29 April 2008

In the night garden

My secret weapon

Used this last year and didn't seem to have too many slug 'issues', although they were probably washed away in the floods! Put this down tonight over the potato bed and around the strawberries, although may have had it a bit longer than recommended in the fridge. Certainly was the case for Mrs D...! Have got some more some more coming in a few weeks, the theory being a couple of applications about 6 weeks apart should take care of most of the little buggers in the soil and therefore save your potatoes and strawberries - in the latter case for the birds...

This is the first signs of the Orla's I put in before Easter.

Decided I'd best get the strawberries sorted out before it's was too late to move them. Last year I put them in a bit too close together and more importantly too close to the rhubarb so they were getting covered by the leaves from the rhubarb. They were also planted a bit too deep. So after moving the lavender and mint the other day I dug over the bed to remove any weeds and moved one row of strawberries (Gariguette) and spaced them out a bit more. I also moved a couple of the Chelsea Pensioners (the other strawberries, not some elderly residents of the plot!) to give them a bit more room too.

As you can see by the time I finished and took the photo, it was getting a little dark.

28 April 2008

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb!

So after hail, came snow and then sunshine. Obviously the latter was quite unexpected, which may explain the sunburn on the top of my head - sadly it's all a bit thinner than it once was up there these days!

In between the snow and the sunshine plot no 2 suffered some mindless vandalism. Some idiot went on the plot and threw over the shelving in the greenhouse with most of my plants on. Most of them were struggling to grow as it was, but if anyone's going to finish them off it should be my job! I got away lightly compared to one of the other plots on site that had the shed burned down.

The rhubarb at the new plot is now in full swing. Looking at it, I think I can easily split it up into about 8 crowns this winter, not to mention the four crowns I have on the old plot. So anyone got any good rhubarb recipes? So far we've had rhubarb crumble 3 times (main because my son loves it) and given some to the neighbours, but I can see (some of) us getting tired of the crumble.

Taking advantage of the good weather, on plot no 1 I got most of my potatoes in (Maris Piper, King Edwards, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue). The Orla's that I planted before Easter have just started to show through, as have the broad beans I'd all but given up on. I also planted a row of peas (telephone). And then spent most of the time 'harvesting' my crop of dock leaves. Now the weather has warmed up, the weeds have started growing very well ;>(

I did move the lavender and mint that were growing next to the strawberries so I can give the strawberries a bit more room to grow in, although may have to move them away from the rhubarb for that! The globe artichokes aren't showing any signs of life, possibly died? They did have great roots on them when I moved them earlier this year, but maybe the cold and wet killed them off? The daffodils are now past their best, but we got a couple of bunches from them and the tulips won't be long before they're in bloom.

Up on plot no 2 I took the kids up there on Saturday where they got very messy digging before eating their picnic - which on later inspections appeared they mainly ate sweets! Whilst they were doing that I planted out the dwarf peas (Hatif D'Annoy) I planted in toilet rolls and survived the greenhouse 'incident'. I also planted some more leeks (which hadn't survived the greenhouse 'incident' - Bandit and Pandora) and some carrots (Amsterdam Forcing).

The following day we went up en masse. The children dug again, this time with water for added mess/fun, their mum knitted and I dug more weeds. Couldn't get any volunteers to help plant the French Beans (Cherokee Trail of Tears), so planted them myself.

5 April 2008

Spring is here!

Then again...

And those hail stones hurt! In between being pelted with hail it was bright sunshine. I guess that's what you call April showers...

So clocks went forward signalling the start of the evening visits once more. However the first night I did this it was colder, wetter and windier than it looked, so it was also a shorter visit than daylight allowed and the onions remained unplanted.

Checking over the plot (no 1), nothing much happening. No seeds through (not surprising given the weather), no sign of the potatoes under the polytunnel, but plenty of weeds begining to make their way to the surface. The rhubarb that was showing some promising signs has flowered! Now this apparently isn't good, so I've removed these and am crossing my fingers that I get some rhubarb from them this year.

Given the foul weather I decided to sort out the main path going down the middle of the plot. It has to be said it's a little uneven (!) so the plan was to lower and level the path, putting the excess soil in the main beds and covering the path with the weed surpressing fabric. I'm also taking the opportunity to narrow the path a bit too to increase the size of the fruit bed - by about 20cm... Eventually I will cover this with bark chippings. However the crap weather made things a bit wet and slippy so didn't get as much done as I'd hoped - which is a familiar story with most of my jobs on the allotment!

Earlier in the week
When spring was still here, took my son to the new plot so he could try out his new gardening tools from the grandparents. Has to be said the quality of them is better than some of mine! He tested them out by digging a big hole and burying himself in it! After digging him out he then proceded to 'dig over' and trample all over the rest of the bed I'd dug a few weeks before. However I did forgive him as he discovered some couch grass I'd missed and helped to dig out a seriously big dandelion root.

In between digging him out I planted the broad beans I'd started off in toilet rolls in the greenhouse. Not much top growth but they've got some good roots on them, which I'm hoping is a good sign. Moved various seedlings up to the greenhouse (various brassicas and leeks) to create more room to start stuff off at home and gave the salad leaves and strawberry plants a water. Sadly there is no sign of the sweet peas at all. I'm sure the slightly erratic watering hasn't helped but not one of them has germinated ;>(

More planting
So rubbish forecast of snow showers for the day decided to stay put and plant some seeds. As it happens most of the day was bright sunshine with no snow here, certainly none that settled. Quality forecast as ever...

So planted some parsley, coriander, peas, sunflowers, pumpkins, cucumbers, and courgettes, the latter three just sowing a few of each to see if I can get an early start with them. Having just planted the parsley and coriander, my two little helpers arrived to help with the larger seeds. Planted all those in toilet rolls which were ideal for small hands to fill with compost, put the large seeds in, top up with more compost, put the labels in and then finally water. They seemed quite happy with the job, which of course means I was happy!

Few days earlier I planted some more Brussels, cauliflowers and calabrese to supplement the rather poor specimens I've grown so far. These are now through already, having found a new place for germinating seeds - the bedroom windowsill. Fortunately Mrs D has quite willingly given her approval for this move!