Monday, 31 January 2011

More on the New Plot

Here are some more pictures of my new plot - in sunshine this time (still very cold though). I have spent the weekend moving all my useful bits and pieces over there from my old plot, and yesterday bade my final farewells. I met some people who would have been my new neighbours if I'd stayed - they seemed to be making great progress, they have already dug over nearly half the plot.

There was a pile of wood chippings on the new site, which we had been told was for general use, and one of the first things I did when I got up there was fill half my builders bag with them, ready for when I put my raspberries and blackcurrants in, I'm going to use them as a mulch around the fruit.

This area at the very end is the most overgrown part, with nettles, brambles and couch grass in abundance, so this is where I have started to clear first, partly so that I could get my compost bins set up, and also because this is where the fruit bushes will go. It's pretty tough going so far, but I think it will probably get easier as I move further up. I have also sent off for an azada, or Chillington type digging hoe as they're sometimes called. Apparently these are the answer to your prayers. One reviewer claimed that he was able to clear one square metre per minute. Well, I'll believe it when I see it, but I have heard such good things about them that I decided it was worth spending around £10 to find out for myself. The action is very different to how you would use a spade, thus preventing the sore back you would normally expect when digging. You can read about it here.

So this is what I managed to get done today, or most of it anyway, I started on it last week, but today I cleared the area where the compost bins are, and filled them both up, one with almost-done compost, the other with compost-in-progress. All of which I brought with me in numerous bags from the old plot! Well I don't know how much had been added by the previous occupants, and you can never have too much compost can you?

Then I cleared the bit to the right of the bins, where you might be able to see a few sticks poking up - this is where I have planted the comfrey I brought with me. I hope it will be alright - when I tipped the plants out of their pots the soil they were in was frozen solid. I managed to break them into separate pieces and just stuck them in and will just have to hope for the best. They're pretty tough.

And that's about it so far....

I also made 10 jars of marmalade today.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Seed Potatoes

I have just been to buy my seed potatoes. I am a big fan of garden centres where you can buy your seed potatoes loose, that way you can have exactly the quantity you want, the right size and be sure not to get any damaged ones. I got these from Russells Garden Centre in Coventry, and if you are interested in finding a similar one local to you, have a look at this list. I got 10 each of 6 different varieties, which cost about £9.00, - pretty good value I think. The other major advantage is you can get them at exactly the time you want them, rather than being at the mercy of suppliers' sometimes rather erratic delivery procedures, and of course the hopeless postal service.

These are the varieties I chose for this season:
1st earlies - Pentland Javelin, Red Duke of York
2nd earlies - Anya, Charlotte
Mains - Desiree, Cara

I don't know yet whether I'm going to have room for all of these - my new plot is somewhat smaller than my old one, and I haven't quite 'moved in' yet so I haven't been able to go and measure it all out properly. I suppose I could put any leftovers into containers, or give them away.

This week I have begun packing up at my old plot ready for moving to the new one. We are not allowed sheds at the new site, so I will have to find some kind of plastic chest storage. As a consequence I won't be able to bring the water butts either, so they are all staying. Everything else is being moved. I have bagged up the contents of both compost bins and the big compost bag, and rolled up all my bits of netting inside one of the bins. I have dug and potted up three blackcurrant bushes, a couple of comfrey plants which I have split into several new plants, ditto a large rhubarb crown. Most of this I will be able to move by car, once I have been given the go ahead to 'move in' but I plan to borrow a friend with a trailer to help me with the heavier stuff like paving slabs and bags of compost.

In the garden, we had some goldfinches visit a couple of weeks ago, and to entice them back again I have hung up some nyger seed, which seems to have done the trick, they have been back today for a snack. I have had to replace the other seed feeder too, after this naughty squirrel mutilated the last one, pulling out the plug with the percher on so it could hang upside down while the seeds poured into its mouth.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Allotment

Exciting news!!! I have had a phone call from the Hillmorton Allotment Association to say that a plot has become available. Much sooner than expected! He said there was one definite one, and a couple of other possible ones, so I may even have a choice. I'm meeting him on Saturday morning to have a look, but in the meantime I couldn't resist hot-footing it straight down there as soon as I'd put the phone down. If I have understood him correctly, it is this one:

I hope so as it's right in a corner, like my current one. It is a bit smaller though, but not by too much. The gate on the left appears to lead into someone's back garden. To the left of the gate, out of the picture, is a water butt that comes off the shed in the garden, although the butt is in the allotment. On the bottom left is a strawberry patch, and to the right, a couple of currant bushes. Goodness knows what's in all those bags. I have studied it on Google Earth and established that it faces south lengthways, so apart from a bit of shade at one end first thing in the morning, it will have the sun most of the day.

He said this one would be available in about a month's time, when the present tenant has moved off it. The timing couldn't be more perfect, as the rent is due on my current allotment next month. So that solves my dilemma about whether to own up to having moved. All I have to do now is borrow a friend or relative with a trailer, to help me move all my stuff over there.

It will mean sacrificing my purple sprouting brocolli, and the garlic that I put in in November, but I will make sure I dig up and eat/freeze/give away all the leeks and parsnips that are still in the ground. Luckily I hadn't put any broad beans in yet.

I'm planning to order my greenhouse at the end of January, so double excitement! Looks like I'll be pretty busy in February, I hope the weather will be on my side.