May 2008

A new introduction to the allotment this month has been the chickens’ post box as shown on the left (click to enlarge). Mid May the chickens found a way to write their first letter my grandchildren, including pictures. Boy did they have trouble with the keyboard!

Having quietly deposited the first letter for Connor & Paige in their letterbox they came flying up to the allotment with Chris half an hour later, replies in hand. Since then not a word despite several more chicken letters.

The response from Sammy has been an explosion of correspondence. His every visit to the allotment (typically every other day) means somewhere around 20 ‘items’ delivered. These range from Avon flyers & catalogues to enveloped letters saying almost exclusively ‘To chickens, love you, Sammy’. Quantity rather than quality is definitely Sammy’s byword.

But as the month has progressed the letter content has started improving, with drawings of chickens starting to appear as well as different text. The most poignant has been ‘Maisey get better, love Sammy’… a reference to the family rabbit who passed away some months ago.

At last summer arrived with a long warm sunny spell during the first half of the month. Started to make progress on tidying up & digging over my raised beds. Planted brussel sprouts, sweet corn, wallflowers, onions, tomatoes & raspberry canes. The asparagus have started to sprout, as shown on the right. Looks like I’m going to have a full bed of asparagus to feast on next year!

Also got all my spuds planted. Had to put the last lot in one of the compost bins, which seems to have worked well for my neighbour. I may regret this though since I’ve been having trouble with one batch of compost I made. There's been loads of potatoes resprouting…. bit of a problem where I’ve used the compost around my new potatoes since I can’t tell which is which! Either I didn’t get the batch hot enough or the potato pieces were too big… I’ve resolved to just put shavings in from now on. You can see the spud compost sprouting around this picture of the asparagus!

My fig tree is going really well, close up of the developing fruit shown on the left. I’m going to reposition it from inside the chicken run (the run got built around its original planting spot) to in front of the shed. But I had some advice from Mario, one of the Italian plot owners (all of whose plots I aspire to match), to leave it where it is this year & I’ll be able to cut out two branches as cuttings next year. I’m growing the tree not only for fruit, but also because they’re great trees for grandchildren to climb up & swing on.

Feeling really happy & fulfilled one warm sunny day as, on hands & knees I worked my way through a raised bed tidying it up ready for planting seedlings, chickens being their usual attentive selves with heads just millimetres above the trowel for fear they miss a morsel of potential food… until out of the corner of my eye I caught a movement & watched as a rat merrily skipped across the chicken run & up into the chicken house to help himself to some food & make his way back! I carefully put bait out to try & finish him off with no luck. Think it’s just what’s to be expected in the countryside, since we’re actually in their territory. I’ve identified he lives in the plot next door, but so Mr Ratty doesn’t get any encouragement I’m not leaving any food lying around.

The chickens have been sleeping outdoors in tubs since the weather warmed up as shown on the right. I locked them up overnight in the chicken shed as the weather turned cooler towards the end of the month… only to find them sleeping back outside the next evening! Don’t they realise how much time & effort I put into building that palace for them?

I was starting to miss getting out walking in the countryside. But as I’ve been getting on top of things on the allotment I finally managed to start walking again. Walked around Fenstanton lakes & Swavesey… who knows, I may get a chance to start updating my walks blog site, where there’s still only one walk listed (but a good one!) from Jan 2006. If you want to see it click the link on the left called ‘Great walks in Cambridgeshire’. May even get a chance to update my blog more promptly at beginning of June!

Thanks for reading my blog site. More photos below, & you can leave a comment by clicking 'Comments' at the foot of the page. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)

Wallflowers, tomatoes & cauliflowers

Garlic suffering from rust

Pumpkins & sweetcorn

Extra plot appearance this month... not much progress!

The mysterious magical gate to try & get the grandchildren puzzled (not worked yet!)

Peppers going well

Having a go at butternut squash again

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