Wednesday, April 29

More signs of new life

I usually publish a post on Monday's giving a summary of the work done the previous week and a description of what we have harvested. This week I have been delayed again. My excuse is that at the moment I'm taking advantage of a rare peaceful period when instead of a ball of fluffy energy charging around the house finding mischief where there should be none to be found as the the said ball of fluff is curled up under my computer chair.
So what did we achieve on the allotment last week? There was more tidying up  Martyn did more rotovating and cut the grass whilst I planted the rest of the potatoes and did a bit of weeding.
I planted the last two varieties if potatoes namely Nadine and Rudolph. The potatoes were planted using a trowel through holes in weed control fabric. The holes were dug as deeply as the trowel will allow and then 6x fertiliser was sprinkled in the hole prior to popping in the seed potato and covering with the excavated soil.
In the same way I planted up another potato bed. This one contained a mixture made up of the left over odds and ends from all the varieties that we planted. Growing potatoes through weed control fabric not only keeps weeds down but also means that no earthing up is necessary as the fabric blocks out any light that would otherwise turn some potatoes green and render them inedible.
The first potatoes that I planted in open ground are just beginning to push shoots through the soil. These are not grown through fabric and consequently are earthed up. As we don't harvest early potatoes all at once the lack of a fabric covering makes harvesting a single root much easier.
A grapevine grows on two sides of our shed and along a section of trellis. The buds were beginning to break and so I cut it back. It needs regularly trimming during the growing season as otherwise the shed would be in danger of disappearing. It does produce fruit but the grapes are rarely big enough to eat as dessert grapes.
 The autumn planted onions are now growing away quickly.
The onions and shallot sets planted a couple of weeks ago are also now growing. We used to plant half of the sets earlier in module trays and keep them in the greenhouse but we no longer do this. We found that in the end there was no difference between sets started in this way and those planted straight in the ground. The transplanted sets suffered a check to their growth when planted out and so any advantage of starting them early was lost.
The peas are also coming through, we just need to hope now that they grow quickly enough to outrun the weevils. Peas and broad beans are attacked by weevils every year. If the plants grow quickly enough the notches that the weevils make along the edges of the leaves rarely affect the harvest.
Dead heading the sprouting broccoli didn't prolong the production of shoots and so the plants have now been removed and added to the compost bin.
 We cleared the leek bed and froze any leeks that were still usable.
The parsnip bed was also cleared. Most of the remaining roots had become woody but we managed to retrieve a couple along with a few usable broccoli shoots.
As usual at the moment rhubarb featured in our weeks harvest and we also cut a couple of small cabbages.
Prior to Martyn strimming the grass, we could have harvested a huge amount of dandelion but they are one crop that we would never use. Maybe you would!

I hope Dave doesn't object to a belated harvest Monday post

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

If your interested we filmed a tour of our plot and a walk around our garden

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, April 22

Spring marches on

Monday, April 20

We have been ‘attending’ our allotment

I missed posting an update last week for all sorts of reasons - I was busy doing lots of other things that didn't leave much time for blogging. Being subject to lockdown seems to make life more hectic rather than less so.

All in all 2020 so far has been a year that we are certainly not enjoying. 

One problem, that would have been a major one in previous years but this year, in light of everything else that has happened, has been relegated to the annoyance category, is that Adobe in their wisdom has pulled the plug on the application that Martyn and I use for our websites. Those are the sites that the links on the top of our blogs go to. It means that we can no longer update the pages, so the sites will have dead ends and out of date content. Visitors who end up on the websites using a direct search will have no way of knowing that we are setting up another area for new information as we have no way of linking up. This is the third time we have had similar problems and we thought choosing an application from such a large company would be a safer bet. Not so and Adobe's customer service left a lot to be desired.

Anyway let's try to look on the bright side, even though the lockdown continues for at least another three weeks, we are still allowed to garden on the allotment. This time allotments even have a mention in the list of permitted exercise. The wording states that we can 'attend an allotment' which seems an odd phrase to use. 

Over the past couple of weeks whilst we have been attending our plot we have managed to get quite a lot done. We are still working on the principle that we need to get as much done whilst we can.

We have also been working in the garden at home.
This year we are renovating another section of garden. The border above housed several overgrown shrubs which we have severely cut back. The consequence was that the ancient fence along our boundary with the garden next door needed replacing.
Whilst, Martyn was on fencing duties I cleared the cold frames and generally tidied the area at the top of the garden.

Last week also was the start of seed sowing in earnest. The full list of our seed sowing activity is here.

On the plot I tidied and fed the strawberry plants.
The plants in one half of the bed look much healthier that this in the other half but I'm hoping this is just that they are an earlier variety.
We've been busy sowing and planting. The beds all needs preparing first. Covers were removed and the soil cultivated and fertilised before weed control fabric was reinstalled.

We sowed carrots - Autumn King, Flakee and Romance and parsnip - Gladiator seeds. The seeds were sown in shallow trenches of multipurpose compost. Once sown and given a good watering, the carrot bed was covered with enviromesh to offer some protection against carrot fly.

We finished planting onion - Sturon, Hercules, Centurion, French Pink and Red Karmen and shallot sets - Red Sun, Golden Gourmet, Longor and Meloine. We're still using last year's onions.

Our autumn planted onions are now starting to grow away and so hopefully we will have only a short onion hungry gap.
I sowed the first two rows of peas - Onward. We buy a large bag of seeds and sow a generous amount in each trench. This method seems to work well for us.
Our final planting for the week on the allotment were three rows of potatoes - Osprey, Apaches and Elfe. These are also grown through weed control fabric. We don't dig deep trenches rather dig a hole as deep as we can with a trowel into which we sprinkle a small amount of 6x fertiliser before popping in a seed potato. 
Martyn, managed to strim all our grass paths and other grassy areas. He also edged the beds that have been planted up.
The last fortnight has also provided a bounty for the bees and other pollinators,
as the plum and greengage blossom fell, the pear blossom took up the baton. They were followed by the cherry blossom and at the end of last week the apple blossom joined in the display.

The last of the fruit trees to flower is the quince which is now clothed in buds.

For those pollinators that prefer more diminutive flowers the jostaberries and blueberries are providing for them.
We did come home with a small harvest. The rhubarb continues to provide generous pickings. 

One surprise addition to our harvest were some very small parsnips that had been sown in a crate late last season. As expected they didn't do much but when the crate was tipped out we found some baby specimens. We took them home and surprisingly they tasted just as parsnips should.

Our final token harvest came from the garden greenhouse. You may remember that, in a crate, I sowed radish seeds between rows of carrot seeds. The radishes are now maturing so we pulled our first two. 

The purple sprouting broccoli has been amazing this year but now their buds are bursting into flower along with other remaining brassica plants. The bees love these flowers too. When I cleared the Brussels sprouts I had to dodge the bumble bees that were browsing. They even followed me as I carried the plants to the compost heap. As for the PSB, I'm having a go at deadheading and cutting off the bits that are flowering just to see whether it will work in the same way as deadheading ornamentals. I'm hoping it will extend the harvest. Probably a vain hope but what have I to lose?

That's all from me for now - in the meantime 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. 

Thursday, April 16

Cheap and cheerful

Yesterday, Anna asked whether we grew tulips on the allotment.

We do, so I thought that I would share some photos as at the moment they are pumping out plenty of colour.

The plot tulips are mainly planted in our pear tree bed.

Although a clump somehow appeared under the plum trees. Some of these have developed streaks - maybe from cross pollination?
We planted the first tulips some years ago.
They've gradually multiplied without any assistance from us.
They are from a cheap, bumper pack of unnamed varieties. I think it just said red and yellow tulips on the pack.
I'm not sure where the pinkish ones, that are going over on the right, came from as I don't remember planting any like that.
Each year more and more pop up so the cheap and cheerful mixed bag certainly earn their keep.

Wednesday, April 15

Tulip time

Wednesday, April 8

March in pictures