Monday, 11 May 2009

Digging In

The weather is still being unaccountably glorious, and I've been spending my time at the allotment mostly weeding which is, frankly, not that thrilling to do never mind blog about! So be grateful I've spared you from the boredom of reading about yet more couch grass and aching hip bones.

I'm aware that it's been 10 days since my last posting so this is just a brief catch up really. I've decided that the Leeks have been in the ground long enough. Some of them have started to put up flower spikes which makes the centre of the leek weirdly solid when you cut into it. They've sort of been semi-successful. They didn't grow nearly as big as I wanted and have been in the ground almost a year which strikes me as being an unreasonable length of time but, for all their sins, I'm having another go this year and about 30 seedlings are looking long and spindly in the plastic-house. They can stay there for a bit longer yet, I'm in no hurry to plant them out - I've yet to decide where on the allotment they're going to go; the criteria is somewhere possibly not quite so shaded this time, where they can be left in peace for a very long time and where they're not going to interfere with any other planting.

My potatoes have been earthed up once and need to be done again. The row in the picture here are Maris's of some kind or another (Peer or Piper - can't remember which), but I do remember they're second earlies. The main crop, Desiree, are also about an inch or two above ground and should also be earthed up again. I expect I'll get round to it over the next week or so. The Maris's are immediately next to the right hand edge of the black plastic in the picture, and the Desirees are further over to the right, next to the border of the plot. And, yes, I did shove the hoe between the two rows after I took the picture so it's not currently as bad as it looks - promise!

The Broad Beans are doing very well indeed and (touch wood) don't seem to have been attacked by the blackfly yet, although this can only really be a matter of time. I'm growing more of them this year than last year as The Husband really likes them and I don't think I explored their full culinary potential last year.

The 400+ onions and garlic that were planted up on either side of winter are doing pretty well. I have to admit to having been very slack about weeding these guys - the picture shows where I've started doing the weeding at the top end of the rows but then lost the will to live. I intend to go back this afternoon and pick this up where I left off. Onions and garlic really REALLY object to sharing their beds with weeds and will sulkily not grow so well if there are any, so it's genuinely in my best interest to pull my finger (and the weeds) out. I'll have no-one to blame if I end up with nothing bigger than a spring onion if I don't.

The fruit patch is coming along nicely and I've been expanding it sideways (this just involves clearing more ground really, and is not that exciting to see so there's no pics). Not sure what I'm going to put in the newly cleared ground but it's always good to have some space. I fear that at least 4 of my raspberry canes haven't taken, which is a bit of a shame, and they'll have to replaced this autumn. The 46 strawberry plants have all got flowers on them so fingers crossed for a good crop this year. I've been pampering the Blueberries - not only are they each sitting in a pocket of ericaceous compost but they've also been fed with Azalea feed and are only watered with rainwater (tap water is too acidic - or is it alkali? can't remember). They've all got flowers on them but the early fruiting bush has the most - see?

What else? Oh yes, it was my birthday last month and some very good friends gave me an Apricot tree, which was lovely of them. Strictly speaking I'm not allowed to put full-size trees - or trees that will grow full-size - on the allotment, but I've got nowhere else to put this (I literally don't have the room in my garden at home). So I've decided to sneak this in, between the cherry tree and the fence at the end of the plot, and try and keep it pruned a bit so it doesn't get too large. I planted it yesterday and was a bit concerned to notice that, upon extracting it from its pot, it barely had any roots at all. I stuck it in the ground with some Growmore fertiliser anyway, and we'll just hope for the best. If it takes and starts to put out any leaves - at the moment it just looks like a bare stick - then I'll post some pictures.

I also applied for and received my free seeds from the BBC's Dig In campaign that they're currently running. Over a million packets of seeds were made available on a first-come first-served basis if you applied online or happened to be somewhere where the Dig In van was. In the envelope you get a packet each of Lollo Rossa lettuce, Butternut Squash, Gardener's Delight Tomatoes, Boltardy beetroot and Early Nantes carrots. I'm currently already growing Lollo Rossa lettuce and Boltardy beetroot, tomatoes won't work for me unless I have a greenhouse (which I don't) and, anyway, I'm experimenting with Vittoria ones, I grew Early Nantes carrots last year and they turned into comedy vegetables AND were eaten to death by carrot fly; for that reason this year I'm having a go with a variety called Resista which are meant to be resistant to carrot fly. So, in all honesty, I'm just having a go with the Butternut Squash seeds, to see what happens. Still, they were free - I may plant them up and give them away to friends, who knows?

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