Wednesday 27 April 2011

On The Menu

It won't be long before strawberries are on the menu again. These are on plants which grew from runners last year. I potted them up and they've been in the greenhouse over winter, though they're outside now waiting to be planted at the allotment. My original strawberries at the allotment will be three years old this year, so they'll start to lose their vigour. Strawberries only produce well for three or four years so it's worth taking runners from them to create a new bed.

I used to spend quite a lot of time and effort growing bedding plants for my hanging baskets and for containers in the garden. For the last couple of years I've bought plug plants from the local nursery. They've been very small when bought and I've potted them on and grown them on until time to be planted out. This year I've cut down further still and have decided to fill my hanging baskets with only one flower variety, Impatiens or Busy Lizzies. I bought the small plug plants a few weeks ago and they've been potted on once. On Sunday I decided to pot up my hanging baskets, they've never been done so early but this lovely weather has spurred me on. The plug plants cost me £3.50 for forty and they've filled three hanging baskets and two wall baskets. I don't think I could have grown from seed any cheaper. They're hanging outside now, but I shall watch for predictions of frost so that I can move them in to the greenhouse. I've noticed many people have already got bedding plants in their borders which I fear won't survive if we do get another frost.

After a long Easter weekend just gone, we've now got another long four day weekend this week to look forward to. I've got lots of things which need potting on, but I'd also like to spend some time at the allotment so I'm hoping that the weather holds out. I hope you all enjoy your weekend whatever you're up to.

Sunday 24 April 2011

They're In

I managed to spend some time at the allotment today. I've come home because I'm shattered, it's hard work doing anything in this heat, but Hubby is still down there preparing more beds for me. I managed to get my shallots - Sante, and onions - Turbo planted. As you can see, I started my shallots off in pots in the greenhouse, and they've already got plenty of top growth as well as great root systems. I didn't plant my onions and shallots until the 16th of May last year, I was very late, but they still produced a decent crop and I hadn't started them off in pots either so I'm hoping for an even better harvest this year.

The first early potatoes - Arran Pilot which I planted nearly two weeks ago in containers seem to be doing well. They had been well chitted and I can already see some foliage peeking through the compost, they'll need earthing up soon. I'm hoping to get my maincrop potatoes planted at the allotment during the next week.

I hope you've all enjoyed the Easter weekend, it's made such a change to celebrate Easter in the sunshine, I remember many wet Easters in the past. We went out for a walk this morning and came across a male Orange Tip butterfly.  I wouldn't have recognised it if it hadn't been for Flighty of Flighty's Plot mentioning that he'd seen one last week. It had fluttered off before I managed to reach for my camera so I'm afraid there's no photo. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the Easter holiday whatever you've got planned.

Friday 22 April 2011

A Perfect View

This is the view from my bedroom window at the moment. Outside is a lilac tree and it's just come in to bloom, providing me with a gorgeous perfume whenever I open the window. We had a lilac tree in my childhood home, but it's blooms were much paler than these. This tree was planted before we moved here seventeen years ago.

I'm determined to spend some time at the allotment over this weekend. Today, we spent the day in the Yorkshire Dales, you can read about it on my other blog, Through The Keyhole, and tomorrow, hubby is playing cricket, but I need to allocate some time to getting my shallots and onions planted, as well as getting the strawberry bed dug over so that I can get the plants which are in pots planted out.

I'm pleased to note that the seeds which I sowed a fortnight ago have just about all germinated. Courgettes, marrows and pumpkins are all large seeds and so are there seedlings so it won't be long before I have to pot them on. It's all go in April and May.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Worth Every Penny

You might remember me telling you back in March that I'd bought a blackcurrant bush from Lidl for the princely sum of £1.49. It looked very much like a twig back then, but did have a few green buds showing. I planted it in a pot as the ground wasn't ready for it to be planted at the allotment and just look at it now. I'm not expecting much fruit from it this year, but it's nice to see it growing so well, and it just goes to show that you don't have to spend a fortune to grow your own.

I wish the same could be said of my blueberries. Last year, the flowers got frosted and I got very little fruit, so I was determined this year to watch the weather forcast like a hawk and take appropriate action if a frost was forcast. I really don't think I'll need to worry too much as there are very few flowers on the bushes this year. I'm wondering if a little light pruning might be in order to remedy the situation for next year, though most things I've read say that blueberries need very little pruning. Perhaps I should try repotting them at the end of the year, that can't hurt.

Good Friday and Easter Monday are coming up so we've got a nice long weekend. The weather forcast is good so we should be able to spend some time outside in the garden or at the allotment, maybe we can take a trip out too.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Pond Ups and Downs

It's nice to see that not all my pond plants were a victim of the cold winter. This is Caltha Palustris - Marsh Marigold and it's bright yellow flowers bloom over a long period. It's not only plants which succumbed to the snow and ice. Whilst giving the pond a bit of a clean out last week, we came across a dead frog. He probably tried to spend the winter at the bottom of the pond, with fatal consequences. Our pond is very shallow and will freeze right to the bottom. I feel very guilty and will now cover the pond in autumn after ensuring any frogs have vacated it beforehand.

My first early potatoes - Arran Pilot got planted in their containers earlier in the week. They're in the garden at the moment but I'll move them in to the greenhouse if a frost is forcast. My maincrop potatoes - Maris Piper are still chitting whilst I get their patch prepared at the allotment.

In my post on 28th March I mentioned that my everbearing strawberries - Flamenco hadn't done so well. I had emailed Thompson and Morgan and they were sending replacements but not until October. Well, a couple of days ago a parcel arrived with another dozen strawberry plants inside. Hubby has potted them up in to a container for the moment but I hope to get them planted outside soon. They probably won't do as well as the originals this year as they were potted up in to plant pots in autumn and have already got flowers on them even though they're still not planted out.

At the end of my last post I compiled a list of things I needed to do. I hoped to have had more crossed off after this weekend, but the sad fact remains that the only thing yet crossed off is planting potatoes, and even then it's only the first earlies which I've got round to planting. Yesterday, the cricket season started at our club so I've lost both hubby and son for at least one day each at the weekend. Add to that a sunny day today with a farmer's market and craft fair at the local park, and that adds up to neglect for the allotment. Let's hope I can spare some time in the week otherwise the allotment is going to feel very neglected indeed.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Operation Clean Up

The weather was gorgeous at the weekend, perfect for pottering about at the allotment, but instead hubby and I spent all Saturday and Sunday doing jobs in the garden. There was still last years dead growth on the plants in the border so that was all removed, the small pond got a tidy up and plants in there which hadn't survived winter were removed. Hubby mowed the grass as well as cleaning all the cracks in between the paving. The rabbits were moved from their winter spot on the patio up to their summer spot on the grass, I won't call it a lawn, you should see the state of it. The rabbits have runs which attach to their hutches so they can come out or go back in as they please so they like being on the grass so they have something to graze on. The greenhouse got tidied out and my small mini plastic greenhouse is now situated in there and holds lots of seedlings. I fasten the small greenhouse up at night and it gives the plants a little extra protection than they would get from just being in my cold greenhouse. It means that I can move seedlings outside a little earlier than I would otherwise do so.

I sowed lots more seeds at the weekend too, cucumber - Prima Top, cucumber - Bella, courgette - Soleil, courgette - Firenze, courgette - All Green Bush, marrow - Tiger Cross, Squash - (Butternut) Hawk, pumpkin - Mars. I also sowed some heritage pea seeds which have very kindly been sent to me by other bloggers, Kent Blue, Stephens, and Robinson.

Things I need to concentrate on now are getting my potatoes planted, getting a bed dug for my new strawberries and getting those planted, planting out some pea seedlings which are now ready to grow away, planting out the shallots which I've started off in pots in the greenhouse, planting my onion sets and direct sowing some carrot, parsnip and beetroot seeds. It seems a lot now I've typed it all out, but I'm sure it will all get done just as long as this weather holds for a little longer.

Monday 11 April 2011

Tanya's Lucky Day

My Blog Anniversary Give Away ended yesterday, and in true gardening blog style all the names were put in to a plant pot, a name was drawn at random by my son, and Tanya from Allotments 4 You was the lucky winner. Please let me have your address, Tanya, so I can get your prize sent off to you.

I'd like to thank everyone, not only for entering, but also for all the lovely comments I received on my second blog anniversary. My blog was started as a means to record my adventure on my allotment, and it's really heartwarming to know that people enjoy reading my ramblings. I wish I could give you all a prize.

Jennifer Tetlow from Stone Sculpture Journal asked if I am growing any Cosmos this year as Cosmos is the two year anniversary flower symbol. I didn't know there were flowers to mark certain anniversaries, this is something I will look in to more. The answer is yes, I am growing some Cosmos this year. I'm hoping to get some growing on the allotment which I'll be able to cut and bring home for the house.

Denise from Mrs Nesbitt's Space asked for hints and tips on what to grow from seed in the greenhouse. Why not head over to her blog and give her some advice. I would say grow what you like to eat, Denise. If the plants are to stay in the greenhouse once they've grown then tomatoes, peppers, chilis and aubergines are a good bet.

Kay from Kay's Cakes asked if I ever go back and re read old blog posts. The answer to that is yes, when I started my blog it was to keep a record of what I did and when I did it so that I could do the same thing with things which did well, or change the way I did things which didn't do so well, so I often look back at dates and names.

Thanks again, everyone, for continuing to read my blog. I hope I can continue to keep going for another two years, and beyond.

Thursday 7 April 2011


This mangled mess of roots and shoots is what's left of my leeks after a ball my daughter threw landed on them. I have some more pots of leeks as well as these, and luckily it's early enough in the season to get some more sown. The peas in the background also took a direct hit but I managed to get them sorted and back in to their modules.

I'm pleased to report that the round stumpy carrots I sowed a few weeks ago in a container in the greenhouse have germinated, so even if I don't manage to get any to grow at the allotment again, I won't miss out on that gorgeous home grown carrot taste.

It looks like we're in for a mini heatwave this weekend with the forcasters predicting warm temperatures and sun. We've got a cooling breeze here today so it would be nice if that drops.

Don't forget to leave a comment on my last post to be in with a chance of winning my Blog Anniversary Give Away. Comments will be accepted until midday on Sunday, after which time a winner will be drawn.

Friday 1 April 2011

Blog Anniversary Give Away

It's two years ago today since I started my blog, and to celebrate I thought I would run a giveaway. The prize is a Kitchen Garden Planner which contains lots of information about growing edible crops, whether you're growing on an allotment, in your garden or, if space is limited, in containers. There's also plenty of space for writing your own notes and a little pouch for keeping news cuttings or seed packets all together.

I got the key for my allotment on 21st March 2009 and started this blog shortly afterwards to keep a record of my progress. I've really enjoyed writing the blog and also reading lots of other people's blogs with shared interests. Many thanks to all of you who have stumbled up on my blog and return to read more of my posts. Thank you too for leaving such lovely encouraging comments, I'm still so excited when I see that I've got a comment, even after two years, I don't think that feeling will ever leave.

To be in with a chance of winning the Kitchen Garden Planner, just leave a comment on this post and I will draw a name at random. I will leave the competition open until midday on Sunday 10th April to give everyone a fair chance of entering, and will announce the winner shortly after.

Last weekend I sowed my tomato seeds. I've held off as long as possible to try and avoid the seedlings growing leggy, but couldn't resist any longer. I'm growing three varieties this year, Gardener's Delight, Tangella and San Marzano. The Gardener's Delight have yet to germinate but the other two are up already. I'm particularly pleased to see the Tangella seeds spring in to growth as these were my first attempt at seed saving so I was a little worried that I may have done something wrong and I'd be left without. I needn't have worried as I've had 100% germination. Let's hope they grow and produce well now.

I sowed some spring onions - White Lisbon last weekend too. I've sown them in a container and they've been placed in the greenhouse for now. I always grow my spring onions in containers and they've always grown well this way.

There's rain forcast for the weekend, but the schools break up today so I'm hoping for some good weather during the next fortnight so I can get my son to give me a hand at the allotment. He's always a huge help to me.

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