Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's hammering it down - so bring on the girls to cheer us up!

I think the weather is telling me that I need a day of rest - well a rest from all the hard work up the allotment anyway.

I realised that it has been a while since you have seen my adorable bantam babes

Here they were early yesterday morning pushing and shoving to be the first one through the door

Henrietta my Old English Game Bird is too dignified to join in the scrum

Snowy my Silver Seabright thinks that it is all a bit unladylike to do so too.
Looks like there are some insects to be had in the early morning dew on the lawn

So it is heads down, tails up, and get hunting - Freckles is getting big!

The three in the foreground from L-R are Bluebell, Modern Game Bird, Dolly Daydream, Ginger Silkie, Poppy, Golden Seabright

Mary, my Lemon Millefleur Sablepoot has just jumped up on the raised bed.
She loves playing hide and seek

And is often  hard to find.
Here's little Willow.  When she runs she looks just like Charlie Chaplin - minus the stick!  How she manages to keep herself so white is a mystery.  Her feathered feet get muddy of course - then by the morning they are snow white again!   
 Off to find where they are laying their eggs.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Allotment Diary 2011 Me: 53.5 hrs He: 49.5hrs

 Another three hours up the allotment mainly spent weeding - and Mr Lottie had yet another bonfire.
I have mowed all the lawns

The fruit bushes which were hard pruned are flourishing

The big potato bed has been weeded

Not a thistle in sight - but my hands did get lots of pricks even though I was wearing gloves

The brassicas are flourishing.  I am quite pleased with  these as most of my neighbours have been pecked to almost extinction by the pigeons.
A few potato plants that I am trialing.  A neighbouring plot holder has a son who's a farmer and these are a new variety - so watch this space
This pumpkin on the compost heap has tripled in size in a week.  It's amazing what a drop of rain can do isn't it.
I am so proud of this bed which I weeded today.
It was back breaking work weeding where we had dug up some early potatoes, then I dug up a barrow load of well rotted manure to plant the squashes.

I weeded the rest of the early potatoes too.  I had to resort to an organic weed killer to kill the bindweed - this was infested with it and the roots ran everywhere - looks like it has succumbed.
Mr Lottie did a great job tackling the other side of this plot

Some of the broad beans are just about ready to pick, swelled by the recent rain

I weeded this front bed and planted more squash and courgettes.
At last I feel that I am in control of the allotment, rather than it being in control of me - and the weeds out of control at times!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Room - Day 5 - Just working in the rain - getting soaking wet!

 We have had storms on and off all night, so we gave up all hope of the builders coming to do more work.  I was just debating whether to let the chickens out before going up the allotment to take some photos, as the sun had just come out - when Eureka - the truck turned up!  All plans cancelled for the day.

They covered the concrete with tons of ballast - well stones with lots of sand in it.
Then the heavens opened and we had an almighty storm - but James soldiered on
with a machine that thumps the stuff and packs it tight.  It was hard going doing it in a storm, as it kept puddling on the surface - not good.

It became impossible - and when I went out with a cup of tea - they had gone!
A little stream was pouring off the sand down the drain!

But they returned - and the rain was relentless - but they came bearing gifts.

And James had to go over the ballast again, and again.

The thick sheets of insulation went on top of the sand.  When we had our conservatory built years ago it was just a piece of plastic that was used between the layers!
The thick liner was placed on top - and the storm returned!

 They worked on regardless, mixing and laying the floor - until it was looking more like a pond - so again they stopped work.   The rain was so horrendous that I just stuck my arm out of the door and snapped!
Another pause in the storm, they finished laying the concrete - and yes you've guessed it......

It resumed and the concrete looks like a muddy swimming pool!

They'll be back the end of next week to continue - by which time I hope this has dried out! 

You'll notice that I am not complaining about the rain - the garden and allotment needs it - and the lawn is actually green again - well those bits that aren't covered in cement dust as sand.
I had a productive day in the front garden inbetween downpours - pruning the rose arch and shrubs.

(This is a bit boring - so skip any posts that start with 'Garden Room' it's just a visual record for me - so that when it is all done, I can look back and see what a triumph over the weather it was)

But if you want to build your own - this'll be a step by step guide!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Allotment Diary 2011 Me: 50.5 hrs He: 46.5hrs

No more building work happening in the last couple of days - boo hoo - I am so impatient!

We had some showery weather which halted the work - nice for the garden though.

I have been busy up the allotment and in the garden and little plastic greenhouses, I don't' sit still for long!
Sadly I didn't take my camera a couple of times up the plot, but never mind - I will try to remember to take it the next time we go.

We have been having bonfires, weeding, and having a fruit picking marathon which is now finished.

We picked a total of eleven pounds of gooseberries, and five pounds of blackcurrants - we won't miss out on fruit crumbles through the winter that's for sure.  No redcurrants this year - I had to give the bushes a very hard prune - but they are very healthy with the promise of lots next year.

Hmm - blogger refuses to add my photos - ah well another day tomorrow.

Today we spent two and a half hours braving the heavy showers, to be rewarded by sunshine - really refreshing - but we got soaked.

 We achieved a lot though - weeded the potato bed of thistles, which took rather a long time to dig out - but the soil is wonderfully rich and soft now due to all the showers - so it was very satisfying to get all the roots out.

Mr Lottie -  had a great bonfire - I had lots of boxes in my craft room to dispose of, and we had a big incinerator type basket up there full of weeds - all gone now!  Lots of luscious ash to keep for the beds there.

Oh bother - I wanted to show you my very first crop of strawberries which I have been growing in my garden.  They are really big fruits and I am so proud of them - silly isn't it getting a lot of pleasure from something as simple as home grown fruit.

I have never had any success before when growing them up the allotment - there were always creatures great and small - and slugs - despite my taking all the necessary precautions!

I have had four pounds - eaten two pounds and turned the rest into strawberry jam.  It's truly yummy and tastes so different from the shop jam.

I made my jam using 2lbs of fruit, chopped cos they were big, 2lbs of granulated sugar, and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (one big lemon) - it was so easy to do!

I just cooked the fruit until it simmered, added the sugar, and cooked until that had dissolved, then added the lemon juice and boiled it until setting point.

Fiddlesticks - it still won't load the photos.

I have been having fresh strawberry smoothies - made with natural set yoghurt, with a bit of skimmed milk as it was so thick, and a handful of strawberries and two tablespoonsful of oat bran all whizzed up in a blender.  Makes a great breakfast and I have lost weight too!

Well I am giving up on this post as blogger is going a bit daft - will be back in a day or so!

Guess what I am having for tea?  A slice of bread and home made strawberry jam, and cooked raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and strawberries with thick yoghurt and a swirl of honey on top!  Scrummy

At last - it's working again

Yummy strawberries

Strawberry jam.  With the sunshine behind it you can see that all the strawberries are in a big clump - I forgot to stir the contents of the jar before lidding it.
It doesn't alter the taste though - it's still delish!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Garden Room - Day 4

Work continues after the rain stopped play for a couple of days.
The two bricks on the front wall show where the double doors will be

The side wall is built up to the window ledge height.

And this will be the view from where I will be sitting.

I'll be able to see right down the garden - all day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's a deluge - and I'm to blame!

We have had months of drought and as soon as we decided to have some work done

The rain arrived - and hasn't stopped!

The bricklayer couldn't even finish the damp course

It's just soaked - and since these photos were taken this morning it hasn't stop raining, and the concrete base is turning into a pond!
Still - the garden and allotment needed the rain desperately.
Fingers crossed we get a dry Monday morning so that the damp course can be finished.

If you haven't guessed already - it's going to be a Garden Room - but not with an indoor paddling pool - which it has at the moment!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Allotment Diary Me: 44 hrs He: 40hrs

We escaped to the allotment today - we had run out of potatoes so needed to dig them up and do lots of maintenance things - like having a bonfire to get rid of six months worth of non compostable weeds and prunings etc

Pat had great fun, and its very rewarding when such huge piles are reduced to this

We were working for four hours solid, so I just didn't have the time to take before and after photos
so you are just getting the 'after' ones  - which are just for my year on year diary.
After not having any rain for so long, the lovely lawns are reduced to almost dust - but they still needed mowing as weeds had managed to pop up despite the drought. 

I set up some raised beds and planted a couple of butternut squash and a Jack be Little pumpkin which produces lots of 3 inch fruits, and some bush squash - yummy

A few rows left of early new potatoes - growing in dust.  Thank goodness I lined the trenches with 6 ins of well rotted manure or we would not have had any sort of crop at all!
We weeded the beds in this first area - and shock horror - I had to resort to using R.Up to spray the docks and creepers - hope it has been on long enough as we are now due rain overnight!

The broad beans, whilst small, look incredibly healthy

I hope to harvest them soon.  They are much tastier before the pods get too big.

It really wasn't worth mowing these sad paths, with the occassional weed - it would be just like mowing dust.  The potatoes are doing quite well - a few gaps despite all the manure in the trenches, but I am sure that the rain will soon work it's magic when it arrives

I need to harvest the rest of the gooseberries, and have black and redcurrants too - it'll be a race against time with the rain due - I was too exhausted to return tonight to do them.
Four hours hard labout is enough for me these days - particularly as I have been so very busy in the garden.

I have been potting up plants - they all seem to need doing at the same time despite my staggering the seed sowing.

I have a lean-to full of squash, pumpkin, cougettes, cucumbers, Cosmos, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine x1, chilli peppers x2, a Japanese cucumber which is totally different to ours, and things yet to sprout.
I have been digging up floral plants in the garden and potting them up ready for transplanting in a couple of months time.  I have strawberry plants in the ex banties now fruit cage with cuttings too of various currants - which I have to care for.  There are cabbages, and caulis, and brussel sprouts tucked in here there an everywhere - oh and fledgeling fruit trees too.  And of course the lawns to mow the flower beds to weed  - so I am kept pretty busy thank heavens.

I good do with a bit of help hunting down the bantam eggs in the garden - they have gone 'native' again.  They spend as long as they like freeranging so in this lovely weather are not inclined to move from whatever shady spot they have found, to go back to the nest boxes to lay eggs.  We  have a lot of hedges and bushes and this year it is proving nigh on impossible to find many!