Monday 25 April 2011

Easter Bank Holiday Monday

Another lovely Easter day, got to the plot early at 9:30am and got started on the Green House, earlier in the year it had moved 6" because of very strong winds so yesterday managed to reposition it and started to dig out some of the very dry soil from the 'L' shaped bed.
So today I put in new edging made from old roof tiles & added a couple wheel barrows full of manure.

In the picture above you can see on the left (towards the back) a Cucumber plant and to the right a Pepper both started off at home, in this picture you can see 2 of the 3 Tomato plants put in. Along the front we have planted some lettuce as it grows faster than the Toms etc.

There is more space so will plant more over the coming weeks.

In the fruit cage we have many fruits growing, both early & late Raspberries, Red & Black Currants and Strawberries (one of many you can see in this photo), plus more (see below).

This year we have put in 5 Blueberry bushes into the Fruit cage, 3 that were established last year and grown in pots, but now in the ground.
Here you can see one and just look at how many flowering buds there are, we are expecting a bumper crop this year.

We have 2 bushes new this year and expect a small crop from them later this year, but will get a bigger yield next year.

The mulch we are using is the sawdust, straw & chicken droppings cleared from the hen house each week. This will suppress the weeds & feed the fruit bushes too. We are lucky to get this FREE fertilizer from our own Chickens.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 24 April 2011

Perfect Easter Sunday for planting

What a lovely sunny Sunday and lots to do.

Main job to do, plant my Main Crop Potatoes.

1st of all I had to do a bit of weeding as Ground Elder & Bind Weed comes onto our plot from next door and I didn't want these to spoil my Potato patch.

This year I am trying 'Markies' for my main crop, discovered these by searching through seed catalogs, as we have suffered from diseases in the past, mainly Blight!

'Markies' seems to be highly resistant and has good taste, especially for Chips and is reported as being the new 'Chippies favorite' lets wait and see.

More info here:

As you can see from the photo above, they have 'chitted' well (since Feb 9th) and are ready to go in.

I prepared the trench similar to 1st & 2nd earlies, except mains have to be 30" (75cm) between each trench and the seed potatoes need to be 15" (38cm) apart along the trench bottom.
I add a handful of 'Chicken Pellets' onto the soil dug out so when back filling the pellets mix well on top of the tubers so when watered (by me or rain) this gives the growing tubers a boost.

So a couple of hours later (a break was had in between, a picnic lunch) 77 potatoes, 11 in each trench (7) were planted and covered up.

Other jobs done:
Planted Broccoli and Cauliflower after raking smooth & firming the soil and adding Lime, as they prefer this soil management, oh & more Peas.

So as you can see from this high level shot (I was standing on a pile of pallets, waiting to be a new fence) everything is taking shape, still lots to put in;
Sweetcorn, Peas, Mange Tout, Beans, Squash, Courgettes, Beetroot & Flowers plus much more :)

Chicken news:
The chooks are doing well and dust bathing a lot now it's so warm in the afternoon.
Had a few soft shell eggs, but found out this can be due to warm weather as they pant a lot more because they cant sweat, this lessens the carbon in the body needed for shell production, so nothing to worry about (yet).
But they are eating a lot of greens, from the Allotment, weeds as well, this makes lovely golden yellow yolks.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Wednesday 20 April 2011

More planting done

Just a quick mid week Blog, visited the Allotment on this very sunny day, just for a couple of hours due to other commitments.

But managed to do quite alot:

We planted 2 rows of Beetroot in the raised bed next to the greenhouse which is still waiting to be filled with Tomatoes & Peppers, but haven't managed to move it back since the storms of Jan/Feb, when it moved 6" !

Also managed to plant out Sweet Peas on the 2 obelisks and 'Onward' Peas on the frame in the middle.

A good tip: cut a piece of cardboard to fit the base of your frames, weigh it down with a brick or similar, this will save you from weeding the centre which is hard to reach when everything grows.

The weekend weather looks good too, so expect an Easter Blog :)
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Saturday 16 April 2011

The up's & downs of having an Allotment

Luckily there are far more positive things about owning an Allotment than negative ones.
Today was such a lovely day, we managed to get several jobs done.

The 1st & 2nd Potatoes (Anya & Hunter) have come through so did the first earthing up of this year.

Planted another row of Parsnips as a succession crop.

Do you like the CD bird scares ?

The Carrots, under the net curtain cover, have come through, they were only sown a few weeks ago.

But the biggest job was planting the Onions.
Planted 10 rows this week, with about 33 onion sets in each row.

So 5 rows of Red Onions & 5 rows of White in 2 varieties.

We do use a lot of Onions in cooking so over 300 will last a year, hopefully.

But the big upset of the week was, that on arrival today we noticed a pile of Rhubarb leaves on the path & we know from past experience that only means some lowlife has nicked some. They had taken almost 20 stalks all from the same crown, meaning that crown will go into shock and not produce many good stalks, that's why it's important when harvesting Rhubarb to only take a few from each crown.

Chicken News:
Here you can see our Chickens enjoying one of their favorite treats Meal Worms, they go crazy for them.

Maud, with her head up in the background, has just taken a drink and is letting the water run down her throat, the yellow colour of the water is due to the 'Life Guard' tonic additive we use, it's recommended for ex-battery or laying Hens.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Monday 11 April 2011

Perfect Sunday for planting & weeding

What a perfect sunny day yesterday, so we planted Broad Beans and the Asparagus in the bed I had prepared over the last few weeks.

Scattered some assorted flower seeds around too, Cornflowers & Nigella to name but two.

I managed to do some more weeding
of the Pea & Bean patch prior to adding Manure then Rotovating, don't know why but had to remove lots of grass, obviously self seeded :(

But already the 'Hunter' 2nd early Potatoes are coming through, only 2 weeks since planting, But strangely none of the Anya's planted same day have shown.

I checked the Hunter spuds again today (Monday) and 6 are now showing :)

But as you can see was a lovely blue sky, to the right of the picture you can see the Asparagus bed, finally our order arrived so I soaked the crowns (12) while I prepared the bed to the instructions supplied, in a trench 6" deep, 8" wide with a ridge down the centre of each trench for the crown roots to settle on, back filled lightly, so not to damage the delicate roots, saving some soil to top up as the shoots grow.

I was so surprised when checking on Monday (today) that some of the Asparagus has started to grow already, obviously the manure & chicken pellets I added to soil had worked it's magic.

The variety we are growing is:
Asparagus 'Stewarts Purple'

Chicken News:
Finally the chicken run extension is finished, we will let them into it tomorrow (Tuesday).
The lid, you can see is in two sections, which can be lowered separately, so we can easy get into the run for cleaning etc.

Cant believe we have had them 3 weeks already, they are getting so cheeky now & need the extra space.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Wednesday 6 April 2011

2nd Early Potatoes in today

Well the weather forecast was correct, for a change, was warmer and dry too, so an ideal day to plant my 2nd early Potatoes 'Charlotte' I also put an extra row of 'Rocket' in too (1st early).

Usual spacing 12" apart in rows 24" between.

That just leaves the 'Markies' main crop to plant in about 2 weeks time.

Other jobs done today:
Weeded the patch set aside for Peas & Beans, will manure & Rotovate soon too.

Checked the Rhubarb, which has suffered from thefts in past years, but looking healthy and untouched too :)

Also had a Bonfire, some have told me that Bonfires are not allowed on their Allotments, cant understand why as the Pot Ash produced from a bonfire fueled by wood & dry weeds etc is a perfect & free soil improver.

I don't think I would like an Allotment on a site that bans Bonfires :(

Chicken news:

The cheeky four, Hetty, Betty, Peggy & Maud are doing well, looking so much better only 2.5 weeks since release.

Here you can see them polishing off a favorite treat, Super Mix Corn from the Small Holder range of feeds.
They really love this & we try to give them a handful daily if poss.

Thanks for reading/returning, Ian

Sunday 3 April 2011

Rain & Chickens don't mix

This weekend turned out to be 2 days of opposite weather, Saturday was dry and sunny so a trip to the Allotment was a dream, got some Manure dug into the Asparagus bed as we are awaiting a mail order of 12 crowns.

Plus, just look at the Rhubarb it has shot up since last Sunday, so had to take our 1st harvest of the year, as shown below.

Also harvested some leaves for the Chickens, Kale, Nettles & Broccoli, they really love greens.

We had this Rhubarb on Sunday stewed then finished off with a flapjack type of topping and baked in the oven, a bit of a family favorite.

But Sunday was a different story, really wanted to get my Charlotte Potatoes in but rain, rain, rain on & off all day stopped me.

The Chickens weren't happy either, their run was more of a mud bath so they couldn't dust bathe, so we gave them a treat of Meal worms they really love them, another favorite is Super Mix Corn, they can polish off a handful in seconds.

But we have realised they need more space so I am designing an extension of the run already, only 2 weeks since arriving !

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian