second row and repositioned the path and then replanted the canes, incorporating the new ones. It looks quite good. To make room for the canes, I had to move the Brambly Apple tree, so it is now in situ where the plum tree used to be.

I've also started to make a frame to restrain the canes - they go bonkers in the summer and you can't get near them !

IMG_0462 copy

Hopefully the apple tree won't suffer too much from being moved

Apple copy

I surprised myself by digging over the end of the allotment - not terribly thoroughly, but enough that its been raked and tidied. It needs some new paths putting in now that the raspberry canes have moved. I need to give some thought to what I'm going to put into my beds this year.

The strawberries in the greenhouse are looking very healthy - the ones outside in last years bed desperately need sorting out and tidying up. Hope they are as good as last years - we have nearly used the very last jar of strawberry jam, which has been absolutely gorgeous (even if I do say so myself !).

IMG_0457 copy

Let this be a warning to you all - I have been seduced by a newspaper plant offer.

It looked too good to be true ... and guess what ! it was.

The offer ? Three patio fruit trees for £25 - a conference pear, a golden delicious & a red apple (I've forgotten the variety already, doh !) It took ages for them to arrive - not least because the company had to call to see why my bank had declined their request to take payment (of course I'd written off for them before my handbag was stolen). Anyway, they finally arrived ... in the smallest box I've ever seen.

To say I was disappointed would be a major understatement ... the dratted things are not trees, they are twigs and bloody small twigs at that LOL. I think the tallest is nearly as long as a ruler.

fruit trees copy

To rub salt into my wounds, when I went to B&Q yesterday to get compost and pots to put them in, I discovered that I could have bought three 4ft patio fruit trees for £30. Sigh ... you have been warned - just say NO !! Bloody things better grow now ... I'm watching you !!

IMG_0459 copy

My seed potatoes are chitting away nicely at home - they are on the kitchen table, so far the cats have shown no interest in them. I think if the weather stays good this week then I will plant my Arron Pilots next weekend. People keep gasping when I tell them this, but I'm sure earlies are normally in before March - after all sometimes Easter is mid-March, which is when mains go in.

The artichokes are already in full swing ... I've heard that if you eat them when they are very small you don't suffer with the awful choke.

Artichoke copy

I went to the library yesterday to pick up a book that I've had on order, its called 'building a shed'. I wish I had more time at the lottie to get everything done. I still need to find wood for the new potting shed, but I've pretty much fixed the design in my head - need to remember to take the tape measure with me next time and then start to dismantle the old potting shed.

This is last years salad, it has recovered from the snow & frost and is looking quite healthy ... I'm surprised the pigeons haven't descended - maybe they are too bsuy eating everyone elses brassicas.

IMG_0428 copy

The daffodils are growing nicely, their cheerful faces will soon be adorning the plot:

daffodils copy

Of course the prettiest thing on the plot is a weed - I'm sure this is the dreaded bog plant, or some other aptly titled thing. It a tap root the length of England - fortunately it just appears at the very end of the plot, on the border with Ken.

bog plant copy

I went to have a look at the pond with half a thought to remove some of the pondweed, but spotted this fella croaking around ... later he found a friend ... aww. Suspect next time I go up there will be some frogspawn, so the pondweed thinning will have to wait.

frog copy

I've really enjoyed my day today, wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next weekend. This was the plot after the snow a couple of weeks ago:

snowy plot copy

I really must cut down the teasels... they look so beautiful though

Teasel copy