Friday, 30 March 2012

Days 14, 15 & 16

I have spent the last three days at the plot shifting top soil. A local builder offered it to me and it is good quality out of a local garden. He was building a patio so most of it is turf, which will rot down in the new composter I have half built. I am currently sorting out the turf (compost heap) sieving the soil (to go on beds) and then the remaining stones are going between the beds filling the holes in the paths. So nothing else has been done to the plot, no more beds dug over, only the compost heap has been sorted. So far no-one has offered any help. Well except for Mr talk-a-lot who offered to take the stones for his path, mmm! Now if I'm sieving it and moving it all I think I will keep the stones for my own paths especially as there are lots of holes and dips in it where I haven't dug these over. There weren't as many stones in it as you would think so I've filled in the biggest holes first, if there are any more then I will spread them about a bit more. So sorry but there are no new photos to show you of digging but I have got one of the compost bin I made, that will give you a laugh for the day. I need more wood, I used what was dumped on the plot to make it with, there were a few fence posts so I used them for the uprights and the planks for the sides, I will need to buy more to finish off the sides. I also found a tarpaulin sheet which I have placed under it so the weeds don't grow through.

As I left the allotments on Tuesday a lady had broken down right across the entrance so I couldn't get out. I asked if she had someone coming to help her and she said she had called AA. At this point a man came running down the road with his dog (out jogging) and suggested we move her back a bit so she was safely off the road and I could get out. So he tied his dog up to the post and we started pushing her car back. The dog was whining at being left and all of a sudden the "Wife" came running down screaming "where's the dog". OMG the look on her face, she thought the woman had run the dog over and we were trying to get the car off of it. I felt so bad. I know how I'd feel if that happened to Fizz. She was a bit too far behind to have seen what was actually going. Luckily the dog was fine, the wife was fine, the driver was fine and the man was fine. All was fine.

Now today, I eventually managed to get petrol. They were out of unleaded last night as everyone has been panic buying, so I tried again today, they had some and a lovely long queue too. I hope you are all ok and have managed to get some without having to pay extra for it as I know some places have put their prices up deliberately. Not fair.

In the greenhouse I have had no more mice problems. My seeds are all coming up so I have sowed some more so they will be a few weeks behind, hopefully plant them a few weeks after the others and that should extend the crop a bit.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day 13

It started out rather cold today and I really didn't feel like going down to the plot but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me so I made myself go. It doesn't help that my knee is still not right but I have got a bandage on it for support and have been using Iburofen gel on it to help with the swelling, it's not too bad but still "clicks" when I bend it.

So I waited until about midday then set off to B&Q, more wood and nails (I know I should be screwing the beds together but my battery screwdriver isn't charging and I'm not doing that by hand) I also got more potting compost so I can sow some more seeds in the greenhouse.

Two more beds edged with wood now and I have enough wood to make a compost bin which I may make tommorrow. I also planted my potatoes. I think this may be a bit early but others there have planted theirs so I have now done mine. I made the row as deep as my spade and put them in then covered them with the fresh manure, watered them and raked back the soil. So me and Mr talk-a-lot have a competion on. We are going to see if the fresh manure works better than his fertilizer he bought. I have never grown potatoes like this before, I have always grown them in bins in the garden and have never had good reults.

Back home in the greehouse I have had no more problems with mice. My tomatoes, sweetcorn and peas are all sprouting and the runner beans are just starting, there is no sign of the french beans yet. They look all snug in my origami pots that I made. They are great pots, so much easier to fill then the toilet rolls that I used to use. A friend sent me a link to the site where it showed you how to make them and I spent a whole afternoon with several newspapers making some. It was very relaxing. I have some more newspapers and will be making some more pots so I can put broccoli and cabbages in them. My tomatoes are going to stay at home so I can make sure they get watered and I will also grow my lettuce here too. I am using the plot to grow veg for my dog and will plant things that take longer to grow. I need to start thinking about the squashes I need to plant for her too.

These paper origami pots will disintegrate once planted out and are very easy to make.

The link above will take you directly to the instructions if you were interested. I'm off to make some more now.

I'm getting there.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 12

Got down to the plot today, didn't really get much done from the look of it but I did have a bonfire to get rid of more of the rubbish and brambles and I also got another bed dug over.

I met the allotment managers there, one of the other plot holders is giving his plot up and it's a nice one, she wanted to know if I knew anyone who might want it. Great, if I had waited a couple of months I could have had it. Instead I have an overgrown, undug for many years plot, number 7. Never mind, I like where mine is and I'm enjoying working on it. There will definitely be a sense of satisfaction at the end of the season when it's all dug, planted and I'm harvesting. It will have been all my own hard work, blood, sweat and tears (and plenty of thorns in my fingers and blisters on my hands).

I did ask about carrot fly and potato blight, she said they had never had carrot fly but they did suffer from potato blight on occasion. I am hoping the later will not happen this year as the forecast is for a very dry summer, damp is usually the major cause of blight. The only thing she said I really had to watch out for was the birds. Apparently they destroy everything. It explains why most people have their plants growing under cages, not just their fruit but everything else too.

My knee is still giving me problems, thought it would be better by now. Don't know what is wrong with it, it feels a little bit swollen and I can't use it to get up with, feels a bit weak. I have been trying to rest it but with the plot, work, the dog and Dale that's impossible.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Sowing seeds.

It wasn't very warm today so I didn't go down the allotment, instead I spent the day in the garden. There was a lot to do, clearing up all the bits I missed in Autumn. Some of the plants I bought last year didn't look alive even though they were supposed to be hardy. Pulled one of them up and discovered new roots so took a closer look and it seems like there are buds at the base but when I did the finger nail test it looked dead. So I have cut the tops off the rest of them hoping they will regrow from the bases.

I mowed the lawn and pulled up all the weeds. I then decided to check everything in the greenhouse. Oh *@!# the mice are back. Now they can't get to the potatoes they have gone for the sweetcorn, not a single seed left, and the french and runner beans, all gone. Never had this before. Had to go down the shops and buy some of those lids for the trays, did have loads last year but somehow I can't find them. I haven't a clue where I put them after tidying up the greenhouse last year.

I need to go and buy some more sweetcorn seed, there wasn't enough left in the packet to re-sow all the pots. Atleast they didn't get to the peas, nor did they get to the new potatoes that I bought to replace the ones the mice ate before. I must have some very fat mice by now. That then reminded me to fill the bird feeders.

I have bought Patty's Plum Poppy which I have kept in a pot but I think I will plant it out into the border, I have a plant I don't like much which I think it can replace. Will need to buy some new strawberry plants too as a lot of them have died over winter.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Day 11

What a beautiful day it was today. 19oC by 12 am all the mist had burnt off and the sun was shining, so time to go to the allotment. Got a whole bed dug today. The fresh manure is hidden under the water cistern that the previous owner left behind and the tyres are stacked at the end of the plot, these will be used for growing courgettes in. So I now have 2 beds in the second row dug, I must get wood to go round them as at the moment they look a bit like freshly filled graves, I feel like putting a sign up saying "here lies carrots, may they rest in peace until harvest time". I do hope the site doesn't suffer from carrot fly or potato blight.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Day 10

Now into double figures. On the way home after work last night I spotted bags of manure by the stables and stopped very quickly to grab them, usually I miss getting them as they are normally all gone by the time I get there. I will take some carrots and apples for the horses when I return the bags. If the pile was easier to get to I would help myself, maybe I ought to suggest this to the owners next time I see them. Any way I got 5 small bags worth, this should be enough for now, and drove home. Now it had been a long day at work and I was tired so decided to leave the bags in the car and take them down the plot today. Well it was all windows down the whole way there, it stank. Yes it's fresh manure, not the well rotted stuff that doesn't smell, but this is what I want. It is to go into a trench with my potatoes, I recently read this was the way to do it, so that is what I am going to do this year, if it doesn't work I won't be doing it again.

Whilst I was there and the weather was nice, very nice, I finished digging the bed I had started. I then went round the edges of the next bed ready to dig over tomorrow. It looks like I am getting there. The test will be the last row as that is covered in bramble and nettles so the roots are going to be bad. So first bed of second row dug.

Sowed some peas in the greenhouse and bought some sweetcorn seeds. Really need to get on with sowing all the veg I need but whilst the weather is this good I need to dig.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Day 9

Today is Friday so no work for me today, this meant I could get down to the allotment and get on with the raised beds. Trip to B&Q again for the next lot of wood, this went much better than last time. I still didn't get any help from the staff but I think they have finally learnt not to place their display boxes at the end of the aisles. It was fully clear for me this time and I didn't knock anything over. Mr talk-a-lot was not at the allotments today so I got a lot done. I managed to make and place 2 new raised beds and I marked out and started digging another.

I am not digging over the pathways this time but it doesn't seem too easy to dig over just the bed. I found there was not enough room to dig a row and put the soil back. It meant that I missed removing some roots and I couldn't dig as deep as I had before. Hopefully it won't be too bad. I intend to put wood round the new beds too but at the moment I just want to get digging so there will be places to plant in, spring is almost here and I have already got seedling in my greenhouse that will need planting out. I am keeping these well covered at the moment as I went into the greenhouse the other day to check on my plants and mice had got in and had eaten my chitting potatoes, I had to go out and buy some more. There is now a plastic sheet covering them so the mice can't get at my new lot.

I have used my old video tape to mark out these beds but it snaps very easily. It shows me well enough where I have to dig though and if I go round with the spade I can mark it out properly and the edges are all neat. 

I am at work tomorrow so I won't be able to get there again until Sunday, hopefully the weather will be ok. I'm off for a soak in the tub, glass of wine and chocolate cake, mmmm. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Well I was at work today so I didn't get down to the plot but spent the evening fiddling about with the blog, trying to make it look a bit more professional and a little less childish (so not like me at all). I have realised that I am at work again tomorrow so I hope the weather isn't too good otherwise I will feel cheated, although I hope the weather is fine for everyone else, it can just rain or snow on my plot.

It will have to be Monday or Tuesday at the plot now, but I have also had time to amend my plans so that I should know what I am doing there now. I may get to sow some seeds in my greenhouse tomorrow if I don't get home too late. Bit early I know but I still have my bubblewrap up so it might be warm enough in there, and being this far south everything gets going very early.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Day 8

Why is it everything goes so smoothly in plans. We make plans for this and lists for that thinking we won't forget the little things and never think about the big ones. Well that was what today consisted of. I had made a lovely plan of the plot, taking into consideration the size, where the water was and of course where the sun would be during the summer. All well and good. Of course not. In practise all the best made plans go to waste. Now to adapt them all.

First off I hadn't really considered the size of the wood I had chosen to use for raised beds. Fun, not. Got to B&Q to buy the wood, getting no help from staff to get it down from 5ft up, mmm I think this should have warned me things were not going to be easy. After managing to get down 4 planks 3.6m long (12ft) and getting them to stay on the very short trolley I then had to negotiate the store. Narrow isles were not too difficult but why oh why do they have to put boxes of stock at the end of every one. After taking 5 of these and some loft insulation with me I finally got to the checkout. Thought I'd use the self serve as it was wider....BIG MISTAKE. After scanning, yes you guessed it, "please place your purchase on the scales", yeah right. Now this is where the only staff member came to help, a woman (go girls)! Not to help with the wood but just over rode the till so I didn't have to put anything on the scales. So I paid and went to leave but, typical men, one didn't want to wait and tried to get past me. That was his mistake, down he went. Suppose at least it gave me a laugh for the day.

Now after negotiating the store I get to the car. I don't have a roof rack but I do have a long car (CR-V) and of course it's not long enough. Now this is where the wonderful male staff rush to help...NOT! Instead they sit there watching, quietly laughing. But I AM WOMAN. Ha! I get in the car and open the sunroof. In goes the wood, out through said sunroof. Yes!!! Now, off to the plot.

Why is it that everytime you drive down a one lane path someone always wants to come down the other way. And it's usually a man. He very nicely reversed back but, oh dear, it's Mr talk-a-lot. He stops for a chat. 1 hour later and I am finally able to get on with getting the wood out of the car and starting my raised beds. Now I've worked the size out, it was cheaper to buy 2 3m planks and saw them in half, then use the 3.6m planks for the length. I get sawing. It doesn't look right. Get tape measure out, it's not 3m, I get an extra 6cm for nothing, ok. So now I have one sawn plank 1.5m and one 1.56m, ah ha! It's not going to get me because I AM WOMAN. Saw the next one, get another 1.5m and 1.56m, so lets put the same size pieces together. All nice and neat, but, yes you guessed it, KNACKERING (my favourite word at the moment).

Now 2 nice raised beds all knocked together with nails looking nice. I wish. Plot slopes, didn't think of that, beds slope. Thinking it doesn't look great and I also have a large bit at the top where 2x 12ft and a 2ft path do not equal 30ft, 4ft space doing nothing. So this is when the brain wave happens, amend plans, turn the beds around. So now I will have 4 beds going up the plot instead of 2. I AM WOMAN. Looks good even if I only have 2 beds in at the moment. Will need to amend plans on how much wood I need to buy.

So here you go, my 2 lovely raised beds already for planting.

I will try and get the other 2 beds done at the top of the cultivated bit next so I can get started digging over the rest of the plot.