I don’t really know where to start today. After I had a rest last weekend (as I felt under the weather) I have been working in ‘overdrive’ mode ever since and I have achieved such a lot.
The rest obviously did me some good.
At home I made some more dishwasher liquid, using the soap nuts that I bought a few years ago. I use the liquid for two washes and then I use a ‘value’ dishwasher tablet for one wash and this seems to stop the grease from building up inside the dishwasher.
You can read about how I make the liquid here.
I also made some more ‘multi-purpose vinegar spray’. I use this to clean down my work surfaces in my kitchen, our table mats, my cooker hob, etc. It is really cheap to make and it lasts ages, but more importantly I know what goes into it.
All I use is distilled white vinegar (which most supermarkets sell for approx. 45p a bottle), and a few drops of ‘Tea Tree Oil’ (which I buy from Wilkinsons).
Distilled white vinegar is great as it’s cheap to buy and cuts through grease and dirt and is antibacterial too, so it kills most germs. It does smell when you first spray it, but the smell doesn’t linger and no one will know you have used it.
White vinegar is milder than malt vinegar and dries odourless.
I mix the vinegar with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil which has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties too.
This makes a fantastic natural multi-purpose cleaner and it lasts for ages:
I also decided it was time to add a couple more shelves in my pantry, in the hope that I can store more food in there (instead of our bedroom, which isn’t very romantic).
I bought a couple of cheap shelves from B & Q, put them up in a couple of hours and then painted them with some leftover white paint that we had in our shed.
I am very pleased with them and I will fill them when I do my next ‘big’ shop:
At the allotment the poached egg plants (Limnanthes) are looking beautiful lining my centre path. They are providing a much needed early source of pollen for the bees and it is wonderful watching them. There are also loads of ladybirds around the flowers, which is brilliant as they are such a beneficial insect to have around the plot, eating any aphids that come my way.
I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but at the beginning of the year I contacted Leicester City Council and asked them if I would be allowed to keep bees at my allotment. As I have four plots, I have ample room and I had spoken to my allotment neighbour who thought it was a brilliant idea and he was quite happy for me to do this.
I wanted to make sure it was ok with the council (who I rent the plot from) before I spent money on a bee keeping course and equipment, as my garden at home is not big enough.
Unfortunately, Leicester City Council said I can’t keep bees at my allotment plot because bees are classed as ‘lifestock’ and the rules say that lifestock cannot be kept on their allotment plots, but more importantly to them – keeping bees would cause ‘health and safety’ problems.
I was dissapointed, but I felt there was nothing more I could do.
But to my surprise this week, I have found that some bees have now set up home in one of my leaf mould compost bins….I find this really amusing and I wonder what Leicester City Council would say to that?…..surely this causes a health and safety problem?
It’s nice to see that nature doesn’t bother with health and safety regulations….if it did then mankind would be in a mess!
This week at my allotment I have been ‘earthing up’ my potatoes. It is a job I hate as I find it really hard work….it’s the only time I wish I had the strength of a man!
‘Earthing up’ the potatoes helps to protect them from any late frosts and it also increases the length of underground stems that will bear potatoes.
I have also been planting things at my allotment this week.
I planted red and white cabbages first:
I make my own cabbage collars to avoid the cabbage root fly from laying eggs at the base of my plants. The Larvae are white, headless and legless maggots and they feed on the roots of brassicas. This will cause your brassicas to either grow weakly or just wilt and die.
The following year, cabbage root fly will emerge from the pupae which overwintered in the soil. This is a good reason to rotate your crops each year.
Cabbage collars cost between £3 or £4 to buy a pack of 30. To save money I make my own by cutting out a square of thick cardboard and then cutting a cross in the middle where the stem will go. As the stem grows it can expand because of the cross in the middle.
I place each collar around the stem and it will stop the cabbage root fly from laying it’s eggs and eventually it will just decompose into the soil.
At the allotment this week I also planted the last of my peas and mange tout that I sowed into guttering on the 21st April.
The birds love the tops of pea shoots at my allotment, so I make sure that they can’t get to them.
I also planted out some more spring onions and some beetroot that I started in newspaper pots…
…And a pumpkin plant that was getting a bit too big for it’s newspaper pot. It is a bit early for planting out tender plants in this area, as it’s possible to get frosts here until the end of May. However, I have planted it in my old compost area and surrounded it with glass for protection, so hopefully it will be ok:
Another job I did was put a new sticky paper and ‘lure’ into my pheromone traps, in the hope that it will attract the male codling moths and plum moths.
You can read about the codling moth here.
I also started planting in my polytunnel. I raked in some blood, fish and bone over the new compost I added a week or so ago and as the ground was so dry I dug holes for the plants and filled them with water and let it drain away before planting into them.
I planted four melons which are a variety called ‘Outdoor Wonder’. I planted them last year in my polytunnel and they were a great success, so I thought I would have another go this year.
‘Outdoor Wonder’ can actually be grown outdoors but I thought I would have better results growing them in my polytunnel.
Below is a photograph of one of the melons I harvested last year and they tasted lovely:
I also planted my gherkins, peppers and basil…
…and some more lettuces:
Every year I like to try something different, e.g. last year I grew the melon I wrote about above and a couple of years ago I tried growing shark fin melons:
….And this year I have decided to have a go at cucamelons.
Apparently, they look like grape sized watermelons that taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime and they are supposed to be really easy to grow….I will let you know.
You can read about cucamelons here.
I sowed the seeds on the 10th April and I planted two of them this week in my polytunnel:
I will let you know how they do in my polytunnel and if the ‘Thrift’ household likes the taste of them.
The polytunnel is fully planted for the moment, but I’m sure I’ll squeeze some more plants in somewhere as time goes by.
I have been picking a few leaves from the salads in the above photograph and some radishes from my polytunnel and this week I picked our first spring cabbage. I know it’s silly, but I still feel excited when I pick the first of each vegetable when it’s ready to eat.
To finish off with, I noticed a couple of things at my allotment this week:
First my watercress that I sowed a couple of weeks ago has appeared. You can read how I grow watercress in a pot here if you are interested.
And secondly I have flowers on three out of four of the clematis I planted to climb up the old swings that are no longer in use. They will be better in a couple of years when the plants are more established, but for now I am happy with a few flowers:
Thank you for reading my blog today.
I will be back on Monday at my usual time.