Sunday, May 29, 2011

Allotment Diary Me:40hrs He:36hrs

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent 8 hours up the allotment
The early potatoes are growing, despite there being no rain

The broad beans are really behind due to the drought

So too the climbing Italian yellow beans

I weeded the potato bed which was full of thistles

I also earthed them up yet more

It's looking quite nice even if I do say so myself

Today the broad beans are in flower although still stunted

 Blackcurrents - they need a big dose of rain to plump them up.
The same applies to the gooseberries - not as good a crop as last year

Have you seen these before?

I haven't had to use these for years

But with the dire weather conditions I got them out.
They are a ring of plastic - not thick - which has sections fused which creates tubes
You fill the tubes with water and place over a plant - in this case pumpkins.  Because it is so windy here, I have taken precautions and put stakes inside them to stop them blowing away.
The idea is that the water warms up in any sunshine which creates a microclimate - a little greenhouse effect.
It is open at the top so that it's easy to water the plant - and lets the rain in.  It protects fragile plants from rabbits and muntjac and other critters.
When the plant gets established you just lift off the ring!  They are easy to store - about the size of a carrier bag.
This view almost breaks my heart. It is the view over my bottom fence and the part of my allotment I gave up to a very keen couple who were desperate for an allotment.
It was my favourite and best laid out of my plot.  The very bottom (which you can't see) I sowed an organic meadow - and I used to have three hybrid chickens living there - and they had free range of the whole quarter of an acre (which is the size of the whole plot).

The plot you can see, I split up in to six beds that ran horizontally and sowed organic 'bowling green' flat wide paths in between each bed.

The top bed had mixed perennial flowers in and was a lovely sight.
The next bed has asparagus - and I used the rest for different vegetables.
The next had the most magnificent rhubarb plant - which you can see has the tall yellow spears of flowers as it has gone to seed.

The other long beds were used for crop rotation veggies, and the nearest one to the fence had fruit bushes, more asparagus, and a well rotted manure compost area.

It's now full of tall weeds, thistles, stinging nettles, dock weeds gone to seed and many more.
It's such a shame  to see - but I shouldn't get upset about it as I gave it up!
We have a new old door on our pig hut shed.  The other one was in bad shape and was falling to bits.   Our nice neighbouring plot holder offered to fit this one for us - we did a bit of bartering - and I have it three coats of wood stain today - it was very windy so there are drips on the floor!  They'll wash off.  I'll give it a few more coats over the summer - lets hope it lasts until I decide to give up my plot.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A bit of a change!

When I get an idea into my head, I can be a bit of a nightmare.
Last Wednesday I decided that I wanted to change this end of the garden. 
Which will involve getting rid of the big pond, so this morning we started.
It was jolly hard work and I didn't have time to take photos of all the fishing out of pond plants which I did - besides which I was wet and filthy!

We had to take a sledge hammer to get all the slabs up around it - not an easy task.
I cut a slit either side of the pond liner and we managed to roll it over and pull it out

It was lined with carpet which we had to remove, and some underlay too.
It took most of today for the pond to drain after I had taken out the bulk of the plants.
When we had it cleaned last year, we were told that there were no fish in it whatsoever - hence my decision to turn it into a patio.
My dear husband took some candid camera shots of my fishing!

The frogs and other creatures had walked out as the pond gradually sunk through the layers, but I wanted to make sure that nothing was left in there.
Yes it is worth all the effort - thank you - I did find three fish!

My unlady-like attempts to get up the slippery side and out!
I'll get a neighbour across the road to adopt the fish - he has two ponds.
I filled up two compost bins with pond plants and sludge, it'll rot down so quickly - and I still have a pile at the side - can you see?
After lunch we cleared up all the mess - with just a couple of carpet pieces drying out.
We are suffering a serious drought in out region, the poor lawn is in a bad shape and the bald patch is the soakway which is always green as it's usually full of collected rain water underneath!

Yesterday I dug up all the plants from this raised bed and moved them. 
Another area I have plans for - for middle/late June - this bed will be moved!
Watch this space!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today in my garden

I thought I would share a few colours and textures in my garden today

Because of the drought and crazy sunshine we have spring and summer plants flowering at the same time

My little sage plant is growing at a great rate!

I just love these textured leaves.  They are usally deep red - but are a bit bleached by the sunshine

Oops the petals fell off this Aquilegia

A young clematis

Allium stars

My very first pear crop - fingers crossed they all grow

I am quite excited about my strawberries.

I grew all these from last years runners.

Despite the soil dusty and dry these Victorian climbing peas have taken

That's all for today

Sunday, May 08, 2011

New day, new life - and a nice rest

It's a new day - Sunday - so I am having a day of rest.  It is truly hot and sunny outside without a breath of air.   I had a most wonderful time this morning visiting a friend of mine, who very kindly lets me buy a sack of food off him for my chickens. 
He is top quality breeder of fowl, and generously let me buy two Seabright bantams off him a couple of years ago - Snowy and Poppy.
I was really privileged to get to see the following.
Above first of all - one of his many incubators with golden Seabrights just hatching out.  Can you make out the eggs pipping and the newly hatched chicks in the bottom and right hand side of the photo?

Yet another of his incubators - each egg named, dated, and recorded.
Can you see the turkey egg in the top left hand corner?

This is a broody hen with her clutch of Silver Seabright chicks - their markings are developing already.  She is a brilliant 'mother' - they have a big bright shed all to themselves

It is such a treat to visit my friends garden. In the winter there were turkeys, chickens of all breeds and sizes, here, there, and everywhere.  Lots freeranging - just perfect

Of  course it is not safe to let a mother hen out with her tiny chicks - there are foxes about.  Those 'confined to barracks' have the most wonderful accommodation - lots of space, and lots of natural light.

This fine Ixworth male is a very energetic beau - so his young ladies are wearing saddles to protect them - keeping them in tip top condition too.  I would love Ixworth in my garden, but they are big birds and would make big dustbaths in my lawns in no time!

This young lady caught my eye, she's sat on a pile of eggs, one was poking out, so my friend popped it back under her.  She was happily dozing in the sunshine, a picture of contentment.

Another clutch of older Ixsworth popped out from the undergrowth - they are having a lovely time rummaging around. 

On my 'tour' a beautiful black Pekin bantam 'appeared' from behind some pots - she was absolutely stunning - and so tame and friendly - someone gave it to my friend - she couldn't have asked for a better adoptive owner - it's chicken heaven where they live.

More Ixsworth with a bantam surrogate mother

And yet more

Just a few snatched photos!

Oh if only I were years younger and had the chance to have a small holding which was always my dream.

Never mind - I have my big allotment and my lovely bantam flock - and can enjoy friends chickens and lifestyles without all the hard work.

And best of all - I have had the pleasure today of seeing new life.

Off to put my feet up - before cooking Sunday lunch

Guess what is on the menu

Roast chicken

Not one of mine though of course - but one another friend 'grew' for me - and had a lovely freerange life all last summer.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Allotment Diary Me:35.25hrs He:30.25hrs

What happened to the rain then?  I was so excited at the prospect of overnight rain that I was up really early and raring to go.

We had a bit of cloud, and when I went outside to load the car up a 8.30am there were a few drizzley drips - and that was it.

It didn't dampen my enthusiam, just cut short my time up the allotment.
My mission was to cover my fruit bushes.  Years ago this fruit cage was covered in netting but over time it had been dessimated by the terrible winter weather. 
Not knowing how long I'll be able to keep up working on the allotment I have compromised.

With a bit of improvisation with bamboo canes stuck into the ground, and pieces of plastic pipe, slid on top and raised or lowered to the optimum height, I have hopes that I have created a bird proof method of protecting my soft fruit crops without too much expense.  (i.e. the protection not working out in excess of the cost of purchasing the fruit.)  Having said that, I never seen red currants in the shops and very rarely any blackcurrants, nor gooseberries, and this fruit keeps us in vitamin C right through until next harvest - plus the jams, jellies, etc.

I had enough netting to protect my row of lovely red gooseberries, but not enough for the remainder of the fruit bushes.

This originally was the cuttings bed, but everything flourished, so redcurrants, blackcurrents, jostaberries, and gooseberries, are covered with a selection of net curtains and black netting renmants.
Three hours since we finished, my hands and arms are still stinging from the result of renegade nettles attacking me through my sleeves and gardening gloves as I wrenched them from their niches and hurled them onto the incinerator ready to be burnt.

Even the cool shower and mango butter body creams didn't soothe them - but I am off to have a choc ice on a stick - you can bet that will be a distraction.

Hoping for rain overnight or all day tomorrow - I'll be having a day or (relative) rest