Saturday 28 April 2012

A week of Sunshine & Showers

 It's been a week of sunshine & showers, so today while it was dry I decided to plant out the Main crop 'Sarpo Mira' Potatoes, said to be highly resistant to all diseases, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform, both in the ground and in the pot.

I've had 30 tubers of Sarpo Mira 'chitting' since 25th of Feb, they have lovely stubby dark green shoots, so it was time they went in. 
I planted them in just the same way as the other Main crop Potatoes, in rows 15" apart, 30" between each row.
I watered the trenches with Comfrey Water before placing each tuber in the bottom, to give them a start. 
That's all the Potatoes planted now, the Rocket (1st early) have all sprouted & I have earthed them up twice, the Charlotte (2nd early) have just broken through approx 50% so far, will report on those soon.
Other jobs done today:
Planted out some Lettuce that had been started off in the greenhouse. I made mini-cloches from 2ltr pop bottles, by cutting off the bottom to protect the Lettuce from the still cold nights. About 25 have been planted in between the Onions. 
All the rain we have had has topped up the pond and the rain barrel too, thats 3/4 full already.
We planted some Marsh Dasies & some marsh grasses around the pond, that we had grown ready in pots. The Tadpoles are still very active and getting bigger, will be Froglets soon.
Crops Harvested this week:

The Chickens had a day out today too.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

A busy few hours today

Was a lovely sunny day today, so what better than to work on the Allotment.
Weeded and Earthed up the early Potatoes 'Rocket' for the 2nd time. 100% success too as all 40 have sprouted. 
But the 'Charlotte' 2nd early Spuds have still to break through, but as I planted them over 3 weeks ago I expect them to break through very soon.
Did some general weeding too, the Rats Tails, also called Mares Tails, are coming up again, we did get them under control a few years ago, but are creeping in again from next doors plot, as the owner hasn't been down much lately due to ill health.  

Another job I have been putting off, but important was to tie up the Raspberry canes to the support wires, if I had left it any longer would have been very difficult as they are in full leaf now and buds are forming, didn't want to knock any off.
We have two varieties growing, early and late fruiting, both are in leaf so expect the fruit to set any time soon, that will keep us in fruit for months, not to mention the Black and Red Currants, Blueberries & Rhubarb. The Apple trees I planted in November last year are in leaf again now, so we might get a few apples this year, but more each year as they grow.

Did a bit more work on the, old Bath Pond, as you can see its wider now, as I have built up the sides under the pond liner, to give gently sloping sides, so Frogs can easily get out to search for Slugs. Added stones around the edge and will plant some marginal plants too soon. The Tadpoles are very active now the water is warmer, expect them to change into Froglets soon. The rain expected over the next few days will top the pond up and maybe overflow, but that water will soak away onto the soil, so not wasted.
So as I said, a busy few hours and I did get a lot done, including watering the Greenhouse, picking greens and Dandelions for the Chickens usual juicy treat. They are getting over missing Betty too, seems odd now shes gone.
Rain is forecast for the next few days so I was glad to get the rain barrel fitted in time to harvest all that rain.
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Super Saturday

Well despite the forecast of rain showers, we risked a trip to the Allotment and the sun came out.

First job to do: Protect the Carrots that are growing, from the dreaded Carrot Root Fly, with a fleece tunnel.
I used 3/4" Water Pipe for the hoops, available from B&Q (UK only) in 20mtrs lengths, cut into 60" (1.5mtr) lengths and covered with 'Super Fleece' which is pegged down all round, to keep those pesky flies out.
Chicken  News:
We had some sad news this week, Betty Chicken who was poorly last weekend didn't make it, she slipped away on Monday. But as we have always said, we are glad to have given our Chickens a lovely life out of Battery Hell.
The remaining three, Hetty, Peggy & Maud are fighting fit and as you can see here are still busy pecking around the Fruit Cage on the Allotment, their treat for the week.
Other jobs done:
Weeded the Autumn Onions, Summer Leeks & Broad Beans.

Sowed some Asparagus Pea seeds, not a variety we have grown before so looking forward to trying them.

Also I moved some Strawberry plants, to a new raised planter, will Blog about those soon.
This week we've harvested even more, as you can see from this haul:
and Chives

All to be used in the forthcoming  meals.  
So as I said, a lovely almost summers day today, just a bit cooler than it looks, but I still managed to have a Bonfire, by the time I took this photo it had burnt down and stopped smoking, but burnt all the weeds that had been pulled up over the week & from today's weeding too (see above).

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Saturday 14 April 2012

First harvests of some crops today

The excitement has been building up for a week now, have been checking almost daily.
But today we could wait no longer and cut the very first Asparagus spears.

Only 4 were long enough to cut, 4-6" is the recommended length. Had them in Risotto for dinner tonight, freshness at its best.

But, not only was the Asparagus ready, but the Rhubarb too.
For the last few weeks we have seen it getting bigger & bigger, but today we could have filled a carrier bag, but decided to pick just enough for a Rhubarb Crumble pie, to have with Sunday dinner.

This variety is 'Stockbridge Arrow' and very tasty too, as my wine made from last years crop will confirm.

The only other jobs to do today were, weeding between the Onions & Leeks with a Hoe and to earth up, for the first time, the Rocket 1st Early Potatoes, planted out almost a month ago as nearly all have broken through the soil. Better to cover the new shoots as over night temps can still be near zero.

So only a quick visit today, because one of our Chickens 'Betty' hasn't been well for the last few days, so took her to the Vet, who said she had a temperature, so gave her a jab to sort that out, but even now 8 hours later she is no better, so might not last the weekend. I know it's sad but she has had the best year of her life with us since release from battery farm last March & it's the least we could do to make it a happy life.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Busy Easter weekend

Finished the Pond, so we could add the Tadpoles, just a bit of landscaping to do, to make it a bit wider & easier for Frogs & any wildlife that falls in to climb out.
Netting (held on with bricks) makes it safe at the moment.
We added a few
oxygenating plants to keep the water clear & of course to feed the Tadpoles.

The weather has been just right to get everything growing, warmer and a bit of rain too, not as much as we should have, but better than nothing.
As you can see the Rhubarb has shot up, not long now before we can gather the 1st harvest.
Beyond the Rhubarb, is the early Potato patch, today the Rocket (1st early) I counted 15 breaking through the soil crust.

The main job today was to plant out the main crop Potatoes 'Cara' that have been 'chitting' since 12th March, 72 of them.
Using the same method as before as for the early potatoes, except the spacing is larger.
Main crop seed potato's are placed in the bottom of a trench, watered with Comfrey Tea water, 15" (38cm) apart, with 30" (76cm) between each row/trench.
Again I am leaving out using Chicken Manure pellets, as I have been told they might cause 'Scab' so used Comfrey Tea water instead.
I have grown Cara a few times before and always found them to be a good cropper, with large size tubers, that are good for Roast, Boil, Fried & Jackets too.

So its been a busy weekend, checked on the Onions I planted out recently, from 108 planted 107 have survived.
Had a bonfire & burned all the weeds.
Sowed some flower seeds:
Cornflower - Blueball
Cornflower - White Sultans Bride

A nice surprise this weekend was how many Asparagus spears have shot up so quick, I counted 12, Stewart Purple said to be one of the best tasting, even raw in salads.
The one in this picture, about 4" tall already, will be ready for picking very soon, I have been told when it's 6" long.

Our day today was cut short, we took the Chickens again for a day out, but one was a bit un-settled & it started raining so only 3 hours work was done, enough as it seems.

So I hope you all had a lovely Easter day too.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 1 April 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy again!

Super Sunny April 1st
First job, to plant the Charlotte, 2nd early, potatoes that have been 'chitting' since 29th Jan. As you can see, they have nice short, dark green shoots, perfect and ready to plant.

If you look back 2 weeks the method is the same as when I planted the Rocket 1st earlies, but this time I have omitted using
Chicken manure pellets, a friend told me using them might cause scab, so as an experiment, I used Comfrey tea to water the
trench just before placing the t
ubers in.

Comfrey leaves can also be used fresh, simply tear them from the plant and place in the base of trenches to add a bit of goodness, not just for Potatoes but also Beans, Peas etc.

Other jobs done today:
Planted out Broad beans,
Cabbages & Calabrese started in the green house. Planted about 70 more Onions 'Fen Globe' in one of the raised beds.

The Asparagus 'Purple Stewart' is showing 5 spears now, more to come I bet.
The Rhubarb too is getting bigger, will be harvesting soon.

But the biggest job this week and completed today was the wildlife pond. If you remember, I started last weekend clearing a left alone patch.
Well I dug the hole & placed our old bath in it, then using pond liner, started to fill with water. Not using stored water on the plot, I filled 26 x 2ltr bottles with rain water from a barrel at home, but it barely half filled the pond! We have been given some Tadpoles & Frog Spawn, so when the pond water has warmed up will introduce them to their new pond.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.