Monday 25 November 2013

Meet Mavis

I have lots of quirky things in my garden. I don't think they'd count as classy but I don't care, I like my garden to be a fun place to be. You may or may not know that I have a thing about pigs, I love them, so when I saw this little pink porker in a shop in Mevagissey while we were in Cornwall this year, I knew she had to come home with us. She was a bit dirty, as all pigs are, but because of this, her price had been reduced by half, result. It didn't matter to me, she was going to be stood outside in all weathers and she would have got dirty anyway. I won't tell you what Archie uses her for, that's better left unsaid. She stands in the middle of my lawn and makes me smile every time I look at her.

Hubby was hoping to pick up a load of manure for the allotment this weekend. The farm where we get it from is currently up for sale so I don't know how long we'll have our source for, so we really need to make the most of it while we can. We're getting a new car soon too, so we want to transport it in the boot of the car we've got at the moment rather than wait until the new car is here. It's well rotted so it doesn't stink the car out. Unfortunately, we're at the time of year where family matters are taking precedence over the garden and allotment so he didn't manage to get to the farm, though he's hoping to make a trip next weekend.

The weather looks set to stay mild this week, actually warming up on Wednesday and Thursday here. The leaves are still clinging to the trees too. It can't be long now until the really cold weather arrives, after all, we're only just over four weeks away from Christmas now.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Cotoneaster Again

Back in June, I mentioned that the cotoneaster in my front garden was attracting lots of bees and I was asked if I would put a photo of it on my blog, which I duly did. At the time, it was covered in a mass of tiny flowers. I thought now would be a good time to come back to the cotoneaster to show you what it looks like at this time of year. Berries have now replaced the flowers and the little red jewels make the plant glow. In summer, the flowers attract bees, but at this time of year, and throughout winter, the berries attract birds. Blackbirds in particular love to gobble up these berries and it's fascinating sitting and watching them feast. Cotoneaster is definitely the shrub to get if you want to attract wildlife to your garden.

Hubby has now managed to source some bubblewrap so the containers which my small trees are planted in have been swathed in the stuff. It should help to keep the roots from freezing when the cold weather eventually arrives.

It's that time of year again when the bunnies are brought down from the grass on to the patio. Throughout summer, their hutches are moved on to the grass so that the doors can be left open and they can come and go in to their run as they please. In winter, the grass gets so sodden that this isn't an option, so we move the hutches on to the patio. It gives them a bit of protection here against the elements and they get plenty of attention each time someone passes by, they'd be a bit out on a limb on the grass as we don't venture up there as much in winter. They still get carried on to the grass to have a run around on fine days, but at least they're all set for winter now.

Monday 18 November 2013

Blog Of The Month - November

This year, I'm dedicating one post each month to Blog Of The Month. This is where I feature a blog I'm enjoying reading. Some blogs will be new to me, others may be blogs I've been reading for a while. I hope that by doing this, I can introduce some of my readers to other, interesting blogs, though I know that some of you will already read the blogs I feature.

My Blog Of The Month for November comes from Scotland and is written by Rozzie. Grow My Own Eden is a new blog, there's only twenty two posts so far, but I enjoy reading a blog right from the beginning and following the journey. I've gone back and read all of Rozzie's posts, which are really interesting.

Gardening in Scotland can be hit and miss because of the weather, but it doesn't put Rozzie off, as you can see, she makes good use of her greenhouse and packs it to the rafters.

I was really interested in some of the things which Rozzie is growing, things I haven't tried myself such as goji berries, cucamelons, okra and sweet potatoes, not to mention an almond. I'm looking forward to hearing more about these and everything else which Rozzie is growing.

I'm sure there'll be plenty for Rozzie to blog about over the coming months as she is going to try and overwinter various plants. I'll be especially interested to hear if she manages to keep the aubergines growing as I'm sure they'll benefit from being established early in the year.

If you haven't yet had a chance to pop over to Rozzie's blog, do try now as I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it. Don't forget to tell her that I sent you.

Friday 15 November 2013

One Out Of Two Ain't Bad

You may remember that I sowed a couple of containers towards the end of August, one with beetroot and one with spring onions. I didn't think there was much chance of the beetroot coming to anything and I was right, they germinated well enough but it was just too late in the year for the roots to swell. The spring onions were a different matter. Again, they germinated well, but they've also put on plenty of growth. There's between thirty and forty in this small wooden trough. I suppose I could eat them as they are now, they'd give plenty of flavour, but I prefer my spring onions to have a good sized bulb on them, so I'll leave them over winter and harvest in spring. They'll be perfectly fine over winter if I move them in to the cold greenhouse, I've done it in previous years, and I'll get a good early harvest next year.

I saw on Sue's Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments blog that she's wrapped the containers which she's growing her trees in in bubble wrap to give them a bit of protection over winter. I haven't done this before with my trees, and they've fared perfectly well, even in the harsh winter we had last year, but I don't think you can ever be too careful where the weather's concerned so I'm going to do the same. I'd be very upset if I lost any of my trees so it's a good idea to give them a bit of protection. Hubby is able to get some bubble wrap from work, so I'm just waiting on his firm getting some deliveries now so that I've got a supply with which to wrap the pots. I hope it won't be too long as the colder weather is surely on its way.

We found a hedgehog at the allotment recently. At first, I thought it had gone in to hibernation, but a little investigation revealed that it was unfortunately dead. I just want to mention that hedgehogs need to be a decent weight in order to survive hibernation, at least 600 grams I believe, so please be on the lookout now that winter is on its way for any small ones which are out and about as they would need to be looked after, perhaps by a shelter. There's a decline in the number of hedgehogs which is a sad state of affairs, so they need all the help we can offer.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Sedum For November

This year, I'm taking the late Geoff Hamilton's advice and visiting a nursery each month with a view to buying a plant which is in flower for my garden. Doing this should ensure that I have something blooming in my garden every month of the year.

I absolutely love sedums, so when I saw this beauty, spectabile Brilliant, flowering away in the garden centre, I couldn't resist it for my November plant. It's actually at the end of its flowering period now, it usually flowers from August to November, but it's good enough to brighten up the November garden.

Sedums are a great source of nectar for bees and butterflies, so this plant will go on supplying them very late in the year. I always try to do my bit for wildlife and like to find plants which will help them out, especially when lots of plants have now finished blooming.

Flowering plants are now dwindling in garden centres so it may be a little tricky finding one for December, though I'm sure I'll come across something.

Sunday 10 November 2013

The Allotment Planner Giveaway Winner

The giveaway for The Allotment Planner ended at noon today. A winner was drawn at random from all the entries received and I'm pleased to announce that the winner is CJ from Above The River. Congratulations, CJ. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can pass these on to the publishing company so they can send out your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Don't forget that if you fancy buying a copy of this book yourself, the publishing company are offering it at the discounted price of £12.00 including p&p. Please look at The Allotment Planner post for details.

I should also mention that I've seen the book advertised for sale on The Book People website for £4.99, though p&p is extra.

Congratulations once again to CJ who has won the giveaway.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Rent Rises

You may remember, back on the 16th of July post, me mentioning that we'd received a letter from the council advising us that they were reviewing allotment provision in Leeds. They had proposed three different options, basically wanting to increase the rent. The proposals they had made would mean that our rent would be rising from £37 each year for a full plot to over £100. Meetings were held and we've now been advised of the actual figures. There is a requirement to give us twelve months notice so the rent this year will rise by the marginal increase that we were notified of last year, however, next year, it will rise to £58, the year after £65 and the year after that £72. This is for a full sized plot of 250 square metres, smaller plots, such as mine, will be charged pro rata. This isn't as bad as I'd expected and I think it still represents good value for money. There's no water on our site, but there's a charge of £6 per year for plots on sites with water, and there's a £3 charge for allotment association membership.

I have a couple of moth orchids which are always in flower over Christmas. This year, the flowers have lasted and lasted and it isn't long ago that they finally faded and I cut down the flower spikes. There's no sign of another spike starting to grow yet on either plant so I think this will be the first year that I'm without my orchids over the festive period. Even if they start to grow now, I doubt there'll be time for the orchids to produce buds and then for the buds to open in time for Christmas. Never mind, something to look forward to next year.

We haven't had another frost since the start of the week, though it's still very cold. The sun is shining today, it's a beautiful, bright day, but there's still a nip in the air. I'm already willing spring to come and we haven't had winter yet.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 10th of November 2013 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Allotment Planner post.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Straight As A Poker

I dug the first of my parsnips up at the weekend. They may not be huge but they're perfectly formed, in fact, they're the straightest parsnips I've ever grown. In previous years, most of my parsnips have been all shoulder and not much root, but you can't say that about these. I hope that the rest are just as good, and if left, grow a bit bigger. I wasn't expecting huge roots just yet, but couldn't resist pulling a few to have a taste. We'll be having them with our meal tonight.

My next door neighbour knocked on the door at the weekend with a bag of pears for us. He said his tree had only produced one single pear last year, but he's got a bumper crop this year and wondered if we'd like some. Yes please! There was just under four pounds in the bag, so a good amount for us to go at. I'm looking for recipes now, I quite fancy having a go at a pear cake and a pear tart.

We managed to get all the containers in the garden sorted out on Sunday. The tender plants were moved in to the greenhouse for a bit of protection over winter and the annuals were added to the compost bin. The fragile pots have been stored away safely. It was all done in the nick of time as we had our first frost of the year that night, winter is on the way.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 10th of November 2013 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Allotment Planner post.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Bulb Planting

I bought my spring bulbs a little while ago and I finally got round to planting them in containers yesterday. I've gone for crocus - Advance, an unusual variety in that it's lilac on the outside and yellow on the inside, they should make for a pretty display, iris reticulata - Gordon, I love these tiny iris's, they're such pretty flowers, narcissus - Tete a Tete, a tiny, bright yellow daffodil which bears one to three flowers on each stem and daffodil - Professor Einstein, a flower with white petals and a vivid orange cup. I have to admit to preferring the traditional yellow daffodil but thought I'd go with something a little different this year. I also bought some allium - Spaerocephalon, but they're to join the allium - Purple Sensation which are already planted in the front garden. I'm also looking forward to seeing if last years bulbs, which I planted in the ground after they'd finished flowering in their containers, flower again. The garden will be very colourful in spring if they do.

I've ordered my potatoes for next year from the allotment shop. I've gone for Arran Pilot for the third year running as I've been really impressed with both the taste and yield from this variety. I grew a small quantity of Anya this year and was really impressed with them. Anya are a cross between Pink Fir Apple and Desiree so I thought I'd give Pink Fir Apple a go next year, as well as a larger quantity of Anya, so that I can compare the two. I ordered the Pink Fir Apple but unfortunately, the allotment shop doesn't order Anya in so I'll have to source those elsewhere.

Hubby completely cleared the greenhouse of all the old plants yesterday. Today's job is to move the more tender plants in there to give them a bit of protection over winter. There's a biting wind today, it's only a matter of time now until we get our first frost.
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