Thursday, 31 July 2014


Excuse me while I whoop in delight that finally after losing so many cucamelon plants to the bliddy slugs and snails I have one healthy plant and a fruit forming. I'm beyond excited about'd need to be a gardener to understand that fact. To those non gardeners out there I'm just sad heehee

Thursday, 3 July 2014

9 Days - Won't Be Doing That Again

For various reasons I didn't go to the allotment for 9 whole days and goodness me did I know about it. 

Why can't fruit and veg grow at the rate weeds do? From absolutely nothing when we left it last Sunday to a couple of feet high yesterday. 9 days! 

Thistles galore but they are easily dealt with.  

Bindweed by the bucketful is a different ball game. I've stuck some canes in where that horrible evil stuff is growing for it to grow up and then I'm going to strike with a nasty potion once it is in a false sense of security that I am allowing it to grow. I've heard vinegar spray is good as a weed killer. There is one hell of a mother ship hiding under my plot. 

The Californian poppies are growing well. Hopefully they will self seed and I'll have them again. 

I'm not quite sure what this orange beauty is. I can't remember what I sowed but it is a lovely plant regardless

Growing well are the Echium Pink Fountain I grew from seed last autumn. I planted them out a couple of months ago and the foliage growth has been quite rapid. I'm looking forward to the flower spikes forming. 

I also harvested some onions. Chuffed to bits with these I planted in the autumn. We do have mice hiding on the plot and around a third of the sets survived their nibbling. Lesson learnt to net them this autumn and hopefully more will grow instead of being pinched. Used the red ones last night and they were lovely. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

When Is The Right Time To Dig?

I really don't know. I know it's not today and probably not tomorrow after trying this morning. The very top is dry but the underneath is too wet. As I put my foot down and felt the resistance the fork was giving I knew if I carried on the fork would  break. I pulled it out and the marks told me no don't do it. 

So when exactly is the right time? I'll be blowed if I know but I hope that time comes soon. If it doesn't then I'm back to covering the weeds on the undug areas. Sigh....and so the adventure continues. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

It's War - Slug v Human - The Sheep Wool Episode

The little buggers have eaten just about everything I've planted. I've seriously got to the end of my tether. Next step is a pair of scissors. 

I've tried egg shells, sand, the evil blue pellets and whilst on holiday at Center Parcs I even spent a fiver on a reusable bag so I could carry a huge bag of used coffee grounds from Starbucks back to the lodge (carried bags just weren't strong enough). Said coffee grounds were liberally sprinkled after planting our young cucamelons, cucumbers and pumpkins and next morning most were gone. I've cloched the very small amount left and still they got in one or two. I'm keeping everything crossed for my one remaining cucamelon as it was the one and only thing I really really wanted to grow this year. In the meantime I've planted some more seeds at home and hopefully we haven't missed the boat with them. 

I scoured the shelves at Wilko last week in the hope of finding something, anything, I hadn't tried. Sheep wool pellets. £4.50 for a big bag. If it means I get to harvest something this year then it's £4.50 well spent. You make a barrier with them and then water which makes them expand. Apparently the idea is that they can't slime over them so go elsewhere. I may have gone overboard around my remaining cucamelon and given a very liberal application around my beans. Time will tell I guess. Next step scissors. 

With the sheep wool pellets in mind I realised I had a wool liner from inside the packing of a Hello Fresh ready to take to the allotment compost heap. It didn't get that far. I tore it up and made little mats for my strawberries. Worth a try. Plus they compost down eventually. 

Speaking of Hello Fresh. It's a food box that takes the thinking out of your cooking and no shopping to do. Everything is provided. If you fancy giving it a try and getting £20 off your first box then visit and quote reference THZR8A

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Take That Weeds

Another two buckets of roots that will no longer turn into nasties in the allotment. Amongst them is feet upon feet of bindweed root which was very satisfying to dig out. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mini Tour

We haven't had a gate on our plot all the time we've had it. I will be the first to admit that making one is beyond either of our DIY capabilities. eBay to the rescue. I won one ages ago for 99p which we collected. It has been leant against the house until last week when I had got a gate post and some postcrete and sufficiently nagged the husband enough to fit it. Easy peasy it turned out using the hinges that were already attached to the gate. Not really knowing how it would fit I didn't buy any catches/bolt thingies so we agreed to finish it the following day. 

Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and it has taken until today to get up there and get it sorted. 

While he was doing his bit with the drill and screwdriver I had some bare root rosa canina to fill in some gaps along the boundary. 10 for £2.50 from Wilko so worth a try. Got them on Thursday afternoon and they've been soaking in water. The intention was to plant them on Friday but again the weather intervened so today it was. 

As I was doing it I noticed just how bad the boundary is getting.  My snowberry bushes are growing madly which made me happy but the other side is wild as you can see by this picture. Definitely going to have to get a petrol strimmer to do the bit next to the fence. Our battery one only lasts a few minutes and we are struggling to make a dent in the plot nevermind the bit that isn't ours. 

Once I had planted the roses I had a wander round taking a few pictures. 

Chuffed to see nasturtiums from last year have seeded. I love them

and the sunflowers I planted have started to come up

Last year red amaranth made a spectacular display. It came from a pound shop box of scatter seed. Happily it looks like it has self seeded a lot. Little red seedlings keep popping up all over. I do like it but I don't need hundreds of them so have hoed some off and will move a half dozen or so to an area of our plot they can self seed away from the veg beds. 

Onions are growing well. This is part of one bed. I've got another bed aswell. Also shows how windy the plot is. 

This next photo has been both puzzling and concerning me. In a bid to try and kill off some of the grass I got some bike boxes and put them on top then got lots of multi purpose compost from Asda to put on top. I then sowed some annual flower seeds. My plan is to kill off the grass underneath, grow something on top so it isn't unsightly all summer and then dig it over in the autumn if the cardboard has decomposed enough. I did this last year over a weed patch and it worked so I had every faith. 

This is the bit where I'm both puzzled and concerned. Fungi has started growing instead of the flower seeds. I'm puzzled as to why - is it the compost or the conditions? If it's the compost then it's a bit naughty of Asda to be selling mushroom compost disguised multi purpose. My plot neighbour thinks that is the case. Personally I think it's probably the damp but humid conditions. I am concerned that it might spread to my veg beds. I'm not so bothered that it is growing in what is intended as flower beds but it's making my stomach lurch thinking of it growing near edible produce. Naive? Inexperienced? Neurotic? Or right to be concerned? I really don't know. 

Friday, 9 May 2014


Dig, dig and dig again and still they keep coming.  Weeds that is!

I've been digging like crazy and pulling roots out right left and centre.  I've filled bags and bags and buckets and buckets and just when I think there isn't another root in sight a dandelion or a blade of couch grass springs up overnight.  This week I've noticed bindweed waking up and sticking its head out of the ground. Boo I say to you mr bindweed. Stay dormant or better still shrivel up and bugger off.

The one which I hate more than the others (and believe me I hate the couch grass and bindweed with a passion)b is the hogweed.  I have quite a lot on the allotment in overgrown areas and around the boundary. Everything I've read suggests this stuff is pure evil.  If the sap gets on you it causes burns which react to sunlight for a very long time.  For this menace I bring out the weedkiller. Yes I know it isn't good and I can hear the gasps.  This is what it looks like as a youngster and it very quickly grows to massive proportions.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The First Year

We went from this

via a hernia surgery (husband), a fractured patella sleeve (youngest son) and other health issues which prevented a lot of the labour intensive work

to this

 My main gripe is a farmers field right next to the site which was left to go to weeds the last two summers because he sold it to a developer.  Inevitably the weeds spread across to the allotment site and the area at the side of my plot was at least waist high for most of the summer.  The council don't cut the paths on our site and there was no way I could keep on top of it.  At the end of summer the builders moved into the field so *fingers crossed* the weed seeds are contained albeit at the side of my plot.  My plan is a new petrol strimmer and a weekly strim along the other side of my boundary fence.  Although the council have drawn up some quite impressive swanky new guidelines so I may well badger them if they don't want any weeds causing problems.  I attended a roadshow last week about the new guidelines and the lady agreed to send a team to cut the weeds down once a year.  Better than nothing I guess.

Once we got the biggest of the weeds pulled out and had chatted to other plot holders we discovered  that a lot of the plot had been lawn and only the side bit next to the fence had been cultivated in recent years.  One plot holder said the old man who used to have the plot kept the grass like a bowling green.  Then somebody else took it on and let it go and to be honest we would struggle to roll a bowling ball down the ruts it now has in it. We made the decision that for the first year we would leave it as grass and concentrate on the side bit and actually get something in the ground. 

Husband and child got cracking (after the hernia recovery) and made some very rustic beds.

I laid some big cardboard boxes from the bike shop over the bits we didn't manage to dig in time to try and keep on top of the weeds. I then put compost on top and grew a few bits and pieces.  The cardboard rotted down and this spring I could dig it all over.  I didn't get anywhere near as many weed roots from these bits as from the rustic beds further up but I blame that on the hand rotovator we borrowed right at the very beginning chopping the roots up and the cardboard covering the undug area.

That was pretty much all we did in the first year apart from a chicken wire fence, planting some fruit trees/bushes and building a compost bin from pallets.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The overgrown Allotment

After being on the council waiting list for several months/years (I don't rightly remember) in October 2012 we received a letter inviting us to the site along with a everybody else on the list to choose a plot from a few they had cleared much earlier in the year. They mostly resembled varying stages of overgrown jungle, some with water, some without. 

Turned out even though we weren't top of the waiting list we were top of those who had turned up so got first choice. We went for one which had a water tap just outside and was maybe a little less overgrown than the others. Us being us it wasn't totally straightforward when the man from the council decided we actually weren't top and gave the plot to somebody else. Cue another look around and a possible couple of contenders I decided to ask the council man if there was anybody else above us before we made our mind up (again!). He looked at his list, went beetroot coloured and said he'd made a mistake. We did have first choice and he then had the job of telling the other people they had to choose somewhere else. They ended up next to us on a plot with a dilapidated building on it. Their condition it turned out from his mistake was that the council remove the building. Later we found out that they had also agreed to clear the land for them. I do sometimes wonder what they would have done if they had got our plot and I hadn't asked the man to look at his list. 

So anyway this is what we got

You can just about make out a couple of fence posts on the left side and we go to the edge of the grass where the bindweed is at the right.