Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The very first strawberry!!!

Ha ha yes indeed. On a brief mission to ensure the pesky wind we've experienced for the last few days had not undone the patchwork puzzle of landscape fabric that I laid at the weekend (for compost and mulch deliveries - perhaps I'll elaborate on this sometime), I almost passed this little beauty.

It was a proud and exciting moment. I picked it and took it home for the husband's tea.....(I think he was expecting something a little more substantial). He did, however accept this humble offering and chomped his way into the succulent flesh. Clearly he liked it as his eye went all squinty, and he smiled (grimaced?) and made nom noises (protests?)...........hmmmmm maybe it wasn't quite ripe yet - oooopsie!!

Experimental compost trench

After much potting on Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a quick trip down to the plot and empty our little brown bin. The council usually empties this for us every two weeks, processing it into lovely compost which is available to Ipswich residents..........however - you have to buy it back!! Well - nuts to that, I thought - after an inspiring conversation with another friend who is also an allotmenteer and regularly wheels his bin to his plot, I thought I too would by-pass the 'buy back' procedure of the municipal composting scheme and have the benefits for free. I am also reassured in the knowledge that I know exactly what waste has gone into my special brand of compost and am saved the suspicion of any nasty perennial weeds that may have survived the super heated treatment - forever the sceptic that I am.
Have I mentioned there has been no rain for some time??? Well surprisingly the trench was easier to dig than I expected - all that remained to do was tip the already decomposing matter into the trench, spread it about a bit and cover with soil.

I should point out a few flaws to my version of the plan - the bin was surprising heavy though it was only a third full, and some creative thinking had to be applied to get bin from van to ground - thus done with the use of a pallette. It was also kind of awkward to turn the bin upside down by oneself (the ol' back has been grumbling ever since), and dear God the smell!! I only hope the intended plants appreciate the foul rottenness that had me ever so slightly gagging whilst frantically throwing soil back over the putrid goop! All in all - it was a much shorter process than I figured and I look forward to planting some dwarf french beans (if they ever germinate - grrrr) along the trench - the theory being that - as the green waste decomposes it will feed the hungry plants and also help to conserve moisture.

My only thought is that the waste is fresh (was it ever!) so may be more harmful than useful, much like fresh manure can be, potentially burning the roots and robbing the soil of nitrogen as it breaks down and preventing the said beans from gettin' any, which they will not like and will probably show their displeasure by dying.

Ah well - there's always next year, when I will be the tiniest bit wiser.....perhaps.

Friday, 8 May 2009

A word of thanks...

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find time to regularly update the blog with whatever gentle progress we seem to be making - every week would be nice but - well - most time is spent outdoors whenever possible and for as long as possible to make the most of the longer days up to summer solstice (June 21st) - and then there's the other stuff you find yourself doing like eating and sleeping and that thing we call work! Most likely there will be far more time for telling our entertaining tales during the dark winter months when we tend to curl up in our snug (hopefully with a wood burner this year) and hibernate. But now it's late spring, so I need to be in this moment for now and not think about gloomy winter....though.......woodburner - very exciting!!

Despite months of absence we seem to be having some precipitation today - good news for the dried up ground - not so good news if you've decided to do all your laundry today. Sigh. But yay - time to update the blog!

Anyways - the blog is coming up for it's anniversary soon so I thought I would say thanks to all you people who follow our haphazard happenings. Many of you have said the most encouraging things which makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside and helps us carry on in our rambling sort of way. We've even received the odd bit of advice too, such as - 'avoid rhubarb wine it's blerk - make rhubarb crumble ice-cream instead' (sounds yummy). I would like to add that rhubarb fool is also excellent, and if I get my act together or rain stops play (yeah right - have you heard the estimated weather predictions for the summer months??- this is why mulching is good!) then I plan to make some rhubarb and almond muffins and rhubarb chutney. Perhaps some recipe suggestions may follow......if I give up eating or sleeping! (ha ha - if you know me, you'd realise how farcical that statement was!) A friend of ours in Kent who also has the 'growing bug' (see our blog links) has been very complimentary of my 'so far' crops (recently we all tried making nettle beer - see earlier post - yeah well - the verdicts not out on that yet) - so big thanks to him (such a sweetie) and yes it is a shame we don't live nearer to you to do swappsies - but if you find your way up here soon - let us know.
Another tip we received was about borage and how it can become as invasive as mint. I'm not sure I agree really. Borage is generally used as an annual (not frost hardy in the UK) but does self seed freely so new plants will pop up year after year - at least - that's been my experience. However, it seems unfair to liken borage to the veritable thug - mint, as it does not have spreading rhizomes so can easily be controlled by a quick hoe when you start to see the seedlings or transplanted to a more appropriate site or potted and given away. Mint, on the other hand is more time consuming to remove - if you don't use nasty chemicals the only option is to dig it out and burn it or again put it into pots and give it away to friends. Whatever you do - DON'T PUT IT ON THE COMPOST HEAP! That will lead to badness....but very happy mint I'm sure!
Any other thoughts from you followers on any subject would make interesting reading. After all - we all live with slightly different conditions so every experience is different too and for even more fun - it will vary from year to year. There's a world of community and generosity amongst green fingered types. I'm so glad to be a part of it.

Here's some current pics for your perusal. It's stopped raining now so I'm off to sow more seeds. Yipppeeee.

My birthday plants. They sure have come on since last August!

The woodland wall -
here is an example of nature doing it's thing. It stays reasonably damp being easterly facing so the fern and pretty little purple flower (not sure of the name) have found the perfect habitat. I planted a Clematis near the steps with the hope it will scale the wall (thanks to the wires a bearded friend helped me with) onto the trellis fence - and up and over Andrew's expertly constructed arch. If it flourishes, I'm sure it will make an appearence on the blog again.

Broad beans -
these were supposed to be planted on the plot but with nowhere to put them, I am trialling them here. The construction around them is not so much protection from the weather, but from the regular defecating of our furry beasts. Cat poo and vegetable growing should really not mix!

An explosion of green stuff!

Pak Choi bolting (going to seed).

A forest of tomato plants.

Behind the greenhouse......wherever I can, I will be cramming plants!

Rinny the guard cat. Protecting my precciousss plants....though not really. She merely seized a photo opportunity!

Oh - and the very first pic - the sweet peas of course. Another couple of weeks and they will be in flower!