Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

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

 

Berry Colourful Day

Today was fine and the allotments were busy. We had a list of jobs to get through and the sun broke through the clouds early on to help us along. The first job was to dig over and lime the bean trench, the new brassica bed, the sweetcorn bed and the salad bed. Then we dug over a new bed next to the overwintering onions to sow some seeds. We managed to get sixty five red onion seeds in. The rest of the bed is intended for parsnips and perhaps some carrots. We planted the cranberry plants, £2.49 from Woollies, in the same bin with the blueberries, there are now six blueberry plants and four cranberry plants in there. We have secured them under a wire netting frame to keep off the birds.

blueberrycranberryWe planted a new red currant bush in the fruit cage, as our original two don’t seem to be showing any signs of life.  It was a £2 bargain from Wilkos, covered in fresh new green leaves. Whilst checking on everything in the lean to I discovered that one of the rhubarb roots had rotted away and was just feeling sorry for myself when Gordon popped his head in and gave me a tray of small lettuce plants. You win some, you lose some as the saying goes. I have spotted some rhubarb roots in Wilkos for £2 so I can pick one up next time. The root I lost was from Ken Muir and cost about £5.50. C’est la vie.

Japanese Ornamental Quince

quince

The Quince at the side of the house looks lovely at this time of year. It is a very old plant and just one survivor from a hedge that used to run up between the houses at the front. The original plants came from the ex Mother-in-laws house about thirty years ago.

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.