Sunday, 7 January 2018

A plot visit.

The first visit to the plot this years is now under my belt. Everything is looking great really, a little weedy but nothing to panick about. I had a chance to catch up with some other plotters which was lovely as we all seem to miss each other with our shorter winter visits.
I had initially gone with the intention of weeding, but actually found myself spending four back breaking hours cutting the borders in properly- a job that wasn'teven on the list! I used the earth I was removing to start leveling out the paths around the plot that are dangerously uneven and frankly an eye sore. It was great to get some real grafting done, although it got dark before I could finish, I will continue next week before getting on with the other jobs on the ever growing  list!

Friday, 5 January 2018

HAPPY 2018

Wow, how can it be another new year already? I can't wait to have some time on the allotment, unfortunately we all came down with some horrid virus over Christmas so only essential home jobs got completed. We even had shop bought parsnips for Christmas dinner!!!
Even though a visit was out of the question I managed to spend some time making an allotment diary, finalising a plan and tidying up the seed box.
I also realised the cover for the blow away greenhouse needs replacing before the end of February when the serious seed sowing starts. This led me to window shop for greenhouses for an entire afternoon and day dream about how wonderful it will be to have a nice 6x8ft  greenhouse on plot 28. This is a long way off though, I would love to be looking for real next year, but we shall see how the pennies are doing then.

Today though, I got to sow the first seeds of the year, yay! As last years onions were such a disaster, growing no bigger than a marble, I am trying an earlier sowing this year. Whilst I had the compost out I also sowed a few pots of alpine strawberries and a couple of early cauliflowers. I can't wait to see emerging seedlings again, this is what it's all about........

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

December 2017 *back dated, sorry!*

A few days ago, I recieved the most exciting delevery of December...........two fruit trees from Orange Pippin fruit tress. They were a delightful company to purchase from so I am hopeful that means we have some great quality trees.
I went for a 'Scrumptious' apple on an mm106 rootstock  and a 'confrence' pear on a quince A rootstock. They are both maiden whips because both will be espalier trained. I spent weeks researching before ordering so I am hoping I have chosen the correct root stocks after feeling so confused with the conflicting advice online! 
I took the trees to the plot today and planted then both, and did the first cuts, hopefully I did it all correctly, it is terrifying taking secateurs to a nearly purchased tree! We still haven't purchased the post and wires (grrrrrr) but we are hoping to buy reclaimed wooden posts from a nearby city, lets hope we manage to get the job ticked off by the end of January, so for now they are just staked.
I also had the delightful job of retrieving thewaspnest from the compost bin. Which meant lifting and relocating the darlic, refilling with the uncomposted material, collecting and spreading the useable stuff, and excavating the rather delicate structure! It took hours of work, it was worth it though for a look at the amazing thing, I have a new found respect for the insects.

The bin has left a handy gap to build the first on a row of home made pallet compost bins. We will slowly replace each compost bin as they empty. It should make it much easier to turn the heaps and mean we can compost much more material too. I am hoping to grab some pallets from the reclaimed wood yard when we get the posts.
After a hard days work I headed home for a cuppa, with a fantastic harvest of parsnips. Perfect.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Onions, Garlic and Beans.

I have really put in some work this week, my muscles are feeling it and I am now trying to ignore the six, yes SIX mozzie bites on various parts of my body that are driving me crazy.......but looking around before I left this evening made my heart leap with pride. It is pretty much weed free and very tidy. Yes we still have lots to do before the plot is 'to plan' but when it comes to the normal running of the plot, it is feeling very natural now. I am finding the jobs are running smoothly. I have a great routine and i'm getting the hang of clearing and planting a bed in one go, tidying up as I go and staying organised as I work. I guess that has come with time but reflecting on that today makes me feel like a proper gardener haha!
It was time to take down 2 of the 4 bean typees and pull out the courgette plants that grew undeneath to make room for 4 x10ft rows if garlic. The other typees will be cleared once all the beans have dried enough to harvest. The Cara la Virgen de la Baneza Leon beans have only just started to dry out. I am sure they will be ready before the first frosts but they are certainly cutting it fine. Maybe it is the rainy weather or the low temperatures through September but I really thought they would be ready by now! It will be interesting to see if they are this late again next season. Still, i'm sure it won't kill me to wait another couple of weeks to try them, (it might, I can't wait)
Some over winter onion sets went in to, I am sure they are Radar but will have to check. I haven't managed to grow onions successfully do far so it would be great if they actually grow bigger than a marble..........

The Wizard beans are ticked off the list too. I decided to sow direct rather than start them at home. I have covered them with a net tunnel to keep the birds off so hopefully they will be fine.

I did notice that all the swedes have been massacred by the slimmies as has most of the brassica's. I am hoping the slug numbers will decrease now most of the plastic covers have gone, and the toad I found today may help me out too. But next season I need to put a bit more focus onto the slug problem........ hmmmmmmm, just what to try first?

There is still a lot of clearing to do from the summer crops but by the end of October that should up be done. Then it will be all ahout the fruit area of the plot. And re establishing the borders of the beds. I'm sure my to do list will grow some more as thewinter approaches. I just hope I get to put in the same amount of time as I have this week in the coming weeks....... that would be fab!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Autumn, harvesting and getting through some jobs.

Autumn is officially here and I love it. It has always been my favourite time of the year (possibly because it is my birthday in October haha!) even though I will miss the summer, crisp mornings, snuggly evenings, and the smell of bomb fires beats all that heat and blue skies hands down. Having an allotment hasn't changed my mind on that like I thought it might. The fact it now includes squashes and pumpkins, dried beans, apples and seed catalogues just makes it even more wonderful as does the brief spell of sowing and planting to look forward to. Of course it inevitably leads to winter, but we won't think about that just yet....
So what has been happening on the plot as the new season arrived?
We harvested 5 big pumkins and 8 butternut squashes which I am more than happy with. 2 huge carrier bags of dried beans are harvested and stored for the winter. The children enjoyed helping me with the podding so the task I was dreading was a breeze! I also harvested all the maincrop cartots and most of the beetroot to avoid too much slug damage. Both have been a great success. I am hoping they will store ok, although we will probably get through them fairly quickly anyway.

The tip run has finally been done so no more piles of rubbish, yay! We have layed cardboard down in the fruit cage as a final battle against any bindweed. Hopefully we will manage to plant some raspberries and a gooseberry in there this winter and we need it as ready as possible.

We also uncovered the area behind the fruit cage  which is where the fruit trees will go, I have been having some thoughts about this area of the plot but will get back to you on that in another post.........

I have recieved an email to let me know my garlic and over winter onions have been dispatched and it isn't long before I will start sowing the field beans.
Infact, looking at the jobs list, the plot is going to keep us pretty busy until Christmas, I can't wait to see how it looks in the new year.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Wrapping up the summer!

The children and I managed a good few hours on the plot today. Possibly their last visit before school starts up again. Despite the muggy weather, there is definitely  an air of 'wrapping up the summer' on the plot. Some plants are beginning to yellow, bean pods are really fat and the pile of spent plants, is too big to fit into the compost bins!

After far to much chit chat with our lovely neighbours, an exchange of plants and a nice bowl of raspberries to keep the children happy, we got down to some work.The main focus today was all about planting (albeit a little late) the remainder of the winter/spring brassica plants. They are all tucked up safetly in their new beds and thankfully we had enough netting for them all, now other crops are finished. 

I made a small dent in the weeding but as the plot is still not up to our usual standards I will declare the war on weeds lost for now!!

I need to start thinking about mulching, a few beds are empty now and will remain thag way until spring. At least with the no-dig I am not faced with the grueling task of digging them over.

The list of jobs for autumn are now looming, I just hope we have enough time and funds to get them sorted. But, as it is a marathon, and not a sprint and all that..........

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A plot visit!

I finally felt well enough to have some time at the plot!
I knew the sweetcorn must be ready to harvest, so after clearing a feezer draw and getting the children excited about hotdogs and sweetcorn for dinner, we all headed off together, knowing we had a big battle with the weeds ahead of us.

Unfortunately this is what we arrived to..........
It seems thst badgers paid a visit and wiped out almost everybodys corn this year. After a brilliant harvest last season it was quite a shock and I have to be honest I felt completely gutted at the sight if this!
Not really sure if this will now be a problem every year, the thought of not growing corn is rubbish, it is one if my favourites.  Maybe I can squeeze some into the fruit cage.....
The plot is also in a bit of a sorry state. But it could be worse. It really made me evaluate how I am using the plot though. I really need to plan the amount of plants to sow as I am not filling it up as much as I can. I also need to be doing more to combat the slimmies, beer traps at least. There are lots of jobs that really need getting on with, it is going to be a busy autumn/winter that is for sure!