26 April 2009

The Ghillie in action!

Bright(ish) on Saturday morning I set off for the plot, mainly to try out the Ghillie. Arrived just after 9am and there's at least 5 cars already there!

Started digging in the area towards the top of the plot that I've never really cleared since taking it on. Boy was it hard work! The ground is absolutely full of weeds and roots, and in about half an hour I'd hardly dug anything at all - a few square metres at best. I may try plan B, which is just to cover it over to kill off most of the weeds before attempting to dig it again in the Autumn - it's reaching the stage where realistically I'll be spending too much time weeding to keep on digging! So I hoed off a few weeds around the plot, including a fair few phacelia seedlings I'd forgotten about (oops!) before deciding it was time to make a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.

It has to be said the first attempt was successful in making the tea, but needs a bit more work in cooking the bacon sandwich. Definitely a worthwhile investment though and will be getting a lot of use.

Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil I attempted to rescue the poor tulips. They're not looking anywhere near as good this year as last year - which may be due to the bed being completely swamped with weeds. It's looking very likely I'm going to have to dig them up to clear the bed completely later on in the year.

Tulips - Queen of the Night

This week, weather permitting, I plan to take the plunge and get the first of my French beans in. A bit early, but I'm going to cover them over with fleece and cross my fingers. The strawberries are also coming into flower so it's time to get the chicken wire fortress constructed!

22 April 2009

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Monday, lovely and sunny, I'll have the day off. Was very hot in fact had my sun hat on all day (sadly a necessity due to the rapidly thinning hair) and used the suncream (if you're reading Mrs D!).

To catch up slightly though, been spending a fair amount of time on plot no 1 hacking down the hedge - again. Yes that's me again Mark (of absent neighbour fame). This time it's down to about 3 foot high and there was rather a large bonfire the other night to get rid of a lot of it. Still got loads left, but now the plot gets sunlight in the afternoon. The trees are next...

The plot 'below' ours has also now been taken and cleared, and they have chopped down most of the hedge between our two plots as well. It's good to see more people on the site and someone doing something with that plot that actually looks in quite good condition. Also might encourage me do to something with that end of the plot.

So having set fire to most of the rubbish on the plot last week in a satisfyingly large bonfire last week thought I'd best get on and dig over that side of the plot - not least because I'd got a dozen asparagus crowns in need of planting. So I dug over the patch above the comfrey and removed a load of weeds. I then raked it over with the cultivator to get out all the weeds I'd missed. I then threw on some rockdust, dug it over again and added loads of well rotted manure. It has to be said that not every bit of the allotment gets that much love and attention! The rest of the area I'd dug over after planting the asparagus was covered with a couple of barrow fulls of manure on the surface. I'm hoping this will be where the courgettes go - you can see this area on the right of the picture above.

The (perpetual) spinach is not at an end at all, despite needing the space for the onions. It is growing extremely well and we've already had enough to go with a couple of meals off it. The same is true of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which is actually quite prolific at the moment. Tastes amazing, lovely and tender - just a shame it takes up so much space for so long.

Elsewhere I noticed the (dwarf) peas are just beginning to poke through the surface. Whether they are still there the next time I go down is a different matter. Following a suggestion from some other blog a glance at (!) I put my tall peas (Telephone) in trays to start them off to try and avoid the pigeons and/or mice getting to them before they get going - and also to allow me to get some sticks in place. All my potatoes are now planted, 5 rows on each plot - with just Charlottes and Sarpo Axona on plot no 1 and the same plus Pink Fir Apple on plot no 2. It will be interesting to compare how they do, although they should in theory do much better on no 1 as the ground has been better prepared and the soil holds the moisture better there.

On the fruit side of the plot things are looking fantastic after the cold winter:


Gooseberry bush


The main fruit bed

All I have to do know if keep the wildlife off them all so we get what will hopefully be a bumper harvest from them all. The fruit on plot no 1 is looking a lot better than than on plot no 2 for some reason???

So eventually up to plot no 2. A bit more digging and 120 onion sets were planted. I also tidied up the greenhouse and took up several trays of plants from home to put up there - much to Mrs D's delight, so we can now sit at the kitchen table again! In a couple of weeks we might even have the spare bedroom back as a spare bedroom too ;>)

Planted up lots of courgettes, summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, couple of different types of dwarf French beans in toilet rolls and probably more I can't remember! Not sure where they're all going to go though...

Finally I bought one of these the other day:


Seemed like the perfect tool for the allotment. Not had chance to try it out yet, but this weekend...

7 April 2009

Catching up

Now the clocks have gone forward I've been taking the opportunity to go down in the evenings, together with a few hours at the weekend. As a result plot no is looking in reasonable shape - the fruit bed has been weeded, the scaffolding boards have been 'stood up' (i.e. I've put the supports in better so they stay upright) and some weed fabric has been put down on the paths around the bed. I also put in a couple of rows of Charlottes, some coriander, parsley, spinach and dwarf peas (Hatif d'Annonay). I finally managed to plant out my shallots (Longor) and some of the onions (Sturton). The rest of the onions desperately need planting out, but the purple sprouting broccoli is now performing very well in the space the onions are going to go.

I have 10 Asparagus crowns coming later this week, courtesy of the latest allotment association grant, but I've still to decide where they are going yet alone prepared the ground.

In between the weeding and planting I've been attacking the hedge (once again). This time I'm taking it down to about 3 foot high in an attempt to control it. My absentee neighbour hasn't exactly been much help (or any at all) with this and to be honest I'm not sure whether he's even coming back. Whoever is 'working' the plot will find a lot of privet piled up on it...

Plot no 2 is still been dug over and I've just about decided what is going where. I'm not going to grow any brassicas on this plot so it's just going to be potatoes, legumes and onions and carrots. Best finish the digging quick then!

The forced rhubarb is coming to an end, but the other rhubarb is now growing well. Picked some spinach, Jerusalem artichokes and purple sprouting broccoli, but I think the spinach is at an end now as I need the space.

Hopefully some photos soon, but couldn't seem the point in taking pictures of bare earth.