Saturday 6th May 2006
Up and out early – ran the gauntlet with Dilly as usual and as usual she ran around into the run and ate and drank for England. Rescued the hot egg from the nest.
Full of optimism and pain killers I headed off up the allotment as we are due lots of rain over the next couple of days –hopefully.
First stop was to see my girls – they didn’t see or hear me coming so I called out to them and got them all excited! So much so that they jumped in one of the water bowls which they used as a perch – so that will teach me a lesson – I had to wash it out before I could put fresh water in it. Yesterday evening I had left a broccoli plant in the run – which they had stripped to a stalk – and dragged up the run, so I had to crawl on my hands and knees through the little door to retrieve it – a good incentive not to put any weight on!
My mission today was to do something light and less taxing that digging and weeding, so as the mange tout – or one variety that I had potted – were big enough to plant out, I thought that is what I would do.
I also wanted to try out my experimental Wall-o-Water that Jesse kindly sent me in the winter.
Before I tell you all about that - here is what took me a couple of hours or so to do last night!
Two rows of shallots - totally weed free - and the dug over bed for another crop. Notice all the lovely manure - that is what is keeping it nice and moist.
So firstly the experiment – the theory is that if you use this – your plants grow faster – are protected from any frost – and you get an earlier crop.
The Wall-o-Water came from the USA. It is a ring of plastic – thick transparent plastic, that sealed vertical tube-like sections which you fill with water. In the instructions they use a hosepipe – but not such luxuries of running water on our allotments so it was rain water from my tank.
Firstly I weeded the area where my pumpkins will be growing – it didn’t take much doing as I have been working on it on and off all spring.
Then you need a five gallon bucket. I used a green trug which happened to be the right diameter. I then placed the plastic circular collar around the trug and then filled up each tube – of which there are many – that was the tricky part. I could have done with another pair of hands to hold it steady, but I persevered and did the first one.
Each section has to be filled a third full with water – a bit tricky to see when you use a watering can, but that was easy to adjust afterwards. As my allotment is exposed I dug a little trench for it to sit in and then filled that in with soil. I sowed two pumpkin seeds in (Blue pumpkins – I left the packets in my car so will look it up tomorrow. Then, after watering them in, I just squashed the top together to protect it from the weather and animals and started on the next one – in this one I sowed two giant pumpkin seeds. By which time it had worn me out, only because around my middle in the painful bit where the shingles is, so the last one will have to wait until next week.
A young lad – well in his 30’s has taken over a quarter of a plot near the entrance and when I came through the gate I stopped to say ‘hello’ and offer some encouragement. He came up to see my plot, loved the chickens, and chatted all about himself and what he was studying at University – and his parents will be looking after the allotment all summer as he will be away until September when this course starts again. It made my laugh – just like a youngster. But at least mum and dad will get to eat the crops that he is sowing! He picked my brains a little bit, and I let him help his self to – yes you guessed it some purple sprouting broccoli. It is amazing how few people have ever seen it before, let alone know what it tastes like.
He was just off with his armful of broccoli and a couple of summer fruiting raspberry canes that I dug up for him, when the cavalry arrived in the guise of my Mr Muscles. So he had a chat too, whilst I went off to organise things.
Whilst they were talking I planted up three pots of ridge cucumbers, and one of gherkins, underneath where the climbing beans will go – and I disturbed a baby rabbit. How the heck it managed to get through my defences to my inner sanctum I do not know and am a bit perturbed by it, as I thought that that one section was safe. I will have to call up my hunter tracker instincts next week and see how or where it got in.
OH was happily playing snipping little bits of Elderberry shoots off the cut down tree roots next to the shed – but I had bigger plans afoot for him.
With the wheel barrow loaded with the plants, spades, forks, long pieces of wood, hammer, string, scissors (yes I remembered to bring an old pair this time), and with me carrying two rolls of wire and a well earned banana we headed off.
Muscles banged in the wooden posts for me – under instruction you understand – and I fitted the pig wire fencing that I had cut into just the right lengths when I used it last year. I have done two rows of it so far, and planted out one row of mange tout. Doesn’t sound much does it? Would you believe that it took a few hours then?
I sited it in the space between the parsnip rows and the broccoli cage – just the right amount of room.
My willing helper dug out the clumps of grass and weeds that had grown along the edge of the netting – which took a long time as he easily gets sidetracked asking me the names of each weed, them promptly forgetting half a hour later, but some of them were pretty – except one – my first horrid horse radish – as deadly as weed as the docks up the lottie.
I had to put into place more rabbit and bird defences so out came some of my tatty old string fencing that is used for poultry – and I needed some netting to keep the pigeons off the top. It was then I had one of my brainwave moments. Would the rolled up surplus broccoli netting be enough to cover the peas. Bingo – it was.
So ‘all’ we had to do untie the netting from all the lumps of wood iron and other stuff that was anchoring it down and stretch over the pea area. Took a heck of a long time.
Ok - so it is not the prettiest of things - I have to do things on a budget so utilise all sorts of things.
Believe it or not - mine is one of the tidy ones - especially as I keep mine weed free all summer as hopefully you will see.
But it was worth it, as now I have a broccoli and pea cage! Once the broccoli is finished I might decide to plant some of my other crops there – like the courgettes for instance or some more salads or sweetcorn. Who knows, I might even add manure and cover it up and leave it for the summer.
The above is next door but one - no big weeds have grown yet - lack of rain.
The weather changed and it came on to rain, so it was a quick dash to hurry up and finish and put everything away. First the chooks, then the barrowful of weeds to dump, the broccoli plants that muscles pulled up were divided between me, my neighbour and the chickens and bantams, and all the stuff we didn’t use had to be packed neatly away in the shed.
By which time I was in agony – the time keeper asked me to guess what time it was. (I had left home just after 10am and he arrived around noon as he had things to do). It was 2.30pm – no wonder I was so sore, I should have taken all my pills by 1pm. I jumped in my car to head off home first and turned the engine on – nothing – zilch – it didn’t even try to start.
So I had to get the jump leads out and connect them to my assistant mechanic’s car to get it started.
We got home at 3pm. Lunch was a quickie of home made (ones I had made earlier and frozen), pork burgers – Somerset apple, and pork seasoning. Scrumptious. Mashed potatoes – yes and PSB, and jolly nice it was too.
I look forward to a day or two or rain – and rest – hope you have a good weekend.