Monday, October 03, 2005

Dull, damp and miserable - but only the weather!

It really is a dull miserable day here today weather wise. It did not put me off going up the allotment though, as I can always find things to do. Pat went to golf soon after I went out apparently.

As usual, there was not a soul up the allotments, but on the pig farm there was activity, as a new batch of piglets have just arrived.

I loaded up my wheel barrow with my little Mantis Tiller rotorvator, and all the things that I thought I would need for working about 250 ft towards the end of the allotment. You really notice how far it is, if you forget things and make several journeys backwards and forwards.

Firstly I used the tiller to make a shallow trench for the Japanese onion sets that I was going to plant. When I first used the machine, it seemed rather strange walking backwards and pulling it along, but now that I have got used to it I rather like it. It makes sense really as you are not walking over the soil that you have just worked, and I don’t need to use a line now and it is easier to keep a (fairly) straight line as you walk backwards. I say fairly straight line, as I am useless at drawing straight lines in any medium. I bought 500grms of onions and got 189 little onions. I know this as I counted them as I set them! And I threw a few away too!

Next it was the turn of the broad beans, again 500grms. I made deeper trenches for these and could only put 2 across the width, so I had to make 2 trenches. I have sowed 140 of those, and I still have a lot left, which I am planning to keep until Spring, just in case these do not take.

As the grass seed is sprouting I was able to take the canes with the CD bird scarers, and use them to try and scare off the birds from the onions and beans.

I then took ten minutes to clean my machine thoroughly before the soil dried on the tines.

I got a bag of narcissi free, together with some other bulbs, so I thought that seeing the narcissi up the allotment would be nice in the Spring, so I then set about planting them between some flowers where they would not get dug up in error.

I was feeling pretty worn out by then, so picked some more Autumn fruiting raspberries. I only have 6 little plants and they only have two stems of each which have borne fruit, but every other day I gather enough for the two of us, or add them to other fruit to make crumbles etc. I can’t believe that we are in October and I can still pick soft fruit. I even pulled a few stems of rhubarb out of the middle of one of my plants. They looked so slim and tender that I just had to try them.

Passing past the fruit section of the allotment, I decided to stop and thin out some more parsnips, and noticed the seeds I ‘threw in’ as an afterthought and rather late in the year, seem to have germinated – and parsnips are notorious for being hard to germinate too. I bought three packets of different varieties and they have all been successful. This last row are only small so may not come to anything, but if the winter is mild I might get a crop in Spring.

Everything is slowing down now with the cooler weather and shorter daylight hours – except the weeds that is!

Tomorrow is physio day, so I will spending the afternoon resting – as far as the allotment is concerned, but I have pulled a lot of parsnips and intend cutting them into cubes and blanching and freezing them – for winter days when the weather is appalling and I won’t want to traipse up the lottie to dig some up for lunch.

I received a couple of seed catalogues and have been ticking off all the seeds that I want to order for next year. Trouble is when you add them all up there are far too many, so I then have to rethink, and try and decide what not to get. A truly difficult task.

I keep checking the green tomatoes in the drawers in the shed, and every day there are one or two ripened. One of my favourite memories of this summer up the lottie will be the take-away snacks I had up there whilst working. I picked no end of warm ripened tomotoes and ate them like sweets each time I passed the bed where they grew on my way to or from the shed. Ditto the climbing french beans and runner beans. Then I passed the salad leaves bed, with all varieties and colours and would grab a leaf here and there, and the flowers off the rocket, tasted so sweet and nutty I just could not resist those either. Passing the fruit cage I would pop in and see what had ripened and ate strawberries and summer raspberries, loganberries and currants, all warm and so tasty.

Once out of there I would walk past the Cherokee beans and peas, so always something to nibble there, and further down the mange tout of course they were really yummy, and nice with a nibble of chives or mint enroute.

Today though, I just had some raspberries and I actualy found a ripe strawberry, not warm from the sunshine alas, but just as tasty!

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