Friday 17 May 2013

Blooming Flowers and sprouting veg!!

Well as has become the usual with me I am still running around playing catch up with everything but I think I am now nearing the end of the busy period and hopefully after this weekend I will be nicely caught up with all that needs doing, not only on the allotment but also in the garden and with the housework too. To be honest I should probably be ironing right now but hey, the computer is free at this precise moment so I am taking the chance to get a post written and to catch up with some blogs that I am getting withdrawal symptoms on immediately after!!

So I got lots of planting done last weekend. The peas, mange-tout and sugar snap were all sown directly to the ground and have already started coming through. The French beans and ying-yangs were planted out along with a couple of other varieties and the broad beans were planted out. I didn't have quite enough broad beans for two rows so I put some seed into the ground too and hope that these will germinate to fill in the gaps.

Most of the potatoes have started to show above the ground though I still have the job of finishing digging up those that I have left from last year in order to get the rest of the roots in the ground....hopefully a job for this weekend.
The onions (both red and white) are starting to sprout and the garlic looks really healthy. 

So all this on top of work and home and you can imagines it's been a pretty busy time for me, but I bet it's been just as busy for all of you as well with Spring arriving so late.

It is lovely to bike to work and see the trees blossoming though, especially the magnolia which always look glorious. On the down side the rape fields are now nearly in full flower which is playing havoc with my hay-fever, hopefully when I get my bees I will have some rape honey which will hopefully help somewhat with that!!

No activity this last week on the bee plot...I will be getting onto that again after all the planting is finished!

I don't know whether I mentioned it before so forgive me if I am repeating myself. Anyway, my Friend and plot neighbour Kate is unsure whether or not she wants an allotment any-more so this year has paid for the land and I am working it so that she can take a year off and see if she misses it. This has left me with another half plot to work and it is where I am going to put the squash plants this year. This means I have sown more squash than I usually would purely because I have the room, it also means I've been able to space the rest of my allotment out a little more for easier access/weeding. Anyway within her half plot is the strawberry patch which has rather been left to it's own devices for a while....

Strawberries, dandelions and weeds
Strawberries, dandelions and weeds
As you can see above it is rather weedy but due to the strawberries everywhere I can't dig the weeds out so I have gone through carefully with a knife and sliced them all off at the root just below the ground. I know this isn't the way to deal with them but the strawberries are in flower and I don't want to not have a harvest from them this year.

A dramatically cleaned up strawberry bed.
A dramatically cleaned up strawberry bed.
So as you can see above I have made a pretty good start and freed up the plants so that they can flower and be pollinated...I can taste the strawberries now...YUM!! I don't know what type they are a Kate was given these plants by another allotment holder but I have eaten them before and they are delicious, I also presume them to be ever bearers as they flower and produce fruit right up to the autumn!!

So things are going good and hopefully I will be able to tick lots more off 'To Do' list after this weekend. Of course I still haven't told you much about my bee course but this weekend I will be suiting up (weather permitting) and visiting an apiary so I am hoping to take the camera and then I can fill you in a bit on what I have been learning!

I just realised...I'm British and yet haven't mentioned the weather once!! Can't leave you all without a mention now can I. Everyone was complaining how dry it was and I did have to fill my water butts last weekend with a hosepipe which took rather a long time. But of course the weather has cooled down considerably and on Sunday it started to rain, then it rained again Monday and then Tuesday it rained in earnest. Wednesday and Thursday were just a few short showers but today is wet and miserable. It is good to see the grass starting to look more on the green side though and it will do wonders for the gardens so I'm not going to complain at all. Just hope it stops for Sunday so I can get a look at the bees.

Mouse nest Update... 

Just so you all know I carefully checked the nest last weekend. The babies are no longer where they were. It's possible Mum has moved them deeper into the compost bag, to an entirely new location or , on the sad side eaten them. All I know is that I did the best I could. If I see any further movement on the subject in the future though I will let you know.

Pray for good weekend weather everyone!!

Wednesday 8 May 2013


Well it's been a fantastic but extremely hectic and busy past week and a half. Originally I was going to write this post on Monday but then to my delight I found that I hadn't missed the dead-line for the fire-pit competition and although I don't expect to win I thought it would be a fun post to write anyway.

So over the past week or so I have been spending plenty of time down the allotment getting caught up on tasks that really needed accomplishing. This means that now all of my potatoes are in the ground, Nicolas for the second earlies and King Edwards for the main crop. I also have some French potatoes in the ground that were given to me by a plot neighbours and just a few Charlottes and Swift that I managed to find a bit of room for which another allotment holder couldn't fit in and I can't stand to see anything go to waste!!

It hasn't all been hard slog though...  

Toad being nosy whilst I clean the pond. I also spent some time over the week carrying out less strenuous tasks such as giving the pond a bit of a clean out.  Whilst cleaning the pond I even had the chance to meet a couple of toads who popped there heads up to see what all the fuss was about. It's nice to know that it's being used by more than just the birds for a bath.                     

My onions have finally gone in the ground and also the peas, mange-tout and sugar-snaps. These are all things I sow directly and don't start off in the greenhouse so they did need to get in pronto so they could start growing. I am growing both red and white onions from sets again.

As I said the weather has been glorious and even the wind has died down so I spent the time filling the tubs around the greenhouse with new compost to start off the salad crops...did hit one minor hitch whilst doing this though......

Mouse nest with babies.As I picked up the last bag of compost out of the shed I noticed a hole in the bottom of it though I have to say didn't think too much about it at the time. But then when I ripped the bag open I encountered what you see here. A very quick check confirmed the presence of babies. I couldn't harm them so I have put the bag back very carefully and now I hope the Mum will still come and tend to them. They were too small to fend for themselves or be reared by me. I haven't checked yet if they are okay but will do so this weekend. I couldn't consciously harm such defenceless animals even though I may live to regret that choice!!

Most of the seeds are through in the greenhouse now with just the pepper, tomatoes and chillis being left behind but they always take longer to germinate so I'm not worried about this. One thing I did think I would see some sign of by now though it the parsnips so if they don't make any show at all by the weekend then I will probably sow some more.

I did sow some more marrow and butter-nut squash as germination rate on these was low so I hope more will come through very soon.

Hardening off ready for planting out at the weekend.
Hardening off those wonderful plants!!

 As you can see above the plants are doing well and in the suddenly warm weather I am having plenty of chance to harden them off ready for planting out this weekend, though I hope it turns back around again as today the temperature have dipped a little and we have dark black clouds and even a little rain. No matter what the weather though they will get planted!

Apart from this I have been burning rubbish on the bee plot and burning my ears with the sun, so much so that when we visited Denton street market on Monday afternoon I bought myself a hat. It's not overly flattering but it does the job and even has a drawstring so it won't blow off in the wind. I would sooner look silly and be protected than look good and be a fool!! Maybe I will get a pic of it for you next time the sun comes out!

And talking of being protected and not exactly looking cool I have another purchase to show you this week too.....

Bee keeper headt to toe suit!
I'm under there ...Honest!
I also bought a be suit this week...Don't I look great?? I guess the good thing is you can't actually see me so I suppose I can claim that it isn't me. The dog in the photo belongs to my Mum but I didn't really want a picture taken so decided Louie should be a part of it too. Only problem with that was we saw how incredibly dirty he was (yes he is supposed to 'BEE' the same colour as the suit!!) So we gave him a good bath!

Well I think that is me all caught up now...hopefully I will get time to catch up with all my favourite blogs again soon but with the bee course and extra hours at work time keeps flying by, I didn't even realise we had reached the month of May last week and so missed my hair appointment....Well no doubt after planting things will quiet down a little and I will be able to breather a little easier....never mind all the running around is worth it once you start harvesting your own crops!!

Monday 6 May 2013

How this Gardener was born!!!

Well it has been a hectic week and I was going to tell you all about it until miraculously I found out that I hadn't missed the deadline for the 'Fire Pit competition' being hosted by GLA and sponsored by Select Furnishings.I am hoping that these two links meet the criteria for entering the competition so that I can get on with my story.

My village

Ever since I can remember I have loved to be outdoors. I would play in the mud and search for insects and keep a rare selection of 'pets' to see how they grew and changed. But it wasn't just the animals outside that I loved, it was the air, the scents, the sights and the smells.

Just one of the many beautiful views to be witnessed whilst walking in my village

I have been lucky enough to live in a large village for my entire life, surrounded by farmers fields and pastures and even as a child I would walk for miles to forage berries go strawberry picking and picking over the fields after a potato harvest.

So was this what gave me the inspiration to be a gardener and gave me my love for it??

As I grew older more generations joined in the foraging

I don't think so! I think it's just a part of who I am, after all myself and siblings had the same upbringing and chances as each other and yet among the three of us I was the only gardener born, so maybe no matter where I had lived or what I had done as a child I would have had this need to grow and tend the garden!!

My Mum always grew a few veg but lots of flower plants as I grew up and I would help her in the greenhouse but when I got my own house with my Hubby my interest took a slightly different turn to my Mums and I turned more towards growing to eat instead of to decorate which in actual fact works well for us as we have the chance to swap with each other all the time!

This worked well for us both as I would raise the crops and My Mum would raise the flowers and then we could do 'swapsies'...the perfect combination!!

Only problem was that my garden wasn't really big enough to accommodate crops, the children and the animals so this was when I started looking into getting an allotment. When I got my first half plot I was very much a novice but loved the learning curve and being out there growing and harvesting my own food.

Becoming an allotment holder gave me lots more space to grow and lots of people to ask advice from

My Hubby doesn't like to garden at all but I was happy to do it on my own and have gotten a great sense of accomplishment out of my garden and the food it has produced. Now as I further my experiences I will be keeping bees in the future and so hopefully also producing my own honey

Oh dear...I seemed to have started rambling...after all I was just supposed to be telling you how I got into gardening in the first place, I guess it was with the help of my Mum...then the fact that I lived by so many farms and near such good foraging spots helped me branch out into growing veg. That then led onto going for an allotment, not just so that I could grow but so that I could provide for my family, help teach my children about where and how things grew. All that aside though..I think it is just a part of me and that without my allotment/garden I would only be half of the person that I am today.