Friday, 23 May 2014

No Rhubarb Crumble!

rhubarb flower by incredible edilble
Sadly I have report the demise of my rhubarbs at the beginning of May. They threw up lots of  flowering spikes which I cut off and gave the plants  a mulch of well rotted compost and manure but to no avail they were dying. When I started to dig them up the roots had gone to mush and there was no hope of  their recovery.The crowns have served us well over several year.  The original two plants  were divided into four and had flourished for three or four years This year  there will be no rhubarb crumble made from our own plant on the plot.  This is sad because one of the joys of  May, for me, is to pick  and cook fresh rhubarb.

However the good weather over the past few weeks, has helped me to get on with my "to do  list" for my plot. There is a new urgency now to prepare beds as the french beans, sweetcorn and squashes have all germinated in my greenhouse and will need planting at the beginning of June. I have plants ready to go into my cut flower bed and I need to sow leeks for transplanting in their final position in August and still  the "to do list" goes on and on and on.....

I  made a start by digging a bed which had been flooded for several weeks in late winter.  It has a lot of weeds growing in it, a wonderful crop of plantain, grasses and other weeds.  I say digging but actually I have been using a garden fork which is gentler on the ecology of the soil and all the creatures living in it, which enhance the quality of the earth and benefit the plants.

I am going to empty the large wooden compost bin which has been cooking grass and tough plant stems for three years.  Hopefully there will be some good compost to layer onto bed 2 where I am going to plant the squashes and courgettes.  I will sieve the compost before I put in on the bed and add some well rotted manure into the mix then add more compost for the young plants to be planted in.  I am toying with the idea of getting a straw bale and putting that down first to make a real hot bed.   But as for now I am digging the to remove the weeds.  Luckily it was dug over at the end of December last year so the grass and weeds are not  rooted in too deep.

Slow worm
The only problem about emptying the large bin is disturbing all the creatures that have made it their home.  For many years I have had bumble bee nests on the plot, sometimes in the one of the  compost bins, I think my plot being flooded this year meant the queens steered clear of my plot. I have lizards and slow worms on my plot if they are there in the bin. I will leave the compost until September and go to plan B whatever that is! Slow worms are so vulnerable to us humans at the allotment strimmers cause harm to them, lizards and hedgehogs..  I  found a slow worm on one of the allotment paths it looked as if a car had run over it but it was still alive.  I picked it up with a handkerchief and moved out of the way.  It shed its tail which fortunately was were it was injured.  Many people do not realize that if you pick up a slow worm with bare hands the warmth of our hands can burn them as they are a cold blooded creature.

mmm maybe I will build
 a chamomile bench next.

photo  Morehaven nursery
My fragrant lawn is developing I have another tray of chamomile Treneague growing which I will take to the plot this weekend if it eventually stops raining.  I have put in some chamomile lawn plants in already and they are growing well. By July the plants, I hope, will have merged together to make a fragrant space out side my shed.  In the middle of which Pops dog has decided that the red clover plants will make a wonder bed for her under the shade of the apple tree.  Oh sigh, I have another half tray of penny royal mint plants to add to.the lawn they will grow under the apple tree as the prefer a shady position   Maybe Pops will like them as an alternative bed! 

It has been awful few days as far as the weather goes here in Hampshire, gloomy grey skies, blustery, chilly winds and heavy rain but hey the sun is breaking through now.   I going to take Pops dog for a long  walk through the park and maybe down to the beach. So I will wish everyone sunny days and good gardening.

With Reiki blessing to you


Sunday, 11 May 2014

It cannot be May already!

I go to my plot regularly and yet when I look round there seems to be so much to be done. Sometimes I feel I will never get all my beds ready for planting.I have to remind myself how much I have achieved since the beds became workable at the end of March.  So this is a reminder to me not to get down about how much is still to be done.

When I am down I make myself  stand and look at all the plants that are growing now.  So here is a snapshot of my plot as it was when I left it yesterday afternoon.  My beds are numbered by me one to nine plus two Herb beds.  The herb beds are flourishing, the lovage, angelic, tansy and my logan berry are in the bed alongside the shed and they are growing exuberantly  and just about accommodate each others growth. I call this my thugs bed there is a cransbill on the edge of it., a lemon balm,  and a bears birches not quite submerged under the competition. The bed by the gate is also growing well, filled with white and blue borage, cotton lavender, thymus, pineapple mint and Sage which is just ready to flower. That bed is full of colour and looks beautiful.  I have  been given a banana tree which I will plant along side I will put a bentwood trellis behind it to act as wind break.

All my trees are growing and full of fruit buds, as are the fruit bushes and all the cutting I took from them  last year are growing and will be fruit themselves in a couple of years.  However the grass is growing back despite being cleared twice from the beds.  The garlic beds are doing well,  even after being under water in February and March.  My golden hop cut down at the end of September  is growing well, with the blobs of blue which dripped on it. when I was painting my shed last week.

The shed being painted is another tick off my  very large list of jobs to do. I cleared behind the shed, gave the inside a spring clean as well and cleaned and sharpened my tools last week.  So more ticks for jobs done..  In front of the shed I am growing, I hope, a fragrant lawn.  Yesterday I planted Chamomile nobile, a compact marjoram, Thyme Minimus, creeping Penny Royal, Acorn Marjoram. I also planted a Lavender Munstead  which is  an old fashioned lavender very hardy and does well in  coastal areas.  It  has lovely violet blue flowers in summer.  Eventually it will grow to 60 cm. 

Poppy dog has already tried out the plants for toughness  when walked on sat on or laid on. She was a upset as she got hit by  my broom which was propped against the shed and was blown across to where she was sitting by a huge gust of wind.  She came to tell me enough was enough and she wanted to go home.  The final straw was it began to rain and she plonked herself on the new plants and laid down/  I did not like to move her as she looked so fed up, but eventually she got up to collect a treat and the plants were fine. Phew.

I have planted two lots of sweet peas Snopea a low growing self sporting plant, and Fragrant Mix,  a bed of potatoes Duke of York and Anna, one bed of of chard and spinach, a new bed broad beans. The pigeons ate the ones I planted in November!  I have put in new strawberries,  the older plants are still in another bed because it too wet to grub them out and I decided to move them after they have fruited..  They are flowering valiantly despite.the grass that invaded the bed while it was flooded. 

I put tall willow hoops in front of the  dog rose hedge to give the roses some support and all but one survived the gales, replacing that hoop is another job on my to do list. I have made an arch at the entrance to the plot which is looking wonderful.  My plan is make a willow arch between beds 6 & 7 to grow the beans up.  I made one last year which worked quite well but by August  needed to be supported by bamboo canes.  I am hoping that with the aid of Jim Longs book  about using bentwood in the garden the new arch will be tough enough to bear the weight of the beans without aid from Bamboo.  

When I survey what I have done since March it quite a lot but two beds are full of grass and I need to hoe and weed the beds that are already planted..  Brambles from my neighbors plot and bind weed  are creeping through into bed 8 & 9  and  I know I need to deal with them soon.  I am determined to try to eradicate it from these beds by the end of May as I have globe artichokes growing in the greenhouse. they will need to go in the ground in June.  Oh sigh it makes me feel despondent to think about it.

Another area of concern is that the brambles I was trying to grow neatly along the edge of my plot decide urban order was not for them and they are thicken up ready to grow into a bramble hedge once again.  I have decided it will be good to have a willow patch so far down the edge and then a lovely thick hedge of brambles along the rest.  I will put in stakes and use rope to mark where I need to stop them growing beyond as it is on the edge of a disabled path. Hopefully it will not fall foul of yet another Health and Safety  worry from a concerned busybody.  the hedge which had grown for there for twenty years or more was grubbed out by the council because someone had reported a Health and Safety issue .it was well kept and was always cut back from the path, but Hey Ho  a superb hedge and wild life habitat had to go!.  
One of the well established allotments
At Farm Terrace Watford
 Save Farm Terrace

Oh I am moaning again I must think positively and believe soon all the beds my plot will be be growing vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs and the to do list will be complete, that is  until I start another one .My plot is very peaceful and  I feel privileged and grateful to have it.  When I read about Farm Terrace's battle with Watford Council to keep their Allotments I realize how lucky we are in Portsmouth.  But the developers have become Kings under the new planning laws the Government have introduced and all our allotments could be up for land grabs.

With Reiki blessings
and happy gardening 


The first  flower on the Masquerade rose  2014,
 The rose bush is 20 years old or more