Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A post at last !

I know I haven't posted for almost a week, but I have been very active on the plot since getting back from the babysitting. I once again took some seedlings with me to my son's. I think he is getting used to my eccentric ways now and just humours me. The basil, Lemongrass and Emilia (Irish Poet) common name("Tassel flower") had all just began to shoot up through the compost, so I couldn't leave them to dry out and die, so they came with me to Surrey.

Little Bertie ( 18 months) was keen to have a look at them with me each morning so fingers crossed we have a little gardener in the making. I already have a little gardening tool kit for him, all in it's own wee bag which I got in the sale last year at Asda.

Today I potted on my sunflowers, coriander, and kale. I have another plastic mini greenhouse now in the garden, which is full up, but at least we have our windowsills back. The greenhouse on the allotment is full of my dahlias, I must take a photo tomorrow as they have really come on. I lost about 5 when we had a severe frost, but I now cover them with layers of fleece.

I planted out the sweet peas today that I had grown last autumn, they have been in an unheated greenhouse all through the severe winter, so hopefully they will be ok. Just to be sure I wrapped some fleece around them as well. They are planted at the bottom of my "goal post". Last year they climbed the 6ft and more, and I was picking them every day all summer. I still have sweet williams growing at the foot of the post, it's amazing that they came through the winter and are now growing like crazy.

I have also put in the remaining parsnip seeds that were chitting. I planted them in-between two rows of garlic, I hope that wasn't a mistake and that they have enough room. If they outgrow the space I will just have to pick them as baby parsnips. I almost forgot ! I also planted some Mizuna and some spinach beet. Tomorrow I will take some photo's as the plot is looking good.

I am off to London on Thursday to meet up with a friend who is over from Spain. I haven't seen her for about 30 years, so I expect we will be talking nonstop ! I can't wait to see her, we lost contact years ago when I moved to Hampshire from London and she and her family moved away.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Busy Busy Busy, I need a holiday !!!

I have spent many hours on the lottie since Saturday, generally doing jobs like turning the compost bins, weeding, raking beds and putting horse manure on the rhubarb and raspberry plants. A very kind allotment neighbour cut our grass borders with his petrol mower ( we have a manual push one) so Austin trimmed the edges for me, so it's all looking really tidy.

Yesterday I dug my runner and french bean trench. I dug it fairly deep and lined it with wads of newspaper and then put in a lot of horse manure that I had rotting from last year, then covered it all in with the soil again. I was so tired that I went to bed early- 11pm and really for me that is early! only trouble is I was awake again by 5am, so had a cup of tea and went back to bed again. I also put in my potatoes. - Nicola, Swift and Desiree.

Today I went up again and planted my parsnips that I had chitted ( yes chitted !) I am doing my own parsnip trial. The parsnips are Gladiator F1
Trial No 1 is 5 x pot sown and grown seedlings which I transplanted into the bed. Apparently parsnips don't like this ! but we shall see.
Trial No 2 is the chitted parsnip seeds. I dug some trenches filled them with multi purpose compost, carefully put in the chitted parsnip seeds, covered them with more M/P/compost and a scattering of earth.
Trial No 3 was parsnip seeds sown straight into the ground with a little mix of compost added to the planting area. I will update you as to which does the best.

I also sowed 5 short rows of Carrot's - Early Nantes 5. I then harvested some of my purple sprouting broccoli for dinner. I have waited nearly a year for this, I also dug up a couple of large leeks.
I've also been sowing more white onions as the first lot don't seem to be doing so well. I think I sowed them too early as this second sowing look so strong in comparison (see photo below) and the lemongrass that I sowed a couple of weeks ago is coming on now.

We are going to help look after the grandchildren on Friday and Saturday so wont return until Sunday, we are so looking forward to it, but I have to get someone to look in on my seedlings, it's a wrench to leave them in the hands of someone else at this crucial stage, I'm sure you all know what I mean !!
Photo's below are - from the top Chilli seedlings ready to pot on. next one is the Lemongrass, then it's my second onion attempt, much better seedling this time ! then it's the chitted parsnips, they look like little tadpoles !

Kale - Tosca De Nero on the right and short green curly on the left

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Happy Spring to everyone

What wonderful weather, it makes my heart sing and I feel so grateful for all my blessings of health, family, love, friendship,and the ability to see and hear the wonders of this beautiful world. So just posting this photo of my Garden Fairy to wish you all a very Happy Spring.

I am up early today and raring to go. I want to dig my bean trench , so hopefully I will get lots done. To all the mum's out there
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY for tomorrow.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A hard day at the lottie and photo's to prove it !

My lottie assistant and I worked hard today for about 5 hours. I dug the beds and added the horse poo and Austin knocked together some very simple small raised beds with some timber we had over from last year. The potato bed is now ready, I added some organic potato fertilizer and intend to get the spuds in by next week. I put a poly tunnel over the parsnip bed to warm the soil ready to plant them next week. Tomorrow I am going to dig the trench for my runner and french beans, which I will sow in April. I love to see the beds all freshly dug and raked over.

All the seedlings are coming on so well, I can't wait to get them into the ground as it's a pain having to look after so many.
The Freshly dug beds

Dahlia seedlings (I counted about 70) plus other plants as well

Purple sprouting broccoli ready to pick and eat at last!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Successful Sowing

I Spent a few hours at the allotment on Saturday afternoon harvesting the remaining brussel sprouts. We took the sprouts off and chopped the stems up to rot down for the compost bin . The stems are so thick it would take ages to rot in the bin, so we will break them down and add them later on, it would be lovely to have a shredder. The brussel bed has now been dug over roughly ready to weed and rake, and prepare for the next crop in, which I haven't decided on yet.
My latest seed sowings have been very successful as you can see below. The top picture is of the German cabbages "Filderkraut" which I mentioned in a previous post ( Withdrawal symptoms). The next picture down is two types of Kale, on the left of the seed tray is Dwarf Curly Kale, and on the right of the tray is Nero Di Toscana (Italian). Next is the Italian Red Onions which have at last started to grow sturdier. I have been putting them outside each day if it's not raining, but they go out if it's windy as I have learnt that the wind helps strengthen them, and it's really worked. At the bottom is the Cerinthe plants which I sowed in the Autumn, they have been hardening off during the day and hopefully going out into the beds in April.
Filderkraut cabbage


Italian red onions


Friday, 13 March 2009

My Garden has declared it's Spring !

These are photo's I took around the garden today. I guess it must be Spring ! The little Viola below has made it all through the terrible Winter and is blooming as though it's summer. The heather is beautiful this year and surrounds my Buddha. The little tete a tete Narcissus was a surprise, I don't remember putting them there, but I may have emptied a pot last year and planted them, I certainly don't recall them being there before. The forsythia is always a welcome sight each Spring and is right outside my kitchen window and has a bright yellow double "Kerria" beside it.
The "Tartiflette" I cooked last night was delicious, I took some step by step pictures and will post it soon with the recipe. You may like to try it as it's filling especially with a salad.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Sewing not Sowing

It was as I said impossible to get anything done today in connection with gardening, so instead of SOWING I have been SEWING ! I am in the process of making a Pooh Bear cushion for Florence. I made one for Bertie last year and also made one each for my other two grandchildren when they were babies (they are all grown up now).

As well as working on the cushion, I have just finished quilting and beading two very tiny pieces of fabric, which I will make into something when I figure out what. I just loved sewing them. I bought the oddments in the fabric shop and cut out the little folk art angel, and the little pansy posy. I don't know if the beads and quilting show up in these photo's. I have also been working on some little "let's have coffee" cards they are rubber stamped, painted, glittered, cut out, mounted on cards and then I write the wording on. So I still had a lot to do, even if it wasn't to do with plants. It's nice to have a change !

This evening for dinner I am going to cook "Tartiflette" my son has a french au pair and she made it for us the other week when we were staying there and it was delicious. If my attempt comes out ok, I will share the recipe with you. It looks easy enough, but we shall see. It's made with: potatoes, onions, garlic. bacon lardons, white wine, and the main ingredient is "Reblochon" cheese, which is very expensive, so I really hope my attempt is worthy of the dish.

Potatoes and Tomatoes

The weather here today has been very wet and dull, what a contrast from yesterday ! I really was looking forward to getting up to the lottie and harvesting all the remaining brussel sprouts. There are quite a lot, so I intend freezing them. This will then free up that bed so I can dig it over and put some compost on it ready for the next crop (haven't decided what yet !) oh well hopefully it will be a better day tomorrow. My potatoes are chitting well, and I intend to get them in during the next week or so. I have a small amount of "Nicola" some "Swift" and some "Desiree". I grew "Pink Fir Apple" last year, I loved them, but no one else did, so I haven't bothered this year.

The "Saint Pierre" tomatoes are doing well, I have grown far too many, but these 6 are going in the greenhouse on the plot as soon as they are a little sturdier, the others I will give away or sell at my boot sale. The small "Red cherry" are also growing well and I have some "Alicante" which were sown later but are catching up fast.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Withdrawal Symptoms

I haven't posted anything for days and I am getting withdrawal symptoms. I have been to my son's to help out with the new baby and her big brother. I did the 9pm and 12pm feeds so the parents could catch up on some sleep. We are back home now and it's very quite without Bertie keeping us on our toes.

The first thing I did was the usual checking of the seedling. They are all growing well so I feel ok to leave them for a couple of days now. I will be glad when they are all planted out into the beds then they can cope on their own. The onion seedlings seem to be very slow in growing. I usually plant onion sets, so not having raised my onions from seeds before I don't know if this is normal or not, does anyone else have any advice ? The Red "Taste of Italy" Italian onions seem to be strong and healthy, but the white "ailsa craig" and "bedfordshire champion" don't seem to be doing well at all, so I am sowing some more, just in case they don't make it.

The Dahlia plants are doing very well, but I am impatient to see them get sturdy and strong.
I have also grown 3 types of Chillies, some Pepper seeds and Lemongrass, and some Cabbage called "Filderkraut" (Johnsons, world kitchen seeds) these are almost white cabbage with a very pointed shape, and are excellent for either steaming, making coleslaw, shredded for sauerkraut ( a German dish) or for soups, so a good all rounder. Not forgetting, Basil, and coriander.

I quickly popped up to the greenhouse on the lottie before it got too dark, as I have the sweetpeas growing in there. They were a bit dry as I hadn't asked anyone to tend them whilst we were away, I don't want to lose them after all the care I have given them since sowing them last Autumn. I also checked on the purple sprouting broccoli. I should be picking it soon, but it's very slow coming, it's been in the ground almost a year now (from tiny plants I grew from seeds) how patient do I have to be ??? it's good to be back, but there is so much to do.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

I'm full of admiration for the DIY'ers on the allotment

I worked for around 3 hours on the plot today, and whilst up there I was full of admiration for the DIY skills of our new plot holders. They have built not only a fantastic chicken run and house, but are also building their own shed from scratch. It cost them the princely sum of £5 yes !! £5, apparently they went to Homebase and it was all in a skip ready to be scrapped, all assorted bits of timber and broken panels, and they asked to buy it and that was what they got it for, amazing eh ? My immediate lottie neighbour and I, another Maureen, went over to introduce ourselves and to be nosy ( of course!) they are very nice and come from Georgia, Russia. So our little end of the allotment is a mixed bag of Scottish, Irish, English and Russian, and 3 Maureen's !!

The photo below is of the Russians new timber shed, not quite finished yet, and the chicken house. They are so clever.

And then as I was walking along the path I spotted another building going up. My friend Tom was building what looks like a shed, but it's not a shed it's going to be a greenhouse, Wow ! I am so amazed at peoples skills. I will post another photo when Tom has finished it.I finally planted out all of the garlic that I had growing in the greenhouse. I have been hardening it off over the last week. I got 12 into the end of the bed that the Broad beans went into the other day. (photo below) and planted another 20 in a different bed. I am not sure how many I planted straight into the ground last autumn but it looks like I might be self sufficient with garlic this year, which is great as I use a lot.

Friday, 6 March 2009

A leisurely day at home !

I would love to report that I had a busy day at the lottie, but the true is I haven't ! I had my sister and brother-in-law come for lunch, so apart from watering the seedlings and hardening off the garlic that I had growing in the lottie greenhouse, that's all I have done with gardening today. Oh ! and planted a few more seeds, more about them at the next post.

It's nice to have a break though and we had a lovely day, with good company and a glass or two of "Pimms" hic ! I did take a couple of photo's that I thought I would post, ( not all taken today) The first one is a comfy corner of my Summerhouse, the second is of one of my orchids blooming again at last! The third is my hyacinth before it flowered (sadly dead now) I love it when they are fresh and green before blooming. Last of all is the lavender that I grew from seeds last year. They were going to be a lavender hedge for my plot, but I think they have all died during this cold winter. If they grow any more leaves I will be delighted, but they look dead, (not in this photo) and when I broke a piece off it didn't look at all green. I will have to be patient and wait and see.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Exhausted but happy, a good day on the plot.

I have been to the lottie today, hurrah !! and spent four and half hours happily digging, planting my broad beans, weeding the two cabbage patches. Weeding and hoeing the curly Kale, and covering it up as the pigeons have been having a picnic at my expense. and tidying the leek bed.

I am exhausted but really pleased that I went as it was such a fabulous day. I met friends up there, so had lots of breaks for a chat, it's lovely to see some activity on the allotment at last.
I am so envious of a new plot holder ( not met him yet) as he has built a super duper hen house and it is all enclosed in a very well built compound complete with a sturdy gate. I can't wait to see the chickens when he moves them in. We would love to have some chickens ourselves but it is such a huge daily commitment, and we like going away to friends and family for days here and there.

The photo's above are as follows :

top one is just a reminder to myself of how the shed will look again in the summer it looked so pretty last year, I can't wait to get some flowers up there again.
Second photo is the broad beans in place that I planted today, now covered with a plastic tunnel, I hope I don't lose these. I kept some back in case I do.
Third photo is of the broad beans covered and the green tunnel is my cabbages, with garlic along the side.
Fourth photo Leek bed all weeded, and the beds beyond are the ones I have dug over today.
and I haven't taken one of the kale bed and other cabbage bed. All in all a good days work. My allotment assistant (hubbie) didn't come today so I was on my own, but he's cooking a pasta tonight, so I'm not complaining, it's rare for me to be cooked for. I'M STARVING after all that work I did, I was so busy I forgot to stop for my banana & biscuit.

Monday, 2 March 2009

I'm back in action on the plot !

After a couple of hectic weeks going back and forth helping out with babysitting, I am now raring to go. I missed out on working at the lottie in the lovely weather at the week-end as I was in London visiting my sister, so I was very pleased that today was good.

I managed to dig and prepare two raised beds, and took off the black plastic on other parts of the plot and got it dug, ready to divide into smaller beds. I don't have a plan, I just know where everything was last year and will rotate it all this year. I am going to do a boot sale to help towards the price of a bigger shed, and then my daughter will take the small one over to her plot when I get the bigger one.

My broad beans are getting very tall so I think they will have to go out as soon as possible as the roots are getting very long even though they are in the toilet roll tubes. The Cerinthe plants are also doing well, I have been hardening them and the beans off outside each day.
I have lots of seeds to plant this month. I love to see the seedlings appear and grow it's so amazing, but I do find looking after them a chore, especially as we like going away for a couple of days at a time. I look forward to the time when all the vegetables are in their beds, and need less looking after. The photo above is of the area that I dug over today, covering it over winter with black plastic was really good at keeping down the weeds and warming up the soil, it was much easier to dig.