Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Blackberry boo-boo

I stopped off at Lidl yesterday on the way home from work, to see if they still had any cheap fruit bushes. I picked up two packs of what I thought were blackcurrant plants, for a grand total of £1.28, only to get home and discover they were actually blackberries. The very close-up pictures looked just like blackcurrants. Still, they were little more than sticks really, very recent cuttings, and so I haven't lost out much.

I might see if Wilkos have any though.

Here is the plot, looking very empty and dull after removing all the marigolds. (Notice the newish plotholder the other side of the hedge has recently put a shed up). There are still carrots coming (behind my shadow), celeriac to the left and behind that, leeks.

I don't know if it's just wishful thinking, but I think the leeks have perked up a bit since I fed them, but they are still a bit feeble.

I'm also fairly certain that there are fewer whitefly and aphids on the broccoli. Whether this is down to the spraying I gave them, or the cold night we have just had, I'm not sure.

I went to the garden centre today and bought some autumn planting onion sets, some garlic and some broad bean seeds, all to be planted soon.

Here is the Phacelia Tanacetifolia (sp?) - green manure, on next year's summer veg patch (ie squashes/courgettes, sweetcorn, tomatoes).

I also chopped down all the comfrey and put it in the compost. Next job is to empty the bin of finished compost so I can start filling it up again.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Pumpkin soup

and pumpkin bread to go with it. This was a bit dry and heavy though. It didn't rise properly, I think because the mix was a bit dry. It also contains polenta which is two years past its sell-by date. Not too bad nonetheless.

Went to the allotment this afternoon to squirt the p-s-b with Bio-Friend Plant Defence
/biofriend_plant_defence_no1 to see if it will help to fend off the whitefly and woolly aphids, but I fear it may already be too late. It was quite successful in the spring against greenfly and the little green caterpillars that attacked everything so badly last year in the garden. But on brassicas the leaves are so water repellant the stuff just beads and rolls off. I've run out of this BFPD now and don't know whether to get some more. It's not cheap. Next year I will cover all the winter brassicas with enviromesh or fleece before these insects get the chance to attack.

I have sown some lettuce seeds, which have now germinated, and some carrot seeds, in the greenhouse - just to see how they get on. I have never really grown food in the greenhouse over the winter before, so this is a bit of an experiment for me. I'm planning another good session at the allotment tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A clean sweep for the broom

I have taken the plunge and cut this..

down to this....

Eeek! Radical!
Now I can walk behind them without crouching. There were three altogether, but I have removed one completely as it was already quite loose and wobbly as a result of some overenthusiastic weeding earlier this year.

Here is my bark chip path which should keep the weeds down. As you can see there is still a strip for planting flowers, and where I planted the daffodil and bluebell bulbs. Next year I will put borage, sunflowers, teasels, oxeye daisies and cornflowers in here too.

Here is some gorgeous compost, ready to use. This photo makes it look nearly empty, whereas it is in fact nearly half full. I put some around my leeks the other day - they are looking a bit puny, I fed them with liquid feed too so fingers crossed.

I have terrible whitefly on the purple sprouting brocolli. I don't like to wish for cold weather, but that's the best treatment for them really. On the John Harrison forum site somebody suggested spraying them with salty water, but didn't say what concentration to use - too salty would surely damage/kill the plant? Anyway, I dare say the weather will get cold again soon, so they should be all gone by the time the plants start producing the brocolli.

This area is going to have a little makeover too. I'm going to put a few slabs down, make a little 'utility'/ patio area, take a plastic chair up there, a bit of space for mixing feed etc, possibly another water butt. Surely there will come a time when I need to actually use some of this water, rather than just collecting it? I saw some slabs in a skip the other day - or - I could probably spare some more from the end of the garden.

The weather was unbelievable today - shame I couldn't have spent more time up there, but the forecast seems to be indicating more of the same for the next few days, so I will be making the most of them. Friday I gardened at home - mowing, clearing out the greenhouse, planting tulips, sowing lettuces in the greenhouse. Tomorrow we have a walk/pub lunch planned, but Monday I have the whole day to play with at the allotment.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Autumnul hues

The virginia creeper looked beautiful this morning in the early morning sun.

I have had a really productive day at the allotment today. I found the additional planks I needed for the edges, down behind the cabin, and took them down there (or rather, my neighbour, who is a man with a van with a roofrack, and just happened to appear as I was trying to insert the plank into the boot of my car, with the front end sticking out of the front window, which he informed me was highly illegal - took it down there for me). So I got those into position, then cleared away the last of the weeds as far down as the builder's-sack-compost-container, which is about 6 metres, then went to collect 5 bags of bark chips and spread them along by the edge of the plank, leaving a border along the hedge, where I planted 20 daffodils and 20 bluebells (bargains from Wilko's - and yes I'm pretty sure the bluebells are native British ones) - oh- and a cowslip which my parents donated.

I also strimmed the grass on the other edge, removed the mesh from the carrots (I'm pretty sure the carrot fly season is over now..??) and dismantled the runner bean wigwam. Finally I emptied a bin of bokashi into the compost bin. I brought home some chard from my neighbours, and a few sprigs of p.s.brocolli. Believe it or not there are STILL strawberries ripening, but they don't taste very nice any more so I didn't bother to bring any home. The strawberries really need weeding, but that's a job for another day.

The birds have been enjoying the sunflower seeds, of which there are still quite a few left, so I will leave them for now. A bit of a mystery: under the hedge I found a stash of walnuts and walnut shells - I didn't think there were any walnut trees growing on the allotments, but I suppose there could be. One of the old hands will probably know.

Another day of rain to come tomorrow, and my water butt is already full right to the brim. I suppose it will just have to overflow.

Unfortunately I keep forgetting to take the camera with me, but next time I should really take some pictures as things are changing quite rapidly at the moment.