Wednesday, April 28

Acer flowers

Monday, April 26

Feeling needled

The weather at the moment is really needling us.  It’s conspiring to hold up progress on the allotment. We went months when all it seemed to do was rain and the ground was soggy and too wet to work. Now the tap has been well and truly turned off and the earth is on the verge of being too dry to work. Night temperatures are consistently plummeting to freezing and during the day we have latterly enjoyed warm sunshine.

All in all it is not conducive to raising seedlings or sowing and planting outdoors. Even the weeds are struggling.
The goosegrass above displays the reddish tints that indicate a plant is stressed. On the plus side, weed seeds are not germinating so beds that we have cleared are remaking weed free. If weed seeds refuse to germinate what chance have we in germinating carrots or parsnips?

We are having to water the plants that are already out there. The more tender seedlings are being transferred from the greenhouse to the kitchen on a nightly basis and seeds are itchy to jump out of the seed packets.
We paid one of our regular visits to Nostell Priory last week. It was a lovely day and from the photos below you would think everything in the garden was rosy. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and cloudless and greenery was transforming many trees and hedgerows.
Incidentally, the patch of bare earth in the distance in the photo bottom left was the location for what resembled a lake throughout winter and into March.

Ruby enjoyed running through the dandelions and this year even resisted snapping off the flower heads. 
In the garden and on the plot, tulips are providing splashes of colour.
I was pleased that the tulips planted in tubs a couple of years ago have performed again but I’m planning to plant them in the garden when they die down. Hopefully, I’ll feel safe enough to visit the garden centre and buy new bulbs later in the year.
Some garden plants appear to have shrugged off the frost better than others. Whilst the camellia flowers are untouched, the magnolia flowers are tinged with brown.
The blossom of the cherry tree planted in a pot in the garden has fared far better than that of the tree planted at the plot.
The open aspect on our allotment site gives less protection than in our more enclosed garden. I’m hoping that the apple blossom avoids being ruined by the frosts.
There is no shortage of willing pollinators. The area in front of our allotment shed is the site of many perfectly excavated holes made by solitary bees.
Seeds are being sown in the hope that shortly conditions will be more favourable and the night temperatures will climb. The forecasts indicate that we may have to wait a few more weeks before that hope is realised. I’m glad the potatoes already planted haven’t yet nudged their way through the soil. We planted more potatoes on Sunday, this time Apache and Osprey. Lots more tubers are waiting to be planted.
More beds have been prepared ready for planting but things are still looking very bare. Martyn, has been busily rotovating beds as I have managed to clear them. It’s a race against time before the ground becomes just too dry.
There is very little to harvest at present but we did manage to cut a red cabbage and another tiny cauliflower.

The red cabbages seem to be made of tougher stuff than their green cousins. They also appear to be less attractive to wood pigeons and white butterflies although as they are planted amongst the greens they are grown under enviromesh.

The weather wasn't the only thing needling us last week. We all had our second Covid-19 vaccination. Martyn was on Friday, my sister on Saturday and I had mine on Sunday. Now we need to hope that no mutations sneak in that can tolerate the vaccines.

As always in these uncertain times keep safe and well.

This I'm joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week  

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

Wednesday, April 21

Spring flowers

Monday, April 19

An enforced hiatus

I mentioned in my last post that I had strained something in my shoulder. This affected my back and all of my arm so I decided to have a break from blogging, gardening and just about everything else that involved using my arm, bending or sitting upright. Most of my activity was undertaken either curled up on the sofa or standing upright. 

After about a week resting my arm and shoulder, last week I gradually started to do more.

We had a visit to Nostell Priory last week where the scene is gradually changing. The trees are greening up and the flooded areas are now almost totally dried up.
We spent three afternoons at the allotment trying to play catch up. The fruit areas are at their most floriferous. The tulips are combining with the pear blossoms  to put on quite a show. More and more tulips appear each year.
The pear, greengage, plum and cherry trees are clothed in blossom and the apple blossom is just beginning to burst.
During April, night time temperatures have been very low resulting in frosty conditions so we are concerned that the blossom may have been damaged and the trees will fail to produce fruit.

I don’t hold out much hope that the cherry blossom will have been productive.

Fruit bushes are also producing flower. They don’t have flimsy, blowsy petals to be browned by the frost but will that mean they will be more likely to produce fruit? We will have to wait and see. Although the nights are cold the daytime sunshine means there is no shortage of bees busily searching for some sustenance and nesting sites. Hopefully they will carried out some pollinating duties as they browse.

On our plot, we have a hawthorn tree that many years ago was just a tiny self sown seedling that I trained into a tree. The tree is a favourite singing perch for various birds. Flower buds are forming amongst the foliage. The flowers otherwise known as May blossom will as their name suggests open around the beginning of May and hedgerows will turn white. Another hedgerow plant, blackthorn is flowering already. Unlike hawthorn it flowers before the leaves open and is often mistaken for hawthorn. 
Of course our afternoons on the plot are not restricted to wandering around photographing  the plants - there was work to be done.

The All Gold autumn raspberries are producing new shoots from the base of the plants so, as I was on light duties, Martyn cut all last year’s canes down to the ground. If these were left they would produce earlier fruit but we want them to fruit after our other summer raspberries.
Whilst, Martyn prepared and fertilised the appropriate beds, I was on planting duty.

The first to be planted were some calabrese - Aquiles, cauliflower - Seoul and cabbages - Regency and Mozart. These were covered with enviromesh.
If left unprotected the wood pigeons would make short work of them. Within a couple of days they devastated the broccoli plants from which the enviromesh was removed. The broccoli was past producing a harvest but the wood pigeons enjoyed the old leaves. They don’t just attack young plants. Established plants will soon disappear too.
Next, I planted a batch of broad beans - De Monica. Last year we had a total broad bean failure, hopefully this year we will do better. A second batch will be sown to plant later.
I planted two beds of potatoes. The first was our early potatoes - Casablanca and the second lot were the freebies - Royal from Thompson and Morgan. For some years now I have planted all our potatoes using a trowel and find the harvest is just as good as when we used the back breaking trench method. The early potatoes were earthed up as we don’t grow them under weed control fabric. 
The later plants that will be harvested in one go have been planted through weed control fabric and will not be earthed up.
Finally we planted onion sets - Sturon, Centurion and Hercules, shallot sets - Longor and Meloine and a batch of garlic - Solent Wight that had been started off in pots. The onions and garlic that were planted last autumn - shown in the top photos above - are now growing away well.
Last week along with some Timperley Early rhubarb, we harvested the last of our purple sprouting broccoli and a tiny cauliflower. It may have been tiny but most of our late brassicas failed, probably due to the incessant rain, so this one was most welcome. Ironically although it has been cold, it has also turned very dry so we have had to water everything. It’s all or nothing with our weather! These are not ideal growing or planting conditions but we really did have to get something into the ground! 

As always in these uncertain times keep safe and well.

This I'm joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week  

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

Wednesday, April 7

March in pictures

Monday, April 5

Out of action

Any gardening activity has been put on hold for me. My problem with my shoulder has migrated and now the length of my arm and wrist are affected. When I wake up on the morning, I mostly feel ‘normal’ but soon after getting out of bed reality settles in and activity is restricted. I’m writing this on my iPad again as I can sit back nestling in the cushions of the sofa. 

I have managed to wander around the garden to take a few photos. 
There is quite a lot of colour in the garden. One could almost imagine that we had waved goodbye to winter weather but sadly this isn’t the case as the temperatures drop.

Martyn has been busy tidying the garden and sorting out the garden greenhouse whilst I have had to be satisfied by curling up with a Kindle. At this rate I’ll have to pick out more books. As well as some tidying, Martyn made sure that the newly sprouted potato’s and dahlias were covered with layers of fleece to protect them from the sudden cold spell. It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of the week, we were basking in summer temperatures

We had an afternoon at the allotment but for me this just involved a mooch around with, Ruby whilst, Martyn uncovered more beds and hoed the soil in preparation for planting. We made a video tour of the plot which is posted here.

There is lots of colour on the plot too. Some tulips in the pear tree bed are fully open. Soon they will be joined by pear blossom as the trees are covered in buds ready to burst. I hope that they wait for the cold weather to disappear.

The flower buds of the earliest blueberry bushes are also ready to open.

The Oullins Gage plum tree, as usual, is the first of the fruits to flower. I hope some of the bees spotted the early flowers during the short spell of summer. Ruby is worryingly showing great interest in anything that flies so we are hoping that she doesn’t manage to catch anything that will fight back.

The warm weather and slight easing of lockdown meant that we shared our first coffee break for over a year with our plot neighbour. We have all had our first vaccination but still sat far enough apart but at least it was a start.

We gathered a small harvest before heading home.

We still have a few red cabbages that have stood up to last winter’s weather better than the green ones. Some of these will be cooked and frozen.
The Rudolph broccoli we are enjoying freshly picked.

This week’s selection of meals start off with a Thai squash and pineapple curry. Into this went some Crown Prince squash, onion and frozen green beans.
Next was a spiced chicken stew made in the slow cooker into which went more of the Crown Prince squash.

Finally, I made an Indian style vegetable rice. Into this went, onion, carrot and from the freezer green beans, sweet corn and peas.

That’s it for last week, I’m hoping that this week my activity level will improve although the weather is not likely to tempt us to do much outdoors. It may have been summer at the beginning of last week but we had a light covering of snow early this morning. Fortunately, it didn’t hang around.

As always in these uncertain times keep safe and well.

This week I'm joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week  

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