Well, it is nearly half term, and I’ve not really had much opportunity to go play. There have been a couple of hours here and there, when I have been along and shuffled around. Last weekend, I did go and dig over what will be the pumpkin patch after having gone to the Ryton ‘tato day. I naively ignored the advice to stretch before I started to dig, and boy did I feel it later. This had been on my mind for some time, and I still have to add the FYM that is sat next to the water butt. Job for Half term that. There is long list of things I want to do. I have also cannibalised the struts from the wendy house that fell down last year, and they will be forming the basis of the supports for the legumes in addition to bamboo canes. I plan to string pea net across them. The plan was to sow legumes this week, alas the cold snap has persuaded me otherwise. Will wait for a bit. As it stands-and it does, for the moment-the wendy house is still there. I did worry this morning, that post snow, it may have fallen over. Looked a lot warmer than the rest of the plot. Was all right, didn’t need to sweep snow off the top That would have been interesting, on tip toes in pink wellies. I assure you, grandad Mike was supervising. The broadbeans-claudia aquadulce, are now has beans. I forgot to cloche and cover them as I was having a fight with a tooth ache(grinding your teeth in your sleep does that to you, apparently). Ventured over on Friday after school, to find them keeled over as ex-beans. Beans that have ceased to exist. The pics are of the plot this morning and of yesterday. The over wintering onion and garlic patch was altogether depressing, looked like everything had keeled over. I was not in the least bit buoyed when I bumped into the ‘lotment secretary busy chopping down dead branches; who told me that that nothing over wintered on the site as it was so cold. “oh, right, thanks” said I, wandering off to my plot with fleece under my arm, muttering under my breath. I dare not to even open up the wiggly woo’s. Just made sure on Friday, that they were covered up. Haven’t opened up since before Christmas when they were stuffed with paper, fed and covered up. If I have ex-worms as well, I will not be a happy hobbit. Chillies have been sown inside, with a fair few causalities. Early Jalapeños, don’t quite like it this early. Killed a few early tomato sowings, but second ones are coming along. The aubergine analogue study has also started. Once the heated propagator is empty, they will be moved there. Currently on a warm window sill. I like my bog basic heated ‘lectric propogator. Makes me feel that bit more confident! Am itching to sow curcurbits but will most definitely wait til March. March will also be the time for carrots and parsnips. For the carrots at least, the generous advice garnered means digging in some sand. March will also see Maris Pipers and King Ed’s spuds going into the ground. I don’t fancy digging a huge trench, so I’m taking advice about bulb planters. Just need one industrial strength to do the job. There’s lot more to be done. I’m just not there yet 🙂
With April, come the showers.
With the country in the throes of a drought, you’d think that April showers were something of a God send. Finally, the arid earth of the hobbitland allotment would be quenched. The easter weekend passed with the lotment being left to it’s own devices; I was elsewhere, but it was most definitely at the fore of mind. The plan had been to use Easter Monday to sink potatos. Alas, the April showers suggested other things ought to be done.
It was grim this morning, when the curtains were twitched. The heavens had opened, there was a lot of precipitation. We were being rained upon, from a great height. The precipitation had put paid to the potatos. Sat with their chits a-twitching are the Maris Pipers from the tattieman. Along side them, six or so King Edwards. I have resisted, in buying more. Especially as there are space constraints, and I have never grown potatos before. I have been meaning to also look into Christmas potatoes. That will have to be a summer job.
In the last few weeks, a number of valuable lessons have been learned.
The cold kills, for one.
Even more brutally, when things are sown early.
One would have thought that the four tier blowaway was a fairly safe place. However, since it is unheated, that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing. Today, there was a close inspection of the beans and peas that were sown at the start of March. With the exception f the Cascadia sugarsnap, a few of the borlotto fire tongue bean, there were a few that were decimated. White lady, and the suttons prizewinner, had all but keeled over. Gone black in places. I have actually made a second sowing of runners, as there is now a frame built to accommodate them. Built today, in the spitting rain. Slightly wonky, but serviceable.
I hasten to add, that the legumes are all very experimental. I have yet to get my head around sowing them properly. There have already been lotment transplantings of shiraz mange tout and also Bijou mangetout. The aquadulce broadies have recently started to flower, since we have had a lot of mild weather. I will be double checking these, they are very small!
Standing sentry on the plot is the garlic and onion crop. Mulched at the base, I do hope that will help with watering. I was getting rather annoyed in having to water so frequently with the unseasonably warm weather. Now, there is a wonderful alpine and allieum smell from that bed. A bed that may see a few decapitated shallots and onions, as weeding before the mulch was a monstrous job.
Before Christmas, I had sown a great number of blooms. Hyacinths, tulips, anemones. The anemones, are as good as gone. I’ve not seen a single one push through and bloom. I assume they have all rotted down in the clay. What has come through, are the hyacinths and tulips. Lots of pretty pinks and purples. A nice splash of spring colour. The plan is to now add some summer colour too. Marigolds have been sown, as well as poppies and are sat in the 4TB as babies. These will be then transplanted when the time comes. In adition, there are some summer flowering bulbs that will be put in once the late may frosts have gone. By which time the squashes and things should be ready.
The squashes and things, that whilst sown; the first batch of babies keeled over when being moved from the heated propagator to the wendy house. This was despite being covered in fleece. Second resowings have been made, and more care will be taken of these. The aubergines, for the moment, seem to be okay. However, with the growing season still in it’s infancy, everything is still woefully precarious.
I don’t want to see another baby onion. There are easily a couple of hundred, dotted around the plot. And shallots. There is a fair few there. From observation, I can see that the over wintering one’s are okay. In fact, most of the overwintering garlic, shallots and onions has got foliage. Only a few of the recent sowings of onion and shallots have. The recently planted garlic, is probably a write off. Nothing is happening there at all.
Chillies, are biding their time as per usual. Less than half the class of thirty has germinated, but this the umpteenth sowing due to cold killing them. I think we are on twelve babies, with two sweet peppers only just starting to germinate. I have had more success with these in the unheated propagator compared to the heated one.
Sprouts have been sown in the wendy house, some purple sprouting autumnal broccoli. As well as lettuce. Some bubbles and Claremont. The cabbages will need potting on, some are quite big. Not quite to the six leave stage yet, though.
Parsnips are sown, but nothing appears to have germinated. Thought it is hard to distinguish between a weed and a parsnip baby. Carrots are germinating beneath a fleece. A fleece that needs to become a cloch type thing soon. There are baby turnips also. The cabbage bed has been dug over, I just need to stamp on it now before i transplant. Though I will also need to sink slug traps. Tomatos are splint into two groups. Those that are growing, look lovely, are very much tomato plants. And those that are taking their time, and will be tomato plants but haven’t got thereyet.
Stay tuned, and thank you in anticipation
With autumn, comes an allotment
The Gods of Horticulture in tandem with Saint Fiacre, have come good. One has a patch of hobbitland to call one’s own. About a week ago, I got that call from the allotment secretary. The half plot was mine, if I still wanted it.
And I did!
Eight by eleven metres, the half plot was over run. Not nearly as bad however, as the other plots that I had a choice from. There were two others, where the weeds were twice my height. Perhaps not then, the best to tackle. My plot, is the last but one. And at half the expected price due to just how neglected it was. I was fortunate, in that the ‘llotment secretary was one of the previous owners, and had also sprayed weedkiller that created a carpet of dead grass. Beneath it, the soil is clay. In the first half an hour that I was there, there were a few folks who did that sharp inhalation of breath usually associated with car mechanics. What ensued, was me digging up my log book and Ma saying she wanted the whole the thing. Not on my nelly. The spat lasted the whole weekend, and was not particularly amusing. But I had the key, the ‘lottment rules and time.
Only today, have I found out the aspect. There are many who would feel that is useful. Standing at the front corner. I was standing 158 degree south. North was on my left shoulder, South diagonally opposite. To the more hard core, that makes perfect sense.
There is a plan. I have had it for what it feels an age.
It is not set in stone, very few ever are. So this may well change. What I will have to do, is make sure that the soil is made lighter. There are plans afoot to form a leaf mold and also to have a compost bin. I did toy with the idea of a wormery, but then I took a look at the cost. That and I spent most of today apologising to every wiggly woo that chanced upon whilst digging. They are after al the good guys, to whom it pays to be nice.
At the moment, I am trying to pace myself. Being only too aware, that whilst this requires hard work, in the long run there will be dividends. It will be all to easy to pelt at the plot, when like all good things it is nice to have a process. I was very encouraged to see that there were butternuts on the plots. Poor Gladys was our summer drama queen. Seeing the cropped product made me feel that much better. That butternuts can be grown, and in hobbit land. There are also pumpkins, a lot like Bruno the ghost rider. I must have been doing something right at home.
Allotments in themselves, are a community. Seeing different people come and go, is really quite nice. And here I am, starting out.