Saturday, July 01, 2006

May arrived and the planting began in earnest. I dragged my weary little crew back and forth to the plot with tray upon tray of seedlings.
The fear of late frosts was everpresent and each morning 15 to 20 seedtrays were trundled outside only to be brought in again before dark!

My darling husband, Wurzel, replaced some of the corrugated iron on the shed with clear, wriggely plastic to let the light in. With the introduction of a child's table and chair, some colouring books etc. our little shed became quite homely. A couple of times, while sitting quietly waiting for a shower to finish, two tiny fox cubs came and played right in front of me. Tis a magical feeling to be so inconspicuous to the wildlife!

Little Flower planted the onion sets and any big seeds such as sqashes and beetroots. We found her a book with which to identify the birds she saw and she has become quite an expert. Not bad for a three year old!
Willow too, got to work. She patiently dug out couch grass roots for hour upon hour (in return for lifts to various clubs and activities.) The plot next to ours became vacant so we took it over and were delighted to find three full rows of strawberry plants and one bush each of gooseberry and blackcurrant.

Gradually, things started to take shape.
Our first beds were already filled with carrots, parsnips, beetroots and onions. Willow planted marigolds round the edge to deter blackfly .....

(well, actually it was because she's terribly girlie and was dismayed by the lack of pretty flowers)

..........and Little Flower delighted in piddling on the compost heap to get it going!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dragon hunting

It wasn't me............she did it first....................she's touching my stuff again....MUM!!!
Yep, the school holidays are in full swing. Been one of those days, car got a puncture. The kids were being vile and I was developing a thumping headache.

Time to go plotterin'

So it was that we trudged over to our allotment, fishing nets in hand on a very important mission. The sun was shining and basking in it's rays we felt quite warm, both inside and out.
As I unlocked the rusty gate (which has a hole in it that any vandals can easily enter through) I felt our spirits soar as we marvelled at the changes spring has brought. The first thing we noticed were the broad beans. They are only about a foot high yet they are smothered in pale yellow flower buds. Can that be right?
There was more evidence of spring by the pond. Last year Paulustris from allotments4all sent me some muscaris bulbs and now they have burst into bright blue flowers. Snuggled between the sweet woodruff and masses of lupin leaves they are putting on quite a show. A marsh marigold with the brightest yellow flowers makes a striking contrast with the pinky red duckweed on the water.

Everything is fresh and optimistic. Including us.

We set to work. Little flower was first to plunge her net in the water. As predicted, her big sister was not far behind. We prodded around in the murky silt and at first our wicked looking bugs proved to be elusive. Eventually though, we had what we came for. A dozen or so fat dragonfly larvae trapped in our jam jar.
They really are the most unappealing beasties! They look like beetles, curl like woodlice and walk like spiders. It's hard to imagine them turning into majestic dragonflies!
To us though, they had become vital currency. We telephoned my brother in law and a deal was struck. A dozen dragonfly larvae for 0ne small bucket of frogspawn.
Operation 'Slugslayers' is underway!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, spring is here and the house is full of seedlings. As the weather improves more little plotterers venture outside.
There is Mrs Daffs, who arrives early, sets a small wooden stool in a spot of weak sunshine and dilligently watches her husband work his socks off.
Then there are the glamerous twins, Ruby and Emerald look beautiful in their matching jackets and very clean gardening gloves.
We shouldn't forget old Mr Shuffle as he delights in scaring the children or Mr Arp and his outstanding brassicas.
Tis lovely to have some company on the plot.

The old shed needs a little work. We fixed the roof as best we could with some 'wriggly' iron sheets we found on the bank but the rain still gets in through the gaps round the door. We've dug a couple of beds for the parsnips and such and we cleared away some of the willow to make a work area. The rhubarb looks promising although it will be a couple of weeks before there is enough to make wine with. The cobnut tree is full of buds.
No frogspawn is to be found in our tiny pond, much to Little flower's disappointment but there are some evil looking bugs that may be dragonfly larvae. She promises to return with her net to investigate. Her big sister, Willowy, looks on disdainfully (as you do at seventeen) but secretly, she is intrigued.