Sunday, 20 March 2011

Dig, dig, dig !!!

Lovely weekend for pottering around the lottie. Almost caught the sun on Saturday.

I feel like I've dug half of England, but blatently didn't as there is tonnes more digging to still be done on the plot - its very nearly killed me !

I've dug up 4 wheelbarrows full of bindweed - there was a surprising amount in the old strawberry beds. I wonder sometimes if by digging over my beds whether I'm just making it easier for it to shoot across the plot. I've also taken out my three dead artichokes - they were riddled with bindweed too. When I get around to planting out the replacements, I'll have to give some thought as to where they will go.

A few years ago I bought one of those mini-greenhouses and promptly forgot all about it. In an attempt to keep my seeds safe I suggested to OH that we put it into the attic. OH wouldn't even entertain the thought tho ... and sure enough my seeds came a cropper that very night .. anyone want a very bad kitten ? She has walked through my tomatoes & peppers and mixed them all up and also mixed up all of the cucumber labels grrrrrrrrrrrr. No idea what I'll get now - if anything.

Anyway, I get distracted where was I - oh yes the MINI-greenhouse. So plan b is to erect it inside the glass greenhouse. Off I trot on Saturday and unwrap the box ... it quickly becomes aparent it isn't a mini-greenhouse it's a bloody walk-in one (no wonder OH was not very happy LOL). I've never been much good with measurements :)

So plan c !! Erect it and put it outside - after several attempts to put dratted thing together, Linda from next door takes pity on me and comes to direct .. hurrah ! shortly after we have it up and the cover on. It is quite fragile - the joints are made from plastic and the first incident happened just as we'd finished when Linda stumbled and almost fell through the liner, bending a strut and snapping a joint. It was a very funny moment and should be easily fixed with some black tape.

It surived the night, but didn't look right where it was so I decided to move it in front of the glass greenhouse. Of course that involved more digging (of course !!) Another 99 hours later and the second incident happened. The wind caught it and blew it over snapping most of the other joints and even ripping the cover a little. Darn it. Need a lot of flipping tape now. It is now secured with 4 guy ropes and several bricks. Hope it is still there when I go up next !! Can't really complain, it only cost £20 !



My potatoes have been chitting on the back seat of my car - the only safe place with that dratted kitten about. As I need my back seats back, I decided to plant them today. Of course I had to finish digging the beds first (of course !!) The new double bed that I've made in front of the greenhouse was big enough to take 35 seed potatoes: 15 Maris Piper, 15 Vivaldi & 5 Roosters.

Having failed yet again in my efforts to get any manure delivered I had a quick google and discovered it was possible to use chicken manure ... hurrah. Now everything I've read says to leave your soil for one week before planting after treating with chicken pellets, but I'm very very busy at the moment, so it all had to happen today - I was careful to ensure the seed potatoes didn't come into contact with the pellets.


I know some of you will be thinking that it's perhaps a bit early for some of them, but I'll only have time for fleeting visits over the next couple of weeks. My main concern is whether planting them opposite the greenhouse is a good idea as I've had blight in previous seasons. Oh well, only time will tell. I meant to put some comfrey leaves in with them, but forgot ... doh !


Here's the view from the other end - it's on my hit list for digging ... yippee !


Last job of the day was to sow some more seeds:

- Ghost pumpkin
- Sunshine squash
- Marina di Chioggia squash
- Winter festival squash

First crop of the year - crumble or rhubarb sponges ?


I'm feeling quite pleased with myself, but am very very tired now. Next job is to dig over the right hand slim beds which are for the strawberries. I'll save that for another day !


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

aarr'gghhh ... there b' treasure thar

Finally gotten arse in gear :)

Been to get my Humax potting compost this evening and sown:
- Roma Tomatoes
- Green Zebra Tomatoes
- Gardener's Delight Tomatoes
- Tigerella Tomatoes
- Celariac (Monarch)
- Lemon Crystal Cucumber
- Marketmore Cucumber
- Burpless Cucumber
- Musselburgh Leeks
- Marigolds - La Bamba
- Peppers - long red mechani something or other

I've been tidying my several carrier bag fulls of seeds - I've finally thrown out those runner beans that I really don't like and those onion seeds that I'm obviously never going to grow. I've discovered that I have 9 packets of beetroot (oops !), 5 packets of cauliflowers (at least I managed two varieties), hundreds and hundreds of herbie things and several thousand packets of tomatoes. I'm down to one carrier bag now. Much better :)

Got some Rooster potatoes from Wilkos - they can join the Maris Piper & Vivaldi's that I currently appear to be chitting on the back seat of my car ! On a promise for some PFA's too ... hopefully - really must get ass in gear !!

Good news from the greenhouse ... ta'dar !!! Here is my spinach. What to do with it now ? It's a bit cold for it to go outside ??

Other exciting news ... got my first dibber !!! dib dib dib :) You have no idea how exciting it is !! also got some big collar thingies to go under my strawberries.

Hoping to build a mini-greenhouse later to put into the attic to start my seeds off. Foolishly I forgot to bring home the plastic covers for my trays and the flippin' kitten has already walked through the leeks and the marigolds. Blommin' thing will be going to the shelter if it's not careful !!!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

No allotmenting this weekend. I've been on a 'mini-break' with some girlfriends up in Gunnerside.

Every field had a dry stone barn - apparently the local farmers receive grants to maintain them - they are very impressive.

We managed a walk to the Tea Rooms at Muker, where disappointingly they'd had a rush on the highly recommended Welsh Rarebit, so we had to settle for homemade tomato soup and a slice of cake, which made me dream of Summer.

This is St Mary's Church in Muker:

This chap, Horace Bagster Wilson, was once the Vicar at the church - great name

We managed a gentle stroll back to the King's Head pub in Gunnerside and discovered they were selling guest ales: Guzzler (York Brewery) and Park Rash (Yorkshire Dales Brewery), so we sampled both - well it would be rude not to wouldn't it. Sausage & mash for tea followed by apple crumble, but next time I'll be having the cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce !!!!

On the way home, we stopped off at The Fat Sheep craft shop in Reeth and I got a lovely print - the original picture was felted and the print has the appearance of texture. It is by a local artist, called Hazel Bryce. OH is going to frame it for me this week hopefully :)

Then it was onto Richmond where we stopped for lunch at The Station - a toasted cheese scone, with Lacey's cheese & some pickle. Yum !!

We could have done with a bit more sunshine, but on the whole it's been a pretty idyllic weekend.

Back to reality now ! must must must get my seeds sown this week.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Hurrah ! the weather man was listening

Finally a lovely day ... and where have I spent the best part of it ... sat in yet another committee meeting ! Did we make any decisions or reach any conclusions ... don't be daft. Joy !!!!!!!! I had a walk around the site after the meeting with a friend to see the improvements that the allotment office have been making and have to say that when we are being charged £100 a plot I suspect they will not be able to get anyone foolish enough to take them on. They have chopped down lots of trees on plots - but left the stumps & roots !! I feel sorry for the office, things have been allowed to get so bad, that I'm not sure how they will turn it around. There is a lot to be said for being self-managed I think ...

I continued with my grand plan, taking up another two sets of paths and relaying them across the beds. Stupidly I tried to dig out the now dead artichokes with my lovely fork and have snapped that damn thing in two. So cross with myself. At least the beds are looking good. Took me a long time to dig out the bindweed - it is especially concentrated around the artichokes, so I'll have to have a think and come up with a plan to remove them. The newly created strawberry bed will need a through digging over, but I'm quite excited now - I can feel my enthusiasm returning. Got the two beds in front of the greenhouse to dig over still. Look at all that bare earth - lovely !!

Look at my new water butt to the right of the photo below, I'm very pleased with it - not bad for a fiver. Ideally I want to put it behind the greenhouse - possibly linking them - so I have 4 to feed the greenhouse in height of the season.


Here is the view from the other end - a few more nice days and I should be able to get most of my digging done.


The lesser spotted OH arrived mid-afternoon to help with fixing the broken pane of glass in the greenhouse. I realised once he'd arrived that the spare piece of glass that I have is actually the wrong size !!! doh ! so plan b) (I have a lot of those lately) was to cut down a piece of perspex. Thankfully I have a collection of several old and rusty saws just laid about - as you do. Somehow it became a two person job but the newly cut perspex is now in place and my greenhouse will hopefully start to heat up - just need to get rid of those pesky meeces now.

I shall be monitoring the weather forecast closely to find a nice day to get some manure delivered - hopefully in the next couple of weeks as weekends are a little busy at the moment. All things considered it is starting to take shape :)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

why does it always rain on me ...

Another bleak, cold and miserable day in Sheffield ... is it too much to expect a bit of sunshine ??

The grand plan - phase 1 !!

- Get rid of the strawberries from the greenhouse bed - check !
- Remove the hinged boxes.
- Add manure to all of the beds (somewhat lacking)
- Convert into a squash bed


The blueberries are budding up again:


Remember our friend with the potato mountain - I've dug up some Jerusalem Artichokes to give to them ... might not mention the windy aspects he heh. Hopefully they can squeeze them in somewhere.


This is the rhubarb that I left uncovered:


and this is the rhubarb that I've been forcing for the last week - what a difference .... so I've decided to force it all .... what with us liking rhubarb an' all hahah. Looks pretty. Wonder if it'll be sweeter ?


As the frogs don't seem to be back yet, I took the opportunity to thin the pondweed in the pond - it's been 'draining' for a week, so I'll probably add it to the compost heap tomorrow. Sadly I discovered a dead frog in the pond - can only assume it drowned under the ice :(

The yellow flag iris really need splitting - now would be the ideal time, as I don't have any frogspawn yet. Soooooo many jobs, soooooo little time !


I'm rather surprised to see a water lilly about to burst into life ... maybe it's decided to flower early to beat the tadpoles


The only thing growing in the greenhouse currently is a mint plant, so I've potted up some of the new shoots. I've resown the artichokes and broadbeans that the meeces have scoffed. Also sown some cat grass and spinach. I need to get organised and have a serious sowing day - gotta get the broken pane of glass replaced in the greenhouse (got a piece, just need OH to come and do it for me) and as I have a resident mouse, I need to think about raising the trays off the ground. Really wish I had the other greenhouse up :(


Here is grand plan phase 2. I've decided to change my bed layout. I spent a couple of hours today taking up the paths and digging over the beds - frightening how much bindweed there is. I've now got a big square bed at the back of the plot and a long narrow bed at the front. The narrow bed at the front will be my new strawberry bed - seems to make sense as the few strawberry plants that are already in residence gave me more strawberries that the dedicated ones. I might have to take a day off work to get my manure delivered / shovelled, then I can get last year's strawberry runners planted up. Hmm, still deciding whether to plant them through landscape fabric. I definitely need a strawberry cage this year ! Another job LOL.


Thoroughly saturated with the horrid drizzel, I left the lottie mid-afternoon and headed for my favourite pet shop only to discover that this year they are not stocking Pink Fir Apple, International Kidney or Roosters ... what is the world coming too ! Looks like I'll have to have a trip to New Leaf (Garden Centre) instead.

and finally, a little kitten heaven ... Fergie is gradually growing in confidence and purred the night away when she found herself part of a Loki / Kinder sandwich earlier in the week on our bed :)