Six on Saturday – June 9th

The weather doesn’t seem to be able to decide if it’s going to be warm & sunny, or fresher and drizzle, but so far today it looks sunny – let’s hope it stays that way! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. First up, one of my “unknown” plants on the allotment. Several years ago I scattered wild flower seed (labelled “British Wildflower Mix”) in this patch, and this year we have this plant growing…. it’s quite tall, but shorter than the Teasel.

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  2. Some of the second early potatoes are in flower – the first earlies are growing quite well considering their lack of chitting progress, but I have a feeling some of the second earlies might be ready first!

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  3. Moving on to the herb patch, the sage is flowering away – I was considering cutting the flowers off, but after seeing just how many bees were collecting pollen, the flowers have had a reprieve!

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  4. Just Add Cream is next – while those strawberries look small (in fact they’re smaller than the ones from my original plants), they’re said to be particularly tasty…. just need to wait a day or two for these to be ready & we’ll find out!

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  5. We’ve never had a particular success with growing peas before, but this year I planted some in a partly shaded area of the plot…
    …I think we can safely say the peas approved of the partial shade!
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  6. An unusual photo to finish, but a classic one from an afternoon on the plot.    
    One bag of rubbish ready to carry home…. if only the wheelbarrow wasn’t currently out of action, it would be a lot easier to get it back home!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – June 2nd

Where did May go?! The start of meteorological Summer and it’s grey & dreary out there…. I guess that’s about right for a British Summer’s day though. Welcome to my  Floral Six on Saturday!

  1. Another Morrison’s supermarket bargain buy, this Bromeliad was past its ‘sell-by’ date, but still has plenty of flowers to come by the looks of it.

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  2. I’ve bought lots of cacti over the years, most of which were sold as a Christmas Cactus. But looking at the leaves of most of my plants, and checking the RHS site and Wikipedia, it looks like these are actually Easter cacti (Hatiora gaertneri – although the cactus book I have lists it as Rhipsalidopsis) – the one solitary plant I have with pointy leaves and a different shaped flower (not currently in flower) is a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera Truncata).

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  3. Moving out into a relative’s garden, the roses are looking great despite the heavy rain we had this week – the bees certainly are appreciating the pollen.

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  4. And while the insects are having fun on the plants, the local Blue Tits are having a lovely time eating the insects!

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  5. While I was taking photos, the relative looked over my shoulder and pointed out her favourite view in the garden, saying “I like the colours”. So here’s the “purpley pinky plant” with another rose in the background!
    who says you have to know the names of every plant?! ….although I reckon when she reads this blog post, she’ll immediately tell me what the plant is called

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  6. And last but by no means least, we have the resident Mole, who is currently looking after a trough of pansies. We did think maybe they were planted a little deep to be able to see (as the trough is raised up quite a bit), but they’ve grown tall enough to let them look over the sides.

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 19th

While everyone else seems to be watching the build up to the Royal Wedding, I’m planning what’s heading onto the allotment next, trying to work out a way of ‘bulking up’ the soil in a raised bed (the multi purpose compost I put in is just like dust!) and hoping that the runner beans will get on and grow faster! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. We finally got the new blackcurrant in the ground – I treated it to a lot of homemade compost, so hopefully it’ll be more successful than the failed redcurrants were!

    And here’s the original blackcurrant, in the hope the new one will thrive in the same way.

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  2. And speaking of fruit, the gooseberries are looking really good. Anyone know an idiot’s guide(!) of when they’d be ready to pick if they’re going to be cooked rather than eaten raw?

    no idea what variety this one is, as it was a gift from a fellow allotmenteer!
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  3. The lemon thyme & oregano have been let loose in the flower section (mainly because my original herb section is now shaded by a neighbour’s shed)….

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  4. ….but the rosemary seemed to like the shaded part of the garden, so that’s gone into the shady herb section in the hope it’ll approve.

    ….all I need is parsley, and I’ll be growing parsley sage, rosemary and thyme (and I bet you’re all humming Scarborough Fair now!)
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  5. Thanks to Granny’s Garden for the tips on how to resolve my dead-looking penstemon after the snow in early spring – it obviously approved of its severe ‘haircut’ as it’s growing new leaves like crazy.

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  6. And you couldn’t have a Six on Saturday without the customary strawberry flower photo….

    Some of the new plants were flagging a little, so I think the soil in that raised bed is a little too free-draining compared to the others. These are in a different brand of multi-purpose compost (with some homemade compost, topsoil and grit sand mixed in as well), and we’re a bit more sorted with just how much water they need.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 12th

It’s a strange combination for my  Six on Saturday this week – a mixture of harvest, flowers, tiny seedlings and a giant unknown “something-or-other”!

  1. First up, cabbages! A relative assured us they were ready for picking….

    but before you look at that photo and think “cor, that cabbage is huge!” that’s actually three together….

    that is one single cabbage!
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  2. Next up is another mystery plant / weed…. I scattered wild flower seeds in this patch a few years ago, and that’s how we got the Teasel. But what on earth is the large bushy “thing” to the right of it?!
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  3. Despite our lack of confidence in these seeds germinating, the Cucamelons are starting to peek through the soil…. maybe it’s not warm enough for them to be growing quickly (they’re in an unheated plastic covered grow house thing), so I might bring one into a heated area just to see what happens….

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  4. The mint is taking over the universe…. well, the plot at least.


    All this is mint that I dug out from the flower patch (I haven’t tackled the herb patch yet) – I think I need to replace the pots it was growing in, as it’s obviously managed to break through them!
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  5. My potato plants have browned on the ends – is this down to a lack of water, do you think?

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  6. And finally, strawberries!
     
    We came across these at Homebase – the Snow White ones look really healthy & much more established than bare root runners I bought last autumn, so I decided to take the plunge to replace some of the ones that didn’t survive.

    Most of those are now in my new plastic raised bed (Snow White is in a different raised bed, along with my other ‘unusual’ strawberries), complete with a new framework & net to keep the deer off the berries. And of course a rogue chive plant which I obviously missed when I moved it to a different raised bed a couple of months ago.

    And the Just Add Cream are flowering like crazy, so I’m hopeful for a decent crop of strawberries from them!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 5th

Hang on a minute, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, and it’s dry & sunny?! I’m sure that can’t be right…. anyhow before the weather realises it should be cold & drizzly, welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. Let’s start with a collection of three bargains from Morrisons supermarket…. I went with the aim of getting some more strawberry plants – they only had one variety, but the plants looked nice and healthy so I chose a couple to head to the allotment this weekend.

    While I was there, I spotted a blackcurrant for £2 – well I was looking for a new plant to replace the ‘failed’ redcurrants, and £2 was a much better sounding price than £10 we’ve seen elsewhere. The ground isn’t (quite) prepared for it to be planted on the allotment yet, so this one’s been repotted into a slightly more generous pot for the time being.

    And lurking in the houseplant section, I found the “bargain basement” selection of plants, which included a pack of 20 sorry-looking pansies for 45p! They’ve now been picked over to encourage new flowers, and will either be planted into a pot, or straight into the garden.

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  2. The broad beans are settling in well on the allotment, which means there’s more space in the garden for another tray of runner beans to be sown (so far only two runners have germinated).

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  3. Finally the blackberry support is finished! It’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of that, but you should be able to make it out. I just hope the deer don’t develop a taste for blackberries, now it’s easier to reach!
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  4. It’s not the most picturesque view of the allotment, but meet the “three bears” – so called, because it looks like ‘Daddy bin, Mummy bin and baby bin’.

    These are open-based and just sit on the soil…. I do need to cut the grass surrounding them to try and stop those weeds from sneaking in under the bins, or maybe I should put something at the base of the smallest bin (where the mint was growing) to try and prevent anything from growing through.
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  5. Next up is the gooseberry, which seems to thrive on semi-neglect! I think we’ve been leaving it too late to pick the fruit in previous years – it’s ended up mushing as we picked it. Am I right in saying the gooseberries should be quite firm when they’re picked, if they’re going to be cooked?
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  6. And finally, we have a little “guess the flower” which I’m sure most people will be able to figure out without too much hassle….

    the answer is at the very bottom of this post next to the comments section, so guess before you scroll down!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Continue reading “Six on Saturday – May 5th”

Stationery Six on Saturday – April 28th

I’m back with a slightly off-piste Six this week, as I’ve started a ‘little’ project which isn’t yet ready to feature on this blog! So, welcome to my  Stationery Six on Saturday… that’s my pick of 6 stationery items for the allotment, not stationary as in a Six on Saturday which is standing still!

    1. I mentioned this earlier in the week, but my main stationery item for the allotment this year has to be my allotment journal.

      Every year I think “next year I will make a note of what we planted when” and always fail to achieve it… but this year, I’m hoping the journal will encourage me to get writing, and give myself a decent record for future years!
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    2. Obviously, to go with the journal, you need a pen. When I write with a biro, I tend to end up with a scribbled mess, but along with my favourite fountain pens I mentioned on Monday, I’m also partial to a simple gel pen. Even better if it’s a fine black, or even micro black for a perfect almost spider-like thin line.

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    3. An allotment journal is all well and good, but it’s a bit bulky to take to the allotment with me. What I needed was a small notebook which didn’t matter if it got caught in the rain, or ended up covered in mud. Cue the waterproof notebook I was given as a Christmas present a couple of years ago – that’s come in incredibly handy so far.

      I copied some notes from a gardening book on the new plants we’d tried, so I had a basic guide of how long it should take to germinate, and any extra care and attention the plants would need. Having that in my jacket pocket on the allotment is definitely better than trying to remember it all! It’s also come in handy for noting down a measured sketch of parts of the plot.
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    4. Of course a waterproof notebook wouldn’t be any good if the ink runs! A waterproof permanent pen is essential, but bonus points if it comes in a pack with other colours too.

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    5. All these fancy pens are very useful, but sometimes you just need something that doesn’t matter if it breaks, or accidentally gets buried under the soil on the allotment. A cheap pencil is always handy, but just remember to keep that point sharpened.

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    6. But what happens when you make a note and realise you’ve copied it out wrong and need to correct it? Yep, you’ve guessed it, my 6th stationery item is an eraser.

      And before you say, yes I know the eraser is bigger than the pencil!

 

I’ll be back with a “normal” Six on Saturday next week, but don’t forget to check out National Stationery Week and of course the Propagator’s Six on Saturday – there’s plenty more blogs to check out in his comments section!

 

National Stationery Week – Make a Note Day

Did you know that today is not only the start of National Stationery Week, but is also Make A Note day? I set out with good intentions each year to write a note in an allotment diary, so I know what was planted when, and how each plant fared on the plot… but I never manage to complete an entire year’s worth of entries – it always fizzles out in May (or sometimes before)!

This year, a friend surprised me with a fancy hand-made allotment journal, and I’m determined to keep it updated all year long. She made sure I had plenty of pages, and the ring binding means I can swap pages around to give myself more space for the summer months when there should be more to write about – there’s no excuse to not fill in as much detail as possible.

I haven’t (yet) managed to draw out an accurate plan of the entire allotment plot. The sides taper in towards the base of the plot, so it’s not something that is easily drawn out on the computer, and requires slightly more accurate measuring than just pacing it out like I did previously. I do have some plans of small sections though, and those will be drawn onto grid paper in the journal, so I have an idea of the dimensions of each bed.

Part of the failure of my previous diary attempts was the lack of bulletpoint references for each month. Trying to check when something was planted, required skimming through pages to find a slight mention of the right seeds. The advantage of a journal like this, is the calendar page at the beginning of each month, for a quick-check reference to what we did when. Each month also has a handy tab on the side, so it’s simple to find the right section.

But a journal is no good on its own – you need a comfortable pen to use in it. And true to form, I can’t just decide on one favourite pen… I actually have three! Eventually I’m aiming on the pens having different coloured ink in each, but at the moment both Parkers are using blue ink cartridges.

  1. First up we have a fine-nib Lamy All-Star in Black Purple with black ink, with a handy way of checking how much ink is left without having to unscrew the pen.
  2. next is an old favourite which recently went back to Parker to have the standard medium nib swapped for a fine nib – a 2006 Parker IM (also known as Parker Profile, Vector mkII, or Parker XL!) in Amaranth Purple, with blue ink. The assistant in the stationery shop claimed he didn’t recognise this pen when I took it in to buy a fine nib, but to my amazement Parker was willing and able to to exchange the nib for free (even though it was obviously older than the 28 day limit for their Nib Exchange Programme).
  3. and last but not least, a new Parker Jotter with a fine nib courtesy of the Parker Nib Exchange at my local stationery shop. This one will eventually have purple ink once I can track it down – so far I’ve only been able to find it online!

Parker nibs are slightly wider than Lamy, so the fine Parker is verging on medium when comparing the two… but the medium Parker was so thick and heavy it just reminded me of my school handwriting – my style has developed a lot since then!

So for all those allotmenteers and gardeners out there, if you don’t already keep a good old-fashioned style journal, maybe National Stationery Week is a good excuse to get yourself a new notebook, turn off the computer, and start writing!


National Stationery Week
#natstatweek
#writingmatters

Six on Saturday – April 21st

They forecast dry sunny weather today, and rain from about 9pm…. well they weren’t overly accurate, it started raining at lunchtime. But now it’s  mid afternoon and the sun’s back out again, so we’re making the most of the dry warm day. Anyhow, welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. I don’t understand why women’s gardening gloves aren’t made to withstand “proper” work in the garden (or on the allotment). This is the only pair I’ve found which are short enough for me to wear (I can get children’s gardening gloves on, but I can’t bend my hand while wearing them!), and still can protect against most things…. but stinging nettles can still get to me through the padded fingers, and these are so filthy the mud now comes through!

    I think these desperately need a clean…. but I want to get a spare pair first, in case they don’t hold up to washing (the last time I tried washing a different style of gardening gloves, the fingers fused together as they dried (out of sunlight, left flat) & were utterly useless!
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  2. You know those broad beans we thought weren’t ever going to grow? They went down to the allotment this week – considering the weather, we had a surprisingly good success rate in them germinating and growing!
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  3. The “compost mystery plant” is a mystery no more – I brought this one home in a pot this week, and it’s definitely a mint plant… it must have broken through into the base of the compost bin, as I’ve been careful to not put any mint into the bin at all!

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  4. A relic from last year (or maybe the year before), these strawberries have been neglected, and left outside the front door. But they look quite healthy (or will do once I give them a bit of water), so they might go back onto the allotment next week.
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  5. And from the healthy, to the …. dead. The Snow White strawberries in the garden were looking quite wet, so we brought two into the porch to try and give them some dry warm weather. Unfortunately, they just didn’t seem to have any inspiration to keep growing – these look pretty dead to me, and the remaining ones in the garden aren’t looking any better.

    I’m hoping the 4 on the allotment will survive, but if not, this was an expensive failed experiment!
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  6. And last but not least, is the Rhino Runna that has made hundreds of trips to the allotment and back… and is suffering as a result! This is what it looked like new (courtesy of Amazon):

    and this is the state of our Rhino Runna

    The rust is taking over, and I’m thinking it’s about time I tried doing something about it, before it just disintegrates into a pile of rusty dust!

So here’s my question for you – how on earth do I tackle this?!
Is it just a case of a wire brush and lots of patience to rub off the remaining paint and rust, then using some kind of primer paint that will stop the rust coming back, before painting it with a top coat?
(as you can guess, we’ve never done any maintenance on it other than pumping up the tyre!)

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – April 14th

So much for sunshine, it’s all foggy and murky out there this morning. But they’re teasing us with forecasts of 21C for parts of next week, so maybe Spring really has sprung! Welcome to my  Soggy Six on Saturday!

  1. We’ve been talking about getting the Blackberry bush onto some kind of support for ages, and finally found some suitable stakes this week. I thought it was going to be challenging to get the stakes in the ground, but it was surprisingly easy – a couple of old socks on the end of the stake padded the top, while a large pebble-like stone worked as a makeshift hammer.

    All we need now are some suitably short vine eyes to screw into the wood, and we can get the wires attached.
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  2. Rhubarb! It’s grown a lot in the last week, so this week we brought home the first few pieces – not enough to make a crumble(!), in fact it could be described as a “taste” of rhubarb rather than a sensible sized helping, but looking at the plants, I think there’s plenty more to come.

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  3. We decided it was time to tidy the Raspberry patch before the autumn-fruiting raspberries grow too much. The grass sneaks into the patch every year, making the patch feel more like a jungle at times, but I want to try and keep it more under control this year. As you can see, it’s not the easiest ground to dig grass out from, but the lumps of grassy soil we removed, have been ‘recycled’ into steps at the side of the plot.

    There’s still a lot of work to be done before this is grass-free (or at least has a straight edge!), but I think the soil needs to dry out a bit more before we can get more digging done.
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  4. Digging out the Cucamelon patch was a bit easier, although there’s a lot of huge stones lurking just under the soil. We’ve not planted anything in this section on a regular basis, and a couple of inches below the surface there’s pure clay…. I think this calls for a load of compost before we can plant anything!

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  5. Several years ago, I bought this Penstamon and up to now it’s been looking great… unfortunately the green leaves it had last month, have all browned off. I’m guessing it didn’t approve of the cold and snow in March. A relative tells me I should “cut it back”, but didn’t tell me if it’s like Lavender where you don’t cut it back too much, or if it should be cut back as hard as possible. I’m reliably informed by Granny’s Garden that nothing should be cut until the risk of frost is over, and she cuts back to one green leaf on each stalk. Given that I have zero green leaves on the stalks, that might prove challenging, but I’ll give it another week or so just to check the chance of frost, given that the allotment site is so exposed.

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  6. Finally, we have a Morrison’s Supermarket bargain buy… these Geraniums aren’t heading to my allotment, but we’re potting them up to grow on for a relative’s garden.

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – April 7th

What’s that strange glowing blob in the sky? And more to the point, why is the sky blue instead of that murky grey colour? It must mean the sunshine is out, so we could finally get some more work done on the allotment! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

 

  1.  Several weeks ago, I ordered a new raised bed – I thought the plastic corners would help make it more sturdy. After a couple of phone calls to chase the company, it finally arrived this week, so I was looking forward to getting it all set up on the allotment. There was a slight problem though… the plastic corners were all smashed to pieces.So we’ve now arranged to take this piece of rubbish back to the store for a refund, and I’m still needing to find a decent, sturdy metre-square raised bed! Anyone got any suggestions, given that my DIY skills are lacking at being able to make my own?
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  2. I finally got around to weeding the second strawberry raised bed yesterday. It looks like the March snow killed off a few of the strawberry plants in this bed as well as the main one (no photos until I get a replacement frame for that!), so either I will use some of the spare strawberry plants from the garden or I might actually be reckless and buy some fresh plants to fill the gaps. Anyone have a favourite variety they would recommend? (My original 9 plants came from a newspaper promotion and I haven’t a clue what variety they are!)
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    The strawberry plants on the right are the Just Add Cream ones, and I planted out four Snow White on the left of that raised bed yesterday – they look absolutely minuscule, but these are the biggest four so far!

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  3. According to my half-written allotment diary from last year, we were already picking rhubarb by this point. It’s way too small to pick right now, but it’s all growing really well so hopefully it won’t be long before Rhubarb Crumble season starts!

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  4. No photo of the main potato patch, but this is the overflow patch! I have read that you can put black polythene down on the soil surface to save the need for earthing up the potatoes, so if I can find some I might give that a go once these sprout through the soil.

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  5. The peas were looking a lot healthier than the spring onions, and I decided it was time they were planted out. The label on the pot just said “plant out as soon as possible” which was really informative! I’m hoping that the way I put the netting in a zigzag will mean it’s not too challenging to pick the peas (assuming they grow!).

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  6. And finally, I have no idea whether it was a deer, badger, the wind, or just the cabbages wanting to escape, but I think we need to work on replacing the fleece covers!

Here’s hoping for some more dry weather, so the plants can recover from all that cold and snow last month.  Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!