March 2002


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Saturday March 2nd

Shoved the cold frame on top of the wheelbarrow and wobbled down to the car. Managed to my amazement to get both of them in the back without an argument, added the spade and fork and some bin liners and headed for the allotment. Unloaded successfully and then installed the frame by the side of the old water box. Have sunk some of the base wood into the ground, so it should be easy to tip. And it occupies some ground that is too solid stone to use otherwise. Turned to maintenance. My first intention was to shift the poor shallots but they've already grown a cm or two of roots and I'd not remembered to bring the trowel in any case. Abandoned that idea at least until tomorrow. The raspberries have started growing too. Tidied some of the new boundary path, ie dug up the clod that was off to one side and a load of dandelions. Pulled up the last of last year's verina leeks. Planted red onion sets in the gaps in the onion bed, so they will be easy to differentiate from the Radar. I will use the rest of the sets to encircle the carrots as companion plantings.  Went and filled up the bin liners to a carryable amount with manure, then decided to do something since it was dry. So redug the whole of the main leek bed with proper manure trenching. That took rather longer than I'd expected to spend there, so was exhausted when I finished and could just about manage to wheel the bagged manure back to the car and repack. Got it all up to the house in two trips and put my feet up! Rained heavily after dark - so was very glad I'd spent the afternoon digging. Won't be fit tomorrow!

Sunday March 3rd

Planted the cabbages. There were only 44 seeds, so planted 20 in a half-tray at generous spacing.

Sunday March 10th

Have 18/20 cabbages and half a dozen sage. The sage have only just begun to poke through, so should get some more. Cabbages will need putting in the frame in a few days. Peeked in the cold frame and the caulis are happily growing real leaves while still being nice and compact. That is, the snowballs are. The ATYRs are still sulking a bit. I don't really have a problem with this - I have room for about 20 in total so will still have spares. Cabbages can go much much closer together so will plant more of those in a week or two. Decided to see if the bay leaf cutting had ever rooted (no) and found scale insect on it. Rubbed them off.

Wednesday March 13th

Put the cabbages into the cold frame. Chilly evening, so I hope they are not going to be too shocked at the temperature difference!

Sunday March 17th

Planted 12 modules of romaine lettuces

Thursday March 21st

Lettuces up already. All of them.

Sunday March 24th

Another really nice day - so made up a packed lunch and headed off to the allotment. Needless to say a lot of people were up there making the best of the first decent weekend we've had this season.  Spent five hours there all told, mostly on the erstwhile broccoli patch, which has now been cleared, weeded, dug over and manured. It's a lot wider than the other strips - probably because the grass path bends in the middle. More room for marrows I guess! Decided the new grass path between me and the other plot isn't going to work, as there are two different kinds of grass, one seeding all over and the other producing huge clumps. Dug half of it out and raked the early carrot and French bean beds over. Realised that I'd left the carrot seed behind, but that wasn't too much of a problem as I found I need to riddle out a lot of flints before I sow. Had a word with the chap at the bottom of the dip and he says sweetcorn need manure, so there's another patch I've got to do. Since it's next to the courgettes it's not too bad a proposition. Pulled four sticks of respectable rhubarb. Crawled home aching and with a bucket of manure for the back. 

Monday March 25th

A bit hazier today but quite hot. Went up to allotment after lunch, this time with the riddle and a spade. Started off with the carrot patch, riddling it fairly well and chucking a lot of flints away. Then sowed the remnants of the old packet of Early Nantes 2 seed and some of the new packet, broadcast rather than in rows, and raked them in lightly. Covered the whole lot with the fleece, pegging down one side and covering the other with earth so I can increase the amount of slack when the leaves grow. Then worked my way across, weeding and raking, so that by the time I decided to call it a day at 4.30pm I'd finished weeding the boundary path (including a load of couch grass) and removed yet more bucketloads of flints. Still have to riddle the maincrop carrot plot and re-dig/manure the sweetcorn and courgette area, but it's not a visible ‘to do' any more, and if all else fails I can just manure holes for the courgettes. Rained a bit :-(

Wednesday March 27th

Quite a frost last night, though the frame temp didn't drop below 37F. By 11am it was 65F so opened the lights. Went back to the allotment to dig over the last section  that needed manure - so much for my comment of a few days ago that I'd manure the holes for the plants. Nope. Done the lot, now, so the sweetcorn and courgettes had better like it!  Admittedly it was at the cost of my bucket, which I managed to put the fork through twice. The beetroot is going to get chicken manure and the brassicas growmore. Least the bucket was still capable of being used to carry the manure, so more went home as the temperature dropped rapidly.

Thursday March 28th

Another gorgeous day. Bit of a damp squib as far as the to-do list went at first, with the acquisition of a new bucket the only thing I managed. Back out to allotment to attempt to prune the corner gooseberry - gave up after a while as I was getting too scratched. But did get a wonderful surprise - one of the bits of gooseberry I'd pruned in the Autumn and stuffed in the old rusty dustbin to keep them out of the way had rooted in the soil at the bottom and was starting to shoot! Stuck it in the bucket of manure I took home.


Friday March 29th

And another flawless day. And 31oC in the frame before I opened it.  Potted up the surprise goosegog in a sand/compost mix and trimmed it to a foot or so in length so it shoots out sideways. Managed to get two more cuttings off the same stem!  Then borrowed P's old bike jacket and duly protected, and armed with the long handled loppers, went up to attack the gooseberries again. Much better this time - though they did sneak in a few scratches. Managed to get quite a lot of dead wood out, and also from the bramble. Pruned the eating apple to where I could reach the branches. Looks like a tip bearer, in which case oops, but at least it's not 3' taller than me now. Got talking to another allotment newbie (Sarah) who's a clinical bod for a drug company. Small world. Weather forecast now saying nice again tomorrow, then the rain comes back. Will be good as it will then water the seeds I've just put in!


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