Sunday, 28 September 2008


We popped up today to check the remaining tomatoes. Gary was starting his digging - he digs in the autumn, then again in the spring. He gave us a huge onion, some little carrots and a couple of sweetcorn cobs; we gave him some fennel. We ate the carrots for tea with some of our parsnips and very nice they were.

I like the way Gary and Brenda both grow their carrots and they have both done well. I'll build a small raised bed over the winter so we can give it a try.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Know your onions

We went up yesterday to dig the row that we want to plant garlic in. It needed digging over because we have been using it as a path between the beds so it was trampled down hard. It also needed some manure digging in. We gave away some more fennel to Ken and to Rob. Rob had planted some winter onions which have already come up. He had some left and he gave them to us. They were two types of small onion sets. Some white ones he described as Japanese onions and some yellow onions. We planted them to get them on their way. They should be ready in April or May, so we may well be able to plant something else straight after. The garlic should go in in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Civil engineering

I have replaced the stands under the water butts. It felt like a big job - I used chunky timber to be sure it could take the weight and the result looks very tidy and strong. We took some trouble to level it which should help support the weight of the water butts. The pipework connecting the guttering on both sides had come apart and may have been leaking for a while - the ground under the shed seems very wet. It's not a great photo, but it shows the frame and the new space carefully created to store the wheelbarrow and other such stuff.

The tomatoes are still producing fruit and the leeks just get better and better. We'll be working on the greenhouse extension before long.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

What a heap

The autumn cleanup has begun. We have decided to weed the empty spaces, put some manure on the ground and leave it until the spring. That way the manure will be drawn into the ground by worms over the winter. When we dig it in the spring the ground should be lightened and fed ready for our next season.

The local riding school cleared their manure heap earlier in the year by spreading it on the surrounding fields, so I wasn't too sure what we would find. I drove to the site, following a tractor pulling a farm trailer about half full of muck. The driver dumped it onto the heap, which I was surprised to find was once again huge. We took two loads away in our trailer and we will be back for at least one more.

The rest of our plot is doing well. Our leeks are fantastic - I think they're still getting better. The parsnips we've had are lovely. I'm letting them grow a little more until their leaves begin to yellow. The spring onions have finished but there are still some beetroot and cabbages to take.

I need to urgently rebuild the support for the water butts. The existing ones are too flimsy and are beginning to buckle. I underestimated how the relentless weight would bear down on the stands. There are two butts, and when full each weighs over 210kgs. I've ordered some timber for the new stand, more details to follow ...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Stinging strawberries

We've done some more weeding and tidying up. As I type this my fingers are tingling from the nettle stings. I weeded the asparagus and strawberries by hand and some nettles had sneaked in amongst them. It's surprising how much a tiny nettle stings.

The strawberries had loads of runners, which I pulled up and cut off. I was going to plant some on, but we don't have the space at the moment and since the plants are only one year old (from Norman's runners) they don't really need replacing next year, so I'll pot some runners next year.

We dug a parsnip. It is fat but very short. It doesn't look as though our idea has worked too well. Our leeks were a great success, they tasted great.

There is due to be a national cycle race in our area tomorrow so we will probably do some more at the allotment to stay off the roads. I think I'll check out the new manure heap at the village riding school.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Leeks and plans

We took down the runner beans today. They've given us a great crop, we've eaten them, put loads in the freezer and given loads away. As well as our last runner beans, we took a couple of cabbages, a few tomatoes and three leeks. The leeks are short but very fat and they smell wonderful, we'll see what they taste like later.

We have begun to plan our plot for next year. We need to know where to put the manure, some plants don't like extra nutrients. We also need to make space for garlic which needs to be planted in a few weeks.

We listed what we grew this year and realised that we sowed or planted out a few things too early. There was a longish winter this year with some snow at Easter, but the things that were planted later generally caught up. I want to sort out the fruit soon too. We need to pot up strawberry runners and I want to organise their beds a bit better. I want to be able to put a simple, removable wire frame over them to make harvesting and weeding easier. I also want to plant some cuttings of black currants to increase our stock.