Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas 2016

 I always feel that the allotment gets neglected at this time of year. The days grew shorter til we reached the winter solstice on the 21st and slowly they start to become longer but we've had storms which has resulted in mainly strong winds and plenty of rain.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Elderflower Cordial

 I've followed several recipes in the past but in the summer of 2016 Monty Don did a version that was not only simple to follow but also tasted quite good too and lasted 3 months in the fridge.
The recipes was as follows :
20 heads of elderflowers
6 unwaxed lemons
50 grams of citric acid
1.8 kilos of sugar
1.5 litres of boiling.

Put the elderflowers in to a bucket then grate the zest of the 6 unwaxed lemons in to the bucket before slicing the lemons up and adding those to the mixture . The citric acid is then added  to the mixture along with the sugar. Finally add the boiling water and stir the mixture in the bucket until the sugar has dissolved . Cover the bucket with a cloth to keep out insects and leave the bucket in a cool place for at least 24 hours .  Strain and decant into sealable glass bottles and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. In the meantime dilute and enjoy the summer.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

1st Week July 2016

 I've just been away on holiday for 2 weeks visiting Kent and Sussex at the end of June returning home on July 4th . When I first visited the allotment after just a brief absence I was amazed at how tall some of the plants had grown with a few raspberry canes reaching the 7 ft height  . I checked to see that the watering systems I had in place of my absence had worked which I'm pleased to report that they have .
 On 4th July I harvested :
67g    Greenshaft Peas,
129g  Broadbeans,
1607g New Potatoes (Gwenne variety)
865g  Strawberries.

The peas and some of the potatoes were used for the following day's evening meal along with some of the strawberries for dessert.  
 The following day I checked on the tomato plants in the greenhouse at home . I put a number of cuttings that I had collected on holiday in to compost ,well watered ,sealed in plastic bags and put in the greenhouse to see if they'll root. I followed Percy Thrower's advice and took leaf cuttings of begonias (apricot shades) and put those in a 50/50 mixture of compost and perlite in a bagged plant pot in to the greenhouse.
 At the allotment I undertook some weeding . Pruned the rather tall raspberry canes to a manageable height and tied up the blackcurrant canes that were beginning to droop under the weight of fruit.
 On 5th July I harvested :
1371g Rhubarb,
1663g Raspberries
249g   Strawberries
210g   Gooseberries
92g     Courgette
30g     Baby spinach leaves
6g       Mint leaves

 The raspberries are my main priority here and I'm looking to turn these in to jam in the next few days.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

1st Week In May 2016

 The weather this last few weeks have been very cold indeed and along with hailstones not pleasant to work outdoors in . Sunday May 1st was grey and wet outside . I purchased 300 litres of compost this afternoon which I'm currently storing in the polytunnel on the allotment . I transplanted several Tom Thumb Lettuce in to the Salad Bed that I've just built a polycarbonate cover for this last week .
 In the greenhouse at home I've sown Sweetcorn Minipop F1 and Tasty Gold F1 along with Pea Ne Plus Ultra in deep root trainers . Not really an active day as I have a lot of pricking out and tidying up still to do at the allotment along with sowing . Can I turn things round this week?
 Monday has been the only day this week that I didn't visit the allotment . Tuesday was the beginning of the sunny weather and I took the opportunity to plant my 2nd earlies (Nadine) and maincrop (Picasso) potatoes .
 Wedsnesday I recycled some old tennis net in the frame that I use to grow beans on next to my polytunnel and I did a spot of weeding in the fruit cage . I planted out the rest of my Tom Thumb Lettuce seedlings in to the salad bed and began pricking out the last of my tomato seedlings.
 Thursday was another hot day . At 8a.m. the polytunnel was at 35°C so I opened that , watered the plants in there along with the lettuce seedlings in the salad bed . I painted the shed whilst the sun shone and the frame to the rotating composter also had a coat of wood stain. I continued sorting out all the wood that has accumulated on the plot in the past few years placing them on the bed where the potatoes were planted on Tuesday. Continued weeding in the fruit cage and harvested 800grams of rhubarb whilst I was at it .
I returned early evening and planted out the Chinese artichokes in to a sunken tub set in the left side bed. Behind that I planted 2 plum saplings before doing more weeding in the fruit cage.
 Friday was hotter still.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

2nd weekend in April 2016

Well the second weekend in April is now over and now is the time I think for a quick look back.
 Sunday had me sowing a few flower seeds and I also purchased 2 blueberry saplings to plant out in pots later next week once I obtain enough ericaceous compost to fill two large pots .

Pots drying ready to be used for pricking out into.

 It would seem that this year I've sown more tomato seeds than usual some of which I've imported from America because they have long been extinct in Britain . I've spent several evenings pricking out tomato and pepper seedling with still more seedlings to be pricked out in to individual pots but has the evenings are still bringing frosts I'm limited on space at the moment as to where I can store them all safely. Varieties that I'm growing for the first time this year are Potentate , Abu Rawan , Acme , Ailsa Craig and Yellow Currant.

My old allotment entrance along with the wind damaged arch.
 On the allotment I've managed to replace my exterior fence and gate with a metal one that I managed to get from the plot holder opposite mine as he was retiring at the end of March. I spent the Tuesday erecting the fence with the assistance of my wife but due to the bizarre weather this week (hailstones , rain , sunshine,winds and frosts) it was Friday before I could treat the fence to a good wire brushing followed by a coat of Hammerite to protect it for the foreseeable future.

My newly acquired allotment entrance before it's restoration.
 Due to lack of space in the greenhouse from pricking out earlier seedlings the only seeds that I have sown this week have been flower seeds . I'm not utilising the polytunnel or the lean-to greenhouse at the allotment to their full potential at the moment . I really must get all those none growing tasks out of the way before May .
Fuchsia Berry plants arriving safe and sound.

 I ordered 10 of the new Fuchsia Berry way back on Easter Monday and I'm pleased to say that they finally arrived in good health on Thursday and will soon be taking up space in the fruit cage before it all gets too full.
 Until next week I thank you for reading/returning, Paul.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Getting to grips with the plot Easter 2016

It's been quite a while since I last updated my activities on plot 44 and that has been due to a whole range of issues that allotmenteers deal with from time to time - life . My grown up children are now studying in London & Liverpool , the dog has recovered from last year's spinal injury but still needs to lose weight . Allotment wise I've spent quite a bit more time than I would have liked on setting up a proper association on the site and for my sins ended up as chairperson this year . 
I've been sowing seeds since the start of February whilst also getting my plot back on track . There's still a long list of improvements/repairs that I would like to complete and I have been steadily carrying out improvements since the beginning of March replacing the fence and I've even managed to construct a mini lean-to greenhouse on the side of my shed which has been on my wish list for the past four years. 
I have always been a bit of a seed hoarder and this year is no exception so whilst I was off work during the Easter weekend I spent a few days getting myself in to some sort of order. I've divided my seeds between seven seed tins and labelled the tins as follows : Flowers & Fruit Seeds ( Sunday ) , Alliums & Root Veg ( Monday ), Brassicas & Squash ( Tuesday ) , Salad & Herbs (Wednesday ) , Miscellaneous (Sweetcorn, Cardoon,Samphire etc.) ( Thursday ) , a tin that contains the various seeds that I've saved myself from last year's plants ( Friday ) and finally a large tin marked Legumes ( Saturday ) . 
 I sow seeds from one of those tins each morning and now that we have lighter evenings I spend a hour or so pricking out previously sown seedlings before preparing seed trays and choosing the seeds from the next day's tin to sow the next morning . So far this new time table is working whilst allowing me to lend more of my free time completing improvements on the plot . Until next week I thank you for reading/returning, Paul

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Sowing Peppers and Tomatoes 24th February 2016

 Sown the following today in to 24 cells in a seed tray : Aubergine (mixed)
Tomatoes of the following varieties  : Cheshire Temptation , Marmande , Roma VF , Pink Brandywine , Yellow Cluster , Tiger Striped , Amateur , Glorioso , Black Krim , Tumbling Tom , Crimson Crush , San Marzano , Alicante & Gardener's Delight.
 Peppers of the following varieties : Habanero Orange , Bird's Eye Chilli , Sweet Round Cherry, Cayenne, Jalapeno , Sweet California , Sweet Pointed , Bell.

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