27 June 2007

Mother Nature 2 Allotment Holder 0

And looking at the forecast for the weekend, I think she's going for a hat-trick ;>(

The runner beans and French beans have all but given up trying to grow, the broad beans are just about hanging on in there as are the Jerusalem artichokes, but only after I straightened them up again.

I dug a new 'flood channel' in an attempt to divert the water away from the play area and old greenhouse that keep flooding. I had to relocate several onions, well they were hanging on in there not quite being washed away so thought I'd give them another chance. In an attempt to stop the water from coming onto the plot, I dug out the path leading to the plot to try and keep the water on the top side of the path hoping to keep it flowing past the allotment. In addition, I put some stones and bricks at the entrance to the plot to stop some of the water coming in.

However, given what parts of Sheffield have been through in the past few days all these problems don't really seem that important. The allotment site is on a steep hill overlooking Rivelin Valley that leads into the Sheffield, so the water runninf down the site ends up in the river in the valley that caused some of the flooding not far away from the site.

On the positive side...
We have had well over a dozen strawberries from the plants put in only a couple of months back. And I have to say they taste amazing! We went strawberry picking at Whirlow Farm at the weekend and the strawberries didn't even come close to the taste of ours - they did make good strawberry ice cream though!

We have 20+ garlic bulbs drying in the kitchen! Fortunately the house has stopped smelling quite so much, either that or we have become immune to it. I'm not sure how to break it to Mrs D that there's almost as many still in the ground... You might wonder quite what we're going to do so much garlic? Something I've just beginning to address now! I've bartered 6 bulbs for a book written by a friend - Pre-School Out and About. She probably got the better of the deal, but she did pay to publish the book herself!

We had a few potatoes too, many because the soil was being washed away from around them. Bit small but nice all the same.

Oh well, maybe better news next time.

15 June 2007

Rain, rain go away

It was all going so well. Ok, so a bit behind intended schedule what with Mrs D being in hospital earlier in the year, but quite happy with progress really. Showed off the allotment to a group of people on the local organic gardening course on Monday night - didn't get home 'til gone 10pm! - and thought must pop down to pick the strawberry crop (all three of them!) in a day or two.

Pretty much since mid afternoon Tuesday it has been raining. But I was passing the site today on the way to the local farm shop, so I thought I'd just check to see if the strawberries had survived... The lane the plot is on was a river! I was no exaggeration to say that thousands of gallons of water were pouring off the hill (presumably having passed through numerous other allotments) and down the lane. Sadly most of this appeared to be flowing into our allotment...

Most of the left hand side of the allotment was being flooded, completely water logging the peas, beans and potatoes. Some of the onions and shallots didn't look so good, but the water was draining away or had found a definite channel by then. It was collecting nicely in the two new ponds/swimming pools where the play area and old greenhouse used to be.

I was truly shocked at the sheer amount of water there and went back this afternoon with the camera to capture this, and see if there was anything I could do. On the plus side there was a lot less water. Don't get me wrong there was still far more than you'd ever want to see running down your allotment...

I took a few photos, which don't really show just how much water there is.

The lane our plot is on:

The view through the 'gate':

There used to be beans and sweet peas here:

Attempting to divert some to the water tank - i.e. making the best of a bad day:

Looking on the positive side, the site is on the side of a mountain so it drains well, so fingers crossed...

10 June 2007

First Produce!

Spinach, not necessarily everyone's favourite vegetable, but when it's the first thing you get to eat off your allotment it's amazing how good it tastes! Mrs D incorporated it into her veggie lasagne, and very good it was too.

The first lot of spinach (Matador) is rapidly going to seed now, but there's still another half a row in so hopefully get another bag full before that goes to seed.

I hate scaffolding boards!
Matt from a couple of allotments away managed to source a load (70+) of old scaffolding boards. These were delivered to the site yesterday (Saturday), possibly the hottest day of the year so far. Let's just say with the slope on the site, I was more than a little tired when we'd all moved them to the various plots for making raised beds. I have to confess I didn't even think about starting to make any raised beds yesterday!

I put weed control membrane round the strawberries and covered them with netting in the hope that I can actually get to eat the ripening strawberry before the rabbits/mice/pigeons/take your pick get there first. Then retired home for a long shower and to rest my aching back.

To finish, a picture from home of two damsel flies, using the top of the kids sandpit as a pond to lay their eggs - I'm assuming that's what they're doing, but if anyone else knows better...

4 June 2007

Weeds everywhere!

Evening Visits
I've decided that the best time to visit at the moment is in the evenings when the kids are tucked up in bed and their Mum is usually found in the bath. Everyone seems happy with that arrangement - well what the kids don't know about won't hurt them! And to be honest the growth of nettles and brambles makes it a bit hazardous down there for small people at the moment.

Below shows the plot looking down from just inside the 'gate' (OK where the gate used to be - it having fallen apart a few weeks back).

The next photo shots where most of the mess still remains! I like to think of this as the 'wildlife haven.

Plants and planting
Due to the erratic nature of visits and planting whilst Mrs D was in and out of hospital, not all the planting is going as well as it should be. The Leeks (Bandit and Pandora) I planted in toilet roll tubes were a disaster, they were either eaten by snails or drowned in the heavy rains a few weeks back. The Globe artichokes started off well but again were getting savaged by slugs and snails. These were still salvageable and moved to the allotment where they look a bit sickly but still alive at least. Beans (Canadian Wonder and Cherokee Trail of Tears) have been planted. Those planted in toilet roll tubes at home have been doing well and have managed to survive (to date) attacks from wildlife - famous last words, they''re surviving but something has been eating them. The Brussels (Seven Hills and Groninger) plants survive the attacks at home and again have survived (again famous last words, half of them have been completely eaten), mainly thanks to the mini polytunnel for the and some well placed twigs for the . They now have netting covering them...

The strawberries have also been attacked - grrrr! Something has been pulling off the small green strawberries that have formed to date. These are now largely covered by two of the mini poly tunnels and on the next visit will have netting added as an extra precaution.

And as for the weeds... Spent the best part of an hour and a half there the other night, just pulling out the weeds around the stuff that is growing. Hand weeding is apparently best, which is just as well since I broke the hoe... Well to be fair it used to belong to Mrs D's grandad who died in his mid-90s over 5 years ago now, so it was getting on a bit. Hopefully it's not beyond repair though.

I have various squash (pumpkins, butternut squash and courgettes), broccoli and sweetcorn growing at home, not yet ready to be planted - which is just as well as I don't have the space

So all in all a bit of a frustrating time. More photos of progress below:

Brussels pre-savaging by birds/rabbits/slugs/take your pick really. Now completely covered in netting

View of the fruit/perennial bed. Lavender in the foreground, with comfrey to the left. Small plants behind the lavender are globe artichokes, they were being savaged by slugs at home so figured they'd be better off in the ground. Behind these are the strawberries, followed by rhubarb, then raspberries, and gooseberries. Beyond these to the left of the picture is the Jerusalem Artichokes and garlic behind these.

Broad beans in flower, planted late but seem to be doing OK at the moment - only a matter of time I'm sure.