Saturday, 23 February 2008

Getting busy!

Got Hubby to the plot today - it always seems like we get sooo much more done when he's there. While hubby got to work putting manure on the 'experimental early spud then will become pumpkins' bed, I sorted out the bed for the rhubarb and jostaberry bush. I shuffled them around to make better use of the space and put some of our link-a-bord from home around the edge to contain all the manure I put on as a mulch. You can see my fab huge bit of wool carpet that I got from a lady on freecycle that she had used to cover up her veg bed too.

We tried the other pile of communal manure today. It was totally different to the manure we originally used on the spuds as you can see by the diffence of colour in this pic! I'd read somewhere that manure with sawdust in isn't good as it does something bad to the nutrients (?? can't quite remember!) - well, the first pile was full of sawdust - hmmm - will just have to see how it goes. The manure we used today was dark and definately had straw in it - did look better quality/consistancy.

Next I moved the arch to over our entrance and I had bought a yellow climbing rose (Golden Parfum) from Wilcos for £1.99 to climb over it. The kids found and created the wobbily (but kind of 'kid' great) crazy-paved gap from bits of slab.

Yesterday I bought a blueberry bush as I tried blueberries properly for the first time the other day (VERY tasty), but as I've not got much room left to put it have filled a lovely pot that my Mother-in-Law gave me with ericacious compost and bunged it in there - looks very happy!

Yesterday I moved some new strawberries to the space between the loganberry and the blackberry for now. They won't be able to stay there forever, but will be fine for the time being. A man from up the hill came to get a barrow load of the ash from the massive bonfire we had in Nov. I asked him what it was for and he said 'Strawberries, potash, not gonna buy it when I can get it here for free'! So we've put a bit on ours too to see how it goes.

Finally I sowed a couple of rows of Early Nantes and one row of Parmex (little round ball type) carrots and covered with a plastic cloche to see if I can get an early crop.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A Chilly One!

So very cold at the allotment today. I really wanted to go as the frost and fog never cleared yesterday and I wanted to finish putting up the canes for the beans. I went today after lunch with the little'un and managed to neaten the edge of the path that runs along the end of my plot - couldn't be bothered to weed though, my hands were too cold and couldn't face all the docks and bramble roots - a job for another day.
I got the final canes up for the beans and if I do say so myself I did a good job. The frame is really solid (just watch the first gentle wind knock it over!) - even so I'll probably knock a couple of posts in to make sure it is totally secure.
And that's about it. Not a massively productive day but at least I got there. The most typical thing was that the sun managed to break through just as I padlocked the gate!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Another lovely afternoon at the plot. I left Hubby at home making me some frames to keep off the pesky carrot fly and set about clearing out the greenhouse ready for all the seedlings to fill it in spring and all the lovely toms and other greenhousy veg. I put a few slabs inside to stand on and weed suppressing membrane for the edges without slab on and it looks great. Roll on the warmer days!
These two little fellas are the only remnants of a failed set of seedlings last year that was decimated by some 'as yet unknown' creature. They've lasted the winter months so far and this week the plucky little fellas have shown that they CAN do it! On the right is my minute purple sprouting broccoli and on the left a cauliflower!

My fruit bushes seem to be waking up too. This is my loganberry and there are buds on my blackcurrant too.

View from the greenhouse door.

And finally here are my robust little tomato seedlings. They are a little bit leggy (well I did sow them early and they've had to stretch for light on the windowsill) but I still think they're coming along nicely and seem happy enough. I'm going to put them outside in a mini plastic greenhouse once the frost is cleared in the mornings and bring them in again at night for a while until it warms up enough to put them in the greenhouse.

Friday, 15 February 2008

I went to the plot on Wed afternoon for 3 hours in the sunshine - what absolute bliss! I got loads done: moved some onion seedlings, prepared the bean bed, organized a few miss-placed brassicas (even found a baby P S brocolli and a cauli! whoo-hoo!), laid some disgarded lino along the path to the shed as the mud makes it slippery and not fun to walk along (really want to sort out the paths), and did loads of other bits and pieces. Smashing! My resident robin chirped at me non stop to chuck him (her?) something to eat or else get out of the way so he can have a rummage for himself!

At home I've now begun to sow in earnest. I've enough seeds to open a shop so may as well give 'early' a go. Tom seeds are coming along nicely and really seem to have liked being potting up much deeper to hide their slightly spindley stems. Started off my peppers and chillis and a few other seeds (some flowers too) and all seem happy enough in the heated propagator.

Monday, 4 February 2008

And here they are!

9 jars including a big jar in the fridge. Gotta love Delia!,1223,RC.html

I used 3lbs of seville oranges (rather than 2 as this is the size bags the oranges came in) and adjusted the weights of all the other ingredients. I used preserving sugar rather than granulated as that's what I had in the cupboard. I also grated all the peel in my food processor rather than sliced by hand. Worked fine, though as we don't like too much peel, I only put half the peel in the pan and the rest in the muslin with the pips etc. I will probably try slicing it next time to see the difference.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Ryton Potato Day

What fun! It was like a pick and mix at a sweet shop! To be honest I think next year I will only get my spuds from here so I can get EXACTLY what and how many I want. I now have even more spuds!!

I bought: 10 Sarpo Mira; 5 Highland Burgundy Red; 5 Salad Blue; 5 Pink Fir Apple; and 5 Mimi. All very exciting!

They also had a stall where you can bring along packets of saved seeds or even commercial ones and swap them for those that someone else brought along. A good day all round (despite all the coughing and sniffing around me :oD!)!

Came home and had a real urge to make Seville Orange Marmalade... and so I did!.. Still to bottle it up (still waiting for the dishwasher to do it's thing with the jars), but first tasting are fab. Not as sweet as shop bought, but a much richer taste mmmmmmm!

Saturday, 2 February 2008


....have arrived! I've got them all chitting in my bedroom (all thousands of them! :o) ) I wanted to try at least 5 different varieties and they only came in 2.5kg bags so what can you do? AND I'm off to Ryton tomorrow for the potato fair/day thingy so will no doubt come back with a fair few more, hmmmm!? Sooooo exciting though! We love spuds and although I have got far more than I need, we do get through at least a bag of spuds a week, more at early potato time, so I'll squeeze as many as I can in at the plot and the rest I'll give away.

Also sowed my first seeds of the new year. Mostly toms of many more types than I need (again!), and I can't seem to help but sow too many of each. I'm sure I'll be able to find a few foster homes for them if need be.

It was cold on the plot today (I had on about 6 layers and legwarmers), but not windy or wet so actually really nice. I did a bit of weeding and sorting, not much really, it was just nice to be there.

This is the new Tayberry bed I put in a few weeks ago. I've split the plot in half with it and am not totally sure I like that yet. I will have to see, I can always move them next winter if I need to.

I've also got around to creating a cage to protect my gooseberries with the Build-a-Balls I got for Christmas. The idea behind them is sound enough I think, though the balls don't seem all that secure. We'll see if they hold together.
Finally, just a couple of pics to show Feb on the plot looking from either end! x


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