Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Last of the autumn sunflowers...

All these flowers from just two plants grown from seed! They have enjoyed the warmth and September sunshine over the past few weeks.

Raised beds from discarded decking

Spotted some decking in a neighbouring skip recently and harvested it to make some posh raised beds on the allotment. The decking was only put up about three years ago, so the wood is in good nick.
Paul started on Friday and ruined a peaceful Sunday morning sawing and hammering - he worked really hard! As a result, there's now a small boundary fence (just two planks wide) half way round the first bed, which will run all along one side of the plot (about 12 metres by one and a half). It will take a lot of compost to fill it even half way.
The plan is to plant garlic and onions in October and some broad beans in November; these should all be ready to harvest in late May/early June. We'd like some asparagus and rhubarb too, but haven't ordered it yet - in any case, this won't be ready to eat next season.
If you're wondering about the hole under the planks, it was probably dug by a fox.

Stevie helping last Friday...

Off sick from school, but it was a warm bright day so he accompanied me and his dad on our mission to clear the allotment. Needing no lessons in how to enjoy a warm sunny day in the garden, he had just finished taking some lovely new pics for the blog - including a new profile photo of me in the sunflowers, now that the runner beans are finished!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Lovely roast parsnips yesterday...

Picked the first parsnips of this season at the weekend and they were delicious with roast lamb yesterday. Even the peeling was a pleasure, they smelled so sweet and parsnippy!
Work began on the strawberry bed on Saturday. I've decided to move plants into a new area as they've been there about three years now. At this stage of the year it's very difficult to distinguish the new plantlets from old, after the August rain and recent sunshine all the plants are entangled.
Also a little frustrated that new plants I potted up last month are so well hidden ( to prevent the foxes digging them out) that I can't see them myself and I've ripped two of them apart! This is why I should have potted up more than I need...
My runner beans have finished, I think it must be due to lack of watering, as my neighbour allotmenteers are still picking. (you can see Bill's beans behind me, above). Mine had no flowers on 10 days ago and so naturally no more beans to pick this weekend. I've taken down the frame and piled up the plants to dry for a bonfire, the earliest I've ever cleared them out. Courgettes are also finished now and we picked the last of the cucumbers.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Growing great spuds in a wet summer

Just for a change this is not about my own allotment - after last year's washout, when my allotment was waterlogged and all my spuds rotted in the ground I decided not to bother growing them this year.

George told me a couple of weeks ago that he'd had a disappointing crop this year; he blamed it on the great pesticide in horse manure problem, which has affected many gardeners around the country this season. He and Bill lost broad beans and other crops due to poisoned compost which adversely affected and deformed growth. Perhaps I should be grateful that I didn't have any manure to use this year and last!

Bill was digging up his spuds late last week and found all very badly afflicted with little black slugs -he had to throw away a large proportion of the crop as they'd been spoiled.

But Charlie has had a great crop this year, and he puts it down to soot! He has a coal fire (you don't find many of those in south west London) and when the chimney sweep makes his annual visit, Charlie keeps the soot for his allotment. When he plants his potatoes, he sprinkles in fertiliser and a handful of soot around each spud. As he was harvesting the spuds today, some of them have the soot around them as they've grown into it. and almost none are affected by the slugs or indeed the huge quantities of rain we've experienced this summer.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Now the brussels sprouts won't get away...

I've lost most of my previous winter greens to the wood pigeons, so decided to create a "cage" earlier this summer.

While the plants were young, they did much better than the uncovered ones on another part of the allotment. The latter were chewed to bits as usual, with only about half of them surviving (compared with 100% of those in the cage). However, the uncovered plants which survived seem to have caught up and are flourishing after the wet summer. I'll follow up to see how their crops compare.

This was my first attempt at carpentry since making an abstract sculpture in my first year at high school. I used some old bits of wood and at least half a pound of nails, then wrapped the whole thing in chicken wire. Also used one of the shelves from the mini greenhouse across the top. It took nearly a day to put it together, so I don't think I'll be taking up woodwork as a living anytime soon!