Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

A Call For Freedom?

We had a scary hour or so last night when I went out to put the ducks to bed and Puddles was missing. After thoroughly searching the garden and the house we extended the search to outside the perimeter of the garden fence. We had given up hope of ever finding him and Rob and Glenn were knocking on doors in the neighbouring streets. Adam and Glenn even drove down to the local canal and lake and came back empty handed. Adam had not long left in his car when suddenly he returned with a stranger in the passenger seat holding a very scared duck. Adam had spotted the chap carrying the duck and knocking on doors to find the owner. Just at that moment Rob and Glenn arrived home looking defeated and were overjoyed to see the wanderer returned safely home. Adam gave the puzzled stranger a lift home and we shall pay him a visit this morning with a present of a few eggs. Panic over.

duck duck2

This morning was warm and we went early to the plots. After watering all the seed beds I sowed a row of Nasturtiiums along the outside of the salad bed.

nasturtiumlobelia crystal palacecosmos

Next I sowed a bed of Lobelia Crystal Palace along the one edge of the flower bed. The seed was like fine dust and the instructions were to just place it on top of damp soil. It should be through in two weeks as should the Giant Cosmos I sowed at one end of the nursery bed after Rob had made it into a raised bed with some white blocks.

The sweet peas are now outside around a fine teepee Rob built from some Hawthorne poles. We built a protective wall around them with some orange plastic netting until they get established.

runner beansrunner bean white ladyrunner bean scarlet emporor

Back at home I have put the runner beans in 3″ pots to start them off before they go to the plot. About fifteen each of White Lady, Kelvedon Stringless and Scarlet Emporor.

Easter Sunday

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page” — Mark Houlahan

RosevalIt’s Easter Sunday and we had an early start and a fine day. The allotments were busy and Rob made a start by planting the next potatoes. They were Roseval, a second early, small red skinned salad variety. The tubers are long oval, very red and smooth. The flesh is yellow but can have an attractive pink blush. Cooking quality and flavour are said to be excellent. We are looking forward to striking foliage with ruby red stems. Roseval is popular in France but rare in the UK. I went over and pinched a couple to put in a big terracotta pot at the edge of the nursery bed.

 

rainbow chardspinach matador

I dug over one of the salad beds and sowed a row of Rainbow Chard, Bright Lights, a row of Swiss Chard, Lucullus and a row of Spinach Matador. I covered them with a plastic cloche for a bit of warmth to help germination. Rob laid a path alongside the nursery bed with some concrete blocks Frank had given us. Then after weeding the fruit beds he cut a pointed cabbage for tonights meal and we went home for a well earned rest.

Officially Ours – Plots 8 and 18

On Friday Rob paid the rent on the two plots so now we feel that they are officially ours. He also re-built the runner bean trellis, dug new beds and generally made the plots ready for the new season. He even organised the shed. He’s really getting into this allotment business.

romanesco

Today I sowed broccoli Packman and Romanesco in the nursery bed alongside the cauliflower seeds. The seedlings in the carrot bin are coming along nicely as are the leeks and peas. We can’t wait for the weather to warm up.

charlotteRob planted the Charlotte potatoes on plot 18. Charlotte potatoes are a second early and are oval with light yellow skin and yellow flesh, the skin texture is smooth with shallow eyes. I prefer to cook Charlotte in their skins. They boil quickly and steam well. They produce a few purple flowers with white tips. This variety is excellent for boiling, steaming and salad use.

Cut our first spring cabbage today and cooked it for dinner.

Rob is Being Very Cagey

plot8Just a short visit today as we were having Libbie. In the lean to I sowed two rows of radish, red and white, and a pot of spring onions. Rob set to and made two cages with the panels we were given yesterday, one for the brassica bed and one for the salad bed. They are now all ready for planting up. The weather forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain so everything should get a good soaking and hopefully it will get the seeds going.

 

Another Busy Day

Today we were given six roots of rhubarb Victoria by a chap called Bryan who is vacating the plot at the back of ours. He also gave us some wire cages we can use to keep the pigeons off the plants, a few planks for laying between the beds, as well as a few bean poles and bricks, which will all come in useful. I put the twelve lettuce plants in the side bed in the lean to, planted the parsnips, that I had started in toilet roll tubes and the peas, started off at home. Rob dug over the new brassica bed and gave it a feed of bonemeal. The plants should be ready to go in in a couple of weeks.

Rhubarb

rhubarbThis evening I planted the remaining rhubarb in the prepared bed but am not sure whether its the Timperley Early or the Champagne that has survived. We also bought another root from Wilkos for £1.50. It was called Red Canadian. Ken Muir refused to refund the cost of the one we lost and asked for £6.95 delivery charges to send a replacement. Another lesson learned. I have planted three potatoes Charlotte in the white pot where the rhubarb had been. They are in the lean to at present but I shall move them outside when the weather warms up a little.

British Queen

Rob planted fifteen potatoes British Queen on plot 17 while I just pottered about doing a bit of hoeing and weeding. British Queen is described as a superb flavoured mashing potato originating in Scotland. In Ireland it is known as “Queens”. It is fairly susceptible to blight but matures quite early. The flowers are white with yellow centres, and the haulms are fairly light. The texture is light and floury. Said to be the best mashing potato, fluffy and white with very good flavour. Also steams well, roasts well, bakes well. Bred by Archibald Findlay. 1894.

The brothers gave us six cauliflower plants and eight summer cabbages and we gave them six eggs each in return. primulaWe  gave Mick Market’s wife Audrey six eggs and she gave us six primula plants.

Whoops

Another fine day so we went and finished the sowing in the new seed bed. 36 Parsnip Hollow Crown and a row of Carrot Autumn King. Next we sowed 25 Cauliflower All Year Round and 10 Cauliflower Graffiti, all that was left from a packet of 30 because the rest fell through the bottom of the packet on to the path and were impossible to see. They are in the nursery bed and covered with a cloche to keep the cold off. We scattered a little bone meal on all the beds in use to give everything a spring booster shot.

Cauli Graffiticauli all year round