Thursday, 6 June 2013

LIVE: Collecting a Honey Bee Swarm

I know I haven't blogged for a while, but what better way to get back in to it than a live post from my Grandparent's house whilst collecting a swarm.

I was down the allotment just about to put my sweetcorn in and my mobile started ringing. It was my Grandad
'Martin, your grandma wants you'
'Ok. Hi Grandma.'
'Martin there's a swarm of bees outside the back door do you want them.'
'Yes please. l'll be there in 5 minutes!!'

So, I put the sweetcorn in the she ready for planting tomorrow morning. Dashed home, got my veil and off I went. This is the 3rd year in a row that a swarm has congregated by/at my Grandma's house!! However this is the only year that I've had an empty hive to house them in!!

They were congregated on a wall so I scooped as many as I could in to the bucket before turning it over and waiting for the rest to follow on in. I'm just waiting for the last few stragglers whilst having a coffee indoors. Here's a few pictures, I'll let you know how it goes and maybe I'll even make an allotment blog tomorrow!!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Finally catching up...

Well this blog post is certainly long over due. In fact, everything I will mention took place about two weeks ago when I took a couple of days annual leave to catch up at the allotment. So when you come back to read tomorrow's post, pretend it's been a whole two weeks since this post and not 12 or so hours...
The Potatoes and Onions are finally in the ground!!
We might have slightly overdone it with our potatoes. We have 4 rows (5.5m long each!) of Desiree and 3 long rows of Charlotte and we still have some seed potatoes to spare. If I get some big pots I might just put them in there and see what happens. It's not like we are going to be short of them anyway... Well, I hope not after the back breaking amounts of work I put in to planting them..

Next along from the potatoes are two rows of Onions (Stuttgarter Giant) and then a row of Beetroot (Boltardy)!

After the onions there is currently a large gap which come the middle of May will be planted up with Cabbage, Kale, Pumpkins, Courgettes and Squash. After this currently empty space, closest to the patio area is the beans. 6 rows of broad beans and there is space for a further 2 rows of dwarf French beans. I have also dug out the trench and emptied one of the compost bin’s contents in to it and then filled it on top with some used compost from last year’s raised beds, the support frame has been erected for the runners, and finally the allotment looks like an allotment again and not just a wasteland!

Here's a full on shot of the once again allotment like allotment!

The next couple of jobs are to actually sow the runner beans, courgettes and pumpkins and also prepare the ground for the cucurbits by digging in some well rotted horse manure!! There is also the unappetizing job of weeding the strawberry bed at the top of the allotment. It will be done, but when... I am not sure!

More soon!!

Martin J

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

This is the week!

This week the sun has come out and somewhat un-coincidentally everything is starting to look a little brighter. All of the seedlings are really getting a move on and it will soon be time to move things on up to the plot!!

For the first time I was able to make use of the extended daylight hours yesterday because it was dry, sunny and warm until almost 7pm! It was lovely to be back up the plot and I am so glad that we started digging it over last Autumn, because if we hadn't we would be in a real mess now. Thankfully the head start has really paid off!

The plot is now almost completly dug over and ready for use. We have 3 compost bins full of compost to spread over the potato patch, and providing the weather stays dry, I'm hoping that Friday might well be Potato day!! At last!! I have previously said that we always liked to get them in on Good Friday, but this year there was still snow on the ground and the plot was just completly unworkable. The potatoes still cover the kitchen table but all have really healthy strong sprouts/eyes which will be a real benefit when they finally get in the ground!

It's also good to see signs of life already emerging on the plot without having to plant anything, the rhubarb is getting stronger each day and I love seeing the contrasting colours of the bright red stalks and succulent green leaves! Rhubarb is an allotment favourite, and I really don't know what an allotment would be without it. After all, it comes back every year without much need for love and attention!

Inside, the tomatoes that we sowed in the last week of February are now several inches tall, the chilli plants have also started to kick on this week which is great news.

There is so much positivity for gardeners to embrace in April and May and it is much needed after the extremly long winter we have endured. I still can't believe that in less than a fortneight I should really consider sowing runner beans and courgettes yet on the other hand the potatoes and onions still aren't in the ground yet! Madness!!

I'll be back down the plot tonight finishing off the potato bed, and if I have time I will plant out my 30 new strawberry plants and 7 bareroot gooseberry bushes. That may have to wait until tomorrow though, we'll see!

I really look forward to catching up with other blogs over the common days. It is very nice to see so many signs of life on my 'reading list'.

Have a good week!!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Baking Sunday and 'those' Creme Egg brownies...

If you regularly use social media websites such as Twitter or Facebook then there is a very good chance that at some point over the last 7 days you would have come across a picture of unknown Lizzie Batchelor's 'Cadbury Creme Egg' Brownies. The recipe has become insanely popular and over 60,000 people have shared or tweeted a picture of her creation.

I do usually spend Sundays in winter/spring watching the football but this week due to the Easter break and also the unbelievable amount of snow still covering the garden and allotment we were left a bit stumped regards how to spend our time. But having seen the results of this creme egg brownie recipe there was only one place we would be this Sunday, in the kitchen (after the football of course)!!

Here are the results and I can say that if you like creme eggs then this recipe is a must, they are mind blowingly delicious!

Alongside the brownies we also made a lemon drizzle cake a chocolate mine egg nest too!! After losing over 2 stone since the turn of the year it was quite nice to have a day off over Easter!! But I'll be back to rations again tomorrow - that is for sure!!

If you hadn't stumbled across the recipe for the creme egg brownies then here it is. You must have a go!!

I can't believe that this time last year we had onions, beans, lettuce, raddish and potatoes on the grow already. So far this year nothing is actually in the ground and we have been restricted to growing a few bits in our. Pop up greenhouse!

Anyway, the cake was good so I am happy!!

Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday and thanks for reading!!


Friday, 29 March 2013

Oh chit!

Today would be the usual day to get our potatoes in the ground but the truth is that the ground is still completely unworkable and the weather is so unpredictable. After a week of snow - we thought spring and sunshine were finally on the way yesterday. However to see it start to snow around lunchtime today, it has slightly dampened our spirits.

Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely Easter and are able to get growing soon!!