31 January 2007

A day off!

An enjoyable day digging in the sunshine yesterday. Amazing after several hours just how little I'd managed to achieve though! Still there are now two beautifully prepared beds (dug over - again - limed and then covered with weed fabric) ready for onions and carrots. The beds are about 4.5m long by 1.2m wide, with a 0.5m 'path' between them. I'm not planning on edging the beds at this stage as I'm not convinced they will stay in this format in the long term.

The (late planted) daffodils are beginning to make an appearance, as too are the tulips next to them. The garlic continues to grow well and I now have a loganberry, red currant, gooseberry and hazelnut to plant somewhere - all courtesy of 'allotment school'. The loganberry will be grown along part of the stone wall on the border to act as 'security, not sure yet about the red currant and gooseberry, and no idea at all about the hazelnut! It seemed like a good idea at the time to ask for one...

The birdfeeder was empty (well it had been two weeks!) and there were no signs that the squirrels had raided it, so obviously there is some birdlife on the site. The robin made a brief appearance shortly after lunch, but nothing else was spotted. I filled up the bird feeder and we'll see how it is by the weekend.

A depressing site
A friend came along to have a look for an allotment on the site, complete with map from the allotment office. We had a look at what was available and found very little worth considering. One allotment was relatively clear of trees but was a complete bog, and all of the others had some quite substantial trees in them. Not something anyone wants to take on. Not sure if he is brave/mad enough to take on any of the remaining plots. Another plot holder found some pictures of the site less than 30 years ago and it was completely thiving with what looks like all plots taken, sheds, greenhouses everywhere, and no trees anywhere to be see. It's all very depressing compared to now, if a photo was taken from the same spot it would be very difficult to see it was an allotment site (with about 170 plots) at all. And this is with about 90 of them taken now.

An association
Given the state of the site and apparent enthusiasm amongst new plot holders, and the need to decide how to spend the recent £300 award, I've been making enquires about how to start an association on the site. Currently a few of us have drafted a letter which will eventually be send on to the council to send out to all plot holders to see if there is sufficient interest in forming an association. Have to see how this one develops...

16 January 2007

A long overdue update - with photos!!!

Too many seeds?
Mrs D remains fairly immobile with her knee getting no better, so been a busy start to the year looking after the family. However, I am usually 'rewarded' with a couple of hours down on the allotment to unwind on the weekend. There are of course plenty of 'off site' activities to keep me busy as well, such as ordering lots of seeds. And a propagator. And some mini polytunnels/cloches. And a bird feeder. And a bird box...

Well the last two were partly for the kids and partly to encourage some more birds (possibly regret this at a later date!) around the site, as the only bird I've ever seen on site is a robin.

Anyway, I ordered the following seeds from Garden Organics:

    Celeriac - Prinz
    Globe Artichokes - Green Globe
    Hot Peppers - Hungarian Hot Wax
    Hot Peppers - Ring of Fire
    Jerusalem Artichokes - Fuseau
    Spinach - Matador
    Sunflowers - Russian Mammoth
    Sweet Peas - Old Fashioned Mix
    Sweetcorn - Kelvedon Glory
    Brussels Sprouts - Groninger
    Brussels Sprouts - Seven Hills
    Carrots - Amsterdam Forcing
    Carrots - Long Red Surrey
    Leeks - Pandora
    Leeks - Bandit
    Onions (Sets) - Jet Set
    Onions (Sets) - Red Baron
    Shallots - Longor
    Spring Onions - Ramrod
    Spring Onions - White Lisbon
    Basil - Sweet Genovese
    Coriander - Cilantro
    Parsley - Italian Giant
    Broad Beans - Witkiem Manita
    French Beans - Canadian Wonder
    Runner Beans - Desiree
    Courgettes - Albaretto di Sarzana

This doesn't include the ones I already had in and those I got as Christmas presents! I also order a few packets of salad leaves from Plants of Distinction:
    Bulls Blood
    Red Cos
    Romana Rossa
    Red Stemmed Leaf Radish
    Red Veined Sorrel

Dan in the neighbouring plot kindly offer to take the surplus seeds off my hands.

It was too good to miss!
"Honest love, we really do need those polytunnels I've just bought off Ebay!" They're only little ones (3m long x 45cm wide) and I sold the ones we don't want to Vicky next door. I'm hoping they'll allow us to get an early start on things and give protection to those crops that need it. Far too windy of late to consider putting them up, so at the moment they remain in the outhouse/shed at home.

Glass, glass and more glass
Decided on the days when it has been too wet and/or fed up with digging to clear out the remains of the old greenhouse. Two bags and two barrow loads of glass later (not to mention all the rotten wood), I'm about two thirds of the way through. That's just removing the larger pieces of glass. Still eventually it will provide a nice sheltered spot for hardening off plants and hopefully growing the tomatoes when it gets a bit warmer.

Remains of old greenhouse

Amazingly despite all the rain, the allotment has not been too wet to dig - the bonus of trying to grow things on the side of a mountain! So steadily making progress up the plot, digging out the blackberry roots and nettles. There is now a huge pile of 'hedge cuttings' and roots to be burned at some point. Bonfires are proving very popular on the site at the moment, which is why after a couple of hours a week ago I returned home well and truly smoked, and was sent straight to the shower!

Signs of Life
The mild winter to date has resulted in the garlic coming up very well, the blackcurrants have started to sprout and the Rhubarb is showing signs of life as well - which is a shame as I still haven't moved it to it's final position. Hopefully these will all survive should the weather eventually turn cold.

The garlic

The Blackcurrants

The Rhubarb

Is that light I see?
Vicky in the neighbouring plot cut down some more of the monster (aka hedge) that separates our plots. There is now a small section where we can actually talk to one another over the hedge instead of through it. We both need to have serious bonfires to get rid of all the hedge we have cut down, as well as using the sticks for beans, fences and a leaf basket - sadly that would be Vicky's not mine.

"Allotment school"
Started the organic gardening course (otherwise know as allotment school by my son) on Monday. About 15 of us on it, with a range of ages and experience of gardening. It was good to meet some fellow enthusiasts. Lot of free seeds on offer via the course as well, which is of course just what I need...

Some pictures will appear in the relevant places once I can upload them without them timing out all of the time...