Saturday, 28 March 2009

Parsnip Progress

The parsnips are starting to sprout.


Today we sowed the seed potatoes (all 77 of them!). In the spud-bed-to-be we found garlic seedlings. I don't know whether they will make it to adulthood, but we thought we might as well give it a go and so I moved some to the bed under one of the step-over apples. They seemed happy enought at first but over the next few hours went a little floppy - hopefully they'll perk up!

The spud beds got a dig over and the strawy manure mixed in. I then marked out the rows and sowed them from side to side in long rows rather than short 'across the bed' rows like last time. I got single rows of Red Duke of York, Swift, Kestrel, Romano and Valor and two rows of Pink Fir Apple. I still have well over 100 left :oS so will probably sow some in bags or tubs at home too.

The left-overs!!!

The boy's pal on a plot next to ours has just had a raised bed made up for him. This meant that the boy then really wanted a bed of his own to dig (something he has shown no interest in - despite my encouragement for the last year and a half!). While on one hand I think it is brilliant, on the other hand the bed was spoken for for other veg . Dunno where my parsnips or red onions will go now! :o(
Anyway, as the spuds were demanding all my attention, I showed him where the bed was and said that 'if he really wanted it he will need to look after it or I will need plant my veg in it - here's a fork!' and left him to it. Well, I think it was the best thing I could have done! Up until now even with me saying I'll help him dig, even sorting him some link-a-bords, he never spent more time on it than to sow some seeds. However, TODAY he dug it over, weeded it properly and put up a little wigwam for peas ready for next time we go (with the minimum amount of help needed to put the net on it). I'm really proud of him! The girlie turned up a half hour later and I gave her what was left of the bed and she dug hers too! Brilliant!

The PSB has at last bloomed!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Wind.....The Wiiiinnnndddd!

....blew out more panes from my greenhouse :o( I've now run out of spare glass so any more breakages means a trip to the shop for some more. The replacements were a fraction too big and so couldn't fit in the frame properly, but I managed to cobble it and tape it so the rain wouldn't run in. It'll do, it is an allotment after all!

I moved the tomatoes and chillies to the greenhouse today. I'm sure they won't like the change, but they were starting to stretch for the light so I'm going to risk it. I must remember that I need to pop in on my way home from work to water in the week too. They'll need potting on in a little while - I'll just give them a bit of time to settle first.

Peas and sweet peas are looking good.

I also sowed my first lot of carrots. I have a real problem getting carrots to grow on my plot. In fact the whole allotment site does. Still ever the optimist (and the fact that I desperately want to grow them) I prepared the bed today - getting out all the big stones and squishing the lumps. However, I didn't take the usual time to carefully sow in rows, instead I just pulled back the top inch of soil broadcast several different varieties of carrot over the bed, then pulled it back again. As an after thought I also sprinkled over some marigold seeds, watered the bed and very lightly raked it over again. Lets see if the haphazard approach works!

Finally they have started work on the fence. I've got my fingers crossed that they are going to leave the bushes on the other side as they not only shield my plot and keep out the bad'uns, but they are also full of the Plot 6 wildlife. I'll have to wait and see!

I had the urge to make lemon curd - so I did. It was supposed to make 4 jars but as you can see only made 2. HOWEVER, it tasted amazing!! Just like the the filling from lemon meringue - fab! The recipe was from the Women's Intitute's Book of Preserves a terrific book that I borrowed from the library but thought it was so good that I bought it (came today - yippee!). I'll update this post with the recipe next time I'm on here!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Onions, onions!

At home my chillies and toms are happy enough. My toms definately look happier than last year where they were far too leggy.

I've started my parsnip seeds off on some damp kitchen towel. This worked brilliantly last year and as far as I know I had 100% germination. I've chosen two types, Gladiator which is a big canker resistant type (not tried before) and Imperial Crown which has a smaller crown and I have tried this - very tasty! Pop another folded bit of kitchen towel on top to keep them damp and stop the seeds floating off when you water them. In about a week these should have sprouted and I'll then sow them as usual.

I went to the plot this afternoon. It was lovely hazy sunshine in the morning but had gone behind clouds by the time I had got there and it had turned really cold :o(. Shame! Anyway got in 45 onion sets (forgotten the variety) in rows and a further 40 odd in a patch under the step-over apple tree to eat small or uses to fill gaps / put around my carrots. I still have some left and they were good quality sets too - from Wilkos for £1.25. Better than the independent garden centre up the road. They had 50 red Baron sets for £1.99 and they had a fair few that were mouldy! I'm going to get my red ones from Wilko too!

In the greenhouse the sweetpeas are doing well - as are the lupins. I've also moved the pumpkins into the greenhouse now, hopefully they will cope with the highs and lows temp wise in there. I wanted to move everything before it all got too crowded on my windowsills and they were struggling for light.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Perfect Plot Day

It was a glorious day to start with this morning when we got to the plot. We had a really productive day too. Firstly I put in some more broad beans, filling the gaps in the Aquadulce and then sowing 2 rows of Masterpiece Green Longpod. I've put net over it in a vain hope of keeping the mice and pigeons off.

Next were the peas. I love the rustic look of this teepee structure. This year I've got 'Magnum Bonum' peas on it again (a heritage variety that I got from a seed swap at Ryton Organic Potato Fair last year) - these were smashing. Because I only had 9 seeds of this (I wasn't organised and ate all the peas and forgot to dry some for sowing next year - durrrr!), I also sowed some Mangetout 'Carouby De Maussane', which also grow tall at 1.5m +. The blue bit of carpet is to stop the weeds which I couldn't reach to weed very well last year once the peas had grown.

On the subject of peas, the Meteor and Blauwschokker Peas I sowed in the guttering have come up, as have a few of the many sweetpeas I sowed.
Other jobs done today: - Hubby hammered in the last two posts for the step over apple tree, cleared Bed 6 ready for parsnips and carrots, hammered the loganberry's wonky post back in, popped in a few more japanese onions where they had been pulled up and did loads of dock weeding around the fruit bushes.
Overall a good day!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

I went over to the plot yesterday afternoon and what nice weather it was. I really enjoyed it in the sunshine tidying and sorting. I bought another plum tree from Tesco (Rivers' Early Prolific). It's even better than the first and goes well between the arch and the bean frame (which progressively gets smaller and smaller as I take out bamboo. I'm going to grow less on here and instead use the arches for beans this year so they can scramble over them and the beans can hang down).

A pic of my plum. It looks boggy, but I've only just watered it.

Another view from the other side showing the plums, bean frame and arches.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Peas, Parsnips and Jelly

I sowed loads of peas, sweetpeas and lupins this week. The peas and sweetpeas I moved to the allotment greenhouse as they seem to prefer it cool. Last year my sweetpeas were really leggy and I sowed them all in individual modules. It was a poor show really. This year I've sown them 5 to a pot and I'll leave them all together when I plant them out. The peas are in guttering again as it was so brilliant last year. I then just dig a shallow trench in the bed, take off the end and slide them in. I had a real production line going! The Lupins are still at home (not sure what they need, will have to look them up!) and already showing above the compost - now if I can just stop the cat sitting on them....!

The rhubarb is at last making a bit more of an effort!

Hubby moved the path and dug over the new bit of bed ready for me to sow some more broadies and to put in the peas when they are up.

Below is my fabulous new cut flower bed. I've got tons of stuff in dahlias, gladioli, irises, freesias and more. The kids planted a dahlia each so they will have something to show at the allotment show and I've got one of my own too. along with my sweetpeas and lupins (I know they take 2 years!) I've high hopes! Roll on Summer!

And a pic of me with one of my monster parsnips. it's been in the ground for a while so looks a bit brown, but tasted great!

And finally, I've just made the most wonderful Sweet Red Pepper Jelly. It is gorgeous!! We love stuff like this on cheese and biscuits and we've just run out of the Quince and Rose Petal Jelly that my MIL gave us and had always planned to have a go myself. As you can see it doesn't make very much (I may have simmered it a bit long), but it's delicious and really easy to make.
Nigella's Sweet Red Pepper Jelly.
6 large red peppers
3 oz white wine vinegar
Juice of 2 large lemons
1 lb castor sugar

Sweet red pepper jelly, perfect for Christmas or any other time of year, but I must warn you its very addictive!!!! It goes really well with houmous or cheese on crackers. You can add a few red chillies to give a bit of a kick too. It's really easy to make and keeps for ages so don't be alarmed by the quantities(!?)


1. Whizz peppers in a food processor as chunky as you want the final result to be (I prefer it finely chopped).

2. Put the blitzed peppers into a stainless steel sauce pan and add all the other ingredients.

3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-30 mins or until relatively thick (like honey) stirring occasionally, be careful not to let it burn or go too thick as it thickens further in the fridge.

4. Its now ready to pour into jars. leave to cool a little before you put it in the fridge.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Orange Rose

So I bought a rose from Wilkos. It looks lovely and as the 'Golden Parfum' climbing rose that I got from there last year did so well, I thought I'd go for one on the other arch too. It was only £2.50 so it was worth a go.

The three little twigs sticking up between the daffs and tulips is my little rose. The other one looked like this this time last year and grew brilliantly in a year. I'm hoping for some flowers this year!

My 'Golden Parfum' now.
We had a good day at the plot on Sunday. Hubby took a load of stuff to the tip and we moved the path and dug the bed for the pumpkins. I put the last of our stash of very well rotted manure on the bed and then spent the rest of the time there filling the bin up again with the free stuff. It's now half full - the rest will have to wait for another day. I also wired between the posts for the step-over apples and attached the branches to it. They are really secure now.

Lastly, Hubby cleared behind the shed as we were told the council were finally going to put up the metal fence at the end of our plots (and the 5 next to me). The high pointy topped fence runs most of the way around the allotments already, but stops when it gets to mine as we had trees/bushes there. It's okay for our plot, but the rest of the plots are not very secure, even I could get over if I felt inclined!.
Anyway, they are starting before the end of March and should be finished by the end of April. Also as a way of saying sorry for the inconvienience they have knocked £10 off our rent for the coming year - hooray!! It'll be like being in prison and I'll have a good view of the factories now, but I'll cope - I'd rather it was secure, most of it is behind the shed/swings anyway and I'll cover it up somehow!


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