Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow in November!?!

What is going on with the weather? Snow in November, it's incredible! I do love snow, but I was really hoping to get some Aquadulce Claudia Broad Beans sown this month if it stayed mild. Looks like I've well and truely missed the opportunity now. Nevermind, I'll just have to sow plenty in the spring. I might try and do a successional sewing as I've got a long pod variety as well...it might extend my season a little bit, if I can just keep the blackfly off.

Anyway, mustn't talk about seed sowing too much, or I'll get all excited and try to do some now!! I've already got withdrawl symptoms from not sowing anything for a few months. My next seeds to sow (as I mentioned in an earlier post) are onions. I've bought Ailsa Craig (big'uns for the shows!), and a long red variety, but I really must sit on my hands until the day after Boxing Day, or they'll get confused, bolt and then run to seed.

In place of actual gardening, I took some piccies of the back garden this afternoon, swathed in its wintery glory...ooh pretty!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A half day holiday

Well today I did the unthinkable (for a workaholic anyway)...I took a half day holiday...okay, so by the time I prised myself away it was more like a third of a day, but lets not split hairs ;0).

So what did I do with this precious time off...I went up to the lottie of course! Even though it was threatening to rain.

It was pretty cold and grey up there today, but it was an important visit.

The shallots and onions have been in for a few weeks now and the local bird population just love pulling sets up, So I wanted to make sure they were all just as I'd left them.

I only found the odd one or two completely pulled up, several were planted, but the whole set exposed (I imagine the heavy rain we've had recently had washed the soil away). No problem, I just replanted the uprooted ones and pulled some soil round the exposed ones.

I did have quite a few gaps in the onions and shallot beds, and I was concerned that I'd lost 20 or so sets, however, just a gentle bit of furtling in the soil revealed the sets had just got covered up! Phew! 

 The sets have made good top growth already, so hopefully I'll get a nice crop.

I'm also planning to grow some Ailsa Craig and Long Red onions from seed this year, but that will have to be my day-after-Boxing Day treat. Hopefully they'll be good enough to show...perhaps I'd better revisit vegmandan's Show Veg website (see my list of links) so I give them the best start possible.

I did a little light weeding while I was there too. Onions and Shallots really don't like to compete with weeds, so its important to keep on top of this task.

 At last my leeks seem to be making a little progress...not much, but they are starting to fatten up a little bit. The thickest one is probably the same as my index finger. Something tells me these little blighters will be in the ground until April/May next year.

I pulled one beetroot which was big enough to cook, and when I got home I popped into the garden and pulled a handful of these lovely multicoloured carrots to go with it. The carrots are quite dinky, I sowed them in a flowerpot by the back door quite late in the season, as a last ditch effort to get some carrots this year, as all other attempts had failed miserably. And I also picked the last couple of bunches of grapes from our vines. Now the frost has got to them, they are incredibly sweet and juicy - yum!!

And finally for today...Look! A Figlet!! We were given a little pot-grown Fig tree by MrPB's brother. I say little, its probably four or five foot tall. Back in the summer we planted it into one of our raised beds in the back garden, and it seemed really happy, and here it is with fruit on! I think I might just have to fleece it to improve our chances of keeping it. 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Gardeners' Society AGM 2010

Last night was the Gardeners' Society AGM. It was held at the beautiful 'big house' of the village, with oak panelling and roaring log fires (sorry, no photos, you'll just have to believe me).

Lucy (Chairman) opened the meeting by saying what a lovely year it had been, with a really hard winter, a late spring full of flowers, a warm summer and a long colourful autumn. Which I found interesting, because I really struggled at the beginning of the year. The late persistent snow and frosts set all my seed sowing plans right back and I just couldn't make up for it again. My repeated attempts at parnips and carrots just wouldn't grow at all, and lack of rain in the early summer set my pumpkins and squashes back a bit too. Hey ho, the great thing with gardening is, there's always next year!

We discussed the current state of the finances, which caused some debate, and eventually we amended one of our proposals and voted to scrap cash prizes at the shows, and give extra certificates out instead (in addition to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Highly Commended certificates we already award). We also currently award points for each place which decides who wins the Society's trophys and cups throughout the year. We agreed to make this 'league table' much more public to inspire a real sense of competition! ...Not that I need much encouragement! My Dad came to the summer show, and heard me talking about what I'd entered for each class and about how I was trying to keep my aggregate points up in the hope of winning a trophy, and he said 'What happened to my shy little girl?' to which I replied 'She found her competitive spirit!'

We then went on to talk about the various visits and social evenings we had lined up for 2011. This includes our own take on the RHS 'Dig Together' campaign (4-5th Sept '11), which we have decided to expand into a series of events over the year, including masterclasses on topics like seed-sowing, taking cuttings, pruning etc. Our intention is that these will be outdoor events, and will encourage non-members to join in, and maybe join-up!

We also talked about the brand new website www.charinggardeners.org.uk that a subset of the committee are working on (I'm supposed to be helping, but have managed to miss both meetings so far - hopeless girl!). Again, the idea of the website is to encourage new, and potentially younger members to join in and take part. The society has been praised for having over 100 members and 3 official shows a year, but the committee is conscious that without new members we won't be able to maintain this. The Society is well over 100 years old...so we really wouldn't want it to fizzle out on our watch!

The evening was rounded off with a glass or two of wine and lovely nibbles, courtesy of our kind host and hostess who have invited us back next year too. I'm looking forward to it already.