Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Garlic, Garbage and Uninvited Guests

The weather has been so gloriously Autumnal for the past few weeks that I'm finding it difficult to believe that it's the shortest day in just three weeks - midwinter!  Mind you, after ending up at the Hill in the dark this afternoon, perhaps it's no so surprising after all.

I wanted to get the garlic in today.  I usually manage to get it planted in late Autumn, then it can get a good head of steam ready for Spring; although this year it didn't go in until January, and if I'm honest there seemed little difference in the end result.

So that formed basis of today's plan, along with clearing and digging another bed - also on the list is to chop down the raspberry canes (here they are on the right of the pic), and dig the last of the potatoes, but both the latter jobs will wait if needs be.

I got to the Hill and found Richard (three plots down) busy digging over his potato patch.  We had a chat before I busied myself with the fork, and got the garlic split into cloves and planted out.

Then I cleared some debris and rubbish and went to open the nearest dalek composter - it was full, so I moved on to the next.  This was full too, when I took the lid off, but this one was topped off by a mouse, blinking in the light.

We looked at one another for a quite a while until he eventually dipped down underneath the mound of courgette leaves, out of sight. "Excuse me." I said to him, and put the lid back on.

I turned round and called out, "Er, Richard - what do we think about mice in the compost heap? Good thing or bad thing?"

"Well, it depends on your opinion of mice, I suppose," he said - most unhelpfully - after a moment's consideration.

I imagine that the mouse was having a similar conversation deep in the dalek. "What do we think about humans taking the lid off the composter? Good thing or bad thing?"

I would think that the mouse consensus of opinion was that humans are a good thing, as the lid taken off the heap means adding more grub to the top.  As for me, I'm undecided, but I guess that they can stay as long as they remain good tenants.

I found a less obviously inhabited dalek to deposit the weeds into, and moved on to cutting down the raspberry canes.  However, I soon got in a tangle trying to differentiate between the Summer and Autumn varieties, and it was rapidly going dark; so I called it a day and I'll finish tackling them next time round.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tempus Fugit!

Now you must be thinking that SOMETHING happened between the Hill Show and the AGM last week, and you would be right - but clearly, blogging was not that something.

So things grew, things were picked, and eaten, and given away, and frozen.  Mostly beans, which did very well this year, and courgettes, of course (guess how many there were in total from my two plants and a runty one - tell you later).

And all of a sudden it is time to go off on holiday, and then back to start the winter clear up on the plot, and dig winter root vegetables, and - oh - and if it isn't the AGM upon us!

This year's AGM was excellent fun, for a number of reasons

  • I picked up Chris from the bottom on the way, who had brought with her the tiger's eye earrings that she had made for me.  She had a sale of the jewelry that she makes back in August, and when I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, she kindly made something bespoke.
  • The meeting was well attended - better that I can remember previously.  Lots of new and friendly faces, including Colin and Jane who spotted me and came across to say hello.  'It's Hazel, isn't it?' beamed Colin. 'We recognise you!  It's you! We read your blog - it's so entertaining!'.  I've never had a 'rock star' moment before - it was very flattering! 
    'Oh, yes, we love it!' enthused Jane, 'Colin reads it in bed!'.  I apologised for the last couple of months radio silence, but the last few years' posts seem to be giving them enough bedtime reading to keep them going for a while yet. I will have to pull my socks up - oh yes!
  • The meeting clipped along to the agenda at a reasonable pace - striking an excellent balance between information fait accompli and interminable discussion, which resulted in us all being concisely aware of what's going on at all levels with the site, and why; and with room for suggestions and discussion from the floor too. Marvellous.
  • There was a display of photographs which had been taken by a photographer friend of one of the committee members for a project, and were there for us to collect our photo as a memento.  The A4 photo display captured the allotments and plotters from one sunny weekend in August, and were of incredible quality.  When I took the one of me picking beans and showed it to mum at the weekend she pronounced the it best photo of me ever - it certainly was of my hitherto unregarded crow's feet, but I'm sure they give me character.
  • The buffet afterwards was excellent - all contributed by the committee members.  Star of the show, man-sized sandwiches from woodchippings Paul who had made the bread that very afternoon.

So that was that for another year - and plans are already afoot for 2014.  The thanksgiving/harvest festival (which I missed) was a great success and will be repeated - maybe with a recipe book compiled; it's the centenary of the start of the Great War which we are thinking about commemorating; the scarecrow competition is set to be repeated - Grumpy George came second - and who knows what else we will get up to!

Oh - and the total number of courgettes for 2013 from two plants and a runty one? 132.  That's one heck of a lot of ratatouille!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Annual Show - and Courgettes

We had a fabulous time at the centenery Hill Annual Show a couple of weeks ago!

What helps in the enjoyment for me, is my new relaxed attitude to the whole show bench thing.  Before now, in an effort to get everything in as fresh as possible, I've been on the plot on the Sunday morning picking everything in sight, then zooming home frantically trying to find 7 matching runner beans from the 500 or so that are in a massive heap on the worktop, in the space of a couple of hours before racing back to display everything.

Well, not this year!  The strategy was to leave everything alone on the plot in the week prior to the show (er - except courgettes.  I think we all know what happens if we leave courgette plants to their own devices for a hot sunny week in August), then strip the plot like a plague of locusts on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening is spent playing a giant game of vegetable snap, trying to match up the required number of as near identical items as possible in each class, all ready for Sunday when the lucky contenders are all taken to be put on display.

The week before is not idle, though - cakes are made, jellies and chutneys and pickles all sorted out and labelled up.


The day itself was a huge hit - the sun shone, the site looked fabulous with scarecrows and bunting and balloons; big sister Helen was up for the weekend and brought mum over with their cake entries.......

.........the band played; the judges were fair; the barbecue was delicious............

........as was the '100' cake which was enjoyed by all at the end of the afternoon.......

Helen did well with her fruit cake - beating Chris from down the bottom into second, and me into third.  No gongs for mum's sponge cake, or my redcurrant jelly, beetroot, choc/beetroot cake or pickle - but there's always next year!

My veg did better than my domestic entries this year - my crowning glory was a second in the prestigious 'class 1 - collection of veg' - beating the the fabulously successful Jason in the process.  Annoyingly, I have no photo of my entry.

I did well with Rhubarb, courgettes and won the 'odd shaped veg' class!

Everything was packed up after the prizegiving and raffle, and then back to mum's for our annual share out of the goodies!  A great weekend!

Oh - and the courgettes? 63 and counting from two-plants-and-a-runty-one.  Hard to believe that last year, I had no choice of courgettes to enter, just the first three courgettes to grow.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Three Cheers for Rhubarb Brian!

I've had an instance of why allomenteers can be really nice people this week - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

From a very slow start in Spring - how many times have I had the discussion with other gardeners confidently asserting that yes, we are a good four weeks behind where we should be - it is turning out to be a belter of a Summer!

The very hot and dry weather continued until broken by some really good thunderstorms a week or so ago, and now we have warm days with some sun and some rain.

The plot is loving it, and I have been picking courgettes (61 to date from two plants and a runty one), runner beans, french beans, raspberries and red and blackcurrants.  I've lifted the garlic, and the first and second early potatoes.

A slight disappointment was the peas - the pea moth played fast and loose, and many of the pods were infested with maggots. Yuk.

I pruned the current bushes, re-claiming the netting that they had grown though and picked the berries off them at the same time - I have about 5lb of fruit in the freezer, as well as having made some redcurrant jelly.

In our scarecrow competition, my Grumpy George came second to Lady Muck - a worthy winner - and it has been a lot of fun seeing the scarecrows presiding over their plots!

It's the Allotment Annual Show this weekend, and I've spent some time in contemplation of what to enter.  I've been baking too, so I'll have some entries for the domestic classes.

The Show will be our Centenary, and there will be music and a barbecue too.  Of course big sister Helen will be up for the weekend to come and join the party - but if her fruitcake beats mine, I will be most upset!

And finally, a great round of applause for Rhubarb Brian - not only did he casually ask me if I wanted some surplus woodchippings for my plot, but he also delivered them and popped them in piles all along my paths - what a superstar!

Thank you Rhubarb Brian!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Now That's What I Call Summer!

I didn't realise that when Summer had arrived on my last post, it had bought it's suitcase and was settling in for the duration.  I can't remember a summer like this since 1976 - just superb!

The plants love it too - after a slow start and a cool Spring, there is a great rush of growth, and along with the picking broad beans, peas and lettuce galore, I've had my first courgette, potatoes and  french beans - the ever reliable 'Early Warwick'.

The courgettes in particular are already going great guns - I've had 13 off the three plants in just a week. Eek!  The spaghetti squash is growing a-pace too - I have planted out the sweetcorn in the same bed and must make sure that they are not overwhelmed.  Cucumbers too are squashed in this squash bed (ha ha!) with the whole lot being watched over by Grumpy George.

We've a scarecrow competition at the Hill this year, and after a bit of a Blue Peter moment I came up with this fine fellow.There are some fine scarecrows on display, and I must take some photos for a rogue's gallery!.

A consequence of continued hot and sunny weather is that it's been very dry, and last night, despite 32 watering cans full, I only really tickled the surface.

The one crop suffering in particular is the celeriac, which needs plenty of water, and I regret planting it out at the point which is exactly the furthest away from the standpipe on the whole plot.

Coming to the fore for action this weekend is picking the red and blackcurrants.  I'm a bit worried about this, as at the mo, the bed is one giant currant hedge, and one which has eaten a whole load of netting too.  I'm borrowing some loppers tomorrow (the shoots and branches are too much for my secateurs), and hope to both knock the thicket into some sort of order, and come away with plenty fruit.

I foresee wine making in my future...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Summer's Here!

I bet you thought I'd fallen down a rabbit hole never to be seen again!  No, indeed not.

And I have been diligently gardening, even if I have not been diligently blogging. Tut tut!

So when you lot last metaphorically joined me at the Hill, you were admiring my newly planted out peas and broad beans, waiting for me to plant out my french and runner beans, and were watching me eat my first delightful spear of asparagus.  Yum.

So, during June, I have sneaked a little more asparagus (best not to overcrop); planted out my celeriac, squash and courgettes;

erected the bean frame and planted out all the beans;

watched the broadies and peas flower and yield pods;

planted out the tomatoes in the courtyard garden into their buckets, and watched everything grow like billy-o.

The weather has had a bit of a rush to the head with proper wall-to-wall hot July sunshine which is set to last, and the plot loves it.

And I have just started to pick lettuce, peas and broad beans - and tonight the first bunch of sweet peas, I love them!

It's not just been me gardening - we had a Work Party at the site at the weekend which involved all pitching in to spruce things up ready for the judging of the Best Allotment Site in Birmingham.  We hope to defend our crown!

And my fellow plotholders continue to make it a pleasure to be there - long my it (and this glorious Summer) continue!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Well, Blow me Down!

I'm a bit late posting this, as it relates to last Tuesday, but if I get this out the way, I can post about what was going on at the plot at the weekend without getting all out of order.


After attending a regular meeting some distance away last Tuesday late afternoon, I had to take a detour from my usual route home which meant that I found myself just a couple of miles away from the Hill - and despite the fact that there was rain in the air, I nipped across to drop in and have a look to see if there was any more asparagus on the way.

However, the rain was rather heavier than it had  looked from the cosy side of the windscreen, so after a quick run round the beds with water dripping down my neck, I gave up, and wondered - as I was there anyway - if the Club was open.  There looked to be quite a few cars up in the car park, so I went up to dry off, expecting the usual early evening smattering of regulars.

Well, damn me - I walked in to a wall of sound!

It turns out that there is a live music open mic night at the clubhouse once a month, and the place was swinging.  I heard violin and piano duets, singers, a swing band, a trumpeter and a rock band - some real talent on show - my swift half turned into quite a lot of the evening propping up the bar and
tapping my feet.  

I wish I'd had Chris from the bottom end's phone number on me to get her to come along too - it's far less embarrassing bopping away if there are two of you doing it, after all........

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Red Letter Day!

Between the showers at the weekend, I had a sterling time weeding - mostly the front flower border, and also the raspberry bed.

I should have taken a 'before' pic, as this 'after' pic is unimpressive despite much hard work clearing forget-me-nots, tall broad-bladed grass (where has that sneaked in from?), chickweed and wayward raspberry shoots.

The tulips are lovely - they do well each year despite having a fairly nomadic lifestyle as I inadvertently dig them up and shove 'em back in all through the later months.

I've been away, so it was good to see that the plot - front border notwithstanding - is not all wildly weedy, which I put down to some thorough bed prep in the winter once I had those new dalek composters on the go.

The last photo I put up was of the garlic, looking good - well they've come on very well in the last 3 wks or so, as shown here.  The POTATOES are all showing some shoots, too, also the CHARD and maybe some of the sowings of PARSNIP and BEETROOT.  

Not the faintest sign of the bloody CARROTS though - I'll sow a row from a different packet this weekend, I think, as it could be that seed is a bit on the elderly side.  Or slugs, maybe.

The PEAS and BROAD BEANS are looked good too - they seem to have survived being planted out pretty well, although the sweet peas seem to be sulking a bit.

At home, the KALE and LEEKS were bursting out the pots and asking to be planted out (well, I've yet to get leeks the regulatory 'pencil thickness' prior to planing out, but the grass-like seedlings looked ready to go nonetheless), so I got those done.  I was daydreaming a bit when planting out the kale, and only stopped when I got to twelve, so I might have over-egged the omelette a bit there.  I'll be short of room for other brassicas if I'm not careful.

Speaking of which, at home, I sowed a pinch of CAULIFLOWER, RED CABBAGE, CABBAGE, and BRUSSELS SPROUTS, and some more LETTUCE and LEEKS.

The FRENCH BEANS are all up, with varying levels of vigour; the TOMATO plants that I entrusted to a friend whilst I was away were returned looking very perky, and although there is no sniff of the second sowing of both the SPRING ONION and PEPPER seeds, the courgette are up there too.

Oh - and why was it a Red Letter Day?  Because I cut the first ASPARAGUS spear.  I've been waiting three years for this moment.  

And absolutely delicious it was too.  Here's to very many more!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting Going!

Now that Spring is properly with us, it's high time that I got myself to the Hill to do some seed sowing.  But before that fun bit, there is the little matter of finishing off the hateful job of stringing up the wigwams, so armed with more twine from Wilko, and a pocketful of seed packets, I set to.

I hadn't been at the Hill for more that ten minutes when Chris from the bottom came by, and chatting with her improved matters no end - in fact, I'd soon finished the stringing up, and without all the muttering and scowling that would normally accompany the task.

We deserved a pat on the back - so had an interlude up at the clubhouse, then it was back to a little light bed prep, then sowing a second batch of PARSNIP (clare), CARROT (autumn king) and BEETROOT (bolthardy).  Brilliant!

Just to top off a very pleasing session, I also had seed trays of BROAD BEANS (crimson flowered & self saved), SWEETPEAS, PEAS (eric idle) and PETIT POIS (ceresa) to plant out.

Instant allotment - I love it!  It's really impressive - but you'll have to take my word for it as a flat battery meant that I couldn't take any pics after this one of the sprouting garlic.

Back at the ranch, it was time to bring that spruced up mini greenhouse into play.  I had a very enjoyable session sowing trays of DWARF and CLIMBING FRENCH BEANS; COURGETTES (black beauty & jemmer), SQUASH (spaghetti).

Just as well that I remembered not to do the weekly vac & mop of the kitchen floor first, as when I'd finished the my beautiful kitchen did look rather like a potting shed...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Spoonful of Sugar...

Springlike again on Sunday, and working on the momentum built up from planting out the potatoes, I stuffed the car full of 8' bamboo canes, the can of string and set off to the Hill with a pocket full of seed packets.

On the basis that you should get the 'orrible jobs out the way first and look forward to the nice ones, I got the canes out the car and made up three wigwams.  This is a hateful job - once the canes are firmly pushed in the ground, poking the top end of all six canes into the round holder is tricky in the extreme unless you (a) have seven hands and/or (b) are approx a foot taller than I am. 

I had more success than in previous years, however, as I devised a temporary - if wobbly - bridge across the bed edges to elevate me 6".  Still a tricky one, but doable.

No sooner was that out the way then the next hateful job was to hand - whizzing the string around the wigwams.  What a chore.  This cut short, however, when the string ran out.  

I felt that I deserved the nice job of seed sowing after all that puffing and stretching and faffing about, so I forked and raked over the bed nearest the shed, and sang 'la la la', as I daintily made three seed drills for sowing PARSNIP (clare) with RADISH to mark the row; CARROT (autumn king), displaying optimism over experience; and BEETROOT (bolthardy).

That's enough to put a smile back on your face.  And more so, it being now lunchtime, I hoiked Chris up from down the bottom and had a enjoyed beer with her in the clubhouse, before heading home.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

At Long Last!

Spring in now in the air - the temperatures are now finally up there in double figures, and frost does not feature on the forecasts for the first time since about November. Hurrah!

That means that all systems are go, and I had a list of jobs that I wanted to get done this weekend at the Hill, and at home.  First up at home was mending the mini greenhouse - the covers don't last forever, and mine developed a rip in Autumn which has steadily got worse over winter.  The new cover looks very smart, and now I can get the trays of peas and broad beans out and off the kitchen windowsills.

Up off to the Hill yesterday morning, I wanted to make the most of the improved weather and get the potatoes in.

I started by digging over the final part of the potato beds, more weeds for the compost daleks - then emptying more of the hideous compost bins onto this year's potato beds.  The bins seem to be like the magic porridge pot - however much I take out they are still half bloody full.

The less rotted can be charitably described as 'a bit twiggy', but further in, it's better stuff.  It all went on the beds anyway - I'm sure that the potatoes are up to barging their way past some minor obstacles!

I put all the potatoes in using a stick to make an 8-10" hole for each one.  I'm growing Lady Cristl and Winston as first earlies; International Kidney and Kestrel as second earlies; and Picasso and King Edwards as main crops.

I had my eye on the clock because at lunchtime in the clubhouse, Allan R gave a talk on fuchsia growing - he's put this together because one of the categories in the Show in August will be 'best fuchsia from supplied plant', and I'm glad he did - I don't know much about growing pot plants, and my coleus a couple of years ago was - er - a bit of an embarrassment.

I really enjoyed the talk along with a couple of dozen other plotholders, and we all went off with our chosen small plants to cherish and nurture. The sandwiches and beer were welcome too!

Having done the hard digging earlier, and then an hour's sit down, my back told me that I'd done enough at that point - so a quick tidy up, and off home for a soak in the bath, and to make plans for Sunday...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hmm. Flower Growing.

Although I did not go to the Hill on Sunday - ye gods it's cold out there - I do have the seeds on the windowsill stirring, which means that I need to get the little greenhouse in order so that they can be hoofed out when they are up.  Something for me to sort out over this Easter weekend, I think.

I'm not twiddling my thumbs, though - the Hill committee arranged for one of the plotholders, John H (who I don't know), to give a talk on Tuesday evening about chrysanthemum growing.  Now I've never given any thought to chrysanthemums before, but as the chap has been bothered to put a presentation together, and it was held in the clubhouse which we are all encouraged to support, I could see no good reason not to get along there to drink the excellent beer learn something new.

The talk was 7.30 for 8pm, so about 20 of us assembled beforehand in the bar for a drink to grumble about the weather and to out-compete each other with a sort of inverse brag on how little we had managed to get done.  Think of the Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch, and you're somewhere near the sentiment.

The hour-long talk was well structured and informative - and from a position of going along to 'make up the numbers', I was soon in there with note taking, questions, a commitment to put aside room to grow chrysanths this year and the fervent hope that I would be lucky enough to have my name come out the hat for some of John H's left over cuttings.

Marvellous - I'm really glad I went!  Thanks to John H and to the committee for organising, and now looking forward to the next 'flowery' talk in a couple of weeks...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Adapting to the Circumstance

I could have a right good rant about the weather.  I could do, but I won't.

Not because it isn't terrible, because it is - bloody cold and with snow is forecast from tonight through to Sunday, BUT because despite it being cold and miserable, I can remember snow at Easter before, and cold weather, and rain, so although it is miserable, it is not unknown.

It's just that when you look at the seed packet and it says 'sow March - May', you want to sow in March, and I have got away with that for the past five years.  Parsnips sown every February; potatoes in late Feb/early March; broad beans planted out in March; and so it goes on.

This year, not a hope.

I do have all my March indoor sowings completed (BROAD BEAN (crimson flowered & self saved); PEA (sugar snap ceresa & harold idle); TOMATO; PEPPER; CELERIAC; LEEK (st vincent), LETTUCE, SPRING ONIONS (apache) and BANANA SHALLOTS all sitting on the window sills.

I also have a tray of sweet peas in - I had to buy a packet from Wilko as I couldn't find my saved ones from last year.  I knew they'd turn up eventually, which they did - after the event (obviously) - I just would have preferred not to have found them through that well-tested method of inadvertently upending the paper bag, thus scattering them far and wide...

The chances of getting my outdoor sowings due to be done in March (beetroot, parsnip, radish and carrot), are slim to none.  I can't fight the weather, so I'll wait until the ground is right, not the seed packet.

Oh - and it's just started to snow.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Slow Start to Spring

Despite it being mid March, the weather has not realised that it should be thinking about being Spring, so I have been pretty much sitting on my hands rather than sowing seeds, with the exception of the tomatoes and bits & bobs that I put in last weekend (which the cats promptly upended on the floor).  After all, there's no point in having pots of seedlings ready to be planted out but being too cold and miserable to do so.

But surely we should be seeing something of an improvement soon, so this week I re-sowed the  TOMATOES and also some CELERIAC, BROAD BEANS (crimson flowered) and sweet peas - the trays are on window sills more inaccessible to cats, but less convenient for me.  Hey-ho - life is a compromise.

This morning, the extra two compost daleks arrived, so I headed off to the Hill with these along with and a big tub of  green shed preservative and a paint brush.  Yes, after having the toolshed in situ for five years, I am going to treat it to what is only it's second spruce up in that time.  Here is the 'before' pic.

I know why it doesn't get a coat every year now - painting sheds is not only a messy job, it is also no fun at all.  Boooooring.  No matter, bored or not, I got it out the way and it looks a damn site better than it did. And here is the 'after' pic.

Actually, today's weather was nicer than of late, with even an attempt at sunshine - although according to Richard (three plots down) and his trusty soil thermometer, the soil is only at 2 degrees.  Blimey - no wonder I am not planting out my potatoes yet!

I did take a bag of shallots down to plant out, though - I figured that they are pretty hardy, and even if they sit there and don't do much until it warms up further, they shouldn't actually die.  The garlic in the same bed is now coming through, which is always a cheery sign. 

I wouldn't let myself come home before doing a bit more with the messy compost bins - although the photo seems to show them getting more out of hand, rather than less.  

It is an improvement, though, as I've turned the top of the bigger left hand heap into the right hand bin which I (mostly) emptied the other week, so I can pretty much get straight in and dig out/distribute what's left in that bin next week (and put the unrotted stuff in the right hand bin in the new daleks) - just in time to plant potatoes out over the Easter break at the end of the month - weather permitting!  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Despite Everything, Happiness

The weather has been ghastly for the past week or so - perishingly cold with snow flurries and gale strength winds cutting right though you, the only thing I would have done at the Hill this weekend was be cold and miserable - so I didn't bother.

Instead, I've ordered two more dalek composters (and because I didn't order these at the same time as the other two, that's five quid postage and packaging down the nicker), and I had a look on line to see what gardeners around the country are up to.

The answer to that is that they are getting a move on sowing their seeds undercover ready for Spring when it finally gets here, leaving me behind; so I spent a merry evening shuffling seed packets into envelopes corresponding to the month they are to be next sown, and then hoicked a bag of compost out of the garage and spent another merry evening popping tomato, spring onion, leek and lettuce seeds into pots.

The pots went into a gravel tray in the spare bedroom, away from the cold windowsill - but not, it transpires, away from the cats, who managed to upend most of the pots onto the carpet this morning.

No-one's holding their paw up for this one, and despite forensic examination of the crime scene where the tomato pots have crashed to the floor, but not the tray that they were in, or the lettuce or leeks; and interrogation of the two suspects, nothing gives.

On the plus side, the seeds hadn't germinated and all I've lost is a few days, so the compost has been scooped up and will be used for the pots of broad beans, and I'll start again with the tomatoes.

On an even more cheery note, I had a card out of the blue from Clare in France, who I've known online for ages, who read about my lack of parsnips and has sent me saved seed from her garden last year. Totally unexpected, and wonderfully kind - thank you, Clare!

And speaking of the vagaries of the British weather - bear in mind that it is the middle of March, before now, I have planted out the potatoes in the third week of February and they cropped in late May.  With a wind chill of about minus a zillion this week, they wouldn't have had a cat's chance in my house this morning hell.

Onward and upwards!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Bed Preparation

The last few days have been getting gradually warmer, and this morning we even had a glimpse of sunshine - hurrah!  It was cloudy and cooler by the time I got to the Hill early afternoon, but nonetheless, it has been the nicest day to be out so far this year.

I had two aims for today - the first was to get my membership renewal form up to the Clubhouse, the second to continue the clearing and eventual dismantling of the horrible compost bins.

The first was a cinch - although it took a little longer than strictly necessary to drop the form off, as it would have been very rude not to stop for a swift half whilst I was there.

Down to the plot, and I immediately got sidetracked by one of the yet-to-be-dug-over beds - I got the fork out, and worked my way down pulling out all the weeds accompanied closely by Mr Blackbird.  Normally I'd rough dig and turn in all the weeds (except the dandelions), but although weeding thoroughly took longer, I wanted to feed those shiny new dalek composters!

That job out the way, I couldn't avoid the horrible compost bins any longer.  I tackled the smaller right hand bin which has been working away longer, so it should be more composted than the other.

Once I'd pushed the top 6" or so of twiggy uncomposted stuff out the way, I was pleased with the state of what was there - ok, so you wouldn't want to sow your seeds straight in it, but it was great for topping up one of the beds which will be potatoes this year.

A heavy going job, but satisfying - there's about half that bin still left to empty, but my back told me that that'll be a job for another day.
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