Friday, 30 April 2010

Don't Panic!!!

Two days after my last posting it was my birthday (I've posted about it in detail on my other, Mrs Jones, blog) and I had a very jolly time indeed, even though I had a slightly scratchy throat all day.

The next morning I woke up with a positively itchy throat and feeling like I was wearing an internal balaclava that weighed a ton.  "Dammit," I thought, "A cold".  But this, my friends, is no ordinary cold, this is the M&S of colds.  It's been going on a week, I've been coughing up my lungs all day every day until I have no lungs left.  I've been incredibly tired.  I must be so dehydrated from the amount of gunk pouring out of my nose (sorry to be so graphic, but there you are....). Everything is completely exhausting.  Hanging out the laundry requires me to have a sit down to recover for about half an hour, and going shopping will knock me back for half a day.

The bottom line is that I'm trying not to panic about the allotment.  I've still not managed to get my spuds in yet, and the grass will be knee-high by now and in desperate need of a good strimming.  I despair when I see how beautiful other people's plots are looking (like Ali's, for instance) when mine just looks, to all intents and purposes, abandoned.

Trouble is I'm just not well enough at the moment to do anything about it.  I could probably get down there and do a bit of light weeding but then I'd have to plonk myself down in my chair there to recover for twice as long as it took me to do the work. And it needs so much more than 'light weeding', now that the weather's warmed up and we've had a small amount of rain.  I've told myself that when I'm up to it I'm just going to have to invest a decent amount of time into knocking the plot into shape, but even if I'm feeling better soon, I'm not going to be able to get there until the end of next week as I'm off to visit the in-laws in South Wales from Sunday......

My stepdad has very kind said recently that he would give me a hand at the plot and I may just have to take him up on his offer.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A tail of three piggies....

P is for piggie

Digging the trenches for the potatoes is coming along quite shamefully slowly.  I manage to inveigle The Lovely Husband to come down to the allotment after lunch on Monday this week to help with some digging, with the proviso that we went to the pub afterwards - a plan!!

It was a beautiful day (as they have all been this week), and 2 hours of digging in the sunshine was rewarded with another couple of hours in a pub garden where I was eventually joined by my good friend C who brought her three kids with her - nothing like training them up from an early age!  All five of us then decided to head off to a local curry house for our evening meal.  I think we eventually rolled home at about 10.30pm.  Now THAT'S how a day should be spent.  I'm not sure why I'm sharing this on my allotment blog when it really belongs on my other, blathery, blog but they're both mine and I'll write about what I want.  See if I don't.

But at least the piggies had come out to lounge in the sun and rootle around in their enclosure, so I took the requisite photos:

Their enclosure

We stood there just watching them going about their snuffly, grunty business for ages - they were absolutely adorable.  I didn't like to think of their eventual fate.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Mid-April update

Because I start off all my seedlings in the plastic-houses at home, I don't spend much time down at the allotment at this time of year, so that's why there's not been much in the way of updates.  All the work's happening at the end of my garden at home and, frankly, the allotment can just get on with it until I'm ready to start transplanting stuff down there.

I realise I'm making work for myself because, if I was sensible, I'd do a few hours per week just to keep the weeds down but, let's face it, I'm lazy as hell.  Which is a bit weird really, because I genuinely love it when I'm down there - it's just getting there in the first place that I find a bit tricky. A bit like going swimming.  Sort of.

Anyway, I went down yesterday, just to see what was going on but mostly because the PIGGIES HAVE ARRIVED!!!  Eli, our Steward, sent an email out saying that 3 piglets were now on one of the plots and we were all to be careful of the electric fence, etc.  This, of course, was enough to get me down there to check them out - I mean, who doesn't adore baby animals?

Sadly, though, they were hiding in their shelter when I turned up, camera in hand, so I'm afraid there's no pictures just yet, but don't despair, I won't be denied!

I had a quick chat with Eli about them as she was digging at the end of her plot.  She said that she had effectively knocked the community pig project on the head because there were too many objections from a handful of plotholders, but as the keeping of small livestock was allowed in the allotment regulations, one of the pro-pig plotholders had decided to go ahead and put some on his plot instead, as his own project.  Feathers have already been ruffled by this so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.  I have to say I don't object to anyone keeping or growing anything on their plot as long as it's within the regulations, so all power to Gary and his piggies.

My plot is looking very sorry for itself:

Very post-winter.  The half nearest the shed is semi-covered with black weed suppressant fabric, the uncovered side (nearest the greenhouse) is where the last of the cabbages and kale were, which got dug up as they had bolted.

The horizontal strip of black weed suppressant fabric (going across the middle of the picture) is where I've decided the potatoes are going to go this year, so after the picture was taken, I removed the fabric and used it to cover more of the ground near the shed.  I'm hoping The Lovely Husband will come and dig the trenches for me, like last year, as it's so much quicker.  This year I'm just growing maincrops - Desiree and International Kidney (aka Jersey Royals).  I've also got Sturon Giant onion sets to go in but I'm not sure where.  I'm sure I'll find a home for them.

The raspberries are putting out runners like billy-o, so I spent a good half an hour digging most of them up, and then decided it was time the last of my root crops should come out of the ground.

There were 2 medium sized and 2 giant parsnips:

I know from experience that the 2 largest would be very woody and unusable, so into the black dalek they went - the other 2 came home and will be going into Parsnip and Carrot Soup.  I also dug up some baby carrots that I sowed as late as I could last autumn, as an experiment, none of them are bigger than your thumb but I forgot to get a picture.  They're going into the soup as well.

Finally, there was the last of my Leeks:

I can't seem to get my leeks to grow very large.  This variety is Musselburgh which, as far as I know, is your bog-standard leek, but none of mine have ever grown thicker than my thumb (lots of thumbs in this post, for some reason....).  Still, they made a delicious Leek, Potato and Bacon Soup for lunch today.

Next post I promise I'll put up a picture of the seedlings in the plastic-houses, and give you a list of what they are, but everything (apart from the various lettuces) is a bit wee at the moment.

I'm cautiously optimistic that I might actually get some decent soft fruit this year.  Last year I put in about nine raspberries, a loganberry, a tayberry, three blackcurrants, 3 different varieties of gooseberry, 3 different varieties of blueberry and about 70 strawberry plants.  We had a lot of loganberries, quite a lot of strawberries and a handful of blueberries and raspberries.  The tayberry was a disaster and I'll probably dig it up this year.  Because you prune the blackcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries hard when you first plant them (to force them to put their energy into making roots rather than fruit), you don't get much, if anything at all, the first year.

This is now the second year and the blackcurrants are covered in little flower buds, each of which will, hopefully, turn into a blackcurrant:

If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you might be able to make them out.  All three plants look like this, and when I pruned them hard last year, I plunged the cuttings into pots and they've all taken as well, so I have an additional 8 plants to go in this autumn.

The loganberry, which was a surprise hit last year and highly prolific, is sprouting out all over the place and also putting out runners underground, in the manner of raspberries.  But I'm leaving these to grow as the berries were so fantastic last year I want as many as possible this year.

The gooseberries also have little flower buds starting - I did take a picture but it was horribly out of focus so I'm not showing you that.  Fingers crossed I actually get some berries later in the year and, if I do, I'll show you them then.

Last autumn I planted a small orchard at the top of my plot and I'm thrilled to say that they've all taken and are all starting to put out leaves.  Rather sadly though, come mid-May I have to remove all the blossoms from the apples, plum and pear trees so that, as with the berries, they can concentrate on growing roots rather than fruit, so 2011 will be the soonest I can hope to have those.

But I did put a cherry in a couple of  years ago and that, I'm thrilled to say, is absolutely encrusted with little flower buds, hopefully each of which will turn into a cherry:

Cherry Tree flower buds close up.

Pear, var. 'Concorde'.

Apple - I forget which of the two this is.  It's either the Egremont Russet eater or the Bountiful cooker.  Sorry, that's a bit rubbish, isn't it?  Must try harder...

I did take a picture of the Victoria Plum but, again, it was out of focus, so next time.

Anyway, that's the update for the moment - it's all go out there, isn't it?