Posted by: estherreeves | May 26, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

Well my computer is finally fixed though that does mean the photos I have taken recently are now on the wrong machine!!  Oh well will add photos later.

Much has been done since last post.  Of the winter jobs all got done except digging of the whole of the bottom part of the plot which is still being worked on. It is sort of already divided from previous users so there are two beds at the top and one long one right against the hedge. Against all expectations the rhubarb we put in a couple of years ago has survived in the bottom left bed. The top left bed is sorted and planted with Red Duke of York potatoes which are growing on strongly, they have been give manure and are being earthed up with green waste compost like last year. The rest is still being cleared. Have lots of chitted potatoes still to go in and we will see what we can get in this weekend , after than I think I’ll give them away if anyone wants them. The few spare Red Duke of York went to school for year 1 and are apparently growing well in their pots.. I will be taking them a whole bunch of other plants over the next few days, including raspberries, maybe a pumpkin and some outdoor cucumbers and tomatoes I think.

No playhouse has been built as yet but half a fruit cage has been , and all the fruit moved.. That said many baby raspberries have strung up along the end of what s not the potato bed  and I have some new ones form some random root cuttings I took as well but we can’t have to many raspberries.. well it is probably possible but we have a way to go before we hit that level yet!  The fruit bushes are looking much happier now they are moved to a bed which had lots of compost added to last year!

We have ended up putting a big raised bed, well two actually in the top corner.. even after we moved most fo the piles of glass and metal that had been dumped there the earth was full of rubbish so we boarded off the top corner, built a big bed in front of that and filled it with 1.5 trailer loads of compost and a good bit of manure and planted 2 rhubarb (4 Victoria, a raspberry red and a pink champagne) I also put in the primulas the boys gave me for mothers day and a whole bunch of bulbs round the edges. The top corner has ad all the turf etc from clearing elsewhere dumped in it to rot down and we will plant something up there later.. possible some hazel for coppicing.. ideally a cobnut or two so we get nuts on occasion and stakes etc as well.

The palette fence is mostly finished, we are trying to get a couple of the longer palettes to make a gate at the bottom so it is wide enough to get the trailer through. We currently have rough pallet gates at the top but plan to build a roofed gate area partly as a sitting place and partly so there is still room to pull the trailer in to off load. The hedge we planted last year has really taken off well now and the new hedge is most shooting well to.. the older bits are getting really hedge like though which is great, chopping the hard when they were planted has really helped with bushing out.. most of the new stuff we planted at a angle so it is semi-layed so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

The plot below us has been taken on by a couple of really keen lads who have done an amazing job of clearing the whole plot and partly started to hack down the hedge between us to a sensible hight but there are birds in some of it so only half of it was been done. The one over the road has literally just been taken again too.

We have been given permission to incorporate the plum trees on the edge of our plot into it and a bit of the rough ground in front of them to so of even out the edge but that is full of rubbish so will probably a winter job now, though I will give them a prune to get rid of the dead wood at least.

We have moved the two apple tree from the ‘lawn’ and put them with the others and they are def happier.. Strangely our plot is wetter the higher up the slope you go and this winter was very wet.. now of course it is totally dry and concrete like.. That is because the top of the plot is hard compacted clay where as the bottom has been more worked over the years!  We have also got two Bright future apples trees from garden organic which is their anniversary tree, one is on the ‘orchard’ the other is over the other side by the raised beds. The damson seems to have lots of proto fruit but very few leaves currently which is a bit worrying but we will see.. I’m hopeful the hard winter and lots of flowers means we will get some fruit on most of the trees this year though we will thin them down if we do as they are still young.

The strawberries in the greenhouse are really happy and we have just taken the decision to get one of the fairly cheap polytunnels so many others on the site have got which should mean we can fit in most of the tomato, cucumber, and aubergine plants I currently have filling the backroom at home ! They are all moving to the plot in the next week or so. So goes for the corgettes and squashes which are flowering already!

I have a tray full of various brassicas which need potting on as well so hopefully this year we will have some over the winter. The garlic and shalotts seem to be growing on well , the onions less so for some reason.

We have a whole cold-frame full of Dalias but they are showing distinct signs the slugs are on the move so it’s time to order nematodes before they get a hold this year! Fingers crossed we will have sunflowers as well this year as I currently have several different sorts growing well in plots so hopefully some will survive. Haven’t been so good at planting root vegs BUT we do have parsnip seedings show well and some radishes which were mostly there to make the parsnips.

Posted by: estherreeves | March 3, 2010

The year creeps in with cold and snow!

Well so far the year has been very wet and quite a bit snowy and the amount of work possible on the plot is therefore a bit limited still.

That said we are getting there.  Of my ten point list for the winter so far we have done or are doing most of them

1) Clear out, clean and sort greenhouse. Finish the re-jig of the staging so there is a shelf underneath.

2) Move the fruit bushes and canes to where the potatoes were this year after preping the ground some more and build a fruit cage.  – hopefully Tom will finish this today.

3) get in manure and more compost. – some compost in, waiting on a manure delivery.

4) finish pallet fence – not finished but certainly getting there.

5) dig over the bottom area where the fruit bushes are coming out of right across to the lane , add manure and so forth ready for potatoes in the spring. – next big job but ground is very wet and heavy.

6) Rebuild the original raised bed. – decided it will live another year and are just weeding it.

7) Plant onions and garlic – done though not as many as I planned and quite late.

8 ) Move one possibly two apple trees from the top part of the plot to below the shed so we have an orchard area rather than them dotted around. Prep the ground properly first being careful not to have them in a hole in otherwise compacted clay soil. –  done .. both trees as were very waterlogged.

9 and 10 We haven’t done yet but arn’t to time critical.. well the hedge is because of nesting birds but we should have new neighbours on that plot soon and we can work it out between us.

We’ve been given some hedging by the allotment soc so have been trying to finish getting that in as soon as poss before it starts waking up. So far we have finished the top run but not the bottom end.

We have also been clearing out the piles of rubbish in the top corner and plan to put raised beds in there as it is a bit of a dead space plus we can’t guarantee to get rid of all the glass and metal so covering what remains with rough compost and planting things that stay there year on year seems a sensible plan, as the area slopes down rather we will terrace it too. Current plan is  probably three steps down which obviously get wider and wider as they come out of the point of the triangle. Top one we may plant some lemon balm in which we have been offered (apparently it is a very invasive form but the poor soil may slow it down ), then rhubarb (with lots of added muck in it’s bed) and probably flowers or possibly carrots in the last one (or both).

Potato wise we went to Potato day at Ryton again and got a few there Noddles (age six) got three types and I got some Anya and some Mayan Queen. I have a good amount of Red Duke of York on order which should be here any minute but have recently been told the main crop we ordered isn’t coming so I’m waiting for Tom to get back from Ryton to see what him and a friend have picked to replace that! All of these are going in the bottom end of the plot in the area the fruit bushes used to live in but a much bigger stretch which should mean that soil gets nicely worked this year.

Posted by: estherreeves | November 18, 2009

The year moved rapidly to an end

Well the year is pretty much over and it’s time to be looking toward next year.  We have had a mixed year but i think we are moving in the right direction.

Next year we need to keep on top of the plot more.. far less docks and keep things generally tidier but there should be a significnat amount less un-used space if we manage to do what we plan over winter.

Winter plans

1) Clear out, clean and sort greenhouse. Finish the re-jig of the staging so there is a shelf underneath.

2) Move the fruit bushes and canes to where the potatoes were this year after preping the ground some more and build a fruit cage.

3) get in manure and more compost.

4) finish pallet fence

5) dig over the bottom area where the fruit bushes are coming out of right across to the lane , add manure and so forth ready for potatoes in the spring.

6) Rebuild the original raised bed.

7) Plant opions and garlic – this is an as soon as it isn’t wet and blowy job.

8) Move one possibly two apple trees from the top part of the plot to below the shed so we have an orchard area rather than them dotted around. Prep the ground properly first being careful not to have them in a hole in otherwise compacted clay soil.

9) cut down the hedge between us and the next plot to a sensible height.

10) build a play house.

Posted by: estherreeves | August 22, 2009

An open day coming up

We have an allotment open day next weekend, Sataday of the August bank holiday. As last time we areputting out tent up in case of british weather.

As to our plot I’m going to try and spend Friday there as Tom and our eldest are off to the grandparents and the small one is at nursary so it’s my first day without anyone for ages. It also means I can help with any prep for the open day.

We resorted to nemaslug in the end and touch wood they seem to have stopped eating the tomotoes in the greenhouse, though we did catch on in there today and there is still signs of trails. Fingers crossed we have another pumpkin coming, lets hope it survives this time. Corgettes are still going strong and we have got enough cucumbers to keep us going including one whte one, though as we put in four plants for those that is less good.. The tomatoes are ripening well though next year I will try and help the flowers set more as we have not had as many fruit as we could have. We also have several abergines developing well and a pepper or two.

Our runner beans finally started cropping well though the fact they are only on one side of the frame meant it kept blowing down, currently it is guyed out!

Potatoes wise most of the greenery has died down now but I’m not sure if that is normal death or blight, I suspect normal for most but blight for a few, those that disappeared very fats while we were on holiday. The Cara we dug and that wasn’t affected, two rows gave us about 9kg which is about a 1-9 return though one plant basically failed. Not too impressed boiled but noce as wedges.

The Mayan ones, the twiglight was great, the splot was not so nice!

Posted by: estherreeves | August 10, 2009

Slugs

I know I haven’t posted for ages, it’s a combination of school holidays, persistant rain and a nearly a week on a canel boat. The last was fantastic and reminded me I do like being out in the country and having life simple. Some of the lock keepers cottages we pasted have no road access at all, just the canel and walking up the towpath or other footpaths, not sure I’m ready for quite that amount of isolation and we certainly couldn’t re-enact or at leats not without storage elsewhere but they were idilic looking and with a nice bit of land to go with it I’d give the idea a go. We met a guy doing one up so his family could move in and anotherhas a lady living in it who was bringing her shopping up by wheelbarrow and who has the most wonderful looking house and garden, plus she has a little stall on the side of the lock selling veg which is a great idea as the shopping canel side can be a little basic.

Anyway back to the allotment and the current bain of my life slugs !! All the damp weather has been perfect for them so much so not only are they eating everything outside they are even in the greenhouse and ate my first abergine and some of the ripening tomatoes which is really frustrating.. shouldn’t the heat dry them out too much ?? We are looking at ways to combat them but the worse thing was turning up one day to find my eldest’s cherished pumpkin full of holes. While all the young ones had been eaten they had left his big one alone till last week and I had hoped it was thick enough to put them off but unfortunatly not.

However we are still getting plenty of corgettes, cucumbers and gerkins, a few tomatoes are starting to ripen if we can solve the slug problem at least in the greenhouse. We did see a baby frog so hopefully there are other bigger slug eating relatives about too.

Potatoes mostly need digging as many of them are looking ill, not sure if it’s the start of blight or just run out of energy but I think we will get most of them up in the next week or two. We have dug the Mayan Twiglight (Twilight) as they were definetly getting tired.

Normal Mayan Twiglight and the sport on the right.

Normal Mayan Twiglight and the sport on the right.

The picture shows the normal ones on the left and the potatoes from the mystery plant next to them. I did find the original potato and it was definatly like the others so it is some sort of sport. Got nearly the same weight of potatos from that one plant as all the others together too. In general the Mayans didn’t do so well as some others but I might try them again with more manure etc worked in first as they are fun and different. Smallest thoug he shoudl be allowed to eat them uncooked!

can I eat them??

can I eat them??

More to say but that will have to do for now.

Posted by: estherreeves | July 21, 2009

Rather Damp

The Lane and various tomatoes, our biggest cucumber, Noodle's pumpkin and warted Hubbard.

The Lane and various tomatoes, our biggest cucumber, Noodle's pumpkin and warted Hubbard.

It has been very wet in short bursts as is quite common this time of year. School is now finished for the year and I am trying hard to get happy enough in the big manual car I am able to drive it as I can’t fit both boys in a Smart car and while I can walk to the allotment it is to far for Noodles and he is not yet confident enough on his bike for it to e less effort to cycle. I also need to get my bike serviced so I can start riding that as well particularly as we have got a trainer for it.

The greenhouse is growing splendidly and if things continue we are going to be drowning in cucumbers even if just from the Improved Telegraph plants. All the tomatoes are doing well though none are turning red yet all of them are setting well. The peppers are finally thinking about flowers and the abergene has several and I think a couple of very small fruit developing. I think I should be a little less greedy on number of plants next year however and put the trough at the back and the individual bags at the front.

Noodles pumpkin is growing fast and we are starting to get regular courgettes. We have a fruit on the HSL Chicago Warted Hubbard and you can already see a ridged surface developing in contrast to the smooth surface of Big Max. My Big Max has no fruit on it as yet, not sure if that is the fact his went in a couple of weeks earlier or because his bed had manure and the rest did not.

The runner beans seem to be recovering from being chewed off at rabbit head hight and are flowering and the dwarf beans are developing pods as are the peas. Next year we need to put all of these in earlier and more of them.

Posted by: estherreeves | July 5, 2009

The Pumpkin that is actually a courgette or marrow

Now that it has grown a bit more it is obvious that the two plants i have labled as mum’s pumpkins are actually courgettes now the seeds from mum came out of a pumpkin in my presence so I can only assume I managed to mix up seedlings at some point and perhaps one of the courgettes will turn out to be a pumpkin who knows. It does mean we should have courgettes a bit earlier than I expected, I know many people have them already but we were late planting out most of the plants.

Otherwise  I have been hacking things up in the greenhouse!  Don’t worry not the plants, I have chopped the staging in half as I was not using it all and I planted too many cucumbers for the space available. So now i have four foot of staging not eight and the second half will make a shelf underneath when I have an extra pair of hands to hold it in place while I attach it to things. The cucumbers and gerkins now have a much more sensible amount of space and my moneymaker tomato is no longer about to disappear beneath them. I planted two types of cucumber rather mixed up and was worried I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart but even now when they are tiny they are easy to tell apart Telegraph Improved is long and green and White Wonder are a pale yellowy white which stands to reason really considering the name!

Small’s pumpkin is growing well and has been joined by several others on the plant, if this keeps up we may want to remove some of them as I think he would like to grow a really big one.

Apart from that all I’ve really done is hack down a few more weeds, started to try and sort some netting for the runner beans, found I didn’t have enough with me so it’s part done and dug half the row of Formost as the leaves are now looking very past it. The potatoes themselves look very good however, I got 4lb 8oz and couldn’t spot a single slug hole.

Potatoes this year have so far been very good and early this year cetainly for me and others around here. One of my neightbours who planted some main crops in a well manured bed is already digging them with very good results, his plants look spectacular.

No photos this post as the camera has gone away for the weekend with Tom and Noodles.Well apart from this one of lady Christl potatoes I took back along. We dug 6lb 2 oz in total of her.

Lady Christl

Lady Christl

Posted by: estherreeves | July 1, 2009

It’s hot.

Just been pottering as it is really very hot and I don’t want small ones getting sunstroke or indeed getting it myself.

Things are growing and indeed getting eaten.. something has nibbled off the stalks on the runner beans i suspect a rabbit so I may try putting up some netting and see if they recover. Also the peas are coming up through the chicken wire cages now so some net to protect them from similar damage may be a plan.

nibbled off beans

nibbled off beans

Various pumpkin and squashes are starting to develop, again I wait to see if they get eaten or not. The first one spotted did get nibbled off but since then we have a much bigger one developing on the small ones pumpkin plant which was the first planted out and by far the most developed. His is a variety called big max which we got in Lidl. The other showing baby fruit is from seeds got from my mother from a pumpkin she grew from seeds my aunt gave her. It was quite large but tasty.

Big max pumpkin

Big max pumpkin

Keeping my fingers crossed nothing eats this as it is on the small ones plant..

Keeping my fingers crossed nothing eats this as it is on the small ones plant..

Big Max flower

Big Max flower

Interestingly, well to me anyway, while they both should be big round orange pumpkins in the end the Big Max start off yellow and round but Mum’s ones are elongated and green more like a marrow in look.

Pumpkin from mum's seeds, smaller flower has a proto pumpkin.

Pumpkin from mum's seeds, smaller flower has a proto pumpkin.

The salad blue potatoes have very pretty extremely lightly blue tinted flowers, they look whiter in the picture than they are, with lilac decoration.

Salad Blue

Salad Blue

Cara on the other hand have bunches of pure white flowers held high on stalks.

Cara

Cara

We also dug the Lady Christl up yesterday and got a good crop i will post up the exact amounts and a photo later but certainly each plant cropped more than the Red Duke of York and while there was a few that had some slug damage it was fairly minor, certianly less than the swift. They also taste good again much better than Swift. We grew 5 plants of this and 9 of Red Duke of York.

Having dug two full rows of potatoes and having another one of earlies to dug soon I have filled the space with some winter squash (3) and courgettes (4) that have been knocking about in pots till now so we will see how they do.

Posted by: estherreeves | June 29, 2009

Potato flowers

We have quite a few different potato flowers and one in particular I though was really pretty. I think these are Cartriona but I will have to double check.

striped flower

striped flower

Also just to continue the whole, nothing like the rest of them theme of my mystery different Mayan Twiglight (Twilight) This is what the rest look like.

Mayan Twiglight - the rest of them

Mayan Twiglight - the rest of them

close up to show depth of colour

close up to show depth of colour

And this is the other one.

Mayan Twiglight - the other one.

Mayan Twiglight - the other one.

Posted by: estherreeves | June 29, 2009

Heatwave a possibility

So says the Met Office and it is certainly on the warm side today. It was pretty warm yesterday as well but we also had one of those extremely heavy summer storms where you get soaked to the skin in ten seconds flat and the roads flood till the drains manage to catch up with the amount of water falling out of the sky!

I did get some stuff done on the plot Sunday morning though and a little after the smalls were in bed so not a bad weekend. The lane side of the hedge is now trimmed, not as tightly as some enough not to be in the way. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a good blackberry crop as there are certainly plenty of flowers currently and definitely more than one type of bramble.

Did some hacking of overgrown areas in the middle of the plot so it looks a bit tidier, there is plenty of sorting to be done over winter to get the plot more up straight for next season including clearing that middle strip which is very uneven due in part to random piles of soil. We also plan to clear a bigger area than currently planted for fruit bushes and build a proper fruit cage.

Greenhouse end of June

Greenhouse end of June

The greenhouse is growing well and I am seriously considering cutting down the staging on the right hand side to give the cucumbers more room! The plant in a compost bag on the path is an aubergine that I bought as I didn’t get round to growing any from seed.

We have baby tomatoes and gerkins coming though as yet i haven’t spotted a baby cucumber though there are flowers.

Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Baby gerkin

Baby gerkin

Outside we have the beginnings or pumpkins on Noodles Big Max Pumpkin so keep fingers crossed the slugs don’t eat them or the rabbits!  There is also at least one patty pan developing.

Big Max pumpkin, the flower was huge before the slugs got to it.

Big Max pumpkin, the flower was huge before the slugs got to it.

Patty Pan, love the shape

Patty Pan, love the shape

We have dug the rest of the red Duke of York, 7lb 3 oz in total and no slug damage or anything. Tey are great potatoes and definetly on the regrow list. I think we will dig the rest of the first earlies soon as they are starting to look a little sad and that would mean a nice area to plant more stuff out into which has minimal weeds to deal with first !

Earlies being dug, mains mostly flowering now.

Earlies being dug, mains mostly flowering now.

The lettuce in the salad bed has bolted rather as has the rocket and had some huge slugs hiding among the leaves, The brocalli rab, turnips, beet greens and beetroot are growing well though my second sowing of radishes are begin slug attacked. It may be time to look at slug control options.

bolting lettuce

bolting lettuce

brocalli rab

brocalli rab

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.