Saturday, 30 April 2011

I'm sure it's summer really

The lottie is looking very pretty, but it is desperately dry. The pond is missing about a foot of water and I've almost emptied one of my waterbutts already watering the greenhouse.

Germinating my sweetcorn at home was a good idea - all 45 have now germinated, they are looking great ... have to keep reminding myself it is still only April - they'll stay in the greenhouse until at least mid-May. I'm really short on plant pots as I used a lot for the plant sale last year, so I've had to resort to recycling plastic cups !

I've also got around 100 beans germinating in plastic cups in the attic at home ... only I forgot to put drainage holes into them doh !

Here's my melon - it is looking very healthy and started to grow, so I've potted on into a bigger pot.

Needing to make some space, I decided to plant some stuff into the greenhouse borders - the season really feels to have got going early this year. Here is my pepper:

... and a couple of cucumbers - surprisingly I've only lost one to date - well if you don't count the 8 that didn't germinate !

Nick suggested that I'll have better results with my aubergine if I give it plenty of ventilation, so I've placed it in front of the vents ... will be interesting to see if it makes a difference:

Some of my squashes - the third sowing has proved successful thank goodness - some of them are really starting to romp away:

Oh dear, a very sad looking globe artichoke .... c'mon buddy, I'm rooting for you, you can do it !! In the meantime, thank goodness for Waitrose - we had some chargrilled artichokes with garlic, chilli & oil for tea yesterday - truly delicious !

The mint is making the greenhouse smell mintilicious :)
I am beginning to regret not containing it in a pot tho ...

My peas ... whooohooo !! Hurrah. They've not been eaten by the meeces or the pigeons. I've made them a super pigeon proof cage today - hopefully it won't be a human proof cage, like it was last season !

This is my spinach - the variety is Bordeaux. I'm hoping it's not going to bolt, but with the hot spell we're currently experiencing it's probably unavoidable. Looks like it's going to have red stems. We eat tonnes of spinach, so hope it is successful .. it's not looking like the spinach we buy in the supermarket tho:

My beetroot seedlings are just coming through - red and yellow. Must remember to keep watering them:

My garlic is looking pretty amazing, if not a bit leek like ... can't wait until it's ready to harvest:

My potatoes have all started pushing through the soil ... I may earth them up tomorrow, but they've put on so much growth they'll probably suffer if we get any frosts:

Most of my herbs made it through the winter - this is lemon balm and green sage:

I love that there are always flowers in bloom at different times around the lottie - it not only brightens the place up, but brings in the wildlife too:

Bluebells in the UK are in full bloom - the road verges and woodlands are glowing with their dazzling colour:

How amazing is this - my sponsorship total for my 26 mile walk in aid of Breast Cancer is now at £570 - I'm completely overwhelmed with everyones generosity of spirit ! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

nope, not even a tenuous link to allotmenting or gardening !

But I'm sure you'll forgive the diversion ... I'm taking part in The MoonWalk London 2011, which takes place during May and raises money for Breast Cancer research and support.

For those of you who are not familiar with The Moonwalk, it is a 26 mile walk - it starts at midnight and thousands of women and a few brave men will walk through the night ... in our bras !! (yes, even the men). I believe we will follow the London Marathon course ... in a much more sedate fashion of course.

I'm walking with a couple of friends and we've yet to decorate said bras ... am waiting for some inspiration. As the walk takes place during the night and May is not well known for heatwaves, I may be recommending fashioning something out of fake fur LOL !!

I've raised over £300 so far and I believe my employer is going to give me an additional £150 !! Wow wow wow. I'm hoping to reach £500 and am well on target.

I've set up an online donation site with JustGiving .. feel free to sponsor me if you feel so inclined .. I've added the link at the bottom.

OH and I went to the Mumbles for the long Easter weekend and I managed to get a couple of 10 mile practice walks in along the coast - what an amazingly beautiful part of the world ... I'd recommend it if you get the chance to visit ... I could have walked forever with this sort of scenery :)

One of the many secluded bays - accessible by dingy / kayak only !

The daisies were loving the heat-wave that is almost an annual event now in the UK during April. Lovely to see so many butterflies and beautiful countryside flowers enjoying the sunshine:

Many thanks !

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Not even Easter yet ...

Finally out of jobs to do, I've had to turn my attention to the final big dig. I'm in unchartered territory ! The soil is dreadfully compacted and the area where we've had a couple of big fires is totally barren - I think I'll have to give it some serious feed. Yet again I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself :)

This is the view from the other end of the bed, with the compost heap behind me. I reckon I've got a full weekend of digging left to do.

Yesterday I finished digging over the top bed - I still need to put paths in, but at least the hard work is done:

I've also weeded the brick bed and under the jungle of weeks I discovered some of last years onions !

In the greenhouse things are going quite well - only one cucumber casualty so far ... no sign of my crystal lemon yet.

A day trip to Whitby on Friday with OH's nieces resulted in 12 Ailsa Craig tomato plants ... nearly double the size of mine ... and best of all, I definitely know what variety they are :)

I germinated my sweetcorn at home and they are nearly all through - hope I haven't made the wrong decision moving them to the lottie. Hope the meeces leave them alone:

I uncovered the compost heap this morning to discover that a little mouse has been munching his way around a pumpkin. Said little mouse / vole was darting about looking very surprised to see me. Still I'd rather he munch his way around my compost heap than munch his way through my greenhouse, right ?

I've potted up some mint and need to find a spot outside for it. I love mint tea and minty buttery potatoes ... slurp ... wonder when those potatoes will appear. Nick's were planted the same weekend and have been poking above the soil for a week - we've concluded that mine were planted much deeper.

Spare seedlings ... just in case ! Celariac, fennel & kohl rabi. They are all doing quite well in the ground so far, but you never know when a flying rat or dratted slug might appear.

Outside, things are blossoming - this is the 'rogue' tree behind the greenhouse. Last year it produced two apples - yes, two ! Nick pointed out that it had canker on two of it's larger branches, so after lopping them off, I'm left with just two blossoms ! Hmm ...

At least my bramley apple is covered in blossom - I hope that the tree does better than last year, which was a little dismal. I love Apple blossom, it is so pretty. The crab apple is also in full flower - alas I now think it is a 'flowering crab apple' vs a 'crab apple' tree ... it would explain why I've not yet had any fruit ! I may move it next season to the pond area - at least I'll be able to admire it.

My blueberries are budding up nicely - think at the end of the season I'll need to think about pruning them.

My dwarf aquilegia is looking fabulous:

My lupin gets better each year - Nick asked me what colour it is, but I have no idea ! Guess we'll find out soon enough - I've promised to save him some seed:

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Boy I've been busy this weekend ...

... I've been very, very busy in the greenhouse potting up and sowing more seeds.

Here are my numerous and plentiful broadbeans - all three of them LOL. Still, at least they look pretty strong and healthy ... and how many broadbeans does a girl need.

I potted on my cucumbers yesterday - they gave me a heart stopping moment this morning when I opened the greenhouse door to find them drooping, but once some air was circulated they picked up. Wonder how many will die under my loving care haha. I have 16 so far, with another 8 to germinate.

These could be Burpless ... or Marketmore ... or Lemon Crystal !

Here is the aubergine I bought last weekend. It doesn't actually have a variety on the label. I potted it on yesterday and it looks OK so far. Fingers crossed - I've not really had much luck with aubergines. Maybe this is my year !!

and this is the Alaro Melon - it is looking a little poorly, I hope it pulls through.

I've resown 99million squashes - decided they are safer at home than the lottie. They've been joined by my sweetcorn. I've also resown some courgettes.

The greenhouse strawberries are in flower and some have even started to form fruits:

The greenhouse has been phenomenally hot this weekend - when I left tonight I had to water the floor to try and cool the temperature before I closed the door. I've left the vents open - I hope I don't regret it.

Outside I've been even busier. Am feeling very much like the Cheshire Cat - well I would if I had some crumble & cream to go with my rhubarb.

The new strawberry bed has been my main focus this weekend. I've taken out all the existing strawberry plants, which has meant I've been able to get rid of some couch grass and a tiny bit of bindweed. I potted up around 100 runners last year and about half have made it through the winter. Thinking I didn't have many left I bought some new plants last weekend - white Fragoo. The bed is pretty big, but amazingly I had too many for the space - I saved them for a bit in case Linda appeared, but the sun frazzled them eventually and they've gone to the compost heap. I got to use my new strawberry mats - they'll probably have blow away by my next visit.

It's looking marvellous, even if I do say so myself !

I've direct sown my peas - trying Greenshaft this season. I think they have been soaked in parrafin (hence the pink appearance). I'm hoping that this means the mice won't smell the germinating peas. I may get some tunnels though just in case. I've decided not to net them this season, as although it kept them safe last season, I couldn't actually get to them to harvest them. Nick suggested I get pea sticks instead - OH's nieces are coming to visit next week, so I will give them the task of finding some.

I've also planted out my kohl rabi, celeriac & fennel (yes I know it's early, but its been hardened off in Scarborough and believe me, it's freezing oop 'north). I've got some spares in case they get munched. I've netted the kohl rabi in case any flying rats decide to investigate.

I've sown 3 varieties of beetroot for OH - Choggia, Golden & Boltardy (even with three varieties I still have lots of packets left).

Here is part two of my grand plan ... I've taken out the first path and dug over 1.5 of the beds on the right hand side of the plot. Still got quite a bit to do, but as it was the last job of the day I was pretty darn tired and the lure of a cuppa was enough to down tools. The soil is frighteningly dry - big clouds of dust went up with every turn of the spade. You can see the late afternoon shadow - I'll have to ask Linda very nicely if she will consider chopping down the enormous white buddlia that's on her plot.

I've put some spinach into the bed, but it may be too small to survive - need to pot some up next time.

Here's the view back down the plot. Must add 'weeding the onions' to the jobs list.

The King Cup is looking truly magnificent;

and the flowers around the plot are adding some lovely bursts of colour: