Wednesday, 29 April 2009

First asparagus

We had our first asparagus today. There wasn't much - I took the first spears maybe a bit too soon but I have been waiting for over a year. It was very tasty. I look forward to much more.

Jean potted up the first batch of spring onions. They have germinated very well so we have over 70 little plants, far more than we expected. We planned to sow them in stages to keep having a crop, so there are more to come after this. Jean also potted some tomatoes six each of plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. This is more than we need, but we might give some away.

Friday, 24 April 2009


The first signs of growth are appearing. We sowed some seeds directly into the ground for radishes and they are sprouting. They are supposed to quick growing so we may have some crunchy additions to our salads and stir-fries in a few week's time. We're still waiting for the carrots and lettuce.

The next thing to appear was the first few spears of asparagus. They are still too small to cut, but the spears look thick and strong. I think they have responded to the watering they have received. I'm really looking forward to eating these, which have been a long time in coming. We planted the crowns more than a year ago and these will be our first crop. Hopefully we will be gathering asparagus for very many years to come. I'll be taking about half a crop this year to help the crowns grow to full size.

I finished the strawberry bed frames. They are now covered with a plastic mesh, which we actually inherited from the previous tenant. It was buried under the tangle of bindweed and nettles - I'm not sure what it was covering but it's finding a use now. The strawberries are getting a good cover of flowers and these frames are easy to move to weed and harvest. Last year we put wood chips down to keep the berries off the ground and it seemed to work well. Some of the chips are still there, so I'll just top them up again.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Monday, 13 April 2009


We spent a couple of hours doing a few jobs, including having a cup of tea. Jean planted our first parsnips out, complete with their cardboard tubes. The next lot is already in the greenhouse, but no leaves are showing yet. I made some frames to cover the strawberries, which should keep the birds off. The flowers are opening on the strawberries so the berries won't be too long, but the birds leave them alone until they're ripe. The blossom is also out on the two plum trees we have. Last year there were two flowers and so no fruit, but this year there's lots of blossom, so maybe a few plums. The gooseberries and black currants have flower buds opening. I forgot to take my camera, but I'll take some snaps another time.

Jean sowed some carrots and radishes directly into the soil. The carrots are in a frame with high sides to keep the carrot fly out. We'll sow some more in a few weeks. We also took loads of rhubarb. This year we want to take it early when it's at its best.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Drop in

We popped up to the allotment to put a tray of chitted parsnips and a tray of spinach sown in pots into the greenhouse. The whole site was buzzing, with people everywhere, great to see. Now we're at home the rain has started - hooray. We need it to pour for hours, but it doesn't look likely.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Tap those weeds

I fitted the new tap - a bit fiddly but otherwise easy. The flow from the tap seems fine and it's much easier than using the old tap which was really a stop valve for a washing machine. I've made it so that I can remove the tap completely in the winter so frost is not a problem.

Jean has now weeded the plot from end to end. There was quite a lot of weeds, but because there has been no rain they haven't sprouted like they might. If the forecast rain ever comes we should have made some inroads against the worst of the weeds.

The plants in the greenhouse are sprouting. The beetroot has started to show and the parsnips are now showing leaves. Sweet peas are going great guns - we might have to plant them out soon, so I need to build the wigwam frames that I'm hoping they will climb. Outside the spinach is OK, the broad beans are beginning to really thrive and the garlic is growing well. Last year we planted some winter onions which I think are supposed to be ready in the next couple of months. They are fattening up, but not showing any signs of a bulb yet. I've not sure how long they will take to form.
Last year we stuck some cuttings from the fruit bushes into the ground and most of them seem to be growing. This is great - we really want more black currants. Things are a bit later than last year, but I think we were in a hurry

Plants and taps

On Sunday Jean sowed the mange tout peas in pots and put them into the greenhouse to germinate. If we sowed the seeds in the ground the mice would dig them up and we like to grow seeds on in pots before we plant them out, which is just what we did with the spinach. Our first eleven plants have gone out, I think we'll sow some more seeds soon to keep us in a constant flow of young spinach leaves. At home Jean sowed the plum tomato seeds. They seem to take at least a couple of weeks to germinate. We'll grow a few plants in a grow-bag in the greenhouse and it's getting warm enough to put them out fairly soon.

I bought a new tap for the allotment today. I had to take out the valves that stop water returning through the tap because the water pressure from our tanks is low and any resistance to the flow will make a big difference. Since the tap is not used on mains water I don't need the valves.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Crops away

The onions went in today. A full row each of white and red onions. The ground was very dry - every forecast promise of rain has come to nothing. The last rain was mid March an not much at that. I watered the onion sets in and watered everything else. We have already used nearly a quarter of our water. There is some rain forecast next week, but we'll see what happens. I haven't been so interested in the weather since I used to go flying.

Jean cut the first rhubarb today. It smells wonderful.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Carrot bed

A bit cold and grey, with some mistiness from time to time, so a bit of work needed to get the blood moving. I cut up an old door into four parts and screwed them together into a carrot bed. The sides should be high enough to keep carrot fly out, but we can always put a fleece lid over it. I put some earth and the contents of last-year's grow bag into the frame to improve the soil a little. I also trimmed and tidied up the little benches we use around the site, usually to have something to work on at a reasonable height. Lastly I watered the carrot bed, the asparagus and the broad beans. The surface of the soil is just dust and although it is damp below the surface it dries very quickly if you turn the soil. We need rain, but none is forecast. Jean raked the ground ready for our onion sets and then weeded about half the plot.