Monday, 11 October 2010

Preparing for winter

I haven't had a great deal of time, of late, to spend some time at the allotment and begin preparations for winter. However, having taken my Uncle down to have a look during his visit from Canada, I realised there was some urgent work to do.

With the weather improving, I took a day off and spent the morning, weeding the entire area previously occupied by the potatoes and around the remaining carrots. Also, I took all of the netting off the strawberries and raspberries weeded around the strawberries and lastly weeded the raised bed area by the shed.

So a good start, but still about the same amount to be done over the coming weeks.

Here's how it looked before I started;-

...and a couple of hours later, here's the result... oh and I got bitten by something too, so now have marks on my chest....a rabid spider or snake....well, something wanting a meal and not happy about being disturbed.

Now the strawberry bed. There are lots of tubers, so I will split them over the coming weeks too and put more of them elsewhere. There are some more coming too, so we'll see if they survive if the weather changes.

...and the final photo looking back at all of my hard work.

Looking a lot better, but still work to be done. With luck over the coming weeks, I'll get all of the clearing up and weeding done. I shall then sort out the strawberries, stain the shed (which I still haven't done), find some guttering to collect water for next year in my new butt and dig over the remaining grassed area to extend the strawberries. Let's hope we have a few more pleasant days or even a day or two off work to help me achieve all this.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back from's it been?

After an excellent week away in Devon, I came back to see how the plot had fared, with some good and some bad news.

Unfortunately and much to my disappointment, all of the sweetcorn had either blown over or been pushed and were all sodden, destroyed and dead as you can see form the photo. It's a real shame as they were growing really well, but have now been ruined. Sorry Dad.

On the plus side all of the tomatoes have continued to grow and I was able to pick a tupperware tub full of a mixture of normal and cherry tomatoes and they taste delicious. with plenty more on the plants they should be good over the coming weeks.

The peas and dwarf beans have also had a really tough time of it with the peas drying out entirely and the beans under attack from the black flies, although I noticed the ladybirds were quite happy to be feasting on them. The slugs and snails ate their way through the young plants and now the flies...arrghhh. Once again a real shame as last year these were really good.

The lettuces were growing well, so I picked a couple and also weeded the whole area and generally tidied up.

Also, dug up some of my main crop of potatoes and we enjoyed these with our Sunday Dinner, along with the few dwarf beans that survived and nice sized all is not lost.....

I anticipate digging up the remaining potatoes over the coming weeks, for storage, plating a few things for over the winter and continuing with the tomato picking. Also, there are still the Autumn raspberries, but the dry weather hasn't helped them too much, but there are a few at least.

It seems to me that this year has been very tricky with the weather and as I don't get the chance to come down each night to water, I do tend to leave the plants to the elements and this year, they've not done too well.....but there are some successes and I think I shall continue with the fruit and will look much more closely at companion planting for the peas and beans to see if I can help them. I have a great book to help me.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A little belated, but here's where we are now

Originally, I had intended to update the blog a few weeks ago, following a lot of planting and preparation, but alas, then best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

However, to give you a guide and with a big thank you to my Dad once again, I was lucky enough to receive some sweetcorn, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber and marigolds, which I planted just prior to our 2 week holiday. In addition, I had to spend some money on wood to make up a fruit cage for the strawberries and also supports for the autumn raspberries, which I'd also made up, so I was going to do a 'before and after' to see if they survived, etc.

Well, with once again a big thank you to Ali for helping with the watering while we were away, everything is looking just fine and after a few long hours of weeding, I also uncovered some good looking peas, spinach and lettuce and although the carrots, dwarf french beans and all year round lettuce grown from seed in the ground hadn't amounted to much, there were a few coming through, so with additional planting in the gaps, I'm still hopeful.

Also, the potatoes continue to do well, although some of my Earlies were affected by the frost, but I covered them with soil and will leave them to see what happens.

In addition to the weeding, my Dad also let me have a bag full of netting, which I fixed up on the frame to cover the strawberries as I already have a few turning red and I want to try and make sure the birds don't get to them first this year.

OK, so here's the photo's

1. Potatoes.
2. Sweetcorn, cucumber and marigolds on newly dug and cleared area I spent hours on this year.
3. Tomatoes and sweet peas in the foreground, with lettuce and spinach in the background. Also just see the sweetcorn on rear right.
4. Peas, carrots and dwarf french beans.
5. Strawberry fruit frame and netting, with raspberries in the background.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

What a difference a day makes

Conscious of the work that I needed to do and that time was moving on, yesterday I took the day off and spent it on the allotment getting those important jobs I really wanted to get done.....and what a pleasant day to choose. Not sure it turned out to be the warmest day this year, but it was warm and sunny, particularly in the afternoon, but thankfully I didn't get burnt.

My plan was to finally dig the area to the bottom of the plot, next to the compost bins, double dig it, get rid of all the roots and level it off a bit so that I could use it for planting this year. Well, finally after 4-5 hours of hard work, I managed to get it done...phhheeewwwww. My back is killing me now!

I'm so glad to get this done, as in my first year, I cleared the majority of the plot and this area was where all the turf, roots and rubbish was piled up in a mound and I now have a few bags to take to the tip. Great news.

Having got this done, I then cleared away the leftover cabbages and started my seed planting for this year. Yesterday, I planted the following;-

Peas (around the wire mesh, much like last year)
1 row of dwarf french beans ( we like those, so will plant more)
1/2 row each of Broccoli, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Savoy Cabbage
1 Row of All Year Round Lettuce
1 row of Cos Lettuce
1 row of Tetona Spinach
1 row of Spinach Beet

I have plenty of room now and as I mentioned before, my Dad is busy growing a number of plants too, so if these seeds come on then they can supplement those I get from my Dad.

I repaired the Sweet Pea frame and was going to plant them too, but then realised I didn't have any....oooopps.

You can see all the planting in the following photo's.

Finally, I cut some of the grass and positioned my new blue water barrel, so thanks Dad, yet again, next to the shed and as you can see the strawberries are flowering nicely and the raspberries are shooting up. Excellent. Next job is to build the frames and get the netting to protect the fruit, so we can actually enjoy it this year!

So along with the frame, I'll continue planting and weeding, try to find some guttering for the water collection and stain the shed too. It's amazing when I look at the plot now to how it was at the start and the photo on the blog just makes me appreciate how much I've done, along with help from my family, so thank you. The last 2 photo's just show the plot from the top looking down. Oh, it's going to be a great year this year....I hope.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Planting in the sunshine

It has certainly been a fairly hectic few weeks, but I have managed to visit the plot and continue with some of the jobs I'm trying to get completed before the real growing season begins.

As you can see below, I have finally reached the bottom of the pile and am now building up the barriers to hold the weeds/soil back and then I'll dig this over and level it off as best I can. I've moved some of the soil to the raised bed by the shed and as you can see it's nicely full.

The potatoes have been chitting happily and I planted a few rows 2 weeks ago. To finish them off, I planted the rest and now have 12 (and a bit) rows with a mixture of Earlies and Mains. I did have the fleece on the first lot, but with the weather having warmed up, I have taken that off and we'll see how they get on. Not much to see form the photo, but they are there!

I'd also weeded around the strawberry plants and raspberry canes and as you can see they are starting to look healthy and the raspberries are showing nice signs of growth. One of my jobs is to sort out the frame and netting to protect the crop this year, so the search for suitable wood is on.

I'm planning on trying to sort out a day off shortly to make a little more progress and having been to my parents at the weekend, there are some great looking plants in my Dad's greenhouse, so I need to be ready. Also, I want to start with some of the seeds and the children want to plant some stuff too. Not to mention staining the shed...and more......

As long as the sun keeps showing it's face, we'll all be happy.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Early March preparations

I took a day off to start to get some more work done on the plot as time has been ticking along, the weather has been lousy and we've been so busy as of late. As you can see below, I've started to demolish the huge pile of soil/roots/grass/weeds left over from the digging of the plot last year. Also, you can see the fire in the background, which is the only way to finally get rid of the roots.

There is a fair amount of soil, so I have taken the chance to fill the raised bed area near the shed, as you can see below. Unfortunately, one of the wheelbarrows broke in the process, so down to one now, unless I can fix it.

So the potatoes are chitting away, I've done the digging in preparation for their planting, so with a bit of luck over the coming weeks I'll finish this area off, stain the shed and start building the frame and netting for the strawberries. Oh and I took a savoy cabbage home and it did look good. Let's hope it taste that way too!

Come on the Spring !

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

First update for 2010....

First things first, the shed roof survived! Hoorah. So after all the wind and rain and then the snow I was pleased and pretty amazed that the roof had remained intact, ensuring it stayed dry inside, so that's all thanks to my Dad, his felt and black gooey stuff....oh and a few nails.

So here it is, now I need to stain all the wood this year to help protect it and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Whilst having a look around the plot, I was also amazed to see we still had a few carrots left and the savoy cabbages had survived the birds and the weather, so with our Sunday lunch we were fortunate enough to have some fresh tasty veg. I've a few cabbages left which you can just about see in the photo's, so they'll last a while.

As for things surviving, Tom brought home a bean plant from school late last year and although it was the wrong season I just planted it out, more to get it out of the way and amazingly, although the original stem died, it has sprouted another one, so I've protected it and we'll see what it does. As Tom keeps asking about it, I'll have to try and keep it alive!

With a while to go before we start on the potatoes, I wanted to get all the beds dug and as you can see, they are all looking pretty good. Nice crumbly soil, even with it being quite wet and as I did the double digging last year, it was much easier this time around. Took no time at all.

I also wanted to start to get rid of the small paths dividing the beds and just leave myself with one single path down the middle. You can see below where I've started, but this took me right back to all those weeks in all weather, when I first got the plot, as this is covered in that awful couch grass ( I think that's what it's called), with roots everywhere, making it hard work to dig the soil, rid it of the roots and turn it over in preparation for planting. I got this one side done, but will need to do it once more to make sure I've got rid of as much as possible.

I'll be burning all those roots, just to get my own back. With luck, I'll manage to find the time to get all the other sections done too and then set to work on the large pile at the bottom of the plot next to the compost bins.

Finally, it was pretty quiet down there and Mr & Mrs Fox put in an appearance. Healthy looking too, so they must have plenty to eat. You can just see them between the sheds. By the time I got the camera, they decided to walk off....very camera shy!

Well lots to look forward to on the plot this year. I'm hoping for some nice days ahead in the spring and some more success in the harvesting. Good luck to one and all.