Monday, March 30

Is this real life?

At the moment I feel that I am living on the set of one of those films that forecast catastrophic events that befall the earth. It isn't a film that I am enjoying being part of and has no business infiltrating into the real world. The worst of it is that whereas a film has a definite ending, this surreal situation has no end in sight. This is usually my favourite time of the year but this year I can't enjoy it.

At present we are being allowed to visit our allotment but with threats of more stringent measures to come for how long will this continue?

We travel to the allotment site by car in our own isolation bubble. (I read that cars couldn't be used to drive to your place of exercise and so I emailed the police to check. The response was that it should be OK as not only was going to the allotment permitted but it also was a means of collecting food). I wear vinyl gloves to unlock, open, close and relock the gate. After the gloves are pulled of I sanitise my hands. On our large plot it is easy to maintain more than the required safe distance from our neighbours. There's no more getting together for a coffee. We 'shared' one coffee break with a plot neighbour. We sat well into our plot, he was on his plot, each had a coffee made by themselves and we had a long distance conversation courtesy of raised voices.

We're trying to get as much done on the allotment before things change again.
There's still lots of tidying and preparation work to be done courtesy of the miserable weather that plagued us from September onwards. 

The son of our plot neighbour erects fencing and, (prior to lockdown), he brought some old fencing panels for us to use to renovate our compost bays. Martyn worked on these and also emptied the contents of one bay to spread as mulch on various beds that we were preparing for the next crops.
I managed to finish pruning the gooseberries, some of which grow up a fence, The area around the bushes was tidied and mulched with well rotted wood chippings. 
As I was pruning the gooseberries, it struck me that some of the clippings would make good cuttings and so I have taken some from each of the two plants growing on the fence. One is a red variety called Pax and the other a green variety Hinnonmaki Yellow. The cuttings have been placed in our plot greenhouse along with some lavender cuttings which were taken earlier. In the current climate we will probably bring them home. 
I tidied one of the fruit beds and finished tidying the flower bed along one edge of our plot, although I had to wait for some of our plot neighbours to leave before I could do this, as they were working nearby.
Martyn, tilled some of the smaller beds and under normal circumstances we would feel that we were getting somewhere in our attempts to catch up but who knows what's to come in the future?
One onion bed is prepared for planting although we could do with it to warm up a little before we do this.
Despite the forecast frosty weather we decided to risk planting a row of early potatoes - just in case- we rationalised that the potatoes wouldn't come through too quickly and would hopefully avoid any frosty weather. We really felt that we needed to get something in the ground. Half the row was planted with Casablanca and half with International Kidney. We'd like to plant more potatoes in tubs but compost is really at a premium.
After each plot visit we managed to bring back some small harvests.
The purple sprouting broccoli had been the best we have ever had this year and has just kept on producing.

One of the punnets of broccoli and a bunch of rhubarb was intended for my sister but we are not permitted to visit her to take this. 

Anyway until next time STAY SAFE and lets hope that we come out at the other end sooner rather than later.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Wednesday, March 25

Trying to lighten the mood

Monday, March 23

Will we be able to get to the plot?

One of the possible disadvantages of growing vegetables three miles from your home is that in the event of a lockdown we may not be allowed access to our plot. We had thought that getting into the car on our driveway and not getting out until we reached the site, where we could garden with far more than the required distance of 2 metres away from anyone else, was taking adequate precautions in line with government advice. The problem is that the scenes at the weekend showing crowds massing at tourist locations are likely to cause more stringent measures to be taken from which we will all suffer.

All this comes on top of a season where our allotment activity is already well behind where it should be. You would think in times of empty supermarket shelves that growing your own food was to be encouraged wouldn't you? No doubt later today we will find out where we stand. I do hope those who enjoyed a day at the seaside at the weekend will feel that it was worth it in the days to come!

We managed to get to the plot for a couple of afternoons last week and until the soil dries a little more we concentrated on tidying up. 

I cut back autumn fruiting, All Gold raspberries that had begun to grow new shoots.
If you want your autumn raspberries to provide two crops of fruit, you can cut down just half of the old canes. If you do this the old canes will bear fruit earlier in the season and the new canes will fruit later. As we have a  separate area for summer fruiting raspberries we cut down all the old canes to ground level.
We made a start on tidying the flower beds.
I know that the bed below doesn't look as though it's tidy but that was the state that it was in after a full afternoon's work. All the dead top growth and weeds were removed  and all that remains is for the grass paths to be tidied.
The area under the cobnut trees  has been mulched with wood chippings.
The rest of the old honeyberry bed, however, is in no fit state to be worked on. I reckon that it is going to be quite a while before we will be planting in this bed.
On a more positive note, the gloom that we find ourselves experiencing had not been transmitted to the fruit trees and bushes,
 The first blueberry flowers are opening ...
... the greengage is sporting more blossom daily ...
... quince leaves are unfurling
... and native primroses are doing there best to lighten the mood.

We did collect a small harvest last week.
The sprouting broccoli is still sprouting, we dug more leeks - this time for my sister's freezer - more rhubarb and a cabbage.

The cabbages have been disappointing as the leaves are tinged with black almost to the centre which mean lots of the cabbage is unusable, Has anyone else had this problem this year? I'm guessing it is the result of the very wet conditions the cabbages endured throughout their growing season.

As well as working on the allotment we have been busy in the garden but I'm guessing that I could have some time on my hands to catch you up on that in a later post.

Stay safe!

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Monday, March 16

Is winter being nudged aside?

On Sunday we managed to get a little more work done on the allotment.

Martyn, cut the grass paths for the first time since last September - back at home the lawns had their first cut too. I may be a little too optimistic but, after a drier week, the grass in both locations seemed far less squelchy. I guess that it's tempting fate to hope that we have turned a corner.
Whilst, Martyn was busy wielding his strimmer, I was busy with the loppers and secateurs giving the roses and gooseberries a much belated pruning, 
 The roses are leafing up quickly and needed a bit of taming
The gooseberries just needed a little trimming to open up the centres of the bushes. Hopefully this will allow air to circulate around the plant and reduce the chance of mildew. Despite pruning every year, for the past two years this treatment hasn't worked. I'm wondering whether the plants are too close to the jostaberries that dwarf them. (By the way although the fruit beds will need some weeding, most of the greenery in the photo above is candytuft that has self seeded).
On some beds the gales, that have plagued us this year, had disturbed much of the weed control fabric and blown the mulch about so time was spent straightening the fabric and remulching.
In the plot greenhouse, the radish, that I sowed last week, has germinated and the overwintered spinach is starting to grow quickly. (Or at least some of it has).
The greengage trees are the first of our plot trees to start to blossom, although the plum and our earliest blueberry have buds on the point of bursting. 
 Of course we couldn't visit the plot without coming away with a few goodies.
Included in our haul was the first cut flowers of the season - our first bunch of daffodils.

We picked a batch of leeks which will be frozen and a few sprouts which have probably seen better days.
Rudolph on the left and one called just Purple Sprouting Broccoli on the right
There was plenty of broccoli ready for cutting, despite the ravages of the wood pigeons, it's been one of our best years for PSB.

As we headed home I was surprised when I realised that it was nearly six o' clock - winter really is being pushed aside - isn't it? I just hope that it doesn't fight back!

Stop Press:

Back at home, we had the yearly visitors that we are always looking out for. The frogs are back, and they've been busy.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Tuesday, March 10

March Flowers

Monday, March 9

A tentative start to the season

On Sunday we popped to the allotment - on the way there we nearly turned back as the inevitable happened - it started to rain. We decided to hope that the rain was part of the showers that were forecast and would pass over. We were  in luck!
Our aim was to plant up a few crates in the greenhouse and whilst, Martyn prepared the crates for planting, I took the opportunity to clip over the lavender bed. Lavender becomes really straggly unless this is done every year.
We planted up three crates, in the first I sowed three rows of carrots; the variety is Aron which is described as 'a half long stumpy variety' that does well in clay soil. It will be given the chance to prove the latter statement when we  eventually sow some outside.
Between the rows of carrots, I sowed a couple of rows of Multicoloured Breakfast Radish.

The other two crates were each planted with two early potato tubers, one with Casablanca and the other with International Kidney. We intend to plant up another two containers later.
At the end of last season I sowed a crate of spinach which, after germination, had been in a state of suspended animation but it is now starting to grow.
Two of the crates that we used still housed the remnants of last years crops. When they were emptied we retrieved a few spring onions and some very small beetroots which may or may not prove usable.

I also picked a good helping of sprouting broccoli from our Rudolph plants.
Just before we were ready to head for home, another shower arrived but not before we had a coffee break and a chat with our plot neighbour.

Earlier in the week,  in our garden greenhouse, Martyn sowed some parsley and  All Year Round lettuce.
The trays have been placed under a propagator lid for extra protection - not just to provide a smidgen higher temperature but protect from the mice that regularly dig up seeds . 
Last year we redesigned some parts of our garden. Under one of our crab apple trees we planted native primroses, tete a tete narcissi, snowdrops and English bluebells. The snowdrops are over now and the bluebells have yet to make an appearance, but the tete a tete and the primroses are creating a pretty display that should get better and better as the plants bulk out.
Another bed that was renovated last year was one containing one of our bird baths. The bed is outside one of our house windows so we like it to have all year round interest. Spring bulbs are giving a display at the moment but in summer we will plant some summer flowering plants such as impatiens or pansies. With this in mind, the tete a tete daffodils are planted in pots which are set into the soil. When the bulbs have finished flowering the pots can be lifted and popped in a corner of the garden to leave planting pockets for the summer residents. The pots can be replanted in autumn when those plants fade.
The blackbirds aren't letting the weather stop them from nest building; each year they pull the 'hairy bits' from the trachycarpus and certainly leave their mark on the trunk of the plant. You can see from the photo below just how high they reach. So far the damage doesn't seem to upset the palm.
Well that's it for now - at least we feel that we have made a start albeit a very small one.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.