Sunday, 31 January 2010

Favourite Photo Meme

This meme has been passed on to me from Kella at Kella's Musings on Growing Her Own, Wildlife and Her Brand of Parenting. As this is a gardening blog I decided to go with a photo of myself taken with my dad at a place called Appletreewick, which is in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. As you can see, I was about four years old in the photo, taken in the early 1970's, hence the quality. This is the place where I first learnt about fauna and flora so I thought it would be apt.

As a family we often used to take day trips to the Yorkshire Dales, and this is something which I now continue with my own family. Appletreewick is little over an hour away by car from where I live, and is a lovely peaceful place to go for a picnic by the River Wharfe.

Although called the Yorkshire Dales National Park, part of it is situated in Cumbria. The scenery is fantastic and it's my favourite part of the world.

In true meme style, I must now pass this meme on to some other people so here goes:-

Please note you are under no obligation to play along.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Promise Of Things To Come

Just look at this bud on my blueberry bush, it certainly gives you hope in this cold weather. My first blueberry bush was bought a couple of years ago but I didn't get any fruit the first year I had it. I bought a second, more established one at the back end of 2008 and last year I had a great harvest from them both. My resident blackbird took a liking to them, but to be honest, there were so many berries that I didn't mind sharing. There's lots of buds on both bushes now so I hope to get a repeat of the great harvest I had last year.

My potato order still hasn't been delivered. I had an email from Thomson and Morgan advising that due to the bad weather, they have a backlog of orders waiting to go out. I'm hoping that they arrive in time for me to chit them before they have to go in the ground. I know that there is a debate whether chitting actually works, but I like to think that these old fashioned ways count for something.

It's a lovely sunny day here in Leeds today. I'm hoping that we have some dry weather for a while now so that the allotment can dry out and we can get the drainage pipe laid. My son was going to help his dad dig out the trench for the pipe but this won't be happening now, he's broken his arm! Think football, school, PE lesson.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Last Harvest

I had my first trip of the year to the allotment today and what a sight awaited me. In my last post I mentioned that the drainage on the allotment is bad, but this being the first year that I have had the allotment at this time of year I wasn't prepared for just how bad. The previous tenant dug out a drainage channel along the middle of the allotment which we haven't yet got around to sorting out, and this was completely filled with water. Some parts of the soil were like bogs, and it has just made us more aware that we need to get the drainage pipe installed as soon as possible.

What I did manage to do was to dig up the last of the leeks, which never did manage to plump up, and also the last couple of parsnips which are very stumpy. The Brussel sprouts weren't very good so they have been composted and I haven't yet decided whether I will bother to grow them again this year as there's only me in our house who likes them anyway.

One thing I have decided to have a go at this year is swede. I have never grown swede before, and although it is the root which is eaten, it is in fact a brassica so could take the place of the Brussel sprouts in the brassica bed.

I have had a trip to Wilkinson's today and purchased a fleece cloche. My hubby bought me a three metre plastic cloche for Christmas, so I am all ready now to start warming up the beds ready for planting out. I just need some warmer and dryer weather to get the beds ready first though.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Would You Believe It?

Last week, this little flower was buried beneath a six inch blanket of snow, and had been this way for well over a week. It surprises me how anything manages to survive those type of conditions. Ok, it looks a little raggy around the edges, but so am I after the weather conditions we've experienced lately. When I planted up my baskets and tubs ready for winter, I blogged that I usually choose Pansies as they always seem to tolerate the weather conditions so well, and they're still going strong after all that the past few weeks have thrown at them.

I still haven't managed a trip to the allotment yet this year, and I'm working this weekend so I might just manage to get down there for a fleeting visit to check that all is well. I still have some leeks, parsnips and Brussel sprouts in the ground, but what condition they'll be in is anyone's guess.

Our allotment site gets quite boggy and before I took it on, all the allotments on the site had drainage pipes laid. That is all the allotments except mine. Apparently, the previous tenant had a disagreement about how it was done so decided not to bother. So that's a job which definitely needs doing before the growing season gets underway. A trench needs to be dug for the pipe to be laid, and this will drain the water into a sump which has already been installed. The sump then drains into a beck which runs along the bottom of the site. My allotment neighbour has offered to help, which is really very nice of him.

I haven't started any seed sowing yet, but as time goes on my fingers are becoming more and more itchy so watch this space.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Drum Roll Please....

....I can now announce the varieties of potatoes I will be growing this year, well, subject to Thomson and Morgan having them in stock and delivering them. I have been looking through the potato supplement which they sent and it's been quite a hard choice. The first early I have chosen is Sharpes Express which is 100 years old. I have chosen International Kidney as my second early. This is the potato which is grown on Jersey and marketed under the name of Jersey Royal, however, if the potato is not grown on Jersey it is called International Kidney. The maincrop I will be growing is Lady Balfour.

I also decided to order some potatoes to plant in containers again at the end of summer to get a crop for Christmas. Thomson and Morgan do a Christmas collection containing Carlingford, Vivaldi, Orla and Maris Peer. There are five tubers of each variety so it looks like my greenhouse will be full of containers next Christmas.

Because I had spent over £19.99, there was an offer to take 10 tubers of Blue Danube for 99p. This is an early maincrop which has previously been known as Adam Blue. The foliage has moderate resistance to blight, but the tubers apparently have excellent resistance. It looks a stunning potato with blue/purple skin.

Another offer available to me was some Santero onion sets, again for the bargain price of 99p. I can't resist a bargain so they're on the way too. According to Thomson and Morgan, this is the first onion set with a resistance to downy mildew. I have never grown onions before, apart from spring onions, so I am looking forward to having a go with these.

We had more snow in the early hours of Monday but none since, however, there is lots of ice around. Hubby took me to work and a taxi skidded into the back of the car. There was only slight damage, thank goodness, as the kids were also in the car on the way to school, so no injuries to report.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Belated Happy New Year

I really didn't mean to leave it so long to update my blog. I have had flu right through Christmas and New Year, and only now am I starting to feel that I am on the mend. Not that I would have been able to do any gardening. The snow which we had before Christmas hung around right through the festive season, turning to ice, and then on Tuesday we had a very heavy snow fall again. The kids were sent home from school, but although it snowed again yesterday, they were expected in, much to their disappointment. The poor birds have had their house decorated with snow, and as you can see, there isn't a scrap for them to eat either. You'll be pleased to know that that has now been rectified and the bird table is adorned with all manner of goodies.

I thought I should update you on my Christmas potato experiment. I had saved a couple of Kestrel tubers, which I planted in spring, and kept them in the salad drawer in the fridge. In late summer I planted these in a container and as the colder weather appeared, they were moved into the greenhouse for protection. The aim was to eat my home grown new potatoes on Christmas day. Owing to me having flu it was up to my hubby to empty the container on Christmas Eve and find the treasure. There were quite a few potatoes but they weren't very big. There was only just enough for the four of us to have some with our Christmas dinner, but they did taste delicious. I will definitely grow them again this way, in fact I have already ordered some tubers which will be delivered around July, specifically for planting up ready for Christmas. This year I will plant them earlier to see if I can get them to grow a little bigger, and also plant more.

The sun is out here today but it's bitterly cold and the snow is turning to ice. It seems that most of the country is suffering with the weather. Let's hope that the weather improves for the rest of 2010 and we manage to get a good growing season this year. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.

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