14th May 2006
It wasn’t until 11am that the painkillers had kicked in enough for me to venture up the allotment with the under-gardener.
First job as always – to go for a chat with the chooks and let them out – and collected 2 eggs from them.
Under gardener volunteered to mow the lawns and paths for me, so I started up the mower for him (it is temperamental) and off he went.
I got out the little Mantis and did between the rows of potatoes, onions, parsnips, and carrots. The latter two have not yet germinated; we could do with the promised rain to get them going. The Mantis was temperamental too and every time I got a stone caught in it and turned it off to sort it out – it went on strike. This happened many times as I have really stony ground. Perhaps it was enforcing me to rest up in between.
I earthed up the potatoes again, but if the rain comes it will all get washed off again for sure.
These rows are 30 feet long give or take an inch or two. I got it in my head that there were 25 feet - until I measured them today!
A lot of the purple sprouting broccoli plants are going to seed, despite my picking them regularly and feeding the neighbours and family. We have enough frozen to last us through the winter, so it was worth all the effort after all. I am still picking as much as I can as we love it and it is full of iron so good for us.
I am pulling up a stem every day for KoKKo, Adelaide and Ginger, to keep them amused until the next day – and they strip it bare each time. No wonder their egg yolks are a gorgeous orange and have a lovely flavour.
You will have to excuse the funny angle of this photograph - by the time I took this photo after I had finished working up there, I couldn't stop my hands and arms from shaking LOL
These are the weeded onion rows - again 30ft long, and to the right are the rows of parsnips and carrots not get germinated. I am leaving the solitary potato as it is in the middle of a row and don't want to lose any seedlings. I didn't plant potatoes there last year - but down the other end - so heaven knows where that one came from!
Here is the new asparagus bed with last year's seedlings just coming through between currants on the left and gooseberries on the tight and rhubarb behind. This was what took me two hours to dig over a few nights ago, - the same length of time it took K and his father to rotorvate their whole plot between rows of potatoes (but they have rows of weeds where the potatoes are growing - and they didn't do the edges!
Once I had tackled the veggie bed, I set my sights on weeding the two remaining flower beds that I hadn’t got around too. One of the grass paths is too narrow and the bed it is next to is too wide. This arose last year as I sub-divided a big section of the allotment which I had already planted up with flowers and as it was the height of the summer I couldn’t move them. Now though I have moved almost a whole row and am going to have a wide grass path.
The other evening after working up there and feeling rather old a crestfallen due to the constant pain I was in, I decided to let the bottom 48 metres of my plot to someone else when the year ends on St Michaelmas Day in October. Then yesterday when Pat came with me to move the chickens, I looked at it – with all the lovely lush paths and flower beds and asparagus beds that I grew from seeds, the gooseberry bushes, blackcurrant bushes, all grown from cuttings and promising a bumper first crop this year, and not forgetting the rhubarb and strawberry beds – and I had second thoughts. Now that I have done all the backbreaking work, it looks nice and neat and tidy and is the easiest part to look after! So I will be keeping the whole 330 feet by 33 feet after all. If I get to old to manage it, I might put more down to lawn and just get under gardener for mow it for me.
The perennial flowers are just starting to show their leaves and are at all different stages. The Cardoon I bought as a little plant last year on an outing to a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, is now showing its wonderful grey furry leaves and looks like it will be massive this year – and I might even get some flowers. There are ferns, grasses, corderlines, geraniums, delphiniums, rudbeckias, hostas, salvias, irises, some of which are now in bud, chrysanthemums, and shrubs and lots more. It should really look a treat this year with them all flowering.
I have a table and chairs and a bench in the meadow under the trees so can sit there and watch them and eat lunch or even just sit down and rest (as if), in the shade.
Everything is looking lovely and healthy, and at the moment almost weed free now – until it rains.
Do you remember those broad beans, that got pecked by pheasants, chewed by rabbits, and a deer, and got hit by sub zero temperatures and blackened leaves by the frost?
Here they are today, stunted in growth but looking really healthy with lots of flowers on them. And the new broad bean seeds in 'stuck in' between plants are now growing well as you can see in the foreground. (This is just part of the rows).
The strawberries have no fared so well. Despite being planted in the richest of well rotted pig manure, the weather got the better of them.
Some have survived and are flowering, and I do have some I can put in the gaps - but I lost a whole row where under gardener threw big clods of earth on the row nearest the path where he dug out in edge of it. I think that it is too open where they are - well I now know it is, so I might make a raised bed for them further up the top to give them a bit of shelter next year.
I am already making plans for the plots that I have covered over to prevent the weeds growing and for the big area where the net tent is protecting the broccoli and now the peas.
That’s the joy of having an allotment – there is always something new to do, to see, to sow, to plant, and to plan – how could I ever give it up.
We didn’t realise how long we had spent up there when, having worked myself to a standstill and my body realising that I had missed the pain killer time for taking tablets forced us home.
I put the girls away with some stems of broccoli, and looked and found another egg – which I took out of the nesting box, but left it there as I was distracted. I wonder if it will be there tomorrow of if an animal will have found it and taken it?
Home for and easy lunch of a fillet of cod each, with a pesto topping, and a big plateful of last years harvest of roasted ratatouille – wonderful.
I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend too. Tomorrow is a rest day for me – acupuncture now twice a week for the next three weeks. Fingers crossed it will help the neck and shoulder pain – doubt it will make any difference to the shingles though. But once the pain killers kick in late morning, it is making it more bearable thank goodness.
I nearly forgot to mention the Pekin Babes – Pumpkin, Freckles and Dilly – all of which are thriving and happy and making as much noise as ever. Dilly – well she is still attacking me, and I am still gently removing her from the nest a couple of times a day at least, to make sure that she eats, drinks, and gets exercise and eats some of the lovely fresh sorrel and spinach that I give them every day. Getting two eggs a day from them several times a week and one on the other day. I must remember to put the egg totals back on this week – you will be amazed at how many they have laid altogether!
Oh, another thing to add. The marmalade set beautifully and is a lovely bright orange and tastes really nice. Sometimes when you use sweet oranges instead of Seville oranges, the resulting marmalade can taste a tad bit sweet, but the combination of grapefruit, orange, tangerines, and lemons has worked wonderfully and is one that I will definitely do again – well I have another two packets of shredded fruit in the freezer! LOL