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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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 …😗

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 …

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.

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!

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 😎

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!

Three lines of potatoes have gone in

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

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

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

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

Twenty eight French beans

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

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

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

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

Another beautiful evening

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

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

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

Grass cutting with the pheasants

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

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

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

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

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

My neighbour’s colourful tulip plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film crew, Robin, rhubarb and Elvis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fed Elvis tonight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second half sachet for Elvis

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

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

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

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

… very nice!

Elvis feeding duty (attempt 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catfood has gone back into the car.

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

Check out the picture!

Back to the important stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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