Monday 23 February 2015

Harvest Monday - it's all green

It's been another mixed week for weather, sunny one day then pouring rain the next (or sometimes both in one day). Saturday was really lovely but I couldn't get to the plot until Sunday, when of course it turned cold, windy and rainy but yippee I got a few hours in before it got too bad.

I've mainly been carrying on weeding under my fruit bushes (the couch grass gets in and around them every year) then adding compost on top, and in some cases adding a thick layer of old bramble prunings too as mulch, which I'm experimenting with to see if it'll keep down the couch grass. I also added some chicken-poo pellets and compost to one of the areas I'll plant out onion sets next month.

My robins and black bird friends came to say hello again, which was nice.

I picked some green things this week:

More corn salad

Curly kale, Nero kale, my first and last sprouts, and some tiny broccoli. There's still a few sprouts but they're tiny too so I'll leave them to 'blow' and grow into tasty spring greens

And finally, some seed excitement, I peered through the bubble wrap last night and spotted a little seed had germinated and by this morning a few more...Come on tomatoes!


I think that must be fastest tom germination for me, just one week! The intermittent sunny weather must have helped. I also tried to be good and brought the compost inside first for one night to warm up, plus used room temperature water. Must've done something right anyway.

Linking in with Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions


Monday 16 February 2015

Harvest Monday - a secret weapon

I had a day at the allotment was meant to be sunny but wasn't, booo. But it wasn't rainy either, so that was alright. I was glad I had an extra body warmer in the shed though as it was a tad chilly (especially as I was expecting sun).

When I took on the plot there were several rose bushes, all in the way, so I've been digging them up over the years and moving them into the bramble boundary hedge. They're mainly lovely fragrant varieties, so I didn't want to get rid of them completely. The last one was next to my shed and was always rubbing against it in the wind, plus I want to grow a grape up the side of the shed, so it had to be moved. I pruned it quite low and set to work with a fork and spade to get as much root out undamaged as possible. It came out easier than expected though I did have to chop a couple of roots off a bit. It'll take a couple of years to settle back in as no doubt I'll forget to water it this year. The last couple I've moved are still hanging in there!

I then got sidetracked pruning brambles, cutting out the old dead ones and trimming those growing out over the path. I basically wanted to make it as easy as possible to pick the delicious fruits later in the year, the old dead stems would get in the way when I reach through, and those thorns are vicious. I also pulled some of this year's stems closer to the path for easier picking.

I continued to weed around the base of my fruit bushes too and discovered a lovely little froggy when digging out the compost heap. It settled down into a corner and seemed happy enough, protected.

My two robin friends came to say hello in the afternoon, such a beautiful song. I think I might try and train them to eat out of my hand :) a blackbird came to say hello too, pecking around as soon as I moved a little bit away from the area I was working. This is good news as they'll be eating up grubs from under the fruit bushes, like the gooseberry sawfly larvae.

So what's my secret weapon? Well, not quite as exciting as it sounds but in the lean-to I have the tubs that I grew tomatoes in last summer. In late summer I sowed some oriental greens into one of these and they've been coming up over winter - I gave them a bit of extra protection with bubble wrap over the top of the tub too. Because it's dark in the evenings when I get back from work I've kind of ignored them for a while but decided to pick some the other day to add to a noodle soup. I wish I'd done a couple more tubs of these.

We've had the last tub of strawberries from the freezer this week :(

But spring must be on its way because I've just sown my toms and peppers etc

Here they are before I covered them with a thin layer of compost and soaked them from below for 20 mins or so. Where I have lots of seeds of a particular variety I've put two or three per module but otherwise just one.

I have them under bubble wrap on the top of the drawers by the window. Grow little seeds, grow!

Linking in with Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions.


Monday 9 February 2015

Harvest Monday - a little cabbage

It's warmed up a bit this week and was even sunny on Sunday, which was great as that was when I fitted in a few hours on the plot. I did a few different jobs, of course not all that were planned (it's so easy to get distracted).

I did have a couple of little friends to keep me company - two robins that were sooo cute kept coming right up to where I was working for a peck around, and when they weren't looking for morsels, they were singing beautifully. One got a treat, a tasty green caterpillar I found, gobbled up as soon as I threw it over to them.

Jobs included; topping up my garlics with compost (some of you might remember that I planted them a bit high, so I wanted to cover them up a bit), clearing the brambles from around my hazel tree (I have a little one too, that was in shade and crowded-out so recently I cleared back an overhanging privet tree to give it more space and light), the hazels have catkins on, which is a good sign for more nuts this year.

I also weeded round the base of two of my dwarf apple trees (I have 4) and added some compost on top. I've been clearing out a huge old pile of cut brambles that I'd been mounding up since getting the plot - it has some really good leaf mould in it (that I'll use for my hugel bed) and masses of tougher broken dead stalks, some of which I've already used as a layer for my hugel bed. But with so much material available I decided to use some of the broken up stalks as a mulch on top of the compost, to try and stop weeds a bit. There's about 8 years worth of stalks so I'll be trying it round lots of my fruit bushes. Not sure if it'll work!

And on to the harvests this week -

A little savoy cabbage,


Some parsnips (no sign of canker), a leek, some little beetroots I'd forgotten about, and a little potato I found when digging out the compost heap

I also noticed that one of my squashes had a bad spot on it, so roasted it up, with some of my foraged chestnut roast from the freezer (the chestnuts were foraged, not the roast!), my own potatoes plus the cabbage. Yummy

There was enough leftovers for lunch today too.... bonus! But I only have one squash left now, sigh. It's a big'un though so should go a long way. I'd better keep an eye on it to look for signs of deterioration. It's not ideal keeping them in the lean-to greenhouse - I think they need to be kept warmer but I don't have anywhere appropriate at the moment.

Linking in with harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions :)





Monday 2 February 2015

Harvest Monday - corn salad aka lambs lettuce

So this week I've had two small pickings of corn salad, also known as lamb's lettuce, a hardy salad leaf, with lovely dark leaves. I left a few plants to go to seed a few years ago. This year, after harvesting potatoes and disturbing the soil a bit, I had a surprise crop spring up. I've got some leeks and chard in the same bed too, that I transplanted there after harvesting all the potatoes. I've now covered this bed with environmesh.

The first picking, which went into sarnies for lunch,

And some more I picked today, for more sarnies made this evening (with egg and carrot). There's quite a few little corn salad plants, and rather than leave them to get big and picking a whole plant, (which would take a long time to grow) I've been picking a few leaves from each, a bit like 'cut and come again'. These were only little sandwiches so I made 3 to have one and a half each :) Nice to have some fresh greenery.

And a bit of a beige but tasty meal yesterday (I didn't realise how bad the photo made the meal look, I was rushing to eat! ) with home grown veggies - cabbage, potatoes and plum chutney. Also a celeriac roasted as chips but not home grown. Plus I made another two of Shaheen's chickpea loaf (I froze one). It was raining all day so I felt like a bit of baking.

And finally, nothing to do with harvests cute is our cat Minxie!!! Enjoying a sunny spot.

Linking in with Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions.