Summer planting

This time last week we finally stopped having cold nights, so I planted out/potted up the tender crops –

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It took a while, so by the time I’d finished planting into the growbags, the sun had started to move around to the side of the house. L-R, starting at the nearest point of the growbag, they’re cucumber (Marketmore), chilli pepper (not sure as yet, they were gifted by Dad and I did the usual thing of forgetting to mark the second set of pots they went into, doh), tomatoes across the back (3 each of Sungold and Gardener’s Delight), another mystery chilli from Dad, and another cucumber plant. Then there’s the courgette plant, planted into an old 75L compost bag rolled down to form a container.

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These are, starting from the back and L-R, another cucumber (in the square container, Marketmore again), a particularly healthy looking sweet pepper; middle row – chilli, sweet, chilli, chilli, peppers; and at front right some teenytiny basil and marigold plants.

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Typically, the days immediately following this were particularly inclement, but the last couple have been absolutely glorious, so I live in hope of harvesting a tomato this year.

Potatoes are growing nicely so far, this was last week and they looked even healthier when I visited the allotment yesterday –

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The onions, shallots and garlic are on track, which I’m really pleased about – last year’s shallot harvest was pitiful, but hopefully this year we’ll have some pickled shallots –

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Netted savoy and greyhound cabbage, and calabrese –

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Two rows of salsify, with red salad bowl lettuce in between – two of these got munched by molluscs, so I’ve planted some tiny coriander plants in there.

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I’ve sowed some swede – we love swede in our house, and I’m thinking it’s maybe a brassica the pigeons might leave alone. Hopefully it wasn’t too late a sowing – it was made on the 11th, but they’re a late variety.

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I’m currently contemplating splitting the gardening content from this blog to another, keeping this one solely for fibre-related posting – the main reason I’ve been considering this is because I’m also going to start a wedding blog, partly to keep track of all the fantastic stuff I keep finding, but also as something to look back on, along with my photos and memories of the day itself.

And um, also a brewblog – I’m taking up brewing again, after a four year hiatus, and I need to keep records for that which would certainly clog up this place – it may become a more general food/drink blog, where I can keep things like jam and pickling records and recipes, etc.

Though I need to think up some names for them first!

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Potting on

It’s that time of year again – lots of things in pots.

These –

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are cabbage, Greyhound – I don’t normally do summer cabbage, and I certainly don’t normally grow cabbages in pots (at most I usually do trays, then nursery beds). I suppose that makes it an experiment.

Same with these, which are calabrese ‘Corvet’ –

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Both of them are looking pretty healthy, I think, though they need to go out quite soon by the looks of things. These –

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are Cavolo Nero seedlings, which will likely just go out into a nursery bed.

Then there’s the stuff that has to be juggled until the last expected frost date has passed. I’ve been potting this stuff up gradually since it was sowed, and so far, it doesn’t seem to have got too leggy – luckily, this last week, when it might have got away from me, has been warm enough to leave them out for most of the day.

These are my tomatoes – Gardener’s Delight and Sungold – plus a couple of peppers (donated by my dad, and again, I’ve potted them on and only realised afterwards that I hadn’t made a note of which was which, so I’ll find that out only when they fruit.. he gave me some chilli and some sweet, and I’ve completely lost track of which is which) – and the one courgette plant that germinated –

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And here –

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are the remaining pepper plants, plus four cucumber ‘Marketmore’ plants – every single one of those seeds came up.

Now I just have to hope they’ll be okay over the bank holiday weekend while we’re away in Aberdeen, urk.

Knitting is happening, though the stole’s possibly a little behind schedule as I’m knitting on a Dracoclava at the same time. It’s all looking good so far though, so I’m happy.

Wow.

Almost a whole month gone by, and nary a sign of a blog post.

Why so distracted? Well, there’s been a little bit of knitting – I made some headway with the lacy knitting pattern, and there’s the beginnings of another balaclava in the works.

And with a little warm weather upon us, I’ve been gardening – today saw my first earlies, 3 rows of Arran Pilot, go in, and the planting out of a measly eight pea plants that were started off at home (we did sow more than 8, but the seed is obviously getting on a bit as less than half of them came to anything). The maincrop potatoes are still sitting’n’chitting on the windowsill, but hopefully they won’t be by the end of this week.

Along with the peas (that were sowed a week or two ago), there’s chard (Lucullus), loose-leaf lettuce (Red Salad Bowl), parsley and Little gem lettuces – all but the latter have come up, so that’s two more packets of seed I need to order, along with parsnip, Hamburg parsley, and swede. They’re all still at home at the moment, as they’re still quite small, and while we’ve had some warm days the last couple of weeks the nights have been cold.

In amongst all that, there was a trip to see the folks down south.

Most of this, however, didn’t take up the whole month. A fair bit of my energies recently have been spent ruminating, planning, organising and imagining… because at the start of last month we decided to finally set a date for our wedding, having been engaged for the last three and a half years. There’s plenty of time yet, as we’re going for June 2011, but I’m going to savour every moment spent drifting through wedding blogs, and etsy, and recipe sites, and all the rest of it, right up till what I hope will turn out to be the best party of our lives.

I forgot to take a picture of the gardening I did today, and I don’t have any knitting pictures either, so here’s a rainy picture from last month of the church we’re hoping to marry in –

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I think roofs are overrated.

Spring?

Last week, the temperatures rose a little. Not enough to entirely thaw all the soil, and certainly not enough to dry it significantly, but enough to make going to the allotment a little more pleasant. So, I did a bit of tidying.

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I’ve moved a fair bit of the ‘weed mound’ (I hesitate to call it a compost heap) to a more suitable location (that bit behind the now thoroughly pruned rose bush in the corner of the garden, to the right of the water butts). Actually, a fair amount of what got piled onto that mound *did* rot down and become soil. I’m rueing my decision to bung a load of sticks on there now, however.

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Yesterday saw the shallots and onion sets go in, Red Sun and Sturon respectively. They’re in the bed just in the foreground there, starting where the garlic finishes. And I sowed a row of salsify, though it may prove to be a little early for it. There’s quite a lot of seed in the packet though, and it doesn’t keep well, so I thought I might as well go for it.

I’ve got my plans for the rest of the garden pretty much sorted now – on the other side of the garlic/onions, towards the weed mound, I’m going to plant out courgettes and pumpkins. Now, this is a break from my usual method of sticking potatoes in where nothing’s been cultivated previously, in freshly cleared ground, and is partly due to a point made by Bob Flowerdew on Radio 4’s GQT. I had quite a lot of wireworm in the last lot of potatoes, and in response to a question from someone who (I think) was starting a ‘new’ allotment, he pointed out that while people used to plant spuds first into newly dug ground to ‘clear the soil’, what it means is that your first crop of potatoes suffers more than it needs to from wireworm. The reason the wireworm are there, he says, is because they live in grassy areas – once the ground has been clear of grass for a year, they’re not there. Or at least, not in any significant number. Better to plant something sturdy (with the addition of a good amount of muck/compost), like squashes.

So, the potatoes will go into the ground I cleared in the first year, with a bag of FYM. Hopefully it’ll make a difference.

Speaking of pesky wormy things, I’ve been finding some quite vile grubs inside some of my parsnips. I’ll have to investigate further… they’re fat, slowmoving things, and they pretty much wreck an otherwise perfectly good snip.

Tomorrow I need to remember to sow some lettuce, and other things. Day length/light has increased now to the point where I think it must be worth doing, and I reckon if I leave it any longer, I’ll regret it in a month or two.

Pigeons from hell?

No, just hungry pigeons, driven by the extremely cold weather to utterly demolish my nets and devour my brassicas. I like pigeons, so I won’t be investing in an air rifle just yet. I’ve resigned myself to yet another year where my PSB crop is likely to come to naught (slugs thwarting my 2008/2009 crop, and moving to Scotland doing for 2007/2008).

(Actually, it’s just occurred to me that it *could* have been deer, because I’ve seen their prints on the plot – but the bird poop on the kale suggests that pigeons were involved at some point.)

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And you never know, it might still come – PSB is hardy stuff.

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Um, they ate the kale too. Even the red stuff. (That’s the afterthought leek crop at the top there.)

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I’ve still not planned out where stuff’s going – this bed had the potatoes last year, so it’s likely going to be brassicas this year – possibly even including some swedes this year, the guy in the garden next to me planted some and seemed to have good results, and this *is* neep country after all. That’s the garlic and overwintering onions at the top, surviving in spite of the cold. I’ve dug a little further beyond the onions and garlic – not sure what to put in there, possibly courgettes.

The foreground of this bed –

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is likely to end up with potatoes in it, though it definitely needs a good dose of muck first. Further back, beyond the brassicas, I’m thinking possibly beans, chard, salads, beetroot.

I need to get my paper and pencil out, and hit the online seed shops – though of course, spring needs to get here first. The Met Office seem to think we’ve got at least another fortnight of close-to-freezing temperatures, and spring seems a long way off. The delay’s working to my advantage in that I can concentrate on my spinning and knitting, which will be coming to a blog post near you very soon.

November garden update

We managed Hallowe’en after all. Costumes were found – this photo is pre-guising, so you can’t see the bag full of sweeties they ended up with –

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and apples were bobbed –

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And after the flower fairy and the witch were tucked up safely in bed, myself and the other half settled down with whisky and The Ghoul – the 70s Cushing one, not the Karloff one from the 30s – and had ourselves a startling evening’s entertainment. We missed the opportunity to recreate the first night I watched this film, when it appeared on the BBC as part of a double bill with Night of the Demon… ah well.

Bonfire Night came and went, we had a few fireworks but I was too busy running about in the dark, slipping over on wet leaves, trying to wrestle back control of the torch from a two year old and being part of a firework-lighting tag-team to take any photos.

Yesterday we were up the garden, during a brief respite from the bucketloads of rain we’ve had up here in the last couple of weeks.

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I’ve managed to get another couple of spits dug below where the potatoes came out, there’s only about 18″ left to dig at the bottom of this bed now (it’s under the rubber mat – that’s what I use to keep myself a bit of workable, dryish ground to dig in this horribly soggy weather).

The view from the other end –

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That’s the garlic and japanese overwintering onions. The garlic is bigger than the onions, which just seems wrong, but heyho.

The other side of the path. The brassicas are still displaying a dramatic lean caused by the overhanging trees that are now GONE! Well, mostly.

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The patch of bare soil in the foreground (in front of the puny leeks) is going to be one of two or three small tattie patches next year (I’m going to plant them either end of this bed, I think.) It needs a good weeding and a load of muck before that happens though.

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See that Tuscan Kale at the left there, the strappy dark green leaved thing? The one that looks very healthy? I snapped the top of it off whilst trying to pick a leaf from it yesterday. God knows how, the stem was really thick. There was swearing.

The parnsips, few though they are, will have had their first frosting now – I think it might be time to sample one or two of them soon.

A close up of the other end –

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The red kale’s looking a bit leggy, I think.

The other thing I did yesterday was net the purple sprouting broccoli –

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There’s only three of these, but I’m very pleased with them, and now I hopefully won’t have the trauma of turning up and finding they’ve had their growing tips eaten to pieces by hungry pigeons.

They’ll be a welcome crop in early spring – I’ve nothing much of anything else happening that’ll be around then. I’m planning on some early sowings of salads, lambs lettuce and the like, possibly some oriental greens, but need to get a cloche sorted for that, really. Or a tunnel – I have the plastic already, just need to decide on where to site it and get hold of some drainage pipes and scaffold poles (apparently). The shed would be a good candidate for conversion, but that’s a major operation, and I expect it would mean losing the stove’n’chimney set up that’s in there, that I’d hoped to one day get going.

It’s about that time of year again – plans need to be made, seeds need to be reconciled. It’ll be time to chit the potatoes before I know what’s hit me.

I’ve got some knitting on the go at the mo, some more weirdo stuff to wear on your head should be appearing shortly, and I do have a lace thing bubbling away nicely, though that’s still some way off being a finished object. Watch this space.

Green things

Late August was very, very wet, and we didn’t get up to the allotment as much as I’d have liked. When we did get there the soil was utterly sodden, so it was hard to get much of anything done anyway.

The last couple of weeks have seen a good amount of beautiful dry autumn days, however, and saw us up at the allotment every couple of days, whenever we could make a trip to Glasgow worthwhile.

The weekend before last I got handy with my saw, and took down the dead tree that was cluttering up the smaller outer bed. I’d been trying to weed round it and it kept poking me, so I fetched the saw to take the lower branches off, realised it’d finally completely died – deer had taken the bark off halfway down the trunk – and practised a bit of lumberjacking (very satisfying it was, too).

Later that afternoon I took the saw to the hedge/copse that takes up the outer bed on the other side, and which sucks who knows how much goodness out of the soil (I may have mentioned it before – it came with the garden, a previous tenant had planted a ‘hedge’ which is now at least a dozen beech trees). It was a token gesture really – I took the lower branches that’d grown out over the paths down, but barely made a dent – but lucky for me, as I was in the middle of doing it another allotmenteer turned up at the garden and told me to stop messing about with my rusty handsaw as he had a chainsaw. Long and short of it, they’re coming down in a week or two, yay.

I found some leeks nestled under the PSB – I’d forgotten they were there, to be honest, and they were nearly hoed into nothingness – some of them didn’t surviving the weeding, but those that did have gone in by the parsnips, where my failed peas were.

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It’s ridiculously late for them to be going in, but they’re more likely to do something here than if I didn’t do anything at all with them, so I thought I might as well. I’ve fetched some japanese onions and garlic sets from the garden centre to put in (‘Senshyu Yellow’ and ‘Marco’, respectively), they’re destined for the tattie bed, though.

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Which is/was here. (You can see the stump of the ex-tree in the background, and all the bits of tree on the floor next to it.) I looked back on the blog and noticed I hadn’t made a note of what varieties of potato I’d planted – the first earlies, that we’re still making our way through now, are ‘Foremost’, and I’m really pleased with them. They’re a good firm potato, and have no scab or anything bothering them. The second earlies (that I’m curious to see, I might actually dig up some next time I’m up even though there’s still the Foremost there) are Charlotte, which I’ve never grown before.

And this is green in another sense – I’ve joined the glasgow freeshare yahoo group, and managed to get a bike for the eldest –

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Thanks to my fellow freesharer for that, it’s much appreciated.