What a busy few weeks! We’ve been kept away from the allotment over the last two weekends due to plans with friends and as a result the heavy duty clearance work has taken a back seat in favor of a post-work watering schedule in order to save the baby plants from the July heat. Hopefully (I use the word loosely), we’ll be back up to our elbows in grass and weeds this weekend before it all starts to creep back too much.
Without further ado, onto the plants!
Our little cabbages are coming on leaps and bounds with new leaves unfurling every time we visit. We’ve had some slight slug damage to one or two. Organic deterrents have been researched to try and ensure that we don’t lose any to the slime army before they’re big enough to survive a slight nibble. Hopefully some sunken jars of beer should prove more attractive than our plants.
We planted some swiss chard seeds just over a week ago and they’re already poking through!! This is the first thing we’ve grown from seed and it was so exciting coming up the path and seeing something poking out of the earth that a) wasn’t a weed and b) something that we’d put in the earth ourselves! Hopefully it will continue to stretch up towards the sun and we’ll have lots of leafy chard by the end of summer.
The broad beans are doing well apart from the fact that they have a touch of blackfly, particularly the tall one on the middle left. I’ve read that a solution is to mix up some washing up liquid and water and I’m planning on giving it a go before the flies stunt growth too badly.
The runner beans are slowly being trained up their supports. The leaves are still a little bit yellow and I’ve read this can be from the shock of being transplanted. Hopefully they’ll get stronger over the next few weeks and we’ll have a nice wigwam covered in those lovely volcanic red flowers.
Lastly, I think it’s fairly safe to say we have clay soil. We were starting to dig over a compacted bed in order to get it ready for some carrot seeds. It turned out to be a lot more compacted than we first thought and this was found about half a spade length down. If we can’t get through it will a spade then goodness knows how carrots are going to force their way down! Suffice to say we have a lot of back breaking work before any roots vegetables can go in. This also slightly complicates my dream of having a lavender hedge at the bottom end of the plot, a lot of rubble will need sourcing and digging into a trench in order to give any lavender the drainage that they need.
Hopefully the weather will continue to improve throughout August and life will continue to keep springing from the earth ready for my pot and my plate.
Just two weeks into having the allotment and the first veggies are in the ground! I always knew that I want to try my best to catch the end of the nice weather this summer in order to get some delicious goodies growing but it’s certainly going a lot faster than I envisaged.
These plants came from my Grandparents, they have a veg plot in their garden and donated us some cabbages, runner beans and broad beans.
Here’s the cabbage bed, I dug it over and incorporated a small amount of compost just to give them a boost. Admittedly after this photo was taken I raked the ground for a solid 15 minutes to get the earth really fine (and I still wasn’t satisfied). If it’s possible to get obsessive about dirt clods then I’m well on my way there already.
Here they are all planted out, 20 in total. I picked out the strongest specimens to be planted out. We re-purposed some netting that we found on the plot to try and offer them some protection from the birds and butterflies.
Cabbage eye view. They look so tiny!
The broad beans were next to go in. I wasn’t sure whether to bury the pots or not so they ended up being left sticking out. If anyone can offer any advice on the best way to plant using these it would be greatly appreciated.
All of these will take a few months till we get any harvests from them. In the meantime I have a bumper seed order on it’s way with some quick growing cut and come again salad leaves so we’ll hopefully have some produce on the plate before the end of August. I can’t wait!!
Phew! What a busy two weeks! The plot is really starting to reveal itself now and my imagination has been in hyperdrive planning the future layout, growing plans and a flower patch (including a wildlife pond, squee!)
The top three beds are cleared of weeds with the fourth bed well on it’s way. The bed second to bottom of this picture will eventually be converted into raised beds which will house the strawberries and a nursery bed. All those bags are full of grass, it’s a shame we can’t compost them as we’d have a full bin already.
The raspberries revealed! As they seem to have given up all their fruit already I’m assuming that they’re a Summer fruiting variety and thus the new canes will be the ones to bear fruit next year, as a result I’m not going to trim back any new growth. Once we’re firmly into Autumn and the plants are dormant they’ll be moved into their new spot which will be protected by the fruit cage. Over time they’ll be joined by some blackberry bushes and grape vines as well, Rob has put in a special request for a redcurrent bush as well.
The bottom end of the plot is looking less impressive. We found some asbestos in amongst the grass and as a result I’m a little wary of diving into this too aggressively
On Saturday I got sick of the sight of weeds so decided to tart up the hedge. For a first time hedge trimmer I don’t think I did too bad a job. I’m not the most dainty creature so I did think it was going to end up a bit lumpy but it’s not too shabby, even if I do say so myself.
The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted some tiny plants in the ground already, they’ll be more on that later.
I never thought that I would ever find myself sat dreaming about sheds, and yet, this is the exact scenario that I now find myself in on a daily basis.
The weather here has been touch and go all week with periodic mild showers every evening. We have no shelter up at the plot at the moment, and, as the allotment is a twenty minute walk from home, it’s a bit risky heading up there with the weather being so temperamental.
Slowly but surely the desire for a bolt hole is seeping into my very being. The thought of sitting in a little shed, enjoying a freshly made brew whilst watching the heavens open seems like pure bliss.
As there’s no-where sensible for a shed to be built on the allotment quite yet my Pinterest is suffering the brunt of this obsession and I just wanted to share with you a little collection of my favourite ideas. Spider filled, musty sheds these are not.
Top Left: That storage cabinet is pure love
Top right: The colour combination paired with Wisteria is sublime
Bottom Left: I love the way that the personality of the shed spills over into the surrounding area
Bottom Middle: This brings to mind a Wendy House for grown ups
Bottom Right: That window. Transforming the plain into the pretty
Monday the 29th June was my 27th birthday, it was also a day that I spent up to my ears (literally) in weeds. Due to it being my birthday both Rob and myself had booked the day off work. The initial plan was to go for a cinema date but that went swiftly out of the window when the allotment key came through. Instead we packed up our flask and boots and heading out for a day at the allotment.
Contemplating where to begin.
With so much to do it was hard to know where to start. I happily went pottering around to see if there were any treasures lurking amongst the weeds, while Rob took a more practical approach and decided to clear the entrance way so at least we wouldn’t have to fight our way in next time.
He did a rather good job and seeing difference in that corner certainly got the motivational juices flowing. Upon inspecting the beds some turned out not to be as bad as others, the top few in particular had managed to avoid the worst of the grass. The bottom one, however, is a knotted mess of long grass so has largely ignored for now. We concentrated on the top few beds and made encouraging progress in just a few hours.
This was the view from the top bed when we arrived…
When we first arrived at the plot I honestly thought it would be at least a month till we could get our first crops in the ground, now it’s looking like we might be planting in a week or two! One of the neighbours informed us that the couple who had it previously only gave it up this year so I don’t think the weeds have had chance to root too deeply yet. The soil is still in excellent condition and shouldn’t need much work other than digging over this year. I’m hoping to get some manure laid over winter and let the worms do their thing in order to keep it in such good condition for the years ahead.
After the initial shock of how overgrown the plot was we decided to have a poke around in amongst the grass to see if anything of value had managed to survive the onslaught. What we found was pleasantly surprising.
From the front of the plot it looked like a unkempt meadow as far as the eye could see but, after taking a little wander to the back, it wasn’t hard to miss one crop that was not only thriving but doing so well that no competition could compete. First discovery of the day – Rhubarb!
These guys are massive! I don’t yet have the heart to cut any of them as they’ve survived so well, an attitude which is probably not well suited for an allotment owner. I’ve read in my trusty RHS guide that rhubarb should be not be harvested too late in the season so that it is strong enough to survive the winter, so I can assuage my guilt for now. The yellowing leaves will need tidying up and hopefully it should be back just as strong next year. Unfortunately our plot ends where the blue string just behind the rhubarbs bed is, so that nicely tilled earth in the back of the picture is just there to taunt us.
Across the path from the rhubarb is probably my favourite find of the day. Snuggled in amongst the tall grass was a dozen or so strawberry plants.
A lot of the fruit is still pale and I’m guessing that they haven’t had enough water to swell and ripen due to being left unattended all spring and early summer. However, one advantage of all the weeds on the site is that it’s hidden a lot of the ripened fruit from the birds. We’re right next to woodlands and there’s plenty of fat pigeons hanging around but there’s a lot less damage than I would expect to find on un-netted strawberries and I’m guessing we have the tall grass to thank. Once we’ve had the best out of these strawberries we’ll root the runners into pots and then they will probably be dug up. They look a bit ropey and I’m guessing that they might be a few years old and I’d like to build a raised bed a little further down the plot which the runners can be transplanted into ready for next year.
Whilst inspecting the strawberry plants this little fella caught my eye… a lone gooseberry…
I didn’t spot it initially because it’s hiding behind the rhubarb. We have two bushes that look fairly well established and both have a reasonable amount of fruit. I’ll be honest in saying that I probably would never of thought of growing them if they weren’t already here as I’m not a huge fan of the taste but it will be interesting to see if that view can’t be changed now there’s a fresh supply of fruit at my disposal. Also, they’re already in the location of where I’m dreaming of building a fruit cage so they might as well stay for now. I’d like to see if these can’t be trained to grow a bit more straight as I’ve already been spiked when trying to inspect them.
Down in the front corner of the plot were some posts which caught my eye as they looked like they’d been used as supports at one time. Sure enough they had been and the fruit they had been supporting was still there, raspberries. The bushes were being strangled to death by bindweed and could barely get any sun because of the tall grass but they were still there, still flowering and still fruiting. Upon further inspection it seems that at one time there were supports all along the left side of the plot with more raspberries growing just like this one. The new raspberry cane growth is running amok at the moment but at least its a sign that the plants are still thriving. The plan is to transplant some healthy plants to the bed opposite the gooseberry bushes, the area that will soon be incorporated into the fruit cage, and get them properly staked and trained.
The last find of the day was these two garlic bulbs. One is a little damaged so we might have to see whether or not it’s edible but the other one seems fine. The smell that came off these was intoxicating, especially once they’d been laid out in the sun for a few hours. I definitely have the buzz for getting some crops of my own in the ground now and can’t wait to get cracking on with the weeding. Hopefully we should have at least one plot ready for some late brassicas if nothing else.
Hello and welcome to my brand spanking new blog! I wanted a way to track the progress of my new allotment from a wild grass land to a fertile and productive haven and also to share and document all my triumphs and failures as we go along.
After putting my name down on the allotment waiting list in April I wasn’t expecting to be offered a plot for at least a year, demand for allotments in my city far outstrips supply, but, much to my surprise, just two months later a letter from the council landed on my doormat offering me my very own half plot! At first I was a little hesitant to accept as I’d had my heart set on a full plot (dream big!) but after a little deliberation, and a much more sensible friend explaining just how big 170m2 actually is, I decided that this was the plot for me. Contracts were signed, keys exchanged and I took officially possession of Plot 23b on the 27th June 2015, just two days before my birthday! What more could a girl ask for?!
Rob and I went up to have a first look and we almost walked past the gate it was so hidden amongst the shrubbery. Could all this overgrowth be a foreboding sign of things to come? The answer, as you’ll see below, was emphatically yes.
This is the view that greeted us coming through the gate for the first time. It’s clear that at one time this was a very well loved plot but the wild has certainly done it’s best to reclaim it. Unfortunately we were in a bit of a rush so haven’t had chance to crack on yet but we’ll be back to get on with the job of pulling these weeds before too long. We’ve certainly got our work cut out if we want to get the plot workable and get some produce from it this year!
Join me next time when I’ll be sharing some discoveries we found hidden in the undergrowth.