Sunday, 29 January 2012

January Doings

Now the shed is built, it's time to get on with the vegetable plot.  With the appalling weather we have had over recent months, we were unable to prepare many beds before winter.  This one was one of the exceptions - this was weeded in November and so just needed a digging of manure to be ready.  The broad beans will go in here at the end of February, so I have put a cloche on it to dry it a little and warm the soil.  Four weeks under here should help the soil somewhat.
 This was the parsnip bed last year, one of the many crops which failed to grow in our bad summer.  I pulled up the few measly vegetables which survived and gave this a quick dig over.  At the moment, I'm trying not to stand on the soil as it is so very wet - this bed is a little drier than some of the others, but you can clearly see the clods of wet soil.  As we are in for a spell of cold, dry weather, the frost will get at this soil and break it down a bit.
And this is my sparse vegetable haul for the month of January.  At the top we have the few leeks I could find among the weeds, rather tiny things but they were nice in a stir fry!  Next to them are some tiny parsnips, at the bottom of the picture is the first pickings of artichokes, these are the ones which were making a bid for freedom into the bed next door.  I would normally have been eating these for a while by now, but digging saturated soil in the rain is not my favourite activity!

Anyway, I feel better having made a start.  I'm hoping to get the winter fruit pruning done this week while it's cold and dry.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Plan for 2012

The new year always starts with a new plan for my vegetable gardening.  Here is the 2012 plan, all carefully arranged so the veggies don't go in the same part of the plot until the 4th year.  I used to have a third year rotation, but when I reclaimed some extra land, was able to spread it out a bit.

The big change for this year is in the potatoes; after several years of poor yields with the earlies, I have given up and will just grow maincrop (blight resistant varieties only).  Our springs are definitely cooler and later than they were 10 years ago and our wet soil is taking longer to warm up, so earlies are out.  Having successfully trialled Cara and Desiree last year, we are going to stick with them from now on.

Some minor changes in varieties - changing to a heritage beetroot which is reputed to do well under cover, which is the way I often need to start them.  Also trying Oarsman leek, in my continuing quest to find a leek which will grow big and strong in our heavy soil.  I live in hope...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Back to Work!

 Well, it's been almost two months since I was at work on the vegetable plot.  In that time we have had rain, hail, more rain, more hail, sleet, more rain... well, you get the idea.  The ground is saturated, haven't been able to dig up parsnips, leeks or artichokes yet.  But hurray!  We have an almost rainless weather forecast for the next few weeks.

So it was time to replace the shed.  The old shed above was rotting in several places and while being 12 years old, should have gone two years ago.  Its replacement had been sitting inside it since early November, waiting for some fine weather.
So with a fine weekend and my Other Half available for two days, we set to work early on Saturday morning.  Knocking an old shed apart is hard work, but once we got some of the boards off we realised that the rot was so extensive at the bottom we could probably just push it over and finish it that way.  Hey presto!  Took a couple of hours to demolish.
After clearing up the glass and depositing it in the very useful glass bin on the allotment site (no idea that existed!), all we had to do was lift the floor out of the way to come down on the concrete rafter and gravel support for the old shed.  In this picture you can see two things: firstly the shed roof parked out of the way on the slope and secondly what I have called the "bramble dance" where OH got himself entangled in the rogue blackberry shoots.
 So this is where the "fun" started.  These sheds are supposed to be easy to put together, but as you fit one new piece, another fitted piece falls out of the slots.  A rather suspect screwdriver coupled with screws which were too big for the purpose, and the odd mismatched hole resulted in a fair bit of swearing and aggravation.  By 2.30 we had got the walls of the shed up and decided to call it a day.  A hot bath for sore muscles beckoned.
Back to work early this morning with a better screwdriver and some smaller screws and after a good night's sleep we fair motored along.  Here's the shed with roof and doors, rather firmer and more stable than yesterday.  A trip to B&Q for some sealant for the suspect places where things didn't quite fit perfectly (they never do in DIY constructions) along with a burger from Burger King's drive thru to fortify us and the job was done.  Time taken from beginning to end - 7 hours.  Never again.  This plastic shed has a 15 year guarantee.  By the time this needs replacing I'll be rich (of course I will) and will pay a man to do it!