The bugs 🐞 are obviously lowering

Thursday, the 26th of August 2021. It’s been a picnic this afternoon after work. The little ones have been to visit their new school today and its been a nice sunny gorgeous hot day. While I’ve been inside at work a plan must have been hatched between the Mums. So, it was decided that a trip to the field near the allotment was a good idea while the nice weather was still with us.

Look carefully in the sky for the swifts & swallows

The swifts and the swallows were getting lower and lower in the sky as they darted for their dinner. The bugs were obviously getting lower in the sky and as I walked back to the car the birds were flying at the height of the houses. As the evening progresses they will get lower and lower. I’ve seen them at head height in the past — skilfully sweeping down the narrow streets catching the food.

Little ones have gone for a trip to the ford. They’ve gone paddling in the stream. It’s a good evening for that sort of thing.

Watering trip after a 32degC day

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

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

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

Courgette and lavender

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

That will be a job for later this week.

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

Another good beautiful day.

The Scourge of the walled allotment garden

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

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

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

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

The Scourge

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

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

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

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

An evening trip to water the plot

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

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

Looking at the sunset over the church

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

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

Planting Lavender row

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

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

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

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

Lavender row, first day

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve not grown celery before!

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

The tayberry row is buzzing loudly with the bees

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

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

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

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

Planting the chard and leeks

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

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

Seedlings are in the raised bed now

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

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

Elvis from last night

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

Bank holiday Monday quick visit

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

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

Happy turnip planting

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

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

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

Broad beans going in

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

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

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

Lines of spuds and the broad beans!

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

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

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

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

Potato lines get a cover-up!

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

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

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

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

Spud lines covered up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elvis is tucked underneath the Appletree

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

Uncovering the seedlings and cutting the border

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

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

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

Straighter borders

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

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

Day-off-work rhubarb crumble

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

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

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

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

Rhubarb and apple crumble

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

Frost is definitely on the way

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting for the frost to disappear

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

You are always on my mind

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

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

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

Elvis snoot

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

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

Planting all the beetroot at the semi lockdown allotments

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

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

Beetroot patch and raised beds preparation

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

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

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

Protecting the seedlings

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

Green fleece and poly tunnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three large tubs full of carrots, and two long lines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunny Saturday during the second lockdown

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

The rhubarb has started!

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

Clean digging

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

First day the year 2021

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

Robin on the case immediately

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

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

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

Partly dug over the easy part

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

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

Cleanup needed on plot 22

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

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

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

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

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

High winds and the damaged damson tree 😕

It’s been very high winds over the UK for the past 24 hours. Over 40mph for prolonged periods. When I visited the plot last night the trees in the main gardens were still being buffeted even though the high winds had decreased hours earlier.

Unfortunately the damson tree in the walled garden had taken a large beating and two of its main branches had broken off.

One was resting on the top of the wall that surrounds the garden and the other was hanging upside down from the main trunk. I managed to ease down the smaller branch into the floor but couldn’t reach the larger one leaning on the top of the wall.

Damsons on the broken branch

It was getting dark outside and so I picked up the whole branch and carried it to the car.

This looks like it might be some of the last damsons from this tree. Maybe there will not be many more to get once this tree has been assessed in the coming days.

With the branch of damsons I collected, I received 1800g off fruit. Enough to make 3 to 4 litres of damson gin. That’s the plan …

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!

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.

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.

Abbey Gardens looking amazing

The Abbey walled garden allotments is looking fantastic today. Saturday 11th July 2020, just as lockdown is gradually being phased out across the country.

A view across the Abbey Garden allotments

There were a few people down at the plots this morning. A couple of old faces is not seen for a while and one or two regulars as usual. The plots are looking fantastic as usual and the weather is spectacular.

After a bit of digging on the plot 25, I had a rest for a while and sat under the apple tree in the shade … it was getting too hot very quickly and I was glad I had got there early this morning.

Handing back the long plot number 25

This morning at 6:45am I was down at the allotment (no longer fully locked down! although maybe partially) with one job left to do on the long plot against the wall: to finish it and get it into a state that would be suitable to be returned back to the allotment association.

Plot number 25, the long plot against the wall

I managed it in around three and a half hours this morning. Before the sun was too high and too hot was the best time to do the heavy work of digging and muck shifting.

Jobs that were finished today included: removing the remaining weeds, clearing the last of the soil at the far end of the plot, removing the last of the glass and plastics, straightening the border and flattening and raking the soil across the full length of the plot. Done! ✅

Happily I can now request the allotment association take back this long plot 25 and I will be rid of it completely! I only took this plot ok because it originally looked such a mess.

My old blog posting, I have this record: https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/new-allotment-plot/

That was way back in 2016, and back then it was high and full of weeds. What’s difference! The plot back then hadn’t been touched for several years. I was surrounded by weeds on three and a half sides, so I agreed to tackle it just so I wasn’t so badly surrounded.

I remember the first day I tackled that allotment plot. It was also a really nice sunny was day: https://smallallotmentdiary.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/first-against-the-wall/

… now it’s time to hand it back.

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday night lockdown watering

Later on Wednesday 13th May, just before sunset I found some time to visit the allotment. It was just to deliver some wooden stakes I had cut and planks I had got for the last of the edging work.

Evening lights, exceptionally quiet 🤫

I have enough wooden boards now to finish the long edge, the pathway between my plot and the neighbours’ plots. I am still probably looking at around nine or 10 hours work to finish this border, however the end of the boarder work is in sight now! At least for the path between the two allotment plots.

After dropping off the wooden planks into the centre of my main plot, I realise that some of the grass I had put down over the past few weeks looked a little bit dry around the edges. So I spent 10 or 15 minutes giving it a good soaking with the hosepipe.

By the time I’d finished there was nobody around at the allotment. This is not unusual for this time of night, however there was no noise anyway. No car noise, no noise from the birds or the wind. Everything was deathly quiet as the Sun went down. It was lovely!

Rainy Sunday lockdown visit

It’s been raining here are a few days. But I couldn’t stay away this morning. Sunday 3rd May 2020.

One again I was up at dawn and down to the allotment before anybody was out of bed. Nobody was around and I didn’t see a soul on the way. It was just me and Elvis the garden cat again. And the two magpies, a squirrel on the far wall, oh! and a large pheasant that I nearly ran over down the back roads.

Elvis greeted me but didn’t really want feeding. It seems that she is getting fed. There’s a bowl in her bench next to my plot.

Elvis and her bench

The long plot against the wall is gradually looking better as an amount of soil is transferred across to the path fix-up. The level against the wall is decreasing as expected and because I dig it over at the same time, it’s looking good.

Still to go, there’s another half of the work to do with the path and approximately half of the long plot to finish, but it’s looking well on the way to being completed now and it’s working out exactly as planned.

Long plot against the wall looking clearer

It was quite drizzly this morning and so I was getting wet while I did another small portion of the path. But it wasn’t a soaking, just a light dusting. I finished what I needed to get done and cleaned up. The weather helped with the soaking of the turf as well. It was muddy, but not hard work.

Turf edge of the new grass path

I am now out of wood. The number of boards I originally purchased for the plot worked out as the right amount, but I have used the boards for other projects over the past two years, so this means I’ve run out. My next job before going any further with the allotment edging is to buy more boards.

Sunny Sunday watering trip to the lockdown allotment

It’s Sunday 24th April 2020 and we are at the end of the fifth week in countrywide lockdown. The allotments are looking better than they have done in a long time, and there’s a notice on the board to congratulate all those people who have been tending their plots! Well done!

Th not all the plots are looking perfect. Mine for instance is under black sheeting as I follow on with my plan to finish the grass borders. It’s looking good underneath however.

Then there’s the exception of the usual suspects of course. Some plots have not looked good for years and even when one of the only thing allowed is to visit the allotment, they still don’t look great.

Garden allotment shed door notice board

A quick trip this afternoon was to strim the edges of the plot and cut the grass which was getting slightly long in areas. This was finished in 10 minutes. Then I fed Elvis who appeared (possibly with the noise of the strimmer) and asked for food. Finally I watered the turf. All done within 20 minutes.

The place was almost empty. There were a couple of people over the far side, but they were leaving just as I arrived. Then it was just me and the garden cat left over.

It’s super hot outside, blue sky with small white clouds, slight breeze, mid to high 20s I would say: possibly too hot for digging at the allotment right now. I expect there will be more people later on in the evening when it’s cooled down.

Early morning Saturday path fixes at the lockdown allotment

Today is Saturday, the 25th of April 2020. It has been quite a marathon visit to the allotment plot today. Arriving at 6:30am at the front gate and staying for 5 hours and 40 minutes. This was planned and expected because I was fixing the path surrounding my main allotment.

Each 2m 40cm section of path takes approximately three hours to complete, as I discovered the last time I did a section at the allotment last weekend. This weekend I hoped to get two sections completed.

Two sections dug out

First job is to dig out the turf, each piece of turf is approximately 35 cm wide on the short side. This makes two of them fit in the 70 cm width of the path. Digging out the turf is not a difficult job but each piece has to be carefully cut with the spade to ensure it is the correct thickness all the way across the grass.

Adding the wooden border is easy after this. The width is 70 cm across and so the only two things to do are: keep it 70cm all the way down and then level it across with the spirit level.

Back fill the new path

The long plot against the wall is used as a source of soil for backfilling into the path. It is raised up to path height. A surprising number of wheelbarrow trips are needed to backfill this section. Each wheelbarrow was individually sifted to remove stones, plastics and weeds. The the soil was then stomped down and finally a loose layer added on top and flattened equally using a wooden slat.

The whole place was very quiet. There are lots of birds around however. Robin as usual, the large noisy pheasant, a couple of magpies that would keep appearing, some crows in the trees. Lots of small birds on the feeders. Every hour the village church would chime (one hour behind). Other than that it was quiet.

Turfed up

Then, once the soil level is ready for turf is replaced lengthwise. Each piece is carefully added and then the gaps in between is filled with more soil. Everything is compacted down. Finally the whole thing is given a good soaking with the water pipe.

Here comes Elvis

This whole lot took proximately 5 and 1/2 hours to finish. As I was packing up and getting ready to go home I saw the garden cat, Elvis. She looked quite tired and hungry. So when I return the tools to the car I picked up some cat treats from the boot and returned to finish the final job of the day: give Elvis some cat treats.

The lockdown is still in full force. There were a few people at the allotment today, but only 4 or 5 while I was there. On the way out of the gardens I saw some cyclists passing through. There are a few more people walking on the back roads and some more cyclists. But it’s still very quiet.

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.

Plot check on Sunday the 1st March, 2020

Today is a bright blue sunny spring day, but it is wet, very wet. As I drive up to the main gates of the grounds I have had to take the long way round again. The roads are flooded like they were last week. I can see in the distance the sun light glistening off the water which is filling the fields, the floodplains all full from the overspill from the River Avon. The road across the wharf bridge is under water. Earlier yesterday, we took a trip to see how far this water went and it had even drowned out the village down the road.

It is mild weather. The flowers have started to come up through the ground and as I walk in through the main gates the crocus plants have started. Daffodils are in bloom on the side of the road and I’ve noticed that trees and hedges have started to bud.

I’ve only come down to check very quickly over the allotment parts I dug last week. The long plot against the wall. But when I get there I see that although there were high winds and rains throughout the week (because of the latest storm, J, not E apparently) there’s been no affect on my plots. Nothing to do! Great news! It looks nice and neat just like it did last week.

So, I guess the only thing to do is to neaten up the tarpaulin and black sheeting, and then go for a nice breakfast and a cup of tea, and think about what I intend to do when it gets a little bit drier! 🙂

Long plot clearance in effect

Today after a bit of a soggy start I managed to clear half of the long plot against the wall. Now that my main plot is all covered up, nice and neat ready for stopping any weeds throughout the year, I have time to do the clearance of the other areas.

Before

The picture shows what it used to look like against the wall a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of weeds near the wall and a bit of a mess. And now the next photo is what it looks like after I have cleared half of the long plot.

After

I dug it over, removed a lot of the weeds from under the surface and on top, and then I moved the blue sheeting onto the other half and dug over the cleared area. It looks a lot better.

According to the new rules of the allotment association which have come into effect this year: there needs to be some work completed on your plot, with the intention of growing things before the end of February. I’m probably a week ahead of the game because although I’m not intending to grow anything this year (shhh! don’t say anything!) I do intend to take the soil back and use it for the borders on my real plot. I don’t want the rulebook to be thrown at me before I have done that little job.

Something for the tip…

So, I filled a wheelbarrow full of old wood that was lying around on the long plot, and then that went to the tip. Also as I was digging over the plot I picked up quite a bit of weeds couch grass. This went into a bag and also went to the tip on the way home. As things have turned out I have managed quite a bit today! All of this was done in about two hours of work.

Allotment clearing in the rain

It’s just after dawn on Saturday, February 22, 2020. A weekend after storm Dennis which caused local flooding of the surrounding fields and roads. This weekend is raining, after a week of on/off in-between showers passing across the country. Finally I find myself some time to get to the allotment. So far in the soggy and muddy allotment plot, I’m hiding in the garden shed because of an increased downpour. That’s where I am up to this morning.

A bit of a soggy view from inside the shed

But, this is by far the most fun I’ve had in a while! Clearing the muddy plot of weeds in the rain, with nobody around apart from the squirrels and the birds in the trees.

The effect of storm Dennis!

Today is Sunday 16th of February. It’s been quite bad rain as storm Dennis has made itself known across the county. Rain has been pretty much non-stop for the past couple of days and the high winds have caused the usual damage. Unlike storm C, this storm D was mostly rain in this part of the UK.

Last night was quite windy outside. The main part of storm Dennis was with us and it had kept me awake for most of the night. A lot of high wind speeds causing whistling outside the windows and creaking in the house as it moved the building slightly. Also, the rain was heavy! And it was continuing in the morning as well when everybody got up.

I decided to make a quick visit to the allotment. My aim there was just to check out any storm damage from last nights high winds that may have moved the black sheeting. Getting there was going to be a problem because the roads are prone to get flooded. I had to find my way round through a different route just in case.

Fields on the left, road on the right, then more fields after the fence … usually

In the distance as I entered the main gate I could see that the water level of the river had flooded the fields at the back ground. The wharf bridge was mostly under water. Flooding like this has happened quite a few times in the past, I remember, and this was quite bad. The road leading across the wharf was submerged and the fields on either side looked like permanent lakes, instead of the fields that they actually are. Cars were still driving through the flood waters even though they risked destroying their engines.

I walked down to the bridge and took some photos. While I was there approximately 10 cars decided to risk it and drive through the floodwaters across the bridge. All of them made it, although a few of them looks like they might be letting water in through the doors and also it seemed to me like the water might be getting into their exhaust pipes as well. None of them stopped however and all of them drove up the hill. So I guess they were lucky that time.

Allotment before storm ‘D’

I was hoping that I could make it to the plot this afternoon. Today is Friday, the 14th of February 2020.

Planning for the allotment visit started early this week and I had purposefully built up several hours during the first few days so I could leave early and catch the weather before it turned bad again. But today there was extra to do and I was unable to leave on time. I was only able to make a very quick check before the weather turned: just 5 minutes to look over the plot before storm Dennis. That storm is forecast to arrive later tomorrow and this will be the second storm in as many weeks for the allotment. I wanted to ensure everything was still tied down from last week. It was! 🙂

So it was just a little bit of straightening needed. Pulling the black sheeting straighter and positioning a few of the bricks so it was better prepared for high winds forecast over the coming days. I’ll just need to keep an eye on the sheeting over the next week in case it moves slightly, as usual.

Minor storm Ciara damage?

Just before sunset today, Sunday the 9th of February 2020, I made a special trip (very briefly) down to the allotment. The high winds and rain from today’s storm were still with us. But, there was very minimal impact on the allotment itself.

As you can see from the photo.

Black sheeting moved slightly with the Ciara storm high winds

Hardly any movement in the black sheeting despite the severe winds and we have had high wind gusts since midnight Saturday. There was some slight movement in the sheeting but that was all. Something I could easily fix with five minutes of moving the bricks back into their original positions and minor straightening of the black covering sheets.

Some other allotment holders haven’t been as fortunate though! I noticed that lots of plastic has been flying around the walled garden. Some of it has ended up on my long plot against the wall.

Plastic netting, plastic bags, some plastic sheeting. Also, a large compost bin made out of plastic. Just like the one I took from my plot yesterday. This one had obviously been rolling around the walled garden and had ended up against the wall on my side of the allotment area. I don’t know who it belonged to so I left it where it was in the hope it wasn’t going to go any further now the winds were calming down.

The running around before the storm

A storm is about to hit the UK. It’s a fairly large one, with wind speeds predicted to be gale force. The storm is predicted to hit sometime on Saturday evening. With that in mind it is a good idea for me to visit the allotment and make sure that everything is securely fastened down.

Today though, it’s all completely calm with bright blue sky and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

On the list of things that I imagine will be blown around the allotment plots are, black sheeting covering the main plot and the empty plastic compost bin which I recently moved against the wall.

This means buying some more bricks to weight down the black sheeting covering the main plot. Also I need to pick up the compost bin. The big black compost bin that will surely be blown over the far side of the allotments if I don’t bring it home.

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!

A small meeting at the allotment

Tonight is Thursday, the 25th of April 2019, and unfortunately the weather is fine. There is blue sky, the Sun is just going down but it is still warm, and because of this the subcommittee meeting is held outside at the Allotment and not in the pub. What a shame.

We had the meeting under the shelter just outside the gate to the walled allotment garden.

The meeting took about an hour and a half to complete. There was plenty of conversation and many topics were covered. Things like the use of pesticides (which everybody thought was a bad idea), the possibility of having a communal plot, maybe having some sort of plant sharing scheme. There was a request for a new tap to be put into the allotment, somewhere in the middle or at least having them spread around the allotment garden more evenly than they currently are. And probably the best discussion, was a social side to the allotment association. Something which used to exist in the past but which has disappeared now.

Lots of things wree discussed, and many things are going to be passed on to the main committee. We are only a subcommittee, and can’t really decide anything. But it was very productive nonetheless.

It was a disappointment however that we couldn’t do it in the pub. Maybe next time they will pick a day when it’s raining.

Rain after the long sunny spell is arriving

This is definitely a good thing. Plenty of rain is forecast this week. Especially good news for my new lawn at home. And not least because it will mean I will not need to go on special watering trips down at the allotment … at least for the rest of this week.

The temperatures are still quite high this week. This is going to be great for the soil temperature which was improving recently. This will help the seed germination. It’s nice to have sunshine during the bank holiday weekend and the rain during the working week instead of the usual English option.

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.

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.

Bright Sunday morning allotment checking

Allotment checked, okay. The first proper look since the new year has started. The weather is unseasonably warm and the temperature is in double figures. The sun is out and bright, it is warm, there is just blue sky and no clouds, and it is quiet in the allotment. There is nobody around.

I have just popped in to check that the plot is all okay. Although it is just coming up to the end of February, and nothing will have changed since I left it back in December. It’s not a surprise.

The rhubarb plant is so growing ok. It has been covered over since December and I just uncovered it.

A quick Friday night check

We returned a wheelbarrow which we borrowed from the neighbours plot tonight. The wind has picked up today and I also wanted to see if the sheeting had stayed on.

Pretty much nothing has changed, luckily. Nothing has been damaged or has moved. The grass is growing very much, and so things are slowing down for winter – this means there is very little to take care of down at the plot.

Other tasks away from the allotment are currently more important than the upkeep of the plot. My idea of making it low maintenance is still being auctioned. I will get there eventually.

Help doing the weeding

I had some help from my Dad to finish some weeding on the plot on Sunday morning. It was just a short trip of about one hour but it made all the difference.

The top end of the allotment plot is looking very clear now android because of the dry weather, the borders are still neat looking.

Only the left side of the plot looks untidy at the top end now. That will form the next part of the work. I intend to straighten that part to a width of 5m and cover it with weed suppressant tarpaulin while I make a start on the bottom half of the plot.

More border work

So it’s was another glorious day again today (Saturday). Scorching sunshine as you can see from the colour of the grass… and I was at the allotment by 9am ready to spend a few hours fixing up the borders. Hoping I would be finished before the sun got to hot.

I must have spent 4 hours putting in just two edge planks. A lot slower than I thought it would be. The soil was solid where the grass had grown over into the plot and I spent most of my time hitting it with the side of the spade to crack the grass layer so I could get my fork in.

But at the end.. it now looks a lot better than it did before and I can be sure it will remain looking something like this for many years to come now I have tamed the grassy edge.

There is still a little back filling to do and I would like make the grass border flatter and more even: to make cutting the grass a lot easier in future. Possibly that will wait until later in the year once I’ve finished the remainder of this edge.

It’s looking good however.

Possibly though, not as good as my sunburned neck.

A wet and cold bank holiday

There is not much chance of doing anything at the allotment this weekend. Pretty much constant rain all weekend and both bank holiday days either side. Snow is forecast also!

Snow at Easter? It’s not as uncommon as expected. The past few years have seen snow or bad frost in April. Heavy frost at around this time (or later) is quite common. My potatoes were killed off completely last year with an extremely heavy frost. Also so were most of the country’s vines for instance.

But this weekend is mostly about the rain. It has not stopped. The rivers are flooding nearby and the water has already crossed over into the food plain. I’ve not visited the allotment but it will be a boggy and muddy mess. It will be a long time before the soggy ground will be ready to dig again.