Monday, 25 August 2008

Bank Holiday Weekend

Gill and Adrian came up from Milton Keynes for the weekend to help me with the allotment. Wow, what a difference a couple of extra pair of hands can make. Almost all the digging and weeding is completed now, just a small patch where I'll let the chickens have a scrabble around in, and the patch under blue tarpaulin that has pumpkins growing through it. I'm fighting a battle with caterpillars too, so Adrian had the job of going round all the brassicas and spraying the little pests with Garlic Fire Spray. It's a constant battle, but I don't want to loose too many. I know the chooks will have a feast when I've harvested and washed them all.

The pumpkins have some golf-ball size embryo fruits on them, and it's just this last day or two that there's been both male and female flowers open at the same time. That being the case, I gave nature a little bit of a helping hand and hand-pollinated 4 or 5 just in case the bees don't get round to doing it for me. I've also got a couple of tiny red cauliflowers starting to head up. Never tried them before so hope they taste nice.

I've dug up the biggest Olive tree from the back garden and re-planted it at the allotment. I've also dug up a big peony and a little peony. The big one has found a new home over at my friend's garden together with a clump of a blue flowered plant that I think might be cat mint, and a clump of Jacob's Ladder, 'cos she admired them both every time she came over for elevenses. The little peony is in the front garden now underneath the front window. should look nice in a couple of years or so when it gets bigger.

Gill had a lovely time this morning collecting eggs from the chooks, was really excited (or eggsited) each time she found one. She's taken them home with her - might last a couple of days :)

Here's a couple of pictures of Adrian sitting on the make-shift coop (a converted rabbit hutch) with Ivy. She's a tart!!! She doesn't mind being picked up and admired.
I've been down to the allotment again with Gill this morning to get a basket of goodies for her to take home. They've gone back with potatoes from Stewart's allotment (they're getting big and slug-eaten!), a lovely butterhead lettuce, courgettes, and some french beans from mine.
That's all for today folks, might get some more nice photos uploaded again soon, well once I've given them names so I know what's what that is.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Ooooooo 2 days in a row :)

I only did a bit of an update yesterday, but here I am again adding more.

Always impatient (well nearly always) to get things moving, as it was at least not raining this morning I wanted to do some sowing. Perhaps it's not really the right time for some of these, but if I succeed then I'll be well pleased. If I don't succeed, then I'll know for certain that I was wrong, and as I've only sowed a few of each, I've still got some left for when the right time comes around.

I've put some Rhubarb Chard and White Chard into single modules, 1 in each as the seeds (of which I understand are really capsules containing more than 1 seed) are quite large. I've been told by my optician that to slow down the progress of Macular Degeneration that I should eat more dark green leafy veg, so I've got some Scarlet Kale and sprinkled a few pinches of seeds in some bigger modules. OK I know it says Scarlet and not dark green, but it's still Kale! I've never tried it before, so I don't know if I'll like it or not. If I don't then the chooks are in for another treat.

I've been dying to grow some mahoosive onions and someone once said that if you can grow good onions from seed, then you're truly a gardener. So a good pinch of Ailsa Craig has gone into a seed tray. These will be nurtured as well as my babies were :) I've also sowed some red onions and some White Lisbon. Fingers crossed for a reasonable crop.

The cover of the mini greenhouse has been off for the summer and now we're getting these horrible torrential downpours, I thought it'd be a good idea to put the cover back. I found lots of nice fat juicy snails for the girls when I got it out. So that's now ready and housing my precious soon-to-be seedlings.

Chickens are behaving themselves again and giving me about 6 eggs a day. Hazel was grumbling this morning though, the make-shift mini gazebo I'd created for them to shelter under and to keep their food dry collapsed under the weight of the water that had collected on the top. Maybe someone will take pity on me and make a more permanent shelter attached to the shed. It only needs to be a sort of low-down lean-to with a sloping roof so the rain can go into a bucket. Maybe I'll do that in the next week or so if the weather's not too bad again.

I'm getting a greenhouse tomorrow. Given to be through a friend-of-a-friend who turns out to be one of my old bosses about 30 years ago. Son-in-law Andrew, grandson Christopher, Milly's boyfriend and some of his friends are all going to help dismantle it and bring it to my garden. It's going to be "fun" assembling it all again isn't it :). Reminder to self - take a marker pen to mark where all the pieces fit together!!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wow!! Doesn't time fly!!!

It's been 2 months (well nearly) since I first started my blog, and it's one of those things that keep getting put on hold - "I'll do it tomorrow". Anyway, tomorrow's here now, so I'll try to remember what's happened, and hopefully add a few pictures this time too.

This is Rose on the left, and Daisy on the right when I took them for a day out at the allotment. As you can see, there was loads of weeds etc for them to scrabble around in and eat, but I also loosened the soil a bit so that they could dig out a few worms. The chooks have been down to the lottie with me a few times, the last one was August 14th when we had an Open Day down there. I took 2 of the "oldies" - Hazel and Myrtle, and 2 of the "newies" - Petunia and Daisy. They were admired by lots of visitors and had their photos taken for some publicity stuff. Hope it will encourage more people to do a bit of rescuing some ex-battery chickens for themselves.

I had a very sad day on 11th August, my beautiful chicken Rose died. I don't know why, though I suspect it may have been something to do with the fact that she nearly always laid eggs with no shells, or a very thin membrane around the egg. Maybe an internal infection of some kind? Anyway, it must have happened very quickly as I'd checked on them all and collected the eggs before going to the allotment at 10.30am, then when I got back at 12.30pm to check again for eggs, Rose had died inside the coop. I remember reading somewhere that you are not supposed to bury chickens in your gardens, but I thought "What the heck" she'd been one of the first pet chickens I'd ever kept and she was really beautiful, had all her feathers and was soft, silly, and an escapologist :) Anyway, I dug up part of the back lawn (well a weedy bit of grass) and dug a really deep hole to put her in. My mum had bought me a tiny Olive tree when she last stayed with me and as I'd been thinking of putting it in the garden anyway, I put it on Rose's grave so we'll always know where she is and will always think of her when we look at the tree.

Things are moving along slowly but steadily at the allotment. There's still quite a bit of deep digging to do to get out all the nettle roots. The brassicas are enormous!! How long that will last I don't know, there's loads of fat caterpillars that I'm fighting with. I keep spraying them with Garlic Fire Spray to kill them but for every 10 I kill, I find another 20. I should be able to start picking some climbing french beans in the next day or so providing the flipping rain eases off. The peas are starting to swell, and the pumpkins are starting to flower with some tiny embryo pumkins behind the female flowers, no sign of any male flowers opening yet though.