Wednesday, May 31, 2006
There were a load of small comfrey seedlings sprouting so I have lifted a lot of them and dropped the roots into water and will transplant some of those to the comfrey patch. Once I had cleaned up that patch I transplanted some Cos Lettuce into it. Need to get some more seed set off to keep the rotation going.
The few sweet corns that have sprouted and a squash and a pumpkin plant have been planted into the hot bed. I have also planted a load of sweet corn seeds and squash seeds directly into the hot bed. As Charles on the allotment next to us is away during the week at the moment I gave his tomato and courgette plants a good watering with the hose (no hose pipe ban here!).
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
After all that rain last week I managed to get down to the allotment for a few hours yesterday. Well, the weeds were springing up all over so the onion and bean bed got a good going over with the hoe as did the comfrey bed on the new allotment. The potato bed at the top of the allotment had sprouted well so I earthed up and then put on a straw mulch to try and supress the weeds. I'll follow up with the potato bed you can see at the back of this picture when it dries up again. Some Kale plants had sprouted in amongst the potatoes so I dug a few up and transplanted about half a dozen of them. The white sprouting broccoli has now passed its best so that is on the list for pulling up and digging over.
The brassicas and beans seemed to be doing well although the runner bean leaves looked a bit brown, maybe from the cold turn in the weather. The asparagus is still doing well and I mulched two fo the new beds with confrey leaves and stalks. It acts as a good feed when it rots down. The comfrey rotter tube needed topping up and was refilled to the top again, there is about a pint of fluid in the collecting vessel so that will need transferring to a sealed bottle soon.
Friday, May 26, 2006
The only sunny day of the week so did we get down to the allotment? We'll, no actually we went on a trip with the Linton On Ouse Garden Club. It was a short coach trip up to Stockton on Tees to visit the Peter Barrat garden centre. It is a very neat and tidy garden centre where the plants seem to be well cared for. The photo to the right shows how well plants are displayed. You get the feeling that somebody cares about the appearance of the place and they don't just plonk plants down higgledy piggledy, there is some planning going on to get a good display. The photograph is of Aqualegias, those ones with the face that turns up and the colour combination looks good.
After lunch at the garden centre it was a short trip down the road to Butterfly World. Spent quite a bit of time in there a took lots of photographs of leaves where a butterfly had been. Although the Pentax Optio is good in regards to the optics it is very slow to react to you pressing the shutter release. I fancy a Canon EOS 350 D as I really miss the feel of a good SLR camera. Can't really justify spending in the region of £500 on a camera though at the moment. so I'll have to try and make allowance for the slow reaction time on the Pentax.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Just as a reminder of sunny days I have included a photo of the magnolia tree in bloom I took a couple of days ago.
Friday, May 19, 2006
As it was wet this afternoon I spent some time updating my website and have added some photographs of orchids that I took at Keukenhof in late April. You can find them at http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/jonzpage/GARDEN.HTM you can find them about halfway down the page.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
When we got to Spain there was only time for a very short bus ride tour of Bilbao and about an hour to get some refreshments and do a very quick walking tour. Bilbao is a very pleasant city with numerous parks with flowers in bloom. The Railway station for the Santander and Bilbao railway is very ornate as seen in the photograph. Many of the buildings are interesting and also ornate outside as well as inside. The creamy yellow building is the Cafe Boulevard and is amazingly ornate inside with coloured glass windows and mirrors, fancy gold leafed ceiling mouldings. The cup of cocoa and egg custard was good as well. Another interesting looking eating place was on the Nuevo square. Very ornate exterior and tiled inside. The waiter is always on duty although his posture is a bit wooden. As we wandered around we came across the pilgrim trail de Santiago at the base of the climb up to Begonia. No time to climb up there but we did follow the trail round to the church visited by the pilgrims. The visit was over all too quickly and we were back on to the coach heading back to the ferry for more dolphin and whale watching.
So what had been happening at the allotment whilst we were away. With the rain weeds were springing up so it was back to the fork for the thistles and get in there with the hoe to deal with the rows of onions. I planted some of the Dwarf runner bean plants between the cabbages to act as nitrogen feeders for the cabbages and hoed around the cabbages before putting the wire mesh back round them to keep the birds off. As I was hoeing a Robin kept coming in very close and grabbing any insects as they were disturbed by the hoe. As the compost heap had settled a bit I did three barrow loads of muck to top up the heap. We'll probably turn it over in a couple of weeks time just to keep the rotting process going. The Broad beans have put on a couple of inches of growth as have all the potatoes whilst we have been away. I think they are probably about at that maximum point where you can't get any more earth on them. I'll probably put a picture up tomorrow.
There is rather a lot of the white sprouting broccoli waiting to be picked and I went home with a bucketful and that was just from two heads. So teatime was a very quick vegetable curry using a tin of curry dahl chick peas, a tin of veg curry with some fresh broccoli cut up into it with some chopped ginger to take away the brassica notes. After heating it was piled onto a naan bread.
The next dish will be a spicy black eye bean and broccoli soup and then the rest will be blanched, bagged up and frozen for later use.
Friday, May 12, 2006
When I got there it was really quiet and peaceful, just the odd bird singing and flapping about. I started cutting Comfrey and soon had enough to mulch the runner beans and put some between the rows of cabbage. I checked the collector on the comfrey rotter and it was a third full and also a similar amount had collected from the stuff Ann had set up in a tall flower tub sat in a washing up bowl. When this was added to the bottle it was about 2/3 full. So I changed the collecting bottle and brought the bottle with fluid home to use on the plants at home. The tomatoes in the back yard will be needing feed soon because there is a flower on one of the plants already.
As it was still dry I decided to water the plants and did a full round of the broad beans, onions, cabbage, runner beans, parsnips, carrots, fennel and beetroot with the watering can. This afternoon saw a massive downpour, lightning and hailstones!
There were some large infestations of goose grass so that pulled up and placed into the rotting bath. Time for breakfast so I went home had breakfast only to find that we can't stay with my son tonight on our way down to Portsmouth for the P&O ferry to Bilbao as he has no running water. So we'll drive down tomorrow instead without calling to see him. We'll maybe call in to see him on the way back home.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The next job was a bit smelly. We have some comfrey and weeds rotting down in a tub of water. I used some of this vile smelling concoction mixed with water to do a foliar feed on the runner beans and cabbages. I'll be glad when there is enough concentrate from the comfrey rotter to work with. It has the advantage of being a lot less smelly.
We are off to Bilbao for a short visit. P&O again but from Portsmouth this time and it takes a bit longer to get there! So, I expect a few jobs at the allotment will have arisen by the time we get back.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
In the meantime the potatoes have shown their heads above the surface and have needed to be earthed up a couple of times you might just be able to make them out in the rows at the back. The onion bed is doing well and has been gone over with a hoe to deal with small weeds that have been popping up. The potatoes in the boxes have been doing really well and need earthing up again after only two days. The first earlies are now nearly three boards high and the second earlies are actually at three boards high. We are rapidly running out of soil to fill the boxes with! We'll also need to get some more boards. I'll top up with more soil tomorrow.
There are some short rows of cabbage and runner beans behind the potato boxes with asparagus behind them with one solitary globe artichoke plant in amongst the asparagus. In the foreground are some rows of Florence Fennel, and Celeriac and Beetroot.
The white sprouting brocolli has done so well that some of the heads actually look like cauliflowers.
The crop of Garlic is absolutely amazing it looks like a bed of leeks but no it really is a bed of garlic. Just to the right of it you can see the comfrey bed on our allotment. Once we have more space cleared some of it will move to the communal comfrey bed. I have set up a pipe to stuff comfrey into so the concentrated fluid can be collected during rotting down. It is amazing it just seems to swallow handfuls of comfrey every day. The fluid that comes out looks a bit like "Tomato feed" and it works well as such. The fluid is high in Potash and Nitrogen and makes a wonderful foliar feed when mixed at the rate 1 capful to a gallon of water. Comfrey is so deep rooted that it pulls nutrient up from fairly deep levels.
The comfrey rotter is built like the diagram with a bottle of water to act as a a weight to push the comfrey down the tube.
A section of plastic drain pipe.
Plastic milk bottle to act as a catching funnel
Plastic collecting bottle to collect fluid.
Next to the onions is a bed of peas under a cloche and the bed continues on with more peas planted yesterday without the benefit of cloche to speed it up. This should give us a second cropping of peas.
After a funny winter, sometimes cold sometimes warm and then a cold snap after a warm spell we have got the onion sets in and rotavated some of the straw mulch in and it is only 25 April. My wife invested in a Mantis Tiller quite small, fairly light and revs at a high speed. It certainly gets the job done. I used with the border trimmer to tidy up the edges of the path and then fitted the rotovating blades. It is a very simple job to change blades, just pull out the retaining pins, slide off the blades you are using and put on the new blades by rotating to match up the flat parts, slide the blades on and put the pins in.
The plum tree is in full blossom and looking very pretty. The Berberis Darwinii is also looking amazing with the orange blossoms. Some of the paving needs a bit of sorting out and a few weeds that are showing need dealing with. The pots have collected a bit of weed as well and some need topping up with compost. That means lifting them out of the pots after a good watering, throw in some new compost to raise the level of the plant and then get as much compost as possible in down the sides of the rootball.
The first early and second early potatoes have been planted fairly close in the linkaboard boxes that have been given a dose of horse manure and compost before putting the potatoes in. They have then been covered with a mix of compost
and soil and will be topped up with soil as green shoots emerge and need earthing up.
The asparagus bed has been mulched with a covering of some of the straw cover on other parts of the bed. The new asparagus plants have also been planted. So in that case it is time to gate on with moving some of the paving.
Seeing as the plot is fairly well advanced we booked a few days off to visit the Keukenhof in Holland. Travelling over from Hull by P&O ferries on one of their mincruises. The fare includes transfer by bus from the port of Rotterdam to Keukenhof and back to the ship. With the new faster ferries you leave Hull later, get in earlier and return later making a lot more time available for visits like Keukenhof.
As we dug over each area we covered it with a straw mulch to suppress weeds. You can see an area that has been mulched in the picture behind the linkaboard square and next to the Kale.
The overgrown plot next door belongs to an elderly gentleman who is having difficulty and has now been mown and trimmed by his son in law. He made a visit just after I took this photograph.
Preparations also started for next years curcubrit bed. A containment area was built and as manure became available we started to fill it. the first layers were of horse stable manure a mix of droppings on wood shavings that were fairly mature. In April we got cattle manure and topped up almost to the top with it and then finished off with some less mature horse and wood shaving manure. The whole thing was then covered with a tarpaulin to stop leaching from the rain falling on the heap and let the manure mature a bit longer. The Butternut squash, courgette and pumpkin seeds have now been planted at home and will go in in a couple of weeks time. The brassicas next to the enclosure are White Sprouting Broccoli plants. Over the last week we have had several feeds from these plants which are now probably one and half times higher than you see them in this photo. In front of the enclosure you can see a couple of plastic cloches. These were used to start off some leek plants.
If ever there was a good value packet of seeds it must surely be a packet of leek seeds. You get a large number of seeds for a reasonable price and then provided your ground is fertile you get a massive crop of leeks that sees you right through the winter.