When I write my BLOG it isn’t always easy – like now – I am sitting here in front of this white blank page and think what shall I say? As I am typing this I can hear Pat outside giving the lawn a bit of a mow before the rain starts – which looks like any minute, bless him.
It was really cold here today and even colder up the lottie with the wind blowing fiercely. But as long as it is not raining, you can be sure that I will spend as much time as I can out of doors before the real winter weather sets in.
For once I did not have a definite plan, my head was too full of chickens! I was out before Pat went to golf and up the lottie by 10.00am. On the way I saw Geoff on his cycle, so stopped for a chat. He said the wind was in the right direction for a bonfire. It has to be blowing away from the pig farm – so as not to panic the pigs naturally, away from the new houses – built a couple of years which back along the first allotment. We also have to be extremely careful about the field at the bottom of our allotments, as if a spark flew across in dry conditions the field would go up in smoke. And right up the top, they can’t have a bonfire at all, as it is right next to the hay barns. But I’m not at the bottom, and I’m not at the top, so now you know why, it is my favourite spot! -As usual I have digressed!
Geoff told me about his bonfire, and I said I had some stuff to burn, then remembered that I did not have any matches, so he gave me his box to borrow, as he was just off for a cuppa.
My first job was to get some newspaper out of the shed and to start the bonfire of dry bean sticks. I had used these for a couple of years and they would not last a third. They were tree prunings – like big pea sticks – and they make a good framework for climbing beans as they twist not only up the main stem but also on the branches, so they are more spread out, let the air circulate so less prone to blow over in the wind, and are easier to pick. Pat is usually the bonfire boy whilst I do the donkey work while he plays. But whilst the boy’s away, I got to play (I haven’t broken the bad news to him yet). It was great fun; took me a time to get it started though as the wind was really strong. It burnt through so quickly, and I needed to slow it down as I had another two rows of bean supports to dismantle and burn. When Geoff came back he came over for a chat and to give me some advice on bonfire making, he added some damp rubbish from my neighbours plot and that damped it down a bit. From then on I looked like I was doing a Benny Hill speeded up walk as I rushed backwards and forwards up and down the allotment with arms full of branches, and debris. I even burnt the old stems of the Romanseco and broccoli. I can see the attraction of bonfires, it is a bit like painting isn’t it?
Once you start you can’t seem to stop. I managed to find all sorts of little bits of old wood here an there that I thought might come in handy for weighting down the nets and winter protection, but now I have the barrels from the Fish farm, I had no use for them and was able to burn them all. I was watching it burn, and went into day dream mode. I could smell the aroma of wood ash, and cooking broccoli and thought that if I had brought a couple of sausages and potatoes I could have had lunch up there. (I was in the Girls Life Brigade as a child but always wanted to be a Girl Guide as they got to go camping, and all we got to do was march up and down in parades on Sundays after church. Or so it seems 45 years after the event!)
My intention was only to stay a couple of hours and not to overdo things – but you know how it is once you get involved you soon get carried away. Geoff went home for his lunch and I ended up being there another two hours. Four hours in total!
I had the bonfire on the bare piece of ground where some of the potatoes had been, and I left it that way so that I had somewhere to have them over the winter. Now that the lottie is tidy and organised there was nowhere else. I had taken a rake with me to drag some of the debris onto the fire in a neat pile, and whilst keeping an eye on it, I checked out the Japanese onions, which seem to have settled in now and are sprouting nicely. I also noticed that the broad beans were up, so as I had the rake with me I earthed them up a bit as I don’t want them too tall for the winter. Well, actually that makes it sound like I know what I am talking about – which I don’t. The reason I earthed them up was in a panic. I bought the broad beans and read a book which said to plant them in early Autumn, which was when I planted them, on 3rd October, at least I thought it was early Autumn as the weather had turned. Since then I have read some articles which have said late October, others say 5th November and some that say on the shortest day. Geoff said I should have planted them on 11th November as that is when one of the other chaps always plants his and they grow well over winter! So when I told him when I planted mine, there was a scratching of head, and that ‘look’, which I can’t really describe, but it involves slowly shaking the head, pursing the lips whilst sucking in the cheeks, and the look which suggests that you have a lot to learn, - if you have experienced it you will know what I mean. So as soon as I saw they had poked two little leaves out of the ground, I quickly covered them with soil as I was embarrassed that they had germinated already – the weather having turned warm. In the book I was reading it said that the temperature had to be low for them to germinate. So now I do not know if they will survive the winter, if I will have to cover them with a cloche or what. So if anyone can give me the answer can they leave a comment please.
I picked some raspberries, just a yoghurt pot or so full, but they will cook nicely with the windfall apples my neighbour gave me last week. (Haven’t had time to peel and cook them yet, but that is on the ‘to do’ list for tomorrow after I have been to the physio).
Further up the lottie walking back to the shed to put my things away, I stopped to cut a couple of Romanesco heads for lunch tomorrow, then further up still, in the raised beds I picked a carrier bag full of salad leaves, and ate a ripe strawberry which was 'wicked' - strawberries in October? I never knew it was possible. Geoff had shouted out that I had better pick the strawberry as we are due a week of rain, -had I already spotted it and planned to anyway, if it hadn’t already been nibbled by slugs, which it hadn’t.
The next raised bed contained the tomato plants which need composting, so I started to pull some of those up which was fiddly as they had ties all up their stems to attach them to their supports. I discovered a dozen or so little ripe tomatoes, and ate some and took the rest home. I was getting pretty tired by then so I only did half the bed, the rest will wait for another day. (Cripes, I forgot to look at tommatoes in the drawers in shed, so much for the 'aide memoir' I wonder how long ago I wrote that. Another job for tomorrow.) I even managed to get sidetracked doing the tomato plants, as I spotted some more peppers had grown, yellow, dark green, and my VERY FIRST red one, so I was cock-o-hoop about that. Especially as Pat had heard on the radio on Friday an ‘expert’ say that you can only grow peppers under glass, so I am feeling quite a clever clogs as I just grew them under the sky!
The next raised bed had had the courgettes in interspersed with some leeks. Now that I have cleared the bed of the foliage, a few of the leeks looked a bit leggy and were on the hough, so I pulled them up to cook, as I couldn’t be doing with earthing them up too.
By then I was almost on my hands and knees, I had been working flat out for over four hours. Adrian had dropped off some more horse muck over the weekend, but left it neatly stacked in bags. I realised why – I had put all the bean foliage in the big compost bin on top of the horse manure, so he must have wondered if he should put it in the bin of top of it.
At that stage I packed up and came home, stinking of smoke, which somehow lost its appeal once I was away from the wood smoke and the novelty of the bonfire.
I just had the energy to have a shower before Pat was due home.
I am finishing this now, as it is getting late, but I have more to tell you, so will do it tomorrow.
So check back to see what I got up to last night – I will download some photos, and write about it too.