Monday, April 24, 2006

Rhubarb, Rhubarb!............

Well here is the first crop of the season!

Two weeks ago it was only just bursting through, but the combination of wet weather, and the manure I piled over it last winter have made it go mad.

I have three crowns of an unknown variety, but there is enough to pull this much every week, if not twice a week. Disposal is not a problem either, as everyone in the pub seems to want some. I have had to start making a list.

Incidentally I just finished the last of the previous year's crop from the freezer this weekend. That's what I call timing, and also why rhubarb has to be in my "Top 5 Things to Grow" (or simply allow to grow) on any plot.

Makes for quite a nice photo as well......

Buckets and beans.........

In the first two years on my tenure at RC, I grew dwarf french beans, using the normal ground dwelling varieties, but I didn't really find them to be very satisfactory to be honest. They take up a lot of ground all summer, and are very delicate - even the gentlest of accidental tugs when picking beans risks killing the whole plant.

This year I have decided to go for the a climbing variety called Blue Lake, and hope to get better results. Anticipating a dry summer, I have tried to make watering more efficient, buy burying a cheap 98p plastic bucket (B&Q's finest) with two rows of holes drilled round the sides. The beans will then be planted inside the canes, around the bucket, so that water can be applied direct to the roots, without waste and evapouration. Scientific(ish) tests show that a full bucket takes a little over 2 minutes to drain away into the soil, and this seems about right to me.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it will work OK, as I always water my runner beans from beneath, via a length of kitchen waste pipe buried in the bottom of the trench, again with holes in it. A simple "L- bend" connector, and an upward length of pipe left protruding above the soil at each end, allows me to stuff the hosepipe down to root level. A good few miniutes soak, twice a week, is far more effective in hot weather than daily surface watering. Several people at our site water their bean rows this way, and you can spot them at a distance, by the luxuriant green growth all summer long.

“It grows Igor !”……..

My onions and shallots are doing really well, and growing away strongly now. Although I planted them deeper than recommended, every one has sprouted, and none needed replanting….Smugness will be excused on the odd occasion I hope.

Also growing well, but without any influence from me, are the four globe artichokes that I inherited, but can’t quite seem to kill…. If only the potatoes in the foreground will do as well...

Crash test veg...

These are the two small raised beds I mentioned previously, that I made from some hinged, crate-stacking boards donated to me by a friend. I intend to use them as a kind of revolving salad bar, by sequentially sowing small quantities of radishes, lettuce, spring onions etc.

As you can see they are sponsored by Volvo, so I suppose that my lettuces will have the best side impact protection in their class.

I had a stroke of good fortune today, when after helping “Peter the Plot Boss” turn on the mains water, and check all the taps and tanks, he gave me four old glazing panels he wasn’t using, and which are an inch perfect fit for these beds!

They should bring seedlings on nicely, though I will need to make some kind of support frame to prop them up like a roof ridge as the plants get taller.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Shameful neglect of duty.....

Nothing much to report here I'm afraid.

Despite the long Easter weekend, very little has happened on plot 14, Ridgeway crescent.

I have actually been down to the site twice, just for flying visits; done the mowing, and made a couple of small raised beds out of some haulage company stacking boards, which a friend gave me whilst clearing an old warehouse. (Hard to describe them here but pics to follow in due course no doubt.) I've half filled them with a mixture of soil and compost, and am planning to plant my lettuces in them. Another friend who is in the double-glazing business is supposedly finding me some discarded secondary glazing panels to eventually put on top of them.

But that's about it...... No spuds buried, no runner beans sown, no peas transplanted.

However, some pretty average golf got played, some beers were drunk, a quiz was won, and I spent a lot of quality time with my sofa....Nature can wait.

Considering I'm not currently working anyway, I think it takes real dedication to be that lazy over a bank holiday!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lights, Camera, Action....

Ok... So I know I'm a copycat and a rip off merchant, but after seeing Bluetit TV, I have been beside myself with Technomalogical envy.....Video on a blog...How cool is that!

So, having ascertained the production secrets, I can now present for your edification the following epic clodbuster..."Allotments of Fire".

Caution is advised however if you are unusually prone to sea-sickness, as due to the fact that there are a two schools of thought on the use of tripods (All the other directors say you need one, but I say's yer don't) it is filmed in Deluxe Wobbly-Rama-Vision.

Sorry about the dodgy sound at the start, it soon gets better.

Must have been breezier than it seemed!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April Arrives, but no tomfoolery..........

A typical April morning of sunshine & showers. After a short drenching on the way to the site, the rain held off long enough to get quite a bit done.

First job was to cultivate and rake over a largish patch of ground that I am not planning to grow any actual veg on this year, and broadcast sow it with one of those "oh-so-trendy" green manure crops. I chose Red Clover from The Organic Gardening Catalogue as it can be mowed over a few times to prevent it growing to seed, and to make great mulch or compost material, before being dug in at the end of summer. Then I’ll probably sow some Hungarian Rye Grass to over winter on it, before digging it in again in the spring. At least this should look reasonable, keep the weeds down, and keep the “Tidy Plot Police" happy without me having to do too much.

After this I forked over last year's potato patch at the bottom of the plot, cultivated it, and raked it down to a reasonable tilth fine enough to sow some seeds. Now I don’t normally go much on growing flowers.... It smacks too much off “girlie gardening” for me, but I wanted to fill this bed up and block out the rubbish dump at the bottom, so I have chucked in a long row of various types of sunflower. Prejudices aside, I have to admit that if it works well, a 5ft high x 30ft long wall of them should look quite spectacular.

Raspberry Wars
In terms of the numbers of shoots per each 10 canes, the Galante are lagging behind the Allgold at the moment. Seems they will have different coloured foliage as well as fruits.... The waiting is just bloody tedious!

Galante ........................................ Allgold............................