We’ve had an excellent week this week. Louis has been off college – first week of the easter holidays. We haven’t really done much (we didn’t even leave the house on Monday!) but sometimes not doing much is exactly what you need.
I was supposed to meet Michelle on the plot on Tuesday morning but I just couldn’t get going so we arranged to go to the local garden centre for a cuppa instead. Having decided to (literally) scrap the wheelbarrow idea I needed to find something else to plant the flowers in. After quite a bit of searching I found these pots – I liked their shape and, more importantly they already had holes in the bottom so no drilling!
Louis and I didn’t make it to the plot until Thursday morning when he helped me plant the flowers in the new pots. They look lovely and I like that the pots are small enough to be moved around the plot if I need to. Louis and I also spent some time measuring the plot with a view to making a plan. I know! A plan! This feels weird. And here it is, to scale (sort of!) Dan has suggested I add some sweetcorn along the side of the potato bed but apart from that it’s pretty much what I’ll be growing this year. I may add some aubergines in somehwhere aswell if I can.
Following on from my conversation with Jane last week, I pulled all the flowers off Rhubi. Having looked into it a little bit it turns out rhubarb (and some other plants) bolt when they are stressed – when they don’t have enough water for example. This would make sense, based on how dry the ground is at the moment. I totally got out of the habit of watering the plot over the winter and we haven’t had much rain lately so I can only assume Rhubi was in desperate need of some water. From what I’m told, bolting is the last ditch attempt for plants to reproduce when they think (I know plants don’t actually think but you know what I mean!) they’re about to die. Poor Rhubi thought she was going to die! I’ve watered her nowso, hopefully she’ll be a lot less stressed from now on.
This week’s Random Cafe was a joint event with the local resident’s association. It meant we were in a much bigger space with more than double the amount of customers we normally have. We were run off our feet in the kitchen! It also meant we saved loads more food from going to landfill. I was particularly pleased with these bunny and carrot biscuits made from 2 biscuit box mixes which were saved from the local supermarket. I don’t remember last year’s carrots from the plot looking this good!
On Sunday, I was on the plot by 9am. Michelle was already there. As ever, I spent the first hour or so just pottering. I toyed with the idea of clearing out the shed but decided, instead to carry on squaring off the green manure bed (soon to be potato/sweetcorn bed). Michelle, very kindly helped me with some of the digging but it still took a long time. It’s finished now and, I have to say, Dan was right, it looks so much better now it’s straight.
I actually made loads of progress on Sunday – I was quite surprised with myself. I spent about half an hour sawing the top off one of the blue barrels. This was hard work and I had to stop a couple of times for a drink. I used the foldaway saw I bought in Morrisons a while back to saw through the fence posts and other left over wood. That saw has definitely earned its keep so far. I now have 3 useable waterbutts (barrels with no lids!) The next job is to make water collection really efficient and link them all up to the guttering so they collect water from the shed roof.
I also noticed our first spring onion shoot this week. Nothing from the leeks or pumpkins (totally forgot to put these on the plan) yet but so good to see those first little shoots sticking out through the compost. I wonder if I’ll always be this excited about seeing new shoots? I hope so!
It really does feel like the allotment is waking up after a long sleep. The alliums are looking great and getting ready to flower, all the fruit trees are in blossom, the transplanted bulbs which I thought could be snowdrops turned out to be bluebells (I’m sure someone suggested bluebells. No prize I’m afraid, just the satisfaction of knowing you were correct) and new shoots popping up all over.
By far, the most exciting job on the allotment for me this week was harvesting Rhubi. I asked AAs advice on how to do it and he told me it’s like pulling an arm out of a socket. Now I don’t know about you but, even as a first aider I’ve never actually pulled an arm out of a socket (and I hope I never have to!) Call me unimaginative and weird but I tried my hardest not to picture the rhubarb stalks as arms as I pulled them out. (AA may have completely failed to grasp my emotional attachment to Rhubi and the thought of pulling her arms off was just a step too far!) Anyway, here’s my first harvest of 2019 and my first ever harvest of rhubarb. Rhubarb is super easy to prepare – I just cut the stalks top and bottom, gave them a quick wash, chopped them into smaller pieces (about 3cm long) and popped them in a bag. They are now all in my fridge waiting to be made into crumble (or gin!) I am so happy with my first harvest and, knowing how quickly Rhubi grows it shouldn’t be too long before the next harvest.
The final job I did on Sunday was to remove the weed suppressant from the main path. I was quite surprised to fins almost no bindweed growing underneath (although why this came as a surprise I don’t know, considering I’d put down weed suppressant fabric! You may have this picture of me wandering around my plot with a permant surprised look on my face!) I guess a year of being covered and walked on has put paid to growth of any kind.
There was a site inspection this week. I remember being very nervous about this last year – mainly because the plot was still a huge mess and covered in rubbish and bindweed. I was much more relaxed about the whole thing this time around because I don’t think anyone can say I haven’t made progress. (I passed the inspection)
A really productive week overall. I finally feel like I’m finding my feet and it’s all starting to come together. Next week will, hopefully involve a trip to the tip to scrap the wheelbarrow and a small amount of rubbish I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks and I may tackle the shed.