Saturday, 1 October 2016

Granny stripes

The granny-stripe blanket I posted about last time is finished.  It's not quite how I originally imagined it would be as I rather stuffed up the initial foundation and it's a lot smaller than the one Lucy from Attic24 made, but I'm happy with it.

It was supposed to have 242 stitches, which I diligently counted as I did my first chain, but not being particularly good at crochet, when I'd done my first row of double crochet followed by the first row of treble clusters, I ended up with 125.  I'm not entirely sure how I managed to lose over a hundred stitches, but I did, and that made what should have been a sofa cover sized blanket rather narrow!

No matter.  It looks good, the border hides a multitude of sins, and my new blanket is actually perfect for using in the car to keep myself warm when housemate has the AC blasting.  I must be one of the very few people who wears a hat, gloves and a thick coat in the car when it's 30 degrees outside, then practically strips off when I get out of the car into the heat.  My new granny stripe will do away with the need for all the extra layers in the car :-)

I've now started another blanket, which will be a cover for my bed.  Something I suspect I"ll be needing in the coming months as I have a feeling we're in for a cold one.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Granny cushion

I've been practicing my crochet of late, a craft which has taken me many years of frustration to 'get' and I still wouldn't say I've managed to master it.  A bit like my knitting, my technique isn't right at all and I'm sure crochet aficionados would frown at how I go about it, but the result works so I'm not too bothered!

Anyway, I made a continuous "Granny" square to 20" and decided to turn it into a cushion cover, so made a back to go with it.  After crocheting a border to join 3 sides, I was waiting for the cushion inner to arrive, which it did this morning.  I've now closed up the final side, and even if I do say so myself, am rather pleased with the result. I'll probably regret closing it in rather than putting a zipper in it as knowing me, I'll probably spill something on it.  However, I'll cross that bridge at a later date.


One side
T'other side
And this, is the next project.  I discovered a blog called Attic24 and I really like how Lucy, the author, puts colours together.  I would never have dreamed of putting some of these next to each other, but they do kind of work.  I'm using the set of "cosy" colours to do a Granny-stripe blanket.  I've done a few more stripes since this photo was taken this morning, but this one's going to take a while!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Jam, glorious jam

It's that time of year again when it's nose to the grindstone, or in this case the jam pan as the end of summer harvest comes in.

I've done well with fruit from the allotment this year, with lots of raspberries, red and black currants, and quite a few strawberries - although not quite enough for our annual strawberry jam quota so still had to buy a few in from the local pick-your-own.

Foraged damsons
Elderberries and blackberries
Foraged apples
Now though it's been time to harvest the late summer/autumn fruits of blackberries, elderberries, apples and damsons.  I was lucky enough to happen across an area with an abundance of wild apples, damsons and elder so have been frantically making jellies and enough elderberry cough syrup to hopefully see us through the winter.  It's just a shame that the farmers rounds-about are very vigilant in their hedge cutting, otherwise we'd probably have a bucketful of foraged hazel nuts too.  Sadly, most seem to have suffered the chop :-(

The photo shows only part of the year's jam making efforts; the rest are tucked away in the cupboard.  Have we got enough jam?  Only time will tell!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Compost heaps

The garden and allotment have been ticking over nicely the last month or so, and I'm very pleased with what we've managed to grow this year.  We've had lots of nice cabbage, both the spring variety (Wheeler's Imperial) and the round head variety in Golden Acre.  Peas have been a bit of a disaster but those we have had have been delicious.

Potatoes of various types have been pretty respectable, and I'm mightily impressed with the "Orla" spuds we've grown.  A lovely flavour and a good yield.

The best haul of all though came out of the compost heap!  I was busy turning that today, and while I knew there were a couple of potato plants growing in it, I didn't expect what I found.

The peas in the trug are some that Small grew, so we had those for tea along with some sausages, some of the spuds as mash, and some (more!) cabbage donated by a fellow allotmenteer.

In the poly-tunnel, we found our first tomato of the season, which was scrumptious. Only a little one, Gardener's Delight I think, but a sign of things to come.

The fruit, apart from apples, has come to an end now but we managed lots of mixed summer fruits jelly, and a respectable few jars of gooseberry jelly which is one of my favourites.  Now we're just waiting on the sweetcorn being ready which shouldn't be long now.

My poor runner beans were decimated by slugs/snails when I planted them out.  They persevered though, and re-grew and I was pleased to see they had some teeny, tiny little beans forming.  Hurrah for home grown!

How grows your garden?

Monday, 27 June 2016

Harvest and pillow

The bad back brigade managed to make it down to the allotment tonight, and there was some produce to harvest.  Some plants down there are looking a bit sick though, and I have a strong suspicion my "dear neighbour" has been spraying something on his weeds which has drifted over onto my plot.  I'm not a happy bunny about that.

Anyway, we managed to harvest a beetroot, the first one I've really grown successfully too!

Other things included some pretty good onions that I"d stored in the poly-tunnel last week  to dry, some De Barletta spring onions, broad beans, peas, and a few strawberries.  Although I've got a bowlful in the photo, most of those came from the front garden.  We also had some radish and leaves from the back garden with our lunch today.  I've decided that my attempts to grow radish in the ground just aren't going to work so I sowed a containerful of La Rougette which have done very well, and we've been munching away on them for several days now.

Also from the front garden were a few sweet peas which Small is holding up for Granny to see, as I know the folks read my blog.  There you go mum, just for you!

And lastly, the pillow part.  I"ve been trying to de-stash some of my fabric.  I've sold a few pieces off that I'm never going to use, while some of the scrappy bits have been put to good use in various quilting projects which I've been attempting while I've not been able to move very far.  This one is a new pillowcase for my back pillow that I have on the sofa.

I"m really pleased with the way this has turned out.  The front is fully pieced together, batted, backed and quilted, while the back of the pillowcase is a lovely Cadbury purple.  I love the cupcake at the bottom!  I'm sure mum will recognise a few of the pieces in this pillowcase which came from some fabrics she gave to me.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Edibles at last

I've been out of action for a while again as the blasted back is playing up again which has put paid to any gardening as I can't bend down to do anything - or if I manage to get down, I can't get up again!

We had our first real 'meal' from the garden last night, in the shape of some new potatoes (Duke of York 1st earlies) and a cabbage (Wheeler's Imperial).  There wasn't much of either the spuds or the cabbage, but boy did they taste good!  They were served up with a piece of pie from the farm shop and some beef and mushroom casserole that I couldn't squeeze in the freezer.

Not very big!
There's nothing much been done on the allotment since my last post, apart from watering as despite several promised thunder storms, they've passed us by.  Small boy did find a ripe strawberry though, which was our first of the year and absolutely delicious.

I'll leave you with some pics from our visit to Lottie tonight.

Broad beans, not quite ready yet. No idea what variety

Peas nicely in flower, various varieties

Courgette, var All Green, I think!

The first pea pods are setting

Golden Acre Cabbage

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pretty poly

It's up!  How long it will stay up is an entirely different matter as I have the distinct impression that despite my best efforts to anchor it to a frame it'll blow away in the first puff of wind.  There's a bit more work to do burying the sides of the cover, but hopefully I can make some headway now getting the inside part sorted out and move the tomato and aubergine plants down to the allotment.

Base before the frame was screwed to it

You can't see them in the photo, probably because they're green, but the tunnel is also attached to the ground with guy ropes.  Whoever the idiot was who thought GREEN guy ropes and green ground pegs on a green poly-tunnel, in a green environment was a good idea, I don't know.  As soon as possible these will be changed for bright orange or shocking pink.  Anything that we can actually see!!

Looking back through plot neighbour's fence
The allotment now has a nice muddy path going down it as mid-way through putting the thing up yesterday, the heavens decided to open and pretty much stayed that way until I'd finished.  This morning the sun is out and shining brightly so will try and get some more done so it's ready to go!

Monday, 16 May 2016


Housemate and I took the kids to Woolsthorpe Manor yesterday.  I've been threatening/promising a return trip so HMS could see the place too, and I think they both enjoyed themselves.  Being that little bit older, Small appreciated the interactive science parts more than last time we went and he had great fun doing the "mouse hunt" around the house again, this time with HMS in tow.  The latter had fun doing the human sundial and also enjoyed the interactive discovery centre as he's covering some of the topics at school.

Small photographed photographing me!
The pollen count seems to be dreadfully high this year, with half the neighbourhood wandering around with puffy eyes, runny noses and gravelly throats.  Small has succumbed too and is feeling decidedly sorry for himself, not helped by the fact that he hates the noise of nose blowing.  As both hands are firmly clamped over his ears for that particular activity he can't hold the tissue, so guess who gets that job :-(   As we're surrounded by fields of flowering oil-seed rape, I guess it won't be getting better any time soon.

I spotted my first cabbage whites of the year today, so the Wheeler's Imperial cabbages were hastily covered with some enviromesh which will hopefully keep the damned things at bay as they're just starting to heart up nicely.  I was a little late getting them into the ground, so they won't be ready for a few more weeks.

I sowed some Tagates, Calendula and Echinacea in pots and tonight's trip to the allotment saw some more cabbage (Golden Acre), sprouts (Nelson) and calabrese (Beaumont) planted out under bottle cloches.  I also got in some sweetcorn plants I picked up at the garden centre the other day.  Variety unknown, the label just says "sweetcorn", but enough for 3/4 of a bed full that have gone at the end of the raspberry bed.

Sod's law, most of the "Incredible" sweetcorn that are in a propagator in one of the growhouses have decided to come up, but as they're a 'super-sweet' variety which apparently are a case of  'never the twain shall meet' when it comes to non super-sweet varieties, can stay up at the house in a bed that I have spare.  I'll have to find a spare patch down at Lottie for the "Sparrow" corn that have germinated, and heaven help me now if the Mirai I sowed the other day do germinate.  I'll have to dig out another bed for them!  Still, with a bit of luck we'll get some degree of succession with the sweetcorn which will suit me just fine.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Enable your label

I've tried all sorts of things for labels.  Wooden sticks were a complete failure as no matter what I wrote on them with, the words eventually either wore off or went mouldy and became illegible, so I gave up on them.

Next up was the plastic ones, written on in indelible ink.  The only trouble with that option is indelible does what it says on the tin.  Yes, I know there are various methods out there to remove the ink, but to be honest that's too much faff!

The best solution I've found to plant labelling is to use the plastic ones and write in pencil - I like the 4" ones from B&M which come in packs of 50 and have a neat little pencil in the packet.  It's a fairly soft pencil, probably a 2B or something like that, and I now write all my labels in pencil.  It doesn't wash off, no matter how muddy and mucky the labels get, so I always know what I've planted.

Once the label is surplus to requirements, I simply give it a wash and dry it on a micro-fiber cloth, then rub off the writing.  The trick to not making a smudgy mess is to make sure it's a plastic eraser, something like a Staedtler one - of which we have several thanks to homeschooling and they come up as good as new.

Et voila! Permanently reusable labels ready for next time.

Another tip I read recently was to make your own plant labels by cutting up those plastic cartons that milk comes in, and cutting the pieces into label-sized strips.  Might try that one if I ever run out.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Led into temptation

Some of the pak choi made it down onto the allotment today, with a few more plants put in one of the beds at home.  It seems I may have left it a little late as a couple of them look like they're trying to bolt.  I did a spot of weeding and trimming around some of the beds where the lawn mower doesn't quite reach, but it was rather warm so I retreated until later in the day.  Unlike my plot neighbour-but-one, who had his sun lounger out to soak up the rays!

The Maris Pipers have, all bar one, got their heads up, so they were earthed up a little more.  The onions and broad beans are looking well, and to be honest there's not a whole lot of difference between the beans I planted in the autumn and those planted in February.  They're all in flower, so hopefully beans will soon follow.

I've sown some more sweetcorn, as it doesn't look like any of the Earligold or Mirai sown previously are going to do anything.  The other eight Earligold seeds have gone into a propagator, along with 32 Mirai so hopefully some of them will come up!  After the delights of home grown sweetcorn last year I'd be mightily miffed if we didn't have any this year.

I was naughty today.  An email from T&M offering 10 packs of seeds for a fiver was too good not to at least click through on, just to see what was on offer you understand!  Well, out of 180 or so varieties of veg seeds that were part of the deal, I chose 20.  So hopefully soon winging my way will be:

Broad Bean, "Stereo"
Sweetcorn, "Butterscotch" F1
Squash, winter, "Autumn Crown"
Shallot, "Zebrune"
Onion, "Rosanna"
Pea, "Balmoral"
Pea, "Alexandra"
Melon, "Galia" F1
Radish, "Rougette"
Carrot, "White Satin" F1
Turnip, "Salad Delight"
Lemon Balm, Duchy Originals Organic
Leek, "King Richard"
Cabbage, "Wheelers Imperial"
Cabbage, "Jersey Wakefield"
Swede, "Helenor", Duchy Originals Organic
Dwarf Bean, "Borlotto"
Parsnip, "Pinnacle" F1
Tomato, "Vilma"
Pak Choi, "White" F1

Another quick visit to Lottie this evening, with some "Ambassador" peas that were in a length of guttering that had survived the slugs put in.  A few bits of wood moved revealed some nice fat slugs, so my plot neighbour's hens got a nice protein treat.


On our recent trip to visit the folks, my mum gave me a couple of rose arches that had been kicking around in her shed for several years.  I got the distinct impression she'd got fed up with waiting for my dad to put the things together, and they'd been gathering dust ever since.

One of them has now been assembled and much to my delight, is exactly the width of the gate from the first section of the allotment into the 'orchard' area.  I'm planning to tie some canes to the frame and use it for growing the runner beans up.  Small was happy to pose for a photo!

The second one can gather some dust in my shed until such time as the next section of fence is completed, and the next gate - which matches the one next to Small - is put in.  The arches should look quite nice with beans growing up them.

While I was down at the lottie, one of the fruit beds got weeded, and there's room for a couple of cabbage plants to go in there.  I seem to have quite a few of them!  Back up at the house I sowed some more pumpkin seeds as the ones I got free with a gardening magazine have had a spectacular 100% failure rate, as have the patty squashes that came with the same magazine.  I also sowed some butternut squash seeds as those sown previously have also failed to germinate, as have almost all the sweetcorn.  Out of eight seeds each of Earligold, Mirai, Sparrow and Incredible, only 6 of the Sparrow have germinated, rather a disappointment as we love the taste of freshly picked sweetcorn.  I'll have to try again.

Monday, 9 May 2016


It's hard to believe, after the thermometer said 27C today, that only a week or so back we had snow, hail and really heavy frosts!  A glorious day to be out in the garden/down at the allotment, and after a few days away down in Wales with the folks there was certainly plenty to catch up on.

Thankfully my very kind neighbour had watered all the plants in the back yard growhouses while I was gone, and apart from some celery which I'd forgotten to move from the front to the back, everything looks remarkably well.  I rescued the celery last night and stuck it in a tray of water and left it outside overnight, and by this morning it had perked up again so all is well.

After a load of potting on, sowing and transplanting up at the house, I finally got down to the allotment about 5pm and found the grass desperately needed cutting.  Everything else is looking good and enjoying the sunshine.  All three of the apple trees are in blossom, along with the cherry tree, and the fruit bushes are all about to burst into blossom as well.

The Maris Pipers which had suffered a bit in the frosts at the end of April have all pushed up some new growth, so they got earthed up and the bed weeded.  There's a lot more to do though, so hopefully it won't be too hot tomorrow and I can get on with more weeding.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The sun has come out

After several days of the most dismal, grey and unpredictable weather, it was dry and relatively warm this morning.  Laundry pegged out, wellies and gardening gloves on, time to do a bit of potting on.  Some of the tomato plants that have been languishing on the living room windowsill have been transferred into larger pots and put into one of the grow houses, next to the courgette plants (Green bush) which are looking reasonably healthy and some De Cayenne chillies which are going to stay on housemate's bedroom windowsill were also potted on into larger pots.
No sooner had I finished potting on the tomatoes to come in for a cuppa, and the heavens opened with another of those absolutely torrential downpours.  A mad dash to grab the almost dry washing and quick trip to Aldi followed, as while I like gardening, I'm not such an enthusiast that I like doing it in the rain!

By the time we got back the sun was out again, so another load of laundry quickly pegged out and down to the allotment to drop off some bits.  Most of what's been planted seems to be doing OK but it looks like the Maris Piper main crop spuds have been frost damaged.  They were only just starting to poke their leaves through, so hopefully they'll recover.  While there's always a risk of more frosts in early May, hopefully the new month will bring some more stable and warmer weather so we can all get growing full steam ahead!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Mother Nature is poorly

I know they say "April showers bring May flowers," but poor old Mother Nature seems decidedly poorly at the moment.  After a few gloriously warm days earlier in the month when the plants perked up, put on growth and flower buds started opening, the weather has turned its back on gardeners for the moment.

The last few days have seen multiple hail and snow showers, and while none has stayed around for long it's decidedly COLD.  In fact last night saw one of the hardest frosts/freezes we've seen in almost the whole winter, never mind a month into spring.

My poor plants don't know if they're coming or going.  All the potatoes have their blankies on, the peas have gone on strike, the lettuces are having a hissy fit and the carrots seem to think that doing anything more than popping their first leaves up is far too much like hard work.  The birds are also struggling, and feeding like mad.  I feel sorry for the swallows who've thus far made it to the UK, as normally at this time they're happily flying around catching insects, but even they seem to have disappeared again - both the swallows and the insects!

Any seeds which I had planned on sowing have been put on hold for now, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that once we're in May, things might just improve.  We're three days off, for heaven's sake, and I'm sure we're not supposed to have snow at the end of April :-(

As the outdoor efforts are temporarily on hold and as housemate had an appointment in town, we called in at the central library.  After checking our library cards were still valid as we haven't been for a while (they were), I was informed I had a fine owing from 2014 for a book that was apparently returned late!  It's also for a book I don't even remember taking out - something about the back-roads of France, which is definitely not my thing, but I wasn't going to argue about a couple of quid.

I got a copy of "The Polytunnel Book" by Joyce Russell which I'd been contemplating buying but can now peruse first, "The Kitchen Herb Garden" by Maureen Little, "Glorious Glut" by Jackie Sherman - here's hoping I get crops at all!  A glut would be lovely!!  I also got a copy of "The Hairy Bikers' Meat Feasts" as I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.  I'm now curled up in front of the wood-burner, with books and a cuppa.  Sod the weather.

Saturday, 23 April 2016


With the weather forecast promising frost last night, the potatoes in the front garden got their blankie put on, and were covered up with fleece.  Just as well I did really, as by 11pm there was a definite twinkle of frost on the shed roof.  Instead of the promised rain though, it was bright and sunny this morning, although rather cold out of the sun and the spuds were kicked out of bed, and everything opened up.  It's amazing how quickly the little grow-houses get too hot at this time of year if they're not unzipped.

I spent part of the morning potting up more veg seedlings and sowing some sweetcorn and squash seeds, then noticed that six of the Golden Acre cabbage plants I'd potted up a few weeks ago had grown on particularly well so took them down to the allotment.  I do the 'square foot' gardening method, even on the allotment, so found some gaps where over-wintered broad bean plants had not gone the distance and stuck the cabbages in there instead.  The guideline for cabbage is 1 per square foot and they got bottle cloches plonked over them so they should do ok and hopefully the pigeons will stay off.

This afternoon we took another visit to the Thorncliffe Farm Shop at Emley, and on to the ice cream shop just up the road.  At the ice cream place, which is also a dairy that sells its milk direct, I enquired whether they sold raw milk. They don't.  But they told me another dairy not too far away does, via a vending machine.

A slow google later - surprisingly the signal was crap, despite being in a direct line from the largest thing to have the phone thingys on in the shape of Emley Mast half a mile away - revealed the other dairy was only four miles distant, so we went and got a carton.  I must confess I've never, to my knowledge, tried raw milk although I remember my Mum talking about being sent off, as a small child, to the farm with the little container to get milk for her mother which I guess would have been raw back in the day.

It'll be interesting to see whether it tastes very different to the pasteurised stuff.  I like unhomogenised milk, which I grew up with, but even that's hard to find these days and Morrisons seems to be the only supermarket round here to sell it.  I gave some to Small, but he hated it as it had 'bits' in it (the cream!).

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Peas in

Another lovely sunny day here so time to get something done on the allotment, despite having very little in the way of energy thanks to a ghastly head cold.

A load of stuff, including some bark chips, reels of hose so we don't have to trek back and forth with watering cans, and other bits & bobs were taken down.  The grass got its second cut and is beginning to look half decent again.  Another trugful of broken glass was picked up, but as it's bin night this has been distributed throughout the street's bins ;-) to save another trip to the tip.

Some petit-pois peas and beetroot have been transplanted into one of the beds as I'm fast running out of space in the grow houses at home, and the dalek I won on eBay has been deposited on the lottie.  It's yet to find its permanent place, but for now it's been dumped with the other compost bins.

Where the weedy bit in the distance starts is where I found the raspberry canes.  There are actually quite a few of them, and the ones near the compost bins seem to be appearing at a rate of knots.  I always knew raspberries were prone to "wandering", but these seem to have made it an art form.  My plot neighbour has also gained a few canes!

Back at home, I noticed one of the gutter lettuces has disappeared, and a tell-tale slime trail where the plantlet had been. I'd forgotten to put any slug pellets in the guttering, so I guess it stands to reason that the slimy blighters would be after succulent lettuce transplants.

A nice picking of PSB for tea tonight.  The plant that gave up the very small portion a week or two back had made lots of side shoots, so those were enjoyed this evening.  Even Small didn't complain, which he usually does whenever any sort of broccoli is put in front of him.  Something to be said for home grown :-)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


With beautiful clear skies and plenty of sunshine, it was just too nice and warm not to do any gardening today.

The two stray Wilja 2nd early potatoes have finally been planted in a pot.  In the cabbage bed some radish seeds were sown to hopefully get a quick crop before the cabbages grow too big, and I've also sown a few Calendula seeds as I seem to remember reading somewhere that marigolds go well with brassicas.  I also now have some lettuces pricked out and transplanted into lengths of old guttering, which have been put (temporarily) in a shady spot along the front fence.

I didn't get much done yesterday as it was just too darned cold - a complete contrast to the beautiful weather both today, and on Sunday.  I did however manage to get a pile of stuff into housemate's car, including the trug full of broken glass, which was taken to the tip and disposed of.  The rubbish, that is, not the trug, although it nearly fell down into the huge skip as I emptied the glass and other crap out of it!  It almost made me cry to see the pile of huge planters, perfectly good planters I might add, which someone had chucked into the plastics bin. They'd have been wonderful down on the lottie. Sigh.

I did win a 330L "Dalek" compost thingy on eBay for a fiver, so will go and collect that tomorrow.  Apparently it comes with a bit of "free dirt and possibly a couple of worms". :-)

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Not summer yet but

There's an old saying that one swallow does not make a summer, but it always makes me smile when I first see these little guys whose epic journey has brought them back to our shores.

This one was sitting on the wires above the car while we ate our picnic lunch today.  The weather might have been lovely, but the wind was still bitingly cold so we sat in the car to eat our sandwiches.  We'd stopped to call into the very excellent Thorncliffe Farm Shop, near Emley, before a visit to Dearne Lea Ice Cream shop in nearby Shelley.  Fantastic ice cream, and they also sell milk from their own dairy herd.  Yum yum!

Friday, 15 April 2016

First cut

The grass at the allotment has finally had its first cut of the year, and I've managed to get a bit further down than last year.  The photo below shows the big difference between the nice green area that was regularly cut over the last couple of years, and the yellowed area that's not been cut since who knows when.  This is about three quarters of the way down the plot, and the shed can just be seen in the distance.

The grass cutting came to an abrupt halt when I reached a big pile of broken glass, tin cans and various other detritus that looks like the majority of it came from someone's old greenhouse and has just been dumped on my plot.  I managed to fill a trug full, which now needs to be taken to the local tip.  I say 'local' somewhat grudgingly as there was, until recently, a tip just the other end of the village.  Now it's a good drive to the council's new facility.

On the plus side, I did discover some raspberry canes growing in amongst the weedy grass, so another day these will be rescued and put further up the plot with the rest of the fruit. I'd also dug up and replanted some escapees from the existing raspberry bed and put them along the fence line.  Hopefully they'll take.

The broad beans I planted had really put on a growth spurt and had outgrown their bottle cloches, so these were removed and a net cloche put over them in the hope that the dastardly wood pigeons won't get at them until they've grown a bit more.

Back at home three sections of guttering have been planted up with peas, Alderman, Progress and some more Kelvedon Wonder.  I've tried several several lots of KW, none of which have germinated this year although they've always done really well in the past.  If this lot don't do anything, I'll conclude the seed has had it and get some new.  I've also dug over the 1m square bed that had had cabbage in it, ready for something else to go in later on.

The container potatoes have been earthed up, and another very large container has been planted up with some "Orla".  These had deliberately been left aside as I don't want all the potatoes being ready at the same time!  There are some more to go in over the next few weeks, along with a couple of stray Wilja, so with a bit of luck we'll get a successional crop.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A few days makes a difference

What a difference a few days makes!  Having been away for a short visit to the parents, the allotment hadn't been visited for a few days.  With all the rain, and slightly warmer weather, the grass has gone mad and is sorely in need of a haircut.  The broad beans left under their pop bottle cloches all seem to have survived any attempts by the slugs to get at them, and the over-wintered broad beans are nicely in flower.  Of the potatoes planted in the (now) lime-green bed there are still no sign yet, but hopefully they'll poke their heads up soon.

The trees are coming into bud/flower nicely and the plum tree, or at least I think it's the plum tree as it's lost its label and I can't remember which order I planted the trees in, looks lovely with all its flowers.

There were plenty of seedlings in the back yard grow houses that needed potting on, so a happy hour or so was spent with hands in the dirt potting on cabbage seedlings.  Some summer squash seeds were sown, along with another tub of carrot seeds and some kaleidoscope beetroot seeds that I picked up while visiting the folks, and some more pea seeds were put in soak.  I've never really been sure of whether I liked beetroot or not, but having tried some that was served up with Small's lunch the other day, which was delicious, I decided they're not bad after all so am encouraged to try growing some!

I was pleased to see that some of the carrot seeds sown a few weeks back have started to germinate, so I'm hoping we might actually get some carrots of various hues this year.  This is one veg that seriously doesn't like our soil here in Yorkshire and needs to be grown in containers.  So far, we've sown some Purple Haze, Chantenay, Nantes 5 and Parisienne.

There's also a tray of Pak Choi which needs pricking out.  Another veg I've absolutely no idea what to do with, but the seeds were free with something or other so I'll try anything once. A job for another day.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Mad woman v molluscs

A brief visit to the allotment this morning, ostensibly to check on the newly transplanted broad beans, inevitably led to spotting a couple of things that needed doing, and a bit of digging.  Thankfully the horrid slug pellets had done their thing and several deceased slimeballs lay around the bottle cloches, with all the bean plants currently intact.

After a bit of trimming around some of the beds, I picked up the fork and did a bit more digging into the area where the new poly-tunnel thingy will sit.  It's slow going, due to all the couch grass and nettle roots that need pulling out, a seemingly endless supply of stones, and copious amounts of broken glass to be painstakingly picked out and slung into a bucket kept especially for bits of glass.

Later in the day we took a trip to Lidl, with a bribe of a donut for Small, for another bag of bark bits and some of their seed compost which seems to be a nice consistency and pretty cheap at £1.49 for 20L.  Just as we were about to exit the store, the heavens opened with the most torrential hail storm, accompanied by loud claps of thunder and brilliant flashes of lightning.  Although the storm only lasted a few minutes and we were able to get into the car relatively dry and unscathed, it did follow us all the way home which meant a brief sit in the car once we'd pulled up to wait for it to stop.

With so much rain this afternoon, it was inevitable that the dastardly snails and slugs are out in force tonight, which led to a woman on a mission with a flashlight.  I've no doubt my neighbours are now used to the sight of this crazy pyjama and wellie-boot clad loon poking around the garden in the dark with a torch and a pair of tongs, but I'm ever vigilant to the fact that the men in white coats may well be on their way to get me any time now!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

First edibles of the year

My first edibles were harvested from the garden today.  OK, so it was nothing spectacular, some salad leaves for my lunchtime sandwich and some a pathetically small amount of PSB to have with my tea, but at least it's home grown!

It's been far too wet the last couple of days to get anything done on the allotment, so the digging of the ground where the new polytunnel/growhouse is going will have to wait a bit longer as it's just too claggy to dig today.

To keep up my gardening spirits, I potted on a load of Golden Acre cabbage plantlets into bigger pots in the hope they develop a nice strong rootball and a bit more growth before they have to brave the wood pigeons and slugs down at the allotment.  For the time being, they can stay in the little growhouse in the back yard where they're safer, if not totally safe, from the marauding molluscs.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Beans and Beryl

It's been a while since I posted anything, as quite frankly there's been nothing worth saying - so I haven't!  Things have been going on in the background though and there have been plenty of seeds sown this year for growing on in the little growhouses at home waiting to be moved down to the allotment.

This morning it was the turn of some replacement broad bean plants as some of the ones I put in over winter have either got damaged or given up.  I've put them in under some pop-bottle cloches to try and keep off the dastardly wood pigeons who live on the allotment site.  A sprinkling of slug pellets has also been scattered around, as much as I hate the things, I can't win the war against the slugs without them.  Hopefully the beans will do ok and I'll get a reasonable crop.

I've also been busy reading a couple of blogs by fellow allotmenters, both of whom have made far better progress in a much shorter time than me!  It's been fun following their efforts from weedy, overgrown plots to a bountiful harvest of wonderful crops.  One of the bloggers is Beryl ( who I found through a mention in one of my gardening magazines.  I totally blame her for the fact that one of my beds is now a nice shade of Lime Zest - although it looks yellow in the photo.  All her beds are nice bright colours and as I had a voucher given to me at Christmas which could be spent at B&Q, I splurged on a couple of (much reduced) tins of garden paint.  At some future point, some of the others will be painted Purple Berry.

The lime green bed has been planted with Maris Piper main crop spuds which will hopefully poke their heads up in the not too distant.

This afternoon was spent enjoying the glorious sunshine and sowing various seeds, so I now have some sunflowers, early sweetcorn, Swiss chard, cauliflower and different varieties of lettuce which I hope will do their thing and germinate.