Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Plantings, insects and nuts

The unusually warm weather has encouraged us to plant some of the hardy plants out. It has also stirred the insects and birds. Around Plot 18 there are great tits, robins, blue tits, dunnocks, sparrows and blackbirds all showing signs of pairing up and gathering nesting materials. The winter flocks of tits have broken up. We saw a crow flying past struggling to stay airborne under the load of the stick it was carrying. Insects and spiders are on the move, with a particularly large number of ladybirds this year. We've see our first bees and butterflies and spiders race for cover with almost every footstep on the ground.

We took up some leeks, spinach and sweet peas up to the greenhouse. Our leeks have potted up particularly well this year, looking strong and upright. The earliest batch of parsnips had the tips of their roots showing at the bottom of their tubes so they had to go into the ground to keep the disturbance of that root to a minimum. Jean used a bulb-planter to cut a hole in the freshly raked soil to drop the parsnip, tube-and-all, into the ground, then carefully fill in around the tiny plant to cover the cardboard tube. The tube will quickly rot away if it is buried.

The leeks will sit in the greenhouse for some weeks until they are a thick as a pencil before they go out, the spinach might take a couple of weeks but some of the sweet peas will be ready to go out sooner than that. I'm going to try training each sweet pea up a single cane this year to see if that will work.

Some years ago I gathered a few seeds in the autumn: some acorns and hazel nuts and a few holly, rowan and whitebeam berries. many of them grew in pots, not the holly, and when we got the allotment I transplanted a few around the edges of the plot. This year we have our first female flowers on the hazel. They are tiny flowers (sorry about the picture) and there are a few male catkins around. I tried to dust the flowers with pollen from the catkins because with luck we will get a few hazel nuts. Not what I had expected to grow on the allotment, but why not?

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