Grandparent’s Donation

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.

Plants 1

These plants came from my Grandparents, they have a veg plot in their garden and donated us some cabbages, runner beans and broad beans.

Plants 2

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.

Plants 3

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.

Plants 4

Cabbage eye view. They look so tiny!

Plants 5

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.

Plants 6I’m so proud of my runner bean wigwam. I thought it would a lot more unwieldy to make but I got it on the first try. Now I just need to persuade my little beans to cling onto it and grow to the top.

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!!

Clearance – End of Week Two

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.

End of week two

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.

Cleared Raspberry

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

Wlderness

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.

Hedeg

The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted some tiny plants in the ground already, they’ll be more on that later.

Inspiration Series – Shed Edition

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.

finished

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

Clearance – Day One

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.

Where to begin

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.

Rob Clear GateHe 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…

Day 1 From the Topand this was the view at the end of the day…..

View from the top day 1As you can see I took the time to clear around the strawberries and we managed to pick 700g of fruit which will feature again shortly 🙂

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.

Diamonds in the Rough

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!

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.

Hello there

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…

Gooseberryand where there’s a gooseberry there must be… gooseberry bushes!Gooseberry Bush

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.Raspberry Bush

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.

onions

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.

First Visit

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.

Day 1

Day 1 From the TopThis 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.