Monday 29 March 2010


Just been doing a bit of blog maintenance; updating broken links and whatnot.

I have posted my allotment plan for this year, and my crop rotation record, which you can see if you click the pics below, or in my notes in the link on the sidebar.

I also hoped to slim down the picture diary kinda thing on my sidebar, since most of what's there is really old now. But when I started editing things (adding the year to the ones I want to keep) the pictures shrunk, and I can't get them back to their proper size! Any blogger-users got any ideas?

Saturday 27 March 2010

A Great Day!

Spent half of today at the allotment, and a couple of friends came along to help! Despite a few showers, we got loads done and had a lot of fun. Thanks Kathy and Brian!

Thanks to Kathy and Eddie, the two potato beds are now dug, manured, and ready for planting next weekend.

The onions and shallots are planted, along with two rows of parsnips (White Gem) and one row of carrots (Flyaway, since I can't control the damned carrot-flies). I realised too late I didn't have enough carrot seeds for the second row - I will have to take some more down next time.

And Brian did a great job of weeding the herb garden and a few other difficult spots.

The three remaining beds down the left-hand side are covered in dead weeds which we dug up and left where they lay last year. I didn't want to compost the stuff as we've had both blight and white rot (I think) down there (and let's face it, the place isn't tidy enough to safely burn them) so I'm planning on leaving it all in situe to rot away, planting the pumpkins and squashes here in pockets of compost, and letting them scramble all over it.

That leaves just two beds to clear; one will hold salad greens and the other courgettes and a few beans.

I'm very excited to see the lovage coming up, and looking forward to my favourite chicken stew with lovage and mint! It didn't do very well last year so I must take extra care of it this year. The giant poppies next door are crowding it rather - I will have to give it some more room...

Friday 26 March 2010

Camera back in action - where do I start?

So. Here's what we've been up to the past few weeks.

We finally dug the bottom end of the plot - the only bit we'd never tackled so far! It was full of old tree roots, and not very nice soil, and we've had it covered in plastic for two years now while we tried to forget about it... Now it's dug over, manured with our lovely compost, and home to 30 new raspberry canes. I'm a bit worried I planted them too close together (as per usual), but time will tell. Picking the fruits could be a spiky experience!

We have planted a new strawberry bed: 9 each of three varieties for a longer harvest period. Today I popped the garlic in between the plants - it's supposed to keep some of the nasties away. I just hope it's not too late to get a decent garlic crop too...

We planted three rows of broad beans back in February, which today are just peeking their noses up into the (patchy) sun:

And we've weeded the pond. Turns out water mint is just as invasive as its landlubbing cousins; it was really difficult to extract the plant pot, and when I finally got it out there were still new mint sprigs looking at me from all corners of the pond. I spent ages trying to pick them all out without disturbing the FROGSPAWN(!) - at least they came out fairly easily.

We've dug the horseradish too, in that lower left corner. I don't know what possessed me to plant horseradish so close to the pond. I watched the whole pond shake as Eddie pulled up one of the long roots! Planning on roast beef and Yorkshire puddings this week so I can put some of what we dug up to good use! And in the top right corner is the asparagus bed, newly weeded and manured. We usually see the first asparagus shoots in the first week of April, but I get the feeling it might be a bit later this year...

And there are our baby tadpoles, taddling away. The water is pretty murky at the moment - it'll be great when the pond life gets going again and things start to clear up.

It's also good to see our miniature apple trees budding all over! We got one delicious apple last year - hopefully more this year! Alas, some mysterious fate has befallen the pear tree, which has been reduced to a dry little stump, and I don't think it's coming back :(

Tuesday 23 March 2010


Well, I haven't blogged lately because I don't seem to have the organisation it takes to charge some batteries for my camera, to update you properly. But I thought I'd at least come and tell you that I have been busy sowing seeds. Later than usual, but considering what the winter's been like it's probably not a bad thing.

As previously mentioned, the plan is to grow less on the allotment this year and more in the garden. The allotment will have lots of potatoes and sprawling squashes and pumpkins; raspberries and strawberries; onions, shallots, leeks, carrots and parsnips (all of which I've had plenty of success with before - well, except the carrots but I'll keep bashing away anyhow...), salad greens in raised beds to hopefully give them a better chance of surviving the grass; and just a few courgettes, beans and swedes. All but the squashes will be direct sown, as and when the space is dug over... In the garden I will grow more salady stuff, tomatoes and cucumbers, french beans and mangetout/sugarsnap peas.

Planted in the allotment so far:
30 raspberry canes (10 'Glen Cova' - June/July fruiting, 10 'Malling Jewel' - July/Aug, 10 'Tulameen' - Aug-Oct)
27 strawberry plants (9 'Florence', 9 'Mae', 9 'Lucy')
3 rows broad beans ('Bunyards Exhibition')

I've got garlic waiting to go in among the strawberries, and onions and shallots still waiting for the next area to be dug! Is it too late to plant garlic and shallots? I dunno, but I guess I've got nothing to lose...

Planted in the garden so far:
9 leftover strawberry plants!

Sown at home:
3 pumpkin 'Jack O'Lantern' (which were fabulous last year)
3 cucumber 'Wautoma' (from - the closest I can find to the fantastic Moneta I grew my first year, although I didn't have much luck with these last year...)
3 courgette 'Black Beauty'
3 'Summer Crookneck Squash' (similar to courgettes - I had to make my Real Seeds order up to £7!)
3 winter squash 'Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato' (great storers - I've still got some from last summer)
3 winter squash 'Waltham Butternut' (because whatever variety I tried last year were tiny, and these from Real Seeds are supposed to be better suited to our climate)
3 winter squash 'Burgess Buttercup' (making up that order!)
5 tomato 'Sub Arctic Plenty'
5 tomato 'Moneymaker'
5 tomato 'Red Cherry'
5 tomato 'Gardener's Delight' (that's far more tomato plants than I've got room for - I will probably give some away)
5 pepper 'King of the North' (another Real Seeds variety grown for the UK climate, promising excellent large green peppers - my favourite!)
5 Jalapeno chilli
1 large planter of Little Gem Lettuce
1 windowbox of various basil and parsley
1 windowbox of rocket, mustard and 'Wrinkled Crinkled' cress (here's hoping they have enough room)
1 big pot of chives
20 perennial sweet peas
12 'Giant Single' sunflowers
3 bushy sunflowers
a tray of petunias to grow under the asparagus

Phew! Before the end of the week I must get some beans and peas started too...

Will quickly share some slightly blurry mobile-phone pictures of the allotments taken a few weeks ago, when they flooded due to a very high water table after all the snow and rain! Luckily ours was untouched - it was just high enough to escape - but the plots adjacent to ours on two sides looked like this:

Not a good start to the season for some, but thankfully it's all cleared up now in time for the real action to start!
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