Sunday, March 19, 2006

Things start to grow

Things are starting to show signs of life. Our strawberry plants, which looked dead when we put them in the soil, are putting out new leaves every week. The raspberry canes have produced some small buds, and the tomatoes we sowed a few days ago have produced their first seedling.

Behind Amy in this picture, you can see our cold frame which we got from Lidl for only £19.99. This was a tip off from another keen gardener that Amy got in contact with from the British Born Chinese website. She has been growing her own food for many years and kindly sent us many seeds and some great advice. Thanks Susan!

Monday, March 13, 2006

We take advantage of Lewisham Council

Lewisham Council is subisdising compost bins for residents, presumably as it helps them meet their recycling targets. As we don’t have anything to compost at the moment, Dan has filled it with horse manure.

Tomato seed

Tomatoes can’t be planted outside until mid-May as they find it too cold, but they take quite a while to fruit. This means they need to be started off indoors. We sowed some Gardener’s Delight, Sungold, Sub-Arctic and Brandywine tomatoes in a tray of small pots – £2.25 from Poundstretcher.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Someone Commits An Extremely Serious Offence

Somebody stole one of our bags of compost.

May bindweed infest their allotment. May eelworm consume their potatoes. May the carrot fly riddle their plot with maggots. May mice make great holes in their pumpkins. May caterpillars fill their cabbages, and may their tomatoes be blackend with blight.

I wonder if there is a chemical which, when mixed with compost, makes anything growing in it turn blue? I must find out.

Cold earth

Today we planted our first lot of potatoes. We are keeping them under clear plastic for now, as it is still extremely cold.

The Benefits of Chitting

Chitting, pronounced with a hard “ch” as in “chips”, is a posh word for letting your potatoes sprout a bit before planting them. You are supposed to put them in a light place, without direct sunlight, at a temerature of 10 degeees C.

We chitted in the living room. It seemed to work.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Planting Garlic

We have a very amusing book by Dr D. G. Hessayon called “The Vegetable & Herb Expert”, which is essential reading if you aspire to be old-fashioned. (“People who claim that they never need to spray [pesticides] are lying, lucky or living on poor vegetables.”)

The advice on garlic is that “If you are a beginner with garlic, you must use it very sparingly or you will be put off forever.” If you are feeling really daring, the author suggests you “try using crushed garlic in meat, etc. as the Continentals do.”

Toxic fumes

We dug up quite an enormous pile of roots, which are likely to grow rather than compost down, so we decided to burn them. Ash is, apparently, high in potassium, so we spread it on the raspberry and onion beds, which apparently like this.

After the bonfire, Amy had a headache and Dan started talking gibberish. We think we got carbon monoxide poisoning.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dug. Huzzah!

We’ve finished digging! Shame – it was quite fun.

Our patch of land no longer looks like wasteland. In fact, it looks rather convincingly like an allotment.

We’re going to carve it up into four-foot wide temporary raised beds, as the soil is still rather heavy and we think this will improve the drainage.