Friday, 26 April 2013

Late sowings

In previous years some of the seed sowing might have been a bit too early. This year the very cold, dry start has meant that I have held off sowing seeds for much longer. Today I sowed sweetcorn, cabbages and beetroot to add to the courgettes and spring onions I sowed earlier. All of these are in pots at home at the moment. I need to work on a carrot bed on the plot as I'd like to get a crop of carrots this year. I need well dug and finely raked soil to get carrots to grow and it needs to be in an area that can be surrounded by fleece later on to keep the carrot fly at bay. I'll pick a spot and make a start shortly.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Lovey place to be

I just spent a lovely couple of hours at the plot. The sun was out, with a gentle breeze nudging some bees and butterflies around. The bees were large bumblebees, but I couldn't see them well enough to be sure what they were. The butterflies were small tortoiseshells busy defending territories and attracting mates. A decent flock of linnets came and sat in a holly tree nearby and sang as hard as they could, but they were drowned out by a singe wren in the hedge. Wrens must be the loudest British bird for their size. At one point a blackbird was trading bursts of song with a song thrush. Gold finches twittered across the site and a very welcome greenfinch perched on the hedge for a couple of minutes. Greenfinches have had a hard time for the past few years with a parasite called Trichomonosis killing birds here and onto continental Europe too. I hope they are making a comeback.

I weeded some of the ground and planted out the broad beans. They have been waiting to go out for rather too long. They are too tall, although they were not yet pot bound. I decided to stake each plant to stop any breeze snapping them off. I also nipped off the tops of some of the taller ones to try to get them to bush up a bit. All of this took longer than you might expect as I lingered over watching butterflies, bees and birds. I hope there are more days like this for the rest of the spring.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Not the biggest harvest ...

... of broccoli, but it is the start of my long-awaited season. The spears are small and I'm not going to get fat on it, but it smells great and later I'll see how it tastes. There are other spears forming lower down the stem, so if I take the top ones that should encourage others to fill out too. If they all come to something there should be a decent harvest and one that I had given up on so rather unexpected.

I have rechecked the rabbit hole and it remains filled in, so it must by now be unoccupied. The photo is looking down at the back of a compost bin with the heavy iron bar holding down a large wooden block where the hole was, with a part brick also standing by make digging harder. I will keep checking and keep retaliating if there are any signs of digging or other activity. My aim is to persuade any pests that my allotment plot is not a pleasant place to be so they go elsewhere, sorry to my neighbouring plot-holders.

It seems we did not dig up all of the parsnips over the winter as a couple of them have sprouted new tops. I don't think they will be worth keeping so I'll dig them up as I turn that part of the plot over prior to planting.  Many of the plots are being prepared for planting, with onion sets being planted on a few plots. My broad beans in the greenhouse are romping away and I need to plant them out, but strong winds today and for the next couple of days are making me wait, they would just snap in the wind for now. I'll get them out at the end of the week and stake them I think.

I have potted on the first batch of sixty leeks and another batch is on the way. I've sown courgettes and spring onions at home too, but the parsnips chitting has been a complete flop. I'll try again - I do want some parsnips on the go.

The next job is to make a carefully prepared carrot bed ready for sowing carrot seeds direct - I might have to sow parsnips direct too at this rate.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Warmth at last

The warmer weather is with us, with winds finally from the south and west rather than the dry and very cold east. The longer days, with stronger sun has quickly warmed the top of the soil - it's still chilly a bit lower down. The ground is very dry on the top, but it is damp lower down. Some rain is forecast over the next few days, but stronger winds too. The rain will be welcome too.

The season seems a few weeks late, maybe as much as a month, but as the sun is so strong now I think things will quickly catch up if the wind remains from the south and west. As evidence that the season is very late, I finally have some broccoli spears. I had really given up hope of seeing any fresh broccoli, but I didn't clear the plants until I needed the space and now I'm glad I didn't. I'll pick a few spears in a day or two and take a photo if I remember. I hope now the asparagus will begin to grow too.

The best news so far is that I do seem to have persuaded the rabbits to move on. I have been constantly refilling their hole and adding wood and bricks to make it harder to dig out. I found a large, heavy iron bar and a large wooden block. I used them to reinforce my refills and it seems to have worked. The hole has not been dug out for nearly a week - rather than every night - and there are no droppings or scrapings anywhere to be seen. I can't find any other hole nearby either, so things look good. When I'm sure they have gone, I'll level the ground and cover as much as I can with chicken wire to prevent future digging.

Looks like the growing season is finally under way.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Too soon?

I have moved the broad beans up to the allotment greenhouse, which is more of a cold frame really when it is so cold. They need to slow down as they were romping away at home. I hope the ground warms up soon, otherwise they will get much too tall and when they do go out they will probably get damaged in any kind of breeze. I might have been too early sowing them. Should I sow some more just in case?

The leeks are just beginning to come through - once again I need to keep them in check, but first they will need potting up. I will sow some more leeks later and they seem to be less rampant than broad beans.

The cold easterly wind continues. It is also very, very dry so even though the ground is still cold it is drying up. The forecast is for somewhat warmer and wetter weather to spread in from the west next week. I hope so.