Tuesday, 21 April 2009

How to avoid Rickets

Is the weather just as gorgeous where you are at the moment? This time last year it was bucketing down with rain but this year, this year I've already got tan lines! Admittedly this has caught me out and I can't find my sunscreen so I'm having to play melanoma roulette until I get some more. But isn't the sunshine great?

The last few weeks have mostly been spent generally doing the weeding and covering with black plastic in readiness for the transplant of seedlings from the plastic-house. There's still more to be done but a fair bit's covered now. I also managed to inveigle The Husband to come along and do more strimming and a spot of digging - plus I thought he was living too much of a troglodytic teenage boy lifestyle, stuck within four walls, staring at a computer screen, and was getting deprived of Vitamin D. So he needed to get out into the sunshine before he developed rickets.

Here, then, is proof that The Husband does occasionally go out of the house in the hours of daylight. Actually he's doing a totally fabulous job of strimming and now the allotment looks properly loved and cared for.

Other stuff I've done this week is to construct a bamboo wigwam with hairy string in between and around the poles for my sweet peas to grow up. I've not grown these from seed but bought some trays of wee seedlings to grow on and then plant out, all in the same colour, dark purple. They were quite pot-bound by the time I planted them out, ripping them apart to spread them around evenly, so we'll see if they survive such brutal treatment. I've never grown them before so it's all an experiment really.

The sweet pea wigwam is in the fruit area of the allotment (is there a proper name for that? I mean, everyone knows what an 'orchard' is, but is there an equivalent name for where you grow your fruit bushes and plants?)

We've now got 45 strawberry plants in the allotment (and about another 20 in a couple of tubs at home), and they've started flowering already which is great, because that's where the berries come from! Yay!

Also the gooseberries are doing beautifully - there are two yellow types (which seem to be growing upright) and one red kind (which is more sort of horizontal). There are three blackcurrant bushes which are also happy. I pruned them hard in March and plunged the offcuts into a couple of pots and they've all taken which means there will be an extra 8 plants next year!



So there we are then. Next post I'll have an update of what's going on in the plastic-house.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Spuds Are Go!

The weather's perked up again and time is relentlessly moving on, flowers are bursting open and birds are shouting from every decent vantage point. If you're not a gardener or veg grower you may not be aware but March and April are quite possibly the busiest months of the year.

I've been popping down to the allotment 2 or 3 times a week for a couple of hours at a time mainly just to do weeding and clear the ground in preparation for The Seedlings That Are To Come. I'm going with the same system I used last year which is to sow seeds in little pots and keep them cosseted and fussed over in the plastic-house at the end of my garden. When they're big enough they'll get transferred to their final places in the allotment. This method ensures I know what is vegetable seedling and what is weed.

What I am doing slightly differently this year is using the inner cardboard tube from finished loo rolls as much as possible rather than little plastic pots. This has involved me demanding increased ejection of bodily waste so that I get enough tubes for my purposes. The Husband is being remarkably tolerant of my cries of "poo more frequently!" since, as he retorts, the only possible retort to that is, "well, feed me more then", he retorted. And he's never been one to turn down an extra helping of tuck. As he says, he's just one man, trying to do his bit for the planet.

My first early spuds have been quietly chitting away in the downstairs loo (that's 'chitting' not...no, never mind). Gardening lore states that your spuds should go into the ground at Easter but it truly hadn't dawned on me until I read it on the allotments forum I frequent that Easter is a moveable feast so last year the spuds went into the ground at the endish of April because that's when Easter was last year. This year it falls on the weekend from 10 to 13 April which is the weekend after next, so, really, spuds should go in any time now.

As this is the single hardest job on the allotment, I asked The Husband if he would come along and help me dig two long trenches across the width of the plot for sticking the spuds into. If I'd done this myself it would have probably taken a good couple of hours spread over two days to do it but, with his help, we dug the trenches and bunged in the spuds in half the time! Yay!

So that was all that got done today but, fear not, things are coming along apace in the plastic-house. Regard the leeks and sprouts seedlings in their new loo roll homes.

And as I'm typing this I'm also watching live footage of the ridiculous protests in London against the G20 summit. I truly can't abide these people - while there may be a small kernel of folks for whom a protest like this is meaningful and who want to make a statement about climate change or Palestine or CND or whatever, for all the others it's just an excuse for causing trouble. And now they're starting fires outside the Bank of England - well, that's going to do wonders for their carbon footprints isn't it? I can't help wondering how many of the so-called Climate Change protestors actually walked to the venue, and how many took a car or a bus or a train or even a plane. When I see these tossers on the box I really can't help being reminded of Rik Mayall's portrayal of 'radical student' Richey Rich in the Young Ones - middle class kids trying to be 'hard 'n' street 'n' cool'. I really don't think smashing the windows of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland while being egged on by the paparazzi is really going to help many polar bears now, is it? At least I'm trying to grow my own food - what are they doing? /rant mode off/