Monday, April 27, 2009

Never believe the forecast.

Well it's been a long hard weekend, not help by the expectation that most of it would be wiped out by heavy rain; at least according to both the Met Office and BBC last Wednesday and Thursday. So it was I took Friday off to ensure I got the bulk of the remainder of my potatoes in before the expected deluge.
Friday actually went quite well and after buying in this years stock of grow bags, and replenishing my stock of fish/blood/bone and chicken manure pellets, I made it down to the plot in the early afternoon. The afternoon passed far too quickly but I did manage to clean and dig over most of the section of my father-in-laws plot that I use, and get 3 20' rows of potatoes in, 2 of Rooster and 1 of Cara.
Saturday did actually see some rain, mainly in the early hours, and it was nearly 2:30 pm before I got to the plot; not because of the rain but due to shopping. With rain forecast I'd planned on taking a trip to B&Q to get the materials necessary to mount the new auto-vents in the greenhouse. As usual I came out with a few other bits and pieces I'd not intended to buy, although the new gate latch proved to be far inferior in quality to the one that broke.
I started by doing some much needed edging and weeding, before moving to dig over the end of bed 1, before moving the cages about in preporation for this seasons planting. This leaves me about 6' of bed 1 to dig over to complete this years digging, excluding the remaining 6' of bed 2. Whilst there my plot neighbour offered me some cauliflower seedlings, as she'd been offered 2 trays of 20 herself. As she found out "seedling" was not the correct description, young plants is more apt. I thanked her for her offered, and immediately began to work out where I was going to put them.
By Sunday lunchtime, having had to amuse myself planting up 5 tubs and a recycling bin worth of potatoes, whilst my wife went shopping at the local car boot, and walked our boisterous hound, I had a plan; one that required more digging.
I originally hadn't planned on using the bed that had the brussels in last year for brassica's but.... Anyway 2 hours later I'd dug and manured it, leveled it, given it a dose of lime, and put the cauliflowers in.
This just left digging the remaining section of my father-in-laws plot I started on Friday, so I could get another row of potatoes in, intersprersed with sowing the middle square bed on the plot with bumblebee flower mix, and sowing 4 short rows of carrots across the end of the incomplete long bed. This left just enough time after getting home to make up another batch of seed compost before dinner interrupted things.
It was therefore tonight, Monday, on returning home from work, before I could put it to use, sowing a tray of Scarlet Emperor (runner beans), a tray of Blue Lake (climbing french beans), and two HDSL seed selections, 10 each of Lazy Housewife and Bridgewater Beans - both climbing french beans.
Apart from planting the remaining potatoes, I've got enough Cara for another 25' row, jobs for the coming weekend include, planting out onions, possibly planting out cabbages, and pricking out seedlings. I might even get to a car boot and see if I can off load some of my tomato plants grown for the purpose.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reoccurring Themes

Well after two busy weekends I was back on the plots this weekend. During one conversation yesterday, Richard asked me how I was doing. "I'm about 2 weeks behind" was may response. "That's what you always say" he replied. Well it's certainly been the pattern for the last couple of years, but maybe next year will be different.
Anyway, enough speculation, back to reality. This weekend was an attempt to catch up and get some crops in the ground, most notably this years potato crop.
I started on Saturday, on the Sunningdale plot, with a little tidying up and weeding, before completing the digging of the raised bed I'd started digging a month ago. Digging completed I leveled the bed, applied a dose of lime, then planted my early cabbages and calabrese.
After a quick lunch in the sunshine on the plot, I moved to the main task for the day. First up was moving the manure heap, but prior to that I had to sort the edging out and remove the docks, couch, bits of bind weed, odd volounteer, and self sown comfrey. Space cleared I moved the heap, before commencing on planting three rows of spuds, Maris Bard, Charlotte, and Estima. With the time now approaching 7 o'clock I just about had time to plant out my up-to-date onions, water both them and the cabbages, and make it home by 8, thoroughly exhausted.
My exhertions on Saturday meant that Sunday morning was a rather slow affair and it was early afternoon before I made it down to the Bracknell plot. My first task was to sort the onions from the weeds which seem to have run riot in the last three weeks. This took the best part of two hours minus half an hour for lunch. Then it was onto clearing the cabbages I'd left as spring greens which had used the last three weeks to run to seed. I small movement of soil from one end of the potato bed to the other meant I could level it a little better before getting in 2 26ft rows, one of Maris Piper and the other of Pink Fir Apple.
My attention then moved to planting this years onions. Having failed to bring a hoe with me, judicious use of both my small 12" rake and the landscaping rake, took care of the flourishing weed crop, allowing me to put in 6 rows of 12 onions. Once I work out how much room I need for this year french beans I can determine how many more I can squeeze in.
Despite the amount achieved I'm still miles behind, and the Bracknell plot in paticular is looking a little untidy. I did manage to get a couple of other jobs done on my return home. I managed to sow all my saved Daniels Defiance, another batch of brussel sprouts (as I can't seem to work out where all the previous ones have gone), and a batch of Kohlrabi.
Next weekend it's back to planting potatoes, until then it's time to work out where I'm going to put the mangetout.