Monday 27 June 2011

allotment report!

The allotment is getting productive - probably why I haven't had much time to blog about it!

Blackcurrants - more than we and our freezer can cope with!
Strawberries - likewise!
Raspberries - getting that way!

First courgettes appearing - I am sure we have a book somewhere entitled "what can we do with all those courgettes?!"

Peas flowering
First lot of potatoes ready for picking - will do this when we have got through the sack that we bought for a fiver up on the Yorkshire Wolds

Lettuce - happy and slug free for a change
Carrots - several lots now planted
Onions - eating the overwintered ones, summer ones growing happily

Blueberry bush is not happy - my mum said it is a deficiency caused by the fact we have a clay alcali soil and not a acid soil.

Pears - still got some black spot - treating with Diphane 945 - not organic I know but the only thing available that can cure it apparantly.

31.8 deg C today!

Friday 24 June 2011

A Greek tragedy....

Every day we keep getting bombarded with news about Greek debt and bailouts and protests in Athens.

Point 1: The Greeks can't seem to accept that they have had it far too good over the past few years - there's government subsidy for pharmacists - so there's more phamacists than they know what to do with, Government workers have been able to retire at about 50 ish, I believe that a whole group of ex government workers were still getting paid despite not working for the government anymore...

Point 2 - Can't they just leave the Euro and be done with it? Didn't Nigel Lawson leave the Exchange Rate Mechanism when the markets bet against the pound and we had interest rates up to 15% - completely unsustainable and by leaving and letting the pound find its own level rather than being artificially pegged it got us out of the hole...

Point 3 - It seems very strange to me that share in a printing company in Leeds, mining companies on the other side of the world with non-european exports and customers get shorted on the back of worries about Greek debt - ok banks are affected, various other finance institutions and services perhaps, but it just seems that - like with the Japan earthquake - traders sell everything that isn't nailed to the floor irrespective of whether it has any exposure and not take account of companies' underlying value...

Point 4 - Why is Greece going bust the end of the financial world and we apparantly are all doomed? Oil will still get pumped out of the ground, gold will still be shiny, crops will still be grown - like I said let Greece leave, let them have Drachmas again at a sensible level and let them get on with it...

Friday 17 June 2011


Not the sort of things you might want to think about early on in your career, in fact with the pension age rising (66 at least now isn't it?) it seems further off than ever!
However, I work in the public sector and I am probably one of the few people who actually get it.... there is not enough money in the system and some more has to be found from somewhere otherwise it will run out!!!

So, no problem with the age rise to 66 for pensionable age - I was expecting to have to work till then anyway so what is the problem!

Increase in contributions - well that is more problematic, especially as this cuts into my take home pay in a big way, and you don't get anything extra for that money. But if you want that pension pot full by the time you reach 66 or whenever then unfortunately it's inevitable.... Like I said if the well's going to run dry at some point in the future, then you need get money to drill a new hole....

Sunday 12 June 2011

water - or lack of it...

A drought has been declared in parts of England. Well they didn;t really need to tell us, just one look at the soil would tell you that there hasn't been enough rain recently. (Ironically I am writing this when some is forecast!)
I found it quite amusing the other day when the radio presenter on local radio said that Yorkshire was escaping the drought - well maybe the bit where she was had been getting rain, but as you go east it's certainly not! Rain appears to stop at the A1! Although the "occasional light showers" that they forecast the last week seem determined to drench my wife!

Anyway, back to the plot - I am reading, or rather re-reading for the third or fourth time "Dune" by Frank Herbert. Now I know science fiction isn't everyone's cup of tea (or other beverage if, like me, you can't stand the stuff! This from a Yorkshireman - heresy!)
However, for those unfamiliar with the book, most of the action is set on Arrakis, a desert planet where giant sandworm and a desert people called the Fremen live.
The Fremen wear stillsuits - a body covering designed to reclaim water that the body loses from sweat etc, and purifies this into a potable liquid. Water is also used as a form of currency, as a dowry, and the winner of a combat challenge has the right to the water from a vanquished opponent. The Fremen have also learnt how to reclaim water from the atmosphere, from dew, the wind etc via various technological means.

An interesting one for me was their way of irrigating crops or plants, by using a dew collector - black plastic used to funnel moisture from dew overnight to irrigate plants during the desert day. This is a variation on a survival trick in the deserts here, make a hole in the ground or sand with some form of container in it, place a large piece of black polythene over the top - the polythene has a small hole in the middle which is positioned over the container. A funnel is made by pressing the bit of polythene with the hole down in the middle, perhaps weighting it down with a stone - the idea is to ensure that moisture collected during the night from dew is funneled down into the cup.

Water conservation is important, and I shall share a few other ideas in a later blog, however in the allotment using various containers to collect the rain, we have a sunken bath as well as various large plastic barrels. We also use a section of guttering to funnel water down into the water butt.

Anyway, the Dune series is well worth a read!

Dune Novels official site

Friday 10 June 2011

strawberries and cream - well sort of....

Fresh strawberries from the allotment all this week, not quite strawberries and cream, actually with evaporated milk!

Plenty of blackcurrants - which get frozen for jam making later on in the summer.

Raspberries probably at least another couple of weeks, it's been so dry (the rain stops when it reaches the A1....) so I have been hosing them quite a bit.

There will, hopefully be a bumper crop of apples later in the year from our 3 minarette trees - we are allowed to put minarette fruit trees on the allotment on condition they are removed if we gave up the plot - not that this is going to be likely until we are old and decrepit!

Sunday 5 June 2011

Our Allotment Bible!

Although we have our own copy now, we originally borrowed this book off my mum.
"Your Kitchen Garden" by George Seddon and Helena Radecka.
The most handy bit is right in the middle which has a two page spread of what to plant and when. The first few pages go into a bit of history of how cultivation of food has progressed since earliest times, then some nice pictures and sections on crop rotation, soil, greenhouses, tools and sowing seeds.
Each type of vegetable and fruit is then dealt with, and various varieties thereof, with a bit of history thrown in as well. Storage and diseases are covered really thoroughly.

The second half of the book is a cookery book with lots of ways to use and cook your crops. Some more ideas on how to use up your courgettes! There is, for me, one of the most handy sections that is of preserving vegetables and fruit, and pickling etc.

There is a little piece which I think does date the book at bit and show how attitudes have changed since the 70's when the book way written! In the history section it talks about an allotment survey - age of allotment owners, sex, occupation etc - "They found that only 3.2% of allotment holders were women and 1.8% housewives - and here is the interesting bit - it was assumed that the women were at home looking after the flowers there" (!!!).
On the plot where our allotment is there are quite a few couples, and everyone gets involved - yes there are still a few "traditional" shed types but I think it's very much a shared activity nowadays for a lot of people.

Anyway, the book is still available, link is below

In the UK

In the US

Thursday 2 June 2011

allotment report

Runner beans and french beans - in and sitting under an old swing frame we acquired from a friend.

Blackcurrants - trying to pick themselves, must go with a basket tomorrow!

Strawberries - some nearly ready

Pears - outbreak of blackspot fungus - have had to resort to Diphane945 - not organic I know but don't want the fungus to spread.

Sweetcorn - some in and happy, some still to put out

Onions - picked a few overwintered ones last week, picked the garlic as well.

Peas - put plenty in, popping up well.

Last weekend - washout and cold - today nearly 25 deg C and sunny. I wish the weather would make up it's mind!