Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
As our plot became more productive and our soil improved - I started to write more and more. I've just finished the chapter of a book on the English Early Years Education system - which has been submitted now. The book (if the publication of it is on course - difficult to tell in the current climate...) - will be called "Dissent and the English Early Years Education System". I'd been asked to join internationally-renowed early years researchers in the contribution of my chapter. The writing reminded me of converting our allotment plot from derelict. Really hard and emotional. Bags and bags of broken glass to remove, and sharp objects to take away. Endless word-composting.
The book will, I hope - take us all back to the beginning of everything. Remind us that our children ARE future generations - and how we need to take the greatest of care in the process of allowing them to BE during the ages of birth and five. Things that we write don't always see the light of print for lots of reasons and that's really hard - writing into a void. I really hope the chapter and the book do. My blog about Early Years Education is called "A Parent's Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage" and I've been writing that for over a year too.
It's time to look back. And forward. The peach tree is pruned and mulched. The asparagus bed is already cut down and mulched too. The leeks, parsnips, parsley, winter hardy spring onions and lettuces are nearly ready to go. We still have plenty of autumn raspberries. We need more mulch, some weeding out and some more compost heaps in readiness for next year.
I'm so grateful to this piece of land for all the things I've learned about growth and creativity in the past year. Not saying all of my writing has been brilliant, but some of it readers may find fairly decent, practical and useful (?)...
Try visiting my newly-created true sustainability and triple crunch series of articles at Brighthub:
Sustainability, the Triple Crunch and Solar Power
Or, the two hundred or so articles I've written at Helium. Here is a link to the Organic Gardening articles.
You'll find plenty there too about Search Engine Optimization and Blogging.
And here's to another gardening year...look forward to sharing it with you all.
Friday, 17 September 2010
|Chief Al Lameman of the Cree First Nation (Centre) |
with Chester Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Delegation.
Odeon Cinema Manchester, England showing of "Tar Wars". Sept 17th.
Event organised by the Co-op Bank's Toxic Fuels Campaign.
The message was: no matter how hard people try to take small steps in their everyday lives to cut carbon emissions - all our hard work could be thrown away by the multinationals.
Tar sands consist of oil trapped in a complex mixture of sand, water and clay. According to the Cooperative Bank - who are bank-rolling a huge campaign to stop the tar sands projects - the extraction and production of tar sands emits on average three times as much carbon dioxide as the extraction and production of conventional oil. Fully exploiting Canada's tar sands the co-op says "would lead to an estimated increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of between 9 and 12 parts per million, enough to take us to the brink of runaway climate change". The oil industry is calling for $379 billion to be invested in the tar sands production by 2025 to massively increase production.
And there's a David for the Goliath oil corporations. At the film screening we had the privilege to meet Chief Al Lameman of the Cree First Nation. Around seventy per cent of all existing 'in-situ' operations are within Beaver Lake Cree traditional territories. Tar Sands exploration is set to triple within these territories over the coming years.
The Cree are mounting a legal challenge. Woodland Caribou are a symbol of Canada's pristine wilderness and an important part of traditional ways of hunting. They are found in undisturbed old growth boreal forest and forested peat lands. This small indigenous community are calling upon the Canadian government to protect the remaining ranges of the woodland caribou herds within their ancestral lands with immediate effect, including a moratorium on all new industrial developments. If this is not forthcoming they will seek a judicial review in the Canadian courts to force the Canadian Government to take this action.
All of these major new projects and expansion plans could be halted if the caribou herd ranges within the Beaver Lake Cree's ancestral lands were to receive legal protection. It would also prohibit a significant number of undeveloped leases granted in the southern Athabasca tar sands field.
Other speakers at the Manchester Meeting included: Jack Woodward, leading expert on Canadian aboriginal law and Beaver Lake Cree Counsel and Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability, The Co-operative.
To find out more about the campaign click here : Stop the Tar Sands - support the Beaver Cree Nation's Challenge
See also the feature : Fuelling the Future - Peak Oil what is it and why does it matter?
My article series on Sustainability, solar and the Triple Crunch.
Friends of the Earth on Tar Sands
Greenpeace campaign on Canadian Tar Sands
See this link to find out what the Canadian Government says about the "Oil Sands":
Canadian Government and Oil Sands.
For more pictures see this Guardian piece on the Tarnished Earth Exhibition - currently on London's South Bank.
Friday, 3 September 2010
Tune in at this link: Guardian live web chat with Peter Melchett to launch Organic Food Fortnight.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Every week now, I'm coming home loaded down with fruit and vegetables. Here we have the last of the home-grown peaches, large new potatoes (Lady Christl) - we use them for sausages and mash right now with home made onion chutney - broad beans some of which go straight in the freezer. Courgettes (not too many but just enough) - apples picked small - which went straight into the Peach and Chilli Chutney I made last week with the softest peaches.
Lots of raspberries too - golden and red.
To look back at the history of our Avalon Pride peach tree - check out some of posts listed below.
To check out what I'm writing right now on Early Years Education see my blog Parent's Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage.
AND - if you're looking for some more guidance on organic fruit growing, you can't go wrong with Bob Flowerdew's book - here's the link:
Revisit some of my Avalon Pride Peach Posts here. Hope to be back before too long with instructions on how to make Peach Ice Cream. Heavenly.
How to grow a Peach Tree Organically
Monday, 28 June 2010
Friday, 18 June 2010
For more about the National Gardens scheme and to find gardens near you - see National Gardens Scheme.
And here's a link to our allotment association website: Hoole Allotments visit the site for dates, times and a map.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Our ultimate goal was to become as self-sufficient as possible in fruit and vegetable production. To produce fruit and vegetables for a family of three. And more - to barter with friends and neighbours for the things we don't or can't produce. We wanted to do all this with as little effort as possible.
We failed on the first count - (using as little effort as possible) - as the process has involved a lot of hard work. However - now that our plot is four years old - and now that we've learned a lot more about organic fruit and veg growing - things seem to be getting a little easier. We can get by with two afternoons or two evenings a week work.
So what will we be eating? Crucial question.
Our apple trees (two of them) will be providing us with a large harvest this year - we'll be swimming in apples again. What luxury! One of the trees fruits early autumn - and with the other one - the apples can stay on and be used as late as December. That's useful.
We won't be short of autumn fruiting raspberries. Of course many of these don't make it home as we eat them straight off the bushes like sweets. But that's fine - especially as far as our four year old daughter is concerned.
The blackcurrants, the gooseberries and the redcurrants are looking good - they liked the cold winter - so we'll have the ingredients for those summer puddings that taste so lovely - and they're actually quite simple to make.
We pride ourselves on not having to buy any salad greens all year. We've got various Mizuna and Mizuba greens and Little Gem lettuces growing in the court yard and on the plot.
The new potatoes will be along in a few weeks. They're First Earlies and they were off to a slow start this year. We harvest them gradually, digging them up when some are tiny and we leave some to grow larger. They should last until the end of August at least.
Herbs are a lovely accompaniment. In a few weeks we'll have parsley, coriander and basil on hand, as well as the usual perennial suspects like rosemary. This year we've also got Lovage - which deserves a separate post and a photograph - it's an attractive looking plant - you can blanch the stems and eat them like celery or you can add the young leaves to chicken dishes.
It seems an odd time of year to be looking forward to the winter - but we're doing that too. The beds which are currently filled with broad beans and dwarf french beans will be planted up with winter brassicas as soon as the beans are harvested.
So, in short, this year, for the first time ever - we're aiming to fill up every single bed on the plot - and as soon as one crop has finished we have plug plants ready to fill the bed up again.
We've now stopped harvesting the rhubarb and the asparagus to let the plants establish themselves and become stronger for the future.
We also have staples like garlic and red onions we can use in salads, together with spring onions and a nursery bed full of leeks.
Flowers ( attracting pollinators like hoverflies) include poached egg plant, a lovely Duckling clematis that survived the winter, plenty of self-sown Calendula, Nasturtiums, Delphiniums and something called 'Dancing Ladies'.
Things have been so hectic lately - I'm behind with photographs, but no doubt will catch up on this one soon...I'm looking forward to Open Day this year on the site. June 20th. Stay tuned.
Monday, 10 May 2010
But it's been a wonderfully productive time. Last week we finally had our second meal of home-grown asparagus. Inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe - we ate it with soft boiled eggs and warm, italian bread. When I say 'cooked' I mean - I put it in a skillet for about two minutes and then it was done. As you can imagine it didn't stay on the table for very long, and my four year old daughter loved to eat the long stems with her fingers and dipped them into the egg.
Apologies, readers, for the lack of a picture of my own - missed out on an opportunity there - just so busy DOING - I'm going to try to catch up this week though with words and pictures but here's what Jamie has to say on Growing Asparagus and a useful video on Preparing Asparagus
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Long awaited daffodills and an apple tree (around fifty years old) - one of two inherited from previous plot holders. I pruned it heavily in previous years and it still fruits well. It's our plot-and-a-half's fourth birthday in June. We converted it from derelict. (And I mean derelict). I shot these pictures with an automatic, compact camera - the colour is a bit iffy, but for documentative purposes they've presentable. Hope you like them.
Raspberries. I've treated all these as if they were autumn fruiting i.e. cut them down to the ground in the autumn. here they are coming up again. It's quite dry at the moment, of course the sunshine is lovely but we do need some rain. I hardly every water anything unless it is newly planted. Luckily we have clay soil which looks dry on top but the this type of soil holds a lot of water and so just underneath the surface it is actually quite moist.
The next picture shows our second bed of raspberries which were planted in autumn.
|Very happy to see that this clematis my mother gave me made it through the winter|
|Some Little Gem lettuces I planted out. We could do with some rain.|
Friday, 9 April 2010
Still not showing yet. I'm a little concerned as I put them in shortly before a cold spell and didn't bother watering them. Keeping my fingers crossed.
The big news. This arrived in the post this week and I was able to make a trip down to the allotment straight away to put it in. But that warrants a separate post. I did take pictures, but can't find them right now, so stay tuned.
Currently still in root trainers. I'm hoping I can plant these out in the beds I've prepared at the weekend.
Very slow, they might catch up
Planning to sow these at the weekend too.
Showing. We'll be able to start eating this for the first time this year. I've got some good recipes lined up
Not showing yet. Needs some time, but it won't be long before we can eat this, no doubt
These have gone in - but they're not showing yet either
Very, very glad to say that both of these have survived the winter. So I'm looking forward to being able to bring some more cut flowers home
Cherry Plum bushes
For the first time, we have flowers on these. Must take some pictures.
Little Gem lettuces
These are just about ready to plant out - I'm really looking forward to them as I'd bought a few bags of green leaves from the co-op and they taste of nothing compared to home grown.
Very slow, needs a bit of TLC.
Autumn sown onions
Lost these over the winter for the first time, so have planted some red onions instead
Last of the leeks pulled up today.
Strawberries in planter
These seem to be doing well. Watering is easy.
Monday, 29 March 2010
So yesterday down at the plot I spent time weeding and revising our planting plan a little. We lost almost all of our autumn sown onions, which is a shame, but then so did our neighbours - the winter was just too harsh and they rotted. So we needed to think about solutions to this problem. Got hold of some red onion sets instead to fill the spaces and will be planting more spring onions for use in salads and later on, some winter hardy spring onions. The chives have germinated - so these will be useful too.
It was hard work yesterday - and fairly boring and the plot still looked quite bare as the leaves weren't out yet. The peach, pear and apple trees are all ready to burst forth with their buds and I'm hoping we'll get cherry plum flowers this year too - as they haven't fruited yet at all.
After tidying out the shed, I realised that in the last spate of burglaries we had lost our rechargeable light weight strimmer. I hope the thieves are satisfied - may it weigh heavily on their conscience that they have stolen from a family with disabilities and a small child.
Friday, 26 March 2010
It's an expression which is so important for many of us who are involved with organic gardening initiatives and community gardening on so many levels. You might be an allotment holder who wants to pass on some useful knowledge to a neighbour. You might be a community organisation - large or small - who wants to know how to write a decent press release. However you set about telling people what you're doing - you want to communicate in the best way you can.
My own intensive involvement in organic gardening began a mere five years ago. I wondered why - of all the things I had done in my life - that I didn't have practical gardening skills. When my daughter was born, I began to ask my parents more questions about their parents and I realised that both my mother and my father's family had had allotments.
My father's family had a grand total of three allotments. Every day after school he would go to the allotment site to tend these plots - including the livestock they had - (a goat and lots of rabbits). For them it really was a matter of subsistence. As a boy my father hated doing it and vowed he would never push his own children into fruit and vegetable growing.
So my parents encouraged me on the academic side of things instead- and I didn't come to practical gardening until much later in life. Of course I'd connected up the issues. I worked for Greenpeace Germany's North Sea campaign in my twenties - and as part of the Toxics Team we had a Water Campaign which led a huge initiative to convert every school canteen to organic food. They were really successful - and that was way before Jamie Oliver came along. I'm talking the 1980s here!
The urge to food production coincided too with the birth of my first child. I'm not going to romanticise breast feeding. It can be really hard work. Although it can also make many things a lot easier - nothing to carry if you go travelling - no bottles to wash and usually fewer childhood illnesses. It was the first time I had been solely responsible for another very small human being. And in the case of food production - I was very clearly physically responsible. Your body works very hard then - I couldn't go for one hour without having a snack or a pint glass of water (or two). The summer of 2005 was very, very hot.
I made a direct connection between myself as a human being and the earth then. I'm not romanticising this either, I hope. But the connection was there. The term 'Mother Earth' is often used as an insult in this society - and I heard it myself when I was breastfeeding (someone said to me "but it's okay, you're not the Mother Earth type..."). And that's true - somehow I'm not. I wonder why you never hear the expression "Father Earth"?
Why am I writing this here? Well, where I'm standing just now in my life - I'm faced with lots of important questions - like - how do I communicate some, all, or any of this to a new generation? I'm confronted with this every day as my daughter is just four and a half.
I hope you like this new template. It seems more fitting for Spring. Over the past four and a half years since I became a journalist (and organic gardener) - I've tried to sharpen up my skills. I'd like to do this writing/blogging/photography thing better. And I'd like to be a more efficient and effective gardener.
One of my photographs earned substantial praise from experienced photographers at Shutterpoint recently. Let me know what you think. To see it follow this link:
Shutterpoint. Frances Laing
The contrived tree rends a healthy workload
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
"Living adventurously" - the Quaker Winter Gathering weekend in Bala, North Wales.
I took a series of photographs on Sunday morning, including this one. It was a great weekend, especially for the young people and the children. A big thank you to all the children's helpers and the organising committee.
There were quite a few conversations going on around growing, sowing, bee-keeping and allotments. I touched base with Lisa Mundle and Jonathan Garratt from Bangor who've set up a new training intiative called http://www.foodskillsforall.co.uk/
The site will be of interest to all those working with schools to encourage organic growing. Good to see you again, Lisa and Jonathan.
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
I looked at various types and finally settled on this one. As I found out when it arrived, it has pros and cons. It is a lot flimsier than I thought. On the website it actually looks like a solid structure and I was really disappointed to find that the middle section is just a concertina type fairly thin plastic shell. You can find this model easily on many gardening websites - compare the blurb with the reality in this blog post...
It wasn't easy to put together - you need two people and already I'm thinking I wouldn't buy this again. For the amount of work that is involved in filling and constructing it - I'm not sure we'll get the return. The flimsiness of the structure means that I don't think it would tolerate being moved - and the instructions say it will only last three years - so given these points it is also relatively expensive. But that might be me being too cynical. I wish someone would make a solid more sturdy one - send it to me folks and I'll do a review perhaps...
On the plus side, all thirty Strawberry plants I bought fitted in to the tower. As you can see I've placed it on an old filing cabinet so that I can wheel it around in the sun. There's a central watering tube which I hope will help.
Eighty litres of compost are required. I used a mixture of perlite, coir and nutrients/plant food.
The strawberry varieties I used were a mixture of early fruiting, mid-season fruiting and late fruiting varieties. Ten of each. Strawberry Christine, Irresistible and Florence.
Here's what the tower looks like on the inside. I discovered when I had almost finished that I had got the main body upside down, but wasn't going to take it off and start again as I don't think the structure would have stood for it.
So. A little bit straggly perhaps, but here is the finished structure. It will look much better I hope when the plants have grown a bit more!
Not including the cost of the labour involved the plants cost £10 and the planter plus compost - £38.85. If it doesn't work well, that is going to be expensive, isn't it?
If it DOES work well we might be harvesting five fruit per plant (thirty plants) - that's 150 fruits - that's 10 punnets of strawberries at say - £2.50 each...all in all a bit of a gamble.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
I was really heartened by how lovely the soil looked and how many worms I found. I must have sowed about thirty seed potatoes this year - rather more than I expected. We'll start eating them in June and harvest a few at a time. They'll probably last until August and they're still good to eat when they are bigger.
Sowed spring onions and chives outside on the plot too. Watered these in with the water from my new water butt right next to the bed. What an improvement! Didn't need to walk the length of the plot with two heavy watering cans. Work smart not hard, I say.
Lost some autumn-sown onions due to the heavy winter, but I've bought some red onion sets to fill in the gaps.
At home in the courtyard things are progressing nicely. I've just planted out some Little Gem lettuce seedlings in a newly acquired deep trough from Wilkinsons. Very reasonably priced. Tumbler Tomatoes are now outside in the mini-greenhouse - along with celery, broccoli and Nine Star Perennial. I'm not sowing carrots in pots as I think it's just two much work. I'll sow them outside fairly soon instead.
Still on the radiators indoors we have plenty of basil. Basil tends to take a long time to germinate. We don't really have any sunny windowsills but as long as I move the pots as soon as I see the seedlings - we're generally okay.
Monday, 8 March 2010
Joan Meredith - a Trident Ploughshares Activist (pictured) and I united under the banner 'Make Gardens Not War'. At the Peace Stall there was an appeal for solidarity with the Yarl's Wood Hunger Strikers for women to sign along with information about why the women are on strike.
The organic fruit and veg growing workshop went quite well. I asked women to draw a picture of their growing space, be it window box, balcony pots, containers, courtyard or allotment. I then asked them how much sun, shade and knowledge they had before sharing some suggestions about what they could grow. I think most people went away happy and some went away with Lady Christl new potatoes to plant.
We were sharing a room with two other groups - Garden Organic's Master Composters and the Northgate Locks Art Project. This was great partly because I could end the advice sessions with: "If you want any more advice about composting - go to the Master Composter's Stall".
On the walls of the room were paintings from the Northgate Locks Art Project. People wanted to look at these too. Local subjects included the canal and 'women's work'.
Friday, 5 March 2010
Make Gardens Not War
The workshop will run at Hoole Community Centre from 12.30-2.00 in one of the rooms at the back (the main hall is given over to dancing, food, interesting stalls like the Master Composters, chat, socialising and the like). Look out for the pictures of bumble bees and follow the signs.
Hoole Community Centre. Hoole Community Centre is on
I'll be there together with Joan Meredith (veteran Trident Ploughshares activist who has been arrested for direct action against the nuclear threat more times than you've had hot dinners).
We're hoping to entertain, inform and share ideas, I'm going to ask people to draw a picture of their growing space, (be it container garden, window box, courtyard, garden or allotment) and then help them along to success with what they would like to grow. Might do a site visit to our allotment afterwards if anyone is interested in that.
There will also be a stall and information on the wall about anti-war activities and peace issues.
Make Gardens Not War has become quite a slogan internationally in the past few years. As readers will know, I'm a political animal - and so I try to combine my interest in organic fruit and veg growing with discussion on pressing world affairs. There's a lot to say about women's situation globally of course. We're still doing two thirds of the world's work for one third of the world's pay, (according to the U.N). I read recently that only 23 per cent of M.P's are women (must share that with Christine Russell M.P who usually opens the event and last year waxed lyrical about how far we women have come with women's liberation...).
Across the globe many women are forced to flee conflict zones. Some of them end up in immigration detention centres like Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire, England. If you'd like to read more about this, check out my articles on the Yarl's Wood hunger strike here and here. We hope to send a message of solidarity to the women, children, families and friends at Yarls' Wood tomorrow. If you feel strongly and are able to lobby your M.P. ask them to sign Early Day Motion 919 in support of the strikers. Latest information about the strike check my newsblog; http://www.franceslaing.co.uk/
Look forward to seeing you, there's a lovely creche there tomorrow, so bring your littlees along...all welcome I understand. The event starts at 11.30
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Little Gems succession
New potatoes - Lady Christ
Nine Star Perennial
Lettuce leaved basil
Salad leaves in succession
Thursday, 25 February 2010
I've started these off in root trainers. They're outside at the moment in the courtyard. Broad Beans can germinate in fairly cool conditions so I'm just leaving them be just now and hoping they'll get going soon.
My seedlings germinated a few days ago. I've left them on a bright windowsill, but won't consider putting them outside in the unheated mini-greenhouse yet as it is far too cold still.
Little Gem lettuces
The first batch of these germinated about ten days ago - again - I feel it's too cold to put them in the greenhouse outside.
Time to check the weather forecast and think about what to sow next. Oh dear, it isn't good news. No chance of the weather warming up this week. Let's hope they've got it wrong...
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
After waxing lyrical last week about the labour-saving benefits of a no-dig system - here I am contradicting myself and engaging in two and a half hours of hard physical work. I've decided I want to re-locate the compost heap. No time like the present.
More than one reason for this. Firstly our allotment-and-a-half is L-shaped. Aesthetically speaking - it would be really nice to visually connect the two parts of it, and most importantly as far as I'm concerned - to be able to gaze at the flowering cherry plums which frame the half-plot in my tea break!
The wooden slot-together compost heap originally stood on the left of the picture - last year this was quite a good place for it as I hadn't cleared the bindweed from the ground on the right of the path. But I really wanted to move the structure to the right as soon as I could.
I've got a rough idea of how much green waste we produce per year and how quickly it rots down. We're going to need some huge empty containers again this year, and we're going to need them at the start of the season. I don't want to be moving compost heap containers whilst I'm trying to sow seeds. So the work I did today really needed to be done now. It has been dry this week (never, ever try turning or moving a compost heap after a rainy spell - it's DISGUSTING work).... the sun was shining a little, I figured if I did the work quickly today the worms wouldn't mind too much and I could tuck them up again before the cold of evening descended.
That was the plan, anyway. I should have learned my lessons by now though I mean NOTHING, BUT NOTHING on the allotment goes exactly to plan...
The wooden compost bin itself was bought the year before last. It set us back around a hundred pounds - about a third of our current allotment budget. Expensive then. I expected it to last more than two years and I expected it to be able to move it.
Somewhere I'd miscalculated. I could take it apart alright, but when I tried to put it back together I discovered that the wood had rotted in a number of places and that some of the screws which held the joints together had fallen out. Maybe I should have taken the time to paint it in eco-friendly wood preservative? Admittedly I could have been more patient with the re-assembly, but it wasn't easy by any means.
Anyway, to be really truthful, I think I would now advise against the purchase of such a system for an allotment holder. Sure it looks fairly neat, but it doesn't seem to last long and if you have even basic joinery skills (I struggle with this one) - you could easily make your own. Lessons learned.
Another fairly expensive purchase last year were the cloches you can see on the right of the picture. Someone once told me you didn't need gimmicks to grow fruit and veg. I understand what they meant now. In theory these cloches are a brilliant idea and they look quite fetching. But in practice they are almost impossible for me to use on the plot. The ends tend to fall off. The biggest difficulty in practical terms is that you need to check them (or lift them to water or ventilate) on a regular basis. If I'm only aiming to visit the plot twice a week I simply can't do this so they are practically useless. Unless I use them without the ends, which I may do occasionally.
Back to the compost heap structure. I feel there is an awful lot to be said for a simple pile, covered up with tarpaulin. Here's the next picture in the series, the composting structure is duly moved to the right hand side of the path:
That's a relief. I seem to have lost some of the slats on the way, though, I suppose they'll turn up sometime...
The good news is, there's lots of almost-ready compost in a huge pile on the left and two more large empty compost bins ready for spring. I'm going to have to put a few nails in this frame now to hold it together as due to the rotting wood it's looking a bit rickety, but I'm sure we'll manage that. We're not the Ideal Homes exhibition, after all.
I've covered the almost-ready compost up with a frost protection sheet. There are so many worms in the pile I need to look after them - so that they'll be fighting fit to start their work as soon as the weather warms up. It's going to be a cold night tonight.
A final picture before I go. This is what I mean about the L-shaped plot. Once I've ditched the cream coloured frost protection sheet and the small trees show their leaves - it will all look much better. Looking forward to those cherry plum flowers this year. Fingers crossed. The plants didn't flower last year. I assume they take a while to get established. Either that or there weren't enough pollinators around last year. The newly-established beehive on our site will no doubt help things along on this front, no doubt.
As for the spot where the compost heap structure used to be - I've created more space now and I'm dreaming of a grape vine...
Thursday, 11 February 2010
FEBRUARY: Broad Bean - Sutton Plant in Root trainers - 16 plants
Tomato Money Maker Started off indoors paper pots 11th. Feb
Little Gems Indoors 11th Feb
Carrots Early succession sow
Little Gems succession sow
New potatoes - Lady Christl
Nine Star Perennial
Tumbling tom Tomatoes
Lettuce leaved basil
Salad leaves in succession
APRIL Any I've missed or those which have caught the frost/slugs
MAY Leeks Early In plug planters, Leeks Late
JULY Winter cabbage
AUGUST Radicchio for the winter
OCTOBER Onions, garlic
Monday, 8 February 2010
1 x CARROT Amsterdam Forcing £1.43
1 x CARROT Paris Market £1.43
1 x CARROT Resistafly F1 £1.98
1 x BROAD BEAN The Sutton SMALL £1.43
1 x LETTUCE Little Gem £1.15
1 x LEEK Monstruoso de Carentan £1.85
1 x LEEK St. Victor £2.71
1 x ONION White Lisbon Winter Hardy £1.43
1 x ONION White Lisbon 10g £1.98
1 x CHIVES £1.64
1 x CELERY Tango £2.71
1 x BROCCOLI Nine Star Perennial £1.85
1 x TOMATO Tumbling Tom £1.85
1 x Basil Lettuce Leaved £1.43
1 x NUTRIENTS FOR COIR BRICKS £1.70
1 x PAPER AND COIR POTS 25 pots £4.95
Garden Organic Member Discount (Not applicable to Special Offers):
We're not going to grow main crop potatoes this year. They take up too much space and need too much watering. We're not bothering with runner beans either as you need to pick them so often. In spring and summer I'm hoping to get away with twice weekly visits to the plot. Not had much success with carrots yet - (due in part to the heavy clay soil) - but we're going to try again and with the help of hundreds of worm allies and a bag or two of sharp sand mixed in to the beds, we're hoping for good results.
Here is last year's order for comparison:
We've resolved to spend £30 a month on the allotment (including our £36 and £18 allotments bill). Total: £360 minus £54 leaves £306 to spend on seeds, manure, mulch, pots, e.t.c.
Wonder if we'll come in on budget this year. In the past few years I've made a few (expensive) mistakes. Buying a hosepipe system that I couldn't use because the water pressure wasn't good enough. I've got a few seeds left from last year that I need to make the most of too...
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
I wonder if Tony tends a Kitchen Garden...With the size of the pension he'll be getting - and his lucrative lecture tours - somehow I don't think he'll be tending spuds anytime soon. No matter fellow Kitchen Gardeners - he just doesn't know what he's missing...LOVAGE for example...
Yes, I know at the moment it doesn't look like anything much. That's because it's only January and the poor thing has been covered in snow for weeks. Come March and it will spring into life. Purchased from Victoriana Nursery. Good with chicken. In soups and salads too. Here is a link with recipes How to cook Lovage
Sunday, 24 January 2010
"It's predicted that the world population will reach nine billion in 2050. Simon Parkes reports from the City Food Lecture, where former Chief Scientist Sir David King spells out his vision for how we can meet that challenge".
Monday, 18 January 2010
Stopped by our Allotment Society shop yesterday to renew my membership and catch up on plans. A sense of relief was in the air and I had the chance to exchange a few words with our lovely Chair, who promised to update me on the progress and politics of our long-awaiting composting toilet as soon as she has some news.
But the best was yet to come. With a bag of sharp sand on the back of my tricycle I headed down to the plot. It's Year Four. With all those additions of home made compost and the many mulches I've put down during the last four years the soil is looking better than it has ever been. The pay off for all that hard work. The sunshine was beautiful.
Cut the raspberry canes down. Tweaked the guttering on the shed. Pruned the pear tree.
The no-dig approach definitely works - soil condition is better than it has ever been. I felt sorry for a fellow plotter who gloomily told me: "I've still got so much work to do..." (they dig the plot from front to back every autumn/spring). As I've said before on this blog: "Why do it to yourself?".
We'll be picking asparagus this year for the first time (April). I hope the cherry plums will flower early - we can harvest rhubarb too.
It suddenly dawned on me that the time to start raising seedlings at home for the plot is a mere SIX WEEKS away. I'm really glad that my approach has been 'little and often' - Spring really seems like something to look forward to now. Hope you'll still be reading then to share it with us...