25 March 2009

Happy Birthday Mrs D!

As Mrs D turns ** [figure not disclosed for reasons of personal safety!] I took the day off to take her out for lunch - well it's not often we get out without children in tow! The presents from the allotments were a small bunch of daffodils, forced rhubarb and the first purple sprouting brocolli of the year.

The rhubarb provided dessert (stewed and served with vanilla ice cream) and also the base for rhubarb bellinis!

15 March 2009

Rhubarb Watch

It's almost reaching the top of the pot so I'm going to have to pick it at some point in the next few days. The colour is amazing - compare it with the colour of the unforced rhubarb to the left. It's growing at great speed as well, it's at least 10cm longer than last week.

Back to the digging
Plot no 2 being a long way behind 'schedule' the whole family spent a couple of hours 'digging' on Saturday. OK the children mainly dug holes, filled them with water and then connected them, whilst getting completely filthy. All of which would have been fine apart from the washing machine broke down with their clothes inside still. Mrs D helpfully dug up some weeds whilst I dug over as much as possible before the children got bored.

So on Sunday I returned to finish the digging, seeing this as a better alternative to watching the England v France game. Upsetting as it turned out to miss the game, the plot is looking a lot better for my efforts.

Fruit bed
This is the newly enlarged fruit bed with the strawberries in the foreground (which you can't really see!), having the luxury of the same amount of space as one apple tree, 4 large blackcurrant bushes, a patch of summer raspberries, one gooseberry bush and the sprawling mass of rhubarb. Hopefully they will appreciate the space.

8 March 2009

Why does it always hail on me?

In a shocking development, the weather forecast on the BBC web site was correct. I suppose the fact it was snowing when I was about to leave the house should have been a sign, but as a arrived at the site it was beautifully sunny. So I set to work on weeding the fruit bed and pruning the raspberries. Turns out there are a lot more weeds in that bed than I thought, so after an hour or so I was only about half way through when it started to hail - just as it said it would.

After sheltering in the hedge for a while the sun came back out (whilst it was still hailing) and produced this rainbow. And when it did stop hailing everything was far too wet and sticky to do anything on the soil. I took my frustration out on the hedge (still of mammoth proportions) to attempt bring it down to a level that lets the light onto the plot in the afternoon and cut it down to a level I can manage on my own since my long absent neighbour has never done anything with it. I was cold and (very) wet after not very long and I'm sure the hedge just laughed at my attempts into this third year in the knowledge that it's been winning easily to date.

Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

So just before leaving I took the picture of the rhubarb I'm forcing under a large flower pot. There's quite difference in colour between this and the crown next to it that's just growing 'normally'.

Previously on plot no 1...
I managed to cover this years potato bed with manure and tidy up the bed with the tulips and daffodils in. Not very well, but better than it was. I also managed to rescue the purple sprouting broccoli that had been flattened by the snow, which had also ripped the nets. There's only one plant still standing, but the others are picking up a bit. However this PSB is going to have to be good to justify the space it's being taken up for almost a year now.

And on plot no 2...
The apple trees have been pruned, courtesy of my Dad. As have the black currants and raspberries. I've been busy removing the slates from the randomly sized beds to save me and/or the kids a trip to A&E at some point in the future. In doing so I've expanded the fruit bed out a few feet to join the path going up the centre of the plot. I dug over this space, removed the weeds (hopefully) and a medium sized shrub at the end of the bed. I then added a few bags of bagged manure from the local garden centre, some rockdust and then raked it over. I planted some of my many strawberry plants (Gariguette) I took from the runners on plot no one. I managed to squeeze about 30 plants in then gave the rest away to a neighbour - and I've still got 20 odd at home in pots...

Numerous shrubs have been removed, but many more still remain - sometimes I wonder in the previous 'owners' ever grew anything. The shed roof was cleared slightly - I didn't want to cut away too much of the climber since it's probably holding the roof on! I've also given the greenhouse a wash down, attempted (and failed) to repair it - next time I'll take some suitable tools for the job, strangely a pair of scissors in place on a spanner didn't do what I was hoping they would - and then set about moving things around for this year. Finally I started the digging of the beds I'm combining for the big veg bed. This is very easy on the old beds but a bit of a sod when digging up the old paths as they have lots of bindweed.

Back home...
The attic bedroom has been turned into a greenhouse/nursery with a couple of hundred onion sets (Sturton and Red Baron), Shallots (Longor), Sweet Peas and Broad Beans coming along nicely on an old desk up there. In the kitchen I have the Charlottes chitting and some parsley and tomatoes germinating. I'd have planted more but I haven't really got the room. Well we have got more room but Id be pushing my luck a bit too far if I took up any more of it!

And in the home made 'earthbox' outside are a couple of different varieties of carrots (Amsterdam Forcing and Early Nantes). Just a shame about the weather really!