Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tuesday 28th February - A Sub-Plot

Following my sister's visit to Allotment 21, she has decided that Nephew should learn where vegetables come from. He will certainly never learn from her cooking which doesn't involve any.

To remedy this, a vegetable patch is being constructed with raised beds and all the trimmings in her garden. Sister, pictured here in full gardening attire, has asked for as much information as possible. Her first question was, "Where can I employ a good Gardener?"

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tuesday 28th Feburary - Desperate Digger

Mel's back and shoulder have still not not improved despite seeing a Physiotherapist. She is off to the Osteopath today for some crunching and grinding which terrifies her.

Officially she should not be doing any digging at all but, desperate to get dirty, she was spotted last Sunday forking away outside the greenhouse.

Sunday 26th February - Beer and Smoke

Whilst digging outside the greenhouse yesterday, I saw the first shiny black glimmer of slugs on the plot. Luckily, Spouse had bought more beer than he could drink yesterday and he let me have a can of it to put in some slug traps. I can feel the bloodlust rising as I await the first floating dead bodies in the yogurt pots next week.

We then discovered that lighting up cheap paraffin heaters is like inviting a dragon with halitosis to live in your greenhouse. We decided to stick with the manure method of heating which is much cheaper than buying an extractor fan and gas masks.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday 25 February - To Sprout Or Not To Sprout.

Yesterday we had snow, today is sunny and windy, perfect sailing weather but the season at Llangorse is a few weeks away yet.

I left Spouse glued to the earthwise dating site looking for a new wife and headed off to Allotment 21 to do a spot of watering. All the seeds in the guttering have germinated well apart from the coriander. Nothing is happening with the sprouts in the coldframe or the tomatoes in the manure heated propagator. I couldn't resist putting my hand inside the propagator to see if it had worked and was thrilled to feel that it has.

I was about to go home and harass Spouse when our next-door-but-one lottie neighbour arrived. Her name is Katie and her plot is really nice. Katie has a great greenhouse and lots of kale, leeks and bulbs. Seeing all her lovely beds inspired me to dig up the two outside our greenhouse which had become very compacted with all the shed and greenhouse construction work. The soil was just about dry enough to be diggable but after an hour or so I came home for a cuppa.

Friday, February 24, 2006

February 24th - Lunchtime Reading

Clare subscribes to several different magazines which we put out in our information area at work. They tend to be either extremely dry and medical or aimed at the rainbow jumper wearing brigade. I avoid them like the plague until today, when the March edition of 'ecologist'magazine landed on my desk with a great article about allotments.

The rest of the magazine was also worth a read especially the adverts where amongst other things you can find an dating agency for 'green-living eco-passionate people'. Do you have to own a composting toilet to apply? Intrigued, I clicked on the link www.earthwisesingles.com/index.php and I wonder how many of you will do the same.

Friday 24th February - Snow!

I don't want to go to work this morning. I want to build a giant snowcrow instead.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday 20 February - Another Card

I went to the Galanthus Gallery with Mel on Saturday morning and although I couldn't afford the art there, I had to buy this card for my desk at work. The card website is www.olivesandwiches.com

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday 19 February - It'll Be Worth It Next Christmas

It is a cold, damp, grizzly English day and I have read on Wizer's blog that he is off to Venice. I have never been and am rather envious.

Thinking ahead to next December I know that Spouse will refuse point blank to eat his sprouts on Christmas day and no amount of cajoling, "one for the postman..." will work. Well according to Caroline Foley in the Allotment Handbook, Rubine sprouts are 'An epicure dwarf red sprout with outstanding flavour'. I have also read that they are great shredded raw in salads. All this combined with the fact that they are not green will hopefully convince him to at least try one. I have started off this morning planting 20 jiffy 7s with 2 seeds in each and placed them all in the coldframe on some cardboard for insulation.

Whilst I was on the allotment I also put the tomato jiffys into an unheated propagating tray and placed them on top of the manure in the greenhouse. Hopefully the manure will generate enough heat to trigger germination this week.

Sunday 19 February - Even Better News

Not only are our salad leaves germinating but Steve proudly announced last night that he is a Grandfather. This means that Mel is now a Step-Grandmother. We all had a few too many celebratory toasts and a great meal last night at the Bell Inn, Yarpole.

I feel the biodynamic moon planting phase is smiling on us and have dug out my heated propagater in readiness.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday 18 February - Collapsing Cloches

Mel had Thursday off work this week and called into Allotment 21 to check for signs of life in the greenhouse. Unfortunately nothing had germinated and our plastic cloches had been decimated in the windy weather. Having no wellies with her she had left them as they were.

I called up this afternoon to salvage the bits of wire and retrieve pieces of plastic cloche from next door's Brussels sprouts. The soil is so wet that it would be almost impossible to dig there today. Luckily the fleecy cloches were much tougher and had survived intact which means the shallots and garlic are still protected from the birds.

Good news was also lurking in the greenhouse where the Mizuna seeds are sprouting - we have life on Allotment 21.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday 17 February - Where Do Onions Come From?

My sister cooked a meal for the family last night and Mother recounted a conversation they had last year.
Sister: "What are those spiky plants in that field called?"
Mother (surprised): "Onions"
Sister: "Oooh, I thought onions grew on trees like apples"

I can't believe we share the same gene pool.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday 12 February - Our first seeds

It was a horrible blustery, wet day and feeling guilty about my dawn run on the seed site, I baked Spouse a cake. I also surfed some other allotment blogs from a list that was kindly posted by Jean. There are some fantastic blogs on the web and I will try and add as many as possible to the links part of mine. I wonder how long it would take Nick & Steve to build a chicken run...

We called up to Plot 21 after lunch to witness Mel planting our very first seeds. I finally realised what all the dangling CDs are for on other plots - birds have been pecking up our garlic and shallots. Hopefully they haven't had them all and I had bought a fleece tunnel with yesterdays coldframe on ebay which will protect them until I can steal enough of Spouse's Roy Harper CDs.

Sunday 12 February - 6am Secret Seed Buying

Having read page 165 of 'The Great Vegetable Plot' I am convinced that I want to grow Brussels sprout 'Rubine' with honywort Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'. I cannot let Spouse know this because he and Steve have become rather waspish about how much it is costing to produce cheap veg. This means I have to sneak onto the computer while he's asleep, find a site which sells the above, order them and then delete any confirmation emails.

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Saturday 11th February - Staging & Slabs

Spouse was available to construct our staging table and lay slabs today. Although Mel is still pretty crippled with her bad arm, she did a brilliant weeding job in the greenhouse. A barrow load of manure was added and it now looks perfect for growing tomatoes.

My sister then decided to pay us a visit, looking as out of place on an allotment as the Queen would in a greasy spoon cafe. Fortunately, she brought my nine year old nephew who immediately constructed a coldframe that would have taken Steve and Nick the best part of a week. He also helped me peg down the weed suppressing black fabric over our strawberries. It had all blown off in the wind this week.

To top off a lovely day, Steve arrived with a gas cooker, frying pan and sausages. He made us all sausage sandwiches with fried onion and brown sauce - delicious. Tomorrow rain is forecast which means Mel and I can get the greenhouse organized and maybe sow some seeds.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thursday 9th February - Spouse acting Strangely

Spouse has done three things that are out of character this week.
1. He has bought me 'The Great Vegetable Plot' by Sarah Raven when it's not my birthday / anniversary / Christmas.
2. He has finished off the greenhouse without being nagged.
3. He has sponsored Simon the marrow on www.justgiving.com/plot21

I suspect a new guitar is imminent.

Reading the Great Veg Plot has inspired me to order a greenhouse full of Jiffy 7s, small expanding pots which I had never heard of before this allotment. According to the blurb, 'No other growing media provides as many advantages as the Jiffy 7'. I hope to grow some jolly good tomatoes then.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday 5th February - Tyre Trouble

The sharper eyed bloggers may have noticed a different barrow in use today. It's from home. The much prized skip wheelbarrow has a shredded flat tyre and none of the DIY stores seem to sell spares. They can order them for around £12. Spouse is looking for another skip to dump it back into.

Sunday 5th February - Shovelling and Smelly

Spouse (AKA Rock-God) had to go off and sign a recording contract today which meant I had the entire morning free to shovel manure.

I chatted to several fellow plot holders noticing that they were all standing well upwind of me. Ended up being given some very helpful advice and a whole row of strawberry plants which have gone in alongside the greenhouse.

Meanwhile, Mel and Steve arrived with some guttering and rigged up a system that drains off both the shed and greenhouse roofs into our waterbutt. Can't wait for some rain now to see if it works.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday 4th February - Oh S**T

We arrived to find Plot 21 obscured by ten tons of it

and then Spouse trod on the pile of greenhouse glass...

... The greenhouse construction moves into week 4