Sunflower Tales.

Did you miss us? I’ve missed being here and so with no further ado let’s get on with the blogging…

We are having a sunflower growing competition! A couple of weeks ago I planted up a load of Giant Yellow sunflower seeds and numbered the pots.

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With the weather forecast, finally, promising warm weather we decided to have a BBQ at the plot and so it seemed like the right time to draw lots and allocate seedlings. image

So so after working hard on the plot and finally managing to persuade the charcoal to light ( having a plumber husband that owns a blow torch is ever so handy sometimes!) we had a lucky dip. Dave got plant No. 9 and it was love at first sight!!!

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We ran out of time to actually plant our seedlings this evening so that will a top priority job this week. Then the competition will really begin in earnest. Neil, never one to shy away from being competitive, has already been googling ‘how to grow the tallest sunflower’ !!!

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Busy, busy, busy…

What a busy weekend it has been but with not all of the activity taking place at the allotment.

Yesterday Manda and I went to our local annual plant fair held by the National Trust:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wra-1356319341620/article-1356396420439/

It was Dave and Manda that first found out about this event a few years ago and we now make a point of going every year as it is a great opportunity to pick up good quality, reasonably priced plants that we haven’t got around to growing on for ourselves! So this year we came back having bought three different varieties of tomato plants, pumpkins, outside cucumbers, French beans, strawberries and sweet peas. In fact I think I have forgotten a couple of other things that we picked up too. Anyway, we were so laden down that we were helped to the car by a couple of very helpful girl scouts!

All of these purchases were made in a marquee that sounded like it was about to take off; the weather was truly horrendous so it was decided to leave going up to the plot yesterday and to try to get everything in today when the forecast looked a little more promising.

Today dawned, well if not exactly bright and sunny, at least dry and not too cold but before making it up to the plot I was outside in my own garden planting sunflower and sweetcorn seeds which will eventually be planted out at the allotment. The sweetcorn is ‘Popcorn Fiesta’ so a variety where the kernels are all different colours. I’m hoping to dry them and use them as Halloween decorations.Image

I’m trying out these paper pots because apparently sweetcorn really objects to having its roots disturbed.

Then having realised how late I was running it was off up to the allotment ( with a very disgruntled 8 year old in tow). I was late because by the time I got up there Manda and Dave had already made a great start on getting everything planted out and had managed to get all of our new strawberry plants out in the new strawberry patch.
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A new strawberry patch because the old patch had become completely overgrown and the plants almost impossible to recognise in amongst the couch grass, buttercups and brambles. And this became the big job of the week, clearing the old strawberry patch out. It was horrid back breaking job despite having four of us ( x3 adults and Manda’s daughter, my disgruntled 8 year old was not to be tempted with digging and weeding today!) but it was eventually done and instead of strawberries there we now have a pumpkin patch!

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We have planted 5 plants, one for each child young enough to still care about pumpkins, though Dave reckons that he should have been bought one too! Between the sweetcorn and the pumpkins we are well on our way to being ready for Halloween.

We also managed to get the sweetpeas and the tomatoes planted but I forgot to get pictures of those, whoops. The french beans and cucumbers are going to require another trip up there to get those planted which means that next week is also shaping up to being a busy one too!

Here comes the sun!

After last Sunday’s rain we couldn’t have wished for a more glorious day of sunshine at the plot this weekend! And with all four of us there we were able to really crack on and cross lots of jobs off the seemingly endless list of things to do.

Though there is always something else to be done I think we are all really enjoying our time on the plot at the moment. Last year none of us were able to commit much time to it and when we did manage to get up there it felt like an insurmountable task to get things back under control. This year has just been a different story. The weeds are under control, as is the grass, and we are quickly filling up the beds with fruit, veg and flowers. I can’t wait to see what our harvest will be like this year!

So yes, it really feels like the sun is shining on our plot at the moment.

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Manda’s peas. She is determined after three years of trying to get a crop this year!

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Finally, finally, finally those raised beds have been fully weeded. I am going to stand by my solemn promise to never have to do that job again!

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The poppy has started to bloom and just looks amazing. I am itching for all my other flowers to start showing off too.

2014-05-04 16.51.31A new bed for the parsnips ( roasted with honey or made into a spicy soup, yum yum!)

And finally…

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No-one ever, ever said he was clever! No, we haven’t a clue what it was but he sat like that, with it in his mouth for ages and ages. Good job he is adorable!!

Play Rained Off.

Our allotment adventures have really rather suffered this weekend due to the rain but there is still lots of news from the plot.

Dave was on his Easter break all last week and was a very busy man at the plot. The shed has been developing a rather alarming tilt for some time now but not anymore. Dave levelled the shed and now we can shut the doors properly and everything! We have since decided to move the shed but that will be a whole other post on another day, keep your eyes peeled. He also mended tools and cut grass and generally worked really hard. So, the plan was for us all to meet at the allotment on Friday afternoon and enjoy a bottle of wine, eat olives and spend some time appreciating all our recent hard work. The weather however had very different ideas and the rain set in hard during the afternoon. So that plan had to shelved for another day. Boo.

Sunday is allotment day and upon arrival we thought we had the weather with us for the day as the plot was bathed in warm sunshine. And so we all cracked on, I am still weeding, Manda was tidying beds and planting mint and lemon balm plants ( in pots!!) and Dave planted a honeysuckle to grow along the new fence that the council has recently put up ( nobody is sure if it meant to be stopping the badgers or intruders…). We also had a visit from Dave’s sister and his four nieces and nephews so the plot was positively humming along. And then…and then the clouds rolled in and the heavens opened. Boo.

When the rain started Manda was halfway through getting our baby leeks planted and she is not the type to be put off by a downpour so she soldiered on regardless while the rest of us huddled in the shed ( cowards that we are!):
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It was shortly after this that we all decided that discretion is the better part of valour and we retreated to the warmth of our kitchens. Here’s hoping for some dry and warm weekends, it can rain all it likes during the week when we are at work!

 

And finally we have a toilet!

There weren’t any official plans to visit the plot today because the weather wasn’t meant to be great but it soon became clear that in fact the weather was going to be just lovely and what better place to spend an Easter Monday than digging around in the dirt. Especially as it gave us all the opportunity to put one of our long terms schemes into action.

We have had a bath on the allotment to use as a planter for a couple of years now but somehow this didn’t feel quite enough…

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and so now we have an entire bathroom!! The sink is from Manda’s garden and as a plumber Neil gets load of second hand bath room bits. We have three or four toilet cisterns as planters on our patio area at home and they are great for growing herbs in. The plan is to see if we can grow tomatoes in our allotment bathroom simply because it seems like a good idea.

Apart from installing the new bathroom there was just lots more hard work clearing the new strawberry and french bean beds. I carried on with the flower bed weeding ( will it never end?) and Dave, amongst other jobs, got the last of the winter veg under cover.

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But as everyone knows all work and no play is no fun for anyone and so at the end of all our hard work there was also the opportunity to sit and survey our domain and make new plans…cheers!!2014-04-21 15.18.17

Lots of work and a very solemn promise

We have all had a really good week at the plot. Not just a day but several days of making real progress. We have even had fellow allotmenteers comment on how well it all seems to be coming along which is pretty much unheard of for us! Hurrah for the Easter holidays and being able to spend quality time at the plot!!

It started on Sunday and the allotment was looking very lush!Image

But not for long! Dave was able to borrow a strimmer from a friend and that long grass was soon a thing of the past! Neil is also a very happy chap because he has treated himself to a petrol mower so after Dave had strimmed the worst of it back he was able to go round and make the allotment look really neat and tidy. Well, neat and tidy for us!

We are also making great progress on the long neglected second half of the plot. We have turned the bottom section into an orchard which is looking good ( though we think we may have lost the plum tree) and Manda has worked really, really hard this week to create a winter veg plot. This is before, looking down towards the orchard, also before Dave and Neil’s strimming and mowing efforts.

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After:

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Actually she has done more since these pictures were taken and our baby brussel sprouts, swedes and cabbages are all safely netted and under cover!

And this isn’t to mention the peas, carrots and horse radish that have also been planted out.

And this is where I come to the solemn promise of the title…

Our triangular raised beds were one of the first things that we made and installed on the allotment. Over the years they have pretty much become established as flower beds and every year I find myself having to spend hours weeding them out whilst trying to preserve the plants and bulbs that I have got growing in there. This is the job in progress:
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Frankly, I am bored to tears with having to do this AGAIN this year but I have nobody to blame but myself for not keeping on top of the weeding. And so, and so, I have solemnly promised to myself that if I achieve nothing else on the allotment this year I will keep on top of the weeds in the raised beds so that next year I can do something different!!

Anyone care to share what solemn promises / resolutions they have made for their plots this year?