17 May 2009

After many years...

I'd like to think I'm finally winning the battle with the hedge. This is further helped by the new neighbour who maintains trees and hedges for the National Trust which is a bit of a bonus. For his professional reputation I should point out that most of the hacking of that hedge was carried out by me!

Looking down the plot - OK it's a mess, but at the bottom of the plot you can see the remaining few bits of the hedge adjoining the plots below as well.

Looking up the plot - the hedge at the top of the plot looking like it's well maintained... It's not.

Out and about on the plot everything has picked up in the rains, and strangely I've not seen any slugs or snails??? Even saw a few bees around on Saturday, so feeling pleased I left the comfrey go to flower:

The dwarf peas are picking up a treat and remain largely unblemished by either bird or slug attack today. Not entirely sure why, maybe the fewer trees on site is finally helping, but they also have some twigs from the hedge and string to help protect them:

I've finally made it into the old greenhouse and cleared out one of the beds. Well I say cleared out, but I'll be digging out glass from there for many years to come. I'm finding it absolutely fascinating sorting it out and the picture below does not do it justice. The base is about 90cm high, and approximately 3 x 7 metres - yes it was vast! What you can't see in the picture (and can't really be captured) is a water tank to the left of where I took the photo from. This is set into the ground and is about 50cm deep, but is fed into by the much larger tank outside via a pipe through the wall - presumably the outside tank collecting the water off the greenhouse?

It has to be remembered that this has been there for many years now, the site is on a very steep hill and on the outskirts of Sheffield so quite how whoever built it got the materials there is beyond me! I still harbour thoughts of putting a polytunnel over this base, but I don't think it's as stable as it once was.

Any mycologists out there?
In tidying up the plot I found a small patch of mushrooms next to the (privet) hedge, growing in amongst the old bits of hedge I know use to bean sticks and the dead leaves. Now I've no idea what these are and am wondering if they are edible at all. Now my wife's cousin (an 'amateur' mushroom hunter, but by her own admission, no expert) seems to think they could be St George's mushrooms. Anyone have any thoughts???

9 May 2009

2009 Spot the shed competition

Plot no 2 doesn't get the attention it deserves at times and as a result it's not likely to be winning this years prize for the best allotment in Sheffield:

(clue: the shed is somewhere in this picture)

Even the pond is looking a bit sorry for itself. It's not helped by the fact I think the liner has a 'puncture'. OK I admit it in attempted to clean out some of the weed a few weeks back I think I must have split it.

What the pictures don't show is quite how well my ground elder and dandelions are growing... Much hoeing later they're still there, just not growing as well.

Fortunately not everything on this plot looks so bad, the main area for veg isn't too bad.

The potatoes are just coming though in the foreground, followed by some dwarf French beans under the fleece (well they will be once they come though!), broad beans (about 3-4cm high) with some rather sickly looking onions in the distance - not sure if I planted these a bit late?

The highlight of the plot though is the apple trees, currently in full blossom:

The newly planted strawberries from the runners from plot no 1 are just coming into flower. The plants aren't looking that healthy, but not too bad for their first year. They also suffer from being in the shade of one of the apple trees - never really thought that planting area through beforehand!

Finally managed to fix the greenhouse window (temporarily) and release the bee trapped in there, before hacking away at more dandelions around the greenhouse.

3 May 2009

Fruit update

Finally my potatoes and broad beans have made an appearance, the peas have so far escaped the attention of the slugs and/or pigeons and the weeds are largely being kept in check. However by far the best looking plants on the plots are the fruit plants and bushes. The early strawberries (Chelsea Pensioner) are coming into flower and the plants are looking better than they ever had - which is about time as it's their last year.

Given just how few strawberries I've managed to eat from these plants due to slugs, squirrels and the weather, this year I've started to assemble the defences early:

However, I did realise that if I put the netting over the top as well there wouldn't be many insects that would get through to pollinate the flowers... The wires also needs pegging down to stop the squirrels from getting underneath. Once the strawberries start to form I'll also be putting down some chilli powder as apparently this keeps the squirrels away, slug pellets to keep the slugs away with the mini polytunnels as back up against the usual British summer. And if that doesn't work I'm giving up growing strawberries.

The redcurrants are also looking good so I put some netting over them the other day. Due to the 'improvised' nature of this they're still vunerable to squirrel attack, so I'll be trying the chilli powder around them too.

Next to the redcurrant the gooseberry bush is doing really well (on plot no 1), however the two plants on plot no 2 are looking pretty crap and I fear it may be their last year there! I've no idea how old these plants are but hopefully I'll get some cuttings off the decent plant.

I also made some comfrey 'tea' to feed the strawberries. It will stink so I've covered it over with an old compost sack. The plants are doing really well and just about to flower so now I have a dilemma: do I cut them down now and let them re-grow or do I let the flower as the bees love the flowers?

Finally more tulips, struggling on through the weeds and mint.