At the beginning of the week it was really warm and I decided to take a day off from the allotment.
Mr Thrift very kindly took me to Barnsdale Gardens in Exton, Oakham. This is where Geoff Hamilton filmed Gardeners World from 1983 until he sadly passed away in 1996.
It was Geoff Hamilton’s series called ‘The Ornamental Kitchen Garden’ that inspired me to have a go at growing vegetables, which has obviously grown into a passion of mine as I now have four allotment plots.
The gardens were beautiful and so peaceful.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the gardens that I remember Geoff Hamilton constructing on Gardeners World and it was great to come away with some new ideas. One such idea was to grow ‘Lady’s mantle’ (Alchemilla mollis) around the base of fruit trees, which will act as a weed suppressant and a mulch to retain moisture around the roots of young trees. You can see this in the photo below:
If you are ever passing, the gardens are really worth a visit.
I had a lovely visit from my nephew at the allotment this week. He is rather good at photography and he took a photo which I thought I would share with you. There are quite a few empty beds at the moment waiting for the more tender plants which will be planted at the end of this month, after any risk of frost has passed:
You can see in the photo above that the lavender hedge that lines one of my paths will soon flower and look beautiful.
This week I purchased a new gadget to try…. A ‘Bentley patio, paving and decking weed brush’ for £12.99
I get fed up of spending hours on my hands and knees each week weeding in between my paths. As you know I am an organic gardener and I won’t use weed killers (glyphosate) on my plot. Therefore I decided to treat myself:
I didn’t buy the cheapest weed brush I could find, as I wanted to make sure it was a good quality brush that didn’t break after a few uses.
This brush is like magic as the hard wire bristles simply ‘brush away’ the weeds in between your slabs, as you can see in the photographs below.
Obviously perennial weeds will grow again as the roots are deep below the slabs, but if you brush regularly then even the hardiest perrenial weeds will ‘give up’ growing after a while.
I found this brush particularly good at ‘brushing’ away horsetail (Equisetum arvense) that grows between the slabs outside my polytunnel.
An hours job per week has now turned into a five minute job and I think this brush is worth every penny.
I have noticed a few things at my plot this week:
The first thing is my oriental poppies have started to flower. My friend gave me a cutting a few years ago and it seemed to take a long time to become establshed, but last year I had a few flowers and this year it seems to be even better.
You can read about oriental poppies here on the Gardeners World website.
Another thing I noticed was a lovely Iris that has popped up in one of my flower beds. I can’t for the life of me remember planting it, but I shall leave it there as it is beautiful:
The perennial cornflowers (Centaurea montana) are now flowering in my flower patch, together with the aquiligias. I always think perennial cornflowers are like ‘marmite’….you either love them or hate them….I love them:
When I looked, I noticed my strawberries will soon be ready ro ripen:
And I also noticed that the fruit trees and bushes seem to be doing well.
The golden gages, pears and apples all developing nicely:
I have also checked the pheromone traps and I can see that the plum moths and codling moths are active, as some have already been ‘lured’ into the traps:
One sad thing I have noticed this week at my allotment is that I think a few of my onions are suffering from the ‘allium leaf miner’ again. The tell tale signs are white dots on the foliage and the foliage seems to twist.
I wrote about the allium leaf miner here if anyone is interested.
There is nothing I can do about it now but I think I will have to reassess how I grow my onions next year if there is alot of damage to my crop from this pest.
This week at my allotment I planted out my runner beans. I don’t usually plant tender plants out until the end of May, but they were getting a bit big (due to all the hot weather we have had) and I have sheets of glass ready to cover them if we have a late frost.
I also planted nasturtiums in between the runner bean plants as a sacrificial plants. Blackflies prefer the nasturtiums to the beans, so it keeps the beans clear of the flies. Also as a bonus, if there are no blackflies around, you can eat the peppery nasturtium leaves and flowers in salads.
I also prepared the area where I will be planting my tomatoes at the end of this month. At the end of March I spread manure over this bed and then covered it with weed suppressant as I hadn’t got time to fork it in. I have found if I don’t fork the manure into the soil then it just dried in clumps on the top of the soil.
By covering the manure I was hoping that the worms would do some of the job for me…and indeed they did:
….but there were still the odd bits that needed forking in, so I set to work turning the soil with my fork:
This is the area that had my wildflowers in for the last two years, so this is the third time I have dug it over and I was astonished to find this in my soil:
How on earth did I miss it before? You can see how big it was next to my fork.
Another one of those crazy allotment mysteries!
My chives have been looking beautiful this week and when I have stood and watched I can see lots of insects buzzing around them:
But unfortunately as beautiful as they are, they now aren’t providing me with any chives to pick for our salads. So at this time of year I chop some of the stems back and this allows the chives to regrow and provide me with another lot of fresh pickings in a few weeks time.
I also leave some of the chives in flower, for the beneficial insects to still visit.
I don’t know if you remember that back in March I started to re-vamp the area at the back of my allotment. This is the area that I moved my shed from last year. I planted a quince tree here and also dug a small area at the back where I transplanted some rosa rugosa from my garden at home (so I could use the rosehips when they are established) and I also transplanted some ‘vinca minor’ (periwinkle) from home to cover the bare soil around rosa rugosa.
I’m not sure at the moment whether I will woodchip this area or grass it…I will decide later on in the year when I have more time.
Until the plants become established, the ground around the vinca and rosa regosa is quite bare. So I decided to transplant some calendula, that self seeds freely around ‘Calendula alley’. You can see the established flowers in this old photograph below:
I also transplanted some calendula in the old tubs at the back of this area too
I think this area will be a lovely area to sit down and have a picnic, when it is finally finished next year.
When I started my blog nearly two years ago, I wrote a post every day to get my blog established. In January 2013 I decided to write just twice a week, however I am finding this incredibly difficult with other commitments that I have.
One of my new commitments is learning to play the piano and I really enjoy practising every day as I find it a good way to relax (especially after stressful days). I also enjoy writing my blog though and I don’t want to give this up. So after lots of soul searching, I have decided to write my blog just once a week now and publish it on a Friday only.
I think this is a good solution which will allow me time to still blog and do other things (and write about them for you).
I hope nobody minds this too much.
I will still answer all your comments, as this is my favourite part of blogging. If you haven’t left a comment before I would really love to hear from you.
One other thing I wanted to mention, is my followers on ‘Twitter’ are growing rapidly, which I am very pleased with. Therefore I have started to use Twitter more by posting little ‘chestnuts’ of information or ‘top tips’ on there every few days when I think of them.
So if you have a Twitter account you can follow me by clicking on the ‘follow’ button on the right hand side of this page or visit my twitter account ‘@Mrs_Thrift’
I was a bit nervous about using Twitter in the beginning as it sometimes gets bad press, but there really is nothing to it. You can ‘follow’ or ‘unfollow’ people whenever you like.
Anyway, thank you for reading my blog today.
Don’t forget I will be here every Friday from now on.