Tuesday 11 May 2010

Mr Frosty...

....no, not the flavoured ice-crush-making machine from the 80s, but Jack Frost who has been paying us a visit.

I spent yesterday evening earthing up the potatoes and covering the strawberries (well the ones that are in flower, anyway) with old straw. There wasn't enough soil to earth up all the spuds as I hadn't left as much room between the rows of the earlies as I had for the main crops. Luckily I remembered my mum had given us some old net curtains so I covered up the remainder with them.

THEN I realised I shouldn't have put the curtains straight onto the potatoes as this wouldn't protect them so much, so took it all off again, bent some chickenwire over the rows and put the curtains back on, weighing them down with bits of wood. Phew!

After all that we didn't get frost in Norwich! But other parts of Norfolk did and some of my workmates said their potatoes had been damaged.

The next couple of nights are supposed to be frosty again, so I decided to leave the plants protected for a while longer. Hope it works! And I hope none of the other plants I've got outside are susceptible to frost. Potatoes and strawberries were all I could think of. All other tender plants are still in the lean-to, though I do need to start hardening them off, so they toughen up a bit before planting out. Exciting!

Monday 3 May 2010

Weathering the weather

Today really won't make it's mind up. Rain, sun, hail, rain, sun, hail (repeat til fade...).
Cool clouds though, moving real quickly It's pretty cold too, in between the sunny spells, as we're near the North Sea and that's where our weather today is coming from.

So far have decided against a trip to the plot 'cause we haven't got any proper shelter (sitting under the buddleia, under an umbrella doesn't really count) but according the the forecast the rain may stop soon. Hurrah!

In-between the showers I've been sorting out the spot for the bean wigwam in the back garden (we have a couple of little raised veg beds for growing salads etc). So, I dug out a pit and filled it with cardboard and newspaper plus some weeds (dandelion leaves, alkanet (member of borage family with lovely blue flowers and itchy, furry leaves which grows all over the garden) and other bits and bobs, plus some 'spent' compost (from last years tomato plant-pots, which had also just finished with a follow-on of salad leaves and coriander). The soil in our back garden is very shallow, only just over a spade deep, because there used to be terraced houses here, (which I think got bombed) and the foundations were never removed. I've been gradually improving the soil over the last couple of years and it's not too bad now, plus making the beds raised has helped.

As beans are particularly hungry, I might add some chicken manure pellets (we were given a massive tub last year) and will probably dig in a bit of home made compost when planting out the beans (sown yesterday in toilet roll tubes). The wigwam is made of hazel poles coppiced from a friend in the countryside a few years back. I think they're almost past-it though, but hope they last this year. Last year the wigwam fell over because I was being greedy and let the growth become really top heavy, rather than pinching out the tops of the plants. Most the of plants were ripped out of the ground having just been about to start producing. Sigh! The year before they grew up into our little laburnum tree and I was hoping they would do the same but I shouldn't have risked it. Nevermind. Try again this year.

I might also do my courgette/bean combination in the back garden. This worked really well on the allotment last year (courgette plant grown in the middle of the wigwam, which shades out the weeds). The back garden is quite shady though, even though it's south facing, due to the large Holm Oak in the alley behind. Well, it's worth a go anyway.

Wow, I think it hasn't rained for about 15 minutes now. Time for a trip out I think. Actually the only reason i put on the computer was to look up rocket pesto recipes (had to clear away a load of rocket to make way for the wigwam). The rocket was sown last year and had come through the winter quite well, but as the leaves had gotten a bit tough I reckon they'll be best made into a pesto rather than just have in sandwiches. There was also some lettuce which had survived the winter, being protected by the rocket and some self sown chick weed. So we had the lettuce in veggie sausage sandwiches, with home made (well, machine-made) bread and last years marrow & ginger chutney. Not bad eh!