Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The dark art of rhubarb forcing.

What the....?

I know. It looks kind of odd but you have to remember two things.

1. We have more of these barrels than you can shake a stick at.
See. I think they might be breeding. If you look to the back you can see that a few have split from the herd.

2. I looked for Rhubarb forcers on T'interweb and they cost a fortune. Most of them are made of terracotta, a very pretty product but notoriously feeble in cold wet winters.

You don't want to spend a fortune of this stuff, let's not lose sight of the fact that this is just rhubarb we are talking about.

Here is what is happening inside the bucket. Shortly after Christmas Harry dug up a dormant rhubard root and placed it the bottom of the bucket with some compost and horse doings. He put the lid on, wrapped it in fleece and dropped it in the greenhouse.

Whilst most Rhubard is just poking a head above it's top dressing of horse poop this time of year, Harry created a warm dark Spring in a bucket and our root went about growing. This one is 14 inches long. It has almost no top leaf and if the experts are to be trusted in a few weeks we'll have a crop of the tenderest sweetest rhubard known to man.

Seems like a lot of fuss, but honestly you need something to entertain you on the plot during the long dark teatime of the soul that is Winter.


Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Nope. That word has now lost all meaning!

Dig jà vu.

The feeling that you have dug this bit before.

Having already moved one lot of soil from this old compost heap the really nasty heap next door was tackled by Harry a couple of weeks ago. I missed all that fun as I was shamefully laid up (passed out on the lounge floor) with a legendary hangover following our friend's magnificent "bad taste" birthday party. I'll just say Absinthe and Jagermeister cocktails and leave it at that.

So all I had to do this weekend was shovel and barrow about half a tonne of dirt back onto the plot. I'm just a donkey really.

Huh! I'm missing the final picture. (pic to follow)

The earth here is rich but it's cold and damp and doesn't get sun at ground level because of the shed. So we'll be moving all our fancy raised beds to the land vacated by all this earth.
We've got four of these and we need another two. Then I'll transplant some comfrey underneath the beds to keep the weeds at bay. The comfrey will help me raise my organic credentials later in the year.

1st February 2009. Somewhere under this lot there is my plot.

3rd March 2009. Oh! Look at my lovely plot all nicely dug over.

Don't be fooled. Now it's cleared I have to hoe this every few of days or there will be a carpet of weeds ready to greet me.

Oh! We're in luck Double click on the pic above. I've managed to capture my Allotment Gurus. Harry, and the more camera shy Coryn. (pronounced like Corrine).

I might see if I can cook and eat some weeds this year. They're a lot less trouble than carrots and seem to have no natural predators. Do not try this at home. Most weeds are very dangerous which is why we don't see them in the Tesco chiller cabinet.

It's too early to call it spring but it's beginning to feel a little bit spring-like from time to time.

I've said too much!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Purple Sprouting Majestey

Purple sprouting broccoli. (PSB)
You can click on any picture in the blog to enlarge it to full screen size.

I don't think that this counts as the first crop of this season, it's the last crop from last season. We planted this stuff in June 2008 and it's taken it's sweet time to arrive. But when it arrives you have got to be prepared.

We've got about 15 plants some early and some late spouting broccoli. Once the centre shoot develops a large head about two inches across you pick it out. (See below) This encourages the plant to produce lots of smaller heads all over the crown of the plant. Little purple spring fireworks everywhere.

I have the beginnings of a PSB glut. How is that a bad thing?
We have to keep this netted or it escapes.
They turn green when they are cooked. Huh! Still at least you know when to remove them from the steamer.

A quick teaser. Greenhouse watch continues....
Yup. It's as greenhouse.