Allotment Diary: Sow & Sow

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planting 3 types of beetroot

Last week on our allotment we returned to the important business of sowing more seeds. We had 3 different types of beetroot. We love it with parsnips, squash, garlic and rosemary in roasted vegetables.

upcycled butlers sinks being used as planters

Remember those old, heavy Belfast sinks we salvaged from a far corner the previous week? Well, we stood them on some bricks, filled them with compost, watered them in and sowed them with seeds.

planting herb and salad seeds

One’s been given over to herbs – coriander, flat leaf parsley and basil…

planting lolla rosa lettuce seeds

…the other will (hopefully) provide us with a selection of cut & come again lettuce – mizuna, rocket, land cress and red & green salad bowl mixed. We even had a little space left to plant a single drill of some lolla rosa seeds we got from the BBC Dig In project a couple of years ago.

having a break in  the sunniest spot on our allotment

It was the sunniest day since we had the allotment and it was only then that we discovered that the sunniest part of the entire plot was what we’d designated as our ‘dumping ground’! Next time we’re there, we’ll be making it into a better location for a break and spot of lunch!

Allotment Diary: Gone to Seed

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packets of vegetable and wild flower seeds

This week, we finally got to do some proper planting on the allotment. We bought a selection of vegetable seeds, got given some allium bulbs by our neighbour and sent off for some wild flower seeds that were being given away by BBC Countryfile & Go Wild.

sweet corn kernels sown into toilet roll inners

We sowed some sweet corn kernels using toilet roll inners a few days before we went to the allotment…

sweet corn being sown into an allotment bed

…and transplanted them into a newly-laid bed when we got down there.

When we get to the allotment, the first thing we did was to have a quick inspection to see if anything looked any different. And lo & behold, a few of the sweet pea seeds we planted up a couple of weeks before had sent up little shoots – no more than a couple of centimetres tall!

sweet pea seedling

Adelle set about sowing some cornichon seeds into one of the other beds we’d prepared the week before…

cornichon seeds being sown into an allotment bed

…while Justin continued with laying paths and beds…

Justin putting tiles around an allotment bed

…and Fudge did what he does best… loaf!

He sometimes gets a bit bored which can often lead to naughtiness so we keep him occupied by giving him a big bone to gnaw on.

Fudge gnawing on a bone

We found this old wire basket on the plot so we decided to use it to keep all our tools tidy.

Wire frame where we keep our tools

We also found this snail skulking around. The first live one we’d seen up to that point. We doubt it will be the last!

snail on the allotment

The last job of the day was to clear out these two sinks we found at the back of the plot and put them into place, ready to plant up next time.

pair of old ceramic sinks on the allotment

Allotment Diary: Beds and Paths

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cleared beds and red brick paths on our allotment

This week on the allotment has been all about building beds and paths.

cleared beds and red brick paths on our allotment

After more than a month, we’re still at the point where we’re reconfiguring and re-jigging the layout of the plot.

bed on our allotment where we plan to plant flowering bulbs

The bed that already contained flowering daffs when we took it over – we’ve decided to plant it up with some more and other different flowering bulbs. We’d like to, eventually, plant it with snowdrops, crocuses, tulips, English bluebells – there’s already some crocosmia there that will flower in late summer. The plan is for this bed if for it to be ever-flowering – as soon as one type of flower dies back, there’s already another coming up to take its place.

singing robin on our allotment

Our little robin friend was back again to busk for us – his payment being some fat, freshly-dug up worms!

vintage red bricks reused to make a path on our allotment

We came across another small stockpile of old red bricks – we quickly used them up to make another little path between a couple of beds. Next week, it will be down to some serious planting – hurrah!

Allotment Diary: Allotment friends and foes

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garden loppers, saws and packets of seeds

The last week on the allotment had us pondering mortality – the cycle of life, decay, death and rebirth. We did some hard pruning of trees and shrubs, some much-needed weeding and a little bit of seed planting.

old stone flag wall

This beautiful flagstone fencing was ubiquitous in the local area once upon a time. It’s made of the local millstone grit and borders one edge of our allotment. It’s such a shame that it tends to get broken, removed or demolished in favour of indeterminate brick or concrete walls or wood panel fencing. It’s all higgledy-piggledy like a mouthful of teeth in dire need of a good orthodontist – but we like them like that. A perfect Hollywood smile would look completely out of place! We think it may have originally been part of a vaccary wall – to keep herds of cows in check!

Snails, scourge of the allotment

We posted a photo of Mr Robin in last week’s allotment post, but not all the allotment dwellers are our friends. These snails, along with the army of slugs, are definitely our foes – needless to say they came to a sticky end! Having said that, they have a beauty of their own

This 10-foot length of green chain link fence was already on the plot when we took it over. We though it might be a nice spot to run a few climbers up.

green chain link fence

We turned over and weeded about a foot on each side of the fence and sowed a few garden peas and sunflower seeds.

green chain link fence

In a few months time if all goes to plan, they’ll germinate, flower and provide us with seeds to both eat and resow for next year.

Allotment Diary: Going to seed

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Two seed catalogues

Two seed catalogues that we’d ordered online arrived this week. A mind-boggling array of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds lay within their pages.

Two seed catalogues open on the sweet pea pages

But we remained single-minded and didn’t allow ourselves to go wild with the ordering. We were only after some scented sweet pea seeds for now.

Justin digging and weeding a bed on the allotment

Our idea was to break the allotment up into small areas and concentrate on them one at a time. Rather than to try and tackle the whole plot in one go. We chose a spot that we wanted to make into a bed to grow, you guessed it, sweet peas. We dug it over…

Justin laying a path with salvaged bricks on the allotment

…and Justin laid a path using some of the salvaged bricks we found strewn all over the allotment last week. I know, it looks like Justin did all the work… someone had to take the photos!

A robin visits us on the allotment

With all the digging going on, it wasn’t long before this cute, little robin stopped by to feast on the worms that we’d uncovered. Smart little birds, robins – get the humans to do all the hard work!

unfinished sweet pea wig wams on the allotment

By the end of the afternoon, the bed was dug, the border and path were laid and the first few canes of the sweet pea wig-wams had been erected. Not a bad day’s work.

Allotment Diary: Our first day

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Daffodils in flower with Fudge on his bed in the background on our allotment

This is the first, proper entry into our new, virtual Allotment Diary.

Celandine in flower on our allotment

Surveying the plot, we were feeling slightly overwhelmed – there was so much work to do, where do we start?! We didn’t want to just rip out all the plants that were already there. Daffodils and celandine are in abundance – they look so bright & cheery.

old plastic water butts and garden chairs on our allotment

We began by having a general tidy up, moving all the strewn plastic chairs, bins and empty, abandoned plant pots over to a far corner.

old plastic plant pots on our allotment

We didn’t want to throw any of this away just yet, we want to reuse as much of it as possible.

vintage bricks and slates on our allotment

There were lots of red bricks and terracotta roof tiles lying around that we stacked up and put into piles. We already have some plans for these!

vintage bricks on our allotment

Many of the bricks are impressed with ‘Newhey’ or ‘Coptrod’, both former brickworks in Rochdale.

old metal pergola on our allotment

There was even a discarded metal arch that we’re planning on running some flowers (or cucumbers!) up.

leaf mould heap on our allotment

I began to tackle the thick carpet of leaves, forming the beginnings of a leaf mould heap in a shady, north-facing corner.

swept path on our allotment

There was some evidence of paths once some of the leaves were gone. Still very overgrown though.

old metal baths on our allotment

And how about transforming this pair of old baths into salad or herb beds?

brick foundations of a derelict greenhouse on our allotment

There are remains of a lower half of a dilapidated greenhouse in a sunny part of the plot. We’re considering what to do with it. We have lots of options available, lots of decisions to make. But there’s no need to rush in and try to do it all at once – one thing at a time – we’re just enjoying the journey!