Thursday, 16 July 2009

Standing in a sea of squash

Bob had been looking after the allotment for about 2 weeks but he's on holiday this week so I was down there and the squash and courgette plants had gone bleeding mental. Check this:

Squash for several metres in every direction. I got 2 squashes off the plot on Monday and the same today and there's bloody millions of them. Same with the courgettes.

I like the sheer chaotic unpredictability of squash - given time (and water), they would take over the whole plot.

Here's a better picture of one of the individual squashes - round yellow guys:

It's like the guy from A Team said: "I love it when a plan comes together".

Thursday, 25 June 2009

natural pest control

An update from the plot: broad beans are doing really well - taking home a carrier bag full every time I go up there (which is every other day at the moment, as it needs a lot of watering) - but we've had a little bit of a problem with blackfly. They always seem to get to the plants eventually, even if you cut the tops off, and we have this soapy organic spray I got from the garden centre which sorts them out a bit but it's not 100% effective. So I was pleased to see the following chaps on a routine visit:

Yes kids, the ladybirds were out in force, for perhaps the first time since my primary school library. And they were having a whale of a time. I got rid of the top sections of the most infested plants (that's where the blackfly seem to congregate) but I left the rest as ladybird food. All good clean fun.

Monday, 18 May 2009

some photos from the plot at last...

A lot of activity on the plot these last few weeks. I finally remembered to use my phone to take some pictures. It's a fairly dated Nokia model so these won't be super hi-res but they give some idea of what stage we are at anyway.

Here are the beans - French beans and runner beans (haven't grown very much yet as only put in as seedlings a week or so ago), with broad bean plants in the background (doing very well!):

And, perhaps more excitingly, a slow-worm that was hiding under a file of weeds (mainly nettles) that I dug up a couple of weeks ago when preparing the bed for the (as yet un-transplanted) squash and sweetcorn plants that I've been growing at home. My wife was very excited by this one.

Slow-worms look a lot like snakes but are actually legless lizards. I left some of the decomposing material in place so he/she could crawl under it; I'm going back to the plot today to put the squash in so I'll have to be careful if he/she is still there.

I'll try to take some squash/sweetcorn pictures soon after they've grown a bit.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Broad beans in, onions going in soon

Been pretty hectic these last few weeks, but we have broad beans in the ground and growing well at the allotment, and a load of seed onions going in soon. Other exotica - like pumpkins - to follow forthwith. I'm down there tomorrow so I'll try to take some pictures to post up here.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Almost finished with the digging

A good session down at the allotment a couple of days ago and I'm pleased to say that the digging over of the entire plot, which I began last month, is almost finished. I should have taken some "before" and "after" pictures so you could have seen the state it was in before I started digging, but suffice to say that it was waist-high grass and who the hell knows what else. I think there were a few gone-to-seed leeks in there.

On Tuesday, Bob cleared out a load of pieces of glass, wood and various other detritus from the very back of the plot. We never got that far down in 2007 when we were first growing stuff here, and it looks like previous owners used it as a dumping ground. No adverse effects on us from toxic chemicals yet but there's still time. :-(

One piece of good news is that we discovered three pallets nestling behind a bush at the back of the plot next to us, which is totally overgrown and disused. We're gonna use those three. plus another one Bob has at home, to make a square compost bin. I have a 4-pallet compost bin in the back garden here and it really is the best thing you can have. Large capacity, plenty of aeration and you can just swing one of the sides open to get all the compost out when it's decomposed. We do have a standard issue black plastic council compost bin on the plot but it filled up almost instantly when I started digging the plot out.

Also, this weekend I'm planting some broad beans in pots. Bob put 130 seeds in the allotment last January but only about 5 came up - we suspect mice - so we're gonna start the plants off at home this time and transfer them to the plot when they've sprouted, gained some height and been hardened off a bit. Always good to have a reliable supply of broad beans especially in the current harsh economic climate.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Now that the ground is thawed out...

The first couple of weeks after New Year were a dead loss in allotment terms (unless one was thinking of going down with a blowtorch) as the ground was frozen solid. But now temperatures are back to a global-warming-influenced 5 or 6 degrees, which means that it's time to carry on digging the plot.

December was a hive of activity for me, if not for many other allotment holders. After receiving a letter from the District Council that the plot was going to be repossessed if I didn't pull my finger out and get it to a presentable standard, I cleared something like 80% of the plot in about 15 hours of digging. I don't have the exact measurements to hand but it was goddamn hard work whichever way you look at it.

But the plus-side is that Bob can now get started on the less strenuous stuff - final clearance of the weeds and getting the first seeds of 2009 in - while I finish that last back bit of the plot, which was always wild even in 2007 when we had our act together on this thing.

I'm gonna do a digging session or two next week so I'll post some camera pictures of how it's looking at present. Dull, but you gotta start somewhere I guess...