Monday, 7 January 2013

New Years Day resolutions and plans

New Years Day was a beautiful sunny winter day.  Pops and I went to down to our plot.  We took a lovely rambling walk to get there.  It was good to see Pops sniffing, leaving peemails and looking with avid interest at the way ahead.   We took our time and when we got to the plot settled down to sit and relax in the sun after so many blustery wet bleaks days over the last week.

How many times I have heard on gardening programmes that grass stops growing in the winter, and how many times I have looked at the grass paths on my plot and wondered what magic makes it grow and and grow.  Sitting enjoying drinking my tea I did wonder if I should get up and start cutting it, but the grass was wet and   the day was for reflection and planning.

The Willow whips  I had coppiced in November were stacked at the bottom of the plot and are perfect for making at least one of two raised beds.  One behind the shed and, if there is enough left,  one at the bottom of the plot which I will line with weed suppressant fabric to stop bindweed from my neighbours plot growing though into my bed.
Perfect for putting weed suppressant fabric
 into it to stop the bindweed

If I do not have enough willow whips I will try and get some pallets and make some raised beds with them.  Hey the instructions look quite simple.  All I need now is some pallets.  Our council in their wisdom stopped allowing pallets to be dropped off at the plot. Wonder if they would fit  on my bike!

I will go round the back of the  DIY store and see what kind  of pallets they have got and then persuade a friendly van driver to get some and drop them off at the plot.  How to phrase the request?   I think I know the right van driver! .
urban gardener

This one would be useful as there is always stuff to store on the plot. I am going to look at more ideas over the next few weeks.  Meanwhile I will be digging.

My plot has grass paths and sometimes I feel it would be great to dig them up.  The grass never stops growing and it creeps into the beds Oh sigh, but my plot is full of grasshoppers and I love walking past my shaggy grass edges and see one jump out of the way as I walk  by.  What I have been doing is narrowing my paths to the width of my push pull lawn mover about 16 inches.  Near my cold frame I had a four foot space of grass. I have reduced that to two and over the next couple of weeks, weather permitting. I will double dig the whole bed ready for planting potatoes.
old map showing root of cannal

My plot is on the site of part the canal of that ran between  Portsmouth and Arundel, it was built in 1823 and was abandoned in 1855.  Under my plot about two foot down is a layer of clay and stone chippings.  So I have to build up every year.  I clear the stones and flints from the beds but the worms bring them back up and I never have any stone free beds. 

Where was I  - ah  double digging is only possible for about a 1& half spits deep before I hit clay.  Double digging  will rid  the bed of  couch grass roots (or some of them).  and some of the stones and flint pieces.  I am hoping that  Potatoes will clear some more grass from this bed.  I use the stones to make a path between my blackberry hedge and raspberry bed.  I had the illusion it would also stop the blackberries creeping into the raspberry bed.  Not true but I dig out the blackberries and the leave the raspberries that have migrated  growing and thriving in the blackberry hedge. 

Last year I grew three varieties of Potatoes Picasso and Rooster main crop potatoes and Red Duke of York first Earlies. Despite the weather they all cropped well but I did dig them up in the middle of July as blight was spreading through the allotments.  Picasso make delicious baked Potatoes and I will grow it yet again this season.  Unfortunately the Red Duke of York seed potato crops failed last year so there are very few available. Instead I will grow Foremost and possibly Vivaldi, which is described in Mr Fothergill's Catalogue as "The Weight Watchers Potato" it has  third less Carbohydrates than many other varieties. It is also called "The Butterless Bake".  Mnnnm  - maybe I will look again I like carbs in my potatoes and butter on top.

While sitting on my plot planning for the new season,on New Years Day, I wondered about getting another new fruit tree.  Before Christmas I planted a red James Grieve,  a 1 year maiden,  but as I looked around I could see  space for one or more trees.  I still haven't made up my mind about what to grow or if to get another new fruit tree this season. 

I have plans for more and more cut flowers this year.  My seed box is over flowing already, far too many to grow at the plot or in my garden. Last year the flowers shone even if some of the vegetables succumbed to the onslaught of slugs, rain and low light.

What a perfect way to spending New Years Day and later in the morning friends joined me for coffee and brought mince pies.  Perfect Day, perfect sunshine, perfect company, and Pops had presents of  treats and new toys.

Wishing You Sunshine and Blessings 
The New Year

Merry B

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