Friday 24 April 2020

Lockdown Day 32 - Garden and Allotment

So, today was a mixture of sorting things out at home on the computer, and some outdoor work both in the garden and in the allotment.

In the garden we are going to try growing beans up the swing frame, this is something we do in the allotment anyway but now that the children are grown up we can use the one in the garden too. I have also been filling a hanging basket with aquilegia seedlings and sorting out pots ready for more flowers and vegetables in pots. I was thinking about growing a pumpkin up the swing frame but wonder whether the pumpkins will be too heavy and it will be better growing along the ground.

In the allotment, the only job for today was more watering as the ground is so dry, I can't remember the last time it rained here.

These are some of the blueberries, and they are in blossom. Even though they are at the allotment they are in pots of ericaceous compost as they need an acid soil and we only water them with rainwater from the water butt or they get rained on - maybe one day soon!

This is the grape vine we have. It does produce several bunches of grapes and I thin them out quite severely in order to ripen them. The problem is, despite netting, something eats quite a lot of them as soon as they are ripe.

I need to have a read up and see when some pruning needs to take place but it won't be until fruit appears at the earliest.
 All the potatoes are now coming up, and I don't think frost is likely - however that being said we have had a damaging frost in early May before now. I have planted Cara and Red Duke of York this year. I did often plant Desiree for many years but the past couple of years they have not worked out well for me, so none this year. I have been a little disappointed not to get Sarpo Mira again this year, two years ago I bought some and they were the best white potato crop I have had. I find that red potatoes do better here as they don't seem to get nibbled as much or have the slug/wireworm damage that later white ones get.

We are very lucky. We have the allotment, some yard space, a small garden, and live on the edge of some beautiful countryside, even though we live in a terraced house on the edge of a small town. I really am not sure how I would have coped with this lockdown living in a flat or inner city where the options for safe exercise and opportunity to grow food is limited and there would be far more people about. I can think of at least eight different walking routes within two or three miles of the town and there are numerous country lanes for cycling on without coming across many people too. The allotment is two minutes walk from the house and has low rental cost compared to many allotments elsewhere (though there is no allotment association, but there are rules set by the landowner). Whilst it would be a lot harder, I do think I could still find enough to do if I wasn't able to go out much or at all, I read up a lot on science and environmental topics, I knit sometimes, play clarinet and piano among other things. Inside we grow peppers, lettuce and sometimes tomatoes, and in the back yard we have strawberries, a minarette fig tree (only 3 or 4 figs each year so far but still....!) and a small lean-to greenhouse for growing tomatoes or cucumbers/gherkins and peppers. We also grow sweet peas and pansies in the yard and the garden - despite being quite small - has a large hawthorn tree at the end which has beautiful pink blossom in May, there's a buddleia, hollybush and fuchsia and a few flowers. We are trying to grow more flowers that are pollinator-friendly although we do get tawny mining bees in the bare patches in the lawn (which I have wildflower seeded now)  and plenty of hoverflies and bumblebees coming in. Our allotment is run organically as far as we are able - for the past four or five years now we have not had to resort to any chemical treatments - the last time was Diphane for controlling some black spot fungus that got out of control on the pear trees as nothing else seemed to work and I needed to save the trees. They recovered and have been fine since.

We work with nature, not against it, and are rewarded with lovely fruit and vegetables and the pleasure of seeing birds and insects, beetles and spiders all being part of the ecosystem in the garden and allotment.

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