Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Round up

Given it is the start of the month (well, just after!) Now seems a good time to review where we are with our progress towards self-sufficiency.

As it is spring, the wild seasonal crops are the first to become available. So spring wild leaf salads have been on the menu and will continue to be until the season is over. A number of different leaves have been used: bramble, dandelion, hawthorn, willowherb, wild parsley and dock. Coming up soon will be havel and beech leaves. The drawback at the moment is that the dressings are made from goods purchased in the supermarket, especially olive oil and oranges. I am working on alternatives though these won't come to fruition (if at all) in most cases til the autumn. The main hurdle to overcome is the need for our own oil. Beech and hazel nuts provide possible alternatives in the autumn but it means getting a press. I am planning to use rosehip syrup as part of a salad dressing. We have some from last year.

The jam making season has begun though the first batch of jam was made for someone else with their produced! Over the weekend, David made rhubarb abd ginger jam for a colleague using her rhubarb. However, rhubarb will be the first produce to be cropped from the allotment this weekend.

April has been a seed planting month on the allotment and having the greenhouse is now clearly paying dividends. I am so pleased we completed its construction in the winter. We are now at the point where we are planting out seedlings - red cabbage and brussel sprouts. Others will follow.

Meanwhile, various beds were used for direct seed planting.

Bed One is now fully used for peas, broad beans, chard, carrots, parsnips and garlic.

Bed 2 has been partly used for onions, leeks and beetroot. Over the weekend I planted runner beans and the remaining spaces are to be used for gherkins and courgettes which are ready in the greenhouse.

Bed 3 is being opened up for the first time. It sits between the greenhouse and fruitcage. It is where the red cabbage and brussel sprouts are going.

Bed 4 is only in partial use at the moment, mainly for flowers. We need to do some work on it but the intention is to use if for winter crops.

Bed 5 is now fully in use with rhubarb, raspberries, potatoes and horse radish(though it shows no signs of growing yet). There are also 4 fruit trees: plum, apple, peach and nectarine. The first 2 were put in last year and have blossomed well. The other two were from my sister earlier this year and she wasn't sure if they would come to much. We are still living in hope.

Elsewhere on the allotment, the potato bags next to the greenhouse are showing signs of life. One third of the allotment however still remains in its original derelict state. The big job is to get that ready for cultivation.

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