Sunday, 30 January 2011

Finally a bit of sun

I must say that the tinsely bit of sun we got today made a huge difference to my gardening motivation.

And so did going to the allotment with my husband: it's a nice feeling looking up and see that he is digging.

I have unearthed another ten or so paint cans and tubs and cut back some of the sloes in the process. Hubby suggest that we put a bench down there, as it's the sunniest place we have on the plots. So I thought it would be nice to terrace the soil behind and around the bench and plant it with flowers.

There's an awful lot to do, and it's better taken in chunks, so that we figure out what would come out best. So I left it, and went to clear my pond from a heavy blanket of couch grass that had covered it completely. I am gradually also clearing all the beds from weeds: about time, as the bulbs are already pushing through and there's a risk of damaging them.

And I got an amazing amount of sizeable Jerusalem artichokes from only one plant: I really like them, and the fact they are the only veg I have managed so far to grow in winter, alongside leeks: will put down more next year.

Unfortunately my complacency with rats over the last summer has bitten back: a huge mound of crumbly soil under the derelict shed of the previous owner (which I still haven't pulled down and transformed in a compost heap - is sure sign of them burrowing in. Luckily I had some pellets with me, which I scattered in the hope they will eat and die. Unfortunately I forgot the butter to load the trap, but next time I will go armed with that too!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Husband got a plot!

After 8 months in the waiting list, and an incredible series of defections (there were 5 plots to choose from), we've got a small addition to our growing space.

Hubby got wellies and gloves, and a kneeler pad (he is still in need of a tetanus jab, though), and today we went down to clear up and take some pictures.

(more pics)

The plot is on the other side of mine - on the sunny side at the bottom of the hill - so the microclimate is bound to be different. For example my soil was frozen in places today, while hubby's was all right. We do not know how the soil was kept, so I was thinking a good round of weeding and feeding with seaweed might be appropriate. Gianfry dug clean a good three square metres: not bad at all for his first time.

The neighbour, Sarah, was very nice and she said she will remove things that are in the way, like her compost heap.

Unfortunately, the previous owner chucked cans of paint and other chemicals in the little grove at the bottom of the plot. I have removed at least five cans today: such a shame! We will have to clear it well, chopping some of the self-seeded sloes back, and then I guess plant flowers and leave it as a haven for wildlife: I would not trust it for growing food. However, the grove might be a good place to plant my hops, if they do come out once I sow them: not sure why I suddenly fancied trying hops, but I bought a packet of seeds.

There is quite a lot to do, even though the plot looks in much better state than mine did when I got it.

On my side of the allotment, in the meantime, the garlic is already 10 cm out: let's hope we do not get a major freezing spell in February.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Freshening one's memory...

Yesterday I ran through the allotment pictures from 2009, a selection of which I published on Flickr.

I was really surprised by how much was there: I had forgotten almost entirely the amount of work I put into it, how much I had transformed the plot, and the fairly plentiful crops, the bugs, the colours... it felt strange, as I was studying throughout for my final exam of the BA, and I seem to have accomplished more than last year, when I had all my time for the plot!

I had a lot of strawberries in 2009 that never returned in 2010, but much fewer raspberries. My tomatoes did get red, back then, although most went down with blight, while last year I had plenty of green tomatoes to make into jam (which is nice, and my auntie liked a lot!) and sliced in oil (though potentially very good, they came out too salty for my taste). I attempted carrots and "cime di rapa", although my results with brassicas have been rather awful both years.

It was good to freshen one's memory...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Broad beans

I finally managed to sow my broadbeans today... and it rained straight afterwards: that's good!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Spring is going to come, after all!

Today was such a lovely day: it made me forget Christmas and think of spring, besides wanting to go out! It must be the first day we have had a proper blue sky and sun in over a month.

I have taken off the decorations from the tree, which has gone back to my back garden. As I put it back, I realised I have quite a few one, two and three-year old hazels and beeches in pots that need a home.

The allotment is not in too bad a way, even thought weeds are proliferating and I spent all my time clearing a couple of beds. I am taking out the oldest strawberries from their bed of three years: anyone knows if it is worth breaking down the root clumps and re-plant the buds somewhere else?

Garlic and onions have been pushing out their little leaf-tops for a while now, but I still have to sow my broadbeans.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy New Year!

We had the snow, then a thick fog so it was a great time to spend indoor and relax, doing all the stuff I had left for months, some for years, like making pasta!

I did my stocktaking: it came out last year I had been particularly keen on flowers, and fruit. I made a conscious decision to get more fruit, as I find them a really rewarding category (figs apart) to grow, and they give pleasure year after year. So I bought a persimmon plant, a couple more grapes and soft fruit galore, besides pomegranate (seeds). But I had not realised I was getting so many flower seeds!!!

At the end of the holiday period, we finally got a couple of days with timid sun behind clouds, which were perfect to go at the allotment, plant some onions and pick lovely - and sizeable - Jerusalem artichokes.

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