Monday 29 November 2010

The White Stuff

The weather forcasters were right for once when they predicted snow. There's more forcast for overnight and it seems there's no let up for the rest of the week. I can't remember when it last snowed this early in the season, though some news reports suggest it's been 17 years, I just hope it doesn't mean that we're going to get a long winter, last year was bad enough. Don't forget to pop over to my Through The Keyhole blog to find out what Archie's first impressions of snow are.

Obviously, nothing got done on the allotment again this weekend. I'll be interested to see what difference the drainage pipe which hubby laid earlier in the year makes after the snow melts.

The birds are loving the food which has been put out for them. It makes such a difference to them in snowy weather to be able to find food easily. Hubby spotted a Greenfinch over the weekend, something we haven't seen in the garden before. Let's hope he returns with his family.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

A Little Surprise

I was quite surprised today to find the alpine strawberries are still producing fruit. We've had a few frosts now so I thought they would be finished. Alpine strawberries have a very intense flavour and they produce for a long period too so they're well worth growing.

I've got quite a lot on at the moment so I haven't made it to the allotment this week. Hubby has taken a days leave from work on Friday, but as snow is forcast in some parts of the country for the end of the week, I don't hold out much hope of getting there this weekend either. We've dug over more of the allotment already this year than we dug last autumn so I'm quite happy with that even if we don't get any more done.

I always enjoy reading about people's experiences of allotment life, I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy reading blogs so much. On my Christmas list this year are a number of books on this theme, One Man and his Dig-Adventures of an Allotment Novice by Valentine Low, Digger's Diary-Tales From the Allotment by Victor Osborne and Allotted Time-Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea by Robin Shelton. I hope Santa's taken note.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Feed The Birds

I try to feed the birds all the year round, however, during the summer months I'm not so bothered if I forget to fill up the feeders as there's more food around for them to find themselves. Now that the colder weather is here I try to make sure that there's always something on the bird feeder for them. These suet blocks are great for the winter months as it helps to build up their fat reserves which they need in cold weather. The suet is mixed with insects, berries, mealworms etc. You can also make your own fatty treats easily and there's many recipes on the web. One thing to remember though, you should never feed fat to the birds which has been cooked as it blends with the meat juices and it's prone to smearing which is bad for the birds' feathers. Of course, clean fresh water is also important, and as the freezing temperatures arrive don't forget to check the water supply first thing in the morning as it will probably have frozen over. There's some great tips about what to and what not to feed birds on the R.S.P.B. website.

We visited a couple of garden centres at the weekend. From their insides you wouldn't think that they had anything to do with gardening. They were completely adorned with Christmas decorations and any gardening related products were few and far between. This is one of the reasons I much prefer nurseries to garden centres. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy looking round the garden centres at all the Christmas ware, just not when I'm looking for something for the garden.

I gave the allotment a miss at the weekend. The weather had been so bad last week that I'm sure it will have been too boggy to get anything done. The colder weather has definitely arrived and with it has been rain and strong winds. I think we'll have to snatch allotment days when we can from now on.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Gardeners' World Magazine

I let my subscription to Gardeners' World magazine lapse in the summer as I found I didn't have time to read it properly. I've decided that now the winter months are approaching I will renew the subscription as I'll be glad of some reading material whilst I'm sat by the fire on the cold evenings ahead. I know that they recycle some articles, what needs to be done this December will need to be done again next December, and there are lots of pages of advertisements, but there's always something of interest to read in each magazine. I always take out the subscription through Tesco Clubcard Deals as the vouchers are worth four times their value, so a years subscription only costs £10.50 in vouchers. You've got to be quick to get it at this price though as the value of Tesco Reward vouchers is lowering to three times their value from the 6th December so the subscription will then cost £14.50 in vouchers.

I managed to get to the allotment again on Sunday whilst my daughter was at her drama group. My son didn't want to come with us this week so it was just hubby and I. I set about the strawberry bed, which is now almost finished, whilst hubby cleared a bed which was covered in weeds and dug over another bed. I'm really pleased with how much we've got done already this year. Of course, if I hadn't been so lazy and cleared the strawberry bed after they'd finished fruiting we'd have had much more done by now, but I didn't. It's been a real job tidying up the bed, I won't let it get in this state again.

It was a terrible day here on Monday, I don't think it stopped raining, even for a minute, all day. There was nothing for it but to make a roast chicken dinner which we ate with the first lot of runner beans taken from the freezer. How lovely it is to have some stored for winter use. The weather was much the same yesterday, though it did brighten up a bit in the afternoon, but it's been a gorgeous sunny, crisp autumn day today. It's forcast heavy showers again tomorrow so let's hope the rain is out of the way for the weekend.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Making Use Of The Runners

At last, I managed to get to the allotment at the weekend. The strawberry plants haven't had any attention since they fruited, even the netting was still in place, so I thought I should tackle that bed whilst hubby and son got on with digging over the plot. I didn't have as much time as I'd have liked there due to having to pick up my daughter from her drama group, but I managed to get about half the bed cleared, which was very time consuming due to the mess it was in. There were lots of runners, some of which had escaped in to the next bed, and new plants had set roots so I gently lifted them and potted them up. They will stay in their pots inside the cold greenhouse until spring when I will create another strawberry bed for them to reside in. This is a great way of increasing your strawberry plant stock for free.

Hubby and son got lots of digging done and the plot is looking much tidier than it was, though there's still lots more to do. The winter dig is already further on than it was at this time last year.

There's very little still in the ground at the allotment now. We're still harvesting cavolo de nero, curly kale and chard, and there's Savoy cabbages and spring greens growing.

My daughter is at her drama group again this Sunday which should free up some more time for me to spend at the allotment again. Fingers crossed for a fine weekend weather wise.
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