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Archive for the ‘Allotment’ Category

The photography project has been somewhat neglected for the past couple of weeks, so today when we went down to the allotment I grabbed a couple of shots en route.

Fairy Bridge, 23-3-09

The wee park next to the Fairy Bridge, 23-3-09

And Chris took this one of me watering our wedding sweet peas:

Knitting-wise, progress on the Print O’ the Wave continues apace – I’m trying to average one pattern repeat a day and as long and I manage another one tonight I’ll be on target! I was going to take a photo to show you all but the light wasn’t good by the time I’d finished doing my chores.

I’m terribly tempted to buy Ysolda’s Whimsical Little Knits collection. I would probably only make two or three of the patterns (the Hap Blanket is top of my list), but I would like to support Ysolda’s efforts to make a living by bringing us fabulous knitting patterns. Plus, it’s so cute!

EDIT: I was unable to resist and have bought Whimsical Little Knits. I am so going to be curling up next winter on top of my Skye sheepskin, underneath the Hap Blanket…

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Potential

This is our allotment as of this afternoon. The green manure is all dug in, the beds are all dug over, and there are sheets of plastic and glass laid out on the beds we’re going to use first to warm the soil. It may not look like much, but there are tiny buds in the fruit bushes, and in the mini greenhouse are the sweet pea seedlings we’ve been nurturing all winter, ready to (hopefully) produce lots of flowers for the wedding in July. The strawberries are just starting to grow new leaves and next door’s mint is invading already. It must be spring!

In knitting news, I have put Vivian aside and cast on for Print O’ the Wave. After all, I have a very real deadline for it and I can always go back to Vivian when I’m not feeling up to lace. I’ve managed one pattern repeat without mishap, and put in a lifeline of dental floss (thanks to Susan for that tip! Unlike the sock yarn that I was going to use, the floss is thin enough to thread through the hole at the base of my Options tip and the lifeline made itself as I knit). Expect lots of incremental progress updates here soon…

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A day in the allotment

We spent most of the day in the allotment today. We got lucky with the rain – while it was forecast, it didn’t really start to come down heavily until after we were safely home. The earth was a bit heavy and sticky from all the rain of the last few days, but that didn’t stop us digging!

I moved some of the younger, fruitful strawberry plants to a new patch at the end of the plot. The remaining, older plants will be given away (one of our allotment neighbours has already offered us a blackcurrant bush in exchange for some) and the old strawberry patch will get some new inhabitants.

Then we banged in some stakes, strung some wire across and tied up the raspberries. Remember we thought they were autumn raspberries? It seems that the canes were all cut down in the spring, which is why there’s no fruit this year – they’re all first-year canes. And the taller ones are starting to droop at the top, so they’re probably summer-fruiting after all. So now they’re supported for the winter. I moved some stray canes back into the line. They looked a bit sad when we left, but hopefully the rain will have perked them up. As my Dad would say: They’ve got two chances – slim, and none.

While I was doing this Chris was doggedly digging up many, many potatoes. Then he spent a very long time cleaning them all while I cooked dinner.

There were so many we’ve had to pile them three layers deep to dry.

There’s still a bag of them to be washed! We had some for dinner – steamed, with rare roast beef. They were creamy and delicious.

That’s about two-thirds of the allotment fully dug over, now. We’re going to put in some late-season crops; mostly salad, with some spring onions and spring greens.  I would also really like an apple tree – or two. I eat a lot of apples, and I’m always ridiculously excited when I go to the greengrocer’s and the first of the English Coxs are in.  If we get a couple of trees on dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstocks and train them into a cordon, I think we can avoid overshadowing our plot or anyone else’s. I’ve been browsing Keeper’s Nursery and there are a couple of varieties that might work for us. I’m going to phone them some time for  advice.

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Pavlova

As a large part of the allotment has been taken over by strawberries, we’ve been experiencing something of a glut recently. I made strawberry sorbet and stuck it in the freezer, and still had some left over (not to mention some raspberries that I bought just before we found out about the allotment). On Tuesday I decided to defrost the freezer, which yielded several egg whites (I hate wasting things and always freeze spare egg whites). So it was clearly time for pavlova.

I used this recipe and it was the best meringue I’ve ever made (although the mixture didn’t want to stiffen – I was using the processor but I ended up having to whisk it by hand).

Depending on how many strawberries I get off the allotment tomorrow, I think I feel some jam coming on…

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Allotment surprises!

So today we spent most of the day at the new allotment, clearing weeds. Most of them were shallow-rooted annual weeds that came up very easily, leaving actual useful plants behind!

Raspberries! I saw them poking out between the willowherb and nettles, but wasn’t sure what they were because they didn’t have any fruit on them. But after talking to one of the other allotment holders, it turns out they may be autumn-fruiting raspberries. Either that or they’re young canes that haven’t fruited yet (but still autumn-fruiting, because summer-fruiting ones need staking and don’t stand upright).

And a few rather smothered onions, mixed with baby raspberries (not sure if I should dig up the baby raspberries or if we need them for later years – some research is needed!).

Most of this bed is covered with potato plants, which are doing a reasonable job of keeping down the weeds, and most of the weeds are young foxgloves, which are pretty innocuous, not too invasive and easy to uproot. So we’ve left the foxgloves as ground cover for now until we’re ready to dig that bit of the bed over.

There’s also some garden mint and rosemary. It’s so exciting!

I managed to nettle the backs of my hands, through gloves, while weeding – and my hands are still tingling. It’s very strange!

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A while ago we signed up for an allotment. We knew the waiting list wasn’t too long, as the allotments in our town have only just got going again after falling into disuse back in the ’80s. Well, yesterday evening we got a phone call offering us a small half plot. Given the (slightly intimidating) sizes of the full plots we thought that sounded ideal! So this morning we went to have a look at it and to collect the key.

It’s a little overgrown as it hasn’t been cultivated this year. But compared to the state of our garden when we moved in, it’s not too bad.

This is the view from the gate, looking up the plot. Redcurrants and strawberries on the left (and rhubarb, but you can’t see that on the photo) and an overgrown bed including some potatoes on the right.

The view looking down towards the gate.

Potato plants (among other things).

And redcurrants!

After I’d picked some strawberries and redcurrants I went home and did a bit of hoeing in our garden. The beans we planted rather belatedly are a bit pathetic and slug-eaten, so I sprinkled some coffee grounds and broken eggshells around them. The potato bed needs some serious weeding – a job for later in the week, maybe. I don’t have much motivation to do the garden as it’s so steep and overshadowed, not much grows. I have higher hopes for the allotment! I also picked the last of the rhubarb.

Today’s fruit haul.

Then I made some muffins using the raspberries I bought yesterday (so looking forward to growing my own raspberries!).

The recipe can be found here.

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