The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Snow as Promised

Sowed two more cucumber Lemon, tomato Totem and tomato Dombito to replace seedlings lost. I shall need to buy more cucumber seeds as the Sunsweet and Burpless have keeled over and they were the last ones from last year. Next year I shall sow the cucumber seeds later in the year.

The weather has turned really cold again. There was a very strong, cold wind this morning and snow has been forcast for later today.

At home we have slabbed over the chicken run so no more mud to wade through next Winter. We have also moved the ducks in to a hutch on legs that they can get in and out of much better as the broody pen was turning out to be not so good for ducks as it has been for the chickens.

snow as promised

Libbie’s Birthday – Two Today

Rob has gone down to the allotment to plant the Winston seed potatoes we bought from Mick Market as we realised that they were first earlies. Winston are large tubers with moist, creamy flesh of excellent flavour. Unusually for an early variety this one is ideal for baking. Its shape and appearance make this a natural first choice with many exhibitors.

Libbie at Donkey SanctuaryLibbie

It is a chilly morning but bright and dry. I have stayed at home to do a few jobs here and to make myself respectable to go over Adam and Kirstie’s this afternoon for Libbie’s birthday tea. Glenn was supposed to be going to Manchester today but it has been cancelled so he will be able to come with us.

At last it looks as though Jemima has decided to sit on her eggs. She has four eggs in there and the other five are still under Frosty who is now installed in a separate hutch round the side of the house.

Spring Onion White Lisbon and First Early Potatoes

Filled an 8″ black plastic pot with compost and sowed spring onion white Lisbon seeds. They should be ready to eat in six to eight weeks. May do the same every few weeks throughout the season. The tomatoes sown four day ago are almost all through this morning. We spent a very productive three and a half hours at the plot today. All the first early potatoes are now in the ground. Lady Christl, International Kidney and Aaran Pilot, 35 in all. They should be ready to harvest in ten weeks time.

potato trenches plot 17

Happiness – £30

Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

Arrived at the allotment at 8.30am to find the car park full. A bit blustery but dry and warm, perfect. We put the chicken bedding over the new brassica bed and Rob raked it over. First stop was to check in the shed for our delivery of potatoes and shallots from Mick Market. He brought us three bags of white shallots and a large bag of Winston seed potatoes. Next we checked on the seedlings in the lean to and everything was doing well. Even the rhubard was showing some growth so we removed the plastic covering in readiness for planting it out into its permanent bed later this month.

Parsnip GladiatorCarrots

We sowed about twenty parsnip (Gladiator) into a small bed adjacent to the carrot bin and rigged up a wire cage to protect them from the pigeons.

After topping up the carrot bin with some clean compost we sowed a couple of rows of carrots, Early Nantes, and a row of small white salad onions De Barletta which we covered over with a polythene sheet. They should germinate in a couple of weeks.

The Winston seed potatoes were put into the lean to on a tray to chit and we set about preparing the bed for the shallots. Rob dug over a full width bed which we then broke down with the hoe and raked fine. Using a plank we firmed two rows and Rob planted the shallots with just the tip on the neck showing above the soil. I am a bit concerned that the pigeons may pull them up but we shall have to see.

We had a word with Trevor about the rent and he said it had gone up to £15 a plot so we have to give him £30 for our two plots in the next couple of weeks. A bargain. We popped to Keith’s plot to have a look at how he had put in his potatoes and as usual it was immaculate. He has used the trenching method and has fleece on hand in case of the threat of late frost Our second plot is immediately above his so we have a lot to live up to to keep up with our neighbour. We spoke to Joe and he advised us to trench too. He said sprinkle some slug pellets and Bonemeal in the base of a trench 6-8″ deep, place the seed potato on the bottom then cover and earth up leaving valleys between the rows.

Next job was planting up the Bluberry bushes that had been waiting in the lean to. We had prepared a bin with some ericaceous compost and just had to top it up with some decent compost before planting them. When we opened the packaging we found that there were three roots in each pack so we had six instead of two and they were only £1.49 a pack. After planting them we rigged up a wire cage and secured it with string to protect them until they get established.

Finally we checked in the fruit cage to find that there was plenty of new growth on most of the plants but the two gooseberry bushes we bought from Ken Muir still look dead. However, the three roots we were given by Joe and the cheap red gooseberry Rob bought from Dudley, were covered in green shoots.

The broad beans along the trellis down by the shed were pushing through. We may need to replace four of the seeds as there are gaps. Could have been bad seeds or pigeons maybe.

broad beanspeaswhite onionsprout spiral

We sowed a couple of rows of Pea Fortune in the bed alongside the brassica cage and covered them with a cloche. Rob tidied the brassica cage and cut a head of broccoli and some Kale to take home. He also dug up a stem of sprouts. When we got home Glenn commented on how beautifully the sprouts spiralled up the stem. I had never noticed that when I used to buy them in bags from Sainsburys.

Aubergine Mohican

mohican2.jpgmohican.jpg

Aubergine Mohican is a white dwarf aubergine. I have sown four seeds in small pots of compost, sealed them in cling film, and kept them indoors. I plan to grow them in black pots in the lean to. I have no idea as yet how to cook them if we get any fruit. In any event they seem to be very pretty plants.

The duck eggs are now under Frosty, our silver sussex bantam.

Tomatoes Ildie and Lemon Tree

tomato Ildietomato Lemon TreeThe seeds that I ordered from Nicky’s Seeds were delivered this morning and I sowed three each of tomatoes Ildie and Lemon Tree. I also put four seeds of Aubergine Mohican on wet kitchen towel to give them a start before planting tomorrow. It has been a dry pleasant day today for a welcome change.

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Duck Egg Blues

After getting quite a few soft shelled eggs from Jemima, our white call duck, we have now collected five good ones which should be fertile as Puddles has definitely been doing his duty. After a very unpromising start and a couple of broken eggs Jemima now seems ready and has been installed in the broody pen under the window here. Day one will probably be 6th March if the eggs are still viable. (update 9th March – Jemima is leaving the eggs for long periods of time – I only have experience with chickens so not sure about this – doesn’t look too promising to me)

Brussel Sprout Bedford Fillbasket

Twenty seeds and a few for good luck planted in modules in damp compost and covered in clingfilm. We only have six stems of sprouts left from last season and I can only hope that the produce from these seeds is as tasty as they have been.

We popped to the plot at lunch time just to take the daily chicken poo which we raked over the new brassicca bed. It was very cold and windy. Cut a Brocolli head and a few leaves of Kale for tonight’s meal. I covered the carrot bin with plastic to warm the soil a little in readiness for sowing the early carrots. Saw signs of the peas and broad beans coming through the cold soil.

At home the peas, sprouted and sown in a pot in the greenhouse,are showing through as are the courgettes, which I brought back inside. One melon seedling, sown on the 17th of February, is pushing through and one lonely yellow tomato seed is making a grand effort.

Primo and Offenham ll cabbages are through but no sign of white ballhead. A bit of a pattern emerging here. No sign of seeds purchased from ‘Packetseeds.com’ germinating. All those from Alan Romans have proved good so far.

Viola Freckles

viola seedhead2viola freckles

Today I sowed eight seeds of Viola Freckles collected from a seed head which I had kept from last year. I also sowed Parsnip Gladiator seeds in cardboard tubes (16). These had already been sprouted on some wet kitchen towel. I had to bring the courgette and the aubergine pots in as it has been much too cold out in the greenhouse for them. I must remember next time to germinate them indoors or wait until later in the season to sow them.