A gardener’s work is never done…

There are always a few jobs that need doing on the allotment but even more jobs occur to you when you start to look around. We often go to the veg plot to do a few quick jobs but end up staying there all day because the weather’s nice and, well, it’s a shame not to when the tools are out and you’ve got your wellies on.

 

There’s nothing quite so appealing as a freshly dug-over bed…just waiting to be filled with whatever has a chance of growing at this time of the year. It’s so irresistible that we found ourselves just having to fill up the empty space left by the potatoes with a few young leek plants that will be fine over the winter and be ready around April/May.

 

They’re very hardy and very easy to plant. Even Joe can do it. It doesn’t seem like 2 minutes since the last time he planted leeks here, with Angela

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2016

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This time he was the expert and showed novice Becky how to make a hole, Becky used my trowel handle,

20170729_171224 then drop in the leek and ‘puddle’ them in with water. The deeper the hole, the longer the white stem will be.

They’ve filled half of the long bed ( and left tiny little footprints all over) but we still have more space that is too tempting to leave.

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Between now and next week we’ll have a good think about what to do with it.

We’ve now filled up the space where the broad beans were too. The kids helped me plant cabbages last week and today they planted some baby broccoli/calabrese plants. They need to be netted up because there are still lots of Cabbage White butterflies about. The farmers use chemicals and powders to stop diseases and pests but we just cover them with nets and hope for the best.

20170729_165744Becky tricked Joe into going under the netting to look for butterflies and then promptly trapped him under there

20170729_165524and wouldn’t let him out until he promised to show her around the plot. Joe wasn’t too worried….. he thought he’d pretend to be a ‘cabbage zombie’

 

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Joe the Cabbage Zombie

..and Caleb would laugh at the pictures when he got home 🙂

 

Becky had a quick tour and saw the kale,

the tomatoes,

the sweetcorn the new little pumpkin, the aubergines, melons and beans and even found herself introduced to the caterpillars on the ragwort.

The tomatoes are beginning to ripen and one aubergine is big enough to pick now. That’s our first ever aubergine and we’re very proud.

The kids hung up their watering cans…

20170729_180821then helped me pick a lettuce, an aubergine, some beans and a few chillies.

We haven’t decided yet how to store the chillies. Pickle or freeze ?  We can’t eat them all but they need picking so the plant will produce more. We were very chuffed this week to see how much bigger and better our chillies are than Monty’s. Can’t say that often !

We still have lots of room to fill up so if you have any ideas as to what we can plant now, we’d love to hear your suggestions. There’s a limit to how many cabbages and leeks we can eat/freeze. Maybe swede ?

Be careful what you wish for

Joe and Kiltie survived their night under canvas on the allotment and kept guard over the tender kale and the tasty beans. I  never doubted them. I knew they’d be sensible. I found them sunbathing this morning under the apple tree. They’d both been bitten by tiny mosquitoes overnight so they were glad they’d packed the Sudocrem. More of that later.

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They showed me how they’d  put up a wire cage around the beans and the kale so now they’ll be safe from nibbling bunnies.

This should do the trick.

They wanted to pick some of the haricot and borlotti beans but we’ve already picked more than we can eat or give away and the freezer’s full so they’ll have to grow a bit more and maybe we’ll dry them this year..

Joe got very excited when he found a melon bigger than his head  🙂

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I didn’t see this yesterday !!

I know about these. I’ll leave them alone..

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Hey Mum ! This is like the poster for the film you said we can’t watch until we’re older…..’Dr. Strangepants’, isn’t it ?

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But  it’s not all messing about today. We had a few jobs to do. We dug up a sack of potatoes,

pulled up the last of the broad beans and weeded the bed ready for some winter cabbage. Kiltie wanted to plant the cabbages and tried to wield my trowel but it was a bit big for her.

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The small-sized ones are better for the kids and Joe carried one over his shoulder singing, ‘Hi ho! hi ho! It’s off to work we go..’

..and very soon they were all planted and watered and protected under netting.

Then the kids wanted to play a bit. Joe’s a bit of a photographer and he’s usually got his camera with him. Today he wanted a really close-up shot of the bees on the Marjoram. They roll in the flowers and cover themselves with pollen. It’s been flowering for months and they love it. He got himself into a good position and just planned to wait for a bee to come to him. He just had to be patient, and maybe make a wish.

Got it !!

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Kiltie found she was very close to a bee but she didn’t have a camera so she just buzzed to let it know she was friendly 🙂

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They both managed to see bees very close up, possibly a bit too close up. The bees weren’t sure what to make of them and decided to sting first and ask questions later. Luckily for the bees and the kids, their stings can’t really hurt vinyl kids so none of them was badly hurt.

The kids had superficial stings and found another use for the Sudocrem, while the bees lived to roll in more pollen.

All are a little bit wiser.

 

Back at the house….

Ben and Caleb are already feeling like all the other kids get to do exciting things in the holidays and so far they’ve just been stuck at home.

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Caleb really wants to have a game of Monopoly so he’s set up the board to tempt Ben.

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Caleb: It’s all ready, can we play now ?

But Ben’s busy watching all the kids who are going to the festival to see what it’s like to fly on a plane and stay in a hotel and watch while someone makes shoes just for you . You’ve got to see this Caleb !

20170721_09120220170721_120316I’ll show you on the globe where they’ve all gone…….it’s around the other side of the world !

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Oh look, Joe’s sent us some photos  he’s taken of the Kale-Muncher….It WAS a rabbit… I knew it !

They’re all having more fun than us. I still don’t want to play Monopoly though, it makes me feel mean if I win and fed up if I lose. Where’s the fun in that ?

I’d rather do some drawing  –

20170721_090344Look, I’ve drawn Monkey – 🐵

….and then let’s keep an eye on Curly and Gracie and Little Petal and Poppy and Vanessa and there’s one boy with no top on. It must be warm over there too 🙂

I hope they send lots of photos.

Everything’s growing nicely

All the vegetables that Joe and the kids helped me to plant earlier in the year are beginning to grow nicely now. They needed the rain after all that heat.

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The bees and the butterflies have all helped.

Remember when John and Kiltie helped to plant the tomatoes in the polytunnel ?

20170501_154716 Well just look at them now. Not ripe yet but they won’t be long.

We planted an aubergine too and weren’t very hopeful because it was the first time we tried to grow one, but even that is starting to look like a real aubergine 🙂

 

The melon we planted has grown and spread and so thoroughly entwined itself around the tomato plants that I can’t begin to prune it because it winds back on itself and I can’t see where to cut.

Joe climbed up to see if any of the melon flowers had been pollinated..and we think we can see a little melon forming behind some of the flowers.

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Kiltie found that the beans we planted under the frame of bamboo canes are looking good and they reach the top of the canes now and I’ve had to cut them off at the top. We’ve eaten some and now we’re going to leave them to grow big and then we’ll freeze them. We all love beans over the winter, in stews and cassoulet.

The sweetcorn we planted not so long ago…

20170527_120637 has flowers forming now and today we shook the pollen down onto the forming cobs.

20170716_174928Even the pumpkins are growing. We’ve already picked, eaten and given away no end of courgettes 🙂

Sadly, there’ll be no more strawberries this year, they’ve all finished, but they were delicious ! ..and so is the jam 🙂

 

Joe and Kiltie  want to sleep out on the veg patch tonight to keep watch and see who’s been nibbling the kale. We know who it is really but they just want to enjoy their summer holidays with a camp-out.

20170719_175139We know it’s not these little munchers. They only like to eat the Ragwort. We saw their mum earlier, the Cinnabar Moth.

They haven’t chosen the best night, we had thunder storms last night and we look likely to have some more rain tonight, but they’re sure their tent is waterproof so I said they could, but they have to call me if the rain starts to pour in. They both have their phones with them, and torches and snacks and books to read and Joe has his camera to record the kale-nibbler……

 

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You did remember to bring our phones didn’t you ?

I’m not sure they’re old enough for this but I’m close by and these are the memories we treasure when we grow up, so I’ve said they can be little guardspeople tonight. I’ll let you know whether or not this was a good idea…

 

Summer weather.

The last week has been very hot and dry and the kids wanted to go out and have some fun, but first they had jobs to do, of course 😉

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Joe helped by wheel-barrowing manure to the spot where we’re going to grow sweetcorn.

Then it needed raking in before we could dig some holes and plant the little sweetcorn plants.

20170527_120037 It was very hot work. Joe knows he did a great job.

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Meanwhile, getting quite hot and a bit fed up, Caleb had found a really good hiding place in the chives and thought it was about time someone came to look for him.

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When Joe came to find him they both disappeared off somewhere together…and I’m still looking for them. ……

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“She’ll never find us in here…

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..and even better, let’s wear green next time   🙂  “, chuckled Caleb.

After much calling and searching,  much to their amusement, I eventually found them and put them straight to work in the polytunnel. Now that IS a hot job.

The tomatoes and chillies are starting to flower and they need weeding and watering and feeding now.

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The boys set to the task of weeding and Mum filled a watering can with tomato feed.

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“It’s too hot in here. Shall we go outside and play and cool down a bit ?” suggested Joe. Caleb never needs  much persuasion to go and play outside.

The wheelbarrow was cleaned up and pressed into service as a kidmobile.

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First Joe pushed Caleb past the lavender, then Caleb pushed Joe around the potatoes…

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Then Joe pushed Caleb past the strawberries, but got a bit distracted for a second when he saw real, green baby strawberries growing where the flowers had been,

20170528_184849and it only took a moment’s loss of concentration for him to run over a stone and lose control …

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..and send Caleb tumbling right out of the wheelbarrow onto his head..

“Oh sorry Caleb, here, let me help you up. Are you hurt ? ”

“No, it was fun. Let’s go again  ! 🙂 ”

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Lots of turns later it was time to go home. Two tired little boys headed for the car.

“Are you sure you’re ok, Caleb? We’re still best friends aren’t we ?”

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Click to solve their jigsaw

Happy Bank Holiday Everyone ! 🙂

Wheelbarrow

Bank Holiday on the Allotment

 

On Saturday we put up a little polytunnel so that we can grow tender vegetables like tomatoes and hopefully they won’t all shrivel up and turn black with blight like last year. We’ve used all our supply of bricks to weigh it down and stop it blowing away….

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to us it’s a thing of beauty 🙂 And then the swallows arrived . It took a long time to catch them on camera ..they’re so fast, but it’s wonderful to see them again 🙂

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So now we needed to get some work done. My daughter Emma put her gloves on and mucked in, literally, spreading chicken manure everywhere and planting marigolds…

..and the kids helped to plant tomatoes. This week Kiltie and Adam came along.

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They brought something comfy to sit on for after all their hard work, but had to try it out to make sure it was in the right  spot first. The sofa was fine but there was a funny smell coming from somewhere….

“We can measure ourselves against the tomatoes every week and see who grows the quickest !

The next job was to dig over a space for some lettuce and then dig some little holes for 12 tiny lettuce plants.

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Are the holes deep enough?

“I planted the red ones” ..”and I  planted the green ones, and we both planted some marigolds”

We’ve left our footprints all over…..

I’ll rake it over and then we need to give them all a big drink of water..

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We’ll need to put nets over to keep the rabbits from eating them all….and no sooner had we mentioned the rabbit than we saw him on the next plot, watching us !

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Good luck little lettuces, we’ll come again and water you another day.

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Now we can try out the sofa properly 🙂

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This is nice, but it’s a bit warm in here !

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I’m starting to fall asleep it’s so warm ..

That’s better….now we can relax, until Mum finds us another job.

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Glorious Day on the Veg Patch

We’d been waiting all week to visit the veg patch so we were very excited this morning when Sunday finally arrived. The twins won the ‘name in the hat’ draw that the kids organise so it was their turn to come along and help.  Little did they know that today was mostly about digging a bed for the beans. Bless them, they were willing though 🙂

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even when they saw how much they had to dig and all the weeds they had to clear.

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This whole bed ? I hope you’re going to help a bit, Mum …

You start at one end and I’ll start at the other then we won’t hit each other with a shovel, or soil, completely be accident , of course, Hannah grinned  😉

Much digging and weeding later, the whole bed had been dug over and every last weed pulled up. The kids had a right to feel very pleased with what they’d done and thought maybe the next job could be a bit more fun since this one had been really hard work.

The next job was quite hard too but they found the fun in it, as usual.

They carried over the long canes that the beans were going to climb up..

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…and  untied all the ribbons holding them in a bundle.

Hannah had a good idea…..she saved them to use them later as ‘bird-scarers’, to be tied onto the canes and flap in the wind.

20170423_151508Next job was to space the canes out evenly along the edges of the bed.

20170423_152119and then climb up to the top, with a bit of help, and tie the canes together to make a strong frame….or was it the upside-down hull of a Viking raiding ship? Yes, it was definitely that one 🙂

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You get the best view from up here !

20170423_153751Then they carefully tied string around the canes to give the beans something to hold onto when they were still small……… but they decided it could just as easily be a great big climbing frame for them..

 

20170423_161116..and Hannah remembered to tie the ‘bird-scarer’ ribbons on while she was up there.

We decided we wouldn’t plant the beans today because the weather is going to be very cold this coming week and they might not like that, so we called that job finished for today and the kids went to check on the broad beans, the ones that Mr. & Mrs. Vole and family had munched their way through last week.

20170423_124116Hmm. Some are growing but some have been discovered and turned into a tasty meal and all there is to see now is a  hole where they were ..

20170423_124051..and a few top shoots that weren’t as appealing as the beans themselves. Never mind, there will still be plenty for us to eat in a few months.

Is it time for a rest now and a sunbathe ?

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I think you two would be more comfortable under the little apple tree

20170423_123922 (and then Mum could have her flask of coffee)

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Very last job was to cover up the little baby apple tree with fleece so that all its blossom doesn’t fall off in next week’s mini ice-age, even before the bees have had a chance to visit it.

Poor thing, good luck little tree x

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A quick trip to the veg patch tonight

Joe and Greg will have to find a new place to play hide and seek….

…because the leeks are about to go to seed, like this one  😦

20170413_181744with a flower head about to open up. They’ll all have to be pulled up this weekend.

Hmm, I wonder if you can freeze leeks….?

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Well, that will free up a lot of space to plant climbing beans and sugar snap peas so it’s not a disaster.

“I did so pull this up by myself !” Greg looks sceptical.

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And these  🙂  I planted these last year you know, nearly all by myself. Me last year…..

We could play hide and seek in this field .. the oil seed rape is really high now.

I’m not so sure about all these bees though…

20170414_112254Have you seen the broad beans are popping up ?

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The first sowing of beans was all eaten by a very well-fed family of voles so these are going to be a bit late this year and will start their lives under netting 🙂

And the Duke of York potatoes are peeping through after just a week. It will be a while before we can dig them up but that was definitely Cam’s favourite job last year so Joe will have to share that fun in a few months.

20170413_182321 (1)Cam last year..

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Now home for leek and potato soup, all weekend probably.

Happy Easter Weekend everyone – I hope the sun shines on you and your loved ones x

 

Spring Picnic

The kids took advantage of Mum’s trip to the allotment today to have a quick, Spring picnic while Mum pulled some leeks.

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First they chose the spot, then worked together to spread out the blanket.

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The bears just couldn’t wait to see what was in the picnic basket and jumped up and down for Hannah and Greg to PLEASE open it up !!!

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They’d brought drinks, snacks, fruit and cake and biscuits and shared everything with the bears…because this was also a Teddy Bears’ Picnic 🙂

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……then sunbathed in the gentle March sunshine. Nice work if you can get it  🙂

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Picnic Jigsaw

Click on the link below to solve the puzzle

//www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=16e8fea1516f&view=iframe

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