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?


  1. I haven't got anything in at the allotment yet, all my seedlings are still in the greenhouse at home. It sounds like you will be getting lots of fruit this year. I've got a cherry tree too and got the grand sum of one cherry off it last year, I'm hoping for better things this year.

  2. Jo - well, one cherry is one more than I got last year!! I'm hoping for more than that this year, if I can keep the birds off them.

  3. Love little piglets but I wouldn't be able to cope with them going to market!

    All sites have their fair share of miseries!

  4. Mrs Jones,

    Love your blog, and pigs. Where can I find out more about them.

    Perhaps you will agree to be my spy...?

  5. I agree, once its in the sites rules and the plot owner is practicing responsible husbandry, what is the problem??

    My spuds are in and the work diging the trenches was certainly muscle building and calorie burning, so no complaints from me :)

    Good luck with your soft fruit this year, I am still to buy my plants :(

  6. Hi there, first of all I hope you feel better very soon. Secondly thanks for the comment on my blog. I am ashamed to say I haven't been visiting all my blogs that I follow as often as I should, it's just so busy.
    I envy your fruit trees, I haven't any trees but I do have soft fruit. I know what you mean about getting into the swing of getting to the allotment, I felt the same and it's only the greenhouse that got me there so early. I have lot's growing at home in the little mini greenhouses, but then I had to transfer some to the allotment one.
    Anyway I'd better get on lots to do !! have a good rest and get better. M x


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