Monday, 30 May 2011

did someone mention killer cucumbers

who would have thought - organic too !! Will be watching with interest to see how they got infected. Pretty frightening - absolute kidney failure:

I've been away for a couple of days and worried about my beans and squashes in the recent gales I asked OH to pop up and check them.

Me - 'how are my beans'
OH - 'ummm, what do they look like' ...
me -'see the canes sticking out of the ground ... they are planted at the bottom of each cane'
.. OH - 'oh' ..
me - 'well?'
.. OH - 'ummm, they look greeny' ...
me - 'right ... what about the squashes'
OH - 'what do they look like'
dear god
me - 'they are next to the sticky things - planted in the ground'
OH 'oh'
me - 'well !!!'
OH 'ummmm, they look greeney too - everything looks green. I think it is all growing'.
me - 'are they windburnt'
OH - 'what does that look like'
right. Sigh. Nevermind.

A quick reccie tonight has put my mind at rest - I'll definitely lose some of the beans, but all in all they are doing pretty well, especially the purple ones. Will just have to wait and see what my borlotto's do. Squashes all look surprisingly healthy still and my courgettes which I'd potted up, but hadn't planted also look pretty good. The weeds have gone barmey they are loving all this rain.

Got a nice surprise in the greenhouse - 850g of strawberries ... I'm halfway to jam :) They are now in the fridge covered in sugar. Wonder what I did with all my jars !

Sunday, 22 May 2011

'cor it's just been rush, rush, rush down at the lottie. The recent temperatures have been too much for the potbound plants in the greenhouse and they have suffered scorching. So this weekend it was my intention to plant out all of my beans - purple runners and borlotto, squashes, pumpkins and sweetcorn.

Sweetcorn - check ! ... now safely planted - the ones at the front have been in plastic cups and have grown much bigger than the ones in root trainers - so note to self for next season ... plastic cups are the future. Following my commercial sweetcorn snooping, I've planted them much closer this season - will be interesting to see if it makes any difference whatsoever.

After yet another trip to B&Q to get yet more canes (where do they go every year !!) I finally manged to finish planting out my beans - these are purple (such attention to labelling I hear you cry). I planted them out today, in the gale force wind !!! The beans I planted out yesterday have been battered completely and lost most of their leaves ... hope they pull through. Sigh

The recent sunshine and rain have seen my potatoes recovering well from their frost bite - just hope with the mix of weather we've had lately that the dreaded blight doesn't appear. Hopefully it's still a bit early in the season.

No where on earth are my leeks going to go !! I've just about run out of space - still got 99 million leeks, 6 courgettes, couple more squashes, 5 globe artichokes and about another 15 potatoes to find a home for

Here's my last hope LOL. I've also got my brick bed - maybe the leeks will go there and the small space in front of the greenhouse ... maybe my courgettes will squeeze in there. That means artichokes will be going here. Hmm !!

Drastic times call for drastic measures - so I've decided to try vertical integration again for my squashes in an effort to plant them all. Do I think it will work ? no, not at all - but it's always good to have an optimistic outlook on life right ?

Having failed miserably on the manure front I had a brainwave this morning .... why not plant my squashes in compost from my compost heap ! Brilliant idea. After filling a barrow full I noticed a bee - that quickly turned into a few ... seems I have bees nesting in my compost heap !!! blummin' typical - guess that's the end of the heap until winter. Unfortunately I also have bees nesting in my kitchen roof at home - any ideas how to get rid of them without just filling in the hole and killing them ?

Anyway, the little compost I got looks great, well I thought it did:

The greenhouse is now fully planted up with cucumbers, melon, tomatoes & sacrificial flowers - I've been enjoying strawberries for the last week or so - yum ! It's pretty hot in their during the day, but the temperatures are still dropping at night, so the door will remain shut for now:

My apple tree is dripping ... but sadly I have forgotten to buy it a tree stake, so it is currently doubled over and suffering greatly with the wind ! Note to self - must try harder ...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Loonies R us !!

So the day of the Moonwalk finally arrived ... and with it went the last of the Spring sun - of course !

We arrived in London on Saturday afternoon to a fanfare of drizzle and rain. Great. Checked the Met forecast ... rain easing into wind ! Super. LOL. Just about perfect weather for getting your kit off and trotting round London half naked.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is the Charity's Patron and sent us a special message - disappointingly he didn't have a decorated bra on: clickity-click

Then at 11.40pm it was time for us to set off. Into the dark we went, resplendent in our decorated bras and plastic ponchos !

15,000 men & women in decorated bras is quite a sight - we went for traditional pink, but there were some amazing creations

Here's the route:

I don't actually remember most of it - between the dark and sleep deprivation ! It was impossible to go any faster than a stroll for the first 8-10 miles due to the sheer amount of walkers.

We got held up a few times - 5-15 mins to cross various roads, 25 mins to queue for the loo !! But Tower Bridge was quite spectacular - especially when we nearly got blown off it. Once the route split and the half marathoner's turned off, we were able to speed up to our target 4 miles an hour.

My friend started to weep with tiredness at around the 17 mile mark which was worrying, she looked in so much pain, but we kept going.

Dawn broke and at around 5am we passed a lone Chelsea Pensioner who'd come out to pay tribute to us all. The sun continued to rise and welcomed us back past Buckingham Palace and then into Hyde Park with warming rays. We had a lovely reception as we approached the last mile with everyone's friends and family cheering us on ... until finally at 7.30am we crossed the finish line

... but cross the finish line we did and here is the evidence !!

It was pretty gruelling and as we passed the finish line we swore we wouldn't do it again, but after some stretching, a good nights sleep and a curry it's amazing how you find yourself thinking 'well it wasn't that bad after all ....'

Feel absolutely fine now (well apart from my 'broken' heel which is complaining very loudly, but it'll get over it some time soon) and what has made it all worthwhile is the incredible sponsorship that I've managed to raise with everyone's help - my latest fundraising efforts stand at an incredible £1,182.50, with the promise of a few more pounds in the post ! My friend is also around the thousand mark - a pretty good show all in all.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me - you are all amazing :)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Is it a bird , is it a plane ...

One of my practice walks took me down the A629, a road I travel up and down a lot in the car.

Every year I drive past the same fields, most have various animals and crop rotations going on, but three fields adjacent to the road are always planted up with strips of polythene glistening in the sunshine !

Think the farmer must have run out of polythene this year as usually the fields are completely covered. I've been dying to take a closer look ... a couple of weeks after the polythene is planted, sweetcorn appears ! I'm fascinated with how the sweetcorn grows - how does it get water, what's the purpose of the polythene, why does it stay in place all season !

Well puzzle no more readers, for I know the answers !!!

The polythene makes a TENT - the edges are ploughed into the soil and the sweetcorn happily germinates beneath it. I'm amazed at how close the seeds are sown - they are only an inch apart and each row is about a foot apart. Now here is the magic bit ! the polythene is PERFORATED !!! how cool is that. The corn grows through the perforations !!

I so should have got a close up LOL - maybe then you'd be as excited as I am.

Anyway I will be planting my sweetcorn very closely this season based on what I've seen.

Fundraising update - I've now raised over £1,000 !! It is quite incredible - thank you so much to everyone who has supported me xx

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Friday, 6 May 2011

what's with the crazzee weather !!

So on Easter Saturday apparently Sheffield had a deluge of rain in a very short space of time that was followed by 3" hail stones (indeed, the son of one of my friends apparently collected them up and popped them into the freezer to "save them for later" ... as you do LOL), the hail was follows by flash floods and then the floods were followed by blazing sunshine

Since then we've had the odd cloud darken the sky, but basically it's been unbroken sunshine for two weeks. The days are hot, the nights cold and the soil is like dust - dust I tell you !

There was a mid-week splatter which just about wet the car windscreen, but little more - not even worth mentioning.

So off I go to water the greenhouse tonight to discover that we have had frost this week ! Enough to burn the potatoes, cucumbers & squashes :(

as if that wasn't enough, I foolishly uncovered the khol rabi at the weekend and in effect left out a buffet for the flying rats !! grrrr

At least my beans are germinating nicely - moved the majority up to the lottie tonight - the black tray are borlotto and the red tray are saved beans from last season ... only I can't remember whether they are purple beans, canelloni or borlotto !!

It's getting pretty busy in the greenhouse, but any thoughts I had of planting the more tender items outside have definitely been put on hold. The frost has got quite a few plants - we'll just have to wait and see if they manage to grow through it

Latest news from my fundraising efforts - I have raised almost £1,000 !!! unbelieveable - thank you to everyone who has supported me xx

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Mai est arrivé

Another long day at the lottie ... wonder when this hot spell is going to break - heard on the grapevine we are due for rain mid-week ... I have my fingers crossed !

You can see the pea cage that we built yesterday. It's not quite how I wanted it, but hopefully it will do the job. Guess I'll know pretty soon if it needs revamping. I got the wood from B&Q - reduced to 25p & 50p - bargain !! I'm thinking of building a walk-in cage ... steady, I said thinking ... thinking!

Today I've staked both comfrey plants - can't believe how much they've grown. Thank goodness I'd already put the poles in place, it seems to have helped so far. One of the plants looks like it is about to burst into flower. Really must try and make some comfrey feed from the leaves.

I was also planning to tie in the brambly apple tree ... only the stake has disintegrated ! Doh. So plan b is yet another trip to B&Q to find some more wood - hey maybe I'll look at that fruit cage wood too.

I've completed my master grand plan mmmmwwwwhhhhoooaaarrr !!! The beds have now been dug over and relaid. I've planted spinach, fennel, celeriac, 3 varieties of carrots, parsnips and 4 (yes 4 haha) broad beans. Got a little bit of space left at the back but it gets a bit shady (hedge and the 20 foot bloomin budleia tree) so not sure that I'll put anything in it. Don't worry that you can see creeping buttercup in far bed - it's been left purposely as I have plans for it :)

The strawberries in the greenhouse are fruiting already eek - they have caught me off guard - must start watering them !

I thought this was a red campion, but having googled it I'm not so sure now ...

Fundraising update - now at £660 !!! Two weeks to go :)

Enjoy the May Day holiday those of you in the UK - I'll be at work as we get May Day at Christmas. Best not to ask, it's very complicated.