Tayberry and lemon gin

Saturday 21 August 2021 and it’s gin day at home. The gin has been steeping since Saturday 25 July 2021.

Here’s the Tayberry and lemon gin. It’s taken a few weeks to sit in the back of the garage, but now it’s really ready to go.

The recipe is,

– 2100 ml of dry gin
– 400 g sugar
– 400 g tayberries
– 2 lemon peels
– juice 1/2 a lemon
– 2 cloves

Put all of that into a jar, mix it up until all of the sugar is dissolved and then put it into a dark, cool place for about a month.

Strain it throughout muslin cloth and then bottle it up and label it.

That’s it, almost all of the tayberries from this year are done; the last of the tayberries from the freezer are now used up. Just one more to go: the vodka.

Returning plot number 22

Returning plot number 22 to the Abbey Gardens allotment association.

I spent Sunday the 15th August clearing up the majority of the weeds from plot number 22. The intention was to make sure that the next person could take it on quite easily without needing to do any immediate work or weeding.

There are plenty of established plants. They will remain. Also there are some vegetables that will need to be dug up, so even though it is late in the season anybody taking on the plot will have some produce to take home.

I’ve left the black sheeting, each piece is 5x5m square and I straightened the borders of the plot so they were 5m wide. The next person can easily cover up and stop the weeds when they have not planted.

It’s in a good state for somebody new to take on, even this late in the season.

I had emailed the allotment association just before the AGM meeting on Friday the 13th August 2021, and when I spoke to people on the committee they were aware of the transfer.

Since my notification to the committee came on the eve of the AGM and the previous committee all resigned, the new committee was voted in during the AGM. It was as expected, there is some small confusions as the responsibility is shifted across, so although my notification was received — processing will take time.

Removing most of the spuds

Today’s date is Sunday, the 15th of August 2021 I did the allotment today from 10 am to 3 pm.

Today’s job was something really simple. All I had to do was clear up the plot.

The major job today was to pull out as many potatoes as possible and re-lay the black sheeting on that side of the allotment. On the other side of the allotment I had to dig up a few beetroot and clear up some of the weeds. That was pretty much it. Job would be done.

I just had to make sure that I was not leaving anything behind. I had to remember to pick up my spade and fork, and the black trug. That was all.

I was hoping to see some people in the allotment today while I was there because I had missed the AGM. This years AGM had taken place in the allotment garden on Friday the 13th at 7 pm in the evening. I was unable to make it because I was travelling that day. So I missed the very last AGM unfortunately. But I had sent an email the day before, so my intention was at least somewhat clear.

The first job was to take up as many potatoes as possible. I started where I had left off previously a few weeks earlier. Pulling up the potatoes was really easy — the soil was dry and I had planted them just below the surface. A short fork was easily used to lever out each potato plant. And because the spuds had been planted from the potatoes that had sprouted in the kitchen at home, there were many different varieties. Each line was a bit of a surprise.

I think I’ve pulled up around five lines of potatoes and I managed to fill up the plastic crate. Full to the brim of potatoes. These would be left in the communal area of the allotment garden so that people could take them whenever they wished.

I filled a large plastic bag full of weeds and surface potato plants. This made the potato side of the allotment a lot clearer, and much better managed.

The second side of the allotment was a smaller job. First of all I prised up the wooden frames and moved them onto the potato side. Then I dug over and removed the weeds surrounding the chard and the lettuce and leeks. That cleared half of that side.

Then I decided, because the last area was full of beetroot, I should probably pick up half of the beetroot plants that I had. I chose the orange ones, because that just left a small corner of purple beetroot leftover.

Then I dug over that area completely and removed the weeds. Finally, I was finished and the allotment looked much clearer and better managed than it had done before I arrived.

Panoramic edges of the finished plot number 22.

I had two very large bags full of weeds which I needed to take to the tip. I couldn’t very well dump them on the compost heaps because the communal compost dumps where nearly had height in all cases. They were being used as a dumping ground instead of a composting area. So I carried each bag back to the car and store them in the boot ready to be taken to the council tip on my way home.

End views of plot number 22.

The last job to do before I left was to pull up the last of the horseradish plants. I didn’t really want to leave one in the ground, because it would just get out of hand quickly. The horseradish is almost impossible to kill, even just a tiny piece will start growing again. I had quite a large chunk leftover, so I fucked that out and left that in the communal area along with all the other produce that I dug up today.

That was it. Job is done. All of the weeds are in the car and I picked up my spade and my fork and the plastic trug and headed off back to the car.

What was left is shown in the pictures. I have left quite a few plants remaining around the allotment plot. It’s in a good condition …

Lots and lots of weeding

It’s Monday, the 26th of July and it’s just coming up to 9:30 in the evening.

It’s starting to go quite dark.

I have two giant plastic bags of weeds in the boot of the car. The idea being I should clear the plot as most of the vegetables have now reached a point where they should get picked, but I can’t quite see some of them because of all the weeds.

I came down at the weekend and did the same between the potatoes on the opposite side of the plot. During that time I picked a whole line of spuds, about 70 of them and several of the courgettes. Quite a lot of the courgettes actually. But there are plenty more.

Potatoes before and after

So as of this evening, the plot is looking fairly weed free again. There has been three huge bags full of weeds over the past few days which are going to make their way to the council tip. That’s going to happen tomorrow.

There’s nobody about now, I’m in the car getting ready to go home. The darkness is drawing in the street lights are showing more light than the sky now. The swifts and the swallows have all disappeared, they were flying above my head as I walked into the apartment earlier on. Quite high up in the sky, but now they’ve gone.

It’s not much fun collecting nothing from the allotment apart from weeds. I thought I’d passed that stage by now.

Spuds digging and courgette picking

It’s a Sunny afternoon on Friday 23rd July 2021 … I made it to the allotment about 2:30pm and spent the next 3 hours clearing away the weeds between the potatoes.

Courgettes & spud line number 1

The first line of potatoes were dug out this afternoon. I took then home and gave them to the next door neighbour.

I took two courgettes and seven potatoes. There are plenty more of those to come.

Watering trip after a 32degC day

Late night watering trip at 9:30 at night on Tuesday, the 20th of July 2021.

Tonight after work, after cooking the tea et cetera et cetera, after watering some of the plants in the garden I managed to make it down to the plot. It’s been another scorching day and I wanted to make sure everything I’ve been given a good soaking because tomorrow was going to be another scorcher.

The weather forecast says thunder and lightning and heavy rain all day Saturday, but that means beautiful sunny sunny weather for the rest of the week. I need to give the plants a little bit of a chance until the weekend.

Courgette and lavender

Everything is doing very well! The potatoes are dying back now. The carrots I really need to be dug up as well. The courgettes are looking fantastic, but I’ve been told they need to get picked immediately otherwise they will be too big and start to lose their taste as their size increases.

That will be a job for later this week.

That’s it now, I talk to a few of the plot holders and wound up the hosepipe and now I’m on the way home.

Another good beautiful day.

Reconnaissance trip

It’s early on Sunday, the 18th of July 2021 and it’s going to be another scorching hot day with temperatures reaching around 30+ degrees C. Blue sky everywhere as I am already exiting the allotment at 8:30am in the morning: the temperature is already rising upwards.

I came down to the plot to drop off some potatoes, but probably it is too late to put them in so I’ve left them on the ground. I also brought down a tub full of weeds. Now there is a strange thing, bringing weeds to the allotment! As if there aren’t enough here already. But this tub of weeds had already been mulched down using plenty of water. And I was going to use the same tub to mulch down the weeds I picked the other night. So that was the plan: not to bring more weeds to the allotment but to bring a way to kill the weeds.

I was the first person in, but soon there were another four or five people who turned up. The day has started for everybody, just as I was going to leave and go home.

I invited everybody to pick more of my tayberries, because they were starting to fall off the branches again and needed eating. I picked a handful of chard which would probably go to the guinea pigs, although maybe I might eat it, I’m not sure yet.

Courgette medley and chard

And I took some photos of the upcoming courgette plants. They are looking very promising …

There’s a lot of work to do over the next few nights. The weeds are going to have to go on some of the potatoes have to come up. There is plenty of jobs to be thinking about.

Dropping off the rhubarb gin

I’ll take a couple of photos inside the allotment garden on my trip tonight, because it’s usually nice this time in the evening on a sunny day. Although it’s only been sunny for the last part of the day it has rained quite well since this morning.

Entering the allotment garden

That means there has been time enough to “harvest” the gin in the garage today. A rainy Saturday morning is probably the best time to do this sort of thing. That was the plan!

Although today, this morning has been quite a busy few hours and more abnormal than normal. It comprised of two parts: (1) second vaccine appointment for the older one; (2) 10-day self-isolation notification for the younger one (what glee that was: no school for 2 weeks). That’s just for the first two people in the household.

For me it was quite a lot easier. I had to collect some lateral flow tests from the chemist, just to keep us going for the next few weeks. Then it was time to do the rhubarb gin.

The bottling process was really easy, it just meant sieving it through a muslin cloth and then bottling it up and labelling each bottle individually. I’d say that took about 30 minutes in total. Hardly effort at all.

Later on that evening I decided to make a special trip to drop some off at the allotment. I’d sample some of it earlier and it was pretty good. It’s a nice evening and it’s 8:15 at night on Saturday, the 10th of July.

Quiet in the allotment garden

The allotment was empty, although that was expected because it’s been quite a wet day. There was a couple of people there but they were on the far side and so I didn’t really speak to them. Everything seems to be growing really well: the courgettes are going, lavender is okay. So I turned my attention to the tayberries again.

I placed a strategic bottle of gin on my neighbour’s plot, along with a small box full of tayberries is that I picked. That’s it for the evening. Quite an easy trip again.

Rhubarb gin recipe

Easy one. Take 1 kg of rhubarb chopped up into 2 cm pieces. Then, take a litre of gin and pour it in. Mixing 250 g of sugar and then put a slice of ginger in. Mix it up, then store in a dark place for a month to 6 weeks.

Bottles of rhubarb gin

That’s it! That’s all it took to make some of the nicest gin I’ve tasted in awhile.

More and more tayberries

It’s 6:25 on Friday, the 9th of July 2021. I can see some rain clouds in the distance over the tops of the houses in the village. Just a couple, apart from that it’s been dry today. It will rain tomorrow however! Very heavy in the morning according to the forecast.

That means a trip to the allotment must be done because I’m a fair weather Gardner and I don’t go out in the rain.

Today’s trip has possibly been the fastest and most productive harvest trip ever! The tayberry plants were jammed with overripe tayberries. They just fell off in my hands and it was lucky I brought the larger plastic tub with me … I easily filled it!

Evie is not amused

Now. What to do with all of these fruits? They are beautifully ripe and so would go well in another crumble. But also I’m thinking, possibly, gin? Maybe jam? Possibly …

I’ll have to look up what is possible instead of just superb tayberry and apple crumble. As nice as it is, I don’t want to over do it.

On the way out I heard some meowing coming from near the lettuce patch. It was Elvis. She was lying down in between my lettuce and was looking for something to eat. Sorry Elvis, as I put down the tub of tayberries you thought you were getting something to eat! I haven’t brought anything sorry. I grabbed a few lettuce leaves for the guinea pigs back at home and then made a quick exit.

That’s it for today! But I think I can count that as my best visit so far.

Tayberry and apple crumble again

The apples, cored and cut up into small cubes. A bowl of tayberries. Three spoonfuls of sugar. Crumble mix topping.

I followed the same recipe as last time.

Tayberry and apple crumble

Line the dish with tayberries. Then chop the apples and use a handful of tayberries with three tablespoons of sugar to stew it down until soft. Pour the stewed mixture over the berries in the dish, cover with crumble mix and cook on 180degC for 30 minutes.

The idea of stewing the apples and tayberries is to create enough liquid to stop the crumble from going dry and gooey while in the oven. Lining the bottom of the dish is to ensure those berries don’t go too soft.

Older post: https://smallallotmentbucket.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/tayberry-🍇-crumble-😙/

Two trips to the allotment today

I had a day off work today. It had been planned since last week, since the forecast for the rain had finished. Thursday promised to be a better day out of these days for this week. It didn’t disappoint! It was a hot sunny day.

The main aim was to clear up the allotment which had started to grow quite a lot of weeds. They had started to take over the beetroot patches, and at the far end of the plot where I had started to grow lavender plants the weeds and started to sprout up there also. It all needed to be thinned out.

I had a hat on and my sunglasses. Flask of tea. A plastic bag for the weeds. That was it I was ready to start. It took about two hours to clear both sides of the plot of bind weed and large Dandelion plants that started to sprouts up everywhere.

Once it was finished it was a lot clearer.

Tayberries, tub, carrots

The tayberry plant is amazing. There are hundreds growing and ripening. As I walk down by the side of the plot all I could see were red dots everywhere. But I’d forgotten to bring my plastic tub and so I couldn’t really collect any. That was the reason for the second visit in the afternoon.

The second visit I had helpers. We picked a tub full of tayberries and pulled out handful of carrots on that quick visit.

I’ve been a very successful day today.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Lettuce are doing well. Tayberries are doing even better.

It’s Saturday, the 26th of June 2021 and 7:30 at night, I’ve just come out of the allotment and there was nobody there, not a soul. Except for The Scourge pecking around plots. Not even Elvis tonight.

It’s been a lovely day today but I’ve not done any work on the plot. I came down this evening just for a look around. Just to make sure everything was going okay. It pretty much does.
I spent maybe five minutes picking out some weeds from between the lettuce but that’s all.

Lettuce 🥬, plot 25 and The Scourge

The tayberries are doing very well. They have really come on in the past few days, and started to ripen all over the trellis. Too many to count now, compare to previously where I could only count one! That one has gone now! I’ve eaten it.

The next time I come down to the allotment I will need to bring a small container or tub because they will need to get picked. If I leave them too long they’ll fall off or get munched. And if I time it just right next time I will have enough for a crumble desert!

Lettuce leaves are doing well. They’ve really started to grow. I picked out some of a small bind weed that started to grow in between, and now it’s a lot clearer. No sign of those leaves getting munched either! Looks as though the snails haven’t found them yet.

That was it really for the evening. There are plenty of weeds. They are starting to grow all over my plot although only cress at the moment. Plot number 25, the one I cleared last year (which was then handed over) has really grown weeds! Some of them are head height and the poppyseeds are starting to get ready to drop. That’s going to have to change hands as soon … the letters have been sent, I’ve heard. It’s a plot that is starting to spread weeds everywhere else.

That’s it for the evening, nothing left to do but to close the gate and go home. I spend the last 30 seconds chasing The Scourge, but it just runs away in between the sunflowers. I give up and close the gate behind me.

Wrong slats and horseradish remnants

Picked up the wrong wood. So, the slats that I put up last time on the allotment trellis are made out of the wrong wood. I didn’t see at the time, and today I picked up an identical batch of slats: also the wrong size. The wood hasn’t been treated either.

Horseradish bits

So it’s back to the drawing board on that one. Luckily I haven’t opened the second batch of slats so I can take those back tomorrow. I will look at redoing the trellis next time I have the proper materials.

While I was there however I did pick up some small pieces of horseradish which had started to grow. They were growing exactly where I expected them to be, which is why I hadn’t covered or planted anything in the soil in that area.

Tiny shards of horseradish had started to sprout and leaf. They were very easy to spot, and even easier to pick out! Straight into the bin when they go home otherwise they’ll be growing in the communal compost bin followed by random places across somebody else’s plot.

First tayberry 🍇 has arrived

They are starting to arrive, the tayberriesare starting to fruit and ripen. I’ve just visited the allotment for about 30 minutes and as I was passing the tayberry plant I saw a flash of red along the thicket. Just one.

Just the first tayberry

This is the first tayberry. There are plenty more on the way however, the branches are full of them.

Although the birds don’t generally like to eat them, I will put netting over themjust in case.

The half finished wall

Saturday, the 19th of June 2021, and the rain is about to hit the allotment, but I’ve just finished and I’m back at the car.

For the last hour or so of the day I made an effort to go to the allotment and use up the wood I had bought a previous weekend. The idea was to build a continuation of the trellis which was holding up the Tayberry plant. That was today’s plan!

When I arrived most of the people had finished for the day and had already started to go home. The members of the public had cleared a space outside the main gate, which was just big enough for me to fit my car in. Just as well because I didn’t fancy carrying all of the ward from the pub car park in the village.

I made two trips from the car with big batches of wood over my shoulder. Then I went back one more time to pick up the lump hammer, the drill and the level. Then back into the allotment garden to start my work.

Trellis extension

It didn’t take long, and although I had bought bigger upright posts, which meant my new section would be slightly taller, everything went as planned. After looking at the new height I decided it was fine. So, the new Tayberry of shoots will be growing quite high up on the new section. That’s the plan. I might extend it in the opposite direction as well, I’ll have a think about it.

Elvis the garden cat popped along for a little bit, sat on the communal wooden table, and scratched wooden bench. But, I didn’t have any food with me, so Elvis soon wandered off. There was one other person who turned up briefly, but apart from that I didn’t see anybody else today.

The time is now 6 o’clock at night, and the forecast suggests a lot of rain is on the way. Southerly rain clouds are coming up from France. But, I’m on my way home.

The first 🥇 carrot 🥕

The first stubby carrot from the tub was picked. That was quick, because I only planted them a few months ago.

It’s Sunday evening and we’ve all come to the allotment to do the watering. Two helpers this evening! While the watering was getting done I helped a little to fix the water pipe which seemed to be running a little slowly.

Elvis arrived and had a really nice relaxing time, getting stroked and plenty of attention from everybody, relaxing in the warm evening. Sitting around in the communal plot area … Even getting fed a little, but she wasn’t very hungry. She did have some blood on her claws, and at first we thought she had injured herself, but she was ok, so it looks like she had already caught her dinner. I’m secretly hoping it was The Scourge that was dinner.

The first stubby tub carrot

When the watering was finished we packed up and headed for the main gate. It was still really warm when we left, it will be a nice evening for Elvis the garden cat.

The Scourge of the walled allotment garden

A quick 45 minute watering trip to the allotment on Saturday, the 12th of June 2021. Probably the warmest day of the year I would guess, so it was really only a short trip to give the ground a good soaking.

There was nobody else in the allotments when we got there (I had a helper today!), although it was getting fairly late. Perhaps there had been many people down earlier in the day while the weather was fantastic.

I dropped off two bottles of mothers ruin in two discrete places so that other allotment holders would find them. Then the watering began! Everything good soaking through because tomorrow is going to be even hotter.

But. There was a noise. From further down in the allotments. Like a squawking kind of noise. And then it appeared running quickly and low, zig-zagging between the vegetables.

The Scourge

This was the culprit! This was the animal that had eaten all of my kohlrabi I had planted about a week earlier! This is the animal that had been decimating the walled garden allotment vegetable patches for the past few weeks. But there was no catching it! It was far too quick and it could see you coming.

As I crept up towards it, it stopped what it was doing and looked right at me. Pausing for effect. And then it ran! In between the veggies and between bamboo canes, across other people’s plots.

One time I did get quite close, but it just flew over a couple of lines of potatoes, and then landed a little further away. There will be no catching it by hand!

Helmeted Guineafowl http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/helmeted-guineafowl

The last of the 2020 damson gin recipe

I’ve taken the last of the gin recipe out of the garage where it been since last year. Steeping away with the damsons at the back half of the garage in the dark.

I’ve just bottled it up into six small bottles, and I will take those to the allotment and pass them out. There are a few allotment holders who are new this year and didn’t get any from the Christmas run. I think they deserve a few bottles with the effort they have put in recently.

Six little bottles of damson gin

The recipe is the usual. Damson 50 g, golden caster sugar 250 g, gin 70 cl.
Mix up in a mason jar and leave it for six months!

An evening trip to water the plot

Monday, the 7th of June 2021, and it’s 9:20 at night. I’ve just finished feeding Elvis the garden cat who was waiting at the front gate next to the entrance to the main grounds.

Elvis was very talkative (meowed quite a lot) and finished off a bowl of nibbles quite easily.

Looking at the sunset over the church

After a long day at work I thought I would take a quick trip out of the house and give everything at my plot a good soaking. The weather hasn’t been very warm today, compared to the past few days at least, but it was an excuse to get out of the house.

I’m glad I came. Elvis was hungry. The plot really didn’t need a water, but I did it anyway.

Planting Lavender row

For the first time in over a year we went for lunch at the garden centre. That was at midday.

While I was there I bought seven large lavender plants for the far end of the allotment plot. The idea is I am building a large line of lavender that will grow together to make a small hedge like structure. This will be great for the bees! And butterflies!

So I headed off down to the plot, Sunday, the 6th of June 2021 at 16:15. There are quite a few people hanging around that afternoon, plenty of work going on on the surrounding areas, and plenty of people to talk to. There was a lot of chatting, and a bit of digging.

I put the seven lavender plants in at the far end of the plot, equally spaced across the whole length with an aim to make sure they grew together into a large long lavender hedge. This will take a few years.

Lavender row, first day

Next to that I put in six courgette plants which I had bought the day before at a different garden centre. So, that means most of the plot is now taken up with growing! This is probably the most, and varied amount of plants I have put into the plot ever since owning it…

Also I had to cover the kohlrabi which has been scoffed by the pigeons since yesterday when I put it in.

The last thing to do after giving the whole of the plot a huge soak with the hosepipe (which I fixed with a nozzle I also bought at the garden centre). That particular job took about 45 minutes.

After packing up and heading to the car I met Elvis the garden cat in the patch of grass outside the allotment garden. She looked very hungry, and I had some cat nibbles in the boot of my car. So after packing the car up with everything I headed back into the main gate and met up with Elvis on the grassed area outside the allotment gates. I spent about 15 minutes feeding Elvis.

Time now is about 8:15 at night and I can see the swifts and the swallows starting to come out to feed on the little flies and bugs, but it’s time for me to head home.

Celery plants have gone in! That’s a new one

I’ve not grown celery before!

Early Saturday morning, the 5th of June 2021 I arrived at around 7am … down at the allotment the sun is out and the sky is blue, it’s going to be a scorching hot day so I thought I would get an early start.

The tayberry row is buzzing loudly with the bees

Weeding needed to be done especially around the beetroot. Clearing up other areas which had become weedy also needed some attention. But best of all I had to plant some celery. This is a new one for me! I’ve put them next to the carrots, I’ve done a full line.

The time is around about 9:45 in the morning now and I’m back in the car with the plan to go and buy some more plants from the garden centre (which should be open by now).

I’m after lavender plants. I intend to put a row at the end of my plot next to the grass, to encourage more the bees. Also I want another row next to the celery and some more onions so there’s three things I need to get this morning before heading the way home.

I’ll collect all of the plants take them back home and then over the next couple of days (possibly this evening) I will make an effort to plant them all.

Planting the chard and leeks

It’s Thursday, the 3rd of June 2021 and it’s 9:20 at night, but it’s still light outside.

I’ve just come out of the allotment where I did a bit of planting this evening. I put all the chard in, and I also put all of the leaks in as well. It was a beautiful evening, lots of people around doing digging and planting, it was very pleasant to be outside after spending all day at work.

Seedlings are in the raised bed now

I finished off the evening by breaking out the hosepipe and giving everything a really good soaking. The potatoes are all coming up really well, the beans are doing great also. As I was making my way back up the edge of the plot the bees were buzzing around the Tayberry plant. The whole plant was buzzing with bees all dotted across the flowers on the tayberry. The beetroot are all doing very well. There are quite a few weeds in between at the moment and that needs sorting out but the coming up extremely well.

The carrots! They are doing excellently, and I can see that they are already growing.

Elvis from last night

I did visit the allotments last night as well. Elvis was around at the time and I had some food in my car, so Elvis was treated to a nice bowl of cat nibbles. She was very pleased about that. She was here again this evening, but I didn’t have anything with me this time and I was busy planting, so she moved off after it became apparent she wasn’t going to get fed. Maybe next time.

Bank holiday Monday quick visit

Bank holiday Monday 31st of May 2021. Just a quick visit to trim the grass around the borders! Time is 9 o’clock at night and it only took about 15 minutes, into the plot round the plot out of the plot.

I think there’s not much else to say, I’ve not been for at least a week maybe a little bit longer.

Happy turnip planting

Everything seems to be getting on quite well. The tayberry is full of flowers! It looks as though there will be quite a lot of fruit this year. The beans are doing well and haven’t been eaten! The potatoes are all in rows and popping up nicely. But probably the best of all are the beetroot! They’re doing very well.

The carrots. Wow! They’re doing really well I didn’t expect them to do as well as they did. I should be on for a good crop unless there is a problem with carrot fly.

It’s a lovely evening and it’s been the hottest day of the year so far. The coronavirus is on the downslope (maybe). Everybody hope so. The new cases are rising again, but the deaths have been falling which means the vaccines are working. The new variant is now becoming the most dominant strain in the UK is, so with the hot weather over the bank holiday weekend we fully expect more to change over the coming few weeks

Transplanting the tall potatoes

Saturday, the 22nd of May 2021. Finally I got up and out of the house, the rain had stopped and I had filled my bucket full of potatoes from the back garden. Potatoes that had been waiting to make it to the allotment.

New areas of potato planting from today’s visit

By the time I got there the sun was out and ground was starting to dry out. I mowed around the borders of the plot and added two more lines of spuds plus a large clump of potatoes from the back garden which had started to grow in one of the pots.

This large clump of potatoes grows about 5 feet tall, and it’s something that I would like to cultivate for the future. I don’t know what variety this potato is, so I will ensure to keep some for next year. I started off with just one from last year…

Broad beans going in

It’s Sunday, the 9th of May and it’s 3 o’clock on the dot. The clouds are just starting together and the skies gone grey again it looks as though the rain which had been promised for Sunday afternoon is on its way.

The wind is starting to slightly pick up and it’s not quite as warm as it was when I arrived at around midday today.

Today I’ve decided to start putting the seedlings in. The risk of frost looks as though it has passed finally! The weather looks as though it is starting to change, warmer I mean. And with that nice the weather means I will not have to rush down to the allotment to cover and uncover the plants that I’d put in already.

Lines of spuds and the broad beans!

Today I put in three more lines of potatoes, In between the other three lines I already had. That means the central part of the far end of my plot is now fully stocked with spuds.

Your other job was to put in a line of broad bean seedlings which had been growing out of and in the pots at home in the back garden. They went in quite easily and hopefully they are large enough to be able to fend off the large fat pigeons and family of magpies that have been storming the allotment garden recently. I’m not sure if this will work! Just before I put them in I caught a blackbird packing at the seedlings in the trays! We will have to wait-and-see.

Rest of the time I spent taking up all the weeds which seem to have sprouted up everywhere across the whole of my plot. The nice weather and the rain had given the weeds the best of times. It didn’t take long to pull out the weeds however. It’s looking a lot better now!

Last thing to do was to pick some rhubarb. And handed over to my neighbour! I’ve got plenty

Potato lines get a cover-up!

Sunday, the 25th of April 7:15 at night. Once again I’ve just finished covering up down at the allotment, getting meowed at by the garden cat, and walking back to the car on my own while the sheep are out by the main house.

Elvis relaxing in the sunshine. Rolling around in the dust!

Are a few people there tonight and I stayed for a short talk with the chairman. There might be some spots on the allotment association committee, coming up soon, but I don’t think I will be able to take any of them up. I have plenty of work to do with my own work.

Most of the covering up today was just a usual. Putting the fleece over the top of the carrots in the pots, putting a closh over the lines of carrots that were planted in the ground. And finally a new one! Covering up the potatoes with some more soil because some of them are starting to come through. Not some of them, quite a few of them!

Spud lines covered up

So today’s picture is a view of the potato lines which are on the second half of my plot! These lines needed a slight cover-up as the potato plants started to poke through. The temperature tonight will be dropping again to around -1° C as the frost risk rises again due to clear skies.

Just to be sure! Make sure everything is protected and covered up. Now, to head home and do the same for the seedlings which have been sat outside in the Sun all day. These need to be taken into the garage to protect them overnight.

Feeding Elvis and covering up the seedlings again before it goes cold

Wednesday, the 21st of April 2021 the time is 8:25 in the evening. I’ve just finished at the allotment covering up the seedlings again!

Even though it’s been another scorching beautiful sunny blue sky day, the evening and night and early morning are going to be exceptionally cold. The forecast says it will go below freezing again.

It was just another excuse to leave the house however. Go outside; feed the garden cat; have a walk around the allotment plots; listen to the birds. I’ve been inside all day working at home, locked in locked down. I welcomed the chance to get outside for a change.

The smell of garlic is in the air as I walk through the main entrance. Wild garlic has probably been cut and that’s what I can smell. The sheep and lambs are grazing on the front lawn in front of the house. And as I walk into the allotment garden area there are still a couple of people tidying up for the evening.

I give everything a good watering and as I’m about to cover up the ceilings, Elvis the garden cat appears! Lucky for you Elvis! I’ve brought some more cat treats for you!

Elvis is tucked underneath the Appletree

As I leave the allotments Elvis is tucked underneath the Appletree sitting on the bench with her tail curled up around her. The temperature is starting to drop already, but the garden cat knows where to go I think. It’s been colder than this, and she’s just been fed so she’s in a good place as I leave her walk out of the allotments to go home.

Hello Elvis

Ok. I’ve just been to cover up the seedlings again and it’s about 8:50pm and going dark. I’d not seen Elvis for a good week but she soon turned up when she heard me.

Elvis and dinner

I had some cat treats with me this time and they were perfect. Elvis has a good dinner. Tail up she wandered off afterwards.

Uncovering the seedlings and cutting the border

Sunday, the 18th of April 2021, about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and the weekend is in full swing! It’s been scorching couple of days followed by some seriously cold nights with frost in the morning. But a very good couple of days.

I haven’t done much down at the allotment apart from uncover and recover the carrot seedlings every morning and evening. Just to make sure they were protected. And it was a good job too because the weather was -1° C and frosty in the mornings, and during the days it was sunny and very warm.

I’ve just uncovered the seedlings for today and while I was there broke out the strimmer to straighten the edges of the grass around my plot. These were looking about as fluffy as my hair before it was cut last week!

Straighter borders

Now everything is looking quite neat and ready for the summer.

The seedlings at home are getting put away every evening and brought out every day. They are are in preparation for getting planted! I can’t wait until this cold snap in the mornings has blown away. Then all of my seedlings will go in and the proper growing season will be properly started.

Day-off-work rhubarb crumble

It’s Monday, the 12th of April 2021, and it’s just a couple of minutes before 10 am in the morning.

I’ve just been to the allotments to uncover this seedlings again after last nights frost. The seedlings had been covered up for the whole of yesterday because of the weather extremes. Yesterday it snowed! Only brief flurries but still it’s April! And it’s snowing! Again. This really isn’t a surprise since the past few years have done exactly the same

The temperature last night dipped to -2° C, possibly even colder. The weather forecast said it was -5° C in some places in the local area. Everything was covered up and neatly tucked in bed, so there were no adverse affects on my seedlings.

This morning I uncovered them. We had a bit of rain overnight and this morning and I wanted to make sure they were getting a good soaking for today. As I was driving to the allotment a big dirty black cloud was hovering over the allotments I could see it in the distance. I want those clouds to drop the rain and keep my plants well watered.

Rhubarb and apple crumble

I picked up five stems of rhubarb and I will be taking those home to cook rhubarb crumble! I have today off work. Plenty of time to do things nonwork related!

Frost is definitely on the way

As I enter through the main gates of the main entrance and walk past the main house on the way to the allotments, the front grass and lawn is housing all of the sheep and the new lambs.

There is lots of bleating going on as I walk past the main house towards the Abbey Gardens allotments at the back.

Apart from that it’s quite quiet! I don’t see anybody else as I walk through the main grounds. As I arrive in the allotments I don’t see anybody again, until somebody calls out my name, people are still working their plots.

I did visit the allotments earlier today, to uncover my carrots and seedlings and I met a few people at that time. Some new people have taken on the centre plot and they have been getting on with it quite well. I gave them some potatoes this morning, so at least they had something to put in instead of just clearing the ground from the previous owner. It’s not much good if you don’t plant something and spend all of your time pulling out weeds and clearing grass. I know that from my own experience.

People have been getting on well. I think this will be a very very good year for the allotments. There are a lot of new people, we’ve just come out of a second lockdown so people have been locked in doors for a very long time this year already. Everything combined with the weather about to change should translate to a very good year for the Abbey Garden allotments.

Waiting for the frost to disappear

It’s Saturday, the 10th of April 2021 and it’s 7:30 in the evening. I’ve just finished covering up my seedlings again. Tonight it is going to go to -1° C, and tomorrow night it will drop to -2° C at least that is the forecast. They need to be taken care off until the last frost has it finally disappeared. There are plenty of seedlings at home just waiting to be brought down to the allotments, but until the frost risk has gone completely I can’t bring them. Hopefully next week the weather looks like it will be improving for good!

You are always on my mind

It’s Friday, the 9th of April, 2021 and it’s 8 o’clock in the evening. The Sun has just set. It’s starting to go dark now and the temperature is beginning to dip. As I’m driving over to the allotments Elvis is playing on the radio. When I get there I’m still whistling the tune.

The forecast says that tonight is going to be -2° C. That’s going to be cold. So a trip to the allotment to do some cover up and to feed the garden cat and make sure she is okay are in order. I was whistling Elvis’s tune (you are always on my mind) and as if by magic the garden cat appeared immediately.

I was prepared! I had stowed away some Iams catfood and a cat bowl. So, we walked over to the communal area and I opened the catfood into the bowl and presented it to Elvis! And immediately she took one sniff and turned her back on it.

Elvis snoot

I can’t believe it! She doesn’t like the catfood I bought her. Sorry Elvis, there’s not much I can do. So I left the bowl where it was and finished covering up my seedlings, and then before it went completely pitch black I went back to the car to go home.

She must have a nice warm place to go to because it’s been quite cold over the past few evenings, but she’s always very sprightly and appearing very quickly when she hears somebody at the allotment. I’ll check on her again tomorrow! It’s a Saturday … I’ve got time to go and see her with a different type of food.

Morning trip 5 minute visit

Monday morning, bank holiday. Just to do some uncovering. Yesterday’s onion planting is looking ok, uncovering the carrots 🥕 is as easy as pulling off the green fleece. I dropped off some spare beetroot seedlings for new plot owners and left them in the communal area then I picked up trash and waste batteries that somebody had dumped. Finally, not having any food for Elvis 🐈 . Sorry again Elvis, I keep forgetting.

Carrots in pots; Elvis; onion sets; beetroot seedlings

Elvis is ok. There will be plenty of people around the allotment today, the main entrance is open to visitors and there will be a lot today because it’s a bank holiday.

Jobs done, time to leave. But I’ll be back tonight to cover up again when the temperate drops.

Planting all the beetroot at the semi lockdown allotments

It’s Easter Sunday, the 4th of April 2021 and another fantastic sunny day. I was in bed until late, but finally getting up and making an effort to come down to the plot. The Sun was shining and the temperature was rising. What was my excuse!?

I cleared the bottom end of the plot and got it ready for the beans and peas which I have at home waiting. They are not going in just yet because of the risk of frost over the next week, but there are other plants that I can put in that should be hard enough to whether any frost and cold temperatures going below freezing.

Beetroot patch and raised beds preparation

In particular I am thinking about the beetroot. Two lots of beetroot of gone in today. Pablo and Golden are the varieties added to the bottom end on my allotment. Pablo are the usual purple beetroot colour, and the golden ones are as you would imagine, golden in colour. They have both gone into a small patch at the bottom corner of my allotment. Probably the coldest area of my allotment actually, and with the frost coming over the next few days, definitely the coldest area! Let’s see how they fair.

The rest of the plot at the bottom end was prepared. The wooden frames are usually use for lettuce et cetera, usually protecting them with slug gel on the ward, I am going to use those as small raised beds for things like beans and peas. But they will not go in just yet. I’ve just prepared the ground.

I’ve done a lot today, and I’ve nearly spent six hours down at the plot getting the ground ready. I’ve taken my time, it’s been a lovely sunny day, I had a flask of tea, there were no people around and it was quite quiet. I got on with it. I tried to get a little helper to come down and feed the garden cat, but no luck! Even with no Internet at home, I didn’t seem to be any hope of bringing her down with some cat food for Elvis. Sorry Elvis! You’re going hungry for the second day on the run. I promise to remember something for you tomorrow!

Protecting the seedlings

It’s late in the evening when I come down to the allotment to protect the seedlings. I’ve been doing this for a few days now because of the threat of frost. Late in the evening to cover up and early in the morning to remove the covers.

Green fleece and poly tunnel

I’ve used a sheet of green fleece to cover the pots and a poly tunnel to cover the lines of carrot seedlings.

Because of the frost risk the carrots are being protected. Last night there was a heavy frost, the roof of the neighbours house was white! It was a good job I covered up all the seedlings.

Planting the first lot of carrots 🥕 in semi-lockdown 🔒 allotment

Good Friday, the 2nd of April 2021, the country is slowly coming out of lockdown which we’ve been in for most of this year. Today I’m on holiday from work and it is the most beautiful sunny blue sky day we’ve seen this year!

What a day to come down to the allotment and plant all of my carrots (I’ve been planning this since last week).

I’ve been at the plot for nearly 4 hours, but it’s Sunday seem like it!

Three large tubs full of carrots, and two long lines

There are now three large tubs which are full of carrots. The soil has been filtered on top to remove the stones, and I intend to take very good care of these carrots! They are are the first carrots I will have planted (that I can remember).

On the ground next to them in two long lines are the remainder of the carrots which did not fit in the three large tubs. These ground-based carrots will be my control group. Although I will look after them in the same way, they are on the ground and I did not filter the soil to remove the stones. Both will be looked after equally, but we will see whether raising the carrots of the ground level into tubs makes any difference at all to the final crop. I am suspecting carrot fly…

A few more spuds went in, these were large baking potatoes which had been sprouting in the kitchen at home. They now have a new home in the ground at the allotment. Best place for them!

That’s it for today. I had a bit of a sit down after I’d cleared up and had a cup of tea. In the sunshine! Underneath the apple tree!

There are quite a few people around today. As expected really, it’s a bank holiday weekend and people have time and the weather is lovely. What’s the excuse for not visiting the plot on a day like this?! Surely there can’t be any?!

Most of the people weren’t really digging the plants over though, they were mostly sat around in the sunshine enjoying being outside. Who can blame them?

I picked up some of the hard plastics on the way out of the allotment. We have a recycle point now, although it seems to be more of a dumping ground at the moment. I ordered all the groups of materials into piles: metal, hard-plastics and plastic sheeting. I picked up a crate of hard plastics on the way out and I’ll stick it with the rest of the recycle things in the garage and organise a trip to the tip eventually. At least it won’t be dug out of one hole and dropped into another (land-fill) hole! The stuff will get recycled.

The weather report for the next few days says that it will go cold. Possibly snowing, maybe by Sunday or Monday. I need to call in at the garden centre on the way home to pick up some fleece material to use as a blanket on the carrots in the tubs. I already have something for the long lines, I just need to make sure the frost doesn’t come and hit them. Special care this year! I need the allotment to be a good place for 2021.

Rhubarb giveaway at the lockdown allotment

Sunday, the 28th of March 2021. The time is now 1645 in the afternoon and I’ve been at the allotment since around about 2 pm.

Today’s job was supposed to be to plant the carrots! The ones I bought yesterday and this morning from the garden centre. However I forgot to put holes in the big tubs, and so I decided that I would just bring the carrots back home and plant them next weekend.

Rhubarb giveaway

Next weekend is Easter bank holiday, so there are two days plus the weekend. Let’s hope the weather holds!

Today I planted nothing apart from some daffodils. But I did a lot of work clearing up the portion of land that was the builders yard. That is now gone and the stones and gravel that I filtered out of the soil over the past year and a half have now been used to make small area for storing things. This area is just about 1m wide and not very big, but it is enough to keep things out of the way.

I put some black sheeting down on the soil, and then edged the part of the land with some of the larger stones. Then I dropped in all the gravel that I had filtered out into bags which had been sitting around on my plot waiting to get used or taken away. I decided not to take it away to the tip, since they were my stones from my plot.

So the majority of the time today was spent with me making a small patio area! Not something I expected today, but another job ticked off my list successfully!

The tub like plan for the carrots, something to do next weekend

Today was the day I also gave away my rhubarb which I had been trying to kill for the past two years, without success. So I gave it away to some of the new plot holders who had come in today to tend to the new areas.

So! All in all, today was a good day. Things have been tidied up, rhubarb is being given away, tubs have been made ready for next weekend, planting will begin just in time for the Easter bank holiday!

Last on the list before I leave the allotments is to pick up some of the plastic sheeting that has been dumped in the recycle area. The recycle area doesn’t look very neat, so I thought I would take some with me.

Sticking in the spuds

It’s Saturday, the 27th of March 2021, and I’m putting in the first batch of today. I’ve added a line of second-earlies (Charlotte potatoes) and two lines of Désirée potatoes.

As one person put it, let’s just chuck something in the ground and see what happens! And that pretty much sums up what I’m going to do. Although I will be putting them in neat little lines, equally spaced. Then at least I’ll be able to keep track when I dig them up.

Four lines of potatoes

Apart from that, and a little bit of blood fish and bone, I’ve just popped them in under the surface and apart from covering up the Désirée type a little, that’s where they will stay until I dig them up (some time after they flowered).

Next weekend is the bank holiday Easter weekend, bank holiday Friday off work (possibly) and bank holiday Monday making a very long weekend. Preparation is underway and I can see quite a few people down at the allotments now that I have not seen since last year.

Most of the plots are getting on with it quite quickly and some of them are looking excellent already. A couple haven’t started yet, but there is still time because we’ve got a long weekend coming and nowhere to go because of lockdown! I expect to see them then!

In other news, we now have a recycling point near the entrance. Containers have been set up for things that need to go to the tip, or should go to the recycling. The plastic container that I brought back to the allotment after emptying it and recycling parts at home is in that section. It’s a really good idea because we have a problem with glass and plastics. They need to be removed from the site efficiently, and this new recycling area will do the trick perfectly!

Elvis and spuds

It’s Sunday, the 21st of March 2021, and yesterday the UK reached the 50% milestone of people being vaccinated in this country for COVID-19. I also was part of that. A record number of people were vaccinated yesterday!

Today I’ve made a trip down to the allotment to celebrate! I’ve not had any ill effects from the injection so there doesn’t seem to be any point staying inside waiting for something to turn up.

Elvis greeted me as I walked through the gate of the Abbey Gardens allotments! What a fantastic surprise to see Elvis waiting for me.

Hello Elvis! 😙

Unfortunately I didn’t have any food to give her. She hung around and kept me company for a while on the bench under the apple tree, but after a while it became apparent I had no food, she wandered off in a lonely way. She looked quite frail! So I rang home to see if they would bring chicken from the fridge.

The last of the work was to just dig up a line of spuds that had been overwintered (by accident) and then dig over the remainder of the plot, probably the last quarter. That was done! I’m finished.

After the dig…

The time is now 12:45 in the afternoon and I finished the last of the digging on the plot. The whole of the area is now dug over for the first time this year.

All I have to do now is plant something?! I’m going to start with one spud that I just dug up but has already started to sprout…

The horseradish hole is now filled!

Sunday, the 14th of March 2021, and it looks like the Abbey Gardens have missed the rain clouds today. While I was down at the allotment, it was raining back at home! But I didn’t even get a spot at the plot.

Today’s job was to fill-in the hole completely. This was done quite easily, with the riddle, the spade, the wheelbarrow and a little effort. I was finished in just over an hour. The horseradish hole has now completely disappeared.

Finished

For my next trick, I will pick up all of the hard plastics that somebody dumped in a big plastic crate underneath the organic compost heap. I will take them home, sort them out and recycle all of them. There doesn’t seem to be any point of digging them out of one hole only for me to drop them into another down at the landfill. So I will make the best effort to recycle everything.

That’s it for today. The time is now 25 minutes to 2 o’clock in the afternoon, And for the majority of the time today I was the only person down at the allotments. Just as I was packing up to new people turned up. They have taken over Martin’s old plot, as he now has decided to spend his time playing golf instead of splitting it between the golf course and the allotments! The two new people are Mark and Chloe, and they seem to be taking over Martin’s large plot quite well!

Time to drive home, and pick up something for tea tonight.

Filling in the horseradish hole

It’s my first day off work this year, Monday 8th March 2021. I’ve taken one day.

The day is quite perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, blue sky, just right for filling in the horseradish hole I dug the other day.

As I enter through the gate today Abbey Gardens I turn left and walk towards my allotment plot. On the plot next to mine, against the wall is an icy spot. An upturned compost bin lid has collected water. It is in the shade of the wall and has a thick sheet of ice on top of it. However, it’s not cold in the sun. I’m not cold. There is quite a a distinction between the shade of the wall and the bright sunshine falling on my main plot.

I collect all the things that I need together, wheelbarrow, riddle, separate bag for the stones I will be filtering, my trug for collecting the pieces of horseradish that I filter out. Then I begin .

Only angle drop now, just a small bit left to fill in

The idea today is to fill in as much the whole as possible. But before I start, I dig down a little bit further to remove the remains of the horseradish that grew out of the bottom of the plastic container. I soon see that there is too much of it, and the roots have gone down a lot deeper than I expected. So instead of digging it out I decide to put down a layer of stones on top of the remaining pieces of horseradish root that I can’t dig out. Putting down a hard-core layer on top of the horseradish, coupled with it being about 4 feet underground, I expect that will be the last I see that horseradish!

It takes about two hours of filtering out the remains of the horseradish from the piles of earth I had previously dug out, but by the end I had nearly filled in the hole.

I expect I will have one more visit, and a bit more filtering to do. But at least now there is no danger of anybody falling in the hole.

I pack up my things and go and sit on the garden bench under the apple tree. I had brought a flask of tea with me, so I sit there listening to the birds and drinking my tea for a bit. The main idea of this visit was to fill-in the hole, but also to forget about work for a while (if I could).

Goodbye horseradish! (I hope so)

It’s Sunday, the 7th of March 2021. The time is now about, well, just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I’ve been down at the Abbey Gardens lockdown allotment for about 2 1/2 hours. I’ve just packed up, finished sitting under the apple tree with my cup of tea and I’m about to drive home. Today’s job was to dig out the remaining parts of the horseradish plant.

Production line for the horseradish

Even though I had spent a good few hours yesterday digging out the majority and large pieces of horseradish plant, and even though I had contained it in a plastic bin, as I dug down even further there were still large pieces of horseradish root. These pieces had grown out of the bottom of the bin! It looks like they went down quite a long way.

Probably it would continue to go around 5 or 6 feet deep, but I gave up at 4 feet. I expect that even chunks of horseradish thicker than my thumb will not be able to survive underground further than 4 feet! That is my hope anyway.

I set up a production line. Two wheelbarrows with a riddler filter grid, a plastic bag for stones and rocks, and my trug for the leftover pieces of horseradish. If I did my job well, there would be no horseradish left!

As I dug out spade-fulls of soil containing the last of the horseradish, I filtered them through my riddle. The soil was pushed through the grill and the stones were filtered into a plastic bag. The tiny pieces of horseradish were hand-picked out and dropped into the trug.

As far as it’s going. No further!

Even though I had dug-down at least 3 1/2 feet yesterday and I had thought to myself the majority was done, the last half foot of soil contained a significant amount of horseradish root left over. And quite large pieces at that! It took about two hours of filtering the soil, and two wheelbarrows full of filtered soil.

When I decided enough was enough, (which coincided with me starting to have difficulty climbing out of the hole) I tipped the filtered soil out of the wheelbarrow and back into the bottom of the hole. I returned the wheelbarrows to where I’d borrowed them, then I started to pack-up.

Other people were around the allotment plots. There were some new people starting their new plot and visiting with their children; the usual crew who are always there (members of the committee); and a few other people dotted around on the far side of the allotment. It was quite quiet.

Pulling out 99% of the horseradish

Saturday, the 6th of March 2021. I was down at the lockdown allotment for about midday to continue with digging the horseradish out of the plot.

When I got there, there must’ve been three or four groups of people on various other plots in the Abbey Gardens allotments and it was the most number of people I had seen since September last year, easily. For the first time since then, eight months ago, I even saw my allotment neighbour. It really has been that long!

Pot bound horseradish

When I removed the plastic bin surrounding the horseradish plants, it was obvious it had become pot bound. That was exactly what I had intended — I had wanted it to get restricted from spreading out. But it had also split the edges of the container and forced its way down through the hole in the bottom — it had started to escape the container and begun to spread.

I started to dig it out piece by piece. Large chunks of horseradish sitting at the top of the were hacked out with the spade. As I got further down to the bottom, small pieces and streamers were pulled out of the ground, separated out and stored in the trug.

This was similar to the previous time I transplanted my horseradish … although without as much drama …

https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/csi-allotment/

Horseradish out of the hole

By the end of my time out of the plot today, I had hacked out most of the horseradish plant. But I will need to come back again to finish off the bottom of the hole which still contains large pieces of plant. Then I will need to filter the soil to make sure there are no pieces left. This plant is a weed …

Starting to dig out the horseradish

The temperatures dropped again and it’s about 6° outside. Still it’s not that cold, it’s clear although the sky is grey, it’s still a nice day.

There are a few people down at the allotment when I arrive at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s Friday, the 5th of March 2021, I’ve finished for the day (working from home again). I needed to get out a bit.

The idea this year is to make a really big effort planting things. Last year was a year of digging and making a path. Not planting anything because I didn’t have time, but this year with all the lockdown continuing in one form or another I’m should have plenty of time to visit the allotment and tend to the plants I should be growing.

First job is first though. I need to get rid of this gigantic horseradish plant before it takes over and starts sprouting up halfway down the plot. Even though I contained it in a plastic tub, it’s begun to escape. I noticed that some of the horseradish streamers had started popping up further along from the container. Now is the time to dig it out and get rid of it.

A pot brimming full of horseradish

To dig this monster out it’s going to take a very long time. There will be no help from anybody else (social distancing) and I will need to be careful pulling something so large out of the ground in one go. For that reason I’ve only done a little bit today, and I will come back over the next couple of days and gradually take all this horseradish away.

Last time I had this horseradish plant, uncontained, I was digging the damn thing out for over a year. Even though I’ve contained this one I expect the streamers that have escaped the plastic tub will be making my life miserable for the next year or so as I pick up little pieces of horseradish plant that start sprouting out of the ground.

I’ll have another go tomorrow! And get rid of this weed!

Sunny Saturday during the second lockdown

It’s Saturday, the 27th of February 2021, and it’s a beautiful sunny spring day. Sky is blue with little clouds floating around and the birds are out again flying around the allotment. I’ve seen at least three groups of people down at the plots today! Spring is definitely here, winter is over at last!

The rhubarb has started!

I spent the morning digging over the second half of my plot. Last week I removed the surface weeds, and this week I picked up all the detritus and gave the ground a good digging over. It looks fantastic! It also helps that the grass is beautifully green and the sky is bright blue and it is really the first sunny day I’ve seen since this year!

Clean digging

The time is coming up to lunchtime. Probably I will tidy up and go home, but before I do that I’m just going to have a sit down in the chair overlooking my plot, underneath the apple tree. I’ll sit here watch the birds flying around, and listen to the insects. In the distance over in the high trees outside the garden I can hear the rookery cawing.

First day the year 2021

It’s Saturday, February 13th, 2021. And it’s the first time I’ve been down to the allotment for a very, very long time.

Robin on the case immediately

When I arrived the main gate house was open and they were allowing the public to visit the gardens. I have brought along a box of damson gin bottles for the girls in the main house at the front. Previously I had sorted out allotment allotment owners with their own box of damson vodka and gin at Christmas. However, because I have not visited the allotment in such a long time, this was the first opportunity I had to deliver for the volunteers at the main gate.

The snowdrops were out as I walked through the main gate and down the path towards the walled garden. The gate to the allotments was closed but there was one person inside tending their area.

The place wasn’t really in a bad state. I began by trying to dig the soil, but it was too frozen solid — the temperature is below freezing today. So instead I started by scraping the surface weeds off on the larger side of my plot. Then after that tiny bit of effort, I started to dig around the plastic pot that holds the horseradish plant. The plan is to take that out this year.

Partly dug over the easy part

The last job was to move the tarpaulin sheeting from the end of my plot towards the middle. That would allow me to dig over the end of the plot which had been previously covered. This part was not frozen because of its covering, so it was really easy going. No weeds and easily dug.

The time now is about 2:30 pm in the afternoon. I’m back at the car and ready to head home. As things go it was a really easy time at the allotment today. Because of lockdown number two, I haven’t really been able to make it. Work has got in the way, it has been rainy throughout January the weather has not been too great for a while — there have been plenty of excuses. But now I’ve been I’m wondering if they really were proper excuses. I should make more of an effort.

Cleanup needed on plot 22

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to go down to the allotment, and last night, later on, just after sunset, I made a little trip. Work has been getting in the way for the last quarter of the year…

I had to drop off some of the damson gin that I have made back in August. That was one job, and the second job was to check the damage on the plot. Exactly how much went to clean up that I need to do?

As it turns out, it’s not as horrific as I thought. Things had stop growing. When I last came to the plot which was, months ago, things had pretty much stopped growing then. Now, just before Christmas nothing much has changed!

I dropped off the damson gin bottles into the shed, and left a few for my neighbour on her plot. Something for Christmas. After once round the plot, I got back in the car and went home.

I’ll try to do some stuff over Christmas. Once I get back to work it will be full on again until the spring, so I need to get a head start on clearing up the plot for the winter.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.