October 2007

Discovered a couple of intruders on an early morning visit. A tunnel & small mound of earth had appeared by the side of some chipboard I’ve got laid flat on the floor. Lifted up to find a small cup shaped depression scoured out of the earth filled with bits of dried onionskin & other bedding. Filled it in, but on a subsequent visit it had been restored to use & 2 little field mice (sample picture on left, click to enlarge) were making a dash for safety. Looks like I’ve chased them off finally now. Don’t mind them in the compost heap, other than when I turn it over I’ve got to be careful to pick up & place back any babies they have. But I draw a line at them running up my trouser legs when I’m potting up seedlings… tends to make the hand wobble a bit.

It’s taken me a while this month to get into the swing of reduced hours. In fact I’ve only had one chance, when I had an extra long weekend off, having taken Thu, Fri, Mon & Tue as days off. I’m supposed to work just 3 longer days per week, so I’ve decided to have an extra long weekend every other week. But I realised by the middle of the month that unless I block out the time in my work diary I’ll be forever planning around pre-booked meetings etc, so I’ve now sorted my diary out. That first long weekend was REALLY good… can’t wait till next Spring & Summer! Only problem seems it’s giving my wife the wobbles… she’s so used to judging that if I’m off it must be the weekend that she’s not sure what day of the week it is now.

Of course still got lots to do this Autumn & Winter. Even just that first little bit of time off has made a big difference to how tidy the plot is now looking. Most of the beds are weeded & looking the business & the paths have been getting a regular trim. Also made a trip up to Manor Farm to get another supply of horse manure. This time managed to do it on a day that wasn’t raining & windy. After 4 trips & 36 bags I have a big pile to last me for some time, plus 4 beds manured.

So the start of Project Cluck is getting close… the first step being the building of the chicken coop. Barry rescued some fence posts from a skip towards the end of the month that are long & strong enough for the coop frame, & with all the other wood I’ve scrounged or been given I’ve got enough to complete the job. Fancy the design as shown here (picture from web on right, lady is no relation!), but if the building of the shed is anything to go by, the final version may differ a little from the original intention!

Another chicken coop has appeared on the allotments with 3 fantastic lookers in occupancy. Chatting to the owner, it seems he got them from his neighbour who has some in his back garden & whose daughter fancied trying to raise chickens with evident success. They’re about 20 weeks old & should be producing eggs shortly, so I’m going to keep abreast with how his chickens fare.

A sign that chickens really are taking over the world is that they’re now for sale at the local garden centre. Told my son John this & he was there within a couple of hours with his girlfriend Danielle taking a look. He wants a budgie… used to have them when he was younger & trained them to sit on his shoulder… so when I told him he could train a chicken to sit on his shoulder it obviously started him thinking.

Having planted the last seedlings of lettuce, spring onions, beetroot & spinach I started to harvest them towards end of month (see picture to left). Really nice & crunchy. Planted some more seeds in pots to keep the supplies going & they’re now about a fortnight away from being planted out. Also planted garlic, which has already started to pop its head out as shown in picture. All of garden flower seeds I’ve planted are doing well, primarily hollyhocks & sweet peas… other than the hollyhocks that turned out to be yet more rhubarb seedlings!

Woke up in the middle of one night thinking about water barrels & the safety of my grandchildren. I’ve tied them against the shed wall so they can’t topple over, but my eldest grandson, Connor aged just 5 years, is strangely attracted to water. If he discovers on a hot summer’s day that the barrels are full of nice cool water he’s quite likely to dive head first into one of them. So next visit I tied the barrel tops down as well.

My daughter Becky & other grandson Sammy (almost 5 years) have started visiting early Sunday mornings, which is REALLY nice. On the first visit Sammy appeared some way behind his mum pushing his wheelbarrow. As soon as he got on the plot he was digging for potatoes, looking in the compost & digging up weeds, which seems to involve flinging earth as far as possible. Last visit we planted an old variety of apple tree (can’t remember name) in the area the chicken run is going to go to give the chickens some shade. Beck is aiming to take a bed or two for planting in Spring, & to get up to the plot a couple of mornings or so a week.

Because of that I’m keen to get cracking on the plot bordering the back of my current allocation. There have been a couple of signs of something happening during the month. Firstly the ground was roughed up a bit… not sure what that was done for, just made more uneven. In the last week pegs have appeared indicating where the extra plots are going, as can be seen in picture on right. I’m heading in to the Town Council offices later this week to pay my annual fee of £20 which is due now, & to see if I can pay for the extra plot as well so I know I’ve secured it.

More photos of the plot this month are shown below. Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking 'Comment' at the foot of the page.

Thanks for reading my blog. John
This month's photos (Click to enlarge)
Sunrise over Hill Rise Allotments
Sprouting garlic after only a few weeks
Can't get the full steaming effect of the horse manure from this 'photo, but I certainly did when transporting it inside the car!
Next set of lettuce, beetroot, spinach & spring onion seedlings that'll be ready for planting out in a couple of weeks
Here's the few chillie peppers I managed to grow this year... fancy trying the multicoloured ones next year
And finally, how the plot looks at the end of October

1 comment:

  1. I evicted a nest of mice from under a piece of carpet on my plot. They reappeared in the sleeve of my waterproof jacket which was left in the shed. Now 2 cats from the nearby houses seem to keep them (and the robins) away.


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