Friday, 27 February 2015

Just chitting away...

Well here they are all lined up and sprouting their little hearts out. I've had to take over small boys bedroom windowsill which came in handy one night to bribe him to bed. He is now officially 'the potato watcher' he did discover pretty quickly that they weren't that exciting but it certainly worked for a few nights and he does consider them 'his' now.

We don't actually eat that many potatoes as a family since my middle boy has moved out, he is my 'meat and potato' boy, the younger ones are much better at eating their greens! So now we don't have to get so creative with including potatoes into every meal we just don't get through quite so many so I didn't really want to fill the plot with them. I was told that they are the thing to plant to 'sort out the soil' but I've also read somewhere that they are like a weed because you can never get every tuber and they just sprout up when you're not expecting them to, I don't really want to be taken by surprise by a potato so I've limited them to just one of the beds on the allotment.

I've bought a selection of Albert Barlett seed potatoes, 5 tubers of 6 different varieties. I did grow Anya last year in a pot in the garden, they were really tasty and good fun to dig up but I think I might have left it a bit late so it wasn't exactly a bumper crop.

I planted mustard in the bed last year as a green manure because I read that it keeps wire worm away...I don't know what wire worm is but I know I don't want it! I'm part way through writing a post on my green manure adventures (adventures might be making it sound a little more exciting than it actually is)so suffice to say there is a lot of digging to do before the mustard gives up its place for the potatoes and hopefully the wire worms (whatever they are) will have got the message...I'd certainly be scared of mustard!

I'll dig in plenty of manure and let them do their potato thing. I did once grow potatoes when I was a young teen in my dad's garden...(I was such a wild teen:)I'm sure I was wearing my DM's at the time though like all self respecting 80's teens!) and remember having to keep earthing them up as they grew to avoid green potatoes. I had no idea that potatoes were part of the nightshade family along with tomatoes and aubergines and it made me think about who was the first to risk eating them and finding out that they didn't kill them, not quite as brave (or stupid in my humble opinion) as the first one to risk eating a squid but even so I'm glad they did.

 So in the ground my little spuds will go if small boy will let them and hopefully we will have some lovely potatoes...might have to get middle boy round to help eat them...oo  might even get him to cook them!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A lovely conversation with a small boy...

My small boy started school in January he should have started in September but he only turned 4 in August and we felt that he just wasn't ready...I don't honestly think he is now really which made this little conversation that we had the other morning ring bells with me as well as make me smile..
Small boy: Do I have to go to school this morning...can you pick me up early?
Me: (with fake enthusiasm) But you learn things at school..
Small boy: (with somber sincerity) I think I have learnt enough now...
The idea that at the grand old age of 4 1/2 and after just a month of school that he has learnt all there is to know is great, he feels ready for life...little does the poor boy know that there is another 14 years of school to go yet....don't think I'll tell him that!...not until he can tie his shoe laces anyway:)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fruity bargains...and more snow

I love Aldi...sorry but I do. Not only do they have great chocolate  but at the moment they also have fruit trees for sale for less than 4 quid! I've just spent 4 times that on my apple trees. I know my apple trees have come from a really good supplier, I know exactly what root stock they are on and that they hadn't been out of the ground too long before they got to me, so I'm pretty confident that they are healthy plants that will do ok as long as I don't mess up too badly.
  I have no idea where the plum and cherry tree I've just bought from Aldi have come from or how long they've been out of the ground, I don't know what root stock they are on so how big they potentially could get but they were 4 pounds! 4 whole pounds, I'm a sucker for a bargain, its worth the risk surely and I can always prune them to size can't I? I took them straight to the allotment and dug their holes and shovelled muck just as it started to...snow...again! Small boy begged to go back to the car, suddenly digging in mud wasn't quite so much fun, so I had to plant and run.

The Morello cherry looks quite healthy, it has green buds already and plenty of roots, the plum I'm not quite so hopeful about but it was only 4 pounds...did I mention that?

So my little allotment orchard is growing...just need the weather to be a bit kinder so I can get the rest of the plot sorted for spring...and perhaps not have small boy with me worrying about every worm I dig up:)

With a little bit of help from the worm finder...

Friday, 20 February 2015

If looks could kill...

The hens have just started laying again...just in time for pancake day, how did they know?!...Now I know spring is on the way:)


They've also started shrieking again...I hope the neighbours  will be as forgiving as they were last year about the noise these 3 small hens can make! The one thing the lady at the hen class (yes I really did go to hen school...they really do exist!) didn't mention was the amount of noise they can make! It really is quite unbelievable but I guess for those of us that have given birth's not that surprising! They shriek just before they are about to lay and then afterwards they sort of 'sing' about it, makes me feel a bit guilty for taking their eggs away after all the  trouble they've gone to.
They are also very hormonal beasts, pretty soon they will become broody and they will become vile to each other, this as a fellow female I can really sympathise with..there are certain times of the month I could kill but sometimes they get so aggressive I'm worried they actually will...wish I could give them chocolate and convince them that it really is a girls best friend:) Think I might just have to work out how to make their run a bit bigger to allow them to get out of each others way a bit better.
If like me you live in a terraced house and your neighbours really are quite near I'd suggest before you think about getting hens that you check how they would mind the noise. Some people just don't appreciate the sound of the countryside in their own city backyard...sometimes Chris isn't that impressed himself. Luckily my neighbours have been great about it and love the sight of my 3 pecking about the garden. I have considered moving them up to my allotment but I can't always get up there every day so it's not really an option.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

For the love of the apple...

Ha what else would you do on Valentine's day but shovel s#@t? It was all for the love of the apple though so well worth it.

I've been desperate to get these poor little trees in. They arrived in a snowstorm, I was so impressed they got to me at all (thanks Ashridge trees!) I'd just got the message that I had a snow day from work thankfully cos the buses had given up and I really didn't fancy the long walk to work but I had no chance of getting them planted even though for once I had the time.

The snow didn't move from the allotment for nearly 2 weeks so they are well an truly over due, I'm praying that they will do ok considering how long they've had to wait, I kept the roots covered and damp so my fingers are crossed.

Beautiful...but no chance!

My soil is heavy clay, I did the boot check...definitely clay...very heavy wet clay, hence the manure. I'm hoping they will thank me for it and grow into photographically productive trees.

I wanted originally to train them into step over trees but I'm thinking perhaps 2 tiers might be better. Well that decision was made for me when I saw how tall they were even as one year old maidens and couldn't bring myself to chop them down so much. I'm discovering that I am a very na├»ve and sentimental gardener. I even found myself gently moving a slug from my celeriac to somewhere it could do less damage ( my celeriac hasn't really worked, all leaves and no root, must do better this year!) thinking that come spring and I have more young plants to lose the slugs are more likely to become hen food, so feast now mollusks your days are numbered;)

I've planted a Coxs Orange Pippin and James Grieve because after my homework about step over trees they seemed to tick all the right boxes as well as sound very tasty, here's hoping!

What could possibly be more romantic on Valentines day?

Should have worn my wellies!

Hope you had a happy Valentines!!x