Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tuesday evening lottie time - planting some climbers & some balcony seeds

Amongst my many tasks once I get home from work this week is going to lottie and watering. Of course, it is never just the one task I do when I go there! I also did some weeding in the seed cling-film nursery and am pleased to see everything has come through. Even the celeriac did, which is teeny tiny currently, but I'm glad it germinated. It is the green specs to the far right. The radish is getting huge and I think I will need to thin these soon.

I also planted the 2 climbers I bought to grow next to my bench, under the blackthorn tree. The blossom is devine while it lasts, but it is a bit dull as a tree most of the year. The sloes are a no-go too. All wrinkly and inedible. There are so many locally it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I planted a clematis and a pink jasmine. The jasmine will smell lovely and I picked it for the name - stephanense. How could I not buy it! I even lined the little area with wood edges. Aren't I good?! Ha!

Above & below: the seedlings in the mini-greenhouse are coming on in leaps and bounds. Some of the squash varieties, the sweetcorn and the courgettes doing best. In the big tray, the marigolds are starting to show. In the little tray are some earlier-planted courgettes which need re-potting soon. I also planted some more seeds - asparagus peas (a new one on me!), purple podded peas and red flowered broad beans. The PPpeas and the RFbroad beans are gifts from Nick's mum. Bless her cottons. She has an allotment and I think they're her own seeds, as it were :)

Above & below: I have finally got round to planting some seeds in the troughs on my balcony. I accidentally dug out a bit of mint so that found a new home here, as well as planting a few mint seeds and borage in that trough. In the 2nd one is rocket and coriander; all herbs I like to have on hand at home. In the kitchen I always have a pot of basil, supermaket-bought as growing from seed last year took forever! I do pretty well at keeping basil alive and happy, so much so some of the plants I've had have even had woody stems I've had them so long :) Look at my amazing use of clingfilm again!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Saturday rush-job

It was a bit of a rush job on Saturday @ the allotment. Half ten til one, so no digging for me. However, I did do lots of weeding and watering, as well as getting on with more sowing.

This time it was some mangetout, 3 sets of 3 seeds next to a bamboo tripod. I covered the seeds with plastic bottle sections to protect the shoots from birds and to focus my watering. 

I also planted some sugar snaps next to the pea trellis. I made a second trellis frame and sowed the sugar snaps. I thought some cornflowers scattered amongst them would look nice, so they went in too.

This is how that bed now looks. Sugar snaps & cornflowers under the two polytunnels on the left, the mangetout tripod in the centre with protective plastic bottles and the far right, 2 polytunnels of peas.

I also planted out some sunflowers into pots as I am worried about the direct-sown sunflowers still not making an appearence. Perhaps I planted them too early? It has been cold overnight. Well, I can but wait and see what happens. If they're all a no-show I'll simply try some more seed. The sunflower plant pots went into my mini-greenhouse with the rest of the potted seeds. The yellow scallop squash has started to show, and some courgettes. Hopefully everything will germinate soon.

I planted two hollyhock plants last time I was at the allotment but I don't think I mentioned it. They're at the 'shed end' next to the globe artichoke there. There is a white one and a scarlet red one. Looking forward to seeing them. They're such magnificent flowers. That's them, next to 'Bob' my plastic pigeon :)

My spring flowers are also coming on well. New to flower are these narcissi...

...and some tulips in red. There are white ones to follow.

There will be irises and ranunculus to follow. The big bushy plant to the far left of the photo is 'Black Stockings', which I put in last year after loving it at Hidcote Gardens. The smaller green plant is a Lady's Mantle (love the fan-type leaves!) and in the plant pot is the mint.

Bad news on the tomato front on my balcony... I did something really dumb and I fed them with too strong a mix, I think. They're looking very sad and I am not sure if they will recover. Damn. Human error!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Huzzah! 1st BBQ of the year (and some jobs)

Sunday was allotment day for me over the weekend. Saturday was spring cleaning day at home. I am prepping for visitors so I've been busy with jobs whilst I have time. What lovely weather we had this weekend. Sun, and just the right amount of heat. Bliss!

Here's a snap of my chitting 'Rooster' potatoes. Not too many but I'm looking forward to eating these. I had planned to plant them out but I didn't get time in the end. A job for another day.

I checked the seed progress about the allotment and spotted this teeny tiny pea making an appearance. Currently it is the only one but I am hoping others will follow its lead. This shoot is about 1cm high!

The four pics below show the flowers I planted in some of the mini-beds I now have. I wanted something pretty I could cut and take home to my flat. I am particularly looking forward to the Ixia.

This photo shows the mini-beds. The 3 on the right are where I planted the flowers. Nearest to us is two rows of Ixia, the middle one is Gladiolus in the centre (maked with 4 little sticks), with the mixed annuals and Californian poppies around the edge. The furthest bed is the Dahlias. There are currently 12 mini-beds dug. There will be 15 soon. I was thinking this would be a nice size to work with, about 1m x 1.5m. Makes everything a little less daunting! I need to plan what will go in each bed but I reckon some more flowers could be in order, even mixed in with veg.

We had a fire. With MASSIVE flames!

Then, as the weather was good, I had my first lottie bbq of 2010. My friend Claire was chef. We made use of my big bbq as a stand for a mini one. Less bending down. Already it is asparagus season so I picked some (bottom right of the photo, on the shelf) and steamed it with a little water in foil parcels on the bbq. SO tasty. I love asparagus, me :) You can't get any fresher than that.

We celebrated with a bottle of bubbly, just because we could. I love this pic of Nick watching the cork fly into the stratosphere!

So, this is the tasty meal - veggie kebabs, fresh bbq-steamed asparagus, salad, bbq prawns and bbq-steamed salmon with lime and coriander. Yum! Trying to be healthy you see.

After dinner we released some pigeons... (!)
'Bob' the plastic pigeon, and his new friend 'Boo' went into the ground.

And Nick's bike got attacked by an alien! It is actually a left-over parsnip he found. I am sure it tasted revolting. :) He must've looked odd with this wedged on his bike as he cycled home.

So, they are all the snaps I took but I also popped in a 2nd trellis for sugarsnap peas next to the normal peas and cleared more dead raspberry canes away. I also planted the honeyberry, goji berry and blueberry I got from Suttons, but the pots were full of slugs and the plants look sad, so I am not holding my breath they will make it. Claire weeded the asparagus and Nick did lots of digging.

I hope you had a great weekend and the weather was kind to you too.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sunday's sowing

So, here they are, the tomatoes I wasn't going to grow this year! I've got some of the tumbler variety. They're in a hanging basket, dangling on a long string on my balcony. I've already walked into them a couple of times when I was hanging out the washing! Let's see if they drive me up the wall...

Down at the allotment, the seeds I planted last time are already starting to show through under the clingfilm coldframe. The radish and kohl rabi are doing the best, with the broccoli also poking through the soil to the left of the photo.

I was wondering if a pesky animal has been digging in my flowerbed as I spotted this mystery hole and soil overspill. Hmm...

The tulips should be out soon, and the mint I thought would be dead by now has resurrected itself! I should have known you can't kill mint so easily :)

I did some weeding in the first shed-end bed & planted some Lily of the Valley I got on a shopping trip, as well as some Baby's Breath Gypsophylla.

I am also wanting to plant up some different varieties of lavender as I love the smell & it is practical too. This is a pink variety. Didn't get the name. Will have to check the pot next time I'm in the shed.

The rosemary I got last year was a sorry sight. I think the cold weather finished it off. Rather than have an almost dead plant struggling on, I sent it to the compost afterlife and planted this fine specimin in its place. I also had to move the caraway which is going great guns but was too close to the lupins (behind the rosemary in this pic).

The rhubarb I got for a snip went in today next to the globe artichokes. Hopefully I've left enough room for both to grow ok. The plants look really healthy.

The onions & garlic are doing well.

The asparagus is already coming through
- looking forward to eating that this week sometime :)

Finally I planted lots of seeds in pots (about time!) and put them outside in my mini-greenhouse. Hopefully there will be some greenery soon :)