Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 34 hrs He: 28.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 220

 At last - a few hours of sunshine, so I made the best of it and dashed up the allotment with my pots of broad beans and onions.
 The soil was absolutely sodden, so I used old planks to stand on
 It soon dried out.  
Mr Lottie dug out the perennial weeds around the edges outside of the plot.
 This is the next bed I want to work on - so gave it a rake over
So that's the onions in (Stutgart) and the early broad beans.
It's due to rain hard tomorrow - so they'll be well watered in.

I'd love to have had an allotment that was cleared of weeds and rubbish and was fenced off and pretty like the ones I see on the internet.  But mine is in a field of ramshackle plots - but we still manage to get lots of crops.   If I were younger and it hadn't been 330ft x 33ft to start with.  With 40 carpets on it, weeds up to 8 feet tall growing through them.  Lots of old iron, cupboards, broken glass, and so much more - it would have been nice to have paid to have it cleared, fenced off, rabbit proofed, weeds killed off etc - but it would have cost a fortune,  and so much more expenive than all the crops I have grown over the years.

The egg laying has slowed down lately, as it always does, but we still have plenty to use and to share. 

Another three hours spent out in the fresh air.    We came home with a nice crop of young rhubarb sticks and we had some for tea with thick yoghurt - very yummy indeed

Hope you get chance to get out in the open and do some gardening.

Off to have a peek to see what you have been up to

Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 31 hrs He: 25.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 213

The rain is getting positively boring now - I need it to stop so that I can clean out Peckingham Palace.
Even Dolly is fed up with having a bad hair day every day!
Have you noticed that she has 5 toes on each foot?  Pure bred Silkies do - other breeds have four toes - just a bit of useless information I thought I would share!

I like to put fresh Hemcore in the run once a month - they free range every day so are in and out at will, so it's not muddy or anything - but I just like to do it!

 In between downpours I picked some rhubarb from the garden.
 The 'thin' sticks in these photos are actually big and the usual size.
The others are huge jumbo sticks - the rain has done wonders for my rhubarb plants.
It's really tender and tastes so sweet - I love a dish of it cooked and cold with a thick set yoghurt and drizzled in honey - yummy!
I was always led to believe that chickens would not eat rhubarb leaves as they are poisonous to them and could make them really ill.
I keep telling them that but they have never taken any notice, and love to peck the leaves when they are young and fresh - it has never had any adverse affect on my chooks!
Here are some of my sown seeds - now plants -desperate to go into the soil, but it is still too cold and boggy up the allotment.  Broad beans above - looking so healthy - I might have to find a home for them in the garden if the weather doesn't hurry up and improve.

 My little onion sets
 are not longer little.  I had to put them in pots and in the plastic little green house as the mice were eating all my seedlings in the lean-to potting shed,

 Another week - then they'll have to take their chances up in the field
 My mixed salad leaves are looking cold

but just about 'holding their own'.
These are the only peas that I managed to rescue from the mice - the little blighters!

Have a good sun shiney week

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 31 hrs He: 25.5hrs 2012...

Friday, April 27, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 31 hrs He: 25.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 209

I have been going stir crazy - suffering withdrawal symptoms - and have so missed working up my allotment - even if it's just pottering around. 

I have been a little distracted with eye operations, lots of hospital appointments - and apart from a 'hiccup' with one eye - the lens has wrinkled so I need another op - my eyesight is brilliant - no more looking at the world through yellow foggy cataracts and Mr Magoo eyes - the world is a brighter clearer place now and I am over the moon. 

 Even on a soggy wet day like this - I just had to pop up the lottie for a look.
Weeds have flourished along the edge of the path.
 The rhubarb roots I transplanted are loving all this rain and truly flourishing
The autumn pruned fruit bushes are loving the non stop rain too (at the moment)
The heaped up potato rows are not so heaped up - no shoots showing yet either

The grass is looking lush despite it's short back and sides hair cut it got, and the comfrey is doing really well
We were getting soaked so it was a swift walk back to the car again
 I couldn't resist a quick peek at the rhubarbs close up - and found these pretty flower heads
 As beautiful as they are - I just had to decapitate them - I want the sticks of rhubarb to flourish not the pretty flowers - no matter how beautiful they are.
 I was really surprised to see the pretty 'necklaces' of the blackcurrant flower blossoms appearing
 Redcurrants too!
I would never have guessed it with all the rain and no sunshine

Looks like we might be in for a really good crop!
I am glad that I bought the packets of netting a few weeks ago.
It was really nice to pop up for a look - even in pouring rain.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What a day today has been weather wise.  We have had rain, we have had sunshine, and we have had hailstones - all three rotating one after the other.  There wasn't anything urgent to do up the allotment, so I retreated to my old potting shed lean-to at the end of the garage, and potted up some little seedlings.

Then the sun came out so I decided to empty one of my compost bins and fill up a raised bed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I have a little plastic greenhouse, and an old leaky lean to - but they serve their purpose quite well.

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 30 hrs He: 24.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 161

Another seven eggs today and three more hours up the allotment - leaves me feeling very happy and satisfied at our efforts.

We are still eating last years'  crop of potatoes and they are as delicious as the day they were dug up.  They hang from the roof supports in sacks in our garage, and whatever the weather seems throw at us they seem to survive it.  I am very careful to hand pick every potato that goes into the sacks, to make sure that no damaged ones get stored, and I grade them in variety and size - so perhaps that helps?

This time of year is generally spent keeping on top of the weeds and preparing the beds for seeds etc
This first bed on my plot was only dug about a month or so ago, and I dug out a deep trench where the plank is and filled it with well rotted compost etc in readiness for the climbing beans.  It's amazing that already more weeds have grown and the heavy rain then sunshine has formed a crust on the top already.

It didn't take too long for me to dig it over and mix in some well rotted manure.  I think that I will have peas and mange tout in this bed - followed by some courgettes later.
I had a little bit of space in the potato patch, so dug it over, added well rotted manure and sowed some broad beans - they are quite greedy plants when they get going so they should do well here

There was a two foot strip along the far edge and Mr Lottie 'edged' the path there too, so I sowed some parsnip seeds.  They'll not affect the potato crop at all, and it's best to cram as much in a bed as you can as it cuts down on the weeding.
 As we are due more heavy rain this week - and some is falling as I type, I decided to give all the paths a haircut. 
But in no time at all it will grow really fast and need doing again!
 It took me only an hour to mow all the paths today
So it wasn't such a hard chore, but I still had to go over them twice.
I am glad that I made the decision to give up half my plot (150ft) of my plot - today proved that it was the right thing to do, as it used to take me at least two hours, sometimes more last year!  It took long to mow up there than it did for me to cut the lawns at home.

Oh I nearly forgot

My rhubarb cuttings are growing beautifully - so too the little strawberry cuttings.
I am so pleased that I took the trouble to do this.  It was hard work digging out all the weeds, and I dug in lots of manure.  I wasn't sure about the shredded wood - the plants were buried underneath it at some point - but they look healthier than I have ever seen them before and it's definitely keeping down the weeds

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sunny lunch on a wet day! 2012 Eggs 154

Do you ever get bored with cooking?  Sometimes I do.  Each night Mr Lottie asks me, "What shall we have for lunch tomorrow?" and after cooking all my life, I find it harder and harder to get inspiration.

The forecast was for cold and rain, and more rain. I fancied something easy - a one pot cook up - so sent him off to the freezer to get a bag of bacon bits, and some bags of sunshine veggie  mixes which I made last summer.

We are really lucky living in a village with a traditional  butcher.  The meat is all locally sourced, and you can get lots of off cuts - like chunky bacon 'bits' for example - that you can't get in a supermarket.

 So it was no hardship to 'throw' in to my big saucepan, a bag of roasted pumpkin pieces, a bag of mixed roasted summer veggies which included peppers, different squashes and courgettes, green beans, tomatoes, and some potatoes - I added some green puy lentils too.
In went the big chunky smoked bacon pieces - and I left it to simmer for an hour or so.

Voila - job done!

My version of convenience food - and the reason I love my allotment!
A hearty meal for four people at a cost of £1 a head!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 27 hrs He: 21.5hrs 2012 Eggs: 148

Yesterday was a sunny  but really cold morning and rain was forecast - but I was eager to get up the plot and plant the last of the potatoes and finish tidying up that end of the plot before the rains came.
Of course my darling Mr Muscles Lottie came to help me.

My plan was to get up the rest of the ground protection/weed suppresant and plant the remaining spuds.  It took us over an hour to dig up couch grass roots - it's a never ending job up there but we keep at it religiously - and will have to all summer.
Shane had put up a chicken wire fence, so I took down our temporary one and stacked the heavy wood along the edge - we don't have anywhere to store it now.

 I took up all the frost protection covering the early potatoes and heaped up the earth in the first two rows. I also heaped up the rest of the rows yet again, as heavy rain had flattened them all.
As usual these last two rows were lined with newspaper before adding lots of rotted compost.  There is a bit of space left on the right, so I might use that for parsnips as they take a long time to germinate and grow.

Up until a few years ago - I leased the whole plot right down to the trees (you can see half of it here) 
Old age (how did that  happen) and illnesses, meant that I have had to do the sensible thing and give parts of it up.  I preferred to do that than let it go to rack and ruin.  Better to have just 150 feet and be able to keep up my standards and have it looking nice, don't you think?

So - quite an improvement on how it looked a week ago - well worth the back ache! 
 As this allotment is just for my own records, I am posting the following!
The compost in my green 'Darlek' plastic bin was just so beautiful after three years of composting.
I just had to take a wheelbarrow full home - why pay a fortune for compost when you can make your own.