Sunday, 28 April 2013

28 Apr 2013 - the other fence!

I've been really slack updating my blog this year, so I'll just admit that I'm doing this today, 24 July 2013 and going to backdate it so it appears when it was actually done.  There, admitted guilt, now forgiven!

This fence goes down the other side and I have to say that I didn't do this bit, my better half did.  I did the "from shed to fence" side, if you want to have a nosey.  We'll have a race and see who's lasts longer!  Nothing like a bit of competition at an allotment!

Our neighbours on that side had given up and torn down their fruit cage contraption, which ripped down most of our shared fence- the grass, weeds and nettles were getting really high, so he had to dig away at the fenceline, rip out what he could see of the old mesh that was lost in all the greenery, before the new fence could be put up.  Also, most of the fence posts had been ruined.  Nothing like a challenge, huh?!

 And here's some after pics:

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

23 Apr 2013 - Three Sisters planting started

As planned, I managed to get to the allotment (after sorting a flat tyre on the bike) and started doing the digging.  I was sure I would manage the 10x10ft bed, but realised that even if I dug up the paths, it still wouldn't be wide enough, so I kept it as a 10x6.

Before and after pics are usually a bit dull, but this was a true makeover AND I stuck to the instructions all the way!!! (you have no idea how difficult that was for me!)  Here's the history and how to set out the bed if you're interested.

The self-control was at epic proportions!
I had to weed the whole area first, which went well until I pulled up the green tarp and found that even being covered up for 12+ months, Mares tail survives!
I then had to be more careful to get the whole root out - which I did on about 90% of it (the vinegar-as-weedkiller will have to do for the rest of it!) 
Then I added in the mushroom compost (3 bags) and dug those in. 
I edged the bed and raked the soil/compost around this time I was getting bored and so close to just putting the corn in where I thought it would keep to the pattern needed....but a coffee break soon put me back on track.
I got out the tape measure and did my 18" squares, then put the corn in a diamond shape 6" apart, on alternating heaps - after hearing this, my partner is getting nervous because this could be the new me, and that's a scary thought!

managed to get complete roots out!

Mares tail - 12 months under a cover!

a few decorations and one of the diamonds - front'n'centre

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Three Sisters Planting system

This year, I'm going to try something new at the allotment.  I always have the best intentions, then when I get to planting, I get bored with the preparation so I bung everything in a well-it-looks-straight-to-me fashion and I'm totally sure that in a few months time I'll remember what I planted in which half of the bed! It's a system that seems to work for me, but I'm intrigued by this one and really AM going to do it properly.  Honest.

I've got the corn on the windowsill growing nicely, just planted the beans seeds, some squash are coming up - so I'm ready to start this Tuesday 23 April 2013.  There.  Date set.  Must achieve!
And because I'm a very honest person, I'm not even going to pretend that this Native American system is even remotely my idea!  Although I can't remember where I first heard about it, this was the most informative site I found, with plans I could understand (and hopefully follow - which would be no fault of theirs if I didn't!)  How to set out your bed 
Incase you can't be bothered reading about it in full, what I'm basically going to do is have sweetcorn, beans and squashes all growing in the same bed.  In a nutshell there are lots of mounds of mud, the corn is planted first (4 in a diamond shapes leaving space between the mounds) , then when they get taller the beans are planted (4 in a square, in the same space as the corn) then the squash is planted in between the corn/bean mounds.  The idea is that the corn supports the beans and the squash restricts the weeds, and lots of blah, blah, blah about nutrients and water used.
I'll keep you updated and put in photos as it progresses, because I'm quietly confident on this one, and because I can't help but experiment, I'm going to try it with the dwarf varieties as well!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

16 Apr - 2013 - Pheasant shooting time!

I didn't get any photos - but here's a recipe for having palpatations and heart failure......

I lived to tell the tale though!

There I was, minding my own business, the only person at the allotments (which is in the middle of nowhere, turn left) and having a break, admiring the view with my headphones on (quite loud)......
when a pheasant flew low over my shoulder.....
squawking so loud I could hear it over the music.....
if there was a roof, I'd've hit it....
instead cursing everything I can think of, and concentrating on not having a heart attack!  

All of a sudden, a jumps over the 4ft fence (that I very nicely put up this year)..... 
and nearly landed on me!  

Continue with heart failure (and I may have screamed, not sure).....
while dog is looking round for his pheasant!
I turned round to see why this random dog (who's head is at my thigh height!) is here....

As if I haven't had enough of a shock......
there's a man with a gun....and I'm standing next to his gun dog.....
and now trying very hard not to look like a pheasant!
The dog patiently waits for me to calm down, then asks how he's to get out of here!
He must speak English well, because I told him that he jumped over my fence, he can jump back again!
Which he did....and nearly landed in the frog pond!

Here's a few pics of the view, my fence, a pheasant from last year
and the frog pond.  IF I had been holding my camera, I can guarantee the pics would be blurry, or the camera dropped!

16 Apr - 2013 - Potatoes time!

Wow!  Twice in one month!  The rumour-mill will be turning!

We had gale force winds this week, so I was a bit worried about what I would find - my little seedlings only in last week, and the fence that I put up as well.... all I can say is, it turns out those were the least of my worries!

I started my day off by having to go to St Johns Ambulance course for work, so I put all my allotment gear in the car, including the last of the sprouts seedlings (yes, I did make my colleagues have a look at them!)

I was confused about the missing cloche bottle, which is clearly shown as missing in this pic - but how is it not rolling around under the netting somewhere!!!!!

Then it was time for the triffods (I mean potatoes!) that have been waiting impatiently at home to be planted!

Last year, the potatoes were in the larger square bed, but now rotation says they move up the plot and are in the smaller rectangle beds.

This doesn't mean that we're having less potatoes, it means that I need to come up with a Plan B!  Tyres it is then.

I actually got this idea off the owner of the tyre shop I used to go to.  I kept taking his "rubbish" tyres for my old allotment to edge the fruit bushes and he told me that he gets a lot of people taking them for potatoes.  It saves him money for getting rid of the tyres, and then he gave me a discount when it was my turn to get new tyres on my car. 

I've gone off on a tangent....sorry.

I've left the good spinach & leeks in (for now). 

Anyway, you can see how it starts.....

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

9 Apr 2013 - First plantings & protection!

I have several excuses for not getting down to the allotment much this year:
1) Britain under water on my days off
2) 12-15ft snow drifts here, digging sheep out from under the snow
3) Powerlines down on the road to the allotment
4) 237.5 hours worked in January
5) Camping in Formby for a hockey festival in -2c weather

Apart from that......
My usual supervisors...
I've been starting all my seedlings off inside, and those that should be planted straight out (or are quite tender) have been planted in toilet rolls so that I just put the toilet rolls in the soil and the plants are none the wiser!

So, on 9 April, I actually managed to cycle to the allotment (5 miles each way) and my little brussel sprouts bounced their way in the basket on the front!

As I said before, the weather hasn't been terrific, so I've been saving up alot of 5l juice bottles from work, to make mini cloches for the seedlings, plus some 2l bottles and milk bottles from home.  The first seedlings ready were the brussel sprouts, but apart from protecting the seedlings, I also needed to make sure that the cloches didn't all blow away as well!

Here's what I did, pretty self-explanatory.....

a water feeder added
what you need

tied to the plum tree!
all safe under netting

I also had time to plant out some garlic and onions (alternating) with gaps left in between rows for something tall to be planted.  Not decided whether it'll be the strawberry popcorn or sprouting brocolli, or both!  We'll see which ones come up first at home!

And what I hadn't expected was the mushroom compost to turn up - 20 of these were mine, and I had to wheelbarrow them round to the plot - not normally a problem, but I knew I had to cycle 5 miles home again afterwards!