Mowing the borders on a Friday night

Just as the sun was setting this evening I decided to make a quick trip to the allotment to cut the grass around the border of my plot.

The weather has been really hot and sunny all week but I’ve been busy at work so I’ve not been able to make any time. Despite the weather being hot and sunny it seems that the plants are not growing as much any more. Things are slowing down, so I expect the grass to be pretty much the same as it was last week.

Evening sunset over the village church

I was right. I quickly cut the borders with the lawnmower. I took that out of the shed and then put it back where I found it within about 10 minutes. Then I emptied the grass clippings onto the new compost heap and used my fork to turn it over.

It was nearly dark by that point, so I made a quick trip to the cucumber plant and pulled off six large cucumbers. They would go home with me.

The sun was gone by the time I closed the allotment gate and got back to the car. It was going dark quickly. I drove home in the dark. The evenings are drawing in very quickly now, we are mid-to-late September. Autumn is on its way.

Allotment Friday toad

Allotment visit Friday, the 11th of September 2020 between 5 and 6 o’clock in the evening.

After work this afternoon, I left the office travelled home put my gardening clothes on and headed off to the allotment for an hour or so. I’ve not been for at least two weeks, which means there could be some things to do … maybe … ?!

Apart from a little bit of weeding there really wasn’t much to do! Fantastic! Although the borders do need cutting again, there are a few weeds growing down the line of spuds that have now died back, and I had to tie up some of the tayberries because they were bolting across the allotment plot, but apart from that — very little.

Toady of the compost dump

One of my tasks was to dig a bit more out of the dumping ground next to the garden shed and move it onto the new compost heap I created a couple of weeks ago. As I was forking through I nearly skewered a toad! Luckily it was unharmed so I put him back where I found him.

Just after I had recovered from nearly puncturing a toad, Elvis surprised me as well. While I was weeding the main area over the plot I turned around to see Elvis sat right in the middle of my allotment waiting for me to notice her and give us some treats. Sorry Elvis! I didn’t bring anything again.

Some crumble tonight

At the end, after I had done all of my tasks: pickings free cucumbers, weeding and sorting out the new compost heap, I decided it would be a good idea to pick some of the apples which looked like they were about to fall off all of the apple trees around the allotment. I collected enough for apple crumble and then I picked a couple of storks of rhubarb from my main plot to go with it. I will collect some crumble mix on the way home and make something this evening.

A brand-new compost bin

Monday, the 31st of August 2010. I was at the allotment just after 8 am this morning, my plan was to build a brand new compost bin and start removing some of the compost from the large dump near the shed.

The dumping ground (compost) next to the shed has made its way up the wall and has also been spilling out over the ground next to the shed. A new compost bin is needed to start removing the overflow and allow the wall to start to dry.

New compost area

Yesterday I cut nine posts. This morning I turned up at the plot and drove them all into the ground. Each one was at a 90 cm centre, which meant that I could put 180 cm boards in between the posts. This worked out quite well.

All in all I spent about four hours today down at the allotment. All of it was building this new compost bin. But now at least we can tidy up the area next to the shed.

More plastic fly tipping in the composing areas

It definitely needs a lot of tidying. As I was digging next to the compost bin I unearthed a very large container of plastics. It seems that the dumping ground was not just for grass clippings!

First main crop of cucumbers

Saturday 28th August 2020. It was a quick trip to cut the grass surrounding my plot. I took my strimmer because that would be the quickest way instead of having to unlock the shed and start up the mower.

Cucumber harvest

After streaming the grass and borders I collected the main cucumbers that were ready to be picked. More are on the way, but these were the largest and were just perfect.

I gave Elvis the cat a couple of snacks, then I headed back home. It was a short trip, but that was the point of spending all my time doing the borders over the past year, it means that I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the menial tasks.

Damson gin recipe

Over the weekend I bought some gin to go with the damsons that came off the wind battered tree at the allotment.

Damson gin in progress

Ingredients for each… 500g damsons; 250g golden caster sugar; 700 ml bottle(s) of gin.

Rinse the damsons and remove any leaves and stalks; pat then dry, and put them in a freezer bag; freeze overnight or until solid. When solid bash the bag of damsons with a rolling pin and then tip everything into 1.2 litre jar.

Freezing the damsons and then giving them a good whacking helps to release the damson juice. I didn’t stop at a couple of hits, but I bashed the frozen fruits up until they were all damaged in some way. Since I intend to filter the condition before I bottle them up, I didn’t see the need to get dainty with a toothpick and individually prick each damson.

They will stay in a cool dark cupboard until Christmas. So, about 4 months away.

Cucumber 🥒 take home

Just a quick check tonight. There were two large cucumbers hanging from the plant at the allotment. I picked the biggest and took it home. The smallest of the two, I left for a few more days.

Cucumber in waiting

There are going to be plenty more of these. Plenty were already growing and there were more flowers showing.

It’s just a matter of time before I hopefully get a cucumber glut.

High winds and the damaged damson tree 😕

It’s been very high winds over the UK for the past 24 hours. Over 40mph for prolonged periods. When I visited the plot last night the trees in the main gardens were still being buffeted even though the high winds had decreased hours earlier.

Unfortunately the damson tree in the walled garden had taken a large beating and two of its main branches had broken off.

One was resting on the top of the wall that surrounds the garden and the other was hanging upside down from the main trunk. I managed to ease down the smaller branch into the floor but couldn’t reach the larger one leaning on the top of the wall.

Damsons on the broken branch

It was getting dark outside and so I picked up the whole branch and carried it to the car.

This looks like it might be some of the last damsons from this tree. Maybe there will not be many more to get once this tree has been assessed in the coming days.

With the branch of damsons I collected, I received 1800g off fruit. Enough to make 3 to 4 litres of damson gin. That’s the plan …

The first cucumber goes to the guinea pigs

The cucumber that was growing really well at the allotment this week succumbed to the heat of the Sun. unfortunately it has been a really hot week and the cucumber had got burnt on one side and started to turn. For this reason it had to go to the guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs and cucumber

The short trip tonight was just to tie up some cucumbers and to pick anything that was ready. I was a bit disappointed to find that my prize cucumber (the only one that has actually grown so far) was slightly burnt on one side. Never mind the guinea pigs will love it!

The cucumbers are going wild. They are beginning to grow in all directions and mistake I made last year which was to pot plant them to close together has been repeated this year. In future I need to plant and further apart. But that won’t harm the crop, it just makes it more difficult to manage.

15 or 20 minutes later and I had finished tidying up the cucumber plants and picked myself a bolting lettuce! Extra treat for the piggies at home!

Monday night cucumber tie-up

A quick visit after work showed that the cucumbers needed trussing up and some extra support adding. I needed to get outside after spending all day in the small room at home working on the computer. It’s been a roasting day today! One of the hottest days of the year, they seem to get even hotter as the year progresses.

Extra cucumber supports

That was fairly easy to do. Adding pieces of string and bamboo canes in a haphazard manner to support the streamers coming off the cucumbers. Trussing up each branch into its own cane, and separating out the tangled mess of the floor.

As I was doing this Elvis the cat appeared. I have forgotten to bring food again! Better luck next time Elvis! A short bit of watering with the hosepipe later and I was finished for the evening. I grabbed one of the lettuces that seems to have bolted and then headed home.

Quick Friday evening visit

It’s Friday 7th August 2020 and the beginning of another mini heat wave! Tonight we have made a trip down to the allotment just so I could check up the place. I’ve not been for a week.

Going dark at the allotment

Elvis the cat was really glad to see us. As we walked through the main gate we met the cat who was curled up on a wooden bench near the entrance. She followed us all the way through past the main house and into the allotment garden. Then she sat with my little helper on the wooden bench inside the walled garden. They both sat there for about half an hour. Elvis cuddled up against her legs.

Some small weeds were growing. I spent about 10 minutes raking the ground, chopping the weeds up. Just generally tidying up.

First cucumber

Close examination of the cucumber plants revealed one large, one small, very many flowers growing all over.

I need to keep a closer eye on the cucumber plants. The ones I planted last week looked quite weak and one of them had died. Even though it’s only been a week and we have had rain, I guess the strong heat had killed them quickly. At this time of year I need to spend two or maybe three times a week at the plot.

The neighbouring plot, the one I gave back is looking really great. The new plot owner has taken over now and they have started to plan and organise a long plot. They have made small sections of it, and it looks fantastic!

Short trip to plant more cucumbers 🥒

So, tonight I made a short trip to the allotment to drop off and plant the cucumber seedlings I bought in the garden centre this morning. One has gone in at home and the remaining five are planted at the plot.

Home seedling for cucumber

At the allotment this evening there were two other people, my neighbour of course (she’s always very diligent) and somebody else across the other side.

I added the five cucumber plants and cleared up the ground a little with my rake, then it was time to meet Elvis the garden cat for a while. She’s was mewing for food and attention. I’m afraid it was only attention this evening because I had not brought anything with me again.

The plot is looking well and good, so I didn’t spend long. Mostly I have been able to do work in the garden at home today. It’s probably the most neglected now and so because I’ve got time, that’s good for the jobs at home that have been piling up.

Five lettuce 🥬 plants and a kale

In the back garden at home I’ve got a couple of large planters with lettuce and kale in them. One black kale in the middle and five butterhead lettuces around the edge.

Lettuce and kale against the fence

They are placed against the fence and do not get direct sunlight at all, but are easily the best lettuce and kale plants I’ve grown so far.

It’s going to be mostly guinea-pig 🐹 food I think, they always get the best stuff done they …

Sunshine all day ☀️ at the allotment

Entries for Thursday 30th and Friday 31st July 2020.

Is been an amazing day at the allotment, (Thursday 30th July 2020). The temperature has been in the high 20s and I’ve been on holiday from work! I spent 5h15m at the plot today !! I’ve been taking one day a month off work for a while now, picking a last minute holiday to suit the weather.

It started as B&Q opened. I needed a couple of planks of wood to edge some of the plot. I’ve still not finished that but I’m getting there slowly. Also, with sifting the stones out of the soil recently, it’s left me with more than several bags of rocks. I need the edging to demarcate the rest of the plot from where I’m going to keep them.

Immediately from getting the wood I deliver it to the allotment gardens, before the public arrive: I can’t be carrying that sort of thing into the plot with people milling around.

The neighbour’s plot and butterflies 🦋

Inside the allotment garden everything is quiet away from the socially-distanced crowds of public and all is quiet. This time of year some parts of the allotment garden are looking spectacular! Plot number 12 which is two plots over from me is looking particularly good with the hundreds of bees 🐝 and butterflies dotting around the large lavender plants! Hundreds! The lavender looks particularly infested with bees!

The weather today is incredible. The sun is shining and the sky is blue above. It’s already started to warm up a lot and so I need to crack on with my job for today before it gets unbearable …

Panoramic across the sky

Then, looking across from my allotment onto some others I notice that even the weeds are shooting skywards, some of the neglected plots are showing weeds up to (and beyond) head-height! It will only get worse. Every single plot in the allotment garden was worked at the beginning of lockdown but now that the lockdown has eased, it seems that some plot holders have also eased their attendance. At this time of year the plants are getting a huge spurt of growth and that also includes the weeds!

With my cucumber plants beginning to show their first small mini cucumbers growing on their lower branches I’m taking care to ensure they are going to get the best treatment.

My lettuce patch is growing at an amazing rate and they should be picked quickly before the plants start to seed. My neighbour walks past and asks for another, I’ve already given many away, usually with a free slug. My rhubarb has taken over as it usually does this time of year, making the centre of my plot dominated with two plants, the other being horseradish … possibly it is time for the horseradish to get dug out next year.

Two main plants in the centre of my plot and the central boards across the middle

Butterflies and bees are markedly down on my plot which I am beginning to try and rectify this with my latest plan. Remove the horseradish and replace it with something that could be used to promote the bees and butterflies. I’m not certain what yet…

The planks of wood have gone in now, and it’s taken a second visit to finish it off. The central portion on the plot is now separated from the two ends. This area will be where I store the rocks I dig up, how exactly I’ve not quite figured out.

Over the past few days I’ve had company at the allotment for a change. The butterflies were the deciding factor and encouraged my little helper to bring her butterfly net and jar. With the superb weather, the picnic rug and the shared plot next to mine, that was the perfect location for a few hours in the sun away from crowds of people.

She spent about an hour chasing butterflies and then studying them in the jar. Then she went on to flowers 💐 and mushrooms 🍄 and insects 🦟 … Finally, after about an hour and a half of all that, she got bored 😐 and decided to start burning holes through a piece of wood using the magnifying glass instead …😗

New neighbours at number 25

Tonight on Wednesday 29th July 2020, a couple visited the allotment garden and decided to take over plot number 25, the long plot against the wall.

The plot was still in good shape from when I cleared it a few weeks ago, also a new area at the far end has been laid out for adding a new compost bin usable for the community. The idea being to remove the existing compost heap (dumping ground) near the shed by shifting some of that into this compost bin.

Proposed communal compost bin location

The problem seems to be exactly that, the compost bin next to the garden shed seems to be more of a communal compost dump. It’s not maintained.

Quick evening trip after all-day rain

It’s been a wash out today, Saturday 25th July 2020. Raining all day long and perfect for keeping the plants soaked through.

One of my small jobs yesterday had been to water the cucumbers, but really I had been expecting a lot of rain this weekend so I had only given them a sprinkle. What a difference from yesterday though! And the reason I had made time yesterday also…

The lettuce patch 🥬

One of the small crops I’ve managed to cultivate this year are the lettuce plants. Butterhead lettuce. And they have turned out great, probably with a lot of help from my neighbour who turns her hosepipe towards that patch every time she gives her plot a squirt!

In return, I’ve said she can take lettuces whenever she wants — I have plenty to go around. Probably half as much at home as well.

I only visited the allotment for about 20 minutes. Just to take a look around, get out of the house, fix some small grass patches around my area … and pick a lettuce. It was wet and quite down at the plot.

Cucumbers 🥒 are growing nicely

It’s Friday 24th July 2020. I finished work, was down to the allotment by 2pm and spent three glorious sunny hours clearing the weeds from around the cucumbers and lettuce and generally tidying up around the potatoes.

Climbing cucumbers

The allotment is looking really much better than it has done in a very long time. The plot against the wall is clear, the path is growing nicely and my main plot is clear of weeds.

There is very little work to do! Which is just perfect.

The stones I filtered out of the soil recently have been bagged up and stored at the end of my main plot. I’ve decided I will keep them on my main plot, but for now I will just store then in bags until the rhubarb and horse radish die back. Then I plan to do something with that area. I’ve noticed those plants grow so large on that area that nothing else gets much of a look in.

Main plot looking very clear and neat

The weather this afternoon is superb! The temperature is not too high either which means it’s not getting too hot. I manage to clear some minor surface weeds from around the edges and then I wander over to see the chairman who is weeding his plot.

I want to ask about the main communal compost heap near the old boiler house garden shed. I think it’s getting too large and now that I’ve finished the long plot there’s probably a chance to create a new compost heap on this cleared area. But before I can say anything, the chairman mentions the same.

So, there might be a slight possibility of some new compost heaps in the allotment garden. This will probably get discussed soon, but the compost heap near the wall is getting too large and might damage the wall if it’s allowed to continue. So it should probably be discussed soon.

Riddling the soil back onto the plot …

It’s Saturday, the 18th of July 2020 and just about 6:30 am in the morning when I start at the adornment. Nice and early, I arrive at the allotment on a fairly cloudy day with nobody around (as expected), I make my way through the main gate, past the main house and then left towards the walled garden allotment area. I’m carrying my electric strimmer and my backpack as usual. Although I want to cut the grass around the border, the main job for today is already set up. I want to sieve the soil I’ve laid out on the blue tarpaulin. That soil needs to be returned to the main plot.

Soil riddling process

I grab two wheelbarrows, then the sieve which I knocked up together with a few pieces of wood. I built it so it would fit into the wheelbarrow I intended to filter the soil into.

Happily, The sieve fits perfectly and makes my job a lot easier. The process is as follows. Dig out the soil from the blue tarpaulin, put two or possibly three spade fulls into the sieve and rub it through the grill. This leaves no more than half a handful of small stones left on top of the riddle, the rest of the soil going directly into the wheelbarrow underneath. Even the worms make it through!

Bye then empty the stones into the second wheelbarrow and repeat the process.

After about an hour of doing this, I find myself easily getting into a rhythm. This really isn’t very hard work, apart from needing to bend over the soil riddle on the wheelbarrow which is beginning to make my back ache slightly. But not very much. I decide that I’m probably going to be able to finish the whole job today, this morning, all in one go.

This is not a job that is very easily split up into smaller pieces, and there are several reasons why I want to finish it all today anyway. The soil has been lying on top of blue tarpaulin for a few weeks now and this tarpaulin layer is waterproof which means my main plot has been covered by this for the same amount of time. Also the weather is going to turn and rain tomorrow which means soil will be soaked. I’m finding it easier to send dry soil through the riddle.

Left to right grades

The soil stats with the stones in it on the left, goes through my sieve next, the small stones are removed and finally I’m left with nice smooth soil on the right.

The smoothness doesn’t really come from removing the stones though, because the stones only made up a tiny small percentage of the whole content. The act of sending the soil through a small grill smoothed out any clumps.

Plot view

Finally the soil is spread-out across the plot. The surface of my main plot is smoothed and I fill in the bumps and troughs that have been left from while it has been under the tarpaulin. This is just a surface layer and not digging my main plot. It’s only designed to spread out the soil over the top surface of my plot. This whole process has taken five and a half hours, but it doesn’t seem to be that long.

Elvis having a soil bath

While I’ve been down at my plot today I’ve had a couple of visitors. Elvis and Martin. The garden cat, Elvis of course, she came to visit and to roll around in the soil on the long plot against the wall. I had the last of the cat nibbles my bag, so Elvis has some early lunch, then in true fashion the cat did a disappearing act on me.

Martin is another plot holder, his plot is further across the far side of the allotment. Years ago he had gave me the tayberry plant, which has turned out so well this year. He brought over a medium marrow and asked if I wanted it? He said, “I am inundated with these things this year, but if you cut one down the middle scoop out the seeds and fill it with minced beef …”

Definitely! Thanks Martin! I’ll definitely be using that recipe for my dinner tonight.

Barrow full of stones

Finally has and clearing up it’s just one more thing. What to do with the stones I’ve riddled out of the soil? So far they are sitting in the wheelbarrow near the communal compost heap waiting for me to decide …

I didn’t really think about the amount of stones I would get out of the process. I thought maybe I would get a couple of small bags out of it. I wasn’t expecting a full wheel barrow. I need to re-read the allotment association rules before going any further, I don’t want to break any rules by taking items off the site when I shouldn’t. I know that turf is not allowed to be removed from the plots, so I need to check before going any further.

Soil transfer on the main plot

Now that my soil has all been transferred back to the main plot and the long plot against the wall has been returned to the allotment association, the next job has been lined up …

Soil transfer

The next job is to make a soil sieve to filter this dirt and remove all the foreign objects. Previously there were many weird things in the old organic compost heap …

See here: https://smallallotmentbucket.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/working-the-organic-compost-heap/ and https://smallallotmentbucket.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/whats-in-the-organic-compost-heap-today-nothing-good/

The basic idea is to store the soil on the blue tarpaulin until it is filtered by hand, and then put it back on my main plot. What it shown here has come from the old compost heap that used to be piled up in the corner of my main plot and from the grass turf that I overturned onto the long plot in previous years.

https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/early-start-on-saturday-removing-the-compost-heap/

https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/at-last-grass-free/

Tying up the cucumber, picking the first lettuce

It is Tuesday, the 14th of July 2020 and 8:30 in the evening. After a day working from home (the first two hours were in the office for a change) I decided I could manage half an hour down at the allotment. I only intended to do one or two tiny jobs and to get out of the house for a little bit.

One particular job was to dig out a large metal spike left over from the old compost heap. Three of them had already been removed but this last one was persistent and I needed my large lump hammer to shift that, but I got it out eventually!

Here’s what it used to look like: https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/anatomy-of-an-unkept-allotment-plot/ and https://smallallotmentbucket.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/compost-heap-is-dissembled/ and https://smallallotmentbucket.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/clearing-away-the-scrap-metal/

Cucumber 🥒 tie ups

I managed to tie up the six cucumber plants that are ramping along. I can see flowers already and the stems are beginning to grow quickly now. The ground is still wet from the good showers of rain we had over the past couple of days so there is no need to do any watering. All I had to do was cut the string and tie up the plants to the canes.

Special treat

As an extra job I cut one of the larger lettuce plants that had started to spill over the edge of the raised bed border. I think this will be guinea pig food when I get home. They will definitely appreciate the first butterhead lettuce!

Elvis the garden cat paid me a visit while I was there. There was some meowing and then because I had some cat nibbles there was some munching followed by Elvis is usual disappearing act as soon as she’s got what she wants. It was quiet down at the allotment there were only two other people there tonight.

Abbey Gardens looking amazing

The Abbey walled garden allotments is looking fantastic today. Saturday 11th July 2020, just as lockdown is gradually being phased out across the country.

A view across the Abbey Garden allotments

There were a few people down at the plots this morning. A couple of old faces is not seen for a while and one or two regulars as usual. The plots are looking fantastic as usual and the weather is spectacular.

After a bit of digging on the plot 25, I had a rest for a while and sat under the apple tree in the shade … it was getting too hot very quickly and I was glad I had got there early this morning.

Handing back the long plot number 25

This morning at 6:45am I was down at the allotment (no longer fully locked down! although maybe partially) with one job left to do on the long plot against the wall: to finish it and get it into a state that would be suitable to be returned back to the allotment association.

Plot number 25, the long plot against the wall

I managed it in around three and a half hours this morning. Before the sun was too high and too hot was the best time to do the heavy work of digging and muck shifting.

Jobs that were finished today included: removing the remaining weeds, clearing the last of the soil at the far end of the plot, removing the last of the glass and plastics, straightening the border and flattening and raking the soil across the full length of the plot. Done! ✅

Happily I can now request the allotment association take back this long plot 25 and I will be rid of it completely! I only took this plot ok because it originally looked such a mess.

My old blog posting, I have this record: https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/new-allotment-plot/

That was way back in 2016, and back then it was high and full of weeds. What’s difference! The plot back then hadn’t been touched for several years. I was surrounded by weeds on three and a half sides, so I agreed to tackle it just so I wasn’t so badly surrounded.

I remember the first day I tackled that allotment plot. It was also a really nice sunny was day: https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/first-against-the-wall/

… now it’s time to hand it back.

More clearing of the long plot down the lockdown allotment

Today is Sunday, the 5th of July 2020. I was at the allotment at around 7 am this morning to clear off the long plot. Remove all the weeds which were getting up to knee-high, and transport as much soil as I could onto my main plot. I can see the finish line now and I want to cross it as soon as I can.

When I arrived this morning the ground was wet again. It had been raining during the night. But, like yesterday the ground was not sodden with water and the digging went quite easily. The plan was to do just one hour, but in the end I did two. It’s 9 o’clock now and I’ve just packed up and left the allotments.

First clearance pass on the long plot

Another 10 or 15 wheelbarrows were transported onto my main plot, but this time I was more concentrating on finishing the long plot. Clearing all of the weeds was the aim today. Handing back the long plot to the allotment association is now my top priority.

I would like to reach that goal as quickly as possible because yesterday the UK countrywide lockdown had started to get removed. Easing of restrictions had started. I am sad to say that I have not grown much on my main plot this year because of long plot clearing and also creating the path between my main plot and the neighbours plot. I would like to get back to concentrating on growing things again.

I cleared the majority of the weeds from the area against the wall and the only things left are

– fix the border edges

– clears the small patch of grass underneath the tree at the far end of the long plot

– rotorvate the long plot

I think that last step might be impossible because the machinery had been removed from the shed. Do I might end up doing that last part be hand. But in any case: there are only a few more steps remaining and soon I will be able to give it back to the allotment association and concentrate on my main plot from then on.

A 5:30 am start at lockdown allotments

I was awake early so I decided instead of lying in bed waiting for the rain to arrive, I would make an effort and get out of bed, get dressed drive down to the plot and do some digging before everybody is awake.

More soil manoeuvres

The weather last night must’ve been slightly drizzly because the ground was wet as I walked out of the house. The allotment was soaked through, but the digging was okay. I cleared some more weeds away from the far end of the long plot and then started to dig the patch of land ready to transport the soil back to my main plot.

I spent about an hour filling up wheelbarrows and transporting them onto a tarpaulin which I had spread out at the end of my plot. As I was filling up the wheelbarrow I was pulling out weeds and rocks, but I intend to filter this soil before I incorporated into my main allotment. That will be a job once the long plot against the wall has been handed back, and the reason I am transporting this on to blue tarpaulin instead of just dumping it at the far end of my plot.

That’s the plan anyway. Clear the long plot take my soil back, transport it onto the blue tarpaulin, then filter it by hand to get rid of all the main weeds and rocks. There seems to be a larger amount of glass and plastic on this long plot, probably because of the old compost heap that was used as a dumping ground for years. The soil all needs filtering.

The time is 7 o’clock in the morning now, I’ve cleared up, covered up and gone back to the car. The drizzle has started to return and there seems to be very little point getting stuck in the mud… this clearance will take a while longer to complete.

Tayberry 🍇 crumble 😙

Tonight’s treat is crumble made from the tayberries I picked the other day and three apples we had in the fridge. Very, very definitely the nicest dessert I’ve ever made.

Tayberry and apple crumble

Enough tayberries to line the bottom of the dish. Three apples peeled and cored, chopped up with a handful of tayberries and stewed down with three table spoons of sugar, for about 10 minutes until soft.

Pour the stewed mixture over the berries in the dish. Cover with crumble mix and cook on 180degC for 25 minutes.

Nom nom … 😋

Weed picking down at the lockdown allotment

Today was the warmest day of the year so far. Typically 32 degrees C and more. I spent two and a half hours this morning at the allotment. I took a day of work at short notice because of the expected heat wave. I figured there was no point in sitting inside ask day.

The long plot against the wall is the last job on the list now that the path is finished. I need to clear that up, take the soil back and give it back to the allotment association. They can take it from here once I’ve cleaned it up properly and made it tidied and straightened it all out.

So today was the first part of that short plan. To remove the weeds that had been growing back for the past month. That job was easy to do because of the dry soil — the weeds came out easily. So, after 2 hours of pulling weeds the long plot is mostly cleared again. I can start to remove the soil and take back a bulk into my main plot next time I visit.

A short snack while weed picking

The last few minutes were spent eating tayberries … Potatoes and lettuce can be seen in the background of the picture here, but the main star of the allotment at the moment are the tayberries. They are perfectly ripe and ready for eating straight away.

Picking the lockdown 🔒 tayberries 🍇

Tonight’s trip after work is just a fast one. A fleeting visit to the plot just before the sun drops too far below the horizon behind the village church (before it goes pitch black). In the only person there and all the gates are locked. It’s quite.

Tayberry haul

It’s the time to pick the tayberries.

They have just ripened enough to be perfect. Another day and they would turn too far … they would be too soft. This year there is a good harvest and I’ve managed to time it perfectly. The berries are just right.

The trellis is full of berries. 😙

Tayberry in fruit at the lockdown allotment

It’s Monday evening, 15th June 2020. The tayberry plant is fully fruiting down at the plot. I’ve not visited for a week and the tayberry has certainly bloomed and grown another 7 or 8 inches since I was last here.

Tayberries into the distance

My little helper came along tonight and then proceeded to scoff most of the ripened fruit 😋. In other helping ways, she also helped to feed Elvis the garden cat and to give her some well needed attention — plus some grass seeds, which probably weren’t needed.

I removed some canes that protected the path and covered the long plot again, put some slug gel on the wooden raised areas and then helped to pick some more tayberries for the little helper. Gave some more rhubarb away, examined the potatoes which seemed to be coming through okay, then it was time to go. Just another flying visit really.

Elvis in the neighbour’s border at the lockdown allotment

Today is Sunday 7th June 2020 and this afternoon I’ve been visiting the allotment. The job today was to plant all of the lettuce I had bought last weekend at the garden centre. About 25 of them.

Butterhead lettuce

The weather today was warm enough but the sky was slightly cloudy. That was good enough for digging and getting the ground ready for planting. I turned back a couple of metres of black sheeting and forked over the ground, then flattened it with the rake.

Today’s planting was mainly lettuce but I also planted cucumber, kohlrabi and kale plants.

A little later on I was visited by my little helper. Help ensued with digging and carrying bamboo canes for the cucumber. Finally all of the watering was helped with 🙂

Elvis sleep in the border

This was the first time the little helper had been to visit the allotment this year. Also help was given to Elvis the garden cat who turned up and was given cat treats straight away, before sleeping it off in the neighbour’s allotment border.

The best time of year to be a garden cat

It’s been about a week since I finished the path. And I’ve taken some time off from allotment work so I can do some other work on the garden at home.

Not all work has been stopped at the allotment and I can still find time to do the watering duty and garden cat patrol.

Elvis coming to greet me

Of course, the garden cat has been about whenever I’ve been there and happy to see people. Mainly she follows me through the gardens and into the allotment before dropping herself into a soil border to keep cool. Waiting in hope for cat treats and attention.

This is the best time of year to be a garden cat, it’s warm, the days are long and sunny and there are plenty of people around. It’s also quiet enough in the main gardens because of the lack of public.

It’s been a few days …

It’s been a few days since my last posting. But I’ve done a lot of work on the plot. Finally, I’ve finished the path! The full length of the plot now has a proper path down both sides — something that isn’t a mild death trap as you walk. No more uneven surfaces and no more pot holes to go over on. A nice even smooth well proportioned path.

Robin keeping me company

A couple of Robins kept me company while I worked. They kept flying in and taking the worms and millipedes etc. They have such good eyesight to be able to spot those from further over on the far side of the plot. Then they sweep in and grab a grub and then dart off to safety. Once or twice they stopped to give the insect a quick bash with a flick of head, just so it stopped struggling. Then off again to wherever the food was going.

Digging through the brick layer again

Before I can finish the last section of path I need to dig through the brick later again in order to get my stake into the ground far enough.

A path that’s about 30 or 40 cm down under the ground and runs parallel to the short edge of my plot stops me from sinking my stake any further. It’s a well built path with flat white stones and a couple of red bricks. So I guess although it’s an old path, it’s not ancient. I don’t feel bad about removing enough space to get my stake in. It’s not like I’m destroying a path from the ancient kitchen garden or maybe an old Roman road or anything.

The first time the path has been finished

So here it is! This is the first time the garden path has been completely finished. It’s looking a little bit worn here because the turf has just been laid, but it should settle down over the next week or so and in a couple of months it should look like it’s been there forever. At least it’s finished! I can now start to concentrate on fixing the long plot against the wall back to the allotment association.

Too hot for Elvis

The weather over the past week has been exceptionally hot. It’s just too hot for the garden cat who can only manage a few steps before dropping into a border to try and keep cool again. It’s just been too warm for Elvis.

Wednesday night watering duty

Another quick trip to the lockdown allotment to water the turf. There were quite a few people at the plots all doing very well on their allotments.

Sunny evening

The sun had been shining all day long as it had been doing all week. It plans to be hot like this for the rest of the week and the grass needs a lot of water to ensure the roots take properly.

Elvis was around again, touring for cat treats and attention from all passing allotment holders. The good weather is good for cat attention it seems.

Superb sunset at lockdown allotment

Another quick watering trip to soak the new turf path tonight (Tuesday 18th May). It was a quick visit just before it went dark and had the advantage of being there for the sunset — as the sun dropped well below the horizon behind the village church.

Darkening sky

There was no visit from Elvis. The last two people were going home just before I arrived and I was quickly alone. By the time I got back to the car it was nearly pitch black.

Short turf watering trip at the lockdown allotment

So it’s Monday 18th and I have about 30 minutes free this evening … it has been a fantastically sunny day all day but I’ve been working. There just enough time to water the turf I put down yesterday.

Path nearly complete

As I walked around the allotment I could see all of the plots (except for about four) had been worked and were already growing something this year. As it turns out, one of the plots is my main plot. I’m not counting the rhubarb, tayberry and horseradish…

It shouldn’t be long now. I can finish the path give the long plot against the wall back to the allotment association (or hopefully a new person who wants a plot) and grow something in my main area. I have a bag of chitted spuds 🥔 in the garage at home just waiting to be thrown in the ground.

Another two boards today

Sunday 17th May 2020 and week 8 of the lockdown. I spent 4 hours 20 minutes this morning putting in another two boards on the path between my plot and the neighbours’ areas.

Before the turf goes down

I was down at the allotment by around 6 am this morning. Nobody was around as usual, the sun hadn’t quite made it over the trees yet, plenty of birds around and my friend Elvis. But that was all.

I made a start in the usual way. Lifting the turf 35 cm chunks at a time and then placing them next to the path on my allotment. Then I boarded the path area. Today I was doing about 3 m of path.

The large amount of soil I was using to fill in the path area came from the long plot against the wall, as usual. I think there must’ve been at least 30 to 40 wheelbarrow loads of soil to make up the new height for the path. This took most of the time!

The soil as it was being removed from the long plot had to be filtered of plastics. Still, even though I had removed the majority of the plastics and waste from inside the compost bin on the long plot, I am still finding pieces of nylon string and bits of plastic and glass. In order for them to be removed from the allotment I am not just burying them under the path. I am taking them off site instead and trying to recycle them. What’s the other option there? Take them home to send them into landfill? Out of one hole in the ground and straight into another?

I think after the amount of work that I did today there should only be one or two more trips to the allotment in order to fix the last part of the path. Then I will be able to concentrate on making the long plot usable. And finally I will be able to concentrate back on my main plot.

New boards, final leg at the lockdown allotment

The final boards for the path are going in. I have four boards left to put in and this is 1 of 4 this afternoon. Each board it typically taking around 3 hours to put in and this afternoon (Friday 14th May) was no exception. But the weather was so superb, being at the allotment for that amount of time was not a problem.

Cutting the turf for the path

The weather has been dry for a long time and this has made the turf difficult to edge out with the spade. However the dryness of the ground has also made it easier to cut the turf thickness and this in turn makes it easier to lay afterwards.

I completed another section this afternoon and cleaned up some more of the long plot against the wall. Elvis the garden cat arrived for some cat treats and then scratched the garden bench.

Scratching post

Finally, I had enough time to look at the three plants which are currently growing on my main plot. I watered around then I tied up the tayberry plantwhich has started to shout up.

Tayberry looking great

There is interest in the long plot against the wall I have been told this afternoon. I think there is more people on the waiting list for plots at the allotment. This is the first time I’ve heard of people waiting for allotment plots. Possibly this might be interested parties because of lockdown across the country? Maybe. But in any case, I should hurry up and prioritise getting the long plot in a good state to hand back and remove the soil I “stored” from my main plot quickly.

I was toying with the idea of planting potatoes on the long plot in order to fill it up with something so it wasn’t left empty. Maybe buy some black sheeting so it was covered up. But if there’s a waiting list, then I should quickly hand it back to people who would use it.

Wednesday night lockdown watering

Later on Wednesday 13th May, just before sunset I found some time to visit the allotment. It was just to deliver some wooden stakes I had cut and planks I had got for the last of the edging work.

Evening lights, exceptionally quiet 🤫

I have enough wooden boards now to finish the long edge, the pathway between my plot and the neighbours’ plots. I am still probably looking at around nine or 10 hours work to finish this border, however the end of the boarder work is in sight now! At least for the path between the two allotment plots.

After dropping off the wooden planks into the centre of my main plot, I realise that some of the grass I had put down over the past few weeks looked a little bit dry around the edges. So I spent 10 or 15 minutes giving it a good soaking with the hosepipe.

By the time I’d finished there was nobody around at the allotment. This is not unusual for this time of night, however there was no noise anyway. No car noise, no noise from the birds or the wind. Everything was deathly quiet as the Sun went down. It was lovely!

Rainy Sunday lockdown visit

It’s been raining here are a few days. But I couldn’t stay away this morning. Sunday 3rd May 2020.

One again I was up at dawn and down to the allotment before anybody was out of bed. Nobody was around and I didn’t see a soul on the way. It was just me and Elvis the garden cat again. And the two magpies, a squirrel on the far wall, oh! and a large pheasant that I nearly ran over down the back roads.

Elvis greeted me but didn’t really want feeding. It seems that she is getting fed. There’s a bowl in her bench next to my plot.

Elvis and her bench

The long plot against the wall is gradually looking better as an amount of soil is transferred across to the path fix-up. The level against the wall is decreasing as expected and because I dig it over at the same time, it’s looking good.

Still to go, there’s another half of the work to do with the path and approximately half of the long plot to finish, but it’s looking well on the way to being completed now and it’s working out exactly as planned.

Long plot against the wall looking clearer

It was quite drizzly this morning and so I was getting wet while I did another small portion of the path. But it wasn’t a soaking, just a light dusting. I finished what I needed to get done and cleaned up. The weather helped with the soaking of the turf as well. It was muddy, but not hard work.

Turf edge of the new grass path

I am now out of wood. The number of boards I originally purchased for the plot worked out as the right amount, but I have used the boards for other projects over the past two years, so this means I’ve run out. My next job before going any further with the allotment edging is to buy more boards.

Sunny Sunday watering trip to the lockdown allotment

It’s Sunday 24th April 2020 and we are at the end of the fifth week in countrywide lockdown. The allotments are looking better than they have done in a long time, and there’s a notice on the board to congratulate all those people who have been tending their plots! Well done!

Th not all the plots are looking perfect. Mine for instance is under black sheeting as I follow on with my plan to finish the grass borders. It’s looking good underneath however.

Then there’s the exception of the usual suspects of course. Some plots have not looked good for years and even when one of the only thing allowed is to visit the allotment, they still don’t look great.

Garden allotment shed door notice board

A quick trip this afternoon was to strim the edges of the plot and cut the grass which was getting slightly long in areas. This was finished in 10 minutes. Then I fed Elvis who appeared (possibly with the noise of the strimmer) and asked for food. Finally I watered the turf. All done within 20 minutes.

The place was almost empty. There were a couple of people over the far side, but they were leaving just as I arrived. Then it was just me and the garden cat left over.

It’s super hot outside, blue sky with small white clouds, slight breeze, mid to high 20s I would say: possibly too hot for digging at the allotment right now. I expect there will be more people later on in the evening when it’s cooled down.

Early morning Saturday path fixes at the lockdown allotment

Today is Saturday, the 25th of April 2020. It has been quite a marathon visit to the allotment plot today. Arriving at 6:30am at the front gate and staying for 5 hours and 40 minutes. This was planned and expected because I was fixing the path surrounding my main allotment.

Each 2m 40cm section of path takes approximately three hours to complete, as I discovered the last time I did a section at the allotment last weekend. This weekend I hoped to get two sections completed.

Two sections dug out

First job is to dig out the turf, each piece of turf is approximately 35 cm wide on the short side. This makes two of them fit in the 70 cm width of the path. Digging out the turf is not a difficult job but each piece has to be carefully cut with the spade to ensure it is the correct thickness all the way across the grass.

Adding the wooden border is easy after this. The width is 70 cm across and so the only two things to do are: keep it 70cm all the way down and then level it across with the spirit level.

Back fill the new path

The long plot against the wall is used as a source of soil for backfilling into the path. It is raised up to path height. A surprising number of wheelbarrow trips are needed to backfill this section. Each wheelbarrow was individually sifted to remove stones, plastics and weeds. The the soil was then stomped down and finally a loose layer added on top and flattened equally using a wooden slat.

The whole place was very quiet. There are lots of birds around however. Robin as usual, the large noisy pheasant, a couple of magpies that would keep appearing, some crows in the trees. Lots of small birds on the feeders. Every hour the village church would chime (one hour behind). Other than that it was quiet.

Turfed up

Then, once the soil level is ready for turf is replaced lengthwise. Each piece is carefully added and then the gaps in between is filled with more soil. Everything is compacted down. Finally the whole thing is given a good soaking with the water pipe.

Here comes Elvis

This whole lot took proximately 5 and 1/2 hours to finish. As I was packing up and getting ready to go home I saw the garden cat, Elvis. She looked quite tired and hungry. So when I return the tools to the car I picked up some cat treats from the boot and returned to finish the final job of the day: give Elvis some cat treats.

The lockdown is still in full force. There were a few people at the allotment today, but only 4 or 5 while I was there. On the way out of the gardens I saw some cyclists passing through. There are a few more people walking on the back roads and some more cyclists. But it’s still very quiet.

Watering and feeding Elvis during lockdown

Wednesday 22nd April 2020. Just a quick visit to the plot tonight because I didn’t get to go outside today during lunchtime as expected. Work got in the way of that but at the same time opened up the opportunity to go to the allotment later in the evening.

Elvis is in the allotment

The main tasks are turf watering and catfeeding related and those were easily accomplished this evening.

Last job was to flatten the border edges. The grass running around the plot is quite bumpy and dangerous in places, so I am flattening it out gradually.

Monday watering the turf at the lockdown allotment

It’s quite late on in the evening and I finished work for the day. I thought I would take a quick trip to the plot to see how the turf was taking. And I really needed to give it a good soaking because it had been a very hot day today.

Tayberry starting

When I got there, there were only two other people on the far side of the walled allotment garden. I quickly on furled the hosepipe and gave the grass a good soaking. Then I started to soak the only three other plants I have growing on my allotment at the moment. The rhubarb, the Tayberry plant on the climber, and the horseradish.

Elvis arrived. Luckily I had some cat food with me and so I took a handful of that and dropped it into the middle of my plot. The garden cat was very pleased again.

Another allotment holder arrived just as I was leaving. That left just three of them as I went out of the gate. I was only there for 10 or 15 minutes just enough time to soak the turf I laid yesterday.

A bright Sunday at the lockdown allotments

Sunday, the 19th of April 2020. I was up early again, the car was already packed with planks of wood, a saw, a drill, spirit level, some wooden stakes I cut yesterday, … etc. I got straight in the car and set off.

As I was driving down the quiet back roads towards the allotment I suddenly remembered I’d forgotten my spade. It was hanging up in the garage and I had meant to pick it up before I left !! I knew I should’ve left a reminder, something to prompt me before I got in the car.

I carried the wooden planks from the car through to the allotment, then as I returned for the wooden stakes I met Elvis the cat. She was waiting by the open gate. Looking like she has just woken up. I had remembered to pack some cat treats this time and they were in the car boot so as I picked up the last of the wood I also grabbed a bag of food for Elvis.

Happy Elvis

The cat looked very pleased. I left her sitting in the middle of my plot with a large handful of dried catfood. Then I walked back to the car and drove home.

I returned later that day, this time with all the equipment I needed to start digging the borders of the plot. This would be the first time I would be creating a proper path between the two allotment plots. Probably this has been two or three years in the making to get here.

Border path

The minimum width for a path (according to the allotment manual) is 50 cm. The one I’m creating is 70 cm wide. that should be enough.

I am reusing the turf that already exists between the two plots. So the first job is to dig it up in sections.

After that I also need soil from the long plot against the wall and so I wheelbarrow that into the space I had created for the path. Then I relay the turf on top. It looks quite good by the time I’m finished. Although this is taking a lot longer than I expected. Normally each straight plank of wood I put down takes about an hour to get finished. I expected maybe another hour for the rest of the job. But in the end the whole job took 3 hours to complete just one section. I had underestimated again: put in the border plank, dig up the turf and strip the soil so it was flat, wheelbarrow soil and the lay the turf back.

There are another six sections to do. This should take quite a long time but will be worth it by the end. Once the border is finished spending time cutting the grass around my plot will be minimal. And as a side effect along plot against the wall will also be dug over and finished as well.

I will not be growing anything on my main plot this year because I will be too busy finishing the grass borders and the long plot against the wall.

Easter Monday Lockdown Allotment 🐣 🔐 🌱

Up at dawn. Down at the allotment by 6:30am. There was nobody around again, either on the way there, or while I was there. I was all alone.

Task list today … this was quite light. I had to flatten some of the soil on the long plot due to the digging I did last time. I found another rhubarb plant underneath the black sheeting, so I transferred that to the long plot. I tied up the Tayberry and transplanted a small Tayberry seedling onto a spare vertical space on the trellis.

Allotment garden, a view towards the local church

After that I was pretty much done! So I took a quick walk around the allotment garden. There is plenty of work going on and a lot of the allotments look amazing. I think this is probably going towards the best I have seen it in a very long time. People are doing quite a lot of work down on their plots.

My main plot has one long border completed.

My main plot is looking, well… It’s looking covered up. The edges are looking a lot better and I need probably at least another six boards to finish all four sides. Probably that will wait though. I really need to make a start on the path between my main plot any my neighbour’s area.

It is all very under control …

Good Friday lockdown allotment visit

Today is Friday April 10, 2020. It is my day off work and as usual I am up at dawn. But, this time instead of the commute from the bedroom downstairs into the small room… instead of sitting inside in front of the computer all day (which I would be doing anyway) instead of all that: it’s a bank holiday so, I had planned a quick trip to the allotment for my daily allowed exercise.

The car was packed and ready, my bag was packed and all my clothes laid out (on the floor — you can’t tell the difference there either). Within 10 minutes of waking up, I was in the car and had set off, travelling the short way to the plot.

No one is usually around at this time in the morning anyway but even more so during the country-wide lockdown.

I didn’t see a soul as I drove down the back roads through the fields, not a thing on the roads except for the rabbit that was racing me on the grass verge. There was nobody around as I unlocked the main gate with a sanitation wipe, nobody except for the two peasants strutting around the front gate and in the middle of the road outside. There was nobody in the main grounds or in front of the house as I walked past, not a thing except for sheep and new born lambs walking around the fields and sheltering under the trees. No one at all in the gardens or inside the walled allotment, no body except for Elvis the garden cat (sorry Elvis I forgot your treats again!) … I was all alone. No voices or car noises in the distance, no bells marking congregations from the village church, no contrails in the sky, only a couple of ducks flying past.

The borders of the long plot are looking straighter and neater. I’ve finished one long side on my main plot. The long plot against the wall has started to go into shape as well! As I look around, the other allotment owners are holding up their side of the schizophrenic country by digging their plots.

Lockdown allotment visit on Sunday 4th April 2020

I was up early again. Out of bed, dressed ready for the plot, into the car which was already pre-packed with all the equipment I needed, and then I set off for the allotment.

I saw nobody. There was nobody around outside the house, I saw no cars or any person on the way to the allotment and then when I got there I saw nobody as I travelled through the main gate past the front of the main house (the fields were full of newborn lambs) and into the allotment garden. It was empty.

As I entered into the walled garden I was met by Elvis the garden cat! This is the first time I’ve seen Elvis this year! Honestly, I was beginning to wonder whether she had survived the winter or not?! And because of this I wasn’t prepared: I did not have any cat food with me and there wasn’t any in the boot of my car either. Unfortunately that meant Elvis wasn’t getting any treats from me today.

I started work instead. On the list of jobs to do today:
– Strim the edges and borders of both plots
– Continue boarding out the far edge of my main plot
– Add three more slats to the Tayberry climber

This little lot took about three hours to complete.

The weather this weekend has been fantastic. It’s been sunny and bright outside and not too hot. Just right for working down at the plot. For most of the morning I had company from Elvis and a rather large pheasant that was easily spooked every time I hit the wooden stakes with the mallet.

I was finished by 11 am. I had packed up and was ready to go back home. Everything was strimmed neatly and the border is looking a lot better. I added two more boards in-line with the rest. Just one more board now before I reach the end of the plot. I’m not very far away from finishing one long edge at last!

As I walked back to the car I made sure all the gates were closed properly. For some reason all of the gates were open this morning. The front gate, the middle gate into the gardens and the gate into the allotment were all wide open. That was strange because the only main directive we have been given is to close all gates after use.

Lockdown allotment

It’s Saturday 4th April 2020 and we are two weeks into the covid-19 country-wide lockdown. The general manager at the Abbey has confirmed the Allotments can continue to operate as normal, with a specific proviso that we close the gates after using them.

According to the National Allotment Association, members should take the precautionary measures which include using hand sanitiser regularly before opening and after closing any gate locks; observing “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres; minimising the contact with each other and; not sharing any tools.

It’s about 8am and I didn’t see a soul as I travelled to the main gates. I use sterilised wipes to open them and then I walked down the front path towards the walled garden. It looked as though the land owners had been fixing up the gardens in the last two weeks. Some of the flower borders had been cleared up and a path had been repaired.

I’ve never seen the allotment looking so quiet and still, except there is definitely an increase in wildlife. There were plenty of bird flying around and roosting in the trees. The pheasant made a quick visit also, but I was the only person there.

Allotment lockdown

My main job for this visit was to check out the borders and figure out how much effort it will take to start work tomorrow. And also to collect some rhubarb. I picked up about 20 or so stalks of rhubarb from my main rhubarb plant and then dropped them into the centre of the plot while I started to turn over the long plot against the wall.

Rhubarb haul

The Association had locked up all communal facilities. The garden shed was closed and locked up. The key has been taken. So, instead of using the rotavator to quicken up the time it should take to turn over the long plot against the wall, I spent an hour doing it by hand.

As I left the allotment garden I took a quick look round. Some of the plots had been turned over completely and planted and the majority had been at least started. It looks like now, with time on their hands, people are using it to spend time at the allotment. It’s starting to look a lot better.

It’s going to be rhubarb crumble tonight for dessert

😁

Clearing away the scrap metal

The date today is the 21st of March 2020, it’s a Saturday and the weather is quite good outside this morning. It’s bright and sunny. At 9 o’clock I set off to the allotment. As expected, when I got there nobody was around. It has been pretty quiet for the past few weekends and I expected this weekend to be no different.

I had been planning a trip to the allotment to clear up the last of the debris from the compost heap for a week now. Something to take the focus away from covid-19 was definitely needed. This week has been very busy outside of the allotment. Working conditions have changed, physical separation has happened at work and everybody is working shift patterns. They have split the workforce into four groups and allowed people to work from home. Many places outside of work are all closing down, social distancing is now very important. The allotment would seem to be one of the best places for that sort of thing — is outside and there is rarely anybody there in the morning.

The last of the compost heap scrap metals

When I arrived at the allotment everything was piled up ready for me to take: corrugated iron, metal bars and stakes and an old rusty wheelbarrow. All of these need to be taken away, off along plot against the wall and to the scrap metal bin at the council tip.

As it happened I needed to make two trips to the local tip because there was so much and I wasn’t able to fit it all in the car. But the whole place looks a lot better now that the rubbish has been cleared.

I cleared some more weeds while I was there. Tidied up the soil and the quickly rotorvated the plot to even out the surface. The place now looks indistinguishable from what it used to look like a few weekends ago!

Compost heap is dissembled

The long plot against the wall has now had its compost heap removed. This took two weeks of effort and required a lot of clearing because of the plastics dumped throughout the heap.

Although I planned to take the soil from inside the compost heap and transfer them across to my main plot, it was so full of plastics and rubbish I decided not to pollute another plot. Instead I cleaned out the heap and then flattened it.

Compost heap removed

By the time I had filtered out the garbage the remainder of the soil was quite clean. Two large bin liners of mostly plastic and glass were taken to the tip over the space of two weeks.

In the coming weeks I hope to use the long plot soil to fill in the border between the main plot.

What’s in the organic compost heap today? (nothing good)

Today is Saturday 14th March 3020. I got to the allotment shortly after dawn: 6:42 am to 9:38 am I spent at the plot this morning. The birds were singing in the trees, the garden cat was pottering about, I was the only person there 😊

It had been raining through the night, so the ground was quite soggy. But I am here totally to do the last of the compost heap work, not to work over the ground. So it doesn’t matter.

After last weeks effort, I expected most of the organic compost heap to be going onto my main plot. But unfortunately this was not the case — just like last week I started to dig into the compost heap only to find it was actually full of rubbish.

So I spent my time sifting out all of the garbage, cataloguing it into piles of weeds and rubbish and then bagging it up ready to go to the council tip when it opened at 10 am this morning. Out of one hole in the ground and into the next.

The reminder of the soil from the compost heap remained where it started, on the long plot by the wall.

Things on the organic compost list today include:

– Plastic bags, and more plastic bags
– Melted plastic bottles
– Crisp packets
– Brylcreem bottle
– Three large bones
– Plastic netting
– Nylon string
– Broken wineglass
– Plastic cups
– Burnt plastic gloves
– Ceramics
– Polystyrene seed trays
– Concrete
– Unknown plastic dispenser tube
– Plastic plant pots

Working the organic compost heap

Inside the ancient Abbey kitchen garden and the allotment that produced potatoes and apples for the war effort during WWII, the tended walled allotment garden that has produced organic food for hundreds of years … near the long wall, next to my plot, is the organic compost heap.

Today’s job is to partly clear the organic compost heap that has remained undisturbed for … probably ten years. At least ten years: people have been dropping things into it since I arrived eight years ago. It was full then and I know hasn’t been processed for that long. Possibly longer than ten years

Here’s a list of things I found as I started to fork over the heap … 🥺😩😢 …

  • Metal wire coat hanger
  • Rolled up metal toothpaste tube
  • Nylon string (lots of small pieces)
  • Plastic tent pegs
  • Plastic netting
  • Broken glass ornament
  • Children’s plastic toys
  • Plastic water pipe
  • Metal bucket handle
  • Unrecognisable burnt plastic blobs
  • Plastic seedling trays
  • Broken plastic plant pots
  • Metal wires
  • Broken metal gardening implements
  • A plastic watering can nozzle
  • Polystyrene trays (smashed up into pieces — they were the worst!)
  • Assortment of plastic bags of different kinds: open, ripped, closed and also full of plastics
  • Silver plastic squares for scaring birds
  • General plastic pipes
Never ever going to be organic compost

I’ve cleaned it all up. But as I was digging it out of the hole in the ground, I realised that it was just about to be sent to the council tip general waste landfill.

I must ensure this never happens again … maybe several of these would work … https://organicgardeningadvise.com/how-to-use-compost-tumbler/

Plot check on Sunday the 1st March, 2020

Today is a bright blue sunny spring day, but it is wet, very wet. As I drive up to the main gates of the grounds I have had to take the long way round again. The roads are flooded like they were last week. I can see in the distance the sun light glistening off the water which is filling the fields, the floodplains all full from the overspill from the River Avon. The road across the wharf bridge is under water. Earlier yesterday, we took a trip to see how far this water went and it had even drowned out the village down the road.

It is mild weather. The flowers have started to come up through the ground and as I walk in through the main gates the crocus plants have started. Daffodils are in bloom on the side of the road and I’ve noticed that trees and hedges have started to bud.

I’ve only come down to check very quickly over the allotment parts I dug last week. The long plot against the wall. But when I get there I see that although there were high winds and rains throughout the week (because of the latest storm, J, not E apparently) there’s been no affect on my plots. Nothing to do! Great news! It looks nice and neat just like it did last week.

So, I guess the only thing to do is to neaten up the tarpaulin and black sheeting, and then go for a nice breakfast and a cup of tea, and think about what I intend to do when it gets a little bit drier! 🙂

Long plot clearance in effect

Today after a bit of a soggy start I managed to clear half of the long plot against the wall. Now that my main plot is all covered up, nice and neat ready for stopping any weeds throughout the year, I have time to do the clearance of the other areas.

Before

The picture shows what it used to look like against the wall a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of weeds near the wall and a bit of a mess. And now the next photo is what it looks like after I have cleared half of the long plot.

After

I dug it over, removed a lot of the weeds from under the surface and on top, and then I moved the blue sheeting onto the other half and dug over the cleared area. It looks a lot better.

According to the new rules of the allotment association which have come into effect this year: there needs to be some work completed on your plot, with the intention of growing things before the end of February. I’m probably a week ahead of the game because although I’m not intending to grow anything this year (shhh! don’t say anything!) I do intend to take the soil back and use it for the borders on my real plot. I don’t want the rulebook to be thrown at me before I have done that little job.

Something for the tip…

So, I filled a wheelbarrow full of old wood that was lying around on the long plot, and then that went to the tip. Also as I was digging over the plot I picked up quite a bit of weeds couch grass. This went into a bag and also went to the tip on the way home. As things have turned out I have managed quite a bit today! All of this was done in about two hours of work.

Allotment clearing in the rain

It’s just after dawn on Saturday, February 22, 2020. A weekend after storm Dennis which caused local flooding of the surrounding fields and roads. This weekend is raining, after a week of on/off in-between showers passing across the country. Finally I find myself some time to get to the allotment. So far in the soggy and muddy allotment plot, I’m hiding in the garden shed because of an increased downpour. That’s where I am up to this morning.

A bit of a soggy view from inside the shed

But, this is by far the most fun I’ve had in a while! Clearing the muddy plot of weeds in the rain, with nobody around apart from the squirrels and the birds in the trees.

The effect of storm Dennis!

Today is Sunday 16th of February. It’s been quite bad rain as storm Dennis has made itself known across the county. Rain has been pretty much non-stop for the past couple of days and the high winds have caused the usual damage. Unlike storm C, this storm D was mostly rain in this part of the UK.

Last night was quite windy outside. The main part of storm Dennis was with us and it had kept me awake for most of the night. A lot of high wind speeds causing whistling outside the windows and creaking in the house as it moved the building slightly. Also, the rain was heavy! And it was continuing in the morning as well when everybody got up.

I decided to make a quick visit to the allotment. My aim there was just to check out any storm damage from last nights high winds that may have moved the black sheeting. Getting there was going to be a problem because the roads are prone to get flooded. I had to find my way round through a different route just in case.

Fields on the left, road on the right, then more fields after the fence … usually

In the distance as I entered the main gate I could see that the water level of the river had flooded the fields at the back ground. The wharf bridge was mostly under water. Flooding like this has happened quite a few times in the past, I remember, and this was quite bad. The road leading across the wharf was submerged and the fields on either side looked like permanent lakes, instead of the fields that they actually are. Cars were still driving through the flood waters even though they risked destroying their engines.

I walked down to the bridge and took some photos. While I was there approximately 10 cars decided to risk it and drive through the floodwaters across the bridge. All of them made it, although a few of them looks like they might be letting water in through the doors and also it seemed to me like the water might be getting into their exhaust pipes as well. None of them stopped however and all of them drove up the hill. So I guess they were lucky that time.

Allotment before storm ‘D’

I was hoping that I could make it to the plot this afternoon. Today is Friday, the 14th of February 2020.

Planning for the allotment visit started early this week and I had purposefully built up several hours during the first few days so I could leave early and catch the weather before it turned bad again. But today there was extra to do and I was unable to leave on time. I was only able to make a very quick check before the weather turned: just 5 minutes to look over the plot before storm Dennis. That storm is forecast to arrive later tomorrow and this will be the second storm in as many weeks for the allotment. I wanted to ensure everything was still tied down from last week. It was! 🙂

So it was just a little bit of straightening needed. Pulling the black sheeting straighter and positioning a few of the bricks so it was better prepared for high winds forecast over the coming days. I’ll just need to keep an eye on the sheeting over the next week in case it moves slightly, as usual.

Minor storm Ciara damage?

Just before sunset today, Sunday the 9th of February 2020, I made a special trip (very briefly) down to the allotment. The high winds and rain from today’s storm were still with us. But, there was very minimal impact on the allotment itself.

As you can see from the photo.

Black sheeting moved slightly with the Ciara storm high winds

Hardly any movement in the black sheeting despite the severe winds and we have had high wind gusts since midnight Saturday. There was some slight movement in the sheeting but that was all. Something I could easily fix with five minutes of moving the bricks back into their original positions and minor straightening of the black covering sheets.

Some other allotment holders haven’t been as fortunate though! I noticed that lots of plastic has been flying around the walled garden. Some of it has ended up on my long plot against the wall.

Plastic netting, plastic bags, some plastic sheeting. Also, a large compost bin made out of plastic. Just like the one I took from my plot yesterday. This one had obviously been rolling around the walled garden and had ended up against the wall on my side of the allotment area. I don’t know who it belonged to so I left it where it was in the hope it wasn’t going to go any further now the winds were calming down.

The running around before the storm

A storm is about to hit the UK. It’s a fairly large one, with wind speeds predicted to be gale force. The storm is predicted to hit sometime on Saturday evening. With that in mind it is a good idea for me to visit the allotment and make sure that everything is securely fastened down.

Today though, it’s all completely calm with bright blue sky and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

On the list of things that I imagine will be blown around the allotment plots are, black sheeting covering the main plot and the empty plastic compost bin which I recently moved against the wall.

This means buying some more bricks to weight down the black sheeting covering the main plot. Also I need to pick up the compost bin. The big black compost bin that will surely be blown over the far side of the allotments if I don’t bring it home.

Full cover up for the first time

Tonight I left work early and made it to the allotment before sunset. I made it with 1 hour to spare! So there was plenty of time to do a little digging before it went dark.

Full cover up

With a little bit of digging and clearing completed I was able to finally move the compost bin onto my adjacent plot and start the main cover up. I converted the whole plot with black sheeting. For the very first time! This marks the first time I’ve ever had the whole plot clear since taking it on.

Way back on the 7th March 2015. Nearly 5 years ago. My previous diary shows what it used to look like. A lot of work has gone into clearing this plot piece by piece. It has been a slow process but deliberately so.

https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/first-day/

So, I was pleased to finish that job and now I am ready to clear the other adjacent area and start transferring soil back onto the main plot. Also I can now start the biggest job: the final border.

That job will take the remainder of the year I think. I will not grow anything this year, instead I will spend my time fixing the borders of this main plot and clearing the secondary plot near the wall so I can hand that one back to the Allotment Association.

Sunday evening quick allotment checks

Today is Sunday 19th January 2020. Although the whole day has been away with the family, the last 15 minutes of the day were spent visiting the plot. Just to check it out…

An allotment check and a visit to find the garden cat. But it was getting too dark and too quickly so only a short visit to the rope swing and a garden cat check (no sighting) before heading back.

It wasn’t a surprise that the garden cat was nowhere to be seen because the temperature was dropping so rapidly. She must have been tucked up somewhere warm. The allotment was frosted over and the sheeting was still in place. Nothing to report. Still the same old jobs to do.

The 2020 AGM meeting (a new earlier date)

The annual general meeting this year happened early, in January, instead of March or April like it used to do. An earlier date for this meeting is part of the changes which have been made since last year’s AGM meeting.

Last year’s AGM was a marathon of things going wrong for the Allotment Association — not least because of the previous owner’s proposal to take over the allotment garden with a large industrial composing section in the central area of the garden plots. This would have ruined the allotment all together and put a stop to hundreds and hundreds of years of an allotment garden being situated on this site.

But this year, the AGM was the complete opposite. And this was totally due to the people who have come forward in the last year to help run the gardens, assist with liaising with the owners and bring back the community side into the allotment gardens again.

I’ve got two plots again, number 22 as usual and number 25 ( the long one against the wall) but I intend to hand the long one back this year. My good intentions for the year are to clean up the borders surrounding my plot and hand back the long 25 plot… let’s see if I do it 😋

Hardy rhubarb beginnings

Saturday, the 11th of January 2020. I spent another couple of hours down the allotment this morning, trying to clear up the weeds which had remained over winter. I cleared (and then covered) another quarter of the plot, which means that just one small area remains left.

The only thing growing on the allotment at the moment is the rhubarb. This rhubarb plant has continually thrived on my plot and it’s beginning to grow again already! Although that’s not unexpected because the weather has been so mild over winter and I’ve noticed some of the plants in the hedgerows have started to bud and some have even flowered already.

First dig of the year

Friday, the 10th of January 2020.

Friday afternoon just before sunset I did a quick visit to the allotment plot. Mainly to cover up part of the half I had left unfinished from November last year and partly because I had not been since November last year and I needed to assess what was remaining .

Over Christmas I had received a letter notifying about the AGM which had been been brought forward into January. In fact, the AGM was now dated the 18th of January: next Saturday!

I did a little bit of clearing was managed before the sunset and pitch blackness descended. Maybe about 20 minutes was accomplished — not much really, but the dark evenings and allotment digging don’t really go hand in hand easily with a full time job.

Some of the weeds were still alive, some of the grass seem like it was growing. I expected the cold of the winter to kill off lots of the hugs and stop other things growing, however the weather has not been very cold over Christmas this year. Some of the ground I had turned over in November had started to grow grass.

But I finished what I needed to do and covered up some more of the plot. I intend to dig and clear more soon if the weather allows…

Saturday 16th of November 2019, just a quick visit

Just a quick visit on Saturday morning. The weather has cleared, slightly at least for today. The rain has been quite constant for a few weeks and this weekend it seems to have stopped.

A small amount of tidying up still needs to be done, but every little helps as usual. So today I’ve spent about an hour down at the allotment.

I cleared a 5 x 5 m square area and converted it with the black sheeting ready for the winter. Probably I have another three areas to do on my plot before I have finished converting my main area. Then, it will be ready for the winter, New Year and spring.

But more importantly and because I really need to look forward, this will allow me to get on with other jobs. I will have made that area inert and eat to manage. It will be covered, possibly for the whole of next year. Instead, I can look at finishing the borders which were quite neglected this year.

Also I will be able to look at the plot by the wall. My intention is to hand that are back to the allotment association. They have plans fir for that long area but the . Possibly it will be levelled and grassed and planted with new trees all the way down that edge. Nobody seems to want to take on plots in the shade by the wall, and so it would make sense for them to be used as orchard areas.

However that means I will need to finish my jobs for the borders before they take the plot back. I have been piling up soil and turf on that long plot for the past two years, and I need to take that soil back for use on the pathed areas along side my main allotment before they take the site off me.

Allotment pumpkins going to good use!

It is Halloween! The two pumpkins that I managed to grow down at the allotment have gone to very good use this year. The two designs were scribbled using a sharpie by the younger one, and I cut out the two designs.

They sat outside the front door all evening while the trick and treaters came up to the door to get the sweets.

The guinea pigs ate the rest!

The plot is on the way to getting cleared

So on Sunday, I spent some more time down at the plot doing some more clearing. Mainly it was the sunflower stems that had been waiting to get taken to the tip.

In fact it was the sunflower day. The stems from home were also collected. By the end of my clearance, I had cut up enough to fill three buckets worth of tough sunflower stems.

Slowly but surely the plot it’s beginning to look a little bit tidier. Although the picture here doesn’t seem to show much progress, a little bit was done on Sunday. It’s a slow process. A little bit here, and a little bit there. Not much fun pulling up the weeds as usual, but it needs to be done.

The next time the weekend allows for some clear weather, and I get sometime, a little bit more should be done.

Garden cat gets a visit

I’ve not seen the garden cat for a long time, mainly because I’ve not been at the allotment much. But it didn’t take long for Elvis to find me again when I did finally reappear!

Happy now she has been fed. And she even stayed around for some attention too … before disappearing again to do whatever she does … off somewhere around the allotment and gardens …

Big clearance has started

Sunday, early in the morning around about 7 o’clock, at last the weekend is dry, the Sun is just rising, I’m awake, there is no excuse!

So I get out of bed, get dressed in my allotment clothes, pack the car and make my way to a soggy allotment. There are plenty of jobs to do down at the plot!

I need a lot of clearing. The beans and the polls need taking down, the sweetcorn stubs need to be lifted and transported off to the tip. The frame that was holding up the cucumbers needs taking down and all of the bamboo canes need stocking up in the corner.

I need to dig up my first early potatoes!!

Indeed that was my last job today. After scratching through the mud and pulling up all the old dead plants clearing up the bamboo and collecting several tubs of weeds, one of my last jobs was to take up my first early potatoes which had been in the ground all year. The first thing I grew this year were the potatoes and now they are the last thing to take up.

But, they were probably one of the best things I managed to grow this year. A big stack of them got sent to the people on the front desk, the rest of them have come home with me and I going to help with Sunday lunch today.

A good job today.

Taking up the spuds

It was the very last hour of Sunday night, just before it started to go dark. I managed to make some time to go to the allotment. It’s been raining most of the week but the weekend has been quite clear… So really there’s no excuse, I have to make time.

On the list of things to do.

1. Dig up the spuds

2. Take the pumpkins home

3. Harvest the marrow

I managed to do all three in about one hour. The patch of land that the spuds were under looks a lot better for being dug up. I managed to get two small trays of potatoes — and I’m not certain who will get these. The pumpkins will probably be used for carvings.

What to do with the marrow? I’m not sure. I guess this might go into some soups.

Probably around four or five hours over the next few weekends will need to be found in order to clear up the last of the allotment before winter hits. The weather forecast doesn’t look that great, so I will have to pick my times carefully.

Sunflowers fallen over in the wind

The sunflowers are finally down. The high winds over the weekend knocked down all of my sunflowers. The ones in the garden, and the ones at the allotment all got it.

But the advantage of some flowers on the floor means they are easy to pick up and put into a vase. The ones from home I brought inside, and the ones at the allotment were given to the staff in the office. A nice thing for them on the Sunday afternoon just before they went home.

The Great Sweetcorn Challenge

Hardly great. But this is the haul off sweetcorn that came home with me. The other corn went to the office staff and the food bank. The remainder is in my fridge and will be turned into soup.

I’ve not decided exactly what the recipe will be yet and so I’ll have to look at the book shelf our do some research to make certain I don’t spoil it.

Really bad weeds

Because I’ve not been to the allotment for many many weeks, the weeds have really taken over. Underneath all of these mats off plants are my beetroot. At least this was what I had to clear up before I could find them.

Cleaning them didn’t really take much time after all because I just pulled everything up.

A box of veg off to the food bank

Tonight I rushed from work straight to the allotment because I have not been there for many weeks. My first job was to clear the area that once contained tens of beetroot plants, but now contains weeds covering most of the area and underneath somewhere, several beetroot.

Digging them out was quite easy but the area will still need clearing of weeds properly at some other date.

Some of the beetroot are quite small, a couple have been split in a few places, but most of them were perfect. One or two of them were big and one in particular was huge, probably the size of my head!

I had brought three cardboard boxes, and I easily filled the two large ones with beetroot. I then moved on to the sweetcorn … I chopped down all the sweetcorn plants and pulled off the cobs. There is another job for me, I will need to get rid of the sweet corn storks in future. I filled another cardboard box with the sweetcorn harvest.

Finally, I moved on to the cucumbers. Probably I picked around 12 to 15 of them. Mostly they were fairly big, but some had their skins looking slightly drier than usual and paler in colour. I don’t expect they are any different to any of the other cucumbers, so they went on top of the pile also.

In the end, I had three large cardboard boxes all filled with sweetcorn, cucumber and beetroot. I haven’t even started on digging up the three lines of potatoes that I have left in. I didn’t have time or space for potatoes.

The box in the picture is going to the local food bank. The second box was left outside the back door of the main office, for the office staff in the morning. And the third box has come home with me.

It’s a good haul. A lot of work needs to be done to take out the potatoes and to clear out the weeds. Something to look forward to when I get the time.

Food Bank donations

What a good idea! All the food that I usually grow and goes to waste or possible overspills for the main entrance staff can now go to the food bank!

Plot holders message board. Food bank. Please place any donations in plastic containers inside the shed. Thanks.

Thanks for donations.

The food bank were very pleased to receive the veg and asked me to thank everyone – so – thanks!

Was it doesn’t say was that there was a request: please don’t send any more marrows!

The first Tayberries in my hand

A short watering trip to the allotment after work on Friday. It was the hottest day on record yesterday Thursday 25th July 2019 and although we had some thunder storms posing over late in the evening, I thought it would be better to do the watering task before the weekend.

The tayberry plant is doing well. Although those pesky pigeons are still eating my berries, some of the better hidden ones have made it without getting eaten. I grabbed 4 of the best before heading home with the first lettuce that will not go to the guinea pigs. This one has gone into the fridge at home!

Stop that pigeon!

Sunday morning before everybody had got out of bed, I had managed to make it down to the allotment. I was the first one there, nobody about and everything was quiet apart from the birds.

My task for today was to tie up the cucumbers which had started to grow really well. Also on my list of things to tie up was the French beans.

I intended to pick a couple of lettuce plants as well. These would go to the guinea pigs at home who seem to be eating most of my allotment produce at the moment.

This is the first time I’ve I noticed that the tayberry bush has been attacked. I could hear the pigeons cooing in the background, probably stuffed to the brim with berries from my plant!

I think that the bright red berries are like beacons to the passing fat pigeons. And the crossbars of my trellis are welcoming platform to an open restaurant. A happy dining experience for the stuffed birds.

Where is Elvis?!

I may have to rethink my kindness towards the garden cat, if the pigeons are taking such an advantage. Sorry Elvis! You need to start doing your job.

Watering trip before the weekend starts

So. I was up early this morning. Just a quick visit to the plot to do the watering and to pick up a lettuce for the guinea pigs at home. Nobody was around. Not even the garden cat. So I did my job with the watering and quickly took a look about for other potential work that needed doing, then left.

The “raised beds” area has worked very well. No slugs or snails can be found in that area. I think I will make another two of these in the future because three in a line would be approximately the width of the plot. I could grow a lot of lettuce density in future without needing to worry about slug pellets.

So. There is one job for the to-do list.

Roasting Sunday (7 July 2019)

This morning, before anybody was out of bed at home, I made a trip the allotment. I was there by around 9:15am. Not that early. But, what an amazing day today is going to be. A scorcher. The weather promises to be roasting hot, scorching, the ground will be very dry. Perfect for weed pulling … all of the plants are doing really well, sweetcorn, the beetroot, potatoes, the French beans, tayberry, the rhubarb, the lettuce, the cucumbers, the horseradish! Nothing is doing badly (unless you count the plants I neglected before they were planted in the allotment, so I am maybe discounting the squash and the pumpkin and the cabbage which the pigeons really seem to have taken to).

Today the main job that I decided to do was: pull up all the weeds I have grow in between potatoes. There were quite a few of them, and it look an hour harvesting weeds. The garden cat, Elvis, arrived and wanted some food. I had a sashay of catfood in my compost bin and I gave Elvis half. I’ve put the remainder on top of my compost bin intending to give Elvis the rest later. But while my back was turned the cat jumped on top of the bin and finished off the half that was left over. Elvis decided it would be a good rest after eating breakfast to go and have a lie down and a snooze in between my sweet corn plans.

I finished off the weeding, it took about an hour and a half in the end. Then I used the hose pipe to give everything a good drink. All the plants got a good soak! By this time the sun was beating down quite hard, and the people that have arrived at the allotment this morning had disappearer. In fact there was just me left when I packed up and picked up a lettuce or two for the guinea pigs, before setting off home. The time will be about 11:15.

Just a quick two hour Sunday sunny trip to the allotment! If I had time, I probably would’ve spend a whole day there! What a fantastic place!

Watering visit

Today is Thursday the 27th. The time is 8:30 in the evening. I have just finished a long one hour session at the allotment where I took my time, dawdled around, watered the allotment, and generally wasted time. It was awesome!

Everything is doing fine without me. Even the weeds. But the plants are doing great.

The beetroot are really coming along and growing really well. The potatoes are doing fantastically. They are beginning to flower. The tayberry plant is beginning to bud. As usual, the rhubarb and the horseradish have taken over.

On the second half of the plot probably the best in class is the state of the sweetcorn. They are incredible.

Out of everything that is growing right now sweetcorn are doing the best. Over the past few weeks they have really shot-up and thickened out.

I expect them to do very well by the end of the year.

Finally, my new border containing my organic lettuce is working a treat. There are no slugs inside the border. And I have not used any slug pellets. The cucumber plants I’ve started as well. Everything is going swimmingly.

Quick allotment checking after work

Today is Wednesday, the 19th of June and it is 6:45 in the evening. On the way home from work I have called in to give the allotment plot a quick once over. To be honest, I wanted to check that my slug gel has not been stolen again, and to look at the state of the new plants (cabbages).

Nothing has really changed. everything is still in its place. My slug gel is safe. But I have picked it up and put it in the car boot just in case.

As I entered the allotment a lot of birds flew off and into the trees. They had spread themselves out across the whole of the allotments. No doubt they were munching things on the ground. When I checked my plot, it was evident they had been munching my cabbage seedlings. They must be very tasty because they are the only ones that have been chomped and pecked at. My lettuce seedlings are fine.

All in all, my allotment plot is doing very well. Over the past few days my French beans have shot up. They have curled themselves around the bamboo canes and sprung up around about a metre in height. Fantastic!

Some of my slug defences are missing

Way back on the 5th of June, one of my jobs was to destroy the slug and snail population that have been decimating my sunflowers. I had some slug pellets left over from last year, so I used those. Just to make certain I was complying with people’s opinions I also went out and got some pet and animal friendly slug grit.

There is plenty of wildlife around. I found another toad hanging about along the border.

A very long Sunday at the allotment

Today is Sunday, the 16th of June. From 2 o’clock until 7 o’clock in the evening I have been down the allotment. Today’s plan was to unwrap the last of the plot, folding up the sheeting, and making use of the last half of the plot. Elvis the garden cat arrived shortly after I got there, and definitely wanted feeding. So Elvis had her lunch while I prepared to do the work.

Also on the list of things to do was to trim the grass around the borders. So, I brought my electric strimmer and quickly whizzed around the edges. It only took about 5 or 10 minutes and it looked a lot better.

The main bulk of the work was to remove the sheeting and fork over the part of the plot that hasn’t seen daylight this year. Also I had to build my small raised bed area. This is an experiment to stop the slugs, without using any slug pellets. this small area will contain a densely packed plot of lettuce and cabbage, or various varieties.

The idea is to leave space so that I can finish off the edges of the border on the allotment, while at the same time being able to get at the lettuce and cabbage to make sure there are no slugs and snails munching on them. A small area was also flattened and dug over to make space for some cucumbers: eight of them. These have been purchased from the garden centre close by this morning, which we visited for breakfast.

The marrow and the pumpkin have also gone in, in a small spot that was available next to the rhubarb.

The plot looks quite full now. All that is left is to make another raised bed area and plant some more lettuce and cabbage. Everything went to plan today. I managed to get quite a lot done.

A quick evening trip on Saturday night

It is Saturday, the 15th of June and the time is just past 9 o’clock. I have been to the allotment for a quick scout around, just to see what jobs there are with the hope that I can go early tomorrow and finish a few.

This weekend other members of the allotment have been clearing out the garden shed. I don’t think anybody has looked at the contents of the garden shed very closely for at least 20 years. It looks a lot better now though. They have done quite a lot of work today sorting out tools and clearing the shed completely. Everything is back in its place now and instructions have been given for people to name their items otherwise they will become communal. Communal with a letter C branded on them.

I expect that quite a lot of the equipment found in the garden shed will have no owner. Some of it looks as though it’s been there for 100 years.

My allotment doesn’t look too bad, the borders are looking fairly fairly neat but the grass needs cutting. I will have to take my strimmer with me tomorrow morning to do as much as I can. Both of the lawnmowers, the ones that people use communally are both broken.

I have picked up a lettuce from my lettuce patch. This will go home with me and will be fed to the guinea pigs. I thought my allotment was looking quite good, but I wondered around the plots this evening and the plot in the far corner, the one that is probably the best in the class, well, it really puts me to shame and it shows exactly what I should be doing. Even though my plot is probably doing very well this year, when I look at some of the plots I see how it should be done.

Some of my tayberries are beginning to fruit!! The ones in the picture are looking quite red and the shape is forming quite well. I think there will be a good crop of tayberries this year even though I transplanted the tayberry plant at the beginning of this season. All in all I think it is doing quite well. I don’t have anything that isn’t looking good. All my jobs are lined up for tomorrow.

Finally. As I was leaving, I heard a little meow. Elvis had followed me into the garden shed. So, to finish off the short evening trip, the garden cat got fed! 😽

A serious amount of weeding

Thursday 6th June 2019. I’ve managed around 3 hours down at the allotment. When I arrived at about 6:30pm I was the only person there. But that didn’t last long and many others turned up.

It is weeding night. I had already decided before I arrived. The weather was good. Very dry. The ground was hard and the weeds easy to remove as long as I got the dirt with the trowel to knock the solid soil off the root.

Also. While I was busy weeding, kneeling down with my small fork, who should come along looking for food? Elvis the garden cat.

Very, very happy to see me tonight. Elvis stayed with me for about 30 minutes. Wandering back and forth between the bowl of cat food and me. I’ve never seen the garden cat like this before. I think she was happy for the company (and the food).

It took around 3 hours to weed the sweetcorn and the French beans. Hands and knees all the way. But it was worth it 😎

Time to pick my first lettuce

It’s time. Time to pick my first lettuce produce of the year. They have grown quite large in the last few weeks and I think they should start to be harvested before the snails start to munch them.

This was a fairly small lettuce. But it looks great! Better than anything you would get in the shops! Certainly! And cheaper!

So!? What I hear you ask, what are you going to make from this? A nice salad? Perhaps the leaves could go in a sandwich? BLT? Sounds great!

No.

This is what my prize lettuce is going on.

Guinea pig food.

There was a lot of noise and squeezing when the piggies 🐹 saw it coming. It’s gone to a good home.

Goodbye snails

These small snail carcasses were found at the feet of my sunflower seedlings. The little blighters. No wonder my sunflower seedlings were getting munched up. I’ve been feeding the local snail families for the past few weeks.

But the slug pellets have done the trick. Well, partly. Some of the sunflower seedlings still had bite marks out of them and a couple had been completely eaten … but I’m quite glad the rest had survived. I think the slug pellets have done their magic correctly.

The tayberry is flowering

Last night, after half a day of rain, I made a special trip to the allotment to check on the slug population. Not my normal reason for visiting the plot, but a necessary one after finding a huge slug and a massive snail wandering the patio flags in the back garden.

You can bet there would be plenty more down at the allotment. Plenty of them attacking my sunflowers! The little blighters.

I was right. Four more of my sunflowers were missing; presumed scoffed.

Anyway. After another battery of slug pellets I decided to cheer myself up with some nice flowers and the beginnings of the tayberry crop … they are now visible on the trellis.

The tayberry plant is doing great. It’s not grown massively but it has started to flower and I can see the beginnings of fruit. I can’t wait!! 😋

Night of the subcommittee meeting

I had a spare hour before the subcommittee meeting started, so I planted some cabbage. In between the lettuce are now some purple cabbage seedlings.

I don’t think there will be much of a contrast because I intend to pick the lettuce before the cabbage have grown.

The guinea pigs will be happy. The lettuce are nearly as large as my hand. The slugs will not be happy because the lettuce are going to stay that way. I’ve surrounded them with a fortress of slug pellets.

The subcommittee meeting started at 7:30 pm. The meeting went on until 9 o’clock.

Topics that were discussed include but are not limited to: the garden shed; a different garden shed; moving a garden shed; the tools inside the garden shed; the base that garden shed sits on; the broken tiles on the garden shed; how the tools inside the garden shed will be sorted; the dates this will be done; the broken lawnmower; planting a tree on the communal plot; having a party.

Slugs you’re gonna get it

Slugs, you are going to get it now. Discussions on the use of slug pellets has resulted in a request for plot holders to use slug pellets that are animal friendly. How friendly do you think they will be to slugs?

I’ve surrounded the lettuce with a wall of pellets. They are not going to eat my lettuce like they did to the sunflowers.

This evening, I didn’t really see very many slugs, but I know that is what having all of my sunflowers. It’s not gonna happen again

Cleaning up the lettuce

I planned for the allotment the night before. Packed my allotment clothes in the boot of the car and at the end of the day I got changed at work before driving directly to the allotment. It was predicted to be a nice day.

So, it’s been a bit dry for the past few days because of the nice weather. Also, when I looked at the far end of the plot there were quite a few weeds starting to grow (like cress). It was time to start weeding — the first weeding of the year!

The first weeding of the year! That says a lot! It says that my black sheeting had worked miracles. Not only have I only dug the plot once, to plant the seedlings, but there has been minimal effort for upkeep as well.

The whole of this side of the plot had been really easy this year. I am very happy that the long term plans are finally reaping benefits. The borders are easy to cut and the upkeep of the plot is easier 😎😀

Out of all the lettuce, every one has grown perfectly. Out of about 70 beetroot, only one has died and another is stunted. I couldn’t be happier with this area.

Finally, just before I left tonight I had time to feed Elvis. The garden cat appeared next to my plot while I was weeding and meowed at me for food. I had some in my black compost bin, so Elvis was happy.

I also gave the whole plot a bit of a watering with the hose pipe. It was probably the best allotment visit of the year so far. Even though I just did the weeding, everything went perfectly!

Amazing sky tonight!

The walled garden allotment is looking especially amazing tonight. As I walked into the front gate the sky was bright blue, all seemed quiet near the Abbey. The only activity seemed to be high above me — the swifts and swallows were darting about chasing their evening meals.

It was a grass cutting event tonight. That was the plan. The borders are looking ready to cut and the work I’ve done on then is beginning to pay off. I ran the lawnmower around in record time. Also I now have a strimmer with a battery, so I can cut in the edges really easily. I was done and had time to spare.

The potatoes were next.

The line I had covered up previously (earliest) have started to pop up. But the other two lines have only just begun to break the surface. So I covered them so I didn’t have to continually check their state.

A little bit of watering was next. Then it was time to go home. Just as I started to pack up, I looked up from my work and saw the sky. It was incredible colours tonight.

Sweetcorn seedlings are doing okay

So, the sweetcorn is doing okay. A bit of watering will help after a little dry spell. So tonight I spent some time with the hose pipe spraying the allotment. But they are doing fine on their own for the majority of seedlings.

Out of all of the seedlings I put in, only one seems to have died. An unknown reason. They all seemed healthy when I put them in. But, the rest are thriving. So I don’t think there’s a huge reason why I need to keep an extra close eye on these plants.

The horseradish

The horseradish is doing well. Well it always does because it’s about as vigorous as a weed. This plant has history on my plot and had to be dug out from one area as it spread too much and transplanted into a container.

But, now it’s in a plastic bin with the bottom cut out, it had been tamed quite extensively. No longer is it escaping across my plot. Instead it is growing nicely.

It’s doing so well, it’s even started flowering. Little white flowers with small delicate petals. It’s so different to the rugged plant itself.

Another half board

Partly done another board on the edge of the plot again tonight. As you can see, the left half of the plot has boards asking the edge and trellis … and is filled with plants like beetroot. The centre is rhubarb and horseradish with the compost bin. The right is still not done.

But. I’m getting there slowly. Very slowly.

It’s taking time but it will be worth it.

Plot 26 also cleared!

That’s it. It should be another double exclamation title !! But after the other plots surrounding mine were cleared (by the landowner and allotment members), I’m not hugely surprised anymore. I am surprised, though and I did a double-look.

This means the plots extending the full length of the wall, number 26 belonging to the land owner, and the one I am looking after (plot 25) are now all clear.

In fact. My only concern now is that my plots are not looking as good as the other ones! The strange thing is, I don’t mind being the worst plot in the vicinity any more … not since I was surrounded on all sides by weeds up to knee height for several years.

Another border edge board

Probably it would have gone quicker if I had remembered my lump hammer and screws. But when I arrived at the plot with board, spirit level and drill, I figured that a twenty minute round trip back to the house was just a waste of time. So I used a brick for a hammer and borrowed screws from other boards

But it’s gone in okay. I can finish it off properly another time. At least I got one more board in the border!

Covering up the first earlies

There was a bit of covering up needed. The first early spuds had started to pop through. This meant the space I had made for shoveling dirt was used. It does like this on the three lines of potatoes: path, potatoes, space for cover-up dirt, repeat.

There’s now a small trench to the right of the spuds where I dug and covered. But the paths still exist on both sides. This worked out well and of something I will keep doing I think.

Hello Robin. What an evening!

A watering session was possible on the main plot after a bit of digging with my friend Robin. In fact, my two friends Robin and Robin. Keeping me company and snatching worms, grubs and centipedes from the newly tilled soil.

The rake was used to flatten the soil once it had been turned over with my fork. Robin was sat really close by, on the trug which was used to filter out the couch grass. Waiting for singing to catch the eye. Something creepy and crawly.

There wasn’t much of a wait needed. Always something on each fork turn.

At the end of the night, the sun was starting to go down, there was only one more person at the plot. They were finishing off the watering on their allotment. Robin had gone. I snapped a few photos of the sunset, packed up, and then headed home.

Superb evening for planting sunflowers

Okay. So the first tranche of sunflowers have made it to the plot. Autumn Beauty. Spaced around 1m apart (probably not enough) against the wall on the long allotment plot.

This year will be the year of the sunflower. At least on the long plot. But actually, I can’t really think of anything better for that long area.

It’s such a long area and it doesn’t really get a lot of sun, being a Northish facing wall. I spent a long time tonight digging the soil and raking it flat so I could plant these sunflower seedlings.

I expect this will pay off in the end. And with all my other sunflower seedlings still waiting at home I think this whole plot will look great in the end.

The grass seed has started

On the edges of the border, where I used some grass seed to fill in the gaps — the grass has started to grow quite well. The turf I used from the garden has taken completely and this grass seed was used where I didn’t have enough.

Sometime soon I will make a start on the rest of the border. The second half of the plot. This is really the main task for this year … ensuring the borders are completely finished before I make the grass paths flatter.

Plenty of sunflowers

I’ve got plenty of sunflowers to go down to the allotment. Here are a few that I plant to take and plant at the plot. There are around 15 Autumn Beauty in this tray .. all grown from seeds, germinated on the windowsill in the kitchen and then potted on outside in the garden.

If I don’t get them down to the plot soon, I think they will get too big for their paper pots and I’ll have wasted them. Probably I have another 15 or so sunflowers in another tray. Let’s face it, I’ve overdone it on the sunflowers this year.

Piggy lawnmowers

Thanks to the guinea pigs, the new back garden lawn is getting its second cut. No shirking in the sun, now! Oi! Get back to work! You’ve got a lot of eating to do piggies.

Although they loved the weather and being outside, they did a fairly good job but are really too slow and don’t quite live up to my expectations. When they are inside, we use them as a dustbin replacement for food scraps and I was hoping that when they went outside I could replace the lawnmower and sit with my feet up.

But they like to laze around in the long grass far more than I’d like them to. And I have a problem with their workmanship: eating the grass in clumps rather than trimming it evenly. On the plus side they have been quite good with the manuring.

Looking great! The best I ever remember

My neighbours are all working hard! Plots number 24 and 23 have been worked over. On the right of this picture you can see those plots are looking really clear. It’s incredible! The past few years I’ve been hemmed in on all but half of one side with weedy plots. But today, only the far side edge is still not done. The two main sides are being worked.

Somebody has taken on plot number 13A, the small square plot in the left of this photo. This has taken a lot of hard work! A significant effort to clear this plot was needed and they have done magnificently to get this far.

My plot is in the centre. The edges from this angle are looking nice and straight and neat. The plot areas are looking for for now. Maybe a little work this weekend would be needed to cut the grass and hoe the surface where the beetroot have been planted maybe.

The main job on my plot is out of sight in the distance in this photo. I will need to put the borders in on the far side and that is a significant job. Then I will need to remove and transplant the small rhubarb plant to the other plot. Plenty of jobs to do!

Plots 23 and 24 are looking amazing!!

Double exclamation points again. The plot 23 held by the land owner continues to improve and is looking great. Also, plot number 23 had recently been taken off an allotment holder and returned to general communal ownership by the allotment association: that is also looking fantastic! My plot can be seen in the background.

Plot 23 has had its hedge removed as well. This explains why plot 24 had previously had its hedge uprooted. There is a disease in the soil which is killing the hedge. There is a notice on the communal plot 23 which says the hedge must be burned in place and not transferred to a different plot or off site. This is to keep the disease transfer down.

But I am pleased that these two plots have been turned around and I am no longer surrounded by allotments that are growing weeds!

The sweetcorn have now gone in

Tonight’s job was to take the sweetcorn seedlings down to the allotment and dig them into the plot. I’ve now moved onto the next half of the plot because the first half is full. I cleared a space and arranged a grid of bamboo poles before planting the seedlings.

I had grown 36 sweetcorn seedlings and all but 4 of them had grown okay. My grid of 5×7 has three missing poles. And this has turned out better because it makes it easier to get to the centre sweetcorn. I have left a little path into the square.

This half of the plot doesn’t have a proper border yet. I have the wood planks and some stakes but I thought it was more important to bring the sweetcorn seedlings from home rather than finish the edges.

I have left enough room for the next job: the borders again.

Apart from digging in the sweetcorn, there was a lot of wildlife this evening. The garden cat came calling, wanting some food which I keep in the compost bin. Elvis was fed and went away happy. There were two robins dotting around and waiting for me to dig up some grubs. And finally the large male pheasant made an appearance and let out an almighty “squark!” noise, before strutting off to bother another plot holder.

It was a nice evening and I spent two hours at the allotment this evening.

A dozen rhubarb stems

I’ve taken photographs of the rhubarb pickings before, but I have noticed that there is very little scale to the rhubarb. Usually I take the photo of the rhubarb from above looking down onto the grass, so there’s nothing to compare it to.

Today, I thought I had better give it something to measure against. So I’ve loaded it into the back seat of the car. Add you can see, there is hardly any room left, in fact it’s lucky I wasn’t carrying any passengers.

There are only 12 stems here.

Reclaimed plot number 23

Half of the plot number 23 (which is also next to my allotment plot) is now clear. You can tell what it looked like because only half of this plot had been cleared so far.

This plot 23 had been left for nearly a whole year without anybody looking after it. Most recently the plot owner has given it up and the allotment association have taken over and ownership again.

Within a couple of days, the plot has had work done to it. And although it’s only partly done, it’s already looking better.

I think one of the ideas for this plot is to make it communal.

Plot 24 is nearly completely clear!

What used to be a large mess is now (nearly) one of the clearest and tidiest plots in the allotment. There are still a few pallets of turf to remove and a small patch of grass (on the right of the photo) … but it’s nearly clear!

There is not much growing on this plot at the moment either! But it’s great to see the plot clear instead of full of weeds! It looks like this plot will not be used for the composting either.

Plenty of sweetcorn seedlings nearly ready for planting

I have just over thirty sweetcorn seedlings ready for planting down at the main plot at the allotment. The high winds that we were battered with over the Friday and Saturday night caused several of the seedlings to be pushed over, but that was easily fixed with a firm hand and some more compost.

They are currently waiting for a larger space down at the plot. A clear area with enough space to accommodate up to 36 large plants. I have the second half of the plot to uncover yet, so they can go in there easily, but I also need to worry about the borders of this plot area. So I am currently thinking I should plant them in the centre and leave the edges covered until I have finished the border.

No matter. They still have a couple of weeks before they need to go in. Plenty of time to change my mind.

Three lines of potatoes have gone in

Another late night and the clock says 8:30pm by the time I have finished — and it is going dark again. I have put in the second line of potatoes — these are the second earlies! Two lines this time. Previously, the other night, I had finished a single line of early potatoes. So I now have 3 lines in total.

I spaced them out and finished then off with some blood, fish and bone. To help the roots and also offset the fact that I’m planting potatoes in the same location that I did last year. Although not to the same degree. Last year I only had a few lines. This year I’m being much more intensive. Half of the plot (well, not quite half yet) has now been planted. And it’s looking great.

As I was just putting in the last of the potato lines in when Elvis sneaked up on me and meowed really loudly in my ear! It made me jump (and shout) because it had been so quiet in the allotment this evening — then suddenly I got a loud meow right in my ear! I’m afraid I didn’t bring anything to feed Elvis this evening. But she was fed the previous night, and it had been a good day for tourists, so I expect the garden cat wasn’t really that hungry.

By the time I packed up and headed out, it was getting quite dark. And late again. It always takes a long time to do the smallest of jobs and I always overrun. But still, it is a nice place to lose track of time!

Hello little lambs

On the way into the allotment, peeping through the fence and grazing in the field outside the main Abbey building, the new lambs are curiously gazing at passersby. And getting their photos taken. Not just by me, but by tourists from all around the world.

I heard Korean… And an American accent.

Off to the allotment for me now. I have a garden cat to feed and plants to water. Weeds to pull up. As I walk off, the lambs turn their attention to some other tourists that walk past me. More photo ops.

Finished the trellis for the Tayberry plants

Recently, one of my jobs was to finish the trellis for the Tayberry plant. I turned up to the allotment with hand saw, screws and electric drill in hand only to discover my way blocked by about 30 American tourists. They were looking at the Abbey through the main gate, my only way into the walled garden.

One or two clever comments later about how I was going to plant potatoes using a spirit level, and I was passed them and into the main grounds. I could hear the tourists as they wandered off talking about Harry Potter.

The job itself only took a short while to complete. Fairly easy but only possible using one hand to do and fix the holes (due to me being the only person in the place that evening) — the other hand was needed to steady and level the cross bar.

Then it was done. Another job crossed off my list. The tayberry is now in good shape to take very little effort for the rest of the season.

Grass snake?

Tonight’s visit (Tuesday 30th April 2019) was possible because I left work early. It had been a really nice day again. Not super sunny, but quite warm. I had a couple of hours before I needed to leave and pick up the little one from cubs. So I started the work.

As I turned over the black sheeting, there it was underneath, warming itself in the last heat of the day — a small grass snake. Probably around 18 inches long and very much in good health.

I’m pretty certain it’s a grass snake. The first picture on Google is almost identical to the photo I took.

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/reptiles/grass-snake

I managed to call over my neighbour on the adjacent plot and to snap one or two photos before the little snake slithered away under the rhubarb plant. No doubt I disturbed it. Although I am thinking it was lucky I didn’t squash it as I stomped around on the sheeting getting ready to do some digging.

I will need to be careful in future. No stomping about and definitely no netting (the last snake on the plot got caught in some nylon nets that one of the plot holders was using to keep the birds off their plants).

Potting on the Autumn Beauty sunflowers

This weekend there has been some time to pot on the sunflowers I have grown from seed. Well, at least some of them. There are quite a few sunflowers I have grown in these little pots and nearly all of them have turned out well. I will need to buy several more of the larger pots in order to accommodate the seedlings into a pot each.

The picture shows how the roots from the sunflowers have grown through the paper pot itself. It was quite a delicate process to separate up to three sunflower seedlings from each smaller pot and transplant then into a new larger pot each.

The roots were not just tangled but had also pushed through the paper in places. This meant a lot of care had to be taken when pulling the seedlings out. In future, next year, I will ensure I put one seed in each pot just to make life easier for myself.

I intend to put these plants into the long (spare) plot at the allotment … against the wall. Each plant should be quite large in size eventually so there should be plenty for that long area.

First lettuce have gone in

After another long hot day, I managed to put in the first lettuce plants at the allotment. A nice grouping of a dozen little green gem lettuce plants that have gone in next to the three groups of beetroot plants I set previously.

I can foresee that my only problem with these plants will be making sure they are watered consistently… I’ve not seen any snails or slugs on the allotment for a long time, so I expect they will not be an issue. All I need to remember is to visit and water the plants regularly.

Phew! That was a close one!!

I’ve received this email from the allotment association. The landowner has had a rethink about the location of the composing and mulching area proposed for the centre of the walled garden. They are instead looking at other alternatives in their land portfolio and have concluded the kitchen garden is not the place.

Phew!

I have to admit, after putting up the trellis to grow my tayberry, I was thinking about how long it would be before I would need to uproot it again.

I’m glad that the effort put in by other allotment holders has had an effect on the thoughts of the land owner.

Also, as was pointed out in the email, there does seem to be a renewed vigor in the walled garden plots now — it is after all a privilege to rent a plot in such a beautiful and peaceful place.

A small meeting at the allotment

Tonight is Thursday, the 25th of April 2019, and unfortunately the weather is fine. There is blue sky, the Sun is just going down but it is still warm, and because of this the subcommittee meeting is held outside at the Allotment and not in the pub. What a shame.

We had the meeting under the shelter just outside the gate to the walled allotment garden.

The meeting took about an hour and a half to complete. There was plenty of conversation and many topics were covered. Things like the use of pesticides (which everybody thought was a bad idea), the possibility of having a communal plot, maybe having some sort of plant sharing scheme. There was a request for a new tap to be put into the allotment, somewhere in the middle or at least having them spread around the allotment garden more evenly than they currently are. And probably the best discussion, was a social side to the allotment association. Something which used to exist in the past but which has disappeared now.

Lots of things wree discussed, and many things are going to be passed on to the main committee. We are only a subcommittee, and can’t really decide anything. But it was very productive nonetheless.

It was a disappointment however that we couldn’t do it in the pub. Maybe next time they will pick a day when it’s raining.

Twenty eight French beans

Before the weather breaks this week, I wanted to get the French beans into the space between the potatoes and the rhubarb. There is just enough room. For the remainder of the week the weather is changing from sunny and hot to, hot and showers. So I will not need to visit the plot for watering duty as much as I did previously over the past few weeks.

To plant the beans, I turned back the sheeting, removed a few small potatoes that had been left over from last year and had sprouted. Then I roughly churned the soil with my fork before raking it flat. This took around 25 minutes. As usual.

Spacing out the bamboo canes roughly evenly I put two plants at the base of each pole. Two rows of seven. For now I will not bend the two rows together. Actually, I didn’t have time to do that work, but I didn’t think it was necessary right now anyway. In future I will, when the brand start to climb.

One other job to do before leaving was to feed Elvis. I had a visitor join me at the worker tonight from home. Sat in the foldable chair watching me dig and plant. They fed Elvis and made certain age was okay and had company.

Rain after the long sunny spell is arriving

This is definitely a good thing. Plenty of rain is forecast this week. Especially good news for my new lawn at home. And not least because it will mean I will not need to go on special watering trips down at the allotment … at least for the rest of this week.

The temperatures are still quite high this week. This is going to be great for the soil temperature which was improving recently. This will help the seed germination. It’s nice to have sunshine during the bank holiday weekend and the rain during the working week instead of the usual English option.

The other night’s beetroot are okay

In the light of day I went to take a closer look at the other night’s planting. Even though it had been another super hot day I could still see the ground was still wet (from the other night?). It could hardly be from then! A super hot day…? The ground still showing it was wet? No chance!

I can only assume that one of my neighbours had been across and watered my beetroot before I arrived in the evening.

Possibly it was my neighbour… I suspect, because I dropped off several of my spare beetroot seedlings on to her plot before I left the other night.

Grass, gravel and planting area …

It’s taken a long time to get here, but the back yard is looking much better now the turf is down and the gravel border is finished down one side. I also added a small planting area for any climbing flowers or maybe some sunflowers … In the future …

The turf went down several weeks ago now and it’s looking really great. There are a few small areas down the sides that need some attention but on the whole it’s perfect.

The remainder of the top soil we used for the turfed area was used in the planting section, so nothing had gone to waste and it looks as though we planned the whole thing. And the border is looking great and will be even better once the plants have been potted up and dotted around the edges.

Our cat especially liked the grassed area. Lounging around in the sunny corner over the bank holiday weekend and leaving large sprawling cat sized dents in the grass.

There is still a lot to be done in the back. This is probably only half completed so far.

Late night planting on Easter Saturday

It is now 9 o’clock at night and I have just finished two hours at the allotment. It is pitch black. I put in the beetroot seedlings just before it went completely dark. This is something that I had to do this weekend, and this is the only time I have found so far to fit it in.

If you could see anything in a photo, then you would see three groups of three (nine rows) of seedlings totalling (maybe) something like 60 beetroot plants.

But it’s dark, so you can’t.

But that’s what you get if you spend all day at the beach! 🙂

Scorchio! Easter weekend!!

What a weekend. The weather is absolutely incredible this weekend. Good Friday, Easter weekend, and bank holiday Monday! All perfect weather, complete sunshine! I feel guilty, because instead of spending time down the allotment, probably I will end up doing day trips to the beach with the family instead.

That’s not a bag thing. Spending time with the family at the beach. But I should spend time planting as well.

This morning I did manage to check the seedlings in the back garden. And water the new lawn to make sure the turf is taking properly. The seedlings are all doing really well. The sunflowers are really coming on and are mostly 5cm tall already. The lettuce which I am growing mainly for the guinea pigs is doing really really well, and needs to be transplanted into the next set of pots already! And the huge number of beetroot plants are ready to go to the allotment along with the French beans (I need to remember to bring the bamboo poles). In the boot of my car is also three sacks of potatoes, various varieties, also sprouting and ready to be planted.

So, I really should make some time and use of the weather to make certain I have planted all of my potatoes and seedlings in the first half of the plot before the weekend is out.

At least, I should make it down to ensure Elvis is ok and do some watering.

[Later this evening, extra edit]

So, I did make it down to the allotment just before the sunset this evening. The time is about a 7:45 pm, and I managed about 45 minutes. I fed Elvis, I did the borders, filled in the turf, watered some of the plants. Then it went dark.

The borders are looking a lot better now. I have nearly finished half of the plot. All that remains is to raise the path on one side of the plot so it becomes easier to mow. Then half off the plot will be finished.

Just before I left the moon rose above the horizon. It was low, and bright pink. As I walked out of the gardens past the main house and the skirting the horizon. According to the astronomical almanac, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about this evening’s moon listed. However it looks very impressive.

Rotavating the long plot

Tonight I spent one hour 40 minutes down at the allotment. The only job tonight has been to rotavate the long plot using a mechanical machine with two forks for wheels. This turns the soil and churns the ground. It is a monster machine, and the first time I have used it. Unfortunately it was a necessity because the long plot is just too much work for me.

Because the long plot has been under tarpaulin for nearly 2 years, and has been used for upturned turf which had been gradually cleared from my main plot, the soil is quite dark and weed free. It looks nice once it’s been churned.

I have used some of this soil to fill in the gaps down the side of my main plot. To fix the border. This uses up some of the turf that came from home to fill in the gaps between the boards.

It looks fairly neat now down the edges, although only time will tell if I have turfed those edges properly and the grass will take. I expect however, even if it doesn’t take properly, it will look okay in the end. The main job is really to flatten out the borders of the plot, so cutting the grass is not such a chore in future.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. I fed Elvis as well.

The curious case of the temporary turf

Had some turf left over from finishing the lawn at home recently. It has been rolled up since Tuesday and I figured that if I didn’t transplant it to the allotment soon, it might die. Better to let it live instead of letting it rot at home.

I intend to use it around the borders on my plot. Pieces will come in useful to patch up the edges once I begin to make a start on the edges again.

I never thought I would be bringing grass into the allotment though!

Another beautiful evening

Beautiful blue sky, another warm and light evening. Spring is definitely here. This is a view of the main house as you would see just to the right of the path upon entering through the main gate. I pass this every time I walk into the ground on my way to the walled garden allotments.

There is nobody around again. The staff have left for the evening and I only expected to see a few allotment holders and the allotment cat, Elvis.

Spent some time trimming the borders. Sat with Elvis for a while. That’s all. Nice and easy.

Some facts about our allotments: The Walled Garden

The apple trees in this area were heeled into the ground in 1939, to be transferred into the orchard during the winter of 1939/40. The second world war caused to this action not to be taken and in 1946 they were too well established to be moved.

The entire plot was regularly planted with potatoes through 1939 to 1945 to help with the “dig for victory campaign”. After the war, nine allotments where established: six on one side of this path and three on the other. Today there are 44 plots on the site and a further 27 elsewhere in the village.

Since 2012 the ornithological society bird ringers operate by invitation on this site during the winter months. We believe we are the only allotment association in the UK with such an arrangement. One of our tenants has worked an allotment plot on this site since 1972.

That is the notice at the end of the allotments, at the far end of the walled garden, under a tree near where we feed the garden cat. I did make a minor change to the notice when transcribing it into this blog post: I changed the year from “over 40 years” to instead cover the actual date the allotment holder started. He has actually been in the walled garden nearly as long as I have been alive.

Trellis for the Tayberry plant

At last! It has been several years in the process, but finally the teyberry plant has managed to be transported from the long plot where it was waiting … waiting that is, for a neat space on the main plot. The trellis is simple. There are three main stakes, and four crossbars making a simple frame. It’s capable of expansion both horizontally (to the left) and in-between the crossbars to make room for more tayberry streamers as they grow.

This was completed in just one hour in the morning during my day off work the other week — with plenty of help from my dad. It was a super sunny day and we had a little time before lunch to spend, fixing up some trellis before it was too late to transplant the taybury.

The plot (as you can see) to the right of mine is a bit of a mess still, but this is the landowner’s area that they just cleared the other week. Their borders are a bit wonky still, and it will make cutting the grass difficult down this edge now, but this side is on my list of things to sort out anyway …

Grass cutting with the pheasants

Tonight was a fantastic evening. The sun has been out all day, I had left work early and finished off the day at home so I was able to miss the rush hour and be ready to leave for the allotment at a sensible time. And there were helpers tonight!

When we arrived, with my Dad and the little one in tow (plus little scooter for scooting outside the main grounds), we immediately went to find Elvis and feed her a big sachet of cat food.

Elvis appeared and looked hungry as usual. I was a little worried we might find her trapped inside a klosh like we did the other day, but happily, she was ok this time.

While grandad and the little one sorted out the garden cat, and watched the two pheasants strutting around on one of the empty plots, I had enough time to quickly mow the edges of my allotment. Just one quick run around with the petrol mower! It only took 5 minutes and looked a lot better after the small effort.

Tomorrow, we will nip down again to install a small trellis and transplant the tayberry that has been hiding in my temporary (long) plot for two years. I have finally finished enough border in my main plot to be able to transplant it. This year I hope to get a truck full of tayberries out of this plant.

Plot 24 has been cleared … !!

Double exclamation points!! Then I noticed that the hedge running the length of plot 24 next to the main path through the Abbey Garden allotments had been removed. Or so I thought?!

But … No … according to another neighbour, the hedge was removed one or two years ago. I had not noticed because this plot was a mess and I couldn’t tell the difference. Only now, once it had been cleared had I noticed the hedge had gone.

So, I sent an email to the allotment association when I discovered that plot 24 had been cleaned for the first time in … at least … well, as far as I know … ever.

I wanted the allotment association to pass on my thanks to the plot owner for clearing this area.

My neighbour’s colourful tulip plot

Out of the four sides to my allotment, this part is the best, and out of all of the allotment plots, this one is by far the most advanced and colourful!

It amounts to one eighth of the perimeter to my allotment. This small plot is how it should be done.

While we were there today several things happened. Nothing to do with my allotment though. Not yet. I’m still getting the seedlings ready.

First, Elvis was around. She was sitting on a plot at the far side of the garden and ran to meet us when we arrived. She was fed a whole sachet of cat food.

Second, a large helicopter flew in and landed nearby (it looked like the royal helicopter again). I’ve seen it fly around here before and as it came into land it circled the main house and flew over the walled garden.

Third, there’s another allotment meeting at the end of this month … Something else for the calendar. Continued management of the walled garden allotment by the new sub-committee.

After our short ‘observation’ visit of the allotment we returned into the village and took the little one to the play area. It was a warm day and we ended it by sitting on the park bench eating ice-cream. It wasn’t such a difficult day.

Autumn Beauty seedlings!

They are out! Already! And I only planted them last week.

They have been sat on the windowsill in the kitchen all week, and it has been lovely and sunny and warm. The sun flowers have done excellently and I think each pot has produced two seedlings. More or less.

Today, I planted more. I split out the remainder of the beetroot into separate pots. Then I planted more lettuce. Also I’ve planted more sunflowers, autumn beauty, and a red variety (that I don’t remember the name of).

There was a small disaster with the French beans however. The propagator that I used did not have any holes in the bottom, and the lid leaked while it was outside. That meant the seedlings had been drenched for several days in standing water. And they are now half dead. However I have noticed that there are some new shoots growing on the seedlings today during my rescue attempt, so maybe all is not lost. I hope not. We will see.

I intend to plant as many things at the allotment as fast as possible. Before things get too big in the pots.

Last night we did a special trip to find and feed Elvis, however the cat was nowhere to be seen. Today we didn’t have time, so tomorrow we must go again.

Film crew, Robin, rhubarb and Elvis

As I parked the car outside the grounds tonight, Elvis the cat was waiting. This is exceptionally strange! Elvis has never ever gone this far away from her usual place inside the grounds. There can only be one reason, she is starving and had gone looking for food.

She followed me in through the main gates, past the main house, through the garden and into the allotment, then all the way to the other side of the walled garden, where I gave her some cat food. She really was starving. So, I gave her the contents of one cat food sachet in thirds, and she didn’t manage to finish the last bit, because she was too full. But, when I left she was looking a lot happier and a lot more sprightly. I will have to visit more often.

While the garden cat ate the food, a robin sat on a branch nearby and began to sing. I sat on the wooden bench while the cat had some food and listened to the birds singing and the rooks cawing in the high trees.

After that I went to pick some more rhubarb, but only five stems tonight because they are so huge. That will make quite a few portions of rhubarb crumble for desert later on in the week.

The allotment hasn’t changed, the grass will probably need cutting in maybe three weeks from now. But for now there is nothing to do. My hard work clearing and covering has served me well. The seedlings at home are growing and as soon as the risk of frost has disappeared I will be planting!

When I left, Elvis the cat was looking a lot happier. Her tail was up.

As I walked out of the garden, the main house looked like they had finished filming. The equipment has nearly all been cleared away. The film crew has been here all week, and I have seen it from the car window as I have passed on the main road to work in the morning. Apparently Johnny Depp had been seen somewhere in the village. That usually only happens after they have finished filming. I’ve never seen anybody famous though.

The seedlings are started

Some of the seedlings were bought from the garden center over this weekend. Some were bought as seeds and are still waiting to germinate. But at least I’ve made a start now.

The lettuce, beetroot and French beans were all bought on Saturday afternoon. The sweetcorn and the Autumn Beauty (not seen here) have been started as seeds.

Lettuce for the Guinea pigs the rest are intended for us.

Fed Elvis tonight

Last night, I did manage to get the allotment just before the sunset. However when I opened the boot of the car there was no catfood. I had forgotten to pack it.

So, today, with a car boot full of cat food this time, I have arrived with plenty of time to spare, and sunlight.

As I walked through the main iron gates I noticed (in the field next to the house) another film crew is beginning to set up their equipment.

The grass is being covered to make way for the tent system that is usually erected prior to the film crew arriving. The security guards are already stopping people from using the roads outside the main gate, but that rule didn’t seem to apply to me tonight, so I got in straightaway.

Elvis is waiting inside the allotment: on one of the plots to the right at the rear of the garden. Tonight I gave Elvis one full sachet of cat food and the bowl was licked clean.

I did a little bit of allotment checking, but in reality there is really nothing to do. The plot is still covered, the grass is not really growing yet, there is no thing to do.

Second half sachet for Elvis

It’s Friday, the 22nd of March 2019 and it’s just turned 6:30 in the evening. Elvis the garden cat in the walled garden allotment has just finished the second half of yesterday’s cat food sachet.

Once again, as I entered the allotment gates the cat appeared out of the small line of hedges running down the centre of the allotment. She then followed me to the other end of the walled garden, where I dispensed today’s catfood. It looks as though the cat is expecting me now. She has learned that I will arrive with food. That didn’t take long for her to learn that!

Once tonight’s cat duties have been finished, I headed back to the car. At this time of year it starts to go dark roughly around 6:30 pm so I made it, just in time to feed Elvis tonight.

Later on back at home, the rhubarb I had picked earlier in the week had been turned into crumble. A full bowl of rhubarb crumble with custard was waiting for me!

… very nice!

Elvis feeding duty (attempt 2)

Since I didn’t manage to find Elvis the cat last night, and because I am nearly home at 6 pm, and it is still light outside, I decided to try again.

As I walked up to the main entrance there was a group of tourists poking their camera phones through the iron bars of the double gates taking photos of the house. I managed to get through the scrum and then walked down to the allotment.

As I reached the allotment entrance Elvis the garden cat was waiting. I guess that this is the new territory for this cat. Last year (and every other year) it has been quite a distance away in the woods. But this is the second time I have seen the cat inside the allotment.

Never mind, she followed me all the way to the other side of the allotment where I gave her half a sachet of cat food — which quickly disappeared.

Elvis will have to wait until tomorrow for the second half.

A fast look at the allotment plot showed me there was nothing new to see. So I packed up and went home.

No Elvis but there is the 1st rhubarb of the year!

So it’s Monday, the 20th of March, and it’s about 6:45 in the evening. I’ve just visited the allotment with the primary aim of feeding the garden cat, Elvis! But, Elvis was nowhere to be found. Not near the rope swing, not near the crows in the tall trees, not near the rose garden or the orchard, and not in the walled allotment garden area or at the gate to the allotment. Not anywhere to be found.

Catfood has gone back into the car.

But, not all is lost because a visit to the allotment also meant a check for rhubarb, and seven of the largest stems are now mine. Last year I didn’t harvest much from this rhubarb plant, and I also removed both competitors, the two small rhubarb plants from either side of this big one. So I feel justified in picking some rhubarb at this very early stage. The stems are as long as my arm already, and I only picked seven, so it won’t do any harm.

Check out the picture!

Back to the important stuff

Back to the important stuff after the distraction of the AGM last night. Number one on the list: check the allotment again.

Apart from a bit of high wind throughout the week which had lifted my tarpaulin sheeting, there was nothing wrong with the plot.

I had to rearrange the sheeting again and make sure the bricks were back in position around the edges (and in the middle). But that was the only work needed. It looked fine once I had spent 5 or 10 minutes fixing the sheets back into position.

As for the second most important job today, that one only appeared as I was leaving the allotment.

I had just picking up the rubbish from the neighbour’s plot and was on my way out of the allotment gate. The rubbish was plastics which had been left lying around and which had been blown on my plot by the high winds. I put the rubbish on foor to open and close the gate because there was too much to juggle. After latching the gate I looked down and saw a very sorry looking Elvis the garden cat weakly looking up at me from the garden path.

Elvis is the garden cat that we always see at the allotments. But she usually lives in the main grounds on the estate, in the woods at the back of the orchard near the rose garden and at the rope swing.

She is only very rarely ever seen inside the allotment itself. I have never seen her outside the allotment gate on the other side, far away from her usual grounds. It was very unusual.

More unusual was the way she was acting. She seemed very weak and very thin. I guess she had been having a bad winter.

So I called home and asked for some cat food to be rushed over.

Help arrived within half an hour. Half a sachet of cat food was served up on a saucer and it was gobbled up and the plate licked clean within 30 seconds. then, to our surprise, Elvis padded over to a corner of the allotment and curled up underneath some corrugated plastic, obviously a warm and safe spot. That was where she went to sleep straight away after eating.

This evening we went to visit the allotment again, to give the second half of the cat food sachet over. Elvis was there again, in the same place and arrived as soon as we called out. She polished off the second helping and we left her sitting on the garden bench. I guess we will need to keep a check on how she’s doing, because although she has been living there for years it looks as though things are not quite as happy as they used to be.

The night of the 2019 AGM

It started to rain at about 6 pm tonight. All throughout today there have been very high winds. As I arrive in the village, and walk down the street towards the Village Hall, the rain is coming down and the wind is howling.

This picture was taken just before I entered the village hall where the AGM was being held. The time is 7:23 pm and the AGM starts tonight at 7:30 pm. Looking at the picture again, it looks like a beautiful evening and very picturesque. On the way in I could even smell log fires, and cooking from some of the houses.

But that’s just on the surface looking in from outside, the weather is actually really bad.

Last years AGM only took 15 minutes from start to finish. After the meeting minutes had been read out, people went back to chatting and drinking cups of tea, then there was a quiz; some of the people broke out the wine – that is the way AGM meetings usually turn out. It’s laid back.

This year, I thought I was slightly early but I struggled to find a seat in the hall. It was packed, and I didn’t realise there were so many allotment holders in the Association. There was also a representative from the council (I’ve seen them several times in this meeting now), and the landowner of the allotments was represented and ready to give an explanation of their plans, and to take any questions.

To give you an idea of how bad the weather actually is, the AGM this year took over two hours to complete.

The first hour was taken up entirely with questions from the floor directed at the landowner. The second hour was the actual AGM were the main topic of conversation was (again) the proposed large composting area in the centre of the walled garden allotment.

To me, before the AGM started tonight (actually, from weeks and weeks ago) it has been quite clear: there are only two choices presented. Either the landowner takes the land back and uses it for a different purpose, or they don’t.

I’m sure the landowner know what answer they expect to get when presenting that simple question to the allotment holders! How unkind would be of me if I suggested the landowner didn’t know the answer to a completely black-and-white question with no room for discussion? Shall we take the land off you or not? What do you think to that?

Many people stood up and gave their opinion of why it was a bad idea, and several people, I am very humbled to say, stood up and defended me specifically and the effort I had put into the plot over the years.

But to me, this was not the point. It’s not about the hundreds of reasons why they shouldn’t use the land in this way. Because the answer to “do the allotment holders want the change of use?” must already be known. The answer is no and the landowner surely knows that already.

So my first question was, what other places have you considered? But nothing else was presented this evening, just that they are going to consider taking the land off the allotment holders and use it for composting instead.

So finally, at the end of the AGM, there was a vote. It was 100% of the allotment holders: “no to the change of use”, versus, two people who volunteer for the landowner but also hold an allotment, one said “yes, in principle” and the other abstained.

That’s not a surprise to me.

It is a surprise that the landowner thinks that asking the question in the way they did is such a good idea. When it’s such a binary choice the answer will also be similarly polarised.

My plot #22 could be gone

The AGM letter has been posted through my door. This year the usual invoice also came with a letter of notification about the proposed changes to the allotment.

It said, the allotment holders have been advised that an area covering a large portion of the centre of the allotment in the walled garden has been identified for a possible change of use. The area is marked for composting and chipping, essentially taking the land away from the allotment holders and returning it to the lease provider.

My main plot is number 22. I also hold number 25, but really I only hold that one to keep it under control after the previous owner left and the weeds started to grow.

The lease provider of the allotment land, owns plots number 26 and 24, although 24 is made up of grass that is at least knee high, and 26 seems to be used as a dumping ground for their plastic trays.

Plot numbers 23 and 24 are owned by the same person, and I think they have a third plot. Three plots must be a struggle to keep up I think. Plot number 13A doesn’t have an owner at the moment: the last owner was evicted and they went leaving the plot in a poor state and full of large plastic containers.

The last plot is number 13B, and that is in a good state: always tended. A lot of hard work has gone into that one, a lot like mine, number 22.

There are therefore a reduced number of people in this local vicinity that would be directly affected and if the change-of-use for the land is approved by the other allotment holders, I would find it difficult to fight the landowner on my own over this. If this turns out to be the case, I would need to cancel my membership and go elsewhere.

Further discussions on this topic seems to have been halted until the date of the AGM. The landowner is going to be present at this meeting, and will deliver their proposals for the change-of-use. I guess we will find out on the 16th of March.