Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Up it comes...already!!

What we have here is the purple Peruvian garlic I bought from Waitrose. I can't believe it's popped up in less then two weeks! The other variety thermidrome is yet to show.

I just LOVE !!

My Allotment Plan

I was the the cat with the proverbial cream the day I found web site. What fun I have had designing and re-designing my plot. It has a way of shading around the plants so you space them correctly, the shading also categorises the plants for crop rotation. To top it all off it lists the vegetables and fruit that you want to grow on a table, showing you when to sow etc. Now, I know that part of it may not work for all varieties and not every vegetable is listed in the first place but even with these discrepancies -  I just love it.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

1st Carrot Crop Ever!

The pale carrots are rainbow variety, middle ones rothild and flakee on the right.

I had the help of my under-gardener today to pull some of our carrots. "Wow wee!" he said as they lifted easily from the ground. I shall have to remind him of this day when he's older, how he happily pulled his first carrot from the ground before he was two years old. 

I planted three late varieties - Flakee, Rothild and Rainbow and the all seem to have grown equally good. Inconclusively the longest carrot was one of the Rainbow variety, a pale coloured carrot which tasted very faintly of parsnip - unless it's colour was playing tricks on my senses? Generally they have grown straight which is testament to the hard work I put in removing stones at the beginning. Gotta love the carrot that looks like it's walking though !!

I felt good leaving the lottie under the rising full moon with our first crop of anything! Especially as I've been feeling so ill the last week; exhausted from work I've had a bad cold, an eye infection and then finally my larynx gave in and now I have no voice. It means no digging this week sadly! When am I going to get the raspberries in?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Butterfly with an Earring?

This is the Comma butterfly or Polygonia c-album. It get's its name from the 'c' or comma shaped silver mark on the underside of it's wing. After landing on my windscreen at Wisley it dived in the window, hitched a ride on my dashboard up the road and then fluttered off. I felt very lucky to have such a fleeting visit especially when I read it should be hibernation already! 

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The First Garlic Planting

Traditionally with garlic ...
Well I have planted mine early - on Halloween, which may help rid the allotment of evil spirits? ... the evil spirits of slugs perhaps!!

With the help of Shannie I cleared another big area of weed roots and put together another bed. We burnt a lot of the weeds that weren't wet in the incinerator. This is a great way to save transporting all the roots to the dump. 

I planted three and a half rows of garlic, two of Thermidrome and one and a half of a purple Peruvian variety I got from Waitrose. I have half a row which I'll plant on the shortest day 21st December - if I remember! 
I made a measuring stick out of a piece of 3x1 which I had at home and used it to perfectly space out the garlic. I've planted the cloves 6'' apart and staggered the rows which are 9" apart.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Super Aquadolce are Go!

It has taken me a bit longer then planned to get some broad beans in the ground. Although I had the bed ready well over a week ago, I have been too busy to plant the beans. But I snuck down to the allotment for an hour today. I also delivered my new incinerator which I have to admit I'm overly keen to use and burn all those weed roots up. 

I have planted two double rows of Super Aquadolce broad beans in the raised bed which I previously dug out all the weed roots and forked in a bag of well rotted manure. I have taken a bit of a risk by planting the two double rows  closer than recommended about 50cm (70cm centres) - this will be another experiment then! the recommended distance is 1m. I have put some enviromesh over the beans as I had some sitting in the shed and thought it would keep in the heat and may help the germination.

I also happened to check the soil pH and it was exactly on the line between 6 and 7 - I'm not sure exactly what that means but I think it's good!

Next to go in are the garlic cloves but I need a new bed dug; not to mention the paths that I want to mulch, the raspberry bed preparing and compost bin locating... Where are those helpful elves when you need them? 

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

What an Ugly Mess!

Well, I ashamed to say this is my plot. I just looks so terrible now. But I hope this will be a good photo to look back at in the future to see how much we have done.
Some folks pass by and say "Oh you're brave taking on that plot!".

Of the two beds covered there in envioromesh the one on the right is the carrot experiment and the one on the left is the cabbage and kale bed.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

No.1 Carrot

This is my beautiful perfect first carrot. 
It's about 8" long, well, was - of course, after skipping home from lottie with it to show the family, it was devoured almost instantly. It was flakee variety....... wonderfully straight don't you think?
Aah! I'm so pleased that I took the trouble to remove the larger stones, to turn in that lovely compost and cover it in the warming envioromesh. The soil is very sandy here and I knew the carrots would love that. I have learnt a lesson with the seed tapes - I'm not put off at all, I just want to make sure I over seed them next time. I'm thinking of trying to get some more in this weekend.

I prepared a raised bed today which I shall plant up tomorrow with cabbage and kales that my lovely sister gave me.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The learning carrot curve

My carrot success is few and far between - literally.
I was very proud of my seed tapes, but really I have such a few carrots seedlings to show for it that I should have planted more conventionally run the risk of the carrot fly when thinning. I'm running the risk when I'm weeding anyhow! Perhaps I could over seed the tapes, as they did make for some seriously fast sowing?
I am very happy with my labels.
Actually I'm very happy that I have carrots growing. 


Thursday, 24 July 2008

Speed Seeding

Carrot seeds are in the ground.

So here we have the 1st bed I have dug. 

With 3 lines of carrot seed with my recycled wooden spoon labels.

Since I had misplaced my camera cable and I was unable to upload my photos therefore I have neglected my blog for a bit. Oh and I had a weeks jolies in Cornwall too. To be honest I think the blog can be neglected whereas carrot seed shouldn't be.

Actually, to date my carrot seeds have been in the ground for nearly 3 weeks - and I haven't seen anything that looks like it might be a carrot showing yet. I fear that my trip to Cornwall meant they missed some very important watering. I am not sure what to do yet - I may just sow another couple of rows in the same bed just in case.

So let me rewind....

After the big chop and the shed build, I finally finished digging my first bed; clearing it of weeds, roots and stones then turning a bag of compost into it that I had left over from home. 

I made some natty seed tapes at home using flour and water to glue seeds in their correct spacings onto strips of newspaper. I thought this would mean I wouldn't have to worry about the thinning stage, especially after all I read about the carrot fly. Actually the way the tape really helped was the it meant I could lay the paper strips into the drills and cover them up before little one ran across the bed!! Speed seeding!

Sunday 6th July. The weather had been very changeable and unpredictable. But I managed one afternoon to go down with little one and finally get the seed into the ground. Black clouds appeared so I ran home satisfied with my work and even more grateful for the divinely timed downpour that ensued.... and it continued to rain for days - perfect.

I had stroke of genius with my labels. In keeping with allotmenteers ways of recycling I have used wooden spoons as labels, the ones found in nice coffee shops, National Trust and RHS cafe's - that kind of establishment. They look brilliant and I shall use forks as well, they will look fabulous too.

The day before I left for Cornwall I popped down in the rain with some enviromesh and covered them up safe and sound from the nasty carrot fly. 

But now it seems things are growing like grass and weeds but no sign of fluffy carrot long do they take to show? 

Staying optimistic, back soon x

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Shed is Up!!!!

I found a shed on Gumtree - it is pretty worn, but it was free and will be absolutely fine for now. It's a muted purple colour; not too unpleasant as it's tone is fairly grey. We 'uumm'ed and 'arrrh'ed about what to put the shed on slabs or pallets? Paving slabs would have required a gravel/sand/stone mix under and level ground. That would have meant bringing in heavy loads and fiddling about a lot. 
Instead we opted to use the free pallets that were donated to our cause. The ground beneath was dug and roughly levelled by Papa; then a layer of membrane that will let the water through but keep any weeds down. Two pallets side by side then the shed on top.
We hilariously constructed it in a thunder storm! Desperately knocking it together and chucking on the roof just to get some shelter from the downpour! It may not be standing 'totally bubble' but we'll make it good tomorrow when it will be drier - we hope. I was so chuffed that I went back this evening to look at it and took this photo of the sunflower with our shed behind!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

..And after the big chop

It looks quite post-apocalyptic ! Quite a transformation.

We've unearthed the old compost heap but it will be no good any more - full of weed roots. How on earth will we get rid of it? Any ideas greatly appreciated..

The Big Chop

We hired a serious strimmer with a metal blade and flattened the brambles, nettles, grass and weeds. I don't think a string strimmer would have coped with the thick brambles.

I have been drawing up a plan.. well, I say plan it's changed every day so far.  Obviously, I want it be a productive patch, but not too overwhelming and reasonably low maintenance. So we are going to try to have a plot with raised beds and covered and mulched pathways. There is a stock of free bark chippings at the allotments to use.

We want to get something in the ground and so we are planning to get a few beds dug.
I'm thinking carrots and spinach to start. We've a lot growing at home in containers ( Different salad, herbs, strawberries, aubergines, peppers, dwarf beans and peas ) - so it not like we not trying!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Muddy Face

Nettles from the Path looking into the allotment.

Day 2... Sizing up

Mama, Papa and Boy admired plot today, measured up and pondered with fertile imaginations the potential of our 42' x 21' overgrown allotment.
I can't wait to see our plot without all the brambles, nettles, grass and weeds.
We need a shed so we don't have to carry tools to and fro. 
We are starting the great scavenge from now on... looking for boards to create the raised beds, pallets to create the compost area, paving slabs or gravel, membrane & mulch, some more tools and a pile of well rotted manure. 
I'd also like something to fill with sand for the boy! He had fun today playing with some child's watering can, another's tonka crane and managed to get a very muddy face too
I'm chomping at the bit to start and get something in the ground - perhaps some carrots, leeks and spinach as recommended by our new friend D?