The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Lettuce are doing well. Tayberries are doing even better.

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

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

Lettuce 🥬, plot 25 and The Scourge

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Five lettuce 🥬 plants and a kale

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

Lettuce and kale against the fence

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

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

Sunshine all day ☀️ at the allotment

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

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

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

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

The neighbour’s plot and butterflies 🦋

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

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

Panoramic across the sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick evening trip after all-day rain

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

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

The lettuce patch 🥬

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

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

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

Cucumbers 🥒 are growing nicely

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

Climbing cucumbers

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

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

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

Main plot looking very clear and neat

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

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

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

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.

Weed picking down at the lockdown allotment

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

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

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

A short snack while weed picking

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

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 first Tayberries in my hand

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

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

Watering trip before the weekend starts

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

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

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

Watering visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick allotment checking after work

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

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

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

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

A very long Sunday at the allotment

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

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

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

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

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

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

A quick evening trip on Saturday night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to pick my first lettuce

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

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

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

No.

This is what my prize lettuce is going on.

Guinea pig food.

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

Night of the subcommittee meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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!

First lettuce have gone in

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

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

Scorchio! Easter weekend!!

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

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

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

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

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

[Later this evening, extra edit]

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

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

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

Autumn Beauty seedlings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The seedlings are started

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

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

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