Friday, 7 August 2009

This bunch of carrots is the result of my 'bucket of carrots' experiment. Earlier in the spring one of the old hands down the allotment saw me wandering about with a 12 inch plant pot that I had found in my garage. "You know what you want to do with that?" he said "Sieve some soil and compost into it and sow carrot seeds. Stand it up on a stack of pallets two foot off the ground and keep it well watered." The rational for sieving the soil is to encourage nice straight carrots, as they tend to deflect and fork if the hit even the smallest stone. The idea of standing it two foot off the ground is to prevent attack by carrot fly, which flutters along below that height, apparently operating under the misscomprehension that all carrots grow in the ground.

I followed the old guys advice, and sowed baby carrot seeds (and I sowed another lot when Charlie accidentally kicked the first lot off the wood pile, scattering them to the four winds). I put a Tesco carrier bag over the top to encourage them to germinate, and that was that. The ridiculous rainfall we have had this year meant I hardly even needed to water them. The carrot fly were suitably confused by the wood pile, and we have got a big bunch of sweet baby carrots. Next year we will be carrying this experiment on, perhaps with other varieties, and sowing them at two weekly intervals to give us sustained cropping. This method is easy, successful and, best of all, doesn't involve any digging. You could even do this on a sunny patio.
Not that all the carrots ended up dart straight though. This one is a particular oddity. It reminds me of a mandrake root from Harry Potter.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Bad weather has meant we have made little progress in July. We've had the odd nice day, and managed to get down and do some weeding, but in general the allotment is staring to look a bit wild around the edges.

The blasted pigeons continue to decimate the sprouts- I think the chances of having any sprouts for Christmas is slim. We have just one pumpkin growing- so unless the other pumpkin plants buck up a bit and get on with setting flowers, it looks like we are going to have to fight over it. Currently it is about the size of a grapefruit, and is a nice dark green colour. Onions continue to thrive, and the sweetcorn is now about four foot high and at least one of them looks like it will soon produce a corn! I dug up the last of the potatoes today, and they are very nice but the tubers are a bit firm and need some cooking- next year I might try a better known variety- King Edwards or something like that. Rhubarb, raspberries and beetroot continue to put on a fairly uninspiring show.

One of the surprise star performers is the mint. It's a surprise because I never planted any- at lest ten foot square of the allotment is covered in a dense mat of mint, which thrives in the environment- no doubt it is the left overs from some previous tenants herb garden. People say that mint is a bugger to get rid of, but I haven't even tried yet. Its very pleasant when crushed under my wellies in the evening, as it releases an aromatic scent. It allows keeps any other weeds under controls, so I am going to leave it in peace. At least until I need that area for my own bed. I have pulled up a massive bunch and I am going to make some mint sauce today. I'll let you know how it goes.

We bought a black plastic compost bin with a screw top from the council. It is big and cylindrical, and has been christened the Darlek. I got Charlie and Corinne to carry it down to the allotment. They got some funny looks of passers by but just smiled and waved as if it were an everyday occurrence. We don't need another compost bin, as I have already built two out of pallets, but its is a useful tool store, protecting our spades and forks from the elements.

The only other progress we have made is in the paths- which were overgrown and scruffy looking. I have been digging out the paths, weeds, grass and all, and the lining the pit with black membrane (hand-me-down form my father-in-law, not bought- right on Mr Flowerdew!) then lots of where barrows full of bark chip supplied free of charge to the allotment by the council, who are only to happy to get rid of their shredded hedgerows and bushes. Charlie had been helping me in the endeavor, and although progress is much slower than I would have liked dire to the ground still being completely sodded (and this is august!) it is beginning to look quite nice.


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