Silent Sunday

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Digging Days

We are starting to feel a mild panic about the state of our allotment. We have not spent anything like enough time in it this year. The beds are slowly getting turned over and dug but really, this is work that should be done in winter.

A few weeks ago I managed to plant a few rows of potatoes and two beds full of onions.

Son Number One and the Husband worked on the strawberry patch.

The first batch of seeds finally went in today: beetroot, chard, spinach, rocket and mixed lettuce. They should provide us with a crop, it will just be a bit later than it could have been.

Every year I promise myself that I will be planting rows of early peas in February but it never happens. Every year I persuade myself that I am too busy looking after the house and the children. Am I just looking for an excuse? I beat myself up with thoughts that if we were starving, I would make sure I was out there digging, hoeing and planting. Is that a bit mad?

I think the truth lies somewhere between laziness and lack of time. I must confess that I rarely even think about working in the garden during the winter months. As soon as spring starts to make an appearance, I really should make more of an effort. The trouble is, gardening and supervising a toddler don’t really mix. You might get away with it in a fairly tidy, safe back garden but not in our allotment where there are masses of uneven surfaces, sharp corners and nettles-a-plenty. I can’t turn my back on him for a moment. Not only are there dangers, but he is still of the opinion that he needs to test most things by putting them in his mouth. Lovely.

It’s not just toddlers you can’t turn your back on. Forget about a garden during April and this is what you will find when you go back.

So today, with Babykins safely playing at Grandmas house (and the other two next door with friends), the Husband and I got going with the digging and weeding. We had a bit of help from Son Number One later in the afternoon. He is starting to get useful. He managed to ride his scooter safely from his Grandmas house to the allotment, bringing our packed lunch with him. He enjoyed doing some ‘destructive gardening’. The photo below shows his efforts digging out the purple sprouting broccoli that is starting to go to seed.

There is always some interesting bug life to be found. I have no idea what this is. Son Number One pronounced it to be “Some sort of mini beast”. It was rather shiny and beautiful so I will be sad if I find out that it contains a garden pest.

There were plenty of ladybirds around today. Though I like seeing them I’m never really sure if this is a good thing. After all, if there are plenty of ladybirds surely that means there are plenty of pests around for them to eat. Still, I can’t help but think they are a cheery sight.

Another cheery sight was to be seen amongst our soft fruit. With very little effort from us, the gooseberries and redcurrants are starting to swell. You may also have noticed the strawberry flower above (with the ladybird). How exciting to think that in a couple of months they will be juicy, red fruits, ready to turn into quick desserts, ice cream and jam.

Now that I have bought myself the appropriate bowl, I might even get around to a summer pudding this year.

Remember the rhubarb patch I posted a picture of back in February. Back then it was mainly full of buds and promise. Now it is in all it’s leafy glory and we have enjoyed roasted rhubarb for our pudding for the last two nights. The Husband is even having it on his morning muesli.

We are lucky to have a babysitter on standby most of the time. Even more lucky that said babysitter can (mostly) cope with three children at once. I think it helps that the babysitter also enjoys the fruits of our labours in the allotment. She has been feasting on the purple sprouting broccoli and rhubarb over the last few weeks too.

Hopefully after our efforts today (and possibly tomorrow) there will be a few more things to tuck into when the summer arrives.


 

The Promise of Spring

We called into our allotment yesterday. It has been somewhat neglected in the last few months. This is not good. In the next few weeks we should start planting the seeds for the new season. There is a LOT of work to do before we can begin.

At least the children showed plenty of enthusiasm for digging their patch over.

There was all the usual excitement over the first worm to be dug up (poor worm).

Wallace was let out of the shed to do his duty as the door stop. If only he could actually provide tea.

We have had quite a good sprout harvest. Sadly, we should probably have picked a lot more of them by now.

I planted a whole row of cabbage seeds way back last spring. I didn’t do a very good job of marking where they were though. When they started to germinate, I couldn’t work out what was cabbage and what was weed. I didn’t have this problem with any of my other seeds so I assumed none  had grown. So I got a surprise when I spotted this:

Just goes to show how long it has been since I was gardening.

Our purple kale has been standing for well over a year. It looked like it had some new shoots on it so we nibbled a few raw leaves. It’s surprisingly tasty that way. The biggest surprise of all is that Son Number One declared both the raw and cooked versions to be ‘yummy’. I don’t think this photo  really does justice to the colour.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find some shoots on the purple sprouting broccoli. There will be MUCH more of this in the next few weeks. These seeds really took off. I foolishly planted three whole rows last summer. The Husband got the job of separating them out from the original clumps of seedlings. He took great delight in telling me I had overdone it by about 40 too many plants. It will make a change from a courgette glut.

Guess what was on the menu for our supper last night. It was a veritable feast of brassicas (and toad in the hole).

There are plenty of reminders around that we are only just leaving winter behind……

For example, this is what remains of last summer’s runner beans.

But spring is certainly on the way.

I can’t wait to eat our first rhubarb of the season. Maybe next year we should try to ‘force’ some, buying forced rhubarb is very expensive. We’ve got the right variety ‘Timperly Early‘. Again, I don’t think this photo does justice to the beautiful colour and texture of the unfurling leaves. There is so much spring promise in them.