Monday, 19 April 2010

But the Spring-tide pass'd the same;

Spring has come and it's amazing the difference a few days of sunshine makes.

The potatoes are in, the onions are planted out with little green tips poking up. The spinach has revived itself after the winter, and despite 'pea-weavil' attacks the peas and broad-beans appear to be holding their own.

While far behind others on the Allotment, the rhubarb that I feared died in transport from Northern Ireland is now up and growing, as are dad's transplanted raspberry canes which were looking ready for the compost until the first buds began forming.

You might be able to make out from the photo that i've built my runner bean structure to save me work later, and you can
definitely see my kindly donated Gooseberry bushes which are growing away nicely.

At home the house is heaving with tomato plants and brassicas on every window sill, while the back-garden is abounding in lettuce, chard, spring onions, radishes and all manner of salad crops.

I'm sure there'll be set-backs along the way, but for now it's all looking full of promise!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Wait for the sun

As I mentioned last time, I did plant out my over-eager peas, and here they are trying to grasp at my pea net structure.

I visited them on Saturday and they were looking slightly the worse for wear after a couple of heavy frosts and rain, but i'm holding out for a recovery this week.

My main lesson so far has been not to get ahead of myself. I'm much better off waiting an extra month than trying to plant anything too early. Its too much heartache to see everything die as soon as its outside.

Unless you're very keen I'd also forget about overwintering onions (mine all rotted) and broad beans (95% dead). If successful you will get crops a few weeks earlier, but for all the effort its probably just not worth it.

So next year i'm going to start off some peas and broad beans in root trainers at the start of March, with the aim of getting them and my onions in at the end of the month.

On a positive note, however, my Garlic appears to be doing okay. I started them off in a seed tray back in November and planted them out last month, and so far they appear to be doing well.

If you're eager to get going in February then my success story is my tomato and chilli peppers. I started them off in my propagtor, and transfered them to a south facing windowsill where they're coming along nicely.

Anyway with so little to do at the moment i'm having to keep it brief, but have attached a picture of the allotment where on a good day you can see that Spring really is on its way!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

It's all going a bit leggy

So it’s now the end of February, after one of the coldest winters I can ever remember, and I’m learning all about the dangers of 'leggy' vegetables.

In my impatience I’m continuing to periodically sow a variety of vegetables in the conservatory; broad beans, peas, radishes, spring onions, lettuce and cabbage.

I’ve been doing this gardening lark for a while now, but the germination of seeds continues to frustrate and fascinate in equal measure. I carefully sow the seeds, water them, and then wait. As the days go by I begin to worry that something has gone wrong, checking back daily for any sign of growth, but to no avail. Then, one morning I come down stairs and there they are, tiny green shoots peaking up out of the soil.

As I carefully nurture my little seedlings, I begin to picture in my head the bumper harvest awaiting me. The weeks go by, the weather outside remains frosty, and my seedlings keep on growing upwards. Soon a few weeks have gone by, the ground outside is still frozen solid, but now my seedlings are toppling over, over-extending themselves in their desperate search for the sun. I’ve fallen victim to ‘leggy’ vegetables again.

I thought it might rain, perhaps not as heavily as it actually did, but I decided to get out to the allotment this weekend anyway. The peas had been sitting in the cold frame for a couple of weeks, and were desperate for something to start growing up. A heavy frost before they’re established could kill them off, but I decided to take the risk.

One of the great things about vegetable gardening are the structures you can build, and a pea net is one of the best. I used a triangular cross frame type arrangement, made out of bamboo stakes, with the net pinned to the floor with bricks, and to the top with gardening wire. It did look a bit precarious I’ll admit, and will need strengthening one day, but should give the peas a start, provided the foxes don’t get to it first!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

5 square rods

Last year we started growing vegetables in our back yard. We gave lots of things a try; potatoes, sweetcorn, onions, carrots, beetroot, turnips, radishes and lots of beans, with mixed success.

Anyone that knows me wouldn't have been surprised that once I got started growing vegetables it had every chance of turning into an obsession, and so it did.

It was with great joy, therefore, that I arrived home one day last May to find that we had managed to get an allotment.

This is the story of Plot 19(a), my very own 5 square rod (that's about 125sqm for the uninitiated) of prime vegetable growing land.

Prime vegetable growing land is probably a bit of an exaggeration, our much neglected plot was overgrown with grass and weeds and in need of some TLC.

However, once the knee-high grass was cut down the task looked slightly less daunting and my dreams started to take shape. I knew I would be fortunate to grow anything in my first year, with summer already in full swing, so I set about clearing the plot ready for my first bumper harvest the following year.

It took me about twenty hours of digging to get the main four beds cleared and dug, but I did even manage to get some seeds sown, and the results never tasted so good.

Its now February 2010, over eight months since we first got our plot, and having waited all winter, I can hardly contain my excitment at being able to get the plot fully utilised.

People always ask me how the allotment is getting on (they quite often regret this once I'm in full flow), so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share.

I hope you all enjoy hearing about my progress, and maybe you can be inspired to get digging too.