Thursday, November 6, 2014

Misplaced optimism or misguided?

I haven't been able to spend time at the plot in the past few days as husband and daughter have been away.  I just managed 10 mins a little earlier when the baby was seeming fairly agreeable.  He was very patient as I finally got around to planting out the garden centre-bought purple sprouting.  Will it grow and sprout in the summer?  Ummm, we'll see.  One day.

On the way off the plot, I bumped into my new allotment friend and he was checking his mature purple sprouting for signs of sprouts.  Nothing quite yet.

The weather is set to be less than favourable for gardening for the next few days.  If I do get chance to pay a visit then I'll do some more speed weeding.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I am trying...

We tried to get me an hour or so on the plot last weekend but our very little one wasn't having it.  I eventually snatched 10 mins so did a bit more hoeing but focused on the area I'd been clearing.  Weeds are still germinating so I'll need to keep hoeing that patch for a while.

On Wednesday, which was a wet day, I sowed some winter salad leaves and was ably assisted by our daughter.  I thinly sowed 4 fruit punnets - the number of seeds in the packet was disappointing so I'll hunt down a more economical supply in future.  They have germinated already but I worry they might get a tad leggy in search of the light.  They are on a windowsill upstairs but I might move them the the mini greenhouse outside to join some winter lettuce, spring onions and corn salad that I managed to sow the previous week.  A quick peek today shows that they have all started to germinate.  This might be the first spring onions to germinate for me.  Not for a lack of trying.

It has been a lovely mild day today so I managed to get out for a walk with the little one.  I hoped to get him to sleep for a bit so I could do something on the plot.  He gave me 10 mins before reawakening having noticed that his buggy wasn't moving.  In that time, I moved a few strawberry plants to sit along the top perimeter of the plot, leaving space for a long row of something across the full width of the plot, and had a chat with a fellow plotter who had joined the site recently.  Then I had to head back home for a feed.

My plan is to plant out the purple sprouting plants I bought recently (very late but the label says that they are to be planted in autumn), garlic, elephant garlic and broad beans in the clear (ish) patch at the top.  If I can do that planting this week I'll be happy even if it has to be done in 10 min bursts between feeds and rain showers.  Then I can focus on clearing the next third of the plot, moving the carpet from the bottom third to that middle third and replanting the raspberries right at the bottom.  Clearing the bottom third should be fairly straightforward having been covered for months.

Wish me luck...

Monday, October 20, 2014

So close...

When I have managed to get a few minutes on the plot, I invariably leave it with 7/8 of a patch cleared leaving a corner of weeds in an otherwise clear square metre.  When the baby starts expressing discontent, all tools get thrown to the side and the bucket of weeds left for next time.  I got an hour at the plot the weekend before last and the same happened (the baby was asleep but the toddler was being delightfully high maintenance).

Still, I got loads done.  I weeded the last bit left from the previous session and tore down the 3 bamboo cane wigwams that supported the peas and beans that got abandoned.  I ruthlessly cut most of the old leaves away from the comfrey and added them to the compost bin.  I then weeded around the strawberry plants that were overgrown by the comfrey.  A few runners had formed some new plants so they had been busy under the shade.  Finally, I then set about hoeing the several square metres at the very top of the plot.

So now there is almost a 1/5 to 1/4 almost cleared.  Next time, I need to clear the little patch remaining (which had been covered by carpet to smother the couch grass), and move the strawberries and chard.  2 or 3 cabbages can be removed leaving a good bit of space.  I may move the raspberry canes up to that end too.  They don't look well though so ?I may need to replace them.  I've got a bag of manure in the garage to mulch all the fruit with while the ground is nice and wet.

Fingers crossed I'll get 10 mins there tomorrow to do more weeding and hoeing,  Every little bit helps.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Abnormal service resuming

Cripes, it's been a while.  Since my last post, I came down with a nasty bout of bronchitis at 7.5 months pregnant and that stopped my trips to the plot more than the bump itself.  I made it over a couple of times and could only watch as the weeds took over.  Weatherwise, this summer has been scorching at times.  Had I been able to keep up with the plotting, there could have been bumper crops.

The bronchitis and bump both disappeared by late July and we've been blessed with a new little member of the family.  He has joined me at the plot and handful of times but is not so cooperative yet.  I've had about 3 sessions of speed-hand weeding.  The plan is to clear some ground ahead of a quick forking or hoeing over.

I have a comfy moon chair at the plot so I can sit and feed the baby there.  A nice lady with a nearby plot who hadn't spoken to me before came over to me while I was feeding him to say how lovely it was to see a baby being changed and nursed on the site - something she hadn't seen before.  That was wonderful to hear.

Everything gardening-wise got neglected at the peak of the year so I have few successes to speak of and a few failures.  On the downside, the garlic completely failed.  It may have been the weeds crowding around them or the mild winter we had (so they didn't split into clove) or both.  On the upside, I did harvest my first squash (spaghetti) and the chillies on our windowsill have fruited well despite neglect.

Onwards and upwards.  I've just ordered some Moorland Gold multi-purpose compost and some seeds to sow in the mini-greenhouse to get the next season started.  I will keep trying to get to the plot every now and then even if it is only for 10 mins weeding.  I would love to have some shallots, garlic and broad beans on the plot before Christmas.  I'd love to have the plot cleared, moreorless, before the spring.

I have considered, in the last couple of weeks, relinquishing the plot and just opening up a few more square metres of soil in our small front and back gardens.  However, they are just too shady for many vegetable crops.   As there is no waiting list for plots, I don't think I'm holding anyone else up.  Gardening is my main hobby and aerobic exercise so I will it keep up and hope that the kids will be happier for me to spend time there (with or without them) in the years to come.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A bean post

I had the day off work today (last minute decision) and decided to go over to the plot in the afternoon to make a dent in the weeding.  It was too hot for me so it was a bit uncomfortable.  I weeded around the strawberries and poppies and went home with a large carrier bag crammed full of broad bean pods, a handful of radishes (some of which were not nibbled by something) and 6 scapes from the elephant garlic.

Back at home, I got on with podding the beans.  I weighed them (yay me) and it turned out that 6.844kg of pods lead to 1.892kg of beans.  The bonus was that I had a helper.  Our 2.5 year old helped really nicely.  She liked the popping sound the pods made when breaking and the fact that they sprayed her in the face when she broke them.

For a quick dinner just now, I cooked a veggie stir fry involving some of the beans and half of the scapes.  I plan to cook some broad bean fritters tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Getting behind

The weeds are non-stop and I am way behind on pulling them out.  I hope to get some time over there on Friday evening and sometime on Sunday to do some therapeutic hand-weeding.  And to harvest some broad beans before they get too big.

I had the day off on Tuesday but only managed an hour of speed-transplanting.  My lovely husband made 4 120x40cm mesh tunnels and I finally took them over and planted some brussel sprouts, calabrese, purple sprouting and cabbages under them.  I also planted out some chard.  Getting very pushed for space though as digging isn't an option currently.  I didn't manage to plant out the celeriac but it is looking good.

The peas are growing now having been nibbled by something or other.  The Spring cabbages may be harvestable sometime soon.  The parsnips are growing nicely but I need to thin some of the stations out and fill in a few gaps.  The calendula has sped up and is bigger that the plants in our back garden.  I also need to thin out the beetroot and see if the carrots and beetroot have germinated at all.

The weeding needs stepping up in a major way.  The strawberry patch is being overtaken so is the priority.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Giving peas a chance (sorry)

I had half a day off work yesterday of which I spent 2.5 hours on the plot.  Bliss.  It was forecast to be wet and unsettled in the afternoon but it was lovely.  After 2.25 hours there, there was a brief shower, but not enough to put me off.

In that time, I erected 3 small wigwams at the top right of the plot and planted peas against one and mange tout against the other.  In the case of the peas, there are 1 or 2 plants per cane but there are exactly 3 plants per cane.  The third wigwam will be for the French beans.

I also hand-weeded the garlic patch.  This was long overdue and I just hope that the garlic hasn't been knocked back to much.  I did give them a water and feed before leaving for a boost.

Not sure if there are signs of parsnip seedlings yet but there are a couple of stations showing 3-4 seedlings so I'll need to keep an eye out.  I sprinkled some more slug pellets over that patch to protect them in case they are coming through.  Not sure there are many so I might attempt another sowing soon.

Next to the potential parsnip patch, I planted out some calendula seedlings in a row.  Again, I sprinkled some pellets down (the rest of the seedlings have just gone out into our back garden).

Broad beans are coming soon but I really need to sow some salad crops and basil.

At home, there are lots of seedlings to transplant.  Chillies, tomatoes, various brassicas, sweetcorn and French beans (need to sow a few more of those last two though), celeriac.  Dearest husband has made me some wood-and-hope frames which I need to cover with mesh for some of these and I hope I can convince him to make some more.  I need two small ones for the blackcurrant and gooseberry plants that are fruiting.