Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Seedling dreams

I did get carried away with myself last weekend, I can't move at home for pot plants. Every time I want to play piano I have to move off 3 trays of tomato seedlings, 2 trays of peppers and 2 of aubergines. The top of the piano gets nice sun in the mornings! I tried to kid myself that it was my playing making them grow ;-)
I have dreamed about the plot, what I will do this season. Somehow in real life it never looks as I imagine it will.
I imagine pumpkin vines weaving their way up the edges of the plot (last year one was growing on TOP of the raspberry canes, I didn't spot it straight away).
I imagine beautifully straight rows of spuds, earthed up with geometrical precision (mine look like they have been planted by a drunk on crack).
I imagine pristine cabbages, glinting with dewy freshness (last year, I had to scoop out snails with my fingers and crush them underfoot, then wash out their poo with the watering can. the cabbages were tasty though, what was left of them).
Next time I see my little seedlings, so innocent and full of hope in their tiny pots, I will try and persuade them that it will be OK, they can grow, they will grow! they will resist the slugs and bindweed, they will not rot or get blight or be massacred by freak summer storms (like last year's aubergines)!
Then I will go and pop a few Valium before I get me wellies on...

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Monday, March 29, 2010


Spring is indecisive

After a promising start last week, the weekend turned out to be cold and blustery. After downpours Friday and Saturday, it was OK-ish on Sunday so I trotted off to do some planting. Very sore legs today attest to me planting the rest of all the onion sets (I just saved a handful for planting next to the carrots) and the Ratte potatoes. The spud patch is a bit of a worry, as the end is drawing close at hand but i still have another bag of spuds to plant! I guess I can spare a little space here and there for another row of spuds, but it will be a close call. There is enough room next to the onions to put in some spring onions, which I am trying to get going from seed, and I guess a bit of lettuce or landcress.
As I was feeling industrious, I also did a bit of tidying up and especially weeded out the herb bed which really needed it. It already had dock and mugwort, and bloody parsley - honestly so many people say they can't get it to grow but let it self-seed and it's all over the shop! I cut the lemon balm right back this year as it just gets carried away, even though it smells nice and attracts insects (otherwise it would be right out). Now the herb bed has thyme in two places, lots of parsley, mint starting, tarragon and sage and the lemon verbena. Hmm I said I would put in a common verbena, I have forgotten that it seems.
The strawberries that were put in pots on the whole seem to be doing OK, they are starting to get new leaves, and the new bed has taken off too it seems.
The garlic continues to grow and the onions planted 2 weeks ago are sprouting, so good news on that front.
Still so much left to do!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Indoor sowing

And on the windowsill, more continues.
There are now several pepper and aubergine plants growing, and the leeks are doing well.
There was a minor disaster - my little girl knocked over the cabbage tray. I was beside myself but I managed to tangle out the seedlings and prick them out into a new tray where funnily enough they seem to be doing well! I must sow some more cauli though, only 3 survived that misadventure. The red cabbage and broccoli are doing quite well though.
I sowed the first lot of tomatoes - I will do some more, as I have plenty of seeds and I like to give them away to friends, also we will be having a swop at our lot soon so that could be good things to swop.
I sowed several of:
I still have plenty of Money Maker, Gardener's delight, Tigerella and Marmande seeds so I will sow some more of those, although I find they keep from year to year no problem.

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Finally some spring planting

On Saturday, I finally was able to do some serious work in the garden. It was long overdue! But the brown onions are in (and the ones I had planted two weeks earlier are starting to come up) as are the early potatoes, and I also redid the strawberry beds, making a square and a small bed with 20 new strawberry plants.
The old Mara des Bois went into pots sitting all round the allotment, so we will have plenty of fruit! Around the strawberry bed, there was some spare space, so I will sow some flowers in the coldframe that can go there later in the season and for now I sowed some onion sets, which are said to be good for strawberries, and some radishes, just to fill in the space, which got some manure while I was planting the strawbs.
I also sowed the first peas, and netted them, albeit not too well, so at least they can sprout without all being eaten. I dug in a lot of sand and sowed some first carrots (Nantaise). The tarp and cardboard has been moved to the bean bed, to stop too many weeds coming up.
To my delight, the rhubarb and artichoke are coming back, even after the bitterly cold winter we had. Daffodils are coming up in various places, a sure sign of spring.
I found my showerscreen! It had blown away in the storm, my neighbour found it. SO it went back on the makeshift cold frame, until I can get my new store-bought one assembled. The higgledy coldframe is now host to lettuce, leeks, spring onions, also carnations, pot marigolds, Tarragon.
Laid out like that it sounds a lot and took up most of my Saturday! But there is still so much left to do! Still the other potatoes (and the bed is filling rapidly!) and the red onions to plant, beetroot to sow, and a lot of manure still to distribute...

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Monday, March 08, 2010


Still too cold

Amazingly, we are into March and the weather is still too cold to do anything profitable down the allotment. It's still only about 5 or 6 degC. The weekend was sunny but the wind was freezing and gusty, it's impossible to work in those conditions, so I let it slide. I have 20 strawberry plants, a lavender bush, loads of spuds and onions waiting to go into ground, hopefully next weekend, it will be warmer and I will be able to get stuck in and get all those planted. As I plant the spuds deep, I never have any problems with frost. By the time the vegetation is well up, the weather is more clement.
I realised that I also have some broad bean seeds left. Now i said I would not grow broad beans again as they just encourage aphids but on the other hand I am loathe to throw out the seeds! So I guess I will chuck them in anyway, next to the peas, which also need sowing! This year I am going to net or polytunnel the peas to protect them, I have a sneaking feeling that birds love to eat the young sprouts.

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Friday, March 05, 2010



Yes I want to plant some new strawberry plants this year as the others are starting to get a little tired. I have some Mara des Bois already and some Cijosé which are a nice juicy variety. These I will take out, and as advised by some kind forum users, I will pot some of them up, in a rich mixture, so I will stil have some strawberries from them this year, since the others might not give loads.
SO I popped off to teh hypermarket where they have their gardening sale on, and I bought 2 lots of ten plants, a bargain at less than 5 euros each. I now have 10 Cijosé again, and 10 Ramunda plants.

These varieties are described as:
Cijosé : created in 1997 at the CIREF, conical, shiny fruit, medium size (7 to 10 gr.), juicy, tender, full flavoured.
Rabunda : created in Holland in 1969, large fruit (12 to 15 g.), robust plant, disease resistant, tender sweet flesh, heat-resistant and highly productive variety.
Who can ask for more?

However I don't know when they can be planted, we are currently in another cold spell with heavy frost so I think they may have to wait under plastic for another 10 days or so...

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010


30 years of gardening

That is what my allotment site will celebrate on may 29, 30 years of our gardeners' association. So I will no doubt be serving chips and coke on that day and trying to swop some of my plants for some one else's as we have a plant swop organised.
On Saturday when I went to the meeting for that, I had a peep at teh lot and behold, my little cold frame had been pilfered! The showerscreen that I had carefully hoarded for it had been pinched, leaving my seeds open to the elements. I was pretty pissed off. especially as I had to try and cover it all up with some plastic in the wind and drizzle. The plastic will probably have blown away next time I go down :(
Still, in better news, the windowsill is doing well, with the leeks, brassicas, aubergines and peppers all sprouting. Tomatoes this weekend!
UPDATE - I actually found the showerscreen, it had been blown away by the wind !! SO now it is better harnessed down.

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