Week 71 – Exterminated Onions, Excitement in Wales and Energetic Ladybirds!

What a week! The blog’s a bit late this week but I’ll explain why later. We’ve had disappointment with the onions, I’ve been to Wales and wait til you hear about the ladybirds. Seriously, it’s been a pretty full on week.

Despite the terrible weather forecast the weather’s actually been pretty good with only one really wet day and that was just the afternoon. Unfortunately, the wet afternoon happened to be Tuesday so I couldn’t take my helpers to the plot. We had a wander around the local garden centre instead and they had a cake and a smoothie to make up for it which they thoroughly enjoyed but it’s not quite the same as digging is it?!

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All the other days were either dry and overcast or dry and gloriously sunny (I may need a new weather forecast app!) so I’ve spent quite a lot of time on the plot this week and I have a lot to tell you about.

I’ll start with the bad news just to get it out of the way. I’ve had to throw away all the onions. Dan noticed my onion stalks looked bent, which is a sign of onion fly. I picked a couple and cut into them and, lo and behold found the onion fly larvae. They’ve all gone in the bin which feels like such a waste but there’s really nothing else I can do with them. Never mind, it’s just one set back and I can always try them again next year.

I decided this week it’s time to pot on the sweet peppers. So far they’ve only known the relative comfort of the living room window sill with full morning sunshine and room temperature water but all that’s changed as they’ve been evicted to the greenhouse. They were obviously outgrowing their cardboard pots they’d been sown in and a few of them had started to flower so it was definitely time to move them to the allotment. I had lots of pots in varying sizes from really large to only just a bit bigger than the cardboard pots they were currently in but that’s all I had so that’s what I worked with. The great thing about planting the seeds in the cardboard pots is they can be placed in their new, larger pots exactly as they are, with no root disturbance because the cardboard will just disintegrate. All 8 plants are now in the mini greenhouse and doing well. The plan is to leave them in there to give them the best chance of producing peppers – I know I grew them outside last year but we had an unusually hot summer last year which we may not get this year (and I didn’t have the luxury of a greenhouse last year)

I had a delivery from my friend, N. this week. He’s moving house and, like most of us when we move he’s used it as an opportunity to have a clear out. He arrived at the allotment with loads of pots (some of which were used to repot the peppers) a brilliant trolley which is going to make moving bags of compost a whole lot easier and a twisted hazel tree in a container. N. was happy for me to do whatever I wanted with it – I was all for composting it but Dan convinced me it would look nice on the plot. So, between us (not going to lie, mainly Dan!) we dug a hole to drop the pot into next to the cucumber support. Having looked it up online I think this was a good call as they do look very pretty.

Dan has been winding me up all week about painting the fence panel. He gave me the paint last week and I promised I would do it this week. The first day I planned to paint it I realised I had no paint brush! So, I bought a paint brush. The next day I was there with good intentions of getting on with it, it looked like it was about to rain so, obviously no painting. The next day was just a flying visit before I went out for lunch (I had absolutely no intention of sitting in a restaurant covered in specks of fence paint!) I was away for the weekend so thought Friday (the flying visit before lunch) would be my last day on the plot this week but I actually managed a quick visit on Saturday morning when I finally painted the fence! It’s far from perfect and will need one more coat, maybe two but it looks better than it did.

So – the energetic ladybirds! I arrived at the plot on a lovely sunny afternoon this week and did my usual cursory glance around to make sure everything looked ok. Checked Rhubi and noticed a ladybird, no – 2 ladybirds, oh, that ladybird’s climbing on top of that other ladyb…ooohh! I have never seen ladybirds mate – and judging by the comments the video received on my Instagram page it was new to lots of other people too. I can’t show you the video here but if you’d like to see it head over to my Instagram page nici347 and take a look. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

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My weekend away was in Herefordshire and Wales. I set off after the cafe on Saturday and arrived in Herefordshire early evening to spend a really enjoyable evening with friends. I left Herefordshire at 7o’clock Sunday morning and arrived in Tregaron, Wales at about 9.30am. The reason for this epic journey was this man:

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Huw Richards. I bought his book ‘Veg In One Bed’ back in March (week 59) and have found it really helpful. I’ve been following him on Instagram which is where he advertised a one day gardening course for novice gardeners so I thought I’d sign up. It was such a great day – really informative and fun. 15 novice gardeners all keen to learn from Huw and his dad. We dug beds, we planted seedlings, we harvested potatoes and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

I made loads of notes and picked up so many tips which I’ll be able to use on the allotment. I also got serious compost envy – just look at those compost bins! It was a VERY long day – nearly 8 hours driving and not arriving home until gone 9 last night which is why the blog is a little late but I’m sure you can understand why.

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He even signed my book!

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This is how I left the plot this week. Looking a little bit empty with the carrots gone but the plan is I put the spring onions and leeks (following a tip from Huw!) into that empty space next week.

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