28 May 2010

Following a new path?

I'm toying with the idea of moving to Wordpress - mainly because they have much nicer gadgets than Blogger. And a lot more control over things like design, etc. But enough of the boring stuff like that...

Avid readers (!) of the blog may remember plot no. 2 had wonderful beds edged in slate. Besides being completely ineffective and just providing a great environment for slugs and weeds they were a bit of a safety hazard. OK they were lethal. So I took them out and piled them up by the hedge where they've remained for sometime now. In that time the main path down the middle(ish) of the plot has been getting out of hand with weeds - not helped by me throwing all the weeds on the path...

So now the plot is in such great shape (not!) I thought I'd better do something with the path. So after digging out a lot of old carpet (I hate carpet on allotments. If anyone is thinking of using carpet on an allotment: DON'T DO IT!) and a lot of weeds I covered the main path with weed suppressing fabric and edged the path/beds with some old pallet collars I acquired last year. Finally I put the slate on top of the weed fabric and broke it up with a lump hammer.

It's still a work in progress - i.e. it's not finished yet - but you'd pay good money for a slate path like that. OK maybe you wouldn't pay if it was one of my paths, but the wonky look is in keeping with the rest of the plot!

21 May 2010

So many pictures on one day!

I popped up to the much neglected plot no 2 this lunchtime to do a bit of watering and the apple blossom was looking stunning. Of course I didn't have the camera with me at the time though... A visit of a few minutes stretch to about an hour when I discovered quite how well my 'crop' of dandelions and ground elder was doing. Much hacking with a hoe later... Hopefully they'll die off in the sun.

Anyhow, it was too good a chance to miss the blossom so I returned tonight with the camera:

I continued with my 'summer's here' theme and planted out a couple of courgettes (Defender and Goldie). Not sure they'll survive, but I've got plenty of backups.

I also put up another net for more climbing beans and peas. Now the more observant of you may notice that the poles aren't straight and it looks a little 'home made' but I'm quite proud of that fact. I love making it out of the old sticks from the privet from plot no 1 (partly because it reminds me of just how big that hedge was!) and tying it altogether, then crossing my fingers that it stays up in the wind and when the bean and peas grow up it.

Mulch = slug party

So now I've declared summer, I planted out some of my French beans: Borlotti to climb up the newly assembled netting and Major, a dwarf, yellow bean. I started both of these in toilet rolls a few weeks ago so they've established good roots now and with my new found confidence in the arrival of summer, they were good to go out. To grow up the other side of the net I planted a row of tall peas (Alderman).

Since it's so dry and my water supplies are running low (I'm going to be forced to walk to the tap at this rate!) so my thoughts turned to mulch for the beans, following on from the fruit. So I put a good layer of leaves around the newly planted Borlotti beans. Some time later after I'd returned home I couldn't help but think I'd just created the perfect environment for slugs to get to the bean plants. Hmmm, didn't really think that one through when I put the mulch out did I? So today I popped to the local garden centre to get some slug pellets, hoping it wasn't too late. Unfortunately I asked Mrs D if she'd like to come along, so it turned into the most expensive trip to get slug pellets I've ever been on!

Fortunately only one plant seems to have been attacked and the whole row has now handful of organic slug pellets to keep to little ******** away from my plants. It also has a couple of 'windmills' I nicked from the kids to help keep the birds away too.

Since I've got plenty of leaves, I mulched round a couple of rows of broad beans as well, lord knows they could do with all the help they can get to start growing.

The strawberries have far more flowers on than ever before. This weekend I'll be 'putting them to bed' with a good covering of straw around them before the fruit starts to set, and I need to put the chicken wire over the top as well.

The loganberry is doing its best to take over the allotment. Whilst you can't see it so well in the picture, what started as just a 50cm plant 3 years ago has now spread about 5m along the wall, and possibly over the wall too!

And this year it looks like it's going to be covered in fruit.

18 May 2010

Here comes summer!

After the frosts of last week, looking at the forecast I've decided summer has arrived. I was feeling rather pleased with myself that my late planting of my spuds meant I'd avoided any frost damage since they weren't through yet. I spotted the potatoes were through tonight, but on closer inspection my smugness soon disappeared. The tops must have been just under the surface and were burned by the frost - unfortunately the battery on the camera went before I had chance to take a picture.

The strawberries are looking very good too, far more flowers than they've ever had on, but they too got caught by the frost.

Hopefully they'll survive though. The whole plot is very dry again so I gave them a good soaking and feed with the remains of the comfrey feed from last year. I went to make some more and discovered my bucket has sprung a leak. If the weather keeps up though I'll have to put the 'defences' up soon before they start getting eaten.

The red currant and gooseberry bushes are loaded with fruit, but like everything else they needed some water. A good drink later I used some of the leaves to put down a good, deep mulch around both bushes. As with the strawberries I'll need to net the red currant to make sure I get some of them on the next visit.

The rest of the visit to the plot was putting up the pea and bean netting, a task that always seems to take forever. It would have helped if I'd tidied up the netting when I took it down last year and put it away somewhere instead of dumping it at the bottom of the plot. Once untangled it only took an hour or so to get the up... It would have been easier if I didn't use the old privet canes and stuck to the nice smooth bamboo canes, but where's the fun in that!

Finally the rhubarb is in full swing. There are a lot of flowers this year, which I assume is largely due to a lack of water. The old crown I discovered on the plot when I took it on is by far the best crown of the four I now have on this plot.

Getting a steady supply, and given some away already. Soon be on to the jam.

9 May 2010

"Are you going to do anything with that greenhouse?"

Having sat in the garden since I collected it, gradually killing off the lawn I put down last year, Mrs D has been dropping subtle hints that I should do something with it. So I dug out the instructions and measured out the base to start the foundations.



The greenhouse to go in just fits inside the old walls of the previous greenhouse, which will hopefully help to retain the heat. Given the size of the greenhouse it needs some decent foundations, so the plan is to put down some concrete before laying one course of bricks on top on this to put the greenhouse on. I'm now a big fan of instant concrete! Whether it has been accurately measured and is level, well stay tuned to fine that out but hopefully these can be 'ironed out' when I lay the bricks.

Elsewhere on the plot, not much happened after carrying several bags of concrete! However I weeded round some of the fruit bed. The strawberries are coming into flower:

The gooseberry bush is just beginning to start forming fruits:

Along with the red currant next to it:

My dwarf peas are through:

And the broad beans I started off in toilet rolls are slowly getting going. Like the rest of the plot, they could do with the weather being a bit warmer:

The garlic is doing better this year than last. It's in a nice sunny location and I've been giving it a bit more care and attention after the disappointment of last year. It's been a bit battered in the wind recently so I straightened up a few of them and firmed them it. Next years strawberry bed in in the foreground, some of them have some flowers on which I will take off to promote the plants growth - I did this with the blueberries on the plot too, although I was sad to do this hopefully it will play off next year.

Finally, the shallots are looking quite happy now it's been a bit wetter, here shown in a rare (almost) straight line on the plot!