Sunday 29 November 2009

Catching up with my gardening related activities

I am slowly catching up with my gardening related activities: the allotment, my horticulture course and the blog.

Today I made a big order at Garden Organic: some seeds (but not too many, as you know my collection is of a size it might save the world from famine already), the fantastic aluminium tubes and connecting balls (the cage I made for my brassica is successfully keeping the birds off, it is sturdy and easy access), gloves (which never seem to last much) and a few other bits and bobs.

The charity seems to be struggling, and they are not the only ones, as the Soil Association have also been asking for more money lately. So I hope the oder was a little help.

Another thing that I did and got me a bit of excitement back (after the last three very weak weeks) is enrolling in the Garden Organic experiments 2010. There are four:
  • compost as a growing medium;
  • growing tree spinach;
  • surveying butterflies;
  • slug barriers (which I most definitely would love to do)

and I signed up for three as it seems most appropriate for a horticulture student - I left the one on compost as I do not feel confident enough of my composting skills yet, and similarly I left the one about helping the University of Plymouth on a study on invertebrates in compost heaps.

Tonight I promise I will sit down and make a graph of all the plants' organs. I keep procrastinating on this, as is seems an unwieldy, enormous task, but it's no good: I am falling behind with my study schedule!

Studying science after some 20 years of humanities only is trying, and weird. On one side it is very schematic and logical as you would expect, but unexpectedly to me so many things are not known - i.e. the taxonomy of plants keeps changing as more knowledge is acquired: Kew magazine this month mentioned one such re-classification of plants based on DNA research has just completed.

It's fascinating, though, to learn more about such an important resource for humankind as plants are. It set me thinking again about nature and ecosystems versus science and technology and human ambitions. Maybe I will write more about it.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Setting an example

Finally, this weekend was decent enough to go to the allotment and I didn't take any chances: husband made me packed lunch and I stayed from morning to sunset, 6 hours.

How good that was! Did not seem to do a lot though.

I finished clearing and transplanting the strawberry runners (there's a handful of strawberries still ripening: amazing!), managed to sow the broad beans, picked all the remaining tomatoes in the greenhouse (a couple of plants were still flowering!) and made a bed for salad with the leftover compost... then I uprooted a maple tree that was in the middle of the path, as I thought it worthwhile to set an example for my neighbours, who have more than one to remove. ;p

The garlic remains yet unplanted, but the salad I sowed under fleece the last time seems to have germinated. I am pretty amazed that two days to December and everything still flowering (including borage, nasturtium and lavender at home).

Did not manage to pick anything apart from the tomatoes, but Paul gave me some leeks, and I am going to make risotto with them: slurp!

Recipe: slice the leeks, stir fry in olive oil (and a little butter if you wish) until soft, then add risotto rice and sprinkle with white wine. When slightly toasted add vegetable stock (2-3 times the amount of rice). Finish with some grated parmesan as soon as the hob is turned off.

I have to study, and the muscle pain tonight is very conducive to sitting on the sofa with a book!

Monday 23 November 2009

Miserable weather

Another weekend of miserable weather has gone, and my stored onions are rotting already.

Not much to say.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday 15 November 2009

Allotment roast for dinner

I had a roast with my own potatoes (after a laborious cleaning of all the slugs' and varied other holes) and turnip Rapa Bianca Lodigiana... the only non-allotment ingredient was sweet potato from my vegbox.
It is always very rewarding when you can cook most of a meal with your own stuff.

A little sowing today

Despite the mud, I decided to sow some rocket and salad under fleece in front of the greenhouse where the sun reflecting on the panels should make the area warmer.

It was too waterclogged to try and sow garlic or onions, and I made a call to delay broadbeans at least another week. Instead, I cleared another couple of beds and planted the chrysanthemums that had overspent their time in pots and last year's bulbs, the ones I did not like in my garden at home.

Inside the greenhouse, the tomatoes are still growing and ripening, even though more and more are getting mildew. The cucumber is sadly no more, and I will have to plant the artichoke from the pot as it is starting to suffer.

Such a pity it gets dark really quickly.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Another week goes without sowing

Not the best year for my sowing, isn't it?

But I managed a couple of hours on Saturday and cleared another bed, on one side of the greenhouse, which I will use for winter salad and maybe my one artichoke.

Study is progressing: I am now on fruits. There are plenty of new terms to learn, and I desperately need some time to sit down and make tables and graphs, as it seem that's how I learn best.

For example, I learned this morning that the strawberry is a false fruit, as the flesh does not come from the ovary but from the receptacle. The actual fruit of the strawberry plant are the little beige seeds you can spot on the surface, dry fruits of the type achenes.

Just occurred now that, besides my graphs and tables, I may make special plant cards for the most significant examples...

-- Post From My iPhone