June on the allotment

The weather has been crazy, it’s hot, hot, hot and apart from about an hour of pathetic drizzly rain that soaks humans but dries before it hits soil around three weeks ago, we’ve had no rain for a couple of months and the dreaded hosepipe ban is being mentioned.

The allotment has stalled a little as it’s too hot to be digging, so the areas that I’ve not yet cleared have been covered and left until the weather cools down. The ponds have been very welcome. I used a cheap trellis, held down with a couple of tent pegs and bricks to make a ‘wildlife escape route’ and the little birds, coal tits and sparrows mostly, are using it as a ladder to drink, its lovely to see them enjoy it. I had great plans of planting around the ponds and creating a flower, shrub area but that’s on hold until the weather eases up.

The plants are loving the heat and everything has been growing well, including the weeds. We had a slight issue with pigeons pinching all the pak choi so I’ve sown some new seeds and will make sure to keep it covered.

I was given three broccoli plants and two Brussels sprouts, neither of which I have ever grown before and this week we’ve harvested from 2 of the broccoli plants and the other isn’t too far behind. The netting has kept most of the butterflies away although now the sprouts are getting bigger it will need to be moved soon. Another job for another day.

The second peas (after the pigeon raid) never grew very high but we’ve had plenty of pods already and still plenty to fatten up. It’s been the similar with the broad beans. The french beans are slowly making their way up the frame.

The courgettes are producing really well, we’ve had 3 and I’ve given a few away to neighbouring plot-holders. I have planted two pumpkins and two butternut squash, I’ve never grown these before, and all have gained new growth and the pumpkins are flowering.

The greenhouse is a nightmarish place to be as it’s ridiculously hot in there. I have opened the roof, both side windows and the door vent but it gets super hot inside, however the tomatoes and peppers are loving it and have grown really well and are fruiting nicely.

Thankfully before the very hot weather really started we managed to sort out around half of the plot and those are the beds which are being used and grown in. I’m looking forward to get the rest sorted and growing some new things next year. I would like to get some more fruit growing, raspberries, strawberries, and gooseberries.

 

Whilst I was busy weeding and watering my mum was working hard making repairs and beautifying the shed and the ‘bath’ pond.

Have you grown anything new this year ? Any suggestions, tips or ideas welcomed.

Enjoy the sunshine.

 

Allotment update June 2018

It’s been a little while since my last post but the weather at the beginning of the year meant that not very much happened. Thankfully since April the weather has been hot and dry meaning finally we could get things planted outside and get the plot organised and sorted out.

Here’s how it looked earlier in the year ….

After a good few days sorting out and several trips to the tip it looked much better, especially the greenhouse and shed.

Next it was time to start organising the beds and planting. I started all my seedlings at home, but the weather this year decided to do strange things. From snow in March to blazing temperatures in April/May. I had dug over and covered a few beds so managed to get them planted up with red and white onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, peas and beans. I lost a couple of beans to pigeons (I assume)  and the fox decided to dig up both patches of garlic I planted (both times) so I gave up on that.

Whilst waiting for seedlings to be ready to plant out we got started on the ‘wildlife’ area and installed a couple of ponds and fixed up a couple of new gates.

Thanks to the previous owner we’ve had tons of rhubarb, and made lots of people very happy, including trading with other allotment holders.

Now I have a few more beds dug over and planted with courgettes, pumpkins, butternut squash, pak choi, turnips, beetroot, sweetcorn, radish, broccoli and sprouts. I already had a very well established plum and pear tree and have added some gooseberry bushes and red and black currants. In the greenhouse I have beef tomatoes and cherry tomatoes on one side and sweet and hot chilli peppers on the other. Everything has grown well so far.

I still have about a quarter of the plot to finish but I’ve managed to get all the wood I need to build the new beds later in the year, ready for the new growing season.

A good start, and the harvesting has begun …

 

Here’s to the next six months of growing. Any tips or advise are always welcomed.

Allotment week 2

Well the weather isn’t being very helpful at the moment ! I was hoping to get a little bit of digging started and possibly the greenhouse/shed cleared out, but the rain and hailstone this week changed my mind.

Instead I decided to do some research and proper planning. I’m lucky that I know what has been previously planted so know what to avoid/change as needed.

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My mum and I have measured the full plot and even broken it down to each individual bed and path sizes. I am planning to keep most of the beds as they are, however I’m going to split the biggest bed down the middle and make a small path as it’s too big to reach the middle from the current path, also the big bed nearest the shed I’m going to change into a seating area with a wildlife/pond area. I know we have a family of foxes that live on or near the allotments so have been advised not to use any bone meal as they will dig everything up.

Until the weather clears up I’ll continue planning and sourcing seeds, tools and other materials.

Happy growing.

Allotment Week 1

I got the email I was waiting for, the previous owner had handed over the keys for the shed and greenhouse.

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So I went to collect them and have a good look at what was inside.

It was a pleasant surprise, the previous owner was an elderly gentleman so everything is usable and useful although not very organised or tidy. The first job will be to de-clutter and clean up then we can see exactly what needs replacing or repairing. I did notice he’s left an old welly boot so I think I might plant in it so he’s still with us.

The greenhouse is in a good condition, just a clean up required.

It’s lovely to have a workable plot and to start planning what I want to plant and where. This year I’m keeping things simple. Vegetables I’ve grown before and we use on a regular basis, get plants established and sort out the fundamentals of the plot. I’d like to have a flowered seating area and a wildlife/pond area. Lots of planning and digging ahead.

Here’s to a good growing year.

1 Year allotment anniversary

Exactly 1 year ago today I took over a new allotment and a good friend took over the one next door, plots 331 + 332, we decided to work together and have it as one huge plot.

Unfortunately for us the plots hadn’t been worked/used for about five years, and before that they were owned by a gentleman in his 90’s so only a tiny patch had been used for many years before. When we arrived it looked like this …

A huge overgrown mess, many people told us we were mad, but not ones to shy away from a challenge we got stuck in. First we only had shears, hedge trimmers and a hand saw. We started but very quickly realised that is was going to take forever, so we joined the allotment association and borrowed the ‘big boys toys’

It was back breaking work but great fun. Soon we had clear ground but huge piles of brambles everywhere.IMG_3120

Unfortunately for us it was late autumn, the weather was turning and an eye operation meant I was out of action for a couple of months. But we got stuck back in a little over winter, chopping back more and more. Finally the weather started to clear and we invested in an incinerator bin.

We have spent the last month burning, chopping and burning some more, and now finally all we have left of last years brambles is a very small pile of ash.

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So in 12 months we may have only chopped and burned a few weeds, but now we can not only walk onto our plot but all the way from one end to the other without fear, scratches stings and a fight.

The plan for the next 12 months is car park area at the top, near the tree, a compost area, to complete the fencing, rotavate the land, and start growing. With the amount we have achieved this year I’m confident we can do it.

A is for …..

Allotment and the bane of my life currently, I took over a very overgrown double plot with a very good friend almost a year ago and it’s been a battle against nature every since. I love it, it was an escape from a desk job before the redundancy and since it’s been a focus.

At some point in the next five years I hope to be growing veg again, as you can see it’s not a short term fad but a long term journey and not the x-factor kind.

The previous owner was over 90 when he died and for many years he used his ‘war stories’ to stop the council from removing him from his very overgrown plot. He obviously loved roses and gooseberries as the plot is covered in them and they have huge thorns.

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After a few sessions with shears, saw, brush cutters, a rake and a burner we have finally made a dent into the undergrowth and can see the ground but it’s still a long way from ready to plant, a dry autumn/winter and a rotavator will help us massively. Every visit we make plans for the next visit but these are often changed the second we arrive as something else needs doing/fixing or takes our attention.

A monster challenge, ongoing headache and hard work but one that’s worth it, so be prepared for more blogs and photos of this project in the future.