Removing most of the spuds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panoramic edges of the finished plot number 22.

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

End views of plot number 22.

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

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

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

Wrong slats and horseradish remnants

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

Horseradish bits

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

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

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

The horseradish hole is now filled!

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

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


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

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

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

Filling in the horseradish hole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye horseradish! (I hope so)

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

Production line for the horseradish

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

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

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

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

As far as it’s going. No further!

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

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

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

Pulling out 99% of the horseradish

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

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

Pot bound horseradish

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

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

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

Horseradish out of the hole

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

Starting to dig out the horseradish

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

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

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

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

A pot brimming full of horseradish

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

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

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

First day the year 2021

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

Robin on the case immediately

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

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

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

Partly dug over the easy part

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

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

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 …😗

Short turf watering trip at the lockdown allotment

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

Path nearly complete

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

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

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.

The horseradish

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

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

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

Another half board

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

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

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