Monday, 29 March 2010

Clingfilm magic & other jobs

Don't you just love pound shops? You can get all sorts of goodies. I picked up these mini poly tunnels for 99p each. I bought 4 to see how I go with them. I'm currently growing some peas under them - single rows of Kelvedon Wonder either side of the trellis.

The daffs are now in full bloom and look very nice in the strawberry bed :)

Tackling the grassy wilderness is my next 'to do' task. I marked out some strip beds (and on Sunday I dug one out into 3 mini beds with paths between).

Brew on!

Nick spotted a palette box and salvaged it. He's super-pleased with his clingfilm cold frame. It is pretty impressive you have to admit.

I put up some willow trellis on the side of the shed for my sweet peas.

The pulmonaria is now in bloom. So pretty!

Nick bought some Orla potatoes which should be ready to plant very soon.

I planted out lots of seeds under the cold frame...

L-R: spring onions, broccoli, radish, kohl rabi, leek, celariac.

We got a fire going to clear the dead leftovers from last year. Mucho smoke!

I moved the two black compost bins to the 'road end' of the plot and filled them up.

Nick dug over the large 1st bed.

And I put down some chipboard to cover up the sticky mud puddle outside the shed door.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Up in the air

We've all been a bit obsessive about looking at places on google maps lately at work. I thought I'd take a look at the lottie from the air and this is how it looks. Might give you a better idea on the layout and scale. Damn, it is big! haha!

Let me see a pic of yours too. I'd be interested to see the different layouts. :)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Digging, raking, building, weeding, sowing

As I understand it, it was the first day of Spring this weekend. Lucky for me then as Sunday was the first day of me sowing some seeds at the allotment :)

First things first though...

During the week, my friend Nick has been busy sorting out some palettes, breaking them up and lining the beds. He'd actually only meant to be coming with me in my car to pick them up after work on Tuesday. However, I got a message before I got home he'd already taken 4 palettes to my allotment - avoiding race traffic (Gold Cup week). Fair dos, thanks Nick. :) The next day I was due to go out with some friends to the cinema, as I usually do on Wednesdays. Nick sent me a message to say he knew I was busy but was off to the allotment to break up the 4 palettes and line the beds! Well, he did that too. Very kind of him. Thank you so much, Nick! :D When I arrived on Sunday, this is how the 1st of the new beds looked...

Very nice! Having a bit o' wood around the beds makes them much more smart. This should mean I won't have to keep edging them every now and then.

I also bought a new rake and put it to good use, thwacking the spade-dug soil and raking through the lumps to finish the 2 beds Nick and I sorted out last weekend. The soil is in really good condition so it was relatively easy (and theraputic!).

I also fashioned a seedling area using a big pane of glass and the props left over from the broken palettes. This still needs some work. You can see the row of compost bins we sorted last time, with the newly raked bed in front of one. The bed to its left is my spring flowers/garlic/onion bed. There is a bit of wood ready to line this one next.

Next I tackled the little bed in front of the shed. This has some lovely Pulmonarias in it which were in full flower when I took the lottie over last April. They look full of buds....

There is just one crocus left in flower there now. But what a stunner!

Next I constructed a support for my peas. I think I'll plant either side of this little trellis with the same variety, then do the same sort of thing with the different types I've got. It might be a teeny bit too short but I can wind the peas around the frame. I've not planted any yet.

Then I built some supports for my sunflowers. I'd planned to grow them next to the shed, and I have planted some 'Black Magic' in there, but I didn't want to block out too much light from the window, so I popped them in the next bed over. I'm hoping the bamboo will be enough support. If not, I can tie them onto the post.

I put a few 'Black Magic' in here and some of the mixed ones.

The garlic I put in before Xmas is going great guns and now you can just about make out the onions breaking through the soil. Beyond them are the 3 tree onions.

This bit all looks very unimpressive, but most of the bulbs I planted here are starting to come through, with the tulips doing particularly well (to the left of the flowerpot).

The larger of the two new beds was also kindly wood-lined by Nick and I raked over 2/3rds of this before I got too tired to do it anymore. And LOOK...

The daffs are finally out :)

The goosberry is starting to show signs of Spring.

As is the blackcurrant.

The blueberry is in bud.

And so are the raspberries.

Unfortunately, this is how the 'road end' currently looks. Messy! Well, it actually isn't too bad. The beds either end were dug over last year so they just need some light work. However the section in the middle might need the attention of a certain someone and his trusty spade...! I am thinking of having two or three thinner beds here. Eventually I want all the beds wood-lined.

In contrast to the messy 'road end', the 'shed end' is really coming along. I am proud of how it is shaping up :)

Speaking of mess though, this is the sorry state of John's plot next door. This is where his 2 sheds were, the contents of which are still lying about. I wonder why he's given up...? See the hammer on the blue water butt in the front? That's Nick's. He left it. Doh!

When I was digging the little shed bed I spotted this pulmonaria that had sprung up seperately from the 2 main plants. I know my mum wanted one of these so I have potted it up for her garden. I shall try to keep it alive until Easter...!

Finally, here's a better look at the seed bed with its glass cover, and the sunflower stakes.

I hope you had a good weekend. We had loads of rain Saturday but Sunday was lovely :)

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Eggs & seeds

Look at these beauties! Real eggs with real poo on them :P A lady at work keeps hens (which was news to me!) and had brought some eggs in to sell. I got these for £1. Money well spent I think. I love all the different shapes, sizes and colours. Delish too! One day I will keep hens of my own...

I also got more seeds last week. Need to plant, hopefully tomorrow. Today, I am hung over :P

calafornian poppies: sunshine mixed, mangetout: oregon sugar pod,
spinach: gigante de invierno (giant of winter)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Making new beds

Well, down the allotment I went today, with a helper - huzzah! My friend, Nick (a star of a friend, if ever there was one) volunteered digging services today. Of course, I happily accepted :) While I waited for him to arrive, I gave my shed's potting bench a dust down and found these bulb cards hiding. Now I know what should be popping up in the 2nd bed, 'shed end'. This is great as I didn't really make a proper note of what I planted. Tut tut! This is one of the great things about a blog - a searchable record of what went where, when :)

I also took some snaps of yet more shopping I did on Friday evening - more seeds for this year:
Celariac: giant prague, sugarsnap peas: sugar bon
& kohl rabi: purple vienna (which I have never eaten,
in any form, so this will be a proper first!)

Sunflowers: sunburst mixed, marrow: long green bush2 
(LOVE marrows!), leek: lyon2 prizetaker (sounds promising!), 
& some mixed annuals - planning to plant these in strips 
at each end of the veg beds.

The crocuses growing next to the shed are also further on than last week. lots more of these stunning purple ones and each one open. Sigh :) Looks like even more will come out soon too.

So, what did we do? Well, I attacked the 'dump mound', left by the last tenants, next to the globe artichoke, on the end of my herb bed. It was full of old potatoes of various varieties and jerusalem artichokes (all rotten), as well as loads of bloody sloe tree roots! Grr! Ahem. My cunning plan for this area is to build a cold frame. It should then be sheltered by the shed and close to it for moving and acclimatising my new plants. The soil, once I'd attacked it for a couple of hours, was perfect. Just right for purpose :) No raking needed - which is good as I snapped the rake before Xmas! I also dug out last year's woody spinach so there is another bit of bed ready for something new, next to my tree onions. The pic above shows how it looks now. I really want to get hold of some scrap wood to edge these beds, now I know I will be keeping them like this. I shall keep my eye on skips...

Nick, well, he's a digger. A digging machine, who will work as long as there is a supply of tea and biscuits (and cake!). I set him about digging over last Sunday's new bed which I'd de-turfed. I was going to bury the turf but he ended up shifting it onto an existing mound behind the shed. Out of sight out of mind ;) One day I will sort it out. Perhaps. This just needs attacking with a rake - which I need to buy. Nick did take one off the shed (read earlier posts if this sounds odd!), but I reckon it will snap soon enough, like the other one.

Bed dug over, time for tea. Nick brought his camping stove and some chocolate biscuits. Nick rocks! :)

His next task was to dig another new bed, a bit bigger this time, between the strawberries and the other globe artichokes/spring onions/asparagus. Safe to say he did this MUCH quicker than me last weekend. But then I am a feeble girl ;) Again, this just now needs to be raked over, once one is purchased!

The other job we did was to move 3 compost bins out from behind the shed and under the trees, into the open. I am hoping being in full sun will create some heat to break things down faster. It also means they are easier to get to. We put lots of the rotted compost onto the beds and Nick dug it in. I was on barrow duty. I also put the unrotted compost back into the bins. To be honest, a lot of what was in the bins was trash, literally! Jam jar lids, sweet wrappers, crisp packets, carrier bags. Doesn't make any sense to me. Hardly going to rot down eh. There were also lots of sticks, stones and bits of metal I also picked out. At least I know what's in the bins from now on will be useful for the allotment!
This last pic shows the 1st bin we moved - the bin far right was already out on the plot. I now have 2 more black bins between the two. I may move the black ones down to the other end of the plot, the 'road end', so there is compost on each half.

Well, might pop down the allotment tomorrow, might not. We shall see! I do need to mow though. Claire's mower wouldn't get going today so I think it needs some 'go-juice'! Hope you're making the most of the finer weather this weekend. :)