Friday, March 31, 2006

Saturday 1st April - Knee Therapy

I feel that I have covered all the bases with my dodgy knee this week:
Monday - Acupuncture during lunch break with Christopher
Tuesday - Healing with Barbara
Wednesday - A cabbage with Rowan
Thursday - Supplements with Alison
Friday - Beer with Spouse

Saturday - Sitting in the greenhouse issuing instructions. Obviously a long way to go before a full recovery enables me to dig, weed or do anything too strenuous.

Friday 31 March - What a Difference a Day Makes

It will be difficult to get to the Allotment this weekend because Spouse & I are finding it hard to tear ourselves from the tv set where 'bird-box-cam' has been broadcasting all day. Two blue tits started nest building on Thursday night. The first picture was taken at 8:30am today, the second at 5:30pm.

I can see myself starting bird-blog at this rate...

Note to Self: Get a life.

Friday 31st March - Nothing Died

It was with a deep sense of foreboding that I arrived on Allotment 21 after work yesterday. It has been a really busy week and although the Big Drippa and Capillary Matting are all (in theory) operational, I was convinced that the greenhouse would be a bloodbath of dried up seedling corpses. I am pleased to report that the technology has worked and all is well, in fact everything is thriving.

Being a fan of the Horticultural blog I was stunned to hear the distinct tones of an Ice-Cream van in the road adjoining the Allotments. Apologies to Jane for doubting her post. A surreal 'mad March' moment in the greenhouse.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursday 30th March - Sleeping with Cabbages

Yesterday a therapist from the RNCB advised me to use a white cabbage poultice for my knee. Rowan-the-herbalist agreed and consequently I went to bed with a cabbage strapped to my leg. It was a strangely familiar sensation...

Definition of cabbage: UK OFFENSIVE a person who has lost all their powers of thought or speech.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday 29th March - The Red Baron

Our red onion sets have arrived which, according to the catalogue are, "A very attractive red skinned variety with pink and white flesh." Unfortunately their name, Red Baron reminds me of Spouse circa 2003, looping the loop in a ridiculously small, unsafe red airplane - the Silly Fokker!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday 28th March - More Comfrey

Rowan the herbalist has given me some comfrey roots which we planted near the water butt on the weekend.

I have also bought some of her comfrey cream to rub on Spouse's broken elbow as he refuses to drink it in tea or tincture form. He went for his hospital check up last week and has been instructed not to 'endanger' himself until his next check-up in 3 months. Spouse is now arguing that digging and forking allotments counts as 'endangering'. Hmmm

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday 27th March - I Spy...

With my little eye something beginning with P

I'm not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's mate,
And I'm only plucking pheasants 'cause the pheasant plucker's late.
I'm not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's son,
And I'm only plucking pheasants till the pheasant pluckers come.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday 26th March - Seed Massacre

A dodgy knee (again) prevented me from digging this weekend which was a shame as the potatoes and carrots are ready to go in. I confined myself to the greenhouse and potted up the marigolds which have germinated at home. They have become very leggy this week and I think they would have all flopped over and died if something hadn't been done.

I am highly skilled in the subtle arts of killing seedlings and although I took great care with the dibber and only touched the leaves, I fully expect a tray of dead plants by the end of the week.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday 25th March - Slug Warfare

The beer traps seem to be working really well now that the weather is warming up and the slugs are becoming more active. Dr Marie at work has advised me on some organic biological warfare which I will use if the beer fails. Apparently nematodes are the thing, easy to use and Marie swears by them.

If both of the above fail, plan C appeared in the garden pond today - frogs. They are back for the first time this year and we should see some spawn in the next few days. I will bury our old washing-up bowl on the allotment, fill it with water and frog spawn which I hope will grow into slug devouring frogs.

Saturday 25th March (am) - Bill Oddie Watch Out!

We were just about to head off to Allotment 21 when a Great Tit was caught on Spouse's birdbox cam. I had noticed some blue tits looking last week and had rigged up the tv set just in case...

We came back from the allotment for lunch hoping to see some nesting material but there's no sign of them this afternoon.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday 24th March - Things are Heating up.

Just as spring arrives and the weather warms up, we have got the greenhouse heaters to work. They still stink but they have managed to burn continually all week.

It is pouring with rain in Hereford today which means the water butt should get a good top up. If it carries on over the weekend we can sow some seeds in the 'heated' greenhouse.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thursday 23rd March - The Big Drippa

The Big Drippa is my exciting techno greenhouse wonder toy which I installed on the weekend. The idea is that you fill the plastic sack full of water which drips very slowly into the soil over quite a long period. Our salad leaves are looking pretty dry and the hope is that this will cut down watering trips in the week. I called in on the greenhouse last night and was really pleased to find it had worked.

There are 6 nozzles, each of which can be adjusted and I hope that they are now set correctly. I am very tempted to order another one for the tomatoes...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wednesday 22nd March - Beanz Meanz...

... A great big trench lined with cardboard and filled with manure. Welcome to the world of runner beans.

The idea was to dig down at least 2 Ft however Allotment 21 has, according to Spouse, the dubious benefit of being right on top of a seam of glacial gravel. Now although Spouse is no geologist, he has been on a hole-digging course at work and is brilliant at finding thousands of health and safety reasons why they can't be dug.

We have lined our shallower-than-usual trench with moisture retaining cardboard, shoveled in a thick layer of manure and topped the lot off with soil. Hopefully the beans will never know.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tuesday 21st March - Auntie Pesto

Nephew is convinced that Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is based on Auntie Frankie and Allotment 21. I wonder where he got that idea from?

Our own Anti Pesto Squad are on red alert as the RIVALS have posted a comment on this very blog... Sheds have ears...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday 20th March - I am a Peasant

"Do not eat garlic or onions; for their smell will reveal that you are a peasant." - Cervantes (Don Quixote)

Our garlic is doing really well, it obviously thrives during cold spring weather and the fleece has protected the bulbs from the birds. This week I have weeded the bed and covered it with netting rather than the fleece tunnels. I reckon future weeding will be much easier if I can just lift the netting rather than removing the tunnels.

Definition of Peasant:

(noun) a person who owns or rents a small piece of land and grows crops, keeps animals, etc. on it, especially one who has a low income, very little education and a low social position.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday 19th March - Marrow Music

I've noticed that one or two of the other allotment blogs have a musical bent and was therefore very pleased when my Godson Morgan appeared on site today together with his sister Tilly.

Tilly had come hot-footed from winning a prestigious flute playing competition and was persuaded to give the salad seedlings an impromptu concert. I will have to dig out my recorder and perform to the marrow next week, perhaps that old Blow Monkeys tune, 'Digging your Scene'.

Go for it Den...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday 17 March - Comfrey Wrestling

John Gerrard writing of the 'vertues' of comfrey in The Herball 1597 said,

"The slimie substance of the roote made in a posset of ale, and given to drinke against the paine in the back, gotten by any violent motion, as wrestling, or overmuch use of women, doth in fower or five daies perfectly cure the same..."

I'm sure Spouse will be relieved to know this, next time he fancies a bout of wrestling.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thursday 16th March - Comfrey aka 'Knitbone'

Rowan-the-herbalist has suggested making a comfrey feed for the marrow which is also good for tomatoes. She has promised to bring me a comfrey root to grow on the allotment.

I fear that she has a bit of a comfrey fixation because she insisted that Spouse drink comfrey tea to speed up the healing of his broken arm last September. Spouse refused point blank after the first sip which means I have a large bag of the foul tasting stuff handy. Turns out that only fresh comfrey will do for the plant food and joy oh joy it will "stink".

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wednesday 15th March - Looney Sowing

Step 1
The giant marrow seeds have arrived from the chap pictured on the right here with his award winning veg. I am not giving too much away because blogs have ears and our rivals are watching... This is what the website said about them:

"If you fancy growing a giant marrow, either for competition or just to impress your friends, this is a guaranteed winner. It has the pedigree to grow to an immense size and has been re selected by the world record grower Richard Hope of Wigan. Believe it or not this monster is capable of growing to between 60 and 100lbs – Richard grew one in 2004 weighing 84 lbs."

Step 2
The yoga teacher at work has convinced me to sow the marrow seeds according to the phases of the moon although the medical herbalist swears by women's intuition. I am going to hedge my bets and do a bit of both. Clare will start reiki-ing as soon as they are sown and I might even get her to make up some aromatherapy oils to burn in the greenhouse. If you are mad enough to sponsor the soon-to-be-giant marrow, you obviously need your head examining. Our counsellor has already made a pledge.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday 13th March - Rhubarb

I am pleased to report that Allotment 21 is officially on the rhubarb bandwagon as reported in Anything but Sprouts and Horticultural. In our case by accident rather than design as this was the only identifiable edible plant on the plot when we took over. Spouse spotted it first and Mel rescued it by moving it before the shed covered it.

Witness our specimen yesterday bravely appearing through the snow. Not sure if the snow is a good thing or bad thing for rhubarb and Spouse reckons we should cover it with manure. Now it is a prized trendy plant I am sure we will be fighting over custardy...

(from the Den school of punnery!)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday 12 March - A Little Snow

I was going to show off loads of pictures of Allotment 21 under a carpet of snow today but thought better of it after viewing Plot c81 and Claire's Garden who both look as though they had a really good coating.

Spouse was rather tender this morning following 5 pints of beer last night and it took a cooked breakfast to get him moving. A phonecall from Steve scuppered the allotment plans as snow would prevent us from doing any digging. Spouse and I decided that we would take a walk up there just to check all was well and get some fresh air.

The allotment is a 20 minute walk from home which was lovely in the snow, there was nobody on the site and I was relieved to see the greenhouse thermometer was above freezing. Still fed up about the brandywine tomatoes I lifted the propagator lid to display our failed crop to Spouse. Lo and behold there was a sign of life, amazing in all this freezing weather. Tomatoes obviously pay no heed to all the expert advice in gardening books.

The jiffy 7's were very dry and we gave the fledgling brandywine some water before locking up the greenhouse. For a brief moment I did consider bringing the almost-sprouting tomato home where it is warm but I figured that it has managed to get this far in the greenhouse so it might as well stay there!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday 11th March - Even More Sprouting Success

At long last some of the tomatoes have germinated-

3 x Gardeners Delight
2 x Pomodoro
1 x Harbinger
0 x Brandywine

Saturday 11th March - Sprout Success

We may be rubbish at tomatoes but I am pleased to announce that the Rubine Sprouts have sprouted.

Is this what Motherhood feels like?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday 10th March - Tomato Tips

No sign life with our tomato seeds which prompted Sister to give me the benefit of her vast wealth of gardening knowledge. "Well all the supermarkets sell them on the vine these days. Just buy a few and string them round the greenhouse - nobody will be able to tell... that's what I'm going to do."

Friday 10 March - Off the Plot Comments

Last night was pub night where Lard, Steve, Den & Nick continued to deny being Cyril. Lard, no birder, had no idea what a Cirl Bunting was however I am positive that Steve has been leaving silly comments on the previous post.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wednesday 8th March - Who is Cyril Buntin?

'Cyril Buntin' left a comment on 28th February...

For all non bird-watchers, a Cirl Bunting is a small finch-like bird. Sadly, Nick and Steve both verge on being twitchers and I think one of them must be responsible. They both deny any knowledge.

An email with this picture came from Steve this morning:


I think this may be Ciril on his way to the allotment.
Have a check up there lunchtime will you. He looks a bit aggressive with that implement and I worry about broken greenhouse glass

Would the real Cyril like to come forward?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tuesday 7th March - Tomato Identification Parade

Mel still reckons that our greenhouse tomatoes will germinate because the coriander went in on the same day and has only just started to appear. As an insurance measure, I heated up my home propagator and sowed the remaining tomato seeds last night. Not being on the plot, I ingeniously cut up a yogurt pot and used the black felt tip pen from our kitchen calendar to label each of the four different tomato varieties. The overall effect looked rather smart and I took this photo before watering them.

Thank goodness for photo software which allows me to zoom in to that picture and map out exactly which tomatoes went where in the propagator. If you look closely at photo No 2, taken this morning, you will see that all the ink ran off the homemade labels overnight. A tomato identification nightmare!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Monday 6th March - Sub Plot Deepens

Sister, pictured here arriving at Allotment 21, has regaled me with her plans to grow veg on a designer plot in her garden constructed from railway sleepers. Every detail has been meticulously planned from the sleepers to the seeds. The source of all this sudden and encyclopedic knowledge? None other than her weekend bible, the Mail on Sunday and their gardening guru, Monty Don.

Watch this space...

Sunday 5th March - Santini Seeds

My old friend Dood phoned to tell me how she had been dancing 'till 3am to the band Big Top last night. Dood thinks they are brilliant and wants to go to more of their gigs. She was really surprised to see that their Bass guitarist is another old mate, Den who the Dood hadn't seen for approx 20 years. Knowing that we are friends she asked him if he had seen me lately and he said, "She's so obsessed with digging that allotment that no-one sees her anymore."

Den has also been known to mutter in the pub about allotments and pink wellies being for yuppies and so I planted these seeds especially for him.

For more information about Vince Santini click on the Pork Dukes menu and read all about him.

Sunday 5th March - Frozen Beer

A very quiet weekend on Allotment 21. Mel & Steve went off to Saundersfoot for the weekend while Spouse & I spent Saturday at the dinghy show in London. I was therefore expecting to find thousands of slug corpses in my beer traps this morning. Much to my disappointment, all the traps look as though they have been frozen throughout the week and our slugs are obviously expert in ice skating.

On a more positive note, the greenhouse seedlings are looking really amazing, even the coriander seeds were showing signs of life today. The soil in the guttering was very dry however and I think that one of us will have to call up mid-week from now on to water them.

I was pondering this thought when Spouse appeared on his mountain bike. He had returned from a long, muddy cycle ride to find himself locked out and a 'gone to the allotment' note pinned on the door. He rode up and down the manure heap a few times, was duitifully impressed with the seedlings and hurtled off with the house keys.

Friday 3 March - TV Allotments

It was by pure accident that we caught the start of the Gardeners' World Allotment Special. I rang Mel to let her know and settled down to watch. It was great seeing all the different plots, tips, and the persistant allotment rule breaking. After the show, Spouse and I walked to the local with Mel & Steve to compare notes:

1. We will plant our potatoes on leaves, 3 sheets of newspaper and grass cuttings this year.
2. Acquire 2 bricks for our coriander seeds.
3. Mel wants to grow strawberries in carpet troughs.
4. Spouse wants to make fruit and beer drinks in the shed
5. Mel is not terrified of the Osteopath
6. Spouse wants to know why someone would go to so much trouble to dye dishcloths?
8. Steve fancies women who garden
7. Monty Don is not so bad after all

I wonder which ones will be regretted along with Saturday's hangover?