Posted by: estherreeves | June 22, 2009

A mixed weekend

Saturday was spent doing one allotment stuff and Sunday we got to the site to find that there had been qute a lot of damage and break ins, a fact of life I suppose allotments are an easy target as there is no-one living there, at least ours doesn’t tend to get the vegs nicked as some which back on to houses do.

We try and work on the principle of keeping nothing worth nicking on the plot but that doens’t stop people doing damage to check, in some ways I’m quite glad we don’t have a gate and so forth as there is less damage to do to get into our plot, we went past one that had been kicked off it’s hinges.

Swift harvest

Swift harvest

We did dig some more potatoes for tea. I dig up all the Swift, five plants in total, as the leaves were looking very eaten unlike the rest of the plants around them. Got some very decent sized potatoes though only a few per plant, one was plenty big enough to bake. In total we got 5lb 4.5 oz not counting the one too slug damaged to use. There was a few bits of slug damage on some others but nothing major.

Boiled they were nice, held together well and had a very delicate flavour. I prefered the Red Duke of York favour wise but there is enough to try them a different way and see how they go.

Some digging was done, though small people arn’t heavy enough to get the spade in the ground on their own!

Shouldn't it go into the ground??

Shouldn't it go into the ground??

Finally some earth to move !

Finally some earth to move !

Some older help is called for

Some older help is called for

So does planting them make them grow more?

So does planting them make them grow more?

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Posted by: estherreeves | June 16, 2009

Rain, sun and some planting

Things are moving slowly along. The weather has been changeable but the plants seem to like it.

greenhouseAs you can see the greenhouse plants are growing well, in fact in the couple of days since that photo was taken the bigger cucumbers are now above the window level. You can also see the bamboo blinds which are helping a huge amount, they just cut down the light and heat enough so things aren’t actively scorching any more.

potatoesThe potatoes are filling out well too and very much need earthing up. We picked up another load of compost in the trainer so that will need to be done this week when we can. The Red Duke of York were very nice boiled and have got to be a contender to be rown again next year.

Hedge - you can see the mulch better than the actual plants !

Hedge - you can see the mulch better than the actual plants

Over the weekend we got given a bunch of hedging someone was grubbing out. It’s completely the wrong time to move such plants but we put them in anyway and will see if they survive. Being hawthorn they are pretty rugged so we can hope and even if only some survive we can then fill in the gaps with other things. It changes the feel of that part of the plot significantly and I now want to get the slabs moved into the box pallet or down the plot to make paths so we can level that part out between the shed and the crabapple and do something with it. Probably mainly planting perminat things like articokes. I want to grow something up the shed but haven’t decided what as yet.

Poles for a sun sail

Poles for a sun sail

We have also put some poles in to hang a sun sail from, ie a fabric shade and have started on the final incarnation (for now anyway) of the pallet fence. Tom is finally happy with how it is going together.

The fruit bushes are getting close to cropping now and we are considering making the whole of that area one big fruit cage but that will be a winter job clearing and building the frame.

Last but certainly not least today i finally managed to start clearing the bed on the other side of the path from the potatoes. We had cleared enough for two rows of potatos and a pumpkin but then needed to do other things and I’ve had lots of plants desperate to go in the ground. The ground is lovely to dig currently after the rain we have had so I managed to do about a metre and a half before it got to hot and dig some space the other side of the path to put the comfphery plants in to.

Sweetcorn intercropped with pumpkins.

Sweetcorn intercropped with pumpkins.

In this space I have put sweetcorn and pumpkins. To be precise 10 minipot sweetcorn and four others that are meant to be full sized cobs. The pumpkin by the potatoes is Big Max then I have intercropped the sweetcorn with two Mum’s pumpkins (ie seeds from a pumpkin she grew last year) and two Chicago Warted Hubard. Finally on the far edge near the path is a butternut squash and a round corgette. Intercropping sweetcorn with squashes of some sort and growing beans up the sweetcorn is a very traditional method of growing them called three sisters so I’m going to plant some beans next to each sweetcorn but forgot to take them down today.

Posted by: estherreeves | June 12, 2009

First Harvest

Finally we are starting to get actual food from the allotment all be it small amounts. It is a great thrill however to be able to pick our own food.

two types of lettuce, rocket, beetroot thinnings and mixed radishes

two types of lettuce, rocket, beetroot thinnings and mixed radishes

We were away last weekend and it was no loss gardening wise as the baking sun gave way to constant rain. It is finally brightening up again and I hope we can get some work done this weekend but everything has been happy to get some rain including the docks which shot up in the few days we were away. More importantly the peas and beans have all made appearances and the runners in particular are doing their standard speed growing now they are above ground. I hope the wetter ground means clearing the weeds to allow me to plant all the things still sitting in the frame will be easier than the baked earth we did have. Less watering in required as well. Today is sunny which if it holds should dry things out just enough for digging.

I will take the camera down the plot tomorrow and you can see how much the tomatoes and cucumbers have grown in just a few days. Next year I will try and pot them up a few weeks earlier as they were struggling in the small pots they were in. I still have a bunch outside like that and they are looking very stressed, though I’m not sure I really need them on top of the ones i have planted up anyway.

So far apart from the occasional strawberry I have picked a bowl of salad that you can see above and mid week we dug up one plant of Red Duke of York. There were some nice sized potatoes but there were also a good number of tiny pea sized ones so we will leave them a couple more weeks and should have a good number more I hope from each plant.

first Red Duke of York

first Red Duke of York

Yes they really are that brightly coloured too and Noodles can’t wait to try the pink potatoes as he calls them. The skin is very thin and the potato underneath is white so we will see how they cook up tonight.

I also planted a whole bunch of brassicas and leafy plant seeds in modules today so we will see how they go, some are a little late but I think it worth a go anyway.

Posted by: estherreeves | June 2, 2009

Sorting the Greenhouse

most of the rows of potatoes

most of the rows of potatoes

Things move on slowly. The potatoes are growing well, as you can see they are mostly growing on appropriate to when they were planted. Most of them look pretty similar now they are growing apart for Red Duke of York which is much more vigorous and has a certinaly redness to it’s stems etc. the other is Mayan Twiglight ( or Twilight as I’m pretty sure they had mis-spelled the label but I like it).

Mayan Twiglight

Mayan Twiglight

All but one of the plants have much more pointed, smaller more tomato looking leaves in quite a light green.

The other one.

The other one.

The last one is bigger, red stemmed and has big dark rounder green leaves.. much more like Red Duke of York, which is very strange, I would say I must have mixed up the seed potatoes but out of all of them Mayan Twiglight are the most distinctive being red and white splotchy long thin tubers.. we will have to wait till harvest.

Tomatoes, added a couple more since this photo

Tomatoes, added a couple more since this photo

I finally cleared out the greenhouse.

Most of the tomatoes have been planted up, well those that will fit in the greenhouse. have them in a mix of small IKEA blue bags, one of the IKEA planters, all with holes punched in the bottoms. Also some old compost bags rolled down and part filled. Finally i found a 7 foot long metal gridded trough in the scrap metal pile on site and decided it still had use. I lined it with opened out compost bags, again punctured for drainage, then filled with compost and it now has 8 tomatoes in it. The green bag has cucumbers in and there are various peppers that need potting up in bigger pots.

cucumbers in the green bag.

cucumbers in the green bag.

Tonight Tom hung up some old bamboo blinds as it is so hot in there we can’t keep anything on the staging as it burns so we can at least play with some shading now.

Nearly everything else is either in the harding off frame or behind it in a slightly shaded area as all the pots are drying out faster than I can water them. The frame is full of pumpkins and other squashes, corgettes, spare cucumbers, sweetcorn and so on.

Hardening off frame, a box pallet with fleece

Hardening off frame, a box pallet with fleece

We also have glode artichokes, leeks, kale, strawberies in pots, and finally various brassicas I got cheap at B&Q. I planted some of those around the edge of our eldests pumpkin bed, I will move them again before it takes over but hopefully the larger soil area should help them survive.

Posted by: estherreeves | May 24, 2009

A sunny back holiday weekend, who’d have thought it !

British Bank Holidays are well known for being wet but not this one it seems. I always find the May holidays a bit funny and this time it just feels like we have jumped from one to another., due to where Easter was we had four weeks of school, including the first May bank holiday off and now we are at half term! I have never quite got why we have two bank holidays in May. The first is May day but why the second and why not have it in June or July to spread them out more?

Anyway what have we done?

our very rough lawn for playing on.Well I mowed the top part of the plot which helps make it look more kept though I really need to weed the first raised bed then you will be able to see down to the greenhouse before hitting any signifcant weeds or similar. I have left a stripe down the hedge side for wild flowers, partly because it is a ditch and bank and partly for the butterflies and bees.

bthe weedy bed in the foreground and the newly planted one after that.I planted up the whole of the middle bed, though it isn’t done in this picture but the camara ran out of power and we put out a pumpkin in Noddles bed covered in feece for a few days to get acclimatised.. We did more weeding and earthing up of potatos though there is still more to do and as always plenty to plant. We also planted the last few potatos and put in a path along the edge at the far bottom left courner. We plan to put a bench at the end of that path as it is pretty much the only place on the plot where you can sit in the shade of trees.

Finally we bought some bags at IKEA with the idea of using them as planters so watch this space to see if it works !!.

Posted by: estherreeves | May 22, 2009

A bit of pottering and potting

I have spend a few hours up at the plot this last week dodging the rain, though you can’t see much change compared to many of the jobs we have done in the past. Last Sunday we spent a short while up there before the rain hit but it was long enough for Tom and his dad to chop down the worst of the docks along the lane and allow us to put plastic down to try and keep them from coming back as vigerously.

Otherwise I have mostly been pottering around, moving plants into the hardening off frame, then bringing more from home. I also weeded the two new raised beds and planted out my rather sad looking broad beans but I thought I’d give them a chance as they have sat in pots so long. I need to get some other things into that bed. The other bed was half planted a couple of weeks ago with seeds which are starting to show if you look very carefully.

In that bed, sowed across the bed, so each row is about a metre long, are the following. From right to left looking from the greenhouse.

2 rows Parsnip – Gurnsey from Heritage seed library – rather late but I thought worth a try even if they were only baby ones.

Carrots -Karvnavit (showing), John’s Purple and Chanternay red-cored (showing)

Beetroots – Bolthardy(good showing) , Detroit 2(showing) and Di Chiocchia (one or two just coming up)

with some radish between the last two rows which are already doing well.

I have divided the other end of the bed into 12 (+3 halfs) approx one foot sq areas and planted up some young rocket, Lollo Rossa and Parella Red lettuce I had started in seed trays. I will try and plant other salad and herbs in the rest this weekend.

The potatos continue to grow well. The Pink fir apple are now showing properly and the other that were planted after them are coming through as well.. Everything else is showing well and the Mayan Twilight have an interestingly different leaf compared to the rest, though they seem more variable from plant to plant than most of them. I will try and take close ups of each type once they are growing well to show you the differences

Posted by: estherreeves | May 16, 2009

A less than perfect Sataday

box crates

box crates

Well the weather wasn’t very good today and we had various jobs to do so we didn’t get to the plot but weather willing we will tomorrow.  We did however get down a couple of times this week and now have several box pallets scattered round the place. These were from some builders down the road from us who were putting new paving in and were very happy for us to take them rather than throwing them in their skip.

One has been made into a makeshift cold frame with some fleece to harded plants out in. Another couple are to be used as holding bays for now for such things as plastic sheet which doesn’t need to be inside and a couple are earmarked as the basis of a play house!

Patio

Patio

Tom also layed a bit more of the patio next to the shed, on the sheltered side and tried to put in a pallet fence to keep small people contained. However the ground was so hard at the beginning of the week it he was struggling getting posts in and after splintering one of them decided to wait till either the ground was softer or he had the matok with him.

The potatoes are coming on well, the red Duke of York is particularly vigourous and it and Swift are already heading toward flowering. As I don’t think i put the list up by the 26/4/09 we had planted the following

2 Colleen in a tyre for Smalls
main plot
Row 1 Formost (9) – several weeks earlier
row 2  Red Duke of York (8) – several weeks earlier
row 3 Lady Christi (4) swift (5) – several weeks earlier
Row 4&5 Cara (14)
Row 6 Santa (9)
Row 7 Desiree (9)
Row 8 Mayan Twilight (5) International Jersey (4)

All of which are now up and visible

rows 1-5 plus extra row at end.

rows 1-5 plus extra row at end.

Then we put in  3.5 rows of Pink Fir Apple and part rows of Organic Milva, Cartriona,Organic Remarka, Moulin Rouge and Salad Blue. The pink fir apple are just starting to show as are one or two shoots of some of the others but even the few days between these and rows 4-8 is noticable.

The only ones still to go in are Highland Burgundy Red and the single ones we got from a friend mostly because we reached the end of the area we had laid out for potatos and want a trailer access across the plot at that point !

The other main thing I’ve been doing is startin to lay the path along side the potatos a bit more formally. Currently it is cardboard weighed down with some random bits of slabs which I am gradually trying to make into a crazy pathing path, so more slab less cardboard visible.

Path

Path

We did buy a hoe while out and about which we need badly as the weeds are growing faster than we can keep up with. We did try the strimmer we own off a car battery but our invertor doens’t give enough power and anyway the strimmer is a bit light weight so we will have to look at other options. I would love a proper sythe but I think it will depend what the other options are and how much they cost.

Posted by: estherreeves | May 10, 2009

An addition

Winning Sally

Winning Sally

One of the extra activites that had been layed on for the kids was a guess the name of the dog competition, Noddles guessed Sally which turned out to be the correct answer. I think this photo sums up quite well how he felt about it !!Sally now has a cardboard box kennel which she shares with two other smaller dogs we bought on the day as well as a ball and a snowman toy!

Posted by: estherreeves | May 10, 2009

Open day

seedlings

seedlings

Before I get to the open day a quick picture of some seedlings from a few days back. I just liked the difference between the seedlings from the squash family, those with standard leaf shaped leaves and the others like blades of grass which are sweetcorn.

Saturday was our open day at the London Road allotment. A whole bunch of people rallied round and offered to do various jobs.Tom took out biggest tent down there to make a seating area, with British weather it is after all wise to be prepared for rain and/or blazing sun  as well as anything else in between. We took various photographs over the day but I have mostly picked ones with few if any faces showing and I have a principle of not showing other peoples kids on my blog or at least making sure their faces arn’t on view so until I get permission to show other most of the photos are from set up or of my kids.

Our tent set up for drinking tea etc and Treestump.

Our tent set up for drinking tea etc and Treestump.

The building in the background is the allotment hut and has recently had a face lift with a new paint job and  kitchen being put in which is being brought up to the standards needed to serve food to the public.. those involved have been working long hours to do this and it is coming on wonderfully. It normally doubles up as a shop but that was moved out to the area behind and to the side so the hut could be used for cakes and other sales.

The trampaline and the hut

The trampaline and the hut

The turn out was great however and many of the new members of the association were there, including a lot of kids which was wonderful. We had tea, coffee etc plus a barbeque that was very well attended. There was also a well stocked plant sale and a whole host of home made cakes including some lovely gluten free ones made even better by the fact I didn’t cook them!  I contributed a few spare plants to the sale and picked up a couple of goji plants, a different pepper to the ones I’m growing, a celeriac and a couple of snapdragons and some leek seedlings.

Just some of the plants on sale

Just some of the plants on sale

There was also a trampoline for the kids which was very much enjoyed by both of ours and all the other kids from what I could see. Plus music which Treestump loved dancing too. We even had the police in attendence giving advice and freebees on things like shed security and so forth. Our communitee police regularly drop in on a Sataday which is really nice as we get to know them and they know the site.

Noodles and Treestump bouncing.

Noodles and Treestump bouncing.

The infamous tummy bounce !!

The infamous tummy bounce !!

bounce2

Posted by: estherreeves | May 7, 2009

Seeds from Lidl

I must say I am very impressed by the seeds we have got from Lidl. I will definitely be getting them again next year. I must admit to be half expecting them to be a bit dud as there were very cheap but while there arn’t huge amounts in some packs they have been extremly reliable about sprouting and turned into nice healthy plants. There is enough in the packs for normal family use and in some ways that is better than being left with lots.. this way we get more fresh next year.

Also being a continental based company rather than UK the varieties and even types of veg seeds they sell is a bit different to the norm which is good. I am looking forward to trying some of them.

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