Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All from nothing... (part 13)

Our efforts to transform an unused piece of land into a productive vegetable garden.

So, it's been a while since I posted an "All from nothing" blog. There are a couple of reasons for this - work, my son's birthday, work being done to my house (which just about takes precedence over the allotment ), but primarily due to the fact that I strained my back a few weeks ago, making labour impossible (at least if I wanted to heal said injury). 

My lack of activity at the allotment weighed heavily on my mind - I'm conscious of the fact that I'm behind on the work needed to be done and that the summer is moving on. But there was little I could do save get quite frustrated about my situation. 

Clare stepped up to the tasks at hand, and spent time weeding and ensuring that the veg we have planted was kept watered and fed as necessary. 

We've rows of carrots planted that are starting to poke their heads towards the sun!

Finally, on Sunday last (20th May) I felt ready to head back up and get some work done. We all headed over to the allotment. I began forking through the soil, adding barrow loads of composted manure to the soil as I went. I made good progress, and Thomas helped me out, throwing stones and rocks I was discarding into my barrow to be removed from the site (he also got a kids barrow of his own for his birthday!). Isabelle lay in her pram and enjoyed the fresh air, keeping a keen eye on us. 
Clare weeded, and then sowed Cos Lettuce, Chard and radishes (a personal favourite of mine!). 

Parsnips, much like the carrots, are beginning to germinate.

We got a fair amount done by the time came to go home. 

Today turned out to be lovely - temperatures hitting about 21 degrees, so when I got home from work we all headed over to the allotment again. I brought over some decking timber that we sourced - we're going to use it to build a small bed for our potatoes to go in. I'll hopefully build this tomorrow. I then did some more forking, and Thomas pottered about, doing his best to help  us (though we did have to keep him from treading all over our vegetable beds!). Isabelle, clearly bored, fell asleep. 
Clare planted more celery, and packed compost around the established celery plants, which should "blanch" them, reducing their bitterness. 

Our celery bed, with the new plants to the front, and established plants towards the back.

Clare took the kids home for dinner, and I stayed on for a while , continuing to fork the soil and also bringing more compost in to mix through the soil. Much as I felt compelled to stay until it was dark, I forced myself to head home to help put the kids to bed.

The other veg we've planted out seems to be doing well, as is shown in the photos below. While Clare was sowing the celery today, she noticed that the soil was nice and warm, which is a great sign. 

Our garlic - ideally we should of planted this out months ago, but it seems to be doing well. We grew garlic last year in pots in our back garden, and were fairly successful with it. 

Half of our onion bed. Again, these are growing away happily. We did notice that one was pulled out, which I assume was the work of an inquisitive rook. Still, with a full bed of them, the loss of one isn't catastrophic.  

I've noticed a particular weed that grows beside our allotment - cleavers. These "weeds" were famed in my childhood as "stickybacks", as they could cling tenaciously to clothes (particularly school uniforms!) when they came into contact with them. They can be used with nettles to make a decent tea (which I'm going to make later in the week) and also to be made into a juice. 

As the evenings get longer, I've also noticed a rabbit or three, skulking about the fields surrounding the allotment. They look fairly healthy, and I intend to eliminate potential threat they pose to our veg by shooting as many of them as I can eat. 
Rabbits are a fantastic source of lean, delicious meat, and given their huge numbers in my locale, are a sustainable source of meat. I've been hunting them now for a few years, and enjoyed eating every one I've shot.

Bugs Bunny
I'll publish another blog later on this week. Please feel free to leave whatever comments you like, it's always great to get feedback!

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