Plot Notes

A personal journal, open for the world to read, recording the progress of a novice allotmenteer on his allotment.

Weed it and reap.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Lucky Tubers

I planted my main-crop potatoes today. I have gone for Maris Piper. My first earlies, Arran Pilot, were planted about two or three weeks ago. These are perhaps dull choices of potato varieties, given that they are widely available in the shops, but after the disappointing potato harvest last year I am playing it safe this time around and hoping for a reliable crop of decent sized spuds and, of course, I now know to ignore the advice of Alan Titchmarsh and I will make sure that all my potatoes get plenty of water.

When digging a trench for the Maris Pipers I unearthed a rusty old horseshoe. I am not superstitious but it has been suggested that this must be a sign of good luck for me and the plot. Now, if the rest of the horse is rotting away under my potato bed that really would have been a stroke of luck and I could expect to produce some truly spectacular potatoes, but I cannot see that unearthing a single horseshoe, which is no longer attached to a horse, will make any difference at all. I'm off to check my lottery ticket now, just in case.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ugly Bug

I found this ugly looking thing on the plot today when I was weeding the beetroot bed. I have no idea what it is. It looked like a small prawn but I certainly didn't fancy having it in a sandwich with a blob of mayo.
I find all kinds of insects, caterpillars, grubs and maggoty type things on the plot. I never know which are good ones and which are not. At the moment I give all unidentified bugs the benefit of any doubt and I tend to just leave them alone and let them scurry away to do whatever they do. Today I found some big black beetles and some others which shimmered blue and gold like a two-tone suit from the late seventies.

When I uncovered my compost box the other day a cloud of whitefly billowed out. I was surprised that the winter hadn't killed them all off. Reasoning that ladybirds enjoy a hearty whitefly feast and that ladybirds are from the beetle family I decided to drop the assorted beetles, which I found today, into the compost box to see if they will finish off what the Winter has failed to do.

For all I know I could just be fattening up some lethal allotment pests which, once full of whitefly, will produce a plague of root munching, crop killing, offspring. This makes me wonder if it would be better for the plot if I were to adopt a policy of crushing all the bugs I find; squish first and ask questions later. I am reluctant to do this. I really ought to read up on some basic entomology so that I can have a better chance of distiguishing friend from foe.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Hi-ho, hi-ho.

I brought this little bundle home from the plot yesterday. I can't wait to see what Mrs. Plotnotes cooks-up with it. I'm hoping for something special after my tea tonight at round about crumble o'clock.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Bud Burst!

A bit of sunshine over the last two or three days and the slightly warmer temperatures have worked wonders for the grapevines; the sap is rising and buds are bursting out all over the place now. When I get a moment I'll celebrate with a bottle of home-made wine.

I still don't expect to get much of a crop of grapes this year but next year, year three, with a bit of luck and with nine three year old vines on the plot and a spare vine at home, I should be able to start wine-making on an industrial scale. I can't wait.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A gift, a flower and a pea-leaf tea-leaf.

I sowed a row of peas two or three weeks ago. I made them pigeon-proof by first covering the seeds with a layer of fleece and then putting a row of prickly pea-sticks on each side of the row. Next, I hung some shiny dangly metal things from a string suspended above the sticks.

Today I lifted the fleece to see whether or not any shoots had emerged. I'm pleased to say that I have had a pretty good germination rate and I now have a row of pea shoots which looks very promising. I took a close-up photo of one of them. I didn't notice at the time but now that I've downloaded the photo I can see that a cheeky uninvited visitor, probably a mouse, has breached my anti-pigeon defences and has taken a bite out of the leaf. So now it looks like the pigeons are not the only pests to contend with.

Other news from the plot today is that one of the rhubarb plants has produced a flower. Guided by the consensus of opinion from an array of gardening books I have removed the flower so that, in theory, growth will now be concentrated on the stalks and not on the flower. The smell from the fresh cut rhubarb, as I removed the flower, was deliciously mouth-watering. It was so good that I could not resist taking a bite out of the flower stalk. To say it was bitter is something of an understatement. It caused a reflex reaction in my mouth which stretched and tightened my lips and forced my tongue to curl and arch and stick out while I ran to the nearest tap for a mouthful of water to sloosh away the bitterness.

Also today I happened to be in the right place at the right time when a local farmer called at the allotment site. He farms a few thousand acres of organic vegetables and he had a very large seed tray containing a couple of hundred broccoli plugs which were surplus to his requirements and free to a good home. I helped myself to two dozen of the little plants and I am now looking forward to harvesting supermarket grade organic broccoli in the coming months. This was quite fortuitous because the calabrese seeds which I have sown at home have failed to germinate.