Archive for April, 2012

Just hanging around for fine weather

What do you do when the heavy rain stops you from getting on the allotment? Hang around and wait for it to stop? No, you go shopping. Yes, that’s exactly what we did on Saturday. A thorough browse round Wilko and Homebase soon helped to brighten up the soggiest of days. A few bargains were had. It’s amazing how quickly you can fill a shopping basket when you didn’t really need anything! We managed to get some sweetcorn plants and two mini cucumbers from Homebase (these were on the list) and picked up some bargain dahlia tubers in the reduced section. These were a definite bargain – £1.74 for two…so we got eight to go with the fifteen we bought last week from Sarah Raven. Do we need them all? No…but it’s hard to walk past a bargain, especially when they all had shoots on them.

Bargain tubers

Now, I’m the one in this partnership who holds on tightly to the purse strings…in fact, it’s not often that those purse strings get untied…but himself on the other hand, has no strings on his purse. It might have had elastic at one point but I think that went ‘ping’ a long time ago. So, not a surprise to find him lurking down the Homebase aisle with a swanky metal watering can in his hand. The look on his face told me that hand and handle where not going to part company until they were securely on the other side of the checkout. That can was not going back on the shelf. Yes, I know we need a second one, I know we need one with a long spout, I know we need one with a decent rose so it doesn’t wash my delicate seedlings out of their pots … but how much is it? “Quite a good price.” came the reply. Yeah, how many times have I been fooled with that one? Actually, he was right, it was a good price, and here it is…

The smart new watering can

We spent the rest of Saturday camped out in the greenhouse with a flask of coffee, radio on, planting out our new purchases and testing out the watering can…lovely rose. The greenhouse is now at the stage where a hard hat really needs to be issued at the door. Having to negotiate your head around the twelve hanging baskets that are suspended from the roof is proving quite a challenge. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon have nothing on our greenhouse!Everything’s just hanging around waiting for the decent weather to arrive, whenever that is.

Just hanging around

Still hanging!

Even our heads have been replaced by baskets!!

Even though not much could be done outside this weekend, a lot of progress has been made on the inside jobs: seedlings transplanted on, tubers potted up. We’ve even managed a bit of cooking: a batch of chilli jam and a very rich ‘Death by Chocolate’ cake. Well, with weather that makes you want to hang yourself, you might as well end it all with chocolate!

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Who’s had a picnic on our peas and a mange on our mange tout?

Having set ourselves a whole list of jobs to do on Sunday, we were a bit disappointed to have only completed a couple of them by the end of the day. Still, the carrots are in and some nasturtium have been sown around the broad beans to help control any blackfly. If it’s anything like last year, the broad beans will have come and gone long before the nasturtiums have sprung into action, but they do add a bit of colour in the veg patch…eventually. This is what they should look like.

Nasturtium Tom Thumb

Anyway, there has been much progress on the Jubolympic sitting area. Although a couple of hours were spent scratching our heads trying to work out how on earth to reconstruct the polytunnel frame in a creative way whilst making the best use of all the pieces, we finally cracked it. It seemed that the DIYerphobe member of the team suddenly came into his own once he had attached a pencil behind his ear. He was suddenly transformed into a Tommy Walsh-like character (spare the thought!) and soon had the whole thing adapted and ship-shape. The idea is to attach canes to it so that we can grow the runners, squash, borlotti and french beans up them. They should then grow over and cover it to provide a shaded area to sit under for those well-earned coffee breaks! In theory, it’s seems a good idea although there are concerns that it will either attract so many bees that we won’t want to sit under it, or that we might end up having to wear hard hats for fear of being tonked on the head by a butternut squash! It’s not complete yet, so not willing to post any pictures until it’s finished. So instead, here’s a of picture of our lovely tulips…

and another…

Whilst being so engrossed in our masterpiece construction, we failed to notice that something had pinched our peas. Himself had planted them the week before and had made quite a display of how neatly he had done so. Since he has finally understood the ‘piece of string attached to two wooden pegs = a straight line’ concept, his planting skills have come on leaps and bounds. Sadly, some cheeky mouse has decided to take the mickey and pinch every single pea seed without leaving a trace except empty holes where the seeds had been. So, it was back off to Wilko to buy more seed today. This time we’re starting them off indoors – he’s not ‘aving ’em this time!

No mouse is going to mange through these mange tout!

It’s pouring with rain today so not sure if we’ll get much done tonight, except pea planting. Still, it’s all helping to fill up those water butts. Not good digging weather for us, but apparently ducks don’t mind it!

Posts, paving and planting progress

Well, it’s been a highly productive Easter weekend on the plot and in the garden. We set ourselves two major tasks that had to be completed before the holiday was over: putting in all the posts for the fruit trees at the allotment; and laying some slabs in the garden to rehouse the wheelie bins. Both jobs required some DIY skills so the weekend was doomed to have a certain level of grumpiness and disagreement attached to it! However, it was only the weather that turned out gloomy, the mood around the allotment and in the garden was all quite ok and all jobs have been completed. We’re now feeling quite smug with ourselves.

The 8ft posts have all been concreted in (thank goodness for Postcrete), wires attached and the fruit trees (two apples and a pear) are now nicely tied in and starting to look like proper espaliers.

Apple tree tied to its very sturdy wires!

A windbreak has also been erected around the currant bushes to protect them. Although the posts aren’t particularly straight, hopefully the whole thing will do the job.

The new windbreak

Down in the garden, a few slabs have been laid so that the wheelie bins can be taken out of the shed. This frees up a bit more space for the more untidy members of the household to dump more crap! Although you can see floor space at the moment, in a week’s time it will again be littered with pots, recycling bottles and anything else that doesn’t have a proper home.

On the growing front, everything is coming along nicely. The spuds are all in, the onion seeds are growing well and some of the chillis are showing the first signs of flowers. Space in the greenhouse is now at a premium and is about to get worse once I’ve potted on some of the seedlings. It’s all going to be a juggling act from here on in until everything can be planted in it’s final resting place.

There is also huge excitement as we have just found out that the village are going to hold a garden and allotment Open Day on 5th July over the Jubilee weekend. That’s sent us into a complete panic about all sorts of things – will the plot be tidy enough? Will we have managed to get everything planted out in time? Whose going to provide the tea? Should we make cakes? What about bunting? You can’t have a Jubilee without bunting!

Amidst the excitement, work is now in progress on a seating area – this involves the use of the old polytunnel frame. It’s in the design stages at the moment but it won’t be long before saws and hammers are back out…watch this space!