Spring has sprung

The sun is shining and the weather is really warming up now. Everything is starting to bloom, including the weeds !

The Easter weekend was perfect weather, dry and hot, to finally get stuck in and get planting some of the huge seedlings.

I arrived at the allotment to find a gift from a neighbour of 6 broccoli plants and 4 cabbages, as I already had plenty of these I passed them on to another plot holder who was very grateful.

I decided to plant up the six, newly created, box patches. One has sweetcorn, the second has broccoli, third has kale, spring onion and two rows of multi-coloured heritage carrots, the fourth has leeks, the fifth has cabbage and cauliflower and the last has courgettes.

 

I have also planted 4 rows of Paris market carrots alongside the onions and garlic, both of which are doing really well. I finally managed to get the main crop potatoes in (after a lot of weeding), the earlies went in a month ago and have started sprouting and these have been earthed up.

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The peas are doing well, however the beans haven’t done so well since being planted out and I’ve put some more seeds in, so hopefully they will grow.

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The strawberries are flowering as are the raspberries, they have settled well after being moved to a new spot and are growing well, although it’ll be another year or so before we get any to eat. Likewise the gooseberries, red and black currants are also starting to fruit.

The pond area needed a lot of work and after many hours is only about half weeded, however the bulbs planted have all started sprouting and the colours are lovely. There’s still a lot to do but the fish seem happy enough and we’ve got a few water snails to try and keep the green algae down. The wood chip man brought us some large logs and I’ve used some around this area to create more places for the wildlife to perch and hide and it’s working.

 

In the greenhouse we have aubergines, two types of tomatoes, chilli peppers and 3 varieties of sweet peppers.

 

It’s lovely to finally have things planted and growing but still plenty to do, mostly weeding !

Happy growing everyone.

 

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Community time

Our allotment association has had a community plot for a long time, before I arrived on the site. In the year I have been there nothing much has been done, other than an occasional mowing and it’s not been used.

This year we elected a few new people on to the committee and the decision was made to try and build the community on-site before doing any off-site events. It didn’t go down with some of the previous committee members but the numbers of people coming to the meetings has been reducing every meeting.

Our new chair-person came up with an idea to have a ‘community day’ once a month we come together to get the community plot up and running and build the social side. It started a month ago when a few of us turned up and made a plan of what the plot should be used for and the best way to accomplish this. We decided to create two different spaces in different places, the first would be an enclosed space, easy maintenance, grassed over with seating and a barbecue area. We can use this space for the allotment children to have a safe space to play and mix if they don’t want stay on their own plots, parents and grand parents will know they are safe too also it will be used for once a month afternoon tea’s and our yearly summer party.

This weekend we had our first ‘community working day’, six of us turned up, one I’ve never met before, and got stuck in. Two people started clearing rubbish from around the whole site, two clearing rubbish from the plot and two started clearing a space to create compost, wood-chip and soil bins.

I was one of the people working on the plot, after half an hour we had filled 8 rubbish bags and a bucket full of glass. The plot was very overgrown, mostly grass but also the previous owners crops, we started pulling these up, removing the weeds and digging over the beds. The idea is to level the plot, it’s very uneven and then cover with grass seed. Whilst working more people arrived and commented on the progress, unfortunately the weather started to turn but we took lots of photo’s and posted them to our allotment group to show the progress we made and it has encouraged more people to help, the people who can’t make it at weekend are going to do whatever they can, sometimes people need to see something happening before they get involved.

Progress is going slowly but steadily and I made a new allotment buddy. It was a win-win weekend.

The growing season begins.

It’s hardly felt like winter. We’ve had a few cold, snowy days but other than that the weather has been unseasonably warm. It has meant that the weeds are growing and the fish are still happily swimming around the ponds.

Over the last few months I have changed a few of the larger beds into smaller, more manageable growing spaces. So I’ve been doing some planning, ready to get growing this year. I got a lovely book for Christmas last year, Companion planting by Bob Flowerdew. I’m going to try a few of his techniques to mix the crops to maximise the space.

I’ve started with one of the permanent beds, I originally had set it up as a fruit bed, but now I’ve moved the strawberries and have planted asparagus alongside the raspberries. I bought second year crowns so hopefully will get a crop next year.

I made a list of all the veggies we enjoyed last year and new ones to try this year and have planned out the beds. I’m growing a few different things this year, and looking forward to trying some new varieties of plants we grew last year. One thing we all agreed on last year was none of us like broad beans but loved French beans,. The joy of growing your own is finding your own favourites, and not just what the supermarket has in stock.

The potatoes are chitting nicely, and the seedling are starting to sprout, some look ready to pot on already !

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The allotment beds have been fed and turned ready for the upcoming planting to begin. The flowers are starting to appear also and it will be time to start our sunflowers again, last year Oscar planted Van Gogh, these are my favourite sunflowers, a smaller variety but multi-headed and they flowered until the end of October. Here’s hoping for another sunny, happy growing year ahead.

It’s an exciting time.

This year we will be growing :

  • Asparagus – Ariane, Mondeo, Pacific 2000, Purple pacific
  • Aubergine – Black beauty
  • Beetroot – Moulin Rouge, Burpees Golden, Cylindra
  • Cabbage – Golden acre, April
  • Calabrese – Ironman, Green Calabrese
  • Carrot – Flyaway F1, Paris Market 5, Harlequin
  • Celeriac – Monarch
  • Courgette – (to be confirmed)
  • French Beans – Isabel climbing beans, Cobra climbing beans, Hilton dwarf bean
  • Kale – Dwarf green curled
  • Leek – Musselburgh
  • Pak choi – Shanghai
  • Pea – Hurst green shaft
  • Pepper – California Wonder, Colour spectrum
  • Potato – Charlotte, Albert Bartlett Rooster
  • Radish – (to be confirmed)
  • Spring onion – Lisbon
  • Sweetcorn – Lark F1 hybrid
  • Tomato – Principr Borghese
  • Turnip – Snowball, Purple top

Also we are going to plant pumpkins again for Halloween carving, I saved the seed from last years pumpkin, fingers crossed.

What are you growing ? Any tips, ideas, suggestions or varieties you recommend.

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.

a day in my life …. photo diary

A busy but productive mother/daughter day …..

Sunshine and spring

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The beautiful sun is shining for the first day of spring today. A time to be outdoors and getting busy sorting the overgrown plot, affectionately known as ‘the allotment’

The word allotment conjures up visions of rows of dark soil, wigwams of canes, greenhouses filled with seed trays and pots of flowers everywhere. However mine was very unloved for a long time and is reluctantly shedding the weeds and brambles that have overwhelmed it.

For the last few months it’s been mostly about cutting and chopping the overgrowth, but the piles of woody stems has steadily risen.

Today  I bought a new toy and decided to tackle those piles. I wish I’d bought it sooner, it made short work of the (thankfully) dry brambles and the heat would have been very welcome during the colder winter months. After two hours of cutting and burning one pile was gone, very satisfying to finally see it disappearing.

Spring has definitely sprung today, it was lovely seeing and hearing all the birds, plus butterflies and lots of red-tailed bumblebees buzzing around.

One bonus of all the overgrowth is finding interesting features. This one has been my favourite so far. Can you tell what it is ?

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