Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Quick catch up

Oh, look, I know I'm slack at doing updates here but, you know, that's the way I roll sometimes, homies....

I have, actually, managed to, like, do a few hours down the allotment over the last few days, yeah? *flicks hair in desultory manner* so you can stop getting all judgey on me 'cos stuff is being done although painfully slowly.

Mind you (serious point here), it's the start of the new digging season and having spent the last few months sat on our fat arses watching telly and eating chocolates in the warm (if we're sensible, that is), the last thing you want to do is rush outside, dig frantically for several hours, put your back out, swear a lot and vow never to go down the allotment again.  Take it easy, people.  An hour here, an hour there, build up to it.  Let's face it, you're never going to get the upper hand with the weeds, the buggers will always come back, unless you napalm them and the committee's not going to like that now, are they?

So I'm easing myself into it, and am concentrating on my fruit patch which has got very weedy indeed over the winter, and because I hadn't covered it with weed suppressing fabric, I've got a bit of a job on my hands.  I find the easiest way for me to dig and weed is actually to sit down on the ground - I don't get on with bending over all the time - and this works for me.  It also gets me very close to the earth (I mean physically, not in some dippy spiritual manner - I'm not a hippy, you know!) which means I was able to spot that my rather fabulously prolific Loganberry has put out runners underground that are just breaking through.  Loganberries were a complete revelation last year - a cross between blackberries and raspberries, I had about 5 times more fruit from a single Loganberry bush than the 8 or so raspberry bushes that it's growing beside.  Brilliant!

I've also planted a small rhubarb crown earlier this week, can't remember the variety, something-or-other Champagne.  The Lovely Husband is partial to rhubarb, and I don't mind it so am happy to find space for it.

That's the only thing I've planted out so far, but seedlings are starting to emerge in the plastic-houses at home.  So far there's leeks, spring onions, brussels sprouts, green curly kale, that black kale (cavallo nero?  is that it?  You know the one I mean, the one that grows more like an aspidistra and less like Side Show Bob), Little Gem, Salad Bowl and Lollo Rossa lettuce that have all come up.  Sown but yet to appear are beetroot and red cabbage.  I've also sown basil and coriander but it might be a bit early for them.  Oh yes, a couple of courgette seeds got sown this morning as well. I've got onion sets waiting to go in and the potatoes will go in very shortly.  I'm only growing two varieties of maincrop this year - red Desirees and the delightfully named International Kidney (which, if they were grown on Jersey would be Jersey Royals) - which don't need chitting (which only benefits first and second earlies).

I had a chat with the lovely Eli who has bravely taken on the mantle of site steward and she said that it's not been finalised about having pigs on the site yet and people have raised questions, such as what would happen if foot and mouth erupted again, and so on.  I must admit I'd completely forgotten about there being pigs on the site. I will probably not take part, for the same reasons that I decided not to take part in the chicken project.  I think sharing responsibility for looking after animals has the potential for being quite stressful, so I'd rather not get involved.  Plus I'm sure I'd get too fond of them to want to eat them at the end of the day.  But I'll go and make friendly oinking noises at them as I'm passing.

That's it for now, sorry for the lack of pictures, I forgot to take my camera but, frankly, there's not that much to see down there just now.

Hope you've all managed to get out now it seems the weather's cheering up a bit....

Friday, 5 March 2010

Spring is definitely on its way....


Today was sublimely gorgeous.  More than a little chilly in the shade but the sunshine was really warm and the sky was as blue as blue can be.  So I did what any sensible person would do and spent an hour down at the allotment.

Our allotment steward sends out a monthly email newsletter and March's edition arrived yesterday.  It seems, rather sadly, that the local yoof have been entering the site in the wee hours and doing whatever it is you would do at that time in the pitch black in the middle of winter (or, rather, early Spring).  The newsletter said some plots had been damaged so I thought I might as well trot along and just see if everything was hunky dory.

I was the only person there and the chickens were very excited to see me - they all rushed up to the fence of their enclosure in a great clucking flurry (be careful how you say that....) and I was rather saddened to have to tell them that I couldn't do anything for them.  They watched me with their accusatory beady eyes as I passed by and then they scuttled off when they realised I wasn't going to give them any food. Rather excitingly, it seems that because the chicken project has gone so well, there's talk of having pigs on site now as well!!

There has been a lot of activity at the site over the last few weeks.  The newbies have got all enthusiastic and come and dug everything over, and it all looks well-worked and anticipatory.  I couldn't see any obvious damage to anyone's plot and I was relieved, but not too surprised, to see that mine was untouched.  I don't have a padlock on my shed so that no-one has to break anything to get into it to see there's nothing to nick from it anyway.  I keep all my 'good' stuff (petrol-strimmer and petrol) at home and bring it when I need it.

Everything is still mostly dormant but there are some signs of emergence - my cherry tree has new buds on it:

Cherry Tree buds (it's a bit out of focus but I was having a few problems with the camera this morning - or it might have been my eyes!)
And as I was wandering around the site, I spotted this emerging rhubarb which looked like a heart:

The black weed suppressant fabric that I use a lot of had been blown around a bit so that took some straightening out and pinning down, and then I decided to tackle the Moving Of The Dalek.

The black Dalek compost maker bin thing is very slightly cone-shaped and has no base on it, so once it's filled to your satisfaction and the compost has started to be made at the bottom, there comes a time when you have to lift off the whole thing so that you can get to the compost more easily.  The little doors at the bottom don't really work very well - it's easier to shift the whole thing.  You then have to fork the top layer of stuff (which is the newest and unlikely to be rotted down very much) back into the dalek to form the new base layer.  You can then use the compost on the soil.  I forked a load into a trub and used it as a mulch on my raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.

That was about it down there for today.  I was out in the brilliant sunshine and sharp, fresh air for an hour and it felt fabulous.  More seeds got sown at home later on in the afternoon but before I left, I decided I had to take a picture of this particularly atmospheric shed on the site: