I spoke too soon when I said there would be no work involved as the fruit cage was up and running. Three of the uprights have snapped off at ground level. My brother Roy has bought some metal rods to strengthen the posts so that will be the first job on our next visit. We have also decided to dismantle the old sprout cage and clear up the bed ready for the rotovator. I am determined to keep all the brassicas in the tunnels next year. The framework on the bean trench has now been dismantled and all the old plants taken down. We will build the new one in the Spring ready for May planting.
It’s grey, foggy and cold outside this morning so, after making sure that all the pets are fed and comfortable, to cheer myself up I have ordered the seed potatoes for next year. I am using Alan Romans again as we have always received reliable quality goods from them. I have ordered one bag of Charlotte, three bags of International Kidney and three bags of Vivaldi. We have grown them all before so no surprises. They are first and second earlies so they should be up before any risk of Blight. Despite the greyness of the day there was plenty of colour and entertainment in the garden this morning as the birds were busy feeding.
I have just come in from the garden. The duck pond is completely frozen over. Same goes for all the bunnies water bottles and the outside tap. Winter seems to have arrived suddenly with the rooves and the ground white with frost and ice. My fingers are still frozen. I think its time to dig out those gloves and scarves. On the bright side the sky is clear and blue this morning and the previously muddy lawn is frozen and easier to walk on. Yesterday was wet and windy with hail and snow showers which the ducks seemed to love as it makes it easier for them to dabble and find worms. I had a right game getting them to go to bed last night. The chickens however hate it and were on their perches before I went out to lock their shed.
We used Rob’s week off well and worked hard on both of the plots. All the onion sets are in and there are several beds cleared and dug ready for Spring. We made a gigantic contribution to the comunal compost heap as our bins are all full. The lean to is now empty and we are planning to get plenty of organic matter on the beds to rot down over Winter. There is a lot of mint in there and though we have pulled it up as best we can I think there are still lots of roots that may cause problems. This is a problem that we inherited with the lean to and at first we thought it was good to have a bit if mint in there but it is a very invasive plant and I think may have been the reason that the cucumber Carmen struggled to get going this season. I put the Rhubarb to bed by clearing out all old stalks and covering with a good layer of straw and a chicken wire cover to hold it in place. Next visit I shall have to give the same treatment to the Dahlia bed as we have had a couple of hard frosts this week that I would imagine will have finished them off.
Libbie will be here soon so I will have to stop but at least the typing has thawed my fingers.
After a nasty bout of coughs and colds Rob and I didn’t feel much like plodding through the mud to take the chicken poo to the composters at the allotment. All the plots are mostly ‘put to bed’ now with some of the plotholders covering all with plastic sheeting. However our spirits were lifted by the site of burgeoning sprouts, hearting up red and green cabbages, new shoots from the broad beans and green healthy looking Parsley still there for the picking. Even the beds which we have been gradually topping up with our own compost from the ‘daleks’ were looking neat and satisfying.
Rob set to and dug up a couple of fine parsnips and a couple of leeks to take home and make into soup. We shall soon be as fit as fiddles. The visit gave us both a boost and we began to plan for next year with new vigour. I see that Thompson and Morgan are selling the seed potato Vivaldi. I have already ordered my seed potatoes for next year but think I shall have to order some of them, they make the best mash ever. Now if I am planning on ordering more seed potatoes I must have been inspired as we lost almost our whole crop to Blight this year.
Today we put the rhubarb to bed for the Winter. I put a layer of chicken poo on to the bed then covered it with straw and anchored it down with netting. The strawberries in the fruit cage have thrown out loads of runners and one of the tasks I set for myself today was to transplant some of them over onto the old bean trench on plot 18. I only took the runners that had escaped from the fruit cage on to the surrounding paths and managed to put in about sixty new plants as well as giving about thirty to a new plot holder. I still have some to dig out of the path before I go into the cage itself.
Rob has now dug up the whole of the carrot crop as I read somewhere that they could be spoiled by frost. We are very pleased with the harvest as our first efforts bore little resemblance to carrots as we know them. We still have lots of work to do and never seem to have enough time. We came home after two hours with backache, a cabbage, a couple of decent parsnips and three buckets of carrots. Time for tea I think.
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.
A quick visit to the allotment this morning. The weather was bright after the overnight rain with no sign now of the heavy snow of the last few days. There were signs of new growth everywhere with brassicas getting bigger and seedlings showing through in the lean to. We dug up a couple of leeks for the lamb casserole.
Our beloved cat, Willow, died at 3.45 am this morning. She was well over twenty and had been a good girl and a good mother in her time. Rob buried her in the garden amongst the fruit trees.
Although it is still cold with the threat of lower temperatures to come the garden is showing signs of Spring. Brave spring bulbs are defying the calendar and pushing spears of green up through the frosty soil. Spring fever of a different sort is showing its face down at the allotments. Plot holders are busy planning, mending and building. There is much discussion about what to grow where on our very windy site. The dregs of last years plants are being dug up to make room for the new. There is an atmoshphere of excitement and anticipation that is hard to explain to anyone not involved in the strange world of the allotment.
Back at home the seed potatoes, sitting in egg boxes in the garage, are starting to show signs of what is to come.