Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 22 hrs He: 16.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 78

I am out of action at the moment - I had an operation on my eye on Wednesday - I was so nervous that I worked myself into a standstill all day Tuesday! 
I dare not go up the allotment on Tuesday in case I got dust or did some damage to my eye and I had been waiting a while to have the op so didn't want to risk it.
So I spent the day sowing - peas, beans, onion sets, etc and made a list of all the veggie seeds that I have!  What a long list!

I mowed the front lawns and the back lawns

Which took me quite some time as I had to go over them more than once
To calm myself in the evening, I spent time walking around the garden looking at all the new growth of Spring - and the early flowers.

The wonder and joy of modern technology, the skill of eye surgeons, and our National Health Service!
Wednesday and Thursday I was out of action and at the hospital.
When I awoke Thursday I was overjoyed that I could see out of my right eye!  The first time in my entire life that I could see distance without the aid of thick lensed specs.
To say that I was overjoyed is an understatement - it was a joy and  happiness that has only ever been surpassed and that was by the births of my sons many many years ago.

Thursday was a sunny day, and the colours were so vibrant - the sky was so blue I had to wear sunglasses whilst indoors!  Before the op on a sunny day the sky looked dull blue grey and the sun like mustard!   The lawns I mowed were transformed into bright bright green and looked really fresh - instead on the dull dark green.   The world has been transformed into a joyous Kaleidoscope of the most amazing colours - what have I been missing all these years?  What an amazing and beautiful world we live in!

Did you ever see the original film of The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland?  The film started in black and white and the farmhouse she lived in was swept up into a tornado, and Dorothy and her dog were plonked down into the land of Oz and everything burst into colour - well it feels just like that for me!

I can't wait to get my other eye done - hope that it's not too long.

So if ever you are offered eye surgery for cataracts or glaucoma - snap it up without hesitation.  It's like being re-born - as the NHS also 'fitted' me with a new lense - so once the other eye is done there will be no more thick glasses for me, and I'll have perfect distance sight for the first time ever.

For now I am unbalanced - my left eye can't see further than 6 inches, so I am typing this with my old reading glasses on, with a patch taped over the right lense - but it's tiring.

I'm not going to risk going up the allotment and doing any digging etc until my right eye is healed completely - but I will try and update this blog now and again.

I am off to the hospital next week for a check up with the surgeon, but will  be back updating as soon as I can.

Please excuse any typing errors - it's a bit of a struggle for my brain doing this with one eye!


Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 22 hrs He: 16.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 60

It was a wonderful damp and misty morning - just the right sort of weather for me to spend some time up the allotment.

I planned to just dig out some dock weeds growing through the wood chip I put down in the fruit  cage area.

It's a constant battle that goes on for ever digging them out and getting the roots, but seeds have been blowing around for scores of years so it's an ongoing battle.
 When I put down the bark - there were none  - now look at them.

Mr Lottie said that he'd dig them up and I would rake away the wood chip and put it back after said Dock weed is removed, and dispose of the weeds as he fills up a bucket.  That would take us about an hour I figured.  As usual plans change!

The sun came out, the grass dried out so I decided to mow the paths and lawns

And there are still quite a lot do mow too - even though I have reduced my plot to under 200ft

I had to go over each area several times, it had grown so much.

I won't show you any more - grass is grass after all!

Although I had on sunscreen on my face - I hadn't bothered putting it on anywhere else as it was cold, windy and damp.  So I had to keep my thick jacket on, my hat, and I was baking hot!
The fruit cage is now free of Dock weeds, the transplanted strawberries have taken and are thriving.
The rhubarb plants are coming through strongly - the soil underneath the wood chips is really nice and damp which is great in this dry weather.

The gooseberry bushes are almost in full leaf - looks like I'll be getting a good crop again this year.
The early potatoes have not burst through the soil yet but I had covered them anyway before the frost.
Next week I hope to get more if not the rest of the potatoes sown - weather permitting.

I won't  be going up there the rest of this week - having a op - but hope to be seed sowing at home instead.

The chickens are laying like mad lately - 4-6 eggs a day - which is brilliant from rare breed bantams, some of which are past their 'lay by' date!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 19.5 hrs He: 14hrs 2012 Eggs: 48

I had high hopes of going up the allotment this morning - but sadly it was a beautiful hot sunny day which meant I had to stay indoors most of the time.

But look at the egg total! Another 24 eggs is eight days!
This is the equivilent of  morning rush hour around here.

 The mad rush out of their pen and around the garden first thing.
Mr Lottie threw out some chopped up apple and pear cores, and it was a mad dash to grab a chunk and run off in all directions with their prize possession!

Then a mad dash back once they'd eaten it for search for any remains!

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 19.5 hrs He: 14hrs 2012 Eggs: 24

It was as dull as ditchwater up the allotment today - which suited me just fine - and a freezing wind too - perfect for hard work - cools you down a bit.

You all know this is just a record for me - so this post will be really very boring - but I just like to keep a record of my achievements to look back on.

After spending a long time yesterday clearing the shed out - today I tackled the dreaded cupboard.  I had already cleared a few shelves before I decided to take a few 'before' photos.

It was incredible what was crammed in there - and not least for the amount of chewing and nibbling the mice had done.  Every plastic bag and been chewed beyond recognition, a big strong plastic container which I had saved some seeds in had a big hole in the bottom - so that they could go in and out to get at their larder of seeds.  It was heavy-duty air tight large container too - that  would hold 3lbs of flour!  I was quite surprised at the lack of cobwebs in the cupboard - maybe the mice ate them too!

It's a sweet little cupboard - which I think was once a wardrobe.  It's made of lovely dark wood and the previous allotment holder painted it cream - now many years later it's got the fashionable 'distressed' look about it.   If I wasn't worried that it might have woodworm or worse, I would have taken it home for my garden studio.

I had already cleaned out the bottom four spaces before I thought to take any photos.
When I removed the petrol cans there was more mouse mischief behind those too.
I never realised just how much the little cupboard held!

I found an unused toilet roll!  Eaten right through to the middle by mice - probably for a nest.  I can't for the life of me remember taking that up there - I know it wasn't for the usual use - more for wiping hands after adding oil and petrol to the mower.

I so wish I had remembered to take 'after' photos for my record.  After two and a half hours hard work I had worked myself to a stand still.
I had a huge sackful of rubbish to take home and another of stuff to dump, and Mr Lottie had lots of chewed paper to burn and a great big hammock - which belonged to the previous owner - who used to be a neighbour of ours.  It was really really strong and probably cost a lot of money when it was new.  (They used to 'do' posh everything.  They had a shed put up in the corner of their garden with double glass doors, and when they showed me the inside it looked almost like a Bedouin tent - and lovely drapes at the doors, a huge giraffe, and candle sticks - almost like a film set! Beautiful.)

I digress - Mrs Next Door (who moved years ago I must add, along with the 'Gone with the Wind' swing) encouraged Mr Next Door to have all sorts of hobbies to keep him busy/amused as she worked long hours.  One of which was to have the allotment, and grow organic food, and keep him occupied in healthy persuits.   But the 'old boys' told me that he used to go up there at the weekend  and  summer evening,  and used to sit up there or lie in his hammock, reading, or dozing or sunbathing with a bottle or two of wine!  And when I took over the plot there were lots of empty bottles in the shed, and boxes and boxes of empty cardboard boxes from an organic vegetable company.  It really made me laugh out loud!  Mrs Next door must have been very impressed with his expertise 'growing plants to order'.

I managed to dig out another foot to widen the bean trench so that it's at least 2 feet wide and over a foot deep.   It's taken a whole plastic compost bin of three year old compost to fill it!

It's yummy stuff.  We are due rain tomorrow and the rest of the weekend so I'll wait until it's rained before covering it over with the soil.
Mr Lottie had a lovely time with his bonfire, especially with all the stuff I found in the shed.
 He's made a great job of making it nice and tidy down the other end.
And although this was dug over before the winter, he turned it over for me again in readiness for my planting broad beans.

Off to have a well earned choc ice on a stick

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 17 hrs He: 11.5hrs 2012 Eggs:23

There was a thick misty/fog - and freezing cold it was to this morning - which is brilliant for me as I could go up the allotment.

I loaded up my car - well Mr Lottie did - and wrapped up warm with a body warmer and fleece, woolly hat and thick cords with waterproofs on top.

I wanted to get a trench dug out and fill it with composting and veggie waste, ready for my runner beans.

Me and plans do not always work out - fickle as I am.  When I opened the hut to get some things out - it really bothered me that it was a jumble in there - men tend to throw things in - ladies tend not too.  In order to get to the tools I wanted I had to move so much stuff - so in the end I took everything outside, swept out the pig hut, sorted everything out and put things back neatly - it took me at least an hour and a half.  It's about four times bigger than the photo - but who wants to see a photo of all my stuff!

There is one disadvantage to having a brick built pig hut - the roof slopes down towards the back, and I kept forgetting it as I bent down to pick things up and sweep.  I lost count how many times I have whacked my head today on the thick wooden roof beans - my head really throbs now!
All that is left to do is to burn the short bits of wood, and clear out the cupboard in there.   I have already filled up two big sacks of rubbish and brought them home to take to the dump.
 This first bed is what I intended to do before I got distacted.
I wanted to weed it - not bad after being uncovered throughout the winter.
Now that looks better doesn't it.
By this time the sun had come out - really really bright and hot!
I had to take off my woolly hat, and find my wide brimmed sun hat!
As you can see in the photos!  Sadly I didn't have a thick shirt with me so had to suffer wearing the baggy fleece - which maked the shadow HUGE

You can see how much the soil dried out in just an hour!

Having dug an trench about a foot deep, I put one wheelbarrow full 

Of mixed compost - it'll need at least two more barrows to fill it.
I was exhausted by this time - so it's a job for another day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 14.5 hrs He: 11.5hrs

It's a dull drizzley day today, but perfect for me - so we spent three and a half hours up the allotment - although the plan was to spend just two.
This bed was 'rested' last  year and the year before, and I covered it up for winter.

Today we took all the covering off - it looked awful I know but needs must, and it was better than leaving to grown perennial weeds - like Dock Weed etc.
Once uncovered the soil was dark and wet - which was a lovely surprise, and after weeding around the edges - and a few odd places - mainly stinging nettle, and dandelion roots - I ran the rotorvator over it.
Several times in fact - and it looks like black gold!

I tackled about three quarters of the bed - the rest can wait until I put the rest of the potatoes in.

 Mr Lottie helped my digging out a new edge for the bed that side.
And after I had planted up the first row with the Pentland Javelin potatoes (22 in that row)
Mr Lottie dug out the second row for me.  We had 35 potatoes so only needed a short row next.

I went and filled up another wheel barrow full of this lovely rich compost.  It's three years old and very well rotted.  It's a mixture of grass cuttings, chicken Hemcore bedding, and some horse manure.  Layer upon layer.  I never thought I could get excited by composting - but the result is not smelly or wet but nice and light and rich.  I layered the trenches rows with newspaper first, then filled them with the above and pushed the potatoes in 12 inches apart.  Then raked over the soil.

 No one has made a start on the rest of the plot that I gave up.  There wasn't a weed in sight last October - but now they getting plentiful.  The rabbits have been having a field day and  burrowing in the beds.   For that reason I have decided to put up a temporary fence with the hope that it might deter them from my potato bed!
The one and a half rows of potatoes are now planted.  Why are they covered up?  Why have I covered over the nice rotorvated bed again?

Three reasons, rabbits, weeds, and frost - I hope to protect the potatoes I have planted, keeping them warm, protect any growth from frost, deter the rabbits, and slow down the weed growth.

The comfrey is making an appearance - it's brilliant as a green manure.
My next project is to either finish off the rest of this bed - depending on the weather.
And/or dig out a deep trough for my climbing beans and fill it with another bin full of the lovely compost I have made.

Thanks for visiting.

2012 Egg total: 21

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sowing record - just for my information in

It was a really hot and sunny day - so I was confined to barracks, and spent the morning make a yummy cake.

This afternoon I started sowing - so thought it would be a good idea to make a list as I go so that I do not forget everything this time next year.

Potatoes Chitting
Earlies     Pentland Javeline
(I'll have to amend this when I have looked at the labels of the mids and lates.

Veggies Sowed in pots

Onions Stuttgart - 63 (500grm) 90p
Broad beans - 25

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's that time of the month again - well two days ago

It was time for me to clean out Peckingham Palace again.
Can you believe that just last month it looked like this  deep snow!
But how cosy and dry and happy they were scratching around in the Hemcore without a care in the world!
 Without the snow to contend with it was a quick job this month.
I just don't know how people can use straw or shavings etc
I am so used to just sweeping up the dry Hemcore into a trug, and tipping it into the wheel barrow then on to my flower and vegetable beds.  The chooks scratch around in it and it gets mixed into the soil - saves me a lot of work!

Job done.  The chooks get all excited when they see me throwing in the new bedding, and come running in all directions!

There is always lots of excited tweeting and scatching and they even sunbath in there lying on their sides - when they are free to range wherever they want!

I emptied the nest box and just put the clean newspapers in there whilst emptying the litter trays.
Daisy rushed up the ladder and flew in - and wouldn't be budge.  She is my oldest bantam and each winter we wonder if she'll live through it.  By rights she should have been dead years ago, but she still lays an egg now and again.

 I had to wait until late afternoon before she decided that I could put back the nest boxes filled with Hemcore - silly girl - it's so much nicer to snuggle down in those to lay an egg!  And much nicer for me too - as they stay clean!
2012 Egg total: 18