Last of the broad beans

Two quick visits to the plot today. I took the daughter on the first one, and she was fantastic. Second one I got bitten to death by the midges…

Picked the last 250 grammes of broad beans (that weight is when they’re podded but not yet shelled). The daughter picked some blackcurrants and redcurrants and I’ve bought some strawberries, so it’s Summer pudding tomorrow. That’ll be after a main course of egg fried rice with spring onions, peas, broad beans, mushrooms and carrots. The onions, peas and beans are from the plot.

I also have a glut of turnips, but suspect they’d not work well in the stir fry :) They’ll go with a massive haggis that she who knits bought from costco.

Managed to blanch 175 grammes of the beans for freezing, but worried about the amount of energy that it’s taken to prepare them. Next year I’ll sow beans every two weeks for eating fresh and have a patch from which I can pick and freeze a significant quantity.

Recieved two courgette plants from a neighbour.

Sage and hyssop seem to have settled in OK: the sage is standing proud; the hyssop has started to flower.

Wildlife count: 1 teeny-tiny frog, 1 grasshopper, plenty of spiders, way too many midges.

Currently have 1 empty bed, 3 empty half-beds, and 2 empty 1/3 beds. I’ve also got spaces where I have to build 2 new beds.

Oh yeah … and Go Bradley!.

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Update

Another warning letter from the allotments officer, and this time it seems to have kick-started me into action. I’ve got two new beds dug, cut down most of the tall grass, and put lovely leaf mould on the new beds. Have sown turnip seed by the red shed, but amn’t holding my breath for them to grow — nothing else that’s grown from seed has worked this year.

  • Two French bean plants (out of 20 double-planted sites) are doing well. Who knows if they’ll bear any beans?
  • courgettes are basically slug food
  • cleaned up the path by the South side of the plot
  • Got a good idea for how to manage the plot.

Next up …

  • Go through Hessayon’s book noting which veggies I want to grow
  • Talk to LETS people about permaculture

Feeding guests from the allotment

Sat 14: a couple of hours, weeding and picking fruit. Inordinately happy to be picking fruit form the plot, although I’m learning how to do things for next year. Fed houseguests this weekend with a Scottish dessert consisting of raspberries and blackcurrants from the allotment, strawberries from Fife and ice cream from Orkney.

Tried to get rid of some slugs that were hanging round the courgettes. Still a bit squeamish about killing them, although I have a new-found respect as they’re tough to drown, with one particularly big one which kept climbing out of the plastic water container. I eventually chucked them in the river.

And there’s one French bean which is holding out. A small tendril is curling up the bamboo, so there may be a few beans this year.

2 hours this morning. Felt dejected at first because all the plants I’ve tried this year have got problems: beans all eaten, courgettes with mildew, spinach bolted, etc. Also the weeds and grasses are all grown up. But when I got stuck in to pulling up fireweed I perked up. Comfrey cut back and put on the compost heap.

Brought a small punnet of raspberries back. Will head out later today (after the Tour) and pick up rhubarb. Would have liked to make jam today, but I need to buy enough jars/waxed paper circles/etc.

Leafmould in the rain

It’s so wet … Was ordered down to the allotment on Sunday, but spent most of the time (1.5 hours) sheltering from the rain. A neighbour called me over for a cup of tea, which was very welcome, and I got to spend 15 minutes in her luxurious shed. It’s got a wee propane stove and a radio in it, carpet on the floor and the roof doesn’t leak.

Went to the communal leafmould bins. Saughton Mains allotment site has three big bunkers made from breeze blocks, perhaps 10m by 10m each, where the Allotments Officer arranges for council workers to drop plant remains. All the leaves from West Edinburgh parks are dumped here and turn into lovely leafmould. Now, not all of this is used so it collects at the back of the bunkers and various plants start to colonise it. And yesterday I noticed piles of grass cuttings in two of the bunkers and woodchippings in the third.

After all the rain, the leafmould and grass clippings have developed stagnant pools and the organic matter squelches ominously underfoot; it’s difficult to keep one’s feet. And since the leaves are collected from public parks, there’s all sorts of detritus: branches of various sizes, crisp wrappers and plastic drinks bottles, and even a discarded shoe. Reminds me of the trash compactor in Star Wars …

Monday: got another barrowful of leafmould. Three of them fills the area between the fence and rhubarb, so now I’ve got a 10′ x 3′ bed that I can plant next year. It’s very shaded (although I could change the fence form old pallets and boards to something that would let more light in, but that won’t change the fortifications net door). I could either put in something productive or use it as a living screen and tear down the crappy pallet fence.
Didn’t spend more than half an hour at the allotment as the rain was too bad.

Courgette flowers just starting to unfurl; blackcurrants still bitter

Work this week

Tuesday: met with the Allotments Officer. Nice to put a face to the name, nice to get some advice, and nice not to get chucked off the plot. His advice is to strim the lot, dig the plot over and then plant a green manure. I should still be able to plant some salad crops for harvest this year in the bits I’ve already dug over. He also reckons that one shouldbe on the plot for about 10 hours per week.

Poured my first comfrey tea around the plot. It stinks! A week ago, I noticed that the courgette leaves were looking pale yellow-green — something I believe is a sign of nitrogen deficiency. It’s a shame, since I’ve planted the courgettes on magic mounds which do contain a lot of B’s hedge clippings (nitrogenous waste), although it may not have broken down yet. BTW, the day after I planted the courgettes on top of the mounds, I read that they should be somewhere concave rather than convex, and there should be a surrounding rill to contain the water. Another lesson learned! Anyway … the comfrey tea went on the leaves; they were alredy looking proud (turgid).

Wednesday: went to the plot for an hour or so after work and team while the sun was still high over the prison walls. Put protection in for the beans, peas and brassicas; picked a few raspberries; blackcurrants still need a week or so. I think I need to make the front of the plot look tidy so I don’t lose the fruit to other plot holders…

Cut some grass by the blue shed in order to make a space As I clear the plot ready for strimming, I’ll need a place to put the planks, poles etc. that are littering the place.

Thinned out the peas when I put the protection in. It still feels wierd to pull up viable plants, but that’s small beer compared to the mouse that I killed at home. When I saw the mouse in close proximity to the daughter, I put the traps down with chocolate as bait. 5 minutes later: snap! Didn’t expect that to work so soon…

Mostly weeding and mulching

Been to the allotment twice today. Got there at noon and has a mooch around, planted a second row of spinach, attended to the French beans, and got a barrowful of leafmould, but it was too hot and I had forgotten to bring any water. So at 1pm I headed home, had some lunch and headed out to Redhall walled garden, met A+J at the Water of Leith visitor centre and then pottered around the allotment again, mainly to plant a tiny lavender that I bought from Redhall.
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Mulch around the courgettes …

… I forgot. On Saturday I planted two courgettes given to me by a distant neighbour. Made two German Mounds using uprooted weeds from the allotment and some hedge clippings from my (home) neighbour as the nutrient base.

When I was taking the planks down to the allotment yesterday, I used a large bit of cardboard to stop them sliding out of the trailer forwards. Cut a hole in it and used it for mulch. Have had to anchor the edges down, and used bamboo canes sawn into 6″ pieces. Will see whether it’s robust! Alternatively, I can chuck some topsoil over.