Monday 28 March 2011

Fighting the hollies

The most gorgeous weekend saw me against the hollies on the allotment boundary bank once again: my neighbour Louis should be very happy as he will be able to grow stuff up to almost the top of his new plot - and hopefully my shed will not mould and rot with its contents. My arms look much worse for the wear but my heart is singing! ;p

Sowed more potatoes and discovered than more artichokes than expected have made it through the winter, even if quite battered: what a surprise! The cardoon is also resurrecting from its ashes - so to speak - and the first of hubby's peas are emerging with strenght.

The water taps have been opened, and just as well, because we are going through a dry spell, and both of my waterbutts are empty.

The plots looks nice and tidy and this is the week I can start my evening gardening: hurray!

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday 20 March 2011

The mystery of the snoutless rats

For the first time in four years at the allotment I do not feel like I am behind schedule sowing and planting. My early potatoes are already in the ground and sweet peas have germinated. Which does not mean I haven't got a lot to do, but there is no anxiety, which feels good.

The hubby's terraced garden has dried up a little bit too much over the last week, but I watered it yesterday and have finished flattening the area where the new bench will go.

Something that is bugging me, though, is the rats. I mentioned already that I did not catch any last time, but I found no cheese and a few little droppings in the cage. Well, this week I caught two little rats - as usual they came in pairs. No need to drown them, as they were already dead. And spookily something there was no trace of had eaten their snouts away: only the bones on two furry balls and tails were left.

Monday 14 March 2011

Sunny days

Finally, we got a proper sunny day, it was actually just the afternoon, but it was proper sunny sun!

The springlike weather shouted spring-cleaning, and since the shed, plot and greenhouse are already ship-shape I tackled the hollies on the bank, cutting them back considerably: I love how it feels airy now!

Then I started on old saved seed, and a pleasant, almost emotional journey in time it was, to when I first came to the UK and had a garden to care for for the first time. It was a beautiful, mature garden, and inspired me to learn more about the plants in it. The collector I am, I looked for ways to reproduce them to take with me, through cuttings and self-seeded seedlings - which I religiously potted on - and saving seed.
How fascinating to go through the brown envelopes, labelled and dated - mostly 2006. Somehow I had forgotten about them at the back of the shed, but most seed looked in good condition, so I sowed them: lavender, geranium, Oenothera, hellebores, some wild flowers I never identified but were probably of the Malvaceae family.

In the greenhouse, I went on sowing: tomatoes, aubergines, Lathyrus latifolius. And was extremely pleased to see that my vine cutting took and now has a huge, downy bud sticking out. I followed a method I read in a library book: cutting 10 cm in all around a good bud, then with a sharp knife slicing the twing lengthwise in half under the bud, laying the cutting - bud up -in compost & sealing in a plastic bag (*).

We also went on working on hubby's terrace garden, and he helped me clear away another two bags of rubbish. We got a compost bin, and a bench to come shortly, for summer picnics.

* the bud never burst open, but I found out that it is easy enough to propagate vine cuttings just the "ordinary" way, by sticking them in a pot, no fuss added.

Sunday 6 March 2011

The weekend that sowing and planting started

At the end of this weekend we are both knackered, hubby and myself... maybe we overdid it this time. Today it was sort of sunny so we went on the mission impossible of putting the chitted potatoes in the ground. Hubby's soil is really heavy, though, so we ended up digging ust enough for one of the four bags potato seed I got this year.

However, we did sow some peas. Will they have a chance? For the first time in the last four years there has been something digging out my broadbeans to eat the seed, while leaving the emerging stem there. Mice? The rat trap left me wondering with its mystery: the cage was where I had left it, closed, but the butter and cheese rind in the tub inside were gone, tiny droppings in their place. Happened to Paul the neighbour a few plots down.  If they are mice, they must be really tiny. What else could it be though?

The grounds were all abuzz this weekend, with nothing less than a huge bumblebee, drowsily scouting around the greenhouse, in addition to bit-more-lively ladybirds and, of course, people. Was good to have a few chats with old acquaintances. Also, I have a new neighbour, Louis, whom I have seen every time I was there - makes a nice change from not having seen anyone on that plot for four years! He seems rather nice too, even apologized for the bonfire he was making, a gesture I really appreciated. Down at hubby's plot I also met another Tony, with Cath, new tenants, but still no sign of the direct neighbours on one side.

The terraced garden, previously planted with daffodils, was sown with wildflowers cowslips, harebell, Oenothera, Meconopsis Cambrica - might take a while to see results, though, as they are mostly biennials, but more flowers are on their way, as I was tempted by an offer of 150 freesias (bulbs or corms?) at Sarah Raven's last month.

To end the day, I could not believe my greenhouse door lost a bolt (the other one, not the one that I found recently), so it's wobbly again... argh!

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Rain rain rain

Although we cannot complain as the weather is affecting some people in much worse ways, I must say that the constant weekend rain has started getting at me quite badly. I try and go out anyway, but mud is everywhere and there's only so much you can do.

Not everything was gloomy, though. We had a couple of hours' sun, and it was warm, and everything looked so unbelievably beautiful it almust hurt. And my unnamed plant cutting took (the one that was growing on the allotment path, so I pulled a branch out with a bit of root and took it home, where I stuck it - literally stuck - in the ground). I also managed to plant hubby's daffodils in the newly terraced bottom of his plot.

I picked the last of the Jerusalem artichokes as I planted the newly arrived ones: they will form a nice windscreen and feed us through the winter.

Next weekend is March already, and I will have to start sowing some seed and plant my chitted potatoes (btw I found a very useful online source of information on potato varieties in the British Potato Variety Database)!

-- Post From My iPhone