Saturday, 28 February 2009

Plot progress continues

Today I have planted three blackcurrant bushes.
Before planting, I pulled out all last year's sunflowers, and weeded the area where last year grew the ill-fated melons.

£2.00 a pop from Wilkinsons, so I hope they survive. I bought one last year and it didn't, but you never know. I put plenty of my home-made compost in the planting holes, which should be enough to make anyone happy.

Saw a wren up there. I thought I saw one out of the corner of my eye last time, but couldn't be sure. I hope it lives in the hedge.

The garlic has finally come up. Needs weeding. Onions still looking a bit iffy. I will wait a bit longer and if they don't look very promising I can always replace them.

The broad beans are a bit gappy. Some either didn't germinate, or didn't make it through the snow. I'm considering moving some from the last row into the gaps, so it looks neater, and leaves more room for the french and runner beans.

Finally, the rhubarb has at last put in an appearance:

I'm thinking ginger and rhubarb cheesecake, rhubarb crumble and custard, rhubarb ice-cream. Mmmmmmm.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Happy Birthday to Me, Squashed Tomatoes for Tea!

Quite literally, because look what I got for my birthday:

It's a passata maker. You put the scalded tomatoes in the funnel at the top, turn the handle and the pulp comes out of the shute into the container, while the pips and skin come out of the shute at the front into another container. It fixes quite securely to the counter with a suction base. One way to use all the masses of tomatoes we are going to get during the long, hot summer that is on its way. (No harm in being optimistic). You can then either bottle or freeze the passata.

My birthday was yesterday and I was very spoilt. I got lots of lovely books, including some gardening-related ones, chocolates, and of course, plenty of national garden gift vouchers. My husband and the boys made me a cake, we went ice-skating in the afternoon and in the evening out for a meal.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Digging Gets Underway

At long last, spade has made contact with soil, and the new season officially gets started. This is this year's brassica patch before:

and after, having dug in the clover green manure and grass. I hope it will be sufficiently decomposed in time to plant the first cabbages.

The onion patch before:

and after, clover dug in as per the cabbage patch. The bit at the end is where my overwintering onions currently are, and garlic, which hasn't come up yet.

The onions are looking a bit the worse for wear; I think they have been pulled out by birds, pushed out by frost, not to mention trampled on by vandals. And of course I haven't been going regularly to push them back in, so it will be a miracle if any of them makes full size.

The purple sprouting brocolli is also looking sorry for itself, and I have no idea why they have done so badly.

They grew very tall and then fell over. I suppose I should have staked them or earthed them up or whatever, but, well, there's no excuse really. But the main problem is that they look very sickly, and some are definitely dead. They had a really bad attack of whitefly and woolly aphids in late summer, so that might have contributed to the problem. Better luck with this year's crop I hope. My soil isn't ideal for brassicas, being quite light and sandy, there is a bit of clubroot in it as well.

Oh, and there's no sign of the rhubarb sprouting. It's just a brown lump at the moment. It feels firm so I think it's still alive, just late. Everybody else's is coming up. There is no sign at all of the two smaller crowns, so I don't know if they have rotted away completely.

The potato patch is already ready, apart from a small area where the last remaining few leeks are, but they should be gone by the time I come to plant the maincrops. I dug the potato patch last autumn, digging in all the weeds and then covering it with tarpaulin which I took off today to put on the brassica area. It looks good and the weeds have decomposed nicely leaving a layer of organic matter. Now we just wait until it's warm enough.

Monday, 16 February 2009

I'm 'it' and you're next...

Thanks Rhiannon for tagging me:

It's called the 4-4-4 meme and this is what you do:
“go into your photo archive, pick the 4th folder in the archive, select the 4th picture in the folder, and write about it. Then tag 4 other people to do the same” .

This photo is of various members of my family (that's me on the left with red hat and camera round my neck) out for a walk in Herefordshire, Christmas either 2006 or 2007, can't remember which. Some of us were behaving a bit childishly (and not necessarily the children)!!

So now I have to do the same to four other people. Apologies if you have already been done. I nominate:
Cat at Manor Stables Veg Plot,
Gary at Reads Allotment Retreat,
Marigold at Marigold Memoirs and
LilyMarlene at At Last I've got My Plot
I hope you won't mind joining in.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A BIRD !!!!!!

At last! The birds have finally discovered the bird feeder!! And not just any old bird either - you can correct me if I'm wrong (I'm definitely no expert) but I reckon this is a greenfinch:

We have also had a bunch of sparrows, a pair of collared doves and a pied wagtail. Now I know these are not unusual birds, but compared to the starlings and pigeons which are all we normally get, it's positively exotic.

Since then, it has snowed another two inches of snow. I'm fed up with snow now. What about my digging?

Friday, 6 February 2009

More snow, and a day off

This is the view from the bedroom window yesterday morning after a heavy snowfall in the early hours. All the schools were closed and we all stayed at home. We embarked on a slightly over-ambitious project to build an igloo, but this is as far as it got...

because after we got back from a snowball fight in the park, it had collapsed! Then it was recycled into this.. rather sinister looking creature..

There was no more snow until this morning, and they have all gone back to school, but it has been snowing non stop since early this morning, and seems to be getting heavier.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Snow and tomatoes

I had to take some bokashi composting down to the allotment today so took the camera with me as I haven't done any photos of it lately. The snow was looking quite patchy by now as the sun has been shining warmly on it all morning. Steam came out of the compost bin when I opened it, which is encouraging. But apparently there is more snow coming tonight and tomorrow.

Another encouraging sight! Another four to six weeks and we should start to see some flowers here.

These tracks, which were all over all the allotments, look like either a dog taking itself for a walk (no human tracks) or more probably, foxes. Here are mummy fox and baby fox...

And finally, my Marmande tomatoes took a mere four days to germinate in the heated propogator!!!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Celeriac germinates

I know, it's a bit blurred, but there they are. I have left the lid off now but am worried they won't be warm enough. They are sitting on the heated propogator, but as the tray is much wider than the base of the propogator, the bottom of the tray isn't in contact with it. I think I'll let the lid dry out a bit then put it back on, but propped open for ventilation. Or I could get some fleece?

Next to these, but not photographed because nothing has happened yet, are some Marmande tomato seeds, sown in one of the proper heated propogator trays, last Friday. As soon as they germinate I will post a picture! These little green shoots help to keep us going through all this snow and icy wind don't they?