Archive for March, 2012

Getting our house (well, plot) in order

Well, it’s thanks to this hot weather and the change in the clocks that we’ve been able to spend more time on the allotment catching up with all those jobs that somehow never seem to get done. So, armed with power tools and hammer I have finally finished the lovely gate – marvellous! No rabbit will dare to burrow through this. Himself has been collecting horse poo like it’s going out of fashion (a strange hobby – not sure if it comes under the same category as trainspotting or stamp collecting, but hey ho), so trenches have been dug ready for all the planting to be done.

The lovely rabbit-proof gate

I have also completed the back-breaking task of putting weed control sheeting under the two strawberry beds. This involved spending the whole of Saturday afternoon on my hands and knees, backside in the air, cutting out holes to feed the strawberries through – not a joyous sight for other allotment holders to witness but a job well done I feel.

Strawberry beds with fresh sheets

The cloches have all been put together and onions and broad beans have been rehomed whilst I’m waiting for Mr Tiller to finish getting the soil ready so that things can be planted out. The parsnips have finally found their way out of the loo rolls so they can soon be planted in their final resting place – hopefully we’ll get straight ones this time.

Parsnips peeking out of the loo rolls

The greenhouse is filling up nicely and I’m trying to keep one step ahead of everything so that we don’t run out of space. All the plants have been purchased for the hanging baskets so it will be a challenge in the next couple of weeks when they all need potting on. It’s a real Jubilee collection – well, sometimes you just have to join in with the rest of them – so everything is red, white and blue…allegedly.

The cut flower beds are coming along and some of the perennials have been repositioned. The herb section has also had a bit of a make-over so will be ready for some new additions at some point.

The good news is that with all this walking uphill everyday to check on everything, we are getting fitter by the minute. The muffin tops are slowly shrinking – we’ll be positively size zeros by the summer!!

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Unearthing our roots

Well, it’s been a quiet couple of weeks on the blog but it’s been all go on the plot. Suddenly spring has sprung and there are a thousand and one jobs to do. Thankfully the Mantis tiller arrived in time. It was a bit of a shock to realise that we had to practically build it ourselves (mechanics isn’t our strong point) but after much swearing and cursing over the instruction manual, the pieces seemed to all fall into the correct place and now man and machine are working together in perfect harmony.

Man and Mantis in action

Man and Mantis in action

 Since man and tiller have been united there has been no stopping them – every piece of earth has been churned up. So, whilst the two of them have been eagerly working their way through the plot, I have been trying to keep one step ahead by clearing everything that was either due to be pulled up for composting or salvaged for eating. This is what I unearthed.

The final harvest

Yes, it looks a bit like a line up for a Dr Who audition. For some reason most of the parsnips seem to have developed pairs of crossed legs. Some can even sit on a fence by themselves. Are parsnips supposed to do this? This year we’ve planted them in toilet rolls to try to solve the problem. Gnarled up shapes are one thing but it makes preparing them for the Sunday roast a very slow process.

Parsnips keeping their legs crossed

Sitting on the fence

Whitchetty grub or parsnip?

As for the celeriac – well, that’s all roots, shoots and no body. This is the second year we have attempted growing these and still aren’t very successful at it. We like celeriac but are we just wasting our time trying to grow them? Anyway, I’ve planted a few more seeds again this year but if they don’t produce anything, they’re out.

All roots, no body

Still, the greenhouse is filling up nicely now and in about a month’s time I think we’ll be struggling for space in there. This weekend I’ll be spending plenty of time in it transplanting all the onions so plenty of coffee and chocolate will be required. Since it’s going to be a wet weekend, it’s probably going to be the best place to be!

Off to Stoneleigh tomorrow to the ‘Grow your own’ show and then back to watch Monty in the evening – it’s good to have Monty back.