Regular readers (anyone left?!) will know I found myself out of a job at the end of March. Strangely the lack of a job and increased activity on the plots has resulted less output on the blog front. Maybe I don't need the escape of the blog so much at the moment? Or maybe I'm just too knackered in the evening to write anything? So, what have I been up to...?
I finally got my act together and sorted out a base for the greenhouse I've had languishing the garden for a while. I developed my bricklaying skills (wonder if I can put this on my CV?!), although perhaps more use of the tape measure would have been beneficial. Having ironed out several 'issues' I was just about ready to go with the assembly when I discovered yet more of the frame has gone missing thanks to our local 'scrap men'.
At this point I had to question whether it was going to be worth trying to put the thing up, and unfortunately came to the conclusion it wouldn't be worth it - I could get a new polytunnel for not much more than the price of replacing various bits of frame and glass. Which is a bit of a pisser given the work I'd put in for the foundations and the lack of space I was hoping for to grow tomatoes and chillies in.
After a day of moping around and kicking the cats (only kidding, about the cats anyway!) I came up with the following greenhouse/cold frame construction that I'm hoping will be OK for growing the chillies under at least:
It's still at the prototype stage so needs screwing together still, but was made from bits around on the plot - although I had just bought the wood for the greenhouse. I'm quite pleased to have built in the water collection element too, as despite the long dry spell recently I'm pleased to say I still haven't had to use the provided water supply, thanks to the various water butts on plot no 1.
Last week here in Sheffield there was a frost, and let's just say the inside of the mini greenhouse was not a pretty side the following morning. A lot of plants made the journey to the compost bin. Fortunately I had grown plenty of plants from various packets of seeds I needed to use up, the plan being to sell the surplus plants at plant sales on site and at the local school garden open day. So whilst the plant sales aren't going to be getting many plants I do still have the plants I want for my growing.
The Allotment Association had it's first plant sale at the end of April, which was list as one of the first events for Sheffield Environment Weeks. This attracted the attention of a local journalist who came down on site to interview a few of us. Two hours later, the story of the site told, he left. Fortunately when the paper came out that week we had a full page article, giving us some great publicity. Sadly this didn't make it online, but I have scanner so you can read it here.
Now the tree has been cut down I've been clearing the area around there and have discovered it is big enough to fit a polytunnel on, hence the name. This is somewhat wishful thinking as without a job I don't think the wife would be overly happy about spending £400 on a polytunnel! I have been trying to work out the cost of the tomatoes she buys though to see how long before it pays for itself!
We've been having a lot of rhubarb, which is good as we just have the one productive crown at the moment and have even had enough to make a few jars of jam. I harvested the first salad leaves this week, picked a couple of peonies for the wife (which were lying on the ground anyway) and had some oh so rare purple sprouting broccoli - I think it's suffering from a long winter and now a lack of water, still I thought I'd lost it all so it's all a bonus.
Tulips were few and far between (see below), and not what they were supposed to be in my opinion: I'd bought Queen of the Night but they seemed far too small and red. I queried this with the supplier and even sent a photo as requested but have heard nothing since. And given only two of the white tulips came up and the Dahlias I planted from them are looking at a similar success rate, I guess that means I won't be ordering from Garden 4 Less again...
After weeks of hot sunny weather and no rain, a few weeks ago we had a hail storm. It's no exaggeration to say I've never seen anything like it. Hail stones the size of broad beans, a tremendous noise, localised flooding, the roads covered in ice, etc. All of which wasn't good news for tender young plants: lots of purple sprouting broccoli, Brussels, leeks and sunflowers snapped off in their youth. Not to mention tulips in their prime. Bugger. Fortunately still early enough to replant many of the young plants at least.
What no weeds?
All this dry weather has resulted in very few weeds to date. I know, I know, famous last words an' all that... Especially given the rain in the past few days. Fortunately (?), the ground elder and bindweed up on plot no. 2 is still growing well so I have had plenty to do
So to sum up, some set backs but no-one said this gardening lark was easy!