Wednesday 26 May 2010

What's growing down at the lottie?

It was unbelieveably hot last weekend. Still, the taties just HAD to go in, so Kevin and I slapped on sun factor 50 lotion and silly hats, and went down to the lottie. Mark (co-lottie partner) and Jenny (Mark's partner) were already there when we arrived getting their taties in. Nice to know I'm not the only late one.

I gave my silly hat to Jenny to wear for a while. Stylish huh.

We sweated away in the burning sun, but darn it, we got those taties in. Finally.

I got a bit of a shock really, because I've not been down to the lottie for a couple of weeks. Everything had grown. Just look at the garlic! Oh, and Kevin in his silly hat.

The red veg is a red Romano lettuce. It's a great colour, and stays crunchy even a day or two after you have picked it and made up a large bowl of salad. Bonus.

Because of the warm weather, the spinach is now bolting, so I need to pull it up and sow some more. Once it bolts it becomes bitter. It's like the plant is protecting itself and saying, hey, I want to set seed so to stop the bloody human from constantly picking my leaves I'm going to make myself less tempting. Well, that's fine spinach, it's lettuce eating time anyway. So there.

The bit of empty earth is where I'm going to sow some carrots and parsnips. I was going to sow them on Sunday, but the heat got just too much and we were wilting, and decided heading home for a cool drink was a better move. Before we left, we finished off giving some of the plants a drink too. As you can see, I'm quite the fashion statement at the lottie. Oh yeah.
Where to old clothes go when they are dying? Down the lottie.

Monday 24 May 2010

Damsons and broad beans

I'm very excited because my Damson, Shropshire Prune, not only flowered this year, but has it's first fruits now growing! I did see lots of bees around the blossoms in April but didn't really expect to get fruit as the tree is only 2-3 years old, and was just planted in this place in the cold of January this year.

Damson jam is my favourite, and it isn't always easy to buy, so I figured I'll grow my own damsons and then I'll always have my own jam. Well, the growing part has started.

I'm also experimenting with a kind of forest garden concept, also imspired by Alys Fowlers' Edible Garden, and am growing broad beans under the damson tree this year.

As the Damson is young it's root system isn't that deep or far. It is a fairly sunny and protected, so rather than just putting perennials underneath the tree, I thought whilst the tree is small, I'd try veg. These broad beans are Masterpiece Green Longpod, I'm trying them for the first time this year. They are growing really well so far, so both tree and beans are working ok to this point. Will be interesting to see how they continue to grow and fruit.

The other little 'experiment' I'm trying is NOT pinching out the tips of the broad beans. Every year I diligently pinch out the tips of the broad beans, as this is supposed to stop black fly. So all the garden books and experts say. Well it bloody doesn't! They still rampage all over my broad beans and I have to fight them with my deadly washing-up liquid squirter. Usually they get half and I get half. Ok, maybe the squirter isn't that deadly. To add insult to injruy, by pinching out the tips I loose potential beans too. So this year I'm not going to pinch out the tips and see what happens. I suspect I'll still need my not-so-deadly squirter...

Friday 21 May 2010

A sunny weekend

Bloody hell, we are going to have a sunny weekend! What's more, it's the first and only weekend in ages that Kevin and I are home and no committments, so we can get down to the Lottie. Lottie in the sun - how fabtabulous.

And finally can get the last of the taties in... *embarrassed*

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Cambridge botanic gardens

I haven't had much of a chance to blog recently. Been so busy with my two jobs and the permaculture course, that blogging goes down the list of priorities...

However, Kevin and I were in Cambridge on the weekend visiting Audrey (Kevin's Ma) and one of our excursions included a returning visit to the Cambridge Botanic Gardens, so I have so nice pictures to show you. We usually go at least a couple of times of year, I always find something to delight me. This time I found a Magnolia I JUST HAVE TO HAVE! What do you think?

Those who know my gardening tastes know that I'm addicted to purple-aubergine-pink plants. This even extends to vegetables, if it's got a purple variety, I'll grow it. This is a small-medium sized tree, so good for my size garden. I just need to work out where I'm going to put it...

They had a lovely display of plants for bees. This was of particularly interest as I'm currently developing a programme for a Bee & Honey day at the Barracks Lane Community Garden, whom I work for as a coordinator. Best job in the world, someone paying me to organise gardening events - how cool is that!

The Bee day is on 10th July, by the way, and there will be workshops on planting for bees, craft workshops for making bee finger puppets for kiddies etc, and a fundraiser in the evening with story-telling and band Telling the Bees, plug plug...

As always, I visited the greenhouses, making a bee-line (ha ha) for the Alpine house. I first discovered alpines at the Cam Bot Gardens and I'm constantly delighted by their exquisite displays, ie:
Scilla scilloides

Anemone pavoniana

Just so pretty.

Whilst I was scampering around oohhing and aahhhing over plants, Kevin and Audrey enjoyed the sun by the lake.
Um, come on guys, are you allergic to each other?
That's better!

On Sunday we also visited Great Staughton manor, the highlight for me being this amazing tree. I so want one... It's all auberginy-purple - my favourite!

Does anyone know what it is?

So that was my weekend in the sun with the plants. Oh, and with my sweetie and Ma. It's not all about plants. Well, not entirely.

Good times.