Wednesday, June 23

Just Yellow

Day lily


Rose Golden Showers

Rose Golden Showers

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, June 21

Things are filling up

We've had another busy week. It's been a case of, not so much making hay while the sun shines, as filling the plot while the rain holds off. I have to be honest though, the allotment could really do with some 'proper' rain. We've had a couple of light showers but nothing like the forecasts promised. Any rain falling on the UK has fizzled out before reaching us, or has swerved to avoid us. This has meant one task has been to water everything - no mean task, as now we have so much planted and the water pressure, on our site, is such that if two people try to water at the same time it can take ages to fill a watering can.

We haven't spent all our time at the allotment though, as usual we had an afternoon walk in the parkland at Nostell. It's interesting to see how the dominant plant in the flower meadows change in just a week. The week before, buttercups took centre stage and last week, Ruby was running through clover.
Pathways have been mown through the long grass. Ruby doesn't stick to them, but she leaves no trace in the long grass to give away where she has been.

As well as clover, there are large patches of bird's foot trefoil and dog daisies,

I wonder what next will take over from the clover as the star flower?

The good news is all four cygnets are still doing well.
The family was some distance away, so the photos aren't brilliant, but hopefully, you can see how quickly the cygnets are growing.

Back at the allotment, Things are filling up ...
... but planting goes on.

 I planted some of the remaining climbing French and runner beans.
We planted more brassicas. This time, these were calabrese - Montclano, purple sprouting broccoli - Rudolf and Claret, red cabbage - Red Lodero and savoy - Wintessa, Cordessa and Rigoletto. Some filled a bed already half planted, and the others filled a second bed. As the ground was so dry, we filled the planting hole with water before planting. As brassicas are hungry plants each was given a helping of fertiliser to give them a boost and lime to help thwart club root.
The brassicas planted earlier are now starting to take off.
It also looks as though, this year, we will actually have some broad beans to harvest. The first batch is now producing pods, and the second batch is flowering.
It's always a tense time after sowing seed or planting out, when nothing seems to be happening so it is satisfying when things start to grow away.
I've planted out more annual flowers. This year they have been sown in trays, as conditions for sowing directly into the soil were never right, too dry or too wet! In this bed are planted, dahlias, cosmos, cornflowers, calendulas, godetia, scabious, poppies, sunflowers, nigella and one or two zinnias.

Sweet Williams that were sown last year are now flowering and producing the first cut flowers of the season.
As well as planting on the allotment, I have also been adding plants to our new bed at home.
As we are not yet adventurous enough to visit garden centres so plants were ordered online. They were quite small specimens, so once they arrived plants were potted up to grow on. Growers are, like us behind schedule so some plants have arrived later than expected. In fact, some have still to be delivered. I've chosen perennials with a long flowering period for this bed, although I don't expect many flowers this year. I planted, penstemon, rudbeckia, sedum. achillea, astrantia and geraniums. Each was a collection of a few varieties. There are some lythrums growing on in pots and we are awaiting delivery of some heleniums.

We managed to take time out from busily planting to smell the roses on the allotment and in the garden.
As others have mentioned on their blogs, the roses seem to be beautiful this year. Maybe they know that we need cheering up!
When it came to harvesting we had a treat last week. At the beginning of the week, we picked our first punnet of strawberries.
Then on Sunday, we came home with six large punnets full of lovely ripe strawberries. This poses a bit of a dilemma as they were produced by Elsanta and Sweetheart, two of the varieties in the old strawberry bed which we are digging up at the end of the year. I am intending to root runners from these two varieties, but we are now wondering whether we should leave these two varieties in situ. It's a decision for later.
Another first harvest was a cucumber - Pepinex, from a plant growing in the garden greenhouse.

As well as gardening at the allotment, we also filmed a plot tour which, if you are interested is posted here.

As always wherever you are keep safe and well.
This week, once again,  I'm going to join in with Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, June 14

A very busy week - part two at the allotment

We made the most of the good weather last week, and spent four afternoons on the allotment, so we managed to get a lot of planting done and seeds that were sown directly are now making an effort.

Parsnip germination has, in the end, turned out quite well. As I sowed two seeds to every station, I will soon need to carry out the heart-breaking task of removing one seedling where both seeds have germinated. It's such a shame that we can't transplant the thinned seedlings elsewhere.

The carrots are also starting to grow away.
The peas that were resown, after the first sowing failed to show, have grown really well which means, at least, the seeds were fine. We covered the second sowing with enviromesh so did that protect the seeds or did the drier conditions mean that the seeds didn't rot? Who knows? At least now we have peas that will soon need to be given twiggy supports.
The runner and climbing French bean supports were already in place so we just needed to plant the beans which is done. 

One planting that didn't go so well was the sweet corn. Every time we plant out our sweet corn there seems to be a fairly strong wind blowing, and last week was no exception. To try to thwart the wind, I popped up a temporary barrier of enviromesh. Unfortunately this didn't prevent the wind from flattening the young plants. Time will tell whether or not any plants recover.
Whilst I did some planting and general tidying, Martyn set to with the rotovator and prepared all the remaining beds so that they were ready to plant up.
In some of the beds were planted the curcurbits. We planted three varieties of squash - Crown Prince, Autumn Crown and Pink Banana and three varieties of courgette - Ambassador, Boldenice, a round fruiting variety, and Black Forest, a climbing courgette. We've never grown a climbing courgette before so it should be interesting.
I crawled into the makeshift, open topped tent to plant the left over tomato plants. We don't expect too much from them, but hate to throw plants away, so they are given a chance to grow. As well as working in a rather cramped position, I also had to keep a wary eye out for my nemeses - the ants!

This year our annual flower seeds were sown in the greenhouse, so some of these were planted alongside our new dahlia plants, and some extra dahlias given to us by a fellow plotter.
A bed has been prepared, and covered with an enviromesh tunnel  in readiness to plant more brassicas - hopefully next week.
Alongside the tunnel, another climbing bean frame has been erected, ready for our left over bean plants. 

Where flowering plants self seed, unless they choose an inconvenient position, they are left to just get on with life. Foxgloves growing, in the fruit beds, and sweet rocket growing in various random positions, are now flowering and putting on a display. The sweet rocket is providing some attractive perfume too.
As we have been doing for some weeks now, we harvested a few sticks of rhubarb. The variety was Raspberry Red which when stewed is a deep pink colour.

As well as harvesting rhubarb we had a couple of firsts. We picked a couple of small helpings of strawberries from our fading strawberry bed.
I also cut our first bunch of cut flowers. The sweet Williams are from our plot and the sweet peas were cut from a neighbour's plot. He did tell me to pick some as he had too many for himself. Our sweet peas won't be flowering for a few weeks. The scent is perfuming the house as I type.

One meal that used some of our frozen French beans was a vegetable rice dish based on this recipe.
In another I used some of our frozen squash to make a Thai style curry based on this recipe.

All in all it was a very busy week, after all you never know when all that wet weather is going to descend on us again. Now at least we don't have lots of empty beds to look at and the plot looks lived in!

I nearly forgot - I said that I would put the link to the video showing how we planted our leeks the week before last. If you are interested it is posted here. The leeks, by the way, are now starting to perk up nicely.

As well as working on the allotment we managed to get out and about. I posted about this in my last post.

As always wherever you are keep safe and well.
This week, once again,  I'm going to join in with Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Sunday, June 13

A Walk on the Wild Side

To avoid writing a very long post this week I have decided to recount the week in two separate posts then you can just choose to read whichever is of interest to you.

On Monday we paid another visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park where they had opened another new enclosure. This had been built and populated with its new residents for some weeks but visitors were not able to view it as some time was given to allow the sea lions to settle in. There are six residents in total and they certainly have plenty of space to enjoy themselves.
Despite our regular visits, there are still some animals that we have yet to meet. The hyenas for instance never seem to venture out when we are about. 

Up until last week we had never managed to catch the little family of dik diks but on Monday we were in luck.
Although we have seen the howler monkeys before, they have been tucked up high in the tree canopy and impossible to photograph but last week they treated us to a good view. Apparently, a sad face means that they are content and a 'happy' face means they are anxious so the group seemed to be happy enough.

I still can't tell the new polar bears apart.

One thing that I especially like about YWP is that some areas are managed as habitats for indigenous wildlife. One area is a large wetland area where there was plenty to be seen as many of the water birds had chicks.

One pair of shelducks had ten ducklings to watch over.
There were at least two broods of greylag geese, one being further advanced than the other.
The coots had young to feed too.
The great crested grebes were a little behind in the breeding game. They were still engaged in the courtship ritual. We had hoped that they would treat us to their tippy toes dance but we had to be content with all the head bobbing.

As usual we had an afternoon at Nostell where I was happy to see that all four cygnets were now obviously growing into swans. Only mum was in attendance. The male bird was at the other end of the lake. He'd probably decided that the cygnets were now big enough to not need two guards.
Across the lake we spotted a solitary heron and a flock of mostly male mallards was basking in the sunshine.

The water lilies were beginning to flower. It will look lovely when there are more open blooms.
Some areas at Nostell are being allowed to grow into wild flower meadows. At present buttercups are the dominant species but we hope to spot different flowers during our regular visits.
During our walks in the parkland at Nostell we hear lots of pheasants and I had commented that we hadn't spotted any so just to satisfy me one popped his head up and had a good look at us. Ruby is always curious when she spots wildlife during her walks but fortunately she is content to stand and watch quietly rather than dashing forward barking as some dogs do. 

I'll describe our week at the allotment in the following post.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, June 7

Leapfrogging spring

Other than the odd spring-like day, we seem to have missed spring altogether and jumped straight out of winter and into summer. 

The flowers on the allotment are certainly enjoying the sudden upturn in the weather conditions.

We made the most of the weather and spent three afternoons at the allotment playing catch-up.

We don't usually have any trouble germinating peas, but this year the first sowing just never put in an appearance, so we resowed in the hope that the second sowing will fare better. We don't know whether something ate all the pea seeds or they rotted in the wet soil, if something did eat them, it will be one very fat creature as two full rows disappeared and we sow our peas generously. Whatever the reason for the no show, we didn't find a trace of any seeds when the ground was turned over and the second lot of peas were sown. 

As well as the time spent at the allotment we also spent an afternoon in the garden. The tomato plants were planted out in the garden greenhouse and also in the plot greenhouse. 

 More tomatoes have been planted in a raised bed in the garden. Also in this bed are planted, a mixture of lettuces and a Mini Munch cucumber.

Whilst, Martyn planted the allotment tomatoes, I tidied out the shed. This job was much overdue but, I was waiting for a dry day so that everything could be moved outside. It was just as well that I'm not worried by spiders. At least now we have a clear area in which to sit and have a coffee if we need to shelter from the rain. 

The brassicas destined for the plot very nearly were consigned to the compost bins as, for ages, they just didn't make any effort to grow but, once they enjoyed a bit of warmth and sunshine, they kicked their heels and quickly flourished. Instead of the compost bin their new home is now their very own bed on the plot. We planted cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and sprouts and just hope that they do better than last year's failures. They are now safely protected from pigeons and butterflies under enviromesh.

Also now safely protected, from opportunistic birds, is our old strawberry bed. Our first ripe strawberry fell prey to either a bird or a slug. The fruit has been left, just in case the thief was a slug and it decides to return to the scene of the crime. Slugs will often do this, and will carry on browsing the same berry instead of moving on to a new target. The netting will unfortunately be no barrier to our slimy foes.

We planted our leeks on Sunday afternoon. This year we have slightly adapted our planting method after picking up a tip from last week's Beechgrove programme. George, one of the presenters was on his allotment planting his leeks. He advocated digging a trench and planting the leeks in the bottom. This was then done as usual by making a deep hole with a dibber and dropping the leeklings into the hole which was then filled with water. George stated that this way you end up with a longer white part to the leek, as the trench gradually fills up and blanches the lower half of the 'stem'.
It's not an easy process to photograph, but we did take some video explaining what we did and this will be posted shortly. I'll link to it in my next post. Despite some beds still being too sticky to dig it was quite difficult making the planting holes as the top layer of soil is now very dry and the holes kept filling up. Martyn 'dibbed' the holes and I quickly followed on dropping the young plants into the holes before they closed up.
Of course at this time of the year, the week wouldn't be complete without us harvesting some rhubarb. The large stick on the right is from a clump of Giant Grooveless Crimson.

We paid our weekly visit to Nostell where the trees were now at their very best.

Instead of there being dandelions for Ruby to frolic in she had fun amongst the buttercups and daisies.
I was anxious to find out whether all four cygnets had made it through the week and happily they had.

Both parents are constantly watching over their brood and hissing at any potential threat to their young family.
The cygnets are growing quickly and now there is no mistaking that they are young swans.
We haven't seen any ducklings yet but most of the ducks that we have spotted are males so maybe the females are busy sitting on nests. The male above looks to be a hybrid as ducks are not too fussy when it comes to a mate and often produce mixed breed offspring.

I'm guessing that the crows that we saw are potential predators of any untended young birds. The cygnets were lucky to have had such good parents.

There are plenty of young families in our garden too. The parents have to grab a quick bath whenever they can.
I'm still harvesting from the freezer and on Wednesday some of our frozen leeks went into a bean and vegetable stew made in the slow cooker. It was based on this recipe but I only cooked it for half the time stated in the recipe.

On Sunday I used some of our frozen French beans and made a chicken, potato and bean curry,

Fortunately they both tasted far better than the photos imply.

As well as the three afternoons that we spent on the allotment we also paid a visit on Wednesday evening to film a plot tour. If you are interested in viewing,  it is here.

As always keep safe and well 

This week, once again,  I'm going to sneak into Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres where no doubt others will again show off a much more prolific harvest than ours.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett