Monday 29 March 2010

Running Out Of Space

The windowsills are full, the greenhouse is overflowing, I need more space. This is my plastic mini greenhouse which is inside my normal greenhouse. I find that I am able to get away with moving even tender seedlings, such as tomatoes, outside with the added protection. I am starting my seeds off inside on windowsills and then moving them into the mini greenhouse once they have germinated, but I am fast running out of space. It won't be long now until I can start planting some of them outside.

I managed to get to the allotment on Saturday, but the ground was extremely wet after all the rain we had on Friday. It was such hard work digging, so I did a few tidying up jobs and then came home to sow yet more seeds, whilst I left hubby at the allotment to carry on with some digging.

Don't forget to check back later in the week, when I will be hosting a competition where you will be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize, courtesy of Love Thy Space.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Aren't I Lucky?

A couple of weeks ago, I entered a Mother's Day competition on Ryan's Garden blog to win a pair of luxury handmade ladies gardening gloves. Now I'm not the luckiest person in the world, so it was a great surprise to me that I won, especially considering there were so many entrants.

I emailed my address to Ryan last Monday, who in turn, passed on my details to Love Thy Space, who were supplying the gloves. I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the gloves in the post on Wednesday, how's that for service?

The gloves are leather and handmade, and although they look feminine, will be ideal for the tougher jobs around the garden and allotment. I love them, so thank you Ryan for hosting the competition, and thank you Love Thy Space for supplying them.

Ryan hosts lots of competitions on his blog and has a fabulous one running at the moment where you could win tickets to RHS Chelsea and a guided tour by Andrew Fisher Tomlin.

I would also urge you to check out the Love Thy Space website as they sell some beautiful items. If you want to be in with a chance of winning one of their products, check back on my blog next week as I will be hosting a competition.

Monday 22 March 2010

Potting and Pottering

I was hoping to get to the allotment on Saturday but unfortunately, the rain had other ideas. Instead, I took myself off to the local nursery to buy some bedding plants. I used to grow all my bedding plants from seed, but since having the allotment and the need to be growing more vegetable plants instead of flowers, I have been buying my bedding plants as plugs and growing them on at home. A tray of 40 plugs costs £3.50, which I think is good value, so I bought some nemesia, viola, petunia and the trusty old busy lizzie, which will perform well all summer, whether in sun or shade. They are sold as very small plugs, about 1cm square, and as you can see, I have potted them on into larger cells. I will keep these indoors for about a week to settle, and then they will be moved into the greenhouse to grow on before being planted out after the risk of frost has gone.

I also started some more seeds on Saturday, including a courgette - All Green Bush and a squash - Carnival. It still may be a little early to sow these, but I have more seeds if I need them. I haven't grown squash before but I've got quite a few varieties this year and I have allocated a large bed on the allotment to them as they are a sprawling plant.

It was the first day of spring yesterday and also exactly a year since we took on the allotment. The weather improved from Saturday, in fact it was a lovely day, so we took ourselves off to the allotment. I had a lovely time pottering about, tidying up the strawberry bed, pulling up some perennial weeds and chatting to other plot holders while hubby did some serious digging. Of course, there's plenty more still to do, but we've made a start.

Sunday 21 March 2010

And The Winner Is...

Thank you to everyone who showed an interest in my giveaway. It appears that My Life on a Hillside Allotment by Terry Walton is a book which many people would like to read. It also shows that this is a popular way of recycling books, so watch out for future giveaways on my blog.

My daughter did a good job of drawing a name from the cup, and I am pleased to announce that the winner is Flighty. Please let me know your address so that I can get the book posted to you. You can find my email address on my sidebar.

A few people mentioned that it would be a good idea for the winner to continue passing the book on to interested bloggers, and Flighty indicated that he would be happy to do this, so watch out on his blog for a future giveaway. You can find his blog here, Flighty's Plot.

It's a lovely day here today, after torrential rain yesterday, so I'm hoping to spend some time at the allotment.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Book Giveaway

My hubby bought me Terry Walton's My Life on a Hillside Allotment for Christmas, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I don't keep many books once read due to lack of space, instead sending them off to the local charity shop to be recycled. I thought that this book may appeal to my readers though, so instead of sending it off to be recycled, I thought I would offer it as a giveaway on my blog.

Terry Walton has had an allotment for over fifty years in the Rhondda Valley in Wales. He is a regular contributor to the Jeremy Vine Show on radio 2, where he gives updates on his allotment, but I know him better from BBC2's The Big Dig, which has also been repeated on Sky.

The book looks back at his life from the age of four, when he first started helping his father on his allotment, and also gives monthly tips as well as a few of his wife's recipes.

If you would like to be considered for the giveaway please leave a comment indicating this, and I will make a random draw to determine a winner.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Chitting Parsnips

I've discovered that the easiest way to get parsnips to germinate is to chit them prior to planting them. I lay a piece of kitchen roll inside a plastic container and dampen it. The parsnip seed is scattered onto this and then I give the seeds another water with the mister. I cover the plastic container with cling film and then position it on top of the boiler where it can get a gentle heat. Within a few days, the seeds will begin to sprout. I then pick each seed up carefully with tweezers so as not to damage the root, and pop it carefully into a toilet roll inner filled with compost. This must be planted into the ground before the root hits the bottom of the toilet roll inner otherwise it could cause the parsnip to fork. This year I'm trying Tender and True, and also some seeds which were saved by my hubby's uncle, variety unknown. He always manages to grow fantastic parsnips, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that mine turn out just as well.

Yesterday saw the drainage pipe being laid. I say saw, I didn't actually see it, as I sent my hubby down there to do the hard work with the help of our next door plot neighbour who kindly volunteered his services. A trench of about 60 foot had to be dug down the side of our allotment, and a perforated drain pipe was laid into this. There is a beck running along the edge of the site and this is where the excess water will drain. The other plots on our site have already had this done, and it has made a huge difference.

Today I have potted on most of the seedlings from my last lot of sowing, as well as sowing lots more seed. Hubby has erected the mini plastic greenhouse which has now been installed inside the normal greenhouse. This gives the seedlings some added protection as my greenhouse isn't heated. I used this method last year with great success. It means that I can move some of the seedlings out into the greenhouse earlier that I would otherwise be able to, so some of the seedlings have been evicted from my windowsills today, just in time for other seedlings to take their place.

Next weekend I plan to take a trip to my local nursery and purchase some bedding plants. I've started buying them as plug plants and growing them on myself as it's quite economical, and less faffy than growing them from seed. It also means that I have more space to start off vegetable seed which is my main priority since having the allotment.

Monday 8 March 2010

Spring Is Here

I'm whispering this, just in case Mother Nature can hear me and decides to play a cruel trick. It seems that spring has been a long time coming, but I think it's finally here. We had some lovely sunny days last week, but on Saturday morning I woke up to drizzle. I thought that the weather was on the turn again, but it brightened up and turned into a lovely sunny weekend. It's sunny again today too. It's quite crisp, and there's some frost and ice about, in fact the small pond is frozen solid, but it's a lovely clear day. Long may it last.

Last year I bought a couple of rhubarb crowns. The allotment wasn't ready for them to be planted there, so instead, I planted them into large containers. They grew really well, but as they were new I didn't take any stems from them. I didn't get round to planting them out at the allotment so they're still in their containers, but they seem to be thriving. They've bulked up into good sized crowns and the Timperley Early is already throwing up new stems. I'll take a small harvest from them this year, enough to make a crumble, and then they can be planted out into the allotment. Rhubarb is a hungry plant so I will make sure that the ground has plenty of manure incorporated into it.

My kids have never tasted rhubarb. I hated it as a child, but I also hated beans. Since growing beans on the allotment they're now one of my favourite veg. Would you believe that before I had the allotment my hubby would not eat any veg at all? Talk about picky eaters. He now eats nearly everything I grow, and my son, who is also a picky eater, is eating much better. My daughter, well, she's just like me. She'll eat anything put in front of her, but that's one of the best things about having the allotment, not only knowing where your veg is grown and that there have been no chemicals used on it, but knowing that the family is eating much healthier. As well as growing all the things we like, I'm also growing things we're not so keen on, as it shows with the beans that our tastes can change. I'm hoping that we're going to enjoy the rhubarb.

As I've mentioned, we had a lovely sunny weekend, but I still haven't been to the plot. Instead I sent hubby down there to do some digging while I stayed at home and sowed more seed. I'm hoping that I can get down there this week to do some more preparation, and all being well, next weekend will see the drainage pipe being laid. Fingers crossed that this gorgeous spring weather continues.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Lady Of Leisure

It's official, I'm now a lady of leisure. I have worked for the same company for over fourteen years, but as they are now relocating the office twenty five miles away, I have decided to call it a day. I'm not going to look for anything else straight away, but the money situation may mean that I will have to in the future. My last day was yesterday, and I was presented with a lovely bouquet of flowers, some Thornton's chocolates and some wine. This has come at just the right time, as I can now devote more time to the allotment and garden, just as the season is beginning. As I will now be watching where every penny is spent, I will be doing what most allotmenteers do and recycling what I can, getting the most use out of everything. Something else which I'm eager to have a go at this year is seed saving. I've never saved my own seed before so this is new to me.

I potted on my seedlings at the weekend. They are all now in individual pots on my son's windowsill, as that gets the most light. I didn't manage to get round to sowing any more seeds, but will do that this weekend.

I have been presented with another award. Thank you Gary, Jen and Ruby from Reads Allotment Retreat. This is the happiness award and the rules are that I have to link to the blog which presented me with the award, list 10 things which make me happy, and pass on the award.

This is the third time that this award has been presented to me so my blog must be making some people happy. Instead of listing 10 things which make me happy, this time I am going to list 10 of my favourite flowers. So, in no particular order, they are:-

Sweet Pea
Rose (yellow)

I'm sure that there are lots more that I have missed off this list, but these are the 10 which spring to mind at the moment. I would now like to pass this award on to some other blogs which make me happy.

You are under no obligation to accept the award or pass the award on, but I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blogs.

Since I started blogging, less than a year ago, I have had more than 10000 visitors to my blog. I would like to thank all my readers for coming back for more, and especially for commenting. It's lovely to have made so many like minded friends, and I hope that you will continue to enjoy my blog.
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