Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Allotment Diary: Lots of weeds!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

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old ceramic sink where we're growing salad, full of weeds

It’s been a whole three weeks since we’ve last been to our allotment. Whenever we had the time to go, it was pouring with rain; when the weather was fine, we were busy with other commitments. We entered the plot with trepidation – in what kind of state was it going to be? This old sink we’d planted with mixed salad seeds was quite typical – what’s salad and what’s weeds? This scene was repeated all over the plot.

pea seedling and sunflower seedling

Weeds were our main problem, but pests had taken their toll too. Of the half dozen apiece of garden pea and sunflower seeds we planted in this bed – once we’d finished weeding around them – only a single specimen of each had survived some phantom killer! We definitely can’t leave it 3 weeks again!

wheelbarrow of potato plants to be transplanted

We discovered some (unplanned) potato plants that had erupted in some of our beds. We dug them up and transplanted them into a big black bin that we’d inherited from the previous allotment custodian. We don’t know if they’ll produce anything, but thought we’d give them a chance.

unripe currants

One thing that we didn’t need to worry about were our fruit bushes. We certainly won’t be short of berries to pick in a couple of months time. There are about a dozen shrubs full of young fruits – red, white and blackcurrants. A bit of research into interesting berry recipes will be needed!

Allotment Diary: Instant gratification

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

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tray of Savoy cabbage seedlings bought from Gordon Rigg

We succumbed to a bit of instant gratification prior to this week’s allotment visit – impatient waiting for all our seeds to sprout! :-)

tray of French marigolds bought from Gordon Rigg

We pass Gordon Riggs garden centre on our way there, so we pulled in and picked up a few things. Some pretty French marigolds – a perfect companion plant for the tomatoes we planted last time – its smell discourages whitefly that feed on the tomato leaves and cause the fruit to ripen unevenly.

tray of kale seedlings bought from Gordon Rigg

A tray of Cavolo Nero – a very hardy variety of kale that’s disease resistant and unlike cabbage, not considered a tasty snack by hungry pigeons! Some Savoy cabbage too – and a few young celery plants.

tray of French marigolds bought from Gordon Rigg

They went into our newly created beds – in neat rows at the specified distance apart. At least we’re sure which are the vegetables and which are the weeds. It’s not quite as easy when seeds go straight into the ground. We have to confess that after this small job, the rest of the afternoon was spent drinking tea and reading the papers!

Allotment Diary: The Big Dig

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

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baby blackbird in foliage

It was good to get back on to our allotment after days of rain. Having said that, it was a tough day with plenty of digging!!

garden spade

We were clearing a new bed at the sunnier end of the site.

baby blackbird on a pile of bricks

We’re still uncovering lots of old bricks which will come in useful for more path & border building. The growing pile provided a nice perch for today’s feathered visitor – a gorgeous baby blackbird.

detail of baby blackbird in foliage

He looked as if he had only just fledged. He hung around for a while – we even threw him a couple of small worms which he ate gratefully. Eventually, he toddled off to under the gooseberry bushes in the direction of his parents’ calls.

planted out tomato plants on our allotment

It was a case of four hours of digging, ten minutes of planting today. The only things we put into the soil, apart from a spade, were half a dozen tomato plants donated by a kindly neighbour. They’re an outdoor variety, but it will be interesting to see what kind of crop we get on our relatively shady allotment – and how ripe they get.

Allotment Diary: Devastation!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

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sweet cicily and aquilegia growing on our allotment

We arrived at our allotment this week after a 12-day gap. Everything was greener, there were more plants in flower. It was a lovely, sunny day.

a hole made by squirrels digging up seeds we planted a week ago

On closer inspection – devastation! Most of the seeds that we’d sown in toilet roll tubes had been dug up and their cardboard containers unceremoniously strewn about the place. We reckon the culprit or culprits were of the squirrel variety after an easy meal.

black plastic seed tray planted up with garden peas

Our original plan for the day was to clear debris from the sunny spot and turn it into a bed and our seating area. We weren’t anticipating having to re-sow garden peas, sweet peas and sweetcorn.

garden pea seedling on our allotment

The garden peas we planted (without cardboard tubes) a couple of weeks earlier were sprouting nicely. Lesson learned for next time!

salad seedlings emerging through the compost

Thankfully, we had a few other positive green shoots to report. Some of the lettuce seeds we planted on our last visit were already sprouting…

potted strawberry plants sitting on a low wall on our allotment

…there were lots of strawberry plants that were sending suckers out all over the place that we divided & potted up…

gooseberry fruits growing on our allotment

…the gooseberry flowers were turning into little fruits…

wood pigeon building a nest in a tree on our allotment

…and a pair of wood pigeons were busy building a nest in a tree just above our heads.

Justin levelling an area into a bed and seating area

We eventually got around to working on the sunny spot in the late afternoon – clearing away the pile of rubbish, plastic water drums and levelling out the ground. Hopefully no more nasty surprises will await us on our next visit!

Allotment Diary: Sow & Sow

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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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!