Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

New fruit plants, new projects for the coming winter, crop updates and some piccies! 5th August 2010

So, 2nd day off and it dawns with the rain lashing down, doesnt bode well for being able to do the bee inspections or get much done on the plot, however, as they have to be done, then needs must!

We started the day with a trip to Aldi to take advantage of thier soft fruit offers, got there at 855am, to find a queue of 5 people in front of us (and another 15 joined behind us before the doors opened), yet when the doors opened no-one moved, so we went in first and got first choice of the fruit plantlets!

2 clematis, the fig, tayberry and 2 goosegogs, need to do some work on the plot before we'll be ready to plant these out!
5 Gojiberry, 2 kiwi, 2 red gooseberries, a tayberry and a fig all found their way into our trolley (3 of the goji were for other folks from the allotment), along with 2 lovely 4' clematis (£4.99 each), so the plot spend went up by £26 in a short space of time, but we got some lovely soft fruits for the plot!

On arriving at the plot (when fortunately the rain had ceased, although it threatened to return until about mid afternoon when we sat down for lunch) we had a chat about where everything was going, and what we were planning on doing with a few areas of the plot over the winter, some of which were inspired by our new fruit purchases! When Pat, Colin and Sarah arrived we started to do the weekly bee inspections (no major problems), then sat down for a late 'al fresco' lunch!

Its become a bit of a tradition between us all to have a late lunch on the plots when we do the bees, generally we take it in turns to buy it, today was a whole roast chicken, with large barm cakes, fresh cucumber, tomato and lettuce (from the plot), pickled onions, pork pie, a mug of tea each (earl grey for me) and followed by scones, cream and home made jam!

Before now we've had melon for starters, followed by roast pork sandwiches, or even freshly cooked BLT, and ended with cakes ranging from the gorgeous 'bogey green dome cake' (aka festival gateaux from Morrisons), through scones and clotted cream, through doughnuts to the fantastic Coop caramel/coffee buns!

After lunch (and despite the protests from Lee that he now wanted to go to sleep) we started to plant up the new soft fruits, or as many of them as we were able to (without having done the projects that we need to complete in order to plant the rest of them out!)

 The 2 Goji berries got planted into the center of the 2 front beds on plot 1, about 2/3rds of the way back (to leave some room for a flower border), they arent massive (probably take us a few years to get much of a crop, if anything) at about 8" high, but they both look healthy enough!

 The second one, in the flower bed at the front of plot 1, lets hope they survive and grow on quickly enough to make a decent sized display next year!

The 2 kiwis were planted into sunken (bottomless) pots on the outside of apiary 2 (on plot 1), 1 near the entrance door, and the other........

............ around the corner, inbetween the 2 surviving loganberries (to the left of the jasmine in the pot at the corner), I know the kiwis can be vigorous, but being only 8" tall, its probable that it will be a few years yet before we ever get any fruit from them (if we ever do), but without trying them we'll never know, so its worth a go!

We bought the clematis to climb up something that is going to be one of our next projects, our grapevine has come on really well over the past 2 years since we took over this plot, so much so that its not able to be supported by the front of the shed and ends up falling forwards as you can see from this piccy. I've been toying with an idea of building an extension to the front of the shed, kind of like an arbour, to trail the grapevine over the top, not only neatening it up and giving it some proper support (plus allowing the fruit to hang more freely, giving better circulation of air around them), but also to make a pleasantly shaded area for us to sit under when the weather is at its hotest! (In front of the shed is a lovely sheltered spot, but when its sunny its a definite sun trap and gets exceptionally hot, so a shaded place to sit would be lovely!)

So, with the good value clematis needing a home in the very near future, we've got to get our skates on! I got Lee to hold one of the spare bits of wood (that we inherited with the plot - leftovers from the building of the shed we think) at the front of where the supports will have to run, right next to the bed in front of the shed! Our plans are to get 3 of the metal fence spikes (go into the ground and hold the supports up vertically), then put 3 vertical supports, linked horizontally to each other and the shed, with a reinforced wide mesh and wire system filling in the center, so the grapevine can grow over the mesh! The 2 clematis will then be grown up the front supports (the ones next to the flower bed), and should look good once they get established! The work involved isnt massive, although with the grapevine being in full leaf and fruit at the moment we cant put the mesh up (yet), but we are hoping to build the supports in the next week or so, then add the mesh once the vine had died back for the winter!

Another project we are going to have to tackle this winter is to sort out the 'fedge', the raspberry canes have gone mental this year, so it looks like aswell as cutting them back in the late autumn we are going to have to rethink our support system!

When we first out the 'fedge' in we had a run of 4 posts, which were then wired together at 3' and 5' to hold the rasps up, as they've gotten established this system has been overwhelmed, so I think we're going to have to double the number of posts and wire them in a better way to keep them from making the paths unaccessable, as you can see here to the right of the fedge!

Yet another project for the winter is to replace some of the bed edging (that has rotted) with the 20 scaffold boards that we purchased recently, hopefully these will neaten up the edges and mean we can actually raise the beds a bit too!

We also want to get hold of another plum tree (for the front lavender bed on plot 1) and a redcurrant (for the front bed next to the right hand front compost bin on plot 1) to plant out, and if the plum at th back of plot 1 doesnt do anything (after a good pruning later this year) next year, then we will also look at replacing that too!

Our final project for the winter is to use some of the scaffolding beds to remake the retaining wall beneath apiary 1 on plot 2 (which holds the raised rhubarb bed up), and to create a seating / viewing ares to the left of the apiary, which will also have the 2 red gooseberries planted in it and possibly also the tayberry (to grow up the side of apiary 1 on plot 2)!

So, once the growing season is finished (another 10 weeks or so yet) and the beds are cleared, mucked over (with 2 yr old well rotted FYM) and covered (probably with recycled bike boxes from my work) for the winter, it looks like we've got enough to keep us busy into next year!

So, with plenty of plans to keep ourselves busy for the foreseeable future, how do the plots look at the moment? Well, the early sown broadies are just about finished, as are the early peas and the victorian purple podded peas will be harvested very soon. The courgettes are still cropping well, we've a bit of a glut atm (tho not as bad as Pat and Colin, who currently have 50+ courgettes in their garage), but once the tomatoes start to crop a bit heavier then I'll process them into pasta sauce for the freezer!

The early sown runners are now cropping well, and the later sown are flowering like mad, so along with the dwarf and climbing french beans it looks like it is going to be a great year for beans! The late sown broadies are also beginning to drop, so plenty for the freezer too! The maincrop carrots are also looking good, if a bit weed infested (as you can see in the bottom left of the picture), although we dont know whetehr we will get a usable crop yet as we usually suffer with carrot root fly problems on the plot!

About half of the maincrop onions have now stopped growing, and their tops fallen over, so I took them out today and laid them out to start drying the outer skins..............

.............. as you can see, there's some lovely onions in amongst them (the shelf they are on is about 12" wide, to give you an idea of their sizes), and about the same amount again still to harvest! Think we should be alright for onions for the next month or 5!

The brassicas are all still doing well, lots of small cabbages and broccolli, enough to keep us going for a good while, plus the sprouts are looking really good too, even the red ones!

The sweetcorn and squashes seem to be growing every time you look at them! Methinks we could be in for our best ever corn year (fingers crossed!)

Although we've usually done well with pumpkins, one thing we've never really done well with is butternut squash............ until this year! We've quite a few fruits, the largest of which dwarf anything we've ever seen in the shops! This one is the second biggest, at about 10" diameter and 18" long.............

............. whereas this one is the largest, at about 14" diameter and 24" long! If they keep growing like this, then perhaps we'd best look at exhibiting in the giant veg shows! Lol!

Finally a quick peek at some of the toms in the greenhouses, lots of lovely fruit in there, but not many ripe as yet! Once they start to crop heavily I'm going to be busy making pasta sauces and ketchup, hopefully enough of both to see us through the year!!

We did manage to get some harvests today, more courgettes (8), about a lb of runner beans, a lb or so of climbing french beans,another decent head of broccolli, the first of the blackberries (about a lb), more rasps, a few more toms and another couple of turnips! Some of the crops are soo prolific (turnips) that we're probably going to have to compost some of them as we wont be able to use them all, but better too many than not enough!

So, onto the balance sheet!

Balance Sheet Update - 5th August 2010

Total Veg Plot Costs 2010

Rent + Subs for 2 full plots £100
Seeds £20
Seed Spuds £20
Onion Sets £6
Growbags £15
Chicken Manure Pellets £8
Plastic 'wannabe' Polytunnel £61
Bamboo Canes £8
Flower Plants £28
Scaffolding Boards £100
Watering Cans £8
Soft Fruits £16
Clematis £10

Total Costs £ 400

Total Veg Plot Harvests 2010

Rhubarb £ 35
Fartichokes £ 4
Volunteer Spuds £15
First Early Spuds £15
Lettuce £12
Radish £10
Garlic £85
Strawberries £65
Raspberries £35
Blackberries £5
Peas £36
Broad Beans £39
Courgettes £58
French Beans £36
Red Onions £20
White Onions £30
Cabbages £4
Peppers £2
Tomatoes £4
Turnip £2
Runner Beans £5
Broccolli £4

Total Veg Plot Harvests £ 509

So, a total nett profit of £ 109 so far this year, with a large amount of harvests still to come! Hope your growing year is going well and your harvests are bumper ones! Thanks for reading!


Matron said...

There are some great bargains to be had when Lidl and Aldi have fruit trees. I found that Wilkinson have some good stuff too, particulary veg seeds.

Green Jeannie said...

I have missed Aldi bargains it seems!I bought a great deal of my vegetable seeds from Aldi, way back in the early spring, and they have all done well.

Poundland was also an excellent place for good seeds. My broad bean seeds came from there in a pack of 3 varieties of beans, yes, for One Whole Pound LOL! And they have also done really, really well.

The only thing I had a problem with from Poundland was the mythical Red Gooseberry bush, which I proudly planted next door to a more expensive green gooseberry bush, only to discover when it flowered was a Wilega!

Your allotment is looking really good, I always take note of what you are doing, as this is my first year with an allotment.

Thank you for sharing.

Green Jeannie x

Green Jeannie said...

er, in my defence about the mistake with the Red Gooseberry bush, when I bought the plant from Poundland, it was just a twig, no leaves. However, it has since developed into a rather good sized Wilega!

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Matron, yup, doesnt matter to us where a plant or seed comes from, as long as they are in good health, and we're always up for a bargain (after all, Lee is from Yorkshire originally! Lol!)

Hi Jeannie, lol, np, I'm fairly certain that what we bought is what it says on the label, but you never know!! Hope you're first allotment year is going well, its a great sense of acchievement when you get to eat your own produce, dont you think?

We're eagerly awaiting the annual seed sale at Wyevales, normally its the time for us to stock up on seeds for the following year at very good prices, in fact the sweetcorn thats doing soo well this year was all from Wyvales sale! 100% germination and really strong plants, so I'm looking forwards to getting more next year!

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Anonymous said...

Hi, have found you blog, and am really enjoying reading it.
Can i just ask one question?? How do you get your blue pipe to stand up so well for your netting to go around. I have the same pipe, and same netting and mine falls over every 5 minutes?!!

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Becky,

Its quiote easy, push a 12" length of bamboo into the ground, then hook the pipe over it, that helps to keep it upright, then drill a hole in each pipe (slightly offset( at the apex, and pop a piece of bamboo between the pipes, so it holds the pipes apart by its length when you pull the netting tight!

Hope the explanation works for you, if not, let me know and I'll take a few piccies to show you how, ok?

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Anonymous, glad the blog was of help in your course work!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the advise on the hoops! will give that a go tonight!! Mine fall over constantly!

Mrs Dobby said...

No problem Becky, I hope it works as well for you as it does for us!

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