Saturday, 31 January 2009

Bloggers are the nicest people - ever !!

In case you are wondering about the title of this post, it's because it's true and also because I received through the post this morning a pattern and a beautiful little sea glass magnet for my notice board. They were exquisitely wrapped in tissue with a lovely ribbon and tag. So a big thank you to Pam, you made my day.

Friday, 30 January 2009

John Martyn- R.I.P

This post has nothing to do with allotments or plants, but please excuse me while I pay tribute to a musician who you may never have even heard of ( but I hope you have).
John Martyn was a Folk & Blues singer /musician who had amazing talent. He died yesterday aged 60. He hailed from Scotland, the son of Opera singer parents, who split up when he was a wee boy, he was raised in Glasgow by an Aunt. He worked with and was respected by some of the greatest artist's of our time. He was a hard drinking/ hard living kind of a man, wild, and spirited. His best known album was "Solid Air" (1973) It was the first album I heard and it made me a lifelong fan.

I saw him live on stage a few years back, he had put on lots of weight, had a leg amputated from the knee and so had to be helped onto the stage. His playing was awesome that evening and his voice majestic, and he had the audience in the palm of his hand and got a huge standing ovation.
So it's a sad day for John Martyn fans and the fans of folk & blues.

The celebrated songwriter collaborated with Dave Gilmour, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins amongst others on his 20 studio albums and was awarded an OBE in the last new year’s honours list.

x God Bless John x

I have added a favourite track from "Solid Air" on my play list below called "May You Never" click on it to play it, it's the last one on the list.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

A Favourite poem

I have nothing to post on Allotments or planting today, so decided to share a favourite poem.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams...

William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Speedy Results In Ten days !

Well I said that I would post some photo's when the seeds peeped out of the compost. I sowed them on the 18th Jan and here we are just 10 days later and they are more than peeping! they are raring to go, that's incredible! The seed packets and various books always recommend sowing a few seeds to each section just in case some don't make it, well I guess mine all made it as I now have too many tomato plants, oh well it's nice to give some away, it's all part of the allotment spirit. This is the first time I have grown onions from seed I planted sets last year.
I have been told by some of the older and wiser plot holders that this is the best way, as you get bigger onions and they store better apparently ! so we shall see !

I used yesterdays harvest to make a tasty soup for lunch. I added some of the sprout tops, some leeks and a bought a couple of large potatoes ( mine are all gone) I used vegetable stock cubes ("Kallo" organic) and added some ground black pepper and a little salt, and a squeeze of tomato puree. When all the vegetable were cooked, I then blended half of the soup to thicken it, but left enough pieces of veg to add substance. It was delicious.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Still Harvesting

Purple sprouting broccoli (above)
Brussel Sprouts (above) wallflowers (below)

Today was the first visit to the lottie in a week. The sweet-peas are growing strong in the greenhouse. The garlic looks very sturdy and I should be able to get it planted out soon. I planted the garlic in individual sections, so it will be easy to plant out with little or no disturbance. The ones that I planted straight into the ground are also doing very well.
I cut the tops off the brussel sprouts, they are like little cabbages and are very tasty, some will be going in a soup with the leeks I dug up. The remaining brussels will get bigger now the tops are off the plants, and I will probably have harvested them all by mid February, I can then dig that bed ready for my beans.
As you can see in the photo my purple sprouting broccoli is just beginning to show some purple sprouts, I can't wait to harvest that as it's a favourite veg and so expensive to buy.
The photo at the bottom shows my wallflowers which have grown so big, they are going to look and smell wonderful. I think it's because they are protected from the weather in their bed by the greenhouse, as I lost some that were planted in pots.
As you can see in the bottom photo I still have lots of leeks to harvest, I need to get some more sown soon.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Butterflies at RHS "Wisley Gardens"

When we visited Wisley on Tuesday there was the added bonus ( we weren't aware of before getting there), and that was, that there were about 1000 tropical butterflies in the Glasshouse. This is the first time they have done this and it started on 18th January and they will be there until 22nd of February 2009. It was hard to spot most of them as they blended in with the plants and flowers, but I did take a few, as you can see.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Sowing Broad Beans

I decided not to leave it to chance as to whether or not I have lost some Broad Beans. The strong winds broke some of my plants that are already in the ground. So today I planted 20 seeds of "Thompson & Morgan's" "Bunyards Exhibition" in cardboard toilet roll innards. I did this last year and it was very successful! as the depth of the roll allows the long roots to establish well, and, they can be planted into the ground in the tubes as they will rot down, that way there will be very little root disturbance.

I have to say though that I did tear the cardboard open a bit last year just to get the roots going in the soil quicker, as mine were late going in.

We love Broad Beans, and have just finished the last bag from last years crop that were in the freezer. I grew the same beans last year and had a great crop and they were delicious.

This method also works well with Sweet Peas as they also have long roots. So if you haven't tried this sowing method before start collecting your loo rolls.

Photo's from RHS Wisley Gardens

This is just a few of the many photo's
that I took in the glass house on my
visit to "Wisley Gardens" today, I will
post some more on Flikr. It was a lovely day and the gardens looked
full of the promise of things to come.
There were buds on trees and shrubs
and bulbs starting to emerge through
the soil.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Never trust "Mother Nature"

I went up to the Lottie today very briefly, mainly because I never got around to taking up the kitchen waste for the compost bins yesterday. I am so glad I went, because when I got up there I am sad to report that the winds had blown Rosie (my scarecrow) over. She was lying flat on her back in the mud. Oh I know it's only a scarecrow, but she has a real personality (honest! just look at her picture. back dated post ) anyway I took her clothes home and washed them and we ( my allotment assistant & I !!) will go up and sort her out as soon as the ground is less muddy. I think we will have to concrete her in.

The wind also blew the empty wheelbarrow onto one of my leek beds which flattened some leeks, AND blew the plastic tunnel off of the broad beans ( I think I have lost one or two) I came back home looking really put out, and needed a cup of tea ! Mother Nature really got one over on me today.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

First seeds this year are sown- Yippee

I really feel that Spring is nearly upon us, the weather today is sunny with blue skies, so once again the weather forecast wasn't spot on, but hey ! I'm not complaining. I know we will have more frosts for a while to come yet, but lets make the most of these lovely days and get ahead ready for planting.

Apart from taking up some kitchen waste ( some from my neighbour as well) for the compost bin, I don't intend to do anything on the allotment today. Instead I have planted my onion, leeks, and tomato seeds. I don't have a photo as it would seem rather boring just looking at bare compost, so I will post one when the first shoots appear. (fingers crossed). I planted them in John Innes seed compost and covered them and put them on window sills and will move them on to the greenhouse ( which is unheated) when they start growing and the weather is warmer.

This is the ideal time to check all your seed packets from last year if you haven't already done so, and throw out any that are out of date or that you weren't pleased with. Then take stock of what you need to buy or want to grow this year and look around the garden centres or "Wilkinsons" (wilko's) if you have a store near you, as their prices are very good. I personally never order from seed catalogues unless it's something rare that I can't get locally. For reasons -one, I am too impatient to wait for delivery and two, I like to hold the seed packet and turn it over and read the sowing advice etc before deciding to buy it.

I brought two Blueberry bushes which I got at the end of last year from "Wisley" RHS gardens. They need ericatious compost and are better off in large pots, (thats unless your soil is right for them !) mine isn't so they are in pots and they are in my garden, I decided not to take them to the allotment as they were too expensive and could easily be taken ( not that we usually have any theft problems) in pots.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The case of the missing leeks

When I last visited my plot on Tuesday I noticed that some leeks were missing or maybe I was mistaken ? I didn't really know for sure. Anyway this evening my daughter Niki and her partner Paul came for dinner and in conversation she let slip that they had fancied making some leek and potato soup !!!! so had popped up to my plot ( they are working on their own plot, but it's early days) and STOLE some leeks, cheeky devils ! so if you two are reading this blog HANDS OF MY LEEKS !! I think I had better sow extra seeds for them this year.

I don't really mind though as they have some nice cauliflowers growing, so when I fancy some cauliflower cheese I may just ?????????? - love you Niki ! next time you want to do a "Peter Rabbit" can you pull up a few weeds as well please.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Hurrah ! at last some decent weather

The weather was so mild today it was like an early spring day. So we ( my allotment assistant-Austin came as well) took advantage of it and went up to the lottie for an hour or so.
As you can see by the photo I managed to dig over what was last years cabbage bed. The soil was fantastic, that frost really did the trick.

I also dug up about 7 leeks for tomorrows lunch of leek and potato soup. They were very muddy and needed lots of washing, not my favourite job as leeks are so hard to get clean.

I also dug the two raised beds and added some manure that I had delivered about three
months ago. I checked the broad beans (under the plastic tunnel) they seem to be OK but one or two looked a little fragile after the severe frosts we had last week. I will sow some more just in case they don't survive.

I am going to sow my onion seeds this week-end, I usually buy onion sets, but thought I would have a go at sowing from seed this year. It was so good to be doing something up there today and a couple of walkers going past stopped to chat which is always nice. Hopefully the weather will start to get better now and I can't wait for the lighter evenings.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Everything is Frozen

Including this spiders web on the bird feeder
in our garden. It was far too cold to venture up to the lottie today, so it will have to wait until the milder days we have been told are on the way next week. We are supposed to be having some rain as well ! it seems ages since we had some.

I am desperate to get digging I need the exercise, and this winter seems so long, and is it me or do you also feel that Christmas was an age away ?
We are going out tomorrow so I wont be getting up to the plot until Monday. I could do with digging up some leeks and picking some sprouts, so maybe the ground will be softer after some rain, so lets hope we get some.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Busy times ahead

This is a photo of my seed collection taken today. I feel such a hoarder! lots of them are from last year, bought in half price sales in the garden centre, how could I resist a bargain ?? I do have to admit I still feel drawn to peruse the seed collection whenever I go to the garden centres wherever I am, and that I have bought some this year. I was mortified when I put them all on the table today to list them,(list at bottom of right hand side of page)

Most of the herbs came free from Gardening mags as did a few vegetable seeds.
I can't wait to get sowing. I usually start my seeds off indoors on a window sill or in the mini plastic covered greenhouse in the garden or the one on the allotment, depending on the seeds. I always feel that they get a better start and I like to see results rather than not know if they are going to come up in the ground. Carrots are the only seeds I grew straight into the bed last year, we had a good crop.

I didn't have much success with the Aubergines last year. I had a few small ones but they were a bit disappointing, however I will give them another try this year.

I have lots more flower seeds to sow this year, but some are for my garden as well. The Cosmos were very beautiful last year as were the Marigolds, Calendulas and Sweet-peas. I thought I would try some Dahlias this year, they aren't the kind of flower I would normally grow but they are an allotment traditional favourite and I must say that some of the other plots had stunning displays of them.

I daresay we shall all be seed and plant swapping again this year as we did last year, that's part of the communal allotment life and it's great.

Monday, 5 January 2009

A New year begins- 2009 on the allotment

Today was my first visit this year to the lottie. I had to go and see if the garlic and sweet-peas were ok in the unheated greenhouse. I hadn't watered them for well over a week and it would be a shame to lose them after all the attention I had previously given them. I am pleased to say that although they were a bit dried out they were absolutely fine and growing like crazy even in this freezing weather. I only hope I haven't done them any harm by using the very cold water ( it had ice in the bottle !) that was in the greenhouse, I think they are quite tough by now though.

This is the garlic grown in the ground it's hardly grown, but it's possibly going to be bigger bulbs as the cold apparently is good for them, and the other photo is the ones I planted in the greenhouse.

The garlic in the ground hasn't done half as well as the one's I planted in the greenhouse I am experimenting to see just how well the end growing results will be.
If the sweet-peas carry on growing so well I shall have flowers to pick earlier than I did last year. This is also an experiment as I grew them in the
spring last year, these were planted in the autumn.

These little watering tops are wonderful
I can recommend these little watering tops, if you haven't already got some treat yourself as they are reasonably cheap, fit onto a normal plastic "spring water" bottle and are so good for watering in the greenhouse or home. They don't drown the seedlings and are better than a clumsy watering can. Most garden centres have them, if not they can be ordered from the "Harrods" garden catalogue but that will be more expensive as they charge postage. Link below :
and here is a photo: