Sunday, 17 June 2007

Step by Step

Great news! One of the dads at the children's school is having his front garden revamped and is getting rid of all the paving slabs that are laid there. He has said that we can have them all if we are prepared to take them away. Are we? Of course we are - they will be perfect for creating a pathway between our allotment and the one above. If there are any left over, we will lay some paths between the different beds that we have marked out. So far we have collected 17 slabs with many more to come. They are about 2ft square which is just a little narrower than the pathway between us and the allotment above, so with a little spadework straightening up the edge of the pathway we will have a lovely path to walk on, and best of all no more strimming or mowing there which will leave more time for .....digging. Must get back to it!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Greenhouse Growth

It's very satisfying to see the main greenhouse being emptied of its small(ish) plants and for them to be put in the patio greenhouse and then hardened off outside before being planted at the allotment. Over the past 4 weeks I have planted 24 beefsteak tomatoes "Brandywine" and after a slightly hesitant start they are now "putting on weight" and looking good. 23 "Ailsa Craig" tomato plants have also gone in and are beginning to perk up. I have also planted 4 courgettes "Defender". At the moment they look a little floppy as they were quite pot-bound, but with some TLC I am hoping they will perk up. Waiting in the wings are the cauliflowers and the 5 different varieties of chillies. We know that we are a little late in planting out most of our vegetables, but are suffering from lack of cultivated space. With each bit that we dig, however, we are planting as fast as we can. We reckon that even if we get small amounts of produce it will all have been worth it and we are learning all the time.

Before planting out we dig a patch at least 3-4 times to get it to as good a standard as we can in the time available to us. Well over half the plot has now been cultivated, and it really has been worth it as our plants are thriving in their planted positions.

I'm already thinking ahead as to what I might like to grow next year .......

Bean There

Last week it was time for some planting. First to go in were the cucumbers (burpless tasty green) and they are at the top of the second bed in front of the pathway that separates us from the plot above. It is sheltered by a 12" drop between plots and is a sun trap. I put 7 plants in at about 18" apart. They are not quite tall enough yet to be tied into the canes that are next to them, but with some sun, rain and a feed (3 essentials I am told that cucumbers need) hopefully they will be happy.

After having dug and re-dug the part of the bed just below the cucumbers and onions, it was ready for the French beans to be planted. I made a very deep trench and lined the bottom of it with torn up newspaper and then soaked it with water. That was the easy bit. Next I had to construct a "tent" of canes, which was quite difficult as I needed 2 pairs of hands and not just mine. The canes were 8ft high, and I'm just over 5ft tall, so I improvised by getting a huge clod of hard earth and used it as a ladder to reach the top of the canes to put the crossbar on the top and then tie them all in. It was "arm-breaking" work and I was looking into the bright sun all the time I was doing it. However, there was a great feeling of satisfaction when it was all done.

On top of my trench with newspaper and compost I put a thick layer of home-made compost and then planted 28 beans into their places next to a cane and tied them in. I gave them another good water to settle them in and will see what happens.

I also planted the last of the potatoes Bonnie which seemed to take quite a long time to "chit", but as they have been planted much later than the other two varieties (Sante and Charlotte) I am not particularly in a hurry to harvest them.

With all this digging, carrying heavy bags full of weeds, kneeling, bending and stretching, who needs to go to the gym or keep fit? Get an allotment - it's cheaper, plenty of fresh air, and loads of home grown tasty fruit and vegetables to eat that haven't clocked up hundreds or thousands of air miles.