After the thunderstorms this week we were able to get to the allotment to finish building the beds and fill with compost (and then finally plants).
The compost that my friend ordered arrived this morning and as I approached the allotment I could smell it down the street. I asked her if she had accidentally ordered manure and she said no, it says compost – the delivery man said it is fresh this week.
From the smell, it seemed like it was fresh from the horse; needless to say when we opened the bags there were clumps of horse manure within the mostly hay compost. The purchase had been made on the recommendation of a friend who has an allotment and orders bulk buys each year from the same place saying they love it.
The other thing that was a slight worry is the heat that was coming off the bags – when I put my hand into the compost to lay some out it was almost too hot to handle. The only information that my friend had about this recommendation was how great it was; not if they let it sit or if theirs was older bags. I guess we will wait and see how the plants fair with the application; I suggested we keep it away from the stems and that the coming rains might help a bit (as I type this I hear the first thunder starting).
When first arriving at the plot; besides the smell, the first thing I noticed was how many weeds had appeared since last time we were there. I don’t think we have been for a week and a half (except to water before the rain) so with all the hot weather and rain the weeds had become manic.
The tomatoes have doubled in size but the weeds have taken over somewhat, the potatoes from the previous year, never dug up, are amongst the most prolific weeds of all as they regrow from the potato if you don’t find it all.
At the moment, overrun by weeds it does not look like we have made any progress but as we weeded and filled the beds it did start to look like a respectable plot almost.
My poor friend was so proud that she had sown beans and peas and they had all sprouted; I felt bad telling her that you cannot have five bean seeds in each seed module. She had planted all the beans and peas she had in each packet so every space in the seedling tray had at least five bean seedlings. When I arrived last Sunday, she had already planted them out close together (she had confused beans with peas and read the wrong packet) so not only did I have to tell her they were planted too close together I also had to deliver the terrible news that she had to cull four out of five of the seedlings she had nurtured so diligently. Above are the strongest of each lot; we still have the other half of the seedling tray so we will plant them out when all other seedlings go in and we find space. The peas were the same but I don’t think they care as much being in close quarters so we won’t have to cull quite so harshly as the beans.
This is a work in progress as my friend is new to the vegetable growing game; I feel bad correcting her but I think it would be disappointing to get to the end of the year with no produce because I hadn’t ever pointed out mistakes.
I met the previous owner the other week and he told me all the different plants types that we had been wondering about. He said that the apple tree was a Bramley cooking apple (I am happy as my Granny Smith will produce nothing this year) and there are two red current bushes. There are two cherries (but the small one we pulled out as it was practically rotten) and a blackberry along the fence (however, he says he never saw many blackberries – too many people stole them). Does anyone have suggestions on how to get more blackberries? The canes seem so old as they are very thick and thorny, although I think there seems to be more rose than berry and they are intertwined. A pink single flower and a white double flower below.
Last time, I emptied the old compost bin out in a bid to move it to the new spot; it had some very composted fillings with alot of sticks and eggshell that hadn’t decayed yet. A surprise find was the entire ants’ colony that had set up home inside; complete with hundreds of large ant cocoons and thousands of ants. I shovelled the compost on the the closest bed, however my friend was not keen to plant into it until she was sure all the ants had collected their things and moved on. I saw today that it seems pretty clear and I topped up with a little more of the delivered compost and planted a couple of cabbage (you can see in the photo below it looks very much like chopped straw).
When we have finished the beds, filling and planted out; I will take some better pictures as the photos today were limited because everywhere I looked there was rubbish or weeds, making for a very unphotogenic display. I know you are supposed to show the good with the bad as it is not all rainbows and sunshine but this was a little to chaotic.
What we do have are some lovely flowers open at the moment so I can show those instead.
This poppy was in question last post as I was unsure what it was going to be; last time we visited I saw that they were single pink flowers but I did not realise that they had a cross in the middle until today; perhaps it darkened since the last time we visited. The bigger of the plants had been and gone; covered in tiny seed pods dressed very formally with hats on. The smaller was still in flower so we left that one; unfortunately the bigger was right in the middle of the tomato bed so since the flowers had finished it went into the compost bin.
The bubble bees were everywhere today; they loved the poppies but the favourite seems to be the foxgloves that were open around the plot. My favourite was the dark purple but there was also white and a pink one.
I love the little bee butts hanging out of the flowers; I tried to take one of them leaving but they practically fall out of the flower before flying off so it was too quick.
This dark purple was my favourite; I like the spots that you can see right up into the flower and below is the lighter pinky purple, still nice but I prefer strong colours to pastels.
We cut off half of the flower stems and took them home with us, we left the other half for the bees.
We are getting so close to the planting out and the finishing of everything it is so exciting. I am excited to grow some things that I don’t really have room for like pumpkin and watermelon; I will also transplant (not sure if it will survive the move) a perennial cauliflower because it is taking over my vegetable bed at the moment.
That’s the update so far; I will return with the completed plot (although never really complete or finished) and post the progress and final layout of all the plants soon.
(Hmm, it is now sunny so I am not sure where these thunderstorms are, we didn’t water well as we thought they would do it for us)