Thursday, 24 December 2009

Snow and Frost

We have had a decent fall of snow over the past few days, though today it is beginning to thaw.  Yesterday Jean took half a dozen leeks.  They came up easily through the snow.  Today a quick inspection showed the water tanks have quite a lot of ice in them.  I hope the plastic bottles have taken up some of the pressure at least.  Once the ice melts I'll see if any of the pipes have split.  Inside the greenhouse it was quite snug, with no ice at all.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


It's a good time to stay off the land at the moment, so we are trying to do so.  We've had quite a lot of rain recently and although the surface is pretty claggy, further down it is not sodden.  The plot seems very well drained.  We have gathered a few leeks, parsnips and a some smallish beetroot, with still lots to come.

Monday, 30 November 2009


Tonight the first hard frost of the season is forecast, so today we went to make sure nothing would suffer from it. The plants still in the ground should be fine - we took a few leeks, but they were for us not to keep the frost from them.

We have no need for any water now until the spring. I disconnected the tap and unscrewed it from the side of the shed. I set it up with this in mind. There is a stop tap in the greenhouse and the pipe that connects the tap can be unscrewed from the stop tap. We put the tap and its pipework and the hosepipe into the greenhouse.

The water tanks, which are completely full, have plastic bottles in them. The bottles are part filled so they float low in the water. They are there so that any ice in the tank can crush the bottles not crack the sides of the tanks. Now the frost is less likely to do any real harm.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


A quick visit today replenished our supplies of leeks. We've now used about a third of them, though we're using the biggest first so some of the later ones won't go as far. The ground was very wet, so we tried to keep off it as much as possible, walking up the side of the plot rather than the middle; this is where the path will be next year.

It has been wet and windy over the last few days and the winter onions were looking a bit battered, today though they have all recovered and the garlic is looking really good. We didn't need any parsnips, but we decided to pull a couple of the celeriacs. My allotment book by Carol Klein says they should be harvested from mid Autumn to early Spring and they should be between apple and coconut sized. We took three, two smaller (apple) sized and one a bit bigger. They have a small amount of canker on the outside, just like some parsnips, but the flesh seems fine. They smell wonderfully of celery. Now we need to see how we like them, lightly boiled with a bit of butter added, mashed with potatoes or raw in a salad.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I wanted a bit of fresh air so the allotment beckoned. Jean tidied up the tomatoes in the greenhouse. I think they have stopped ripening for a while, but we just left them. Jean picked the dozen or so fruit left, some are showing some sign of ripening, and brought them home to leave on a window sill. The spent compost all went on the plot, with the old plants added to the compost heap.

I pruned the gooseberry and black currant bushes. The thorns on the gooseberries really mean business, so I carefully thinned the bush to let light and air in for next year. The currants are more benign, they needed the old wood removing and any low or crossing branches removing. They all look better for pruning. It was a clear, crisp, very still afternoon, so the smell of black currant wood was especially strong and very pleasant. Maybe black currant pie from the freezer later.

Monday, 9 November 2009


We had a tidy up today - it seems to be the season for it. There was a pile of rubbish to get rid of, so we took it all to the local tip for recycling or disposal. There was some wood we used for small raised beds, a pile of old canes and other wood offcuts, the remains of the plum trees we pulled up and we took some gravel and soil from home too.

The ground is very sticky, we tried to stay off it as much as possible. Last year we had a quagmire because we were rebuilding the greenhouse, but this year we should only need a few brief forays to dig up leeks or parsnips so the mud can stay where it belongs and not get hauled home on my boots.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tidy up

We popped up to the plot to do a few jobs yesterday. The small heap of horse manure we collected from the local stables has rotted down a bit, so Jean spread that on the most needy area. We would have liked much more but we were too late, it had been spread on the fields. Next year I will collect some much earlier and store it to rot down longer. She also used some of the composted waste from the council, it all helps. I cut down the asparagus. It needs to be cut down to about an inch above ground when the fronds have turned yellow, which they had. Next year we will get a full crop. The wire frame that supports the fronds needed a repair, I might well need to replace some of it next year. That could be the prompt to make a better frame to support the fronds more evenly, we'll see.

We took some leeks and parsnips too. Another leek had a flower spike, so that just went straight onto the compost heap. The leeks which were planted a bit later have begun to fatten up a bit, and we still have loads of bigger ones to take yet. The parsnips were smaller than last year, partly I think because we didn't water them enough. They are still good to eat - stews just wouldn't be the same without them.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Garlic and onions

The garlic and the winter onions we planted a few weeks ago have made a strong start, especially the garlic. I expect they will slow down as the winter sets in but while the soil is warm and damp they make on. I covered them to keep the birds from pulling them up. This really only happens with the onions because the garlic is planted much deeper.

The celeriac is slowly beginning to swell - I'm not sure how long to leave it.

The asparagus is beginning to yellow so that will not be long before it gets cut down for the winter. The tomatoes are winding down with only a few still to finish ripening.

The remaining leeks and parsnips are looking good. Jean took a few parsnips for soup, stews and roasting. It seems that many of them are stumpy, but that's OK there's plenty of flesh and they're easy it dig up too. Even though they are a bit short they still are still quite fat.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Shoots and leeks

A few of our newly planted garlic cloves have started to grow. A handful of the winter onions have also sprouted.

The leeks that had bolted to flower turned out to be woody, so it is important to look after leeks so they don't bolt. I think some of ours dried out too much and hence they bolted at the first drop of rain. Any more that do bolt will go straight onto the compost heap.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Plum gone

Jean chopped up the remnants of the plum trees we dug up. I changed the layout of the pipes that manage the overflow of our water tanks and lagged the pipes.

A plan for next year

I've drawn up the plan for next year:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Winding down

We spent a gentle hour tidying up yesterday. there's been some more rain, so the ground was soft and easy to dig. All of the plot that is empty has now been dug over, including the path down the middle. The season is winding down, so we will visit a bit less often soon.

The extra rain had helped two of the leeks to bolt. I think we caught them early enough that we can still eat them - if you leave them in the ground after the flower stalks have shot up they very quickly go woody, even it you cut the flower off.

I covered our newly turned compost bin to help the contents rot more quickly. I also looked at the water pipes between our tanks. I fitted an overflow pipe between the tanks so that they don't just overflow and soak the shed and the stand they are on, but the run-off pipe gets in the way so I'm going to move it before the winter. I want to put more lagging on the pipes too before the winter frosts.

We've been working on the layout for next year's planting. When I've drawn it up I'll upload it. We had a plan for the last couple of years and it certainly helps, but there are always changes as the season goes on.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Compost & squashes

We popped up to the plot to see how things are and to turn the compost. We have two compost bins - received wisdom says you need three, but space was tight. I made the bins from uPVC planks that would be used for fascias and soffits. There were surplus and I don't expect them to rot for a while. One bin has been steadily filling with all the innocuous green waste. The other was about a third full of the compost that our local council gave away. This is the contents of green-waste bins that has been rotted down at high temperature. The results looked still a bit coarse, so we have rotted it down a bit more. We have emptied the council compost and turned the green compost bin into the other. At the bottom was some promising looking stuff. Next spring I expect we'll have some really nice compost, with a mixture of horse manure, council waste and our compost bin.

A few more beetroots were ready for boiling, so we brought them home. A stray spring onion turned up so that came home too. The leaves of the squashes have been dying back, so we decided to harvest them. There were six decent squashes which look good, though one had split a bit. We'll see what they taste like, and even how exactly is the best way to cook them (ideas anyone?)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Spring onions are over

It very windy and a bit wet, but not enough rain to be useful. We took a few tomatoes, a couple of courgettes and the last bunch of spring onions. They have been a great success and are firmly on the list for next year. The courgettes are slowing down, so they will be done before long, and as the autumn seems to be setting in the squashes will probably need harvesting too. There's still quite a lot of beetroot growing, but that too is slowing down, so I'm not sure how much will be big enough to harvest, but we'll just leave it and see.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


We went to dig some fresh leeks today. They are beautiful, crisp and delicious, see what you think:

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Plan for next year

In the past post I mentioned the plan for next year, so I thought I'd commit the outline ideas to this blog:
  • Carrots, try different varieties, try planting plugs in tubes, but just get some to grow.
  • Peas, certainly mangetout or sugarsnap but maybe peas too.
  • Broad beans, pick early & don't grow too many.
  • Sweetcorn, a modest patch.
  • Courgettes, must grow a few 'Green Bush'. Need better spacing out.
  • Spring Onions, sow in pots, not tubes. 'White Lisbon'.
  • Beetroot, plant earlier than this year and plant in volume in early summer. 'Boltardy' and other varieties.
  • Potatoes, a few earlies.
  • Leeks, of course. Grow just the same. 'Musselburgh'.
  • Parsnips, of course. Grow just the same.
  • Onions, make sure they get more water to stop them bolting. Only white.
  • Tomatoes, only grow cherries.
  • Celeriac, maybe - depends on this year's crop.
  • Spinach, grow it very early and only take very small leaves.
  • Sweat peas, mixed variety again.
  • Runner beans, don't grow, grow peas instead.
Permanent plantings
  • Asparagus, full crop next year, need to water well
  • Raspberries, only half the canes now. Water as the fruit swells.
  • Strawberries, a few less plants now. Water as the fruit ripens.
  • Blackcurrants, pick progressively when they are fully ripe.
  • Gooseberries, pick progressively when they are fully ripe.
  • Rhubarb, pick aggressively to encourage succulent stems.
  • Plums, Not worth the trouble, so dig them out.
We are going to grow in patches rather than rows. Have a path down one side rather than the middle.

Winter onions

The end of September seems a good time to plant winter onions. We had bought fifty Japanese onion sets ready to go into a little patch, more of a rectangle than a single row which is how we plan to lay out the whole site. Jean had just finished planting them when Rob offered us some more sets. These were 'Electric Red' sets, so already we have not followed our ideas for next year which we said we wouldn't grow red onions because the bolted. Oh well ...

They got a good watering to get them on their way. Jean also added some blood fish and bone fertiliser that got raked into the top soil before pushing the sets into the soil. We covered them with a mesh frame to stop the birds pulling them up.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Water needed

There has been no rain at all for a few of weeks, and no real rain for much longer. It has also been breezy, so the ground is baked dry. We spent some boring time watering the plot. The leeks, celeriac, beetroot, squashes, courgettes and the recently moved strawberries all needed water. I watered the asparagus to help it for next year. The small heap of muck needs water to help it rot, so it got a lot. I also watered the dug-over ground that is ready for the winter onions. I want to plant the onion sets next week, but there is no prospect of rain, so I will need to water the empty onion bed again before I plant them. Garlic will follow soon after and once again its bed needs watering too.

The spring onions are finally going over, but the bulbs are still delicious. We pulled almost all that remain, with only half a dozen left in the ground. They have been a great success and firmly on next year's list although the planting methods will need a little change. The beetroot has also been a great success. We still have a lot of small plants in the ground. I hope some will mature with what is left of the season. There were ripe courgettes again today with more to come - another wonderful success. The squashes look to be nearly ready to pick and ripen on a window sill at home. I'm not sure that I will grow them again, they take a lot of space for not a lot of fruit, and it is not very interesting when it is ready.

I'm beginning to plan the plot for next year.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Muck and leeks

With the digging done we were ready to fetch some muck from the local riding stables. If I look over the hedge at the back of our allotment across two fields we can just see where the huge muck heap has been. I thought I could still see a huge heap, but when we got there the heap is a heap of soil. The muck has almost all been used and what remains is fairly fresh. We brought a trailerful back to the plot. I have been expecting to bring a few loads back and I was expecting it to be much more rotted. We'll leave the muck we brought back in a heap to try to encourage it to rot down before we spread it.

We took our first leeks of the season too. They are really great. They are various sizes which are useful for different things. We planted them in much deeper holes this year and it has paid off, with much more white stem which is the really tasty bit.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


We finished the digging on all of the vacant areas. It all looks so big dug over and empty. Everything that remains was watered, that is parsnips, celeriac, leeks, beetroot, spring onions, asparagus, squashes, courgettes and the recently-moved strawberries. Then the suspense was broken and we dug up some parsnips. They were all big, but some were a bit stumpy. Once again our method has reliably produced a good crop which vary from big to huge. Parsnip soup is on the menu.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

More digging

Today was warm and windy. We went up to the plot to do more digging over of the empty spaces. The back of the plot nearest the hedge had tomatoes and sweet peas in it. They have been dug up and the ground hand weeded. This part of the plot has the lightest, sandy soil although growing on it has improved the soil a bit. We plan to add lots of horse manure from the local riding school and I think we'll dump it here then spread it out a bit later. Jean dug this over with a fork and removed loads of bind weed roots. This is why I like hand digging, if we had used a Rotavator it would chop up the roots and multiply the weeds many times over.

I moved the strawberries from their old plot near the shed to be more in the heart of the fruit bushes. I planted a few of the runners from this year as well as the best of the mature plants. They are a bit closer together than they were which is what I was trying to achieve. The ground was very dry so I watered everything still in the ground, especially the strawberries of course. I think they will need more in a couple of days, with no prospect of rain.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Done for now

Weeding's done for now. Some more digging to do, then a few loads of manure as a mulch ready for the winter.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Tidy up

More weeding and digging in the sun today. The runner beans have finished so I dug them up and dug over the ground ready for moving the strawberries into that plot. There are still lots of weeds to pull up. The ground is dry and hard so weeding is difficult. The asparagus is still strong. A few more spears keep growing but in a few weeks it will start to die back and be ready for pruning to the ground for the winter.

The autumn and winter crops are coming along nicely. The squashes are a bit of a mystery to me. I'm not sure when to harvest them. There are a number of new fruits which are green and stripy whereas the oldest ones are firm and yellow. I think the yellow ones are probably ripe, but I'll leave them for a bit longer, especially while it is warm to help them fully ripen. They have been easy to grow and I'd recommend them as a plant, but as yet I don't know how they cook up, nor how they store.

The other crops that seem to be doing well are the parsnips and celeriac. They look somewhat similar, their leaves are similar shapes and the way they grow from the root look similar. It's the first time we've grown celeriac, and so far it looks promising. We got the plants from Rob in the plot next door. He sowed a packet of seeds and they all came up. He's planted them of course and a couple of other people took some of his plugs and they are all doing well.

Our parsnips are the result of our modified planting technique. Last year we planted the chitted seeds in fibre pots. When the plants were ready for planting out we cut the bottom off the pots and planted them pots and all. This was to try to get the balance right between not disturbing the root yet planting out viable plants. It nearly worked, the plants all grew well but we did get stunted roots, probably because we did disturb the roots. This year we sowed them in tubes, so there really was no root disturbance, but as yet we don't know if it worked. They do look good though.

Friday, 11 September 2009


A lovely afternoon tempted us onto the allotment. Jean started the next wave of weeding while I made another frame for next year. Tony uses frames for bigger plants. The frames are covered with netting, mine are about 1.9m long and 0.7m wide. The get used in pairs, with plants growing between them. The ends and top are covered with netting, which can easily moved to get between the frames. The frames stand up by tying them to canes pushed into the ground. I added little plastic legs to keep the frames off the ground so they don't rot too quickly.

The plot is certainly emptying so I think we'll be having a dig over then collecting some horse manure to mulch the ground for the winter.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


We have some tomatoes in our greenhouse. They are producing some ripe plum tomatoes which are nice and there are many more still to come. We had some left over when we planted the greenhouse ones, so I planted them outside. They have been ripening steadily but suddenly the fruit went black and black blotches appeared on the stems. Blight had struck, so we pulled them up and put them in our council green-waste bin. This will get composted at very high temperature. That land must remain tomato and potato free for years.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


So, the global temperature is rising, which will cause various problems. The cause has been demonstrated to be the amount of trace gases in the atmosphere which are collectively known as greenhouse gases. These retain more heat than the basic nitrogen and oxygen that make up almost all of the air. The Royal Society has produced a report about the feasibility of a range of engineering projects to rectify this. Some of the projects suggest ways of cutting the amount of sunlight falling on the earth to cool the atmosphere. These include increasing the reflectiveness of clouds so more sunlight is reflected back into space and millions of reflectors in orbit again to reflect sunlight back into space.

Lets just review that: the problem is global temperature rise and it lies with too much of certain types of gas in the atmosphere. Proposed answers are to reduce the level of sunlight reaching the surface of the planet.

This is ridiculous. The rule of unintended consequences will defiantly apply. If there is less sunlight reaching the surface, plants will not grow as well. Plants are the main way to remove carbon dioxide so slowing their growth is a really bad idea.

There are various other problems with climate change: more energy in the atmosphere leading to more storms; sea level rise due to ice melting and the oceans expanding and increasing acidity of the oceans causing shells of sea creatures to dissolve. Reducing the solar radiation reaching the surface will have only limited effects on these problems too.

I don't want some bunch of geeks to reduce the sunlight that reaches my allotment plot because of some misguided dabbling. My plants need the sun. If people want to deal with climate change more power to their elbows, but remove the greenhouse gases, don't tamper around the edges.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Raspberry mountains

We officially drew a line under the European raspberry mountain today. When we took over the plot one of the good things about it was the fruit bushes and canes that came with it, however we now know we have far too many raspberry canes. Today we dug half of them up and gave them away to Roz and Colin. They have a good looking spot for them and room for some autumn raspberries too - our are summer ones.

The empty space on our plot looks like it would take a few early potatoes next year, which has been one of the things we have been tempted to grow. We have had to water the salad stuff and the asparagus, which is still quite young and needs some attention ready for next year.

The remains of the broad beans have been dug out as the last of the bean seeds for next year have ripened. Parts of the plot are looking a bit empty now and soon we will be fetching 'oss muck from the local stables to feed the ground for next year.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Hurricane Bill swept through our allotment today. It was a bit under whelming because it lost all of its strength over the Atlantic so it was just a bit breezy and a bit wet. It did make me think about tying up the raspberries and asparagus so that any really strong winds don't do any harm, so that's what we did.

We've been popping up most days, with not much to report. There's often a courgette or two and a fistful of runner beans. We keep taking spring onions as we want them and the beetroot is wonderful and just keeps coming. The remaining white and red onions are all drying and most other stuff is slowly ripening for the autumn or winter. The tomatoes inside and out are looking promising. The plum ones are yellowing so we might get some ripe ones soon. The cherry ones are lost in a tangle of plants, which I think I planted too close together.

Our squashes seem to be doing rather well. I have removed a few leaves to let the sun to the fruit. The fruits are swelling but I don't know when they will be ready to take. I'll seek more advice.

The parsnips are chugging along nicely, with a few of the roots just showing at ground level. These look temptingly large, but I'll wait for many weeks yet before I pull any. Beside, we still have soup in the freezer from last year's crop.

The leeks are wonderful. Planting them in succession has produced a variety of sizes, which didn't really happen last year. Everything is so early this year that I think we will be taking our first leek next month. We planted them deeper this year so I hope there is more white stalk where the real tasty bit is. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Carrots at last

We've been up to our plot a few times recently for all kinds of jobs. The broad beans that we left for seed have started to ripen. We've pulled some and dried them in the greenhouse. There are plenty more to dry yet. Even if we don't need them all we can gather them and give some away. Maybe the new plot holders will want some.

We pulled our carrots today. There were only a few, but they were delicious. I want to grow more carrots now. We have really struggled to get them to grow, so next year we might try chitting the seeds and planting them out much like we do our parsnips. Carrot seeds are much finer than parsnips so it might not work, but worth a try.

Jean has planted out more beetroot to replace the ones we have taken. She sowed some seeds for more beetroot. We're not sure how they will do as the summer wears on, but by planting it out we will eventually find when to stop for another year.

I have been drying onions and garlic. All of the garlic has been dried and tied into strings to hang in the shed until we need them. Apparently the best way to stop them sprouting is to keep them warm for as long as possible. Growers and retailers chill them and then when they get warm they start to sprout. Of course they don't mind if they don't keep at home so you need to buy some more. We have been pulling the white onions as they keel over then drying them gently. I've taken the dried ones home and stored some in a cupboard and some in the garage. There's still a quarter to pull up yet.

I pruned the squashes. They have runners with the flowers on which need to be pruned to put the vigour into the fruits. The fruits are developing nicely, but not as well as some others on the site. Gary's squashes are good and Kim's are even better.

It looks like the mangetouts are all finished. The plants we grew later have been poor, so next year we'll make sure they all go out early.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Weeds and squashes

The weeding is done, for a while, and the plot is tidy. I've pulled up about a third of the white onions and laid them out to dry. They look wonderful. I've also pulled some of the remaining red onions and I think we'll just use them.

The squashes have a masses of flower buds on them. They are putting out runners and at each leaf node there looks like a flower bud. I need to see if they need pruning or any other attention. The way these runners are spreading they will take over the whole plot soon.

The carrot that I stood on seems to have recovered - maybe they're tougher than I thought.

Friday, 31 July 2009


The raspberry canes really have done, so pruning began. All the canes that produced fruit get cut down to the ground, leaving the new shoots for next year's fruit. The big pile of prunings was quite a surprise. Now the bushes are much more open the weeds are clear too, so another day they need tackling.

Jean started another sweep to dig out the weeds. Nearly a quarter of the plot is now much more weed free. The wet weather has made a rush of weeds everywhere but the soft ground makes them easy to pull up. She harvested some spring onions. They are really superb, a great sized bulb and good stems.

I dug up some more beetroot. We are taking them a bit smaller than last year and they are smoother and sweeter as a consequence. The scheme of rolling sowing and planting is keeping the flow of ripe beetroot at about the right pace. So far it's all Bolthardy but the Cylindrical beetroot is coming along.

More weeding is still to come and half of the raspberries will be moving on to another plot so someone else can have the pleasure of this fruit.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

All good things ...

... must come to and end and so it is with our raspberries. Our bumper harvests look to have run their course, we took the nets off today so any berries left are for the birds. We picked another 250g of gooseberries, a few runner beans and a few mange touts. I'm much more impressed with mangetouts than with runner beans, so next year the runners will be off the list, mangetouts will be on, but grown a bit earlier and in greater number and maybe a few dwarf french beans as an alternative to th ever popular broad beans.

The red and white onions are both having their tops keel over so I've started pulling some more. We use a lot of onions so we just use them without much ado, but I'm going to try drying the next batch of white onions to keep them a bit longer. This seems very early according to people used to growing onions who expect them be in the ground until the end of August at least.

The next batch of garlic is also beginning to whither so that will be ready to pull up soon. Fresh garlic is just so different from the stuff in the shops with a mild, sweet and fresh taste.

Another courgette completed today's harvest. We planted a few winter cabbages which were left-over from Norman's planting. They should be ready by about December. I'll be able to prune all of the fruit bushes now and pull out the ones we don't want. Half of the raspberries will go to a good home. Once the strawberry runners are established I'll move them to a new spot too.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Variety is great

We planted a next batch of mangetouts to carry on after the first batch had finished. It seems we got it about right. We have had a batch of pods from the old plants that look completely spent and a couple of pods from the new batch, with many more flowers showing. I cut another lovely looking courgette that looks a perfect size. Again there are more coming. I picked nearly another half kilo of juicy gooseberries while Jean gathered another kilo of raspberries. I picked a few spring onions to try.

I took a look at the red onions. Some of them had bolted earlier in the year and produced flower stems. I cut off the flower stems when I noticed them, but I have been wondering if they would be good to eat. Today we found out - if they are firm they are fine. I don't think they would keep though, the root base looks a little soft. The yellow onions are beginning to wilt slightly, so they could be ready to lift and dry out soon. They look a good size so I hope they keep well. Onions have been a good thing to grow. They taste really good and are easy to grow with no real problems except cutting off any flower heads. We have had more success with spring onions too. Last year we got a few nice spring onions, but only a few. This year there are a lot more, they have nice little bulbs but the stems are a bit short. White Lisbon are supposed to have bulbs and stems so I need to find out more to see how to improve them.

I did have a small disaster. I wiped out about a quarter of our carrots, by accidentally standing on a carrot while uncovering our spring onions. Carrots are not our strength.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Black Gooseberries

Yesterday we had to dodge rain showers to check out the indoor tomatoes. As soon as we arrived it was clear we needed to pick some raspberries. We collected about two and a half kilos of very ripe fruit. Jean made some jam with some, we froze some more and gave three batches away to neighbours.

The main event for the visit was that some of the gooseberries were ripe. They are not the standard green goosegogs. These are black ones - well nearly. They are ripe, a few have split open, they smell great and they are softening slightly. I picked all that looked dark and ripe, probably about a third of them. We got nearly half a kilo.

Jean planted the remaining mangetouts out and I added another layer of string to support them. The first batch have produced us a lot of pods for a few plants so I'm hoping these will produce even more. If we get enough we'll try freezing some for later in the year.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Beetroot, fence and a moth

A quick visit to check things over today. It's a wet, cool and blustery day so we squeezed into a gap in the rain. I replaced a broken fence post and Jean planted the next batch of beetroot to keep the steady supply coming. Some of our red onions are folding over. About half of them have flowered. I pulled the flower spikes off, but I'm not sure if they are still any good, so I brought home one that had flowered and one that hadn't so we can compare them.

Tucked away in the greenhouse Jean found a quite large, brown moth. As it flew it revealed yellow on its wings and when I looked it up I think it was a large Yellow underwing Noctua pronuba. It's a good looking thing, but the bad news is that in the long list of food plants its lavae enjoy are brassicas. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Weighed down with fruit

Another session for picking fruit today. I picked the very last half kilo of strawberries. The plants want a tidy up, there are lots of dead leaves, and I want to see how the runners are doing. Later this year I want to move the strawberries by moving as many runners as I can to another spot and move a few mature plants too. We want their current spot as our salad garden. We need to grow some of the runners on to reinvigorate the plants which only really do well for three or four years at most.

Jean and I picked about two and a half kilos of ripe, lovely raspberries. I can smell some boiling in the kitchen now. We already have almost as much as we want in the freezer for the rest of the year, so in spite of eating them and giving loads away we still lots left. The raspberries canes are still covered with ripening fruit so there's much more to come. We took a few courgettes and some mangetouts too. Yesterday I dug the last of our winter onions and left them to dry. Two had flower stems which I hadn't noticed and their bulbs look small. We'll see how they turn out.

I still haven't mended the fence.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Bumper harvest

We had a bumper harvest today. I gathered about a kilo of strawberries, all ripe and delicious. Jean gathered about a kilo of blackcurrants. Both the strawberries and blackcurrants are nearly all finished but the raspberries are still getting going. We gathered about two kilos of ripe raspberries, with much more still to come. We clearly have different varieties of raspberries. We inherited them from the previous tenant. Some berries are much bigger and juicier than others some are sweeter and some have a stronger taste, the mixture works very well. There were a couple of perfect courgettes and some mange-touts. Jean gathered four beetroot too.

There is so much harvesting to do we don't do anything else at this time. I broke a fence post the other day so that needs replacing. All of the posts are vulnerable because the wood rots in the ground, but without the wire netting fence the rabbits would demolish the greens overnight.

Monday, 6 July 2009

After the storm

A couple of thunderstorms today knocked out our power and internet. The power came back straight away but the internet took all afternoon. We went to see what the rain had done. Some of the ground looked wet, but under the bushes it was still bone-dry.

There were lots of lovely stuff to gather. The blackcurrant bushes gave up another kilo of fruit, all fat and very ripe. The broad beans have all ripened together, we gathered loads of beans, indeed maybe too many because I'm not sure I've left enough to ripen as next year's seeds. This is not frugality - these beans have been grown on the site for years and have become well adapted to it. We still have some seeds left from last year so we should be covered. We gathered nearly a kilo of raspberries with still much, much more to come. There were a couple of courgettes and some mange touts too.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sweet peas

Jean had just the strawberry beds to weed to finish her latest pass of weeding. Of course weeding in the summer is never finished, but doing a little each time stops it being a chore and stops the bigger weeds getting a hold. I picked our first batch of sweet peas. They are the usual blend of different colours and patterns and they have a great perfume. Cutting them just encourages more, so there will be loads. Jean picked another huge batch of strawberries, again only the completely ripe ones.

On the way out we talked to the newest arrivals Kim and Andy, who's strawberries disappear just as they get ripe. Kim seems to think it's mice , but I bet her mice have wings. I think they might need to cover them. We gave them some of our berries - we just have too many all at once. I dug our first yellow winter onions. The tops are starting to keel over so I pulled three to try. I didn't dry them much as we're not planning to store them. We'll pull a few as we need them. Another little batch of mange touts were ready so we'll have them with our meal tonight. There looks as though there will be another batch of raspberries ready in a day or so. My sister-in-law loves raspberries but can't get them easily in Hong Kong where they live. I'm not sure ours would survive the journey out there.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Break down

So, the hot weather was due to break with heavy thunderstorms. Hmmmm, a short shower and a distant rumble of thunder. I watered the plot as best as I could, Jean planted out a lot of stuff. We had been holding out until the hottest weather was over because the young plants suffer badly in the sun. The rest of our leeks are now out. Our first batch of cylindrical beetroot has gone out too. This was a free gift and I'm interested to try it. We have used Bolthardy beetroot up to now, which is good, but trying another variety seems a good idea too. The first batch of celariac has been planted out too. This will take until the early winter to be ready. We took another courgette, but this time it was a decent size and tasted very, very good.

Yesterday we took our first broad beans of the season. They were actually only just ripe, but that was a good choice. They tasted great and the skin on the beans were much thinner and lovely. We took over a kilo of very ripe strawberries and a few more beetroot.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


The season of fruitfulness seems to be upon us, though it's only just July and not autumn as Keats's ode would have it. Maybe it only gets mellow in the autumn. We have a few mange-tout plants and they are producing ever more pods, with many flowers still to turn into pods. They are lovely when they are small. In fact I think I like them much better than runner beans, so next year I'll be sure to grow some more. I might try growing peas too rather than just mange-tout, but I think peas might be trickier to get right.

The courgettes are swelling quickly. The hot, sunny weather suits them , but they need water to keep them happy. The flowers look big and blowsy and I'm told they are edible, but I don't expect they taste as good.

The raspberries are suddenly ripening quickly, again I think the water we gave them a few weeks ago has helped swell the berries. They are very sweet and the birds love them, so the few that our nets don't cover have been pecked at. The birds are welcome to a few, we have lots.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

First courgette

The hot weather tempted us to check out what needed water. All the small plants were struggling, but the bigger, stronger ones were doing very well. Once we had watered the young stuff we set about picking blackcurrants - nearly a kilo, with still much more to come. We pick the ripe berries individually by hand only when they are ripe. Some suggest we should wait until all the berries in a bunch are ripe then pick them all, but the slow way means we don't get currants in different stages of ripeness.

We have four courgette plants and they are covered in flower buds. A few have started to form into courgettes and one double one was just about big enough to take. It didn't make more than a taste but it was good. I look forward to more than a taste next time.

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Yesterday we had to pop up to water the vulnerable young plants, and they needed it. I try to water only the soil, not the leaves, and to get water to the area around the base of the plant not all the area around. This minimises the use of the water, but it also means there is no spare water in the surrounding ground for the plants to dip into. The ground is, once again, bone dry and there is no prospect of rain in sight. We harvested about half a kilo of blackcurrants, some spinach, three lovely beetroot and our first few raspberries. All of the fruit has responded well to our watering with succulent berries.

Today we picked more than a kilo of strawberries, which were delicious (we didn't eat them all, we gave most away). We had some more mange-touts which were really good. If they freeze well I'd be tempted to grow more of them to freeze rather than some of the runner beans. Courgettes are growing well, but are not yet big enough to pick. The runner beans are getting flowers, and so are the tomatoes.

In spite of watering yesterday the beetroot newly planted out were wilting and the smallest spring onions were flagging. The forecast is for hot weather so watering over the next week seems inevitable.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Planting out

The fine weather tempted us to plant some more plants out. This time the next batch of beetroot and most of the rest of the leeks. The leeks needed holes to plant them in, but the ground was very hard. Our new dibber (old hoe handle) works well in soft ground, but it could do with a footplate to help drive it into harder ground. Once the leeks were in the holes I filled the hole with water. Once I had reached the end the first holes were dry, so I repeated the fill twice more.

We watered the plants we put out yesterday to give them a better start. The courgettes have loads of flowers and a few are forming courgettes, the squashes look fine and the peas look very good, with a couple already finding the string to climb. We gathered some pods from the original mange-touts to eat. Jean took a good batch of rhubarb which looks like being the last for this year. We brought home some of the puny garlic cloves I dug up last week to see what it is like to eat.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Nets, squashes, peas and currants

The raspberries are showing signs of ripening, and the birds seem interested, so we dug out last year's nettings and covered them up. The nets still had the strings on them and surprisingly none of them reached the ground, so the canes have clearly grown much bigger than last year. The nets worked well last year - they were the cheapest we could find from Boyes in Hull. By not reaching the ground they let the bees and other beneficial insects in under the netting, yet seem to deter the birds. They don't look pretty, but they're not on very long. They are pegged down at each side, so it's not hard to pull the pegs to get at the fruit, which looks to be abundant and some is starting to ripen.

Jean planted our four squashes out. They came from the BBC Dig In scheme. There were six seeds in the packet and only four germinated, but they look to be good plants, so we'll see how they do over the summer. She also planted our second batch of mange-touts. The first batch have produced a some lovely pods, but not as many as I had hoped, so I hope these do well. I have tied some string over the peas to help support them. I think I'll try to keep the raspberry canes that we prune off this year to use as pea sticks next year.

We have picked the second batch of black currants. The berries look to be a good size so our extra water seems to have helped. There are many more yet to come, but we have enough for our first pie of the year.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


It rained yesterday. Hail stones, thunder and lightening, and a great big downpour. The street outside was running with water. Today the sun is out again and our allotment has been well watered by the rain, but not soaked. There are patches of ground that look dry and the soil is only damp below the surface, but it is much better than it was and it was much easier than watering by hand.

Our raspberry bushes are covered in flowers and young fruit. They're also covered in bugs, flies and bees. I grabbed a couple of photos of ladybirds, including this spotty one. I think I'll try another time to get some photos of the wildlife to try to see just what there is. Today, as well as the ladybirds, I saw some bees and hoverflies but I'm not sure what kind.

I tried to remove some of the bind weed that we still appears between the raspberry bushes. In the process I stood on an onion, so we pulled it up to use quickly before it goes soft. It's a yellow winter onion and they look as though they will be ready soon. They have been easy to grow and I like the look of them so I'll probably grow some more over the winter again.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

First strawberry

We popped up to tidy up, plant a few things and water everything. The ground is dry, dusty and crusty. I pulled a few weeds around the strawberries and found our first ripe one. Half each didn't go far, but it was full-on strawberry taste. Jean planted some more spring onions under our new netting to keep the birds off. I extended the netting around our few runner beans which have had a couple more added. I've learned my lesson here. We only wanted a few plants, but we should have sown many more than we needed.

I watered everything in sight. I fetched watering cans from the site tank that fills (very slowly) from the mains and I also used water from our water butts. These are now down to less than a third full. Not only does this leave much less for the stuff still in the greenhouse but also the water pressure drops as the height of water in the tank falls. The forecast has been unusually inaccurate recently, always promising rain in a couple of days, then nothing actually arriving. With not much water left in our butts we will have to resort to lugging watering cans from the tank which is a tedious and very slow job, but with some of our young plants wilting and onions running to seed we don't have much choice.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

More nets

We have had more small plants nibbled than last year, so I bought some more netting and tent pegs to protect things. I have decided that for small plants the simple method Ken and Brenda use is perfect, so, in the best tradition of allotments, I copied it. I use some sturdy wire arches over the row and spread the netting over them all held down with tent pegs.

We added some more CDs over our leeks. Some of the smallest leeks have been nibbled so CDs will keep the birds off. CDs will not do anything for our biggest problem - no rain. I know the forecasters are not responsible for the weather but they are responsible for getting my hopes up for heavy and prolonged rain. The ground is very dry to substantial depth. It is not so warm so any water we put on the ground lasts a bit longer, but a really good soak is really badly needed.

Tony has another solution to covering his crops from bird attack. He has made some wooden frames, covered with nets which he has fixed to posts in the ground. These are much higher than Ken's handy work and would certainly take more building, but I quite like them.

We harvested some more rhubarb and spinach. Our next runner beans are nearly ready to go out to supplement the badly eaten beans we have out. Our mange touts are flowering with some proto-pods, I just can't wait for these. Still no signs of blackfly on our broad beans. Our beetroot, parsnips and onions are growing quite well but all need more water than we can give them. A couple of blackcurrants are turning ripe and there is a hint of red on a strawberry. The raspberries are still buzzing with bees and the first berries are appearing. It is especially important that they get water to fatten the fruit.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Blog and a net

We popped up to the plot to check the greenhouse, especially to water stuff in it because it has been quite hot. All was well and there was a note from Kim and Andy who are one of our newer plot holders. Kim is suggesting that we have a blog for the whole site. Why not? I sent her an email pointing to this blog. I would contribute to a joint one but keep this one going as my diary.

While we were there I covered our cabbages with some netting. We bought the netting and canes from the Kenilworth Avenue Allotment Society. Jean wanted some seed compost and we asked for John Innes No1, but they don't keep it. They say loam based seed and cutting compost is much more popular so we bought some of that. Lets see what Jean thinks of it.

Friday, 29 May 2009

A warm day tempts plants out

The ground is very warm, if dry, and the sun is forecast to be out for days, so it seems like a good time to plant stuff out. Gary added two courgettes to the two we bought. I dug the ground over and added a lot of the new soil conditioner from the council give-away. I planted each courgette on a little mound with a moat around it, though these moats will not be maintained at the tax-payers' expense.

Jean sowed some more carrots seeds, this time in a new plot near the spring onions. The planned layout of the plot, by the way, has just about gone to pieces, but I don't really mind. This is not a planned event with a timetable and a budget, so tearing up the plan hardly matters. The carrots got a lot of water before being sowed and a small amount after. The leeks planted yesterday look great, with a good damp bit of silt in the bottom of each hole. We have planted them too far apart so we can infill with the remaining leeks when they are big enough.

Jean also planted out most of our remaining tomatoes. We grew them to use in the greenhouse in a grow bag and the ones we planted there are fine, so the remaining ones can go out. If the summer is a warm one they will be fine outside. We didn't expect to plant these out so we had to find a spot for them, but this is easier that I thought because we are growing smaller numbers of most things, so there are a few little spaces dotted around. This will help too with finding a space for the squashes that have germinated in their pots and the celeriac that Rob has offered us.

The yellow winter onions are really fattening up nicely. The white ones bolted so we dug them up and we have been eating them like spring onions, but so far the yellow ones are very good.

I expect to have to water again in a few days, especially the courgettes.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Watering in leeks

We spent a pleasant couple of hours at the plot today. The ground is very dry, the rain we had seemed quite a lot but the warmth and especially the wind has dried everything out. We took up another batch of spinach sown in pots and the next batch of spring onions pricked out into cardboard tubes and pots (we ran out of cardboard tubes). These will stay in the greenhouse until they are big enough to go out.

We planted the first batch of leeks from the greenhouse into the ground. We used the latest gadget to plant them - a broken hoe handle sharpened into a long dibber. I painted a couple of rings on it to show how deeply the dibber has been pushed in. I made a series of holes and Jean dropped the leeks in. Ones with long roots had them cut shorter first. I then followed around and filled each of the holes with water. This washes some fine silt into the hole which we didn't fill in any more. I then watered just about everything else on the plot. Meanwhile Jean finished the weeding, well for now.

The asparagus is sending out shoots that I will leave to grow so it can build up its strength for next year. Extra water will help it on its way. Our carrots are a complete flop. The few that have come up are disappearing and I don't know why. Other things are doing fairly well, cabbages have been nibbled but the CDs have stopped that, broad beans are flourishing, spinach is growing well, the yellow onions are fattening nicely. Some of the garlic have bolted; I nipped off the flower heads, I don't know if this will help. We have a couple of courgette plants in the greenhouse. I wanted to let them get a bit bigger before they go out, but as we were leaving I realised that they each have six small flower buds on them. We must plant them very soon. We need to also get the remaining tomatoes out and see about sowing some more carrots.

I have used quite a bit of the water in our tanks and there's no prospect of rain either to water the plot nor top up the tanks. I might have to resort to the tap yet.

Sunday, 24 May 2009


We watched the Jenson Button fairytale get even longer (if you're not sure what that is he won the Monaco Grand Prix). We then went out to do an hour's weeding. I think weeds are buoyant; as soon as it rains and there is water in the ground they float to the surface.

Yesterday Gary told me that, after a short illness, his wife had died. I'm very sad for such a nice bloke. He clearly put all his energy into his plot, there's not a weed to be seen nor a plant out of place.

We have two more runner beans that have appeared in their pots. The two that are out are getting eaten, I think I need some netting to cover things. No sign of the squashes germinating yet, but the much warmer weather might help. The two courgettes we bought are growing well and I think they may be ready to go out soon. Our leeks are still a bit small to plant out, but at least their allocated space has been weeded.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Know your onions

We planted some winter onions last year, some white and some yellow. The white ones have bolted, so we have pulled them up and laid them out to dry. We'll try a few of the smaller ones as salad onions and see if the bigger ones will dry out and stay firm. The yellow ones still look good, with some forming good sized bulbs.

We weeded our carrots, they are looking feeble and not too many of them. I really hoped we would get some carrots, so I'm wondering if we should plant some more. The rain has helped the weeds to flourish so we need to have a couple of solid weeding sessions. We looked at the leeks to see if they were ready to plant out and the answer was clearly 'not yet'.

I took the last asparagus crop for this year. It is delicious and I'd like to take more, but this is the first year to harvest it and I need it to build up for the years to come. Patience is required to grow asparagus.

We collected four bags of soil improver from the council today. They took away our pernicious weeds, composted them and gave us back some lovely stuff.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Out they go

After a change of plan we returned to the allotment this afternoon to plant out the things we saw this morning. Jean planted a row and a half of spring onions out. They do look a bit odd in their cardboard tubes but we hope this is the best way to get them growing to a size to harvest quickly. the little ring of cardboard above the soil give a little protection while they are small, but the cardboard below the ground just melts away so there is no restriction to their roots. Last year we grew spring onions by sowing them them in a tray and then planting them out in clumps. This was OK, but having them as separate plants will be interesting. We have used a similar process for our parsnips and they look great now. It works so well we might give the same process a try with carrots, which, like parsnips, don't like their roots disturbed.

I quickly built a wigwam from canes for our runner beans to grow up. Last year I built a frame with a plastic mesh for the beans to climb. I had to add extra string for each bean to grow up because the mesh was too short. The frame was fastened down with wire guy lines pegged with big wooden pegs. When the beans were in full bloom the wind broke the frame and it blew down. This time we're growing fewer bean plants and the wigwam is simple enough to hold them.

Jean planted out the cabbages, some spinach and and a few of extra peas, all of which look strong. I added some dangling CD over the spinach and cabbage to keep the birds off, lets hope they work.

After the rain

After weeks of dry weather it has rained properly. The dry spell was often windy which dried the ground even more deeply. There is more rain forecast over the next few days and we still need it. We checked out the greenhouse and watered all round. The tomatoes are doing well, cabbages are almost ready to go out, so are the first batch of spring onions. A couple of extra peas look ready to go out. The original peas are doing well. Another batch of spinach is ready to face the outside world - the first batch is struggling and we haven't got close to taking any to eat. The first runner beans are ready to go out, but I haven't built the frame to support them yet so they will have to wait for a few days.

The plums are beginning to swell. The two small trees we have look covered in tiny fruits. I think we might need to thin a few of them to get a better crop. The rest of the fruit bushes all look to be flourishing, with the raspberries now covered in flower buds. Strawberries are forming with still masses of flowers so a good crop looks likely.

The broad beans are covered in flowers, with no sign of blackfly yet. Some lettuce are showing and the carrots are still sprouting. The parsnips are doing very well, I think the rain has helped them a lot. One or two of the winter onions are forming proper bulbs, but some have bolted to form a flower, probably under the pressure of being too dry. I took the flower spike off but the bulb might not be as good as the ones that didn't bolt.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Scary teasels

Last Friday we had another batch of asparagus. I saw some in the supermarket yesterday - £16 per kilo. I think our delicious shoots will prove to be a cheap way to enjoy it and be super fresh too. We also potted some spare tomatoes and took them up to the greenhouse.

Today we planted our first peas, well mange tout. They were very healthy looking with big root balls in their pots. I put short stakes next to them to grow up. When they are bigger I expect them to lean on each other. Jean planted our remaining parsnips out. they look great, but we might have left it slightly too long because the roots had grown out of bottom of the cardboard tubes. They don't like their roots disturbed so they could be stump rooted.

I turned the compost heap. It is beginning to look like nice stuff. We now have an empty bin and at this time of year it won't get much green in it, so it needs covering to stop the weeds growing in it. I fixed a little hook to the greenhouse door so it will stay open in a breeze. The hook was fixed to the old greenhouse door and since I rebuilt it I've been meaning to fix the hook and kept leaving it at home.

I used some old bamboo canes to string up a line over a few of the growing plants. I hung old CDs from the strings as bird scarers. We did this last year and it worked well. When they blew down the crops got nibbled, so I'm depending on them again.

Jean planted some teasels at the back of the site. we'll plant some at home too. They look great and the birds love the seeds. Back at home Jean sowed some more beetroot seeds in pots. They'll go up to the greenhouse next time we go.

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