Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: May 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

I wasn't expecting a lovely day today, so it completely took me by surprise. I was able to weed and tidy all the deep beds and get the runner beans (enorma) planted out. I had to sort out all the climbing veg and re wind them onto strings etc. The wind had really battered them.
I also moved the mini plastic greenhouse out of the polytunnel to use as a cold frame for a little while. I have some squash and pumpkin plants for the allotment next week, and lots of bedding plants still to put out .
We had a serving of strawberries from the tunnel....delicious! Supermarket ones aren't a patch on home grown!

I walked the dogs through the allotments and all was well there. Everything growing like mad and looking really healthy. Even the odd spud putting in an appearance in the latest plastic rows I did on the 12th. That's not bad....13 days..
And I'm really impressed with the progress in the two plastic rows I did on the 25th April. They are making lovely little bushy plants. I'm hoping for a good crop there. I think plastic will be my method of choice next year......I'll see what the crop is like before I make up my mind though. ( Haven't I already said that somewhere? LOL)

We have a heavy influx of visitors starting on Saturday so tomorrow I need to do a big blitz on the front flowerbeds. Looks like the allotment will have to look after itself for the next week. I'm not ready to put the pumpkins and squashes out yet so I'm not actually held up. Ten days hardening off should be they'll go in next Saturday I hope!

I'll also be scarce on the internet...I'll miss you all!!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

As the weather has been pretty foul for the last few days I have been doing indoor things instead. One of these has been experimenting with my breadmaker and some sourdough recipes. The easiest and probably the tastiest and most reliable recipe has produced this loaf.

It is called Pain de Campagne and is absolutely delicious. The dough is produced in two stages ....first a "poolish" is produced and left in the machine to age for up to 8 hours....then the rest of the ingredients are added and the dough cycle run again. The dough is removed then, shaped, left to rise, then baked in the oven.

Here is the recipe.....
Put 200ml water, 225g spelt flour (or a mix of wholemeal and white bread flour) and 1/4 teaspoon easy-blend yeast into the breadmaker pan and run the dough programme. Then just leave the "poolish" in the pan for up to 8 hours depending on how sour a taste you like.

Then add 120ml water, 275g spelt flour, 25g rye flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon easy-blend yeast. Run the dough programme again.

When finished take the dough from the pan and knock back on a floured board. Shape into a plump, round ball. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a large bowl and stand in a warm place to rise til doubled in size....about half an hour.

Dust top of loaf with flour, cut slashes in both directions on the top.
Bake at 220degC/325degF/gas mark 7 for 35 minutes....or until golden and it sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

Now I must go and try to mow the lawns. If it is still too wet I might be back!!!!!!! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 21, 2006

As it's pouring I thought I'd google for more info on The Big Dig. I found that it is on BBC2 on 28th May at 10 to 11am....a whole hour!!!! Apparently it was scheduled last autumn but didn't get a big enough audience so it was pulled!!!! I think they can't have done enough up front publicity because I hadn't heard a word about it!!!! The theme of it is "The Big Dig, a wry look at the ever popular pastime of allotments, contrasting the traditional vegetable growers of South Wales with the nouveau 'allotmenteers' of North London". Looks good!
Another google find....look at this.....! It is a "thumb waterer"! £29 to buy. It is hand-made which justifies the cost....just! But I'm sure that a bit of judicious re-cycling I could make one for myself. I would just have to ensure that the hole at the top was smaller than my thumb pad. I think a plastic bottle and a hot knitting needle are worth a try!
To read more about it go to this site

The Crocus website is obviously catering to yuppies but I must admit I found it had a strong appeal and I was quite taken with a lot of the stuff. It wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be either.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hours at the plot so far...43

I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't raining today and took the opportunity to go and finish the digging. I did the bit to the left of the rhubarb (about 4 foot square although the picture doesn't show it) and the bit between the two lavender bushes (foreground in the picture.) Now I'm ready to put in the pumpkins and a courgette or two.

Another pleasant surprise was the fact that the plastic is still in place in spite of the south-westerlies that rip through the allotments. They were so fierce I had to have my anorak hood up to stop it going in one ear and out of the other!!!! When I was changing out of my wellies to come home the shed door whipped round and gave me such a clout I nearly fell over. I have a bruised hip to show for it.

As I have now finished the digging I brought home my spade, fork and garden claw as they are needed here. It was a good feeling knowing that I can do it all with a hoe now until spud harvest time!!!

When I got home I found that I have some strawberries almost ready to pick in the polytunnel. Pictured here....a bit blurry...sorry.
The other picture gives a general idea of the progress in the tunnel......tomatoes flowering on the left, cucumber flowering, peppers flourishing, lots of salad leaves, and the strawberries laden. I need to spend a bit of time in here tidying up, feeding and watering everything....hopefully tomorrow.
I also need to tidy the shed and garage so that I can actually get through them walking on the actual floor!!!! Another job for tomorrow. And there are lots of bedding plants still to go out. Also the runner beans to plant out. I shall be busy!!!

BTW I heard today that there is a new series coming on telly, Sunday mornings, starting on 28th May, BBC 1 I think , called "The Big Dig"...about allotments. I shall have to set the video as we are out Sunday mornings!!!!

Allotment rhubarb crumble for dinner tonight!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hours at the plot so far.....42 !

Went this morning to earth up the spuds that are not under plastic. This was the first time I've ever earthed up spuds and I was surprised how many little tiny spuds I disturbed. I take it from this that I didn't put them far enough down in the ground when I planted them!!!! I'll remember that next year.

I also clipped the path on one side....hard work that, so I only did one!

Then I fixed the plastic on the lower spud rows more securely, ready for the gales this weekend.

Then I dug and weeded one of the square bits of plot that I have left by the rhubarb for the pumpkins.

This afternoon I spent a few minutes mulching the strawberries in the polytunnel with paper shreddings. Also, I planted in a big pot the Busy Lizzies my friend gave me yesterday.
Now I have back ache!!!!!

I checked the pomegranate seeds and three have sprouted......eeeeek! Help!!!!!What do I do with them now?!!!!!! Better go and look it up!!!

That is as much as my back will do today!!!! The dogs have been walked so now I can relax for a few minutes before it is time to do dinner!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Monday....too busy! Tuesday....too busy and too much rain! Wednesday....Rain stopped play!
I am desperate to get to the plot and earth up the spuds. I looked at metcheck for the long term forecast, and whilst I was very pleased to see that there is no chance of a frost, I did see that we have more or less this weather...with gales as a delightful extra this weekend....until early Whit week! I must go to the plot tomorrow and make sure my plastic mulch is secure.

At home in the polytunnel I haven't exactly been idle. I've planted up some more pots with annuals. I re-potted my new blueberry plants into bigger pots with ericaceous compost. I also re-potted in ericaceous a large camellia which was getting yellow leaved in its temporary pot. I dug it out of what was flower garden before I did my deep beds. It has flowered profusely, and indeed is still flowering.

Monday I sowed some chard and spinach in the back garden beds. Also some dill and chives in the herb bed.

I finished helping my friend with her pots and have been given a tray of Busy Lizzies as a gift. Now I need to get out in the front garden and put them out...along with my own home-grown annuals that aren't already in the big pots.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Just closed up the polytunnel for the night (a bit late really as the temperature has already dropped!) and saw that the cucumber has two flowers!! Also, lots of the tomatoes are flowering.
I believe I read that you should pull off the early flowers on a cucumber plant until it reaches a good size. I have never done this and think perhaps I'll try it this year and see if it improves yield.

I didn't go to the plot (well actually I walked through there with the dogs.....the one with the amazing allotment was there beavering away!) as I'm waiting for some rain before digging the bit for the pumpkins. I do need to clip the grass paths, but the next door allotment holder said today that he is going to bring his strimmer (petrol driven) up in a day or two and will do all my paths when he does! A hero!

He was very bemused by my plastic rows. I explained what I was hoping to achieve and he said he hoped it worked because if it does he'll do it next year!!! He's fed up with digging too!

This afternoon I helped a dear elderly friend with the pots on her decking. She had hundreds of bedding plants to go into troughs and big pots. We did about 2/3 of them....I'll finish the job tomorrow or Tuesday.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hours at the plot so far...40! I honestly never imagined I could get so far in so little time!

It was really sunny today, so having got burnt yesterday I decided to shop this morning and go to the plot this afternoon when it became cloudy! Good move! I was able to get all the spuds in under the plastic rows......and now I can relax a bit.
Here you see the five rows I did today, with the space for one of the pumpkins in the foreground, the compost heaps in the background, and the lavender bushes on the left.
Here is a long shot of my whole plot. The onions are doing well in the foreground. Then the first earlies, and then the second earlies....just showing. The two plastic rows are maincrop...already showing through, then the rhubarb with space either side for a pumpkin. Then the five rows I finished today.

Thought you'd like to see a picture of the shed....blooming!

Remember this picture of plot 30 from early April?

Well....just look at it now. The new plot holder has done wonders! She already had the one on the right...and now the one on the left looks as cared for!

Absolutely amazing!!!!!

All the timber that was stacked at the top of the plot has become some rather wonderful and huge compost heaps at the bottom of the plot.

This morning I did some potting and sowing in the tunnel. I sowed five banana seeds! (Experiment!!!) Also dozens of asparagus seeds. I'm hoping to grow them eventually where the first earlies are now. I thought a packet of seeds (£1.29) was worth a try if it saves money on plants!
I also sowed seeds of Traveller's Joy..the tame version of Old Man's replace the Montana "Elizabeth" that I strimmed off!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hours at the plot so far....38 1/2.

I took the opportunity of DH being at home this morning to get him to drive the van down to the plot with a load of old fence posts etc. Then I stayed on and laid the black plastic over the ridges I dug yesterday......5 rows altogether. I'll plant them up tomorrow as today got far too hot for me to do it.

I did manage to mow the back lawn and mulch the cabbages, courgettes and sweetcorn with the mowings. I also moved (inch by inch) an old sink that we brought with us from Kent and which I'd not yet planted up. I put in lily of the valley around three edges, and in the middle and towards the back a lot of old geraniums (pelargoniums) that were getting a bit fed up in their pots. They are ones that I had indoors last year but had spent the winter stood in the sink in their pots. Hopefully they will appreciate the extra room and the more consistent water availability and flower again.

I also cleared the back paved area outside the french windows, weeded and swept, and arranged the table and chairs so that it is pleasant out there in the shade of the house. When the lily of the valley flowers it should perfume the area nicely.

Tomorrow I'll go very early to the plot with the spuds and a watering can and get them in the ground. Then the only reason for going for the rest of this year is maintenance and harvest!!!!! When I have a minute I need to clip the grass path. That will be a hands and knees job as the mower in the shed at the plot is a bit useless, and I can't see DH being happy about taking our motor mower in the van.
Oh I forgot....I still have to prepare the area for the pumpkins....that'll be a breeze compared with the marathon of clearing I have been doing!

I've walked the dogs so now I can sit down for half an hour before DH gets home and needs feeding!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hours at the plot so far.....37 1/2.

It was really beautiful at the plot this morning. I managed to finish the digging required to make the rows for the spuds under plastic. I'll spend as long as it needs tomorrow to get the plastic down and the spuds in. Then it is just the preparation for the pumpkins and the major preparation for this year will be done. I don't think maintenance will take more than a couple of hours a week....until harvest that is!

When I'm up and running at the plot I'll be able to spend more time in the kitchen garden at home, and planning the new look front and back gardens. They were in very good nick when we moved in two years ago.....but the various jobs we had to do on the house, and the total remodel of the kitchen garden (my first love) have taken up my time, and the flower parts of the garden look tired and old fashioned.

We need more parking in the front, so we are planning to do away with the lawn entirely and have gravel....some to park on so it will have to be hard standing, and the rest to plant shrubs and ground cover plants in...with maybe some spring bulbs too.

The back garden was previously very pretty, but we have cut across it with the fence for the kitchen garden so it need re-shaping. I also want to do away with the lawn at the back because our dog will keep on digging it up. This will give me more room for flowers, and hopefully some fruit bushes which I can dot around the flower beds!

Well...that's enough chatting..the garden calls!!!
Sorry no photo today....the batteries ran out!

Hours at the plot so far.....35.

As it was not raining this morning I went to the plot to hoe the onions, weed the spuds, and start preparing the last bit of ground for the potatoes under black plastic.
This picture shows the state of play when I had finished for the day. From the little criss-cross fence down is my bit. At the top are the onions and shallots....not really visible in this shot, but doing really well. It was really a bit too claggy to walk on, but I forked it up again after I'd weeded. The next bit is the first early potatoes. They are really up and running. There are no no-shows which I'm pleased about.

The bit that looks bare is the second earlies....there are some up, and a badger had had one of them....the scrape that he did is unmistakable according to another plotter.
Next are the two rows of main crop under plastic. They are showing already, although they are not yet through the plastic. I suppose they are warmer than the other ones as the black absorbs the heat. I am really pleased with this method, as it is less work than the thorough digging that I did for the others, as well as the constant weeding and earthing up that the ones in soil rows will need.
You can just see the rhubarb n the picture. When I got there today it had some magnificent flowers on. I put them in the compost, and harvested all the big stems of rhubarb. (Had salmon with rhubarb sauce for dinner!) Most of t is destined for the freezer.
In the bit of ground that is still flat grass alongside the rhubarb I'll be putting a each side of the rhubarb which is slap bang in the middle of the plot. I may get time to dig that bit before the pumpkin is ready to go out....if not it'll go under plastic too.

This is a sideways shot of the plot to show the two rows of maincrop under plastic. There is actually one shoot showing in the fourth hole up from the bottom of the photo. Most of the holes have a spud showing now.

The last thing I did this morning was to start preparing the long mounds for the maincrop that I still have to put under plastic. I managed two rows of the four I need before I felt my back resisting....and the loo calling. So I picked up the 50 stems of rhubarb and went home.

After lunch I did numerous small jobs in the back garden and polytunnel. The peppers and aubergines are now in the beds in the tunnel. I sowed another cucumber seed in the ring pot at the end....ants had destroyed the one that was growing in there. There wont be any more ants as I've dealt with them! At over 60p per seed I don't want to have to do that too many times. I also planted out the jicama I am trying this year. I started 4 seeds but only one came to anything.

On the whole I am very pleased with the back garden, and chuffed to bits at the state of the allotment. I hope to finish the hard work there this week then it'll just be maintenance until harvest. I think I'll green manure it after I've dug up the spuds and dug the beds over. Next year I'll do brassicas in the allotment, and a few less spuds in some of the beds at home. I have really rather overdone the spuds this year as I wanted to grow them to "clean" the ground.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My strawberry plants in the greenhouse are setting fruit already. But....there are some funny deformed fruits that puzzle me . I wonder if anyone knows what is happening here.
I know the photo is not good, but my little camera is a bit out of its depth with close-ups.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday morning and a free week ahead of me......and it is pouring with rain! I should rejoice because we do really need it, but my water butts are full and the ground seems wet enough. My plants really need some sun now, and the seeds do too. Most are up in the garden (except the peas and beans that I planted two weeks-ish ago), so I really need to be hoeing....and slug watching. Today therefore I'll catch up indoors so that I can escape to the plot when the sun comes out later in the week!

I didn't report that I planted out my courgettes and sweetcorn on Thursday last week when I had a window of opportunity between visitors' needs and weather incidents. Late last week was wonderfully warm, and the night temperatures have been up around 10deg so the gamble paid off. They should now be tough enough to withstand a little dip in temperature.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I have managed to spend a little time hoeing and weeding the garden veg plot, but not been able to get to the allotment all week. It will probably be next Monday before I can go again. It is tantalising because the weather is so good at the moment.
I had to put a net around the pea side of the bean bed as the cats have ignored the sticks I put in there to deter them from "sitting down" on the newly sown lettuces etc.
I am still picking stones out of the beds and throwing them into the paths between them. At this rate I won't need to buy anything for the paths!

I am a bit disappointed with the paper pots I am using for the courgettes. They are disintegrating. So I have had to wrap further layers of paper around the soggy paper mess hoping I haven't disturbed the roots too much. Hopefully I will soon be able to get them into their final positions.
The ones I am giving to my neighbours will have to go into proper pots soon!
I think next year I will have to make the paper pots from brown paper rather than newspaper! I think that might hold up longer!