Monday, 19 September 2011

Reptiles and more...

Last week my wife and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and went to the New Forest Reptile Centre . We arrived just after it opened, with the sun just warming things up, so it wasn’t long before we saw lizards moving about, and later a grass snake, adder, slow worms and a green frog, sitting on a lily pad. It’s an excellent place with informative, friendly staff who are pleased to chat. It’s free, apart from a parking charge, with a woodland trail and picnic tables.

That was a break from the allotment, which has continued to flourish. We’ve been eating pak choi, raab, lettuce, tomatoes, turnip tops; and now we’re beginning to get full-size turnips. Eating what you’ve grown yourself is such a pleasure, and we’ve found it really makes you plan your meals more carefully.

The chillier morning and evenings reminded me that it’s time to prepare some cover for the more tender crops on the allotment, so I’ve been using some old plastic piping and fleece to make “tents” to go over some of the raised beds, and to raise up some of the netting, to try to stop the pigeons eating the brassicas. Other plot-holders have been doing the same, with various ingenious ideas. Some have put jam jars on posts, and spread fleece over that; others are using improvised mini polytunnels. I’ve got to tweak my covers a bit – the recent heavy showers have caused the fleece to droop between the plastic pipe.

As a bit of fun I painted the planned guardsman on our “sentry box” shed. He now looks after over our plot when we’re not there.

I’ve had to take a bit of time out to tidy up my garden at home – although not too much. As I blogged before, autumn tidying shouldn’t be too thorough.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Fruit Trees Arrive

Well – a lot seems to have happened since my last post. It’s amazing how quickly things have grown – we’ve already eaten thinning from the salad crops, and enjoyed a stir-fry using some of the young pak choi; the tomatoes have been ripening too. I’ve also cut some turnip tops and black kale to use as greens.

I built the first fruit frame, ready for the plants I’d ordered. I dug out deep post-holes (I found some clay about a spade-and-a-half’s depth – I’m a lot luckier than some of the plots, which have clay near the surface), and put in sturdy posts, bracing them with angled timber. I then stretched 3 wires, 60cm apart, between the posts using straining eyebolts, and tied canes to the wires, 75cm apart, at an angle of about 60 degrees. Three types of apple arrived, and these were planted at an angle, so that the stems could be tied to a single cane. These are termed “oblique cordons.” Cordons are simply a single stem which bear fruit on short side shoots.

I’m going to have another frame the other side of the plot, and will eventually have pears and plums too. I also prepared another frame for later planting of cane fruit (raspberries and vertical cordon gooseberries) and in the centre of this planted a goji berry – supposedly a “super fruit”. It’ll be interesting to see how it does, anyway. Along with the trees I previously planted in my front garden, we should be well-supplied with fruit.

A deer (seen in the field one morning) had been in one of my permanent beds, where I’ve planted some globe artichokes and broad beans, so I stretched wires across to deter it. We’ve also collected some more CDs and stretched them across in front of that bed, and taken some clanky wind chimes there, which may frighten it off. The Parish Council are reportedly going to add another deer fence on another side of the field.