Let it rain…

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday and plans were made for an allotment bbq. Then the weather forecast was consulted. We decided to go ahead anyway! And so it was that we found ourselves grilling sausages and veggie kebabs in the traditionally damp weather of a British national holiday. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves anyway building a fortress out of the left over pallets.Image

I have to admit that this is not the first time that we have bbq’d in this weather and so we have amassed quite the selection of umbrellas and beach tents over the years.

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The best bit of yesterday’s trip to the plot though came when we started to move the cold frame.

The cold frame was one of the first things that we put in but over the years has seen little use. We’ve found that because none of us visit the plot daily that anything put in there tends to suffer a hideous death. Instead it has become a useful repository for old plant pots. However, we have been given another pond liner and Manda was very keen to put it next to our original pond. This meant moving the cold frame and look what we found when we opened it up:

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What a treat! There were in fact another two hiding under some other pots so our abandoned cold frame was clearly a big hit with the local lizard population!! Finding this out has rather changed our plans somewhat. We have still moved the frame, it is now over near the bug house, but instead of it becoming another raised bed we have just filled it back up with old pots and logs. Now that we know they like it we just couldn’t face taking it away from them.
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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!

 

Who are we? The animal edition.

While I have introduced and chronicled the human allotmenteers that make up our plot collective I have been very tardy in introducing the other important members of our team. So, without further ado I give you Ruby and Pickles.

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( that is a lesser spotted husband sitting next to them!).

Both Ruby and Pickles live with Manda. Ruby is 8 ( I think…) and is a Sprollie which is a border collie / springer spaniel cross. She is not a nuts as you think a cross of those breeds would be. However, she does bring a level of border collie neurotic concentration to watching people dig that is quite something to behold. She can watch Dave or Neil dig for hours on end in the hope that one of them will throw stones for her to chase. They won’t though because that has been banned. Failing that she will get stuck in herself and loves to help dig holes which is partly the reason that we ended up with our first pond…

This is a great picture of her last year ( not such a great one of the plot though, wild and untamed I think would be the appropriate description).
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I also like this one which is her hiding behind our fence!
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Pickles is a Shih tzu and is only a year old. He is thoroughly adorable but frankly not the sharpest trowel in the allotment shed!! Unlike Ruby once he has run round the plot like a total nutter he then falls fast asleep. Unless there is food. Pickles can hear a picnic being unpacked from 100 yards!
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He really is a very sweet ball of fluff but definitely has a way to go before he is up to Ruby’s digging standards.

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