Normality will resume shortly

Until then, we are here.

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A busy week

Things have been very busy this week, we’ve had family issues to deal with, car problems, work and inconsistent weather so the allotment has been very neglected. Apart from a good soaking in the greenhouse on Monday I’ve not been near until today. I felt very guilty, especially when I saw the weeds, but they’ll have to wait until another day.

All I did was give everything a good water and feed the things that needed it and harvest a few bits for Sunday lunch.

However the things that made me smile with joy are the flowers, mostly bulbs and plants that I put in last year, again they’ve been a little neglected but they are all the better for it.

The wine was a gift from my plot neighbour for looking after his plot a few weeks ago whilst he was on holiday.

I hope my beautiful flowers have made you smile too.

Allotment update

The weather is driving me mad ! It was so hot and sunny and I’ve had a few busy weekends so I’m trying to get to the allotment in between work hours during the week but it keeps raining, sigh, however I have discovered that I’m not the only person who allotments in the rain, it was lovely to see a friendly face and enjoy a warming cup of coffee and chat in the shed.

The tomatoes have finally perked up and after a feed have had a growth spurt as have the peppers, some even have flowers starting to appear, although the aubergine is very disappointing. I’m even debating removing it, maybe a job for next week ….

The sweetcorn has also filled out and is doing really well and now has a pumpkin friend growing, although I’m not going down the three sisters route as I’ve heard the beans can be a nuisance to the corn once they start growing up and wrapping around. I have a fixed bean frame which is currently housing a lot of very happy peas, some have even started to flower. The beans haven’t done very well, a combination of cold and slugs, hopefully they will start to shoot up once the weather warms up a little more.

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The broccoli and kale is booming, in fact it’s doing so well I’ve had to raise the netting a couple of times over the last two weeks. The leeks have settled well and have had a good weeding and look happy, as do the parsnips although I can’t say the same for the carrots. I planted three varieties in different areas but have around 10 carrots growing in total. The beets, radish, pak choi and turnips never fail and need thinning out a little and covering to avoid the dreaded pigeons eating them all !

The courgettes are starting to produce fruit, this year I’ve only planted two as I learnt the hard way last year just how many fruit they can produce. However I have made a slight error with pumpkins this year and currently have seven, yes you read that right, seven growing very happily, after I planted four seeds and nothing happened for a month, I planted another four, I didn’t get to the allotment for ten days and bingo, seven happy pumpkin plants. I’ve moved one into a space with the sweetcorn but the others I have left and they have a fair amount of space to ramble. I’m not doing butternut squash this year, thankfully.

The fruit bushes are coming along nicely, the raspberries have a few berries as do the gooseberries, they are still very young, small bushes so even a small crop is very satisfying to see. The strawberries are covered and some of them are huge, again the birds and I are fighting over these gorgeous juicy fruits. The pear tree needs to be thinned but I’m going to leave it until the end of June to see if any drop naturally. The newly planted blackberry bushes have really shot up and have had to be tied up.

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The sunflowers have gone missing again ! I noticed whilst I was there in the rain the last few days that there are a lot of slugs and I’m not very happy that the frogs aren’t doing a better job, I really don’t want to use pellets so might have to invest in a few traps.

Phil’s rose is blooming and looks beautiful. It’s still only a small rosebush but has the biggest yellow flowers with red tips. On a grey day it really stands out, like his beautiful smile always did.

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The compost area had spilled out, the front board had come loose a month or so ago and with everything needing to be planted out, it was left to it’s own devices and I finally got round to sorting it out and we had a lovely surprise underneath. Our first crop of the year, potatoes, enough to keep our family of four supplied with three meals.

My allotment is a really big space, it measures 110ft long by 15ft wide (33.5m by 4.5m), not including the shed and greenhouse so has lots of growing area, we still have two full beds covered and unused plus a smaller bed covered. I’m thinking of creating another pond area in this smaller bed as it’s at the opposite end to the others and will hopefully help with slug population down here. I’ve bought a liner to make a shallower, smaller pond than the others, no fish but hopefully plenty of other wildlife and plenty of planting around and in it. But that’s a job for another day.

I bought myself a present, a new 25m hosepipe and reel with 7 setting spray nozzle. The old one didn’t have a reel and it had also sprung a few leaks, even the repairs had leaks. I have used a long piece from the old pipe to run from the tap to the reel and then can use the new hose to cover almost the entire plot, if I need to top up the ponds or water the flower area I can use the smaller piece from the tap at the other end of the plot. It’s so much better and much easier to pack away.

My only other possible plans are to create a herb bed, as I only have thyme and rosemary at the moment. Also my neighbour has a huge artichoke plant, which has lots of globe artichokes on it. I’ve dropped a few, very subtle, hints that I’ve never eaten one, he harvests most of them but always leaves a couple for the bees. So I’m tempted to plant one, if I don’t like it then all is not lost as the wildlife will be happy.

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All the basics are covered and growing but I’m looking for suggestions for what to grow or do in these two remaining beds, approximately each about 15ft by 15ft, so a decent size. What do you think, any suggestions welcomed ?

Everything’s growing

Well, the allotment is looking so good. The weather has been lovely, warm, sunny with the occasional rain shower and everything is thriving from it.

The asparagus has really settled well and, apart from two plants, has sprouted, we can’t harvest any this year but leave it to bloom. It’s so delicate and looks very pretty.

The sweetcorn, leeks and cabbages are doing fine but the broccoli has really taken off (except the one eaten by something)

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The peas are doing better than last year, although that’s not difficult, however the beans are struggling and I’ve put in some new seeds. The potatoes have been earthed up and sprouted through again. The strawberries and courgettes are flowering happily. I’ve only planted two courgette plants, a yellow and green. I learned the hard way last year how quickly they grow and produce.

I bought some thornless blackberries, (a hybrid of raspberry, loganberry and blackberry) and built arches for them to grow over, and put lavender it the middle.

The rest of the fruit is coming along, I’ve already started harvesting and giving away the rhubarb, the raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, pear, and damson. I’m just hoping I can get to them before the birds do. The tiny little apple tree we brought from home has two buds, so hopefully we will get our first apples from it.

But my favourite part of the allotment has to be the pond area, it has really blossomed into a wildlife area. The flowers have put on a good show this year already and more are appearing. The fish are doing well and we have a resident frog, plus tadpoles in the pond. The bees are loving the pond too and are always around the bricks and iris plants.

I’ve even started sorting the shed and making it pretty by papering the walls in floral wallpaper.

I’m so happy with how things are going, my only plan currently is to put another pond/wildlife area in at the far end, nearest the greenhouse as there seems to be a lot slugs and snails up there and not a lot of plants/greenery apart from the comfrey and a couple of rose bushes.

Talking of the greenhouse, the tomatoes and peppers are doing well, the aubergine is growing but very slowly so I’m not sure if we will actually get anything from it, ever !

I hope your garden/growing space is doing well too.

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.

 

An insignificant thing

Do you ever have one of those moments when something little happens but it’s the tipping point. That happened to me a few days ago, everything seemed fine, life was busy but that was nothing new and I opened the drawer in my bedside table and the front came off. The tears fell and my first thought was ‘why this one, it’s my favourite’ and that’s when I started laughing at the stupidity.

Let me explain, a few years ago I needed a new, to me, bedside cabinet. I wanted something high enough to see the time on my alarm clock, with drawers to hold my essential junk and my usual glass of water/cup of coffee. I found one in a charity shop, the right size, colour and with three drawers, cheap and cheerful. Just what I needed.

The top drawer holds the important ‘things’, the bottom has toiletries and the middle has my stationary, pens and notebooks I use for recording allotment and blog notes. It’s just a cabinet, nothing special. So why did the middle drawer front coming off mean so much. Thinking about it later, as I was repairing the drawer, made me realise it was the feeling that this drawer gives me. I enjoy opening this drawer, it symbolises happiness. Recording notes in my books, planning for the future with allotment plans, the joy of growing, these are all happy things and the drawer breaking was a sad thing to happen to my ‘happy place’

Stupid I know, but sometimes you need the sad times to remember or see the happiness around you. Everywhere in life we are surrounded by sadness and fear, but look just beyond it and you will always find a ray of hope and sunshine. The media is full of crime, shootings, knife crime, unemployment, dysfunctional youth, terrorism. The world is terrifying, if you believe the media. So then why do we still travel, explore, leave our safe homes. Because the world isn’t just this and by being ‘in the big, bad world’ we see the good things. People being shot/stabbed, whilst strangers run towards them to help, give first aid, tackle the ‘bad guy’. Buildings destroyed but communities coming together to rebuild. The media don’t always tell both sides of the story, so remember this when reading or watching something.

I’ve started doing this with Oscar, when something bad is reported, or an event didn’t go to plan, find the good things that occurred from it. People supporting each other and how to find the positive when things don’t go well. I think it’s something we all need to do once in a while.

And all this from a broken drawer.

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.