15 August 2010

Look at the hedge on that!

The Allotment Association was fortunate enough to get a grant for a hedge cutter earlier this year and I finally got my hands on it a couple of weeks ago. Harder work than I thought it would be - truth be told my arms ached for several days after, but that may have something to do with my nice comfy office job and not being used to manual labour! However, I'm quite pleased with the results. Even the hedge inside the plot isn't looking too bad, but you'll have to take my word for that!

Nice bulbs!
Those of you struggling with onions and garlic this year, look away now!

Plot no. 1
Plot no. 2
First onions
Garlic, almost ready for plaiting

This is the 'reward' for our summer up here, apart from a few weeks in June it's been wet enough for them to grow very well, possibly my best year yet. Well for the white onions anyway, reds are a bit disappointing. The kitchen has been home to a tray full of shallots and another of garlic drying for the last couple of weeks too - as it's been far too wet to dry them outside. It does mean we end up waking to an onion/garlic aroma though and the bad news is I haven't dug up many of the onions yet...

Elsewhere on plot no. 1 the sunflowers are looking good, although they may be getting a bit too big to support themselves now and they could do with a bit more sun so they actually come out!

However, after that it all starts going downhill... The bottom of the plot has been 'lost' again and will need to be reclaimed so I can eventually get the greenhouse up.

Erm, wildlife area...
There should be a greenhouse here!
Continuing on the weed theme...

There's some Brussels in here
After a couple of hours I 're-discovered' this bed, reclaiming it from the weeds, planting some Purple Sprouting Broccoli (a bit late I know), giving them all some seaweed meal and re-netting the whole bed. Sadly no pics of this hard work, but I'm hoping to mulch the bed with leafmold later today to keep the weeds down - hopefully with camera in attendance.

Up on plot no. 2, the lettuce are going to seed (must try successional sowing...), the courgettes (aka marrows - must not go on holiday in summer again) are growing like mad, getting plenty of peas (all of which are eaten before ever seeing a saucepan), even some carrots (!), beetroot (which makes a great chocolate beetroot cake!), french beans are coming along well but could do with some sun and the pumpkin patch is giving the bindweed a run for its money.

The apple trees are loaded with fruit too, although a bit small still.

 And finally, the reason why I can get away with spending many a long hour on the plots...

... keeping Mrs D supplied in sweetpeas!

4 August 2010

A trip to Grandad's

Needing to pick up some of our camping gear from my parents, a day trip to a somewhat parched Northamptonshire was in order. This also gave us a chance to check on the pumpkins I gave to my Mum to plant out in the 'family allotment'.

In reality this is an approximate 3.5 acre field adjoining my Grandad's house that has been used for many things over the last 30 years from strawberries to potatoes, but now Grandad is well into his 90s there is probably only around a quarter of it used now. And whilst he is still pretty active with his growing he doesn't need much room for just his stuff so it now functions as a space for my Mum and Dad to grow their veg, as well as Mum's sister and brother. And right at the end of the field is a 30+ year old orchard with a mix of about a dozen trees. And these apple, pear, plum and damson trees are prolific. Given there is far too much for Grandad, there's nothing he likes more than sending us off with as much as we can carry!

Pumpkin patch

As you can see it's doing quite well! There are approximately six different squashes in here: Tom Fox, Crown Prince, Gemstore, Goldie, Defender and some sort of butternut squash. There may be another pumpkin in there as well, but no-one's quite sure and it's kinda difficult to tell now they've grown in every direction. The Tom Fox is the 'traditional' orange pumpkin which my Mum is looking after to grow a pumpkin for each of her 3 grandchildren. These have recently been 'written' on with each of their names to grow into the skins, which are hiding under the leaves, and they are roughly all the same size of just a bit larger than a basketball. And at this rate it's doubtful where either of the two younger grandchildren are going to be able to lift them up.

The Gemstore and Crown Prince are there as a backup for our plants and the courgettes are there for who ever can eat them - which given the size of some of them and the number going straight on the compost heap, isn't that many people.

The Orchard

Although it's still a bit early in the year we still came away with a dozen or so apples and a load of plums - having sadly forgotten the names of both of them. However the rest of the trees are loaded with fruit so we're looking forward to a return visit at some point in the future and will hopefully be purchasing an apple press to take along too so we can make use of the ones that have fallen on the ground too.

The trees aren't that tall but are just right for climbing in though:

And one of the trees also supplies the family with mistletoe:

A quick browse through the raspberry patch and the greenhouse and our haul was complete:

Although to be honest, we have no need for the marrows and left them behind!