15 January 2011

Alien Invasion?

Expecting conditions to be somewhat reminiscent of the Somme, it was with some trepidation I approached the task of lifting and dividing the rhubarb on (the long neglected) plot no. 2. It's a bit of a mess up there and needs some serious tidying but winter isn't being too obliging with first snow, then frost and now endless rain.

Fortunately it's always quite dry up there and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Well the weather wasn't. Digging up and splitting rhubarb crowns that have obviously been there a while is no easy task. Last year they weren't so productive and started flowering so I decided lifting, dividing and moving was the answer. Once they were out the ground I divided them up into 12 large crowns! Yes 12.

Alien crash landing?
I reckon I'll keep six of the crowns so I can force two each year, rest two and then have 'normal' rhubarb from the other two. I offered the others to a few people, not expecting such a positive response but now I think I'll have to ration them!

As I said the rest of the plot is a mess so I set about trying to tidy up some of the other areas.

In front of the pond
Firstly, I cut down a small willow by the pond. You can't eat willow and it makes it harder to get at the ground elder to dig it out. I'm gradually working my way around three sides of the pond taking out shrubs and trees, and attempting to dig out the ground elder - which I'm fully expecting to be doing for some time to come. Unfortunately I think the pond liner has a leak somewhere, any ideas on how to find a leak?

Apple tree at slight angle
The poor apple tree, the larger of the two Belle de Boskoop, was always growing at an angle - presumably as a result of it not being staked when planted - but the weight of fruit and winds last year have further pushed/pulled it further over. It's going to need a serious prune to try to get it growing upwards again, and the blackcurrants where planted far too close. All the apple trees have some 'issues' with leaning and after leaving the plot I went home via the garden centre to buy a tree stake to hopefully save the youngest tree before it ends up like the other two.

I'm toying with the idea of buying some rootstock in an attempt to try grafting the trees. Not because I want more of these apples, just something I'd like to be able to do.

A work in progress
In front of the youngest tree is a load of comfrey - sadly not the sterile type, given how much of it I seem to have - lots of couch grass and some raspberries in there somewhere - Tulameen apparently. Which is a bit of a blow as I thought these were autumn fruiting and chopped them down to the ground with a view to moving them. Apparently they're summer fruiting. I guess that'll be next year we get fruit from them then! I dug over some of this bed, whilst dodging the apple tree branches, but let's be honest there is still much to do here...

Also on the list of things to do is to get the seed order in before the Allotment Association deadline next week.


Damo said...

There's so much to do at the moment, managed to finish the digging this morning but I've only got a small patch compared to your two plots.

Green Lane Allotments said...

If you can't get the apples to grow straight what about making them into cordon trees?

Rhubarb is a tough customer we had some growing in a path and dug it up each year just for it to grow again and again from the bit that wouldn't come out. Eventually our will prevailed!