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!

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.

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.

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 …

Plot 24 is nearly completely clear!

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

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

Potting on the Autumn Beauty sunflowers

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

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

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

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

Plot 24 has been cleared … !!

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

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

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

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

The night of the 2019 AGM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s not a surprise to me.

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

My plot #22 could be gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I’m losing the plot

… Not my mind. I’ve just had the allotment association on the telephone. The landowner wants to evict five (?) plot holders to make way for a large mulching and compost area with tractor access. That would mean my area and four other plots including the huge pone in the middle of the walked garden allotment.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is a really bad idea. Not just because I am affected, but because it will take up the majority of the centre of the allotment: prime area. And it will also affect my neighbours. It will affect most people in the allotment.

I will have to say no and oppose the request.

I am meeting to talk about it with the other directly affected allotment owner(s) sometime this month. These talks will continue, and will be brought up at the annual general meeting.