Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Best Laid Plans

Met the client to discuss requirements + presented 3 plans, approved 1 + found a builder willing to take said plans seriously + builder priced up job = £3k over budget and postponed until next year.
This is both a disappointment and a relief as I was really quite nervous about the prospect of spending so much of someone else's money - what if they didn't like the finished article? What if I didn't like the result of my hours of planning?  Anyhoo, I've resigned myself to saying goodbye the the raised patio and sunken fire pit for what is hopefully only the time being.  I think most people would be surprised at my cowardice over this but it's a huge thing.  I really want to get into garden design (my body won't take endless years of lifting and digging) but would be much more comfortable if I could design and build a garden for myself first (never gonna happen).  That way I could make sure I knew what I was doing and to learn more about pricing jobs and materials as well as being able to oversee the fine details (control freak that I am).  Having said all that I was determined to see it through despite my doubts and fears, after all the first time you do anything is always the scariest isn't it?  The bonus is that the builder - the lovely Frank Hodder - said the plans were "spot on" and any minor issues could be worked out easily enough on the job.  One less thing to worry about next time around!
Meanwhile life goes on as usual, which involves me running around like the proverbial headless chicken toting various bits of kit back and forth along the streets of Forest Gate.  With the better weather every garden I work on is green and lush having had a wet summer and winter to nourish it - all we need now is a prolonged bout of warm, sunny days to get those blooms a' burstin'!
The allotment has been slow to say the least - we only started planting about 2 weeks ago and again everything needs a good dose of sunshine to get it going.  We plan to plant field beans (an older version of broad beans), cima de rapa (a form of broccoli less susceptible to white fly), crookneck squash, courgettes, bi-colour sweetcorn, cucumbers, pak choi and onions - all sourced from the Real Seed Company.  The globe artichokes are doing well as are the raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.  The apple and remaining cherry cordons are also full of fruit so we'll get some kind of harvest come autumn.  The asparagus is in it's third year but was disappointing. We've only managed to harvest a few spears but we've put in lots of the old reliable runner beans and the wild flower patch is looking really good - so are the ornamentals that I've put it at the end of the beds and under the apple cordons.  Just waiting for the French marigolds and nasturtiums to come up to give the place a good dose of colour.  The other good allotment news is that we now have 2 operational water harvesting units on the go, which is a big bonus as our site doesn't have any mains water supply.  The first water harvester was installed last year and the two huge drums are full and, despite the second only being completed last week, the dip tank is full so that's a good start for the folk at the other end of the site.  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Woo-Hoo! 10 Down. . .

. . . 2 to go!  Blimey another essay done and dusted and sent to B for proof-reading, poor love. I am now, and she soon will be, a pocket expert on all kinds of beasties, fungi, bacteria, weeds and how to sock-it to 'em.  Beware all yukky things - grrrr!! 

Ahem, anyway I'll give myself a celebratory couple of days off and then start reading for the next one.  This one could prove particularly troublesome as I seem to have lost the coursework notes.  Bugger, I wonder where I could have put those then?

Monday, 21 January 2013

What Happened To Tuesday???

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I can't believe my last blog entry was August 2012 - where on earth did the summer go?  I was born on a Thursday and am definitely living up to that one!  I'll pick up the saga of The Missing Tuesday (and the rest) at some stage but feel I need a quick update to bring us up to speed.  

Obviously the summer and autumn just shot by in a haze of rain and abnormal temperatures - the allotment has flooded twice and I fear that all our lovely earthworms may have drowned :0(    We did however manage to grow some lovely runner beans (I do love a runner - they just grow themselves!), got a lovely crop of Katy, Spartan and Saturn apples from our 2yr-old cordons, and some fab outdoor cucumbers.  Our potatoes were also blight free and tasty - but I'd have to put this down to luck this year as blight's been prolific in these humid conditions.  On the downside, between the moles and the rain the onions and leeks were a bit of a soggy mess and our squash and aubergines were a complete waste of time.  The rainbow chard is still hanging-in there and we've bedded-in a new batch of raspberry canes underplanted with strawberries to keep the weeds down, so next year's fruit crop should be fab!  The wildflower patch needs some urgent attention as it's overrun with creeping buttercup and not much else.  Will hoe over and re-seed come spring and keep fingers crossed.   I'm still hoping for a self-perpetuating wild flower garden but fear it may never happen.  Must learn to let it do it's thing - it's 'wild' after all. 
At home the garden was glorious as unlike the claggy allotment home is a sandy loam that sucked up all the moisture it could get and begged for more!  Having invested in a new water butt and managing to snag another from a local skip (bringing the total to 4) I hardly used them, except for our ceramic pots which lose moisture at an alarming rate.  The only downside was that the flowers weren't quite as prolific as normal but those that appeared were lovely to behold. Crop-wise at home we had success with the blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries.  It was just such a joy to go down in the morning and pick fruit for brekkie - yum!  We had B's cousin staying with us and she was left in charge of watering one weekend while we were away and she was so delighted with her batch of strawberries that she sent us a picture - bless!  The tomatoes did succumb to blight eventually but we got a fair few before they gave in.
Work has been great - busy, busy, busy!  Actually to the point where I've had to turn work down (not fun) and so I'm taking on an assistant this year.  I know it sounds very grand but the poor beggar concerned is a lovely woman who's interested in doing the RHS course that I'm doing and has an allotment on our site.  She's also crazy enough to come and help me out for a few hours a week in exchange for nothing more than tea and learnin'.  
Talking of my course, I'm actually blogging on a break from essay writing (pests, diseases and control of).  This is essay 10 0f 12 and I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.  Although that could be the migraine that I get just thinking about the final exam - waaarrrrgggh!