Monthly Archives: April 2012

Grow Forth My Little Ones

I know most of us here in England have been delighting in the grand irony that as soon as the hosepipe ban was implimented, we’ve had non-stop rain. While it’s been great not having to worry about watering everything thing that’s already “in ground,” it has left us falling behind on a few things. Weeding mainly.

However, the onions are looking good and the radish seedlings are going great guns at the moment. I’ll have to thin them out soon by using some of them for baby leaf salads. Even the tulips have held up well against the near constant battering of rain.

Radish seedlings.

Lovely bright tulips.

Mainly, I’ve been pushing on with my seedlings at home. The chillies and the first round of tomatoes have now been potted up. They’re having to reside on the floor as I don’t have enough table space available for them. I don’t think they’re going to get enough light there, so I may have to do some creative furniture shifting.

Grow little seedlings!

Annoyingly, the sunniest room in the house does not include any windowsills! One solution I’ve employed is to move the seedling trays onto the coffee table each morning. While we’re all at work, it’s in full sun through most of the afternoon. There hasn’t been much point the last couple of weeks due to the rain, but they do seem to thrive nonetheless.

Sunbath.

Due to the extreme limitations for space, I’m planning to directly plant as many things as I can. I know this means having to be a bit more patient, but ultimately the seedlings will be stronger and more robust. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

Setbacks

So far I’ve been feeling rather pleased with how much progress we’ve made with the plot. From a mass of weeds, we’ve cleared and organised the plot amazingly. However, just to make sure I don’t start feeling too smug, there have been a few setbacks. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

I posted in mid-March about my Seed Anxiety, a worry that hasn’t really gone away and I imagine never really will. The sweet pea, nasturtium and sunflower seedlings I planted out have all succumbed to recent late frosts and hail storms. They had struggled on for a while but the torrential rain/hail in the last week may  have been the final blow. It was nearly the final blow for me as I got caught in it on Friday, which resulted in a rather soggy drive home.

The rain has also given the weeds and snails a lovely kickstart, which I think will need to be tackled today. I do have to admit though, when I made a quick visit yesterday to pick some more rhubarb, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Still, plenty to do nonetheless.

I also planted up my window box with lots of lovely herbs, but a naughty starling has discovered them recently. The little fecker has nearly annihilated my mint, one thyme and a sizeable chunk of my chives.  I caught the blighter early one morning as I was drinking some motivation (aka tea). I banged the window thinking that would be the end of it, but he’s been sighted more recently by my flatmate. Dawn raids seem to be the main tactic. I find it particularly irritating as we had a bird feeder out there for two years with no takers. Now that it’s gone, why suddenly start on my herbs!?

Thyme, Chives & Mint. @%$&%$!?!!

Mint. @^%#@^&^$!!

I’ve also noticed that my chilli and tomato seedlings, which started out really well, but seem to have “stalled” over the last couple of weeks. I’m assuming their growth naturally slows down as they get bigger, but any advice, input or reassurance from anyone would be very welcome.

Lovingly watched over by Sparkly!Jesus.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things these things aren’t all that bad, I’m fully aware there will be more to come. I pride myself in being a good problem solver, so I will directly plant out some more sweet pea, nasturtium and sunflower seeds. Hunt snails, weed and rake beds until my back hurts. Most of all, I’ll get up extra early and sit by the kitchen window boxes, armed with a sturdy broom.

Gifts That Keep On Giving

Before we launched onto this enterprise, I did a lot of reading in an attempt to understand, or at least begin to understand, just what we were getting into. One factor that was often discussed was money. In many respects you save money by not having to buy produce, through recycling materials in the most creative ways and, definitely in my case, saving money by not needing a gym membership. You also spend money on things like too many seeds, materials you just can’t find no matter how many skips you look in, and, if you’re anything like me, books.

However, there’s one financial aspect that was never discussed in any books; gift giving. I suppose it can’t be counted on or predicted in any way, as it depends so much on the kind of people we are surrounded by and by our own personalities. There may well be allotments out there where no one speaks to each other, everyone stuck in their own isolated world. I highly doubt it though, it just isn’t The Allotment Way.

One recent gift I recieved was through the Royal Horticultural Society’s Grow Your Own Campaign. As one of the first 10,000 supporters, I received a lovely parcel of seeds donated by Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds.  Very pleased with my gift of  sweetcorn ‘Swift’, spring onion ‘Ishikura’, summer squash ‘Sunburst’ and my favourite tomato ‘Sweet Million’.

Seeds from the RHS

A couple weeks ago our onion sets arrived in the post and I diligently headed to the plot to get them in the ground while the weather was still dry. I had allotted a full bed for them, but it quickly became apparent that I had far too many for the space I had. Every other square inch has already been reserved, so I faced the dilemma of what to do with them. It was about then our plot neighbour, Tom arrived. I offered them to him, as I couldn’t bear to see them go to waste. He was very pleased with them and naturally asked me how he should plant them.

This morning Scott and I got an early start at the plot. We were soon joined by Simon and his partner Alice. Poor Simon did his back in during the week, so wasn’t able to do much other than take Alice, who hadn’t seen the plot for a few months, on a tour of our work so far. Alice also arrived bearing a gift of some asparagus crowns from her mum. Leaving us with this to plant, I had to then work out where on earth to put them.

When I opened the box, I was amazed to find three different varieties and five crowns of each! I had thought of reducing the rhubarb patch down to half and planting asparagus. However, I had been thinking this would be something to do next year, after we had a chance to see how the rhubarb performed this year.  After much waffling, I ended up digging up two of the smallest rhubarb plants and dumping them into some plastic pots. I’ve rather haphazardly planted the asparagus, far too close together I’m sure, in an odd ‘L’ shape around the remaining rhubarb.

The new asparagus, erm, bed.

Once again Tom arrived on site just in time and my waste-not-want-not philosophy was allowed to remain intact. I admitted it wasn’t the best time to transplant them, but Tom was very happy to take them. He wanted to return these recent favours and offered some cauliflowers seedlings from his cold frame. As it’s been quite chilly lately, he said to just take them whenever I like. He also promised to bring some more seedlings from home for us to have. As someone who has really no space at home to start things, this was a most welcome gift.