Monday, 31 March 2008


I have just discovered a simple way to challenge a five year old on an allotment patch. Ask him to pick as many yellow dandelion heads as he possibly can. What a fantastic job he made of it and at least they won't go on to seed across the patch. Saturday there were only a few dandelion heads but today they seemed to be everywhere its amazing what a couple of warm days after the rainy spell can do to weeds. You should see the troublesome area (round some old tree stumps) is now becoming a mass of nettles and the 'carroty' weeds (whatever they are - see earlier post). We are going to have to come up with a plan for this area soon so any suggestions grateful recieved, I will have to post some pictures for comments in the future.
The baby was less cooperative today as we visited the patch at a different time to usual, so he had his first alfresco meal at the allotments (mmm apple puree). Thankfully we had taken some old plastic patio chairs to the patch these make breastfeeding much more comfortable and luckily none of the old fellas were around to be shocked.
Managed to plant a short double row of broad beans today with my little helper which was great as he really concentrated on what he was doing.
John and I took some time to discuss some changes to how we are going to manage the plot, which includes digging the areas we covered and mulched over winter and then mulching the areas we are trying to dig currently as this would be easier work. Perhaps? More of this to come in later posts.

Saturday, 29 March 2008


Wow we managed to get down to the allotment with a whole family expedition today for about 2 hours. The ground was very heavy and wet so was difficult to dig, we gave up on digging as the clods wouldn't break up easily to release their weeds but we managed to bring back two sacks of weeding debris to stuff in our brown bin anyway.

We had to entertain a five year old with little respect for where things are planted while we worked, he sat on some rasberry canes today, so to help focus him, he did some planting with me and his dad. (Luckily the baby was good as gold he slept in the pushchair and
needed no entertainment.) I chose to get Owen to plant the remenants of the peas and mange tout he massacred, I hold out little hope for them but thought I would put them into the ground and see, while I wait for their replacements to germinate. Owen loved building the wigwams (the word does not have as much meaning for children these days as Cowboys and Indians are not as popular as when I was a kid). I've used some long branches that were chopped out of the bushes last summer before we got the allotment. I had saved them from the bonfire and trimmed they ready for this purpose. But now I'm wondereing if there is a reason for why people don't do this on there plots but choose to use bamboo.

We sowed another short row of salad leaves and Owen was excited to see that the salad leaves and radish we had sown previously are begining to poke though (no sign of the spring onions yet). Then Owen with his dad planted some gladioli bulbs at the corner of our plot near where I have the tulips (no flowers as yet, see the picture) currently growing. I want to have some colourful flowers to cheer us up as we approach the plot hope this works. I
think I will get Owen to plant some sunflowers soon as they will be fun for him to tend.

As it is the Easter holidays if the weather is good next week the
n I have a whole load of stuff that I need an assistant to help me plant out and a scarecrow to complete.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Compost run

Todays visit was a shivering dash to put a weeks worth of kitchen peelings in the allotment compost bin. It was getting far too smelly in the garage with the rotting veg! I'm using these eco compostable bags to collect the waste but looking at the bottom of the compost bin the ones I put in several weeks ago appear to be still intact. I thought the blurb on the box said they start to rot within a few weeks, so I'm a little bit concerned. I have a little green kitchen collector bin, but it is too small some weeks and I hate having to take the lid off to add to it if I've forgotten it for a while - so I thought the bags would be a good idea but I might need to review it.
I have been worried that the snow might have hindered the few seeds we put in, but the little row of salad leaves are starting to show signs of coming through. Food is on its way! My new rhubarb crown planted a wee while ago does look a little bit sick.
Some good news is that I've sowed the 'freecycle' artichoke seeds which arrived very quickly in the post and I've resowed the peas to replace the ones lost (murdered).
There was only one person on the site today when I visited so I feel relieved that I am not the only fair weather allotmenteer in the town. I need to get down to doing some graft to get things moving before spring passes me by. It would be good for my next post to be sooner than a week and to have something major done.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


This weeks weather is hopeless, I think I will be digging snow not earth at the weekend if the forecast is true. So the best thing I can do is dream about what I can grow in the summer. It was as I was dreaming that artichoke seeds popped up as being offered on freecycle. So I am awaiting there arrival through a SAE in the next few days. The range of things that freecycle seems to provide is vast and varied so you need to check in frequently as you never know. If the seeds do grow the globes will be both interesting to eat or to leave as flower heads for prettying up the patch. I also would love to do some macro photography of the flower heads so I'm excited all around.
I'm off to find my thermals now!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Peas trashed

It was a bad day today. I put the peas and mange tout outside the back door to start hardening them off as they have enjoyed the comfort of my window sill for far too long. As the day looked as if it was going to be good. We began doing a little work in the garden with the intention of visiting the allotment later. A five year old and a bizzare bike incident has led to some of the peas and mange tout being decapitated and others squashed. The pea murderer now knows the depths of the crime committed, and recieved lots of points to his bike licence (no point with a fine as he is bank rolled by mum & dad!).
We never made it down to the patch as our other family jobs (food shopping, new shoes for the pea murderer) meant it was raining by the time we were free to go to the allotment. Never mind I am now the proud owner of a dibber after a little additional shopping opportunity.

Friday, 14 March 2008

No wind damage

Went to the allotment yesterday as the weather looked like it was going to be OK and it was. Who knows what the weekend will bring weather wise, so best to get on with it. I was concerned that we might have had some wind related changes to the plot after the last few stormy days but the mulching and ground covering had remained pretty much in place. I just had to hunt the top of our composting bin luckily it had only travelled a short distance.

Digging and weeding was the focus of the day but it is so, so slow going but we are making some progress. I've been digging up some things that look like carrots or parsnips but are exceedingly woody and have shot up over night what are they? See the photo for an example. Will I get rid of them by just digging them out?

On the ground that Owen had so dutifully raked are some strange impressions in the soil. Its a bit of a mystery. Have the rabbits been digging, or the toddler from the next plot wandered over it. Or do badgers have very big boots. I am filled with fear that they are the foot prints of the scary dog that barks at us all the time from the garden that backs onto our patch. If this dog can hop the fence what am I going to do as it is capable of eating both me and the baby. So does anyone have any tips for taming dogs that neighbour their plots? Or will I need to learn how to subdue it with garden implements if it clears the fence when we are there?

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Make the children work on Sundays

It is probably best not to listen to the weather forecasts too closely, rain they said. At 10am it was bright and sunny so we took a chance and went to the allotment. We managed a couple of hours graft while the baby slept. There was a light sprinkle of rain before we left thats all!
We managed to mulch the paths around the rasberries with bark chippings.
Whilst we dug Owen learnt to rake the recently turned earth he made a reasonably good job of it too.
It was a landmark day for us, we planted our first seeds direct into the ground. Salad leaves, spring onions and radishes yum - lets hope they grow quickly if only to keep a five year old interested in continuing to work on the plot.
This evening as part of some craft style fun we have made the head for our scarecrow, watch this space to see him in pride of place!

Thursday, 6 March 2008


After a further day of inactivity yesterday, on the patch today the weather has been good enough to provide us with a day suitable for a cleansing fire. The wind was in the best direction, not blowing on to the train tracks so hopefully no angry train drivers. Although, a friend told me that their is a nearby resident who gets grumpy about fires so hopefully it didn't blow in his direction either. John had some leave so I had help for the inferno I was about to start. I was a little bit concerned when I lit it incase things got out of control. Imagine being kicked off the site by the allotment association not for an unkempt patch but for torching the whole site.
We have already taken large quanties of stuff to the tip to for the council to compost. However we still had some large branches that would not rot down quickly on site, and it would take many trips to the tip to get rid of. Its not very enviromentally friendly to burn it but I would argue that it is a choice between two methods of enviromental pollution with all the journeys to the tip, so have a small fire. We now have a large pile of ash that we can dig in to the ground beneath it, I think it is supposed to be good for the soil but not sure where I got this idea from. It's the spot where we plan to grow our potatoes so we will have to see how they do.

It was only later in the day when we were sat in the car at the supermarket reeking of sooty smoke that I looked at John to notice that he had one strangely singed eyebrow. How?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Window sill

Today winter bit back a little with a sprinkle of snow grains and my enthusiasm for digging the patch stopped rapidly. I much preferred to look at my newly emerging mange tout on the window sill whilst holding a hot cup of tea. The potatoes are currently chitting and the peas in the black tubes are still waiting to emerge but their are signs of activity in the compost.

Green Thumb Sunday

Monday, 3 March 2008

Beginning the patch

We are now entering into spring and the allotment (weed patch) we took on in the summer needs to be whipped into shape. With a new baby arriving last autumn and our limited gardening knowledge it is going to be a full on challenge to get some produce and to keep the weeds away.
The plot has been recently cultivated so it should be OK.
The plan is to save the rasberries already on the plot and to mulch and leave at least a third of the plot until next year.
We will be planting potatoes, broad beans, onions and shallots 'straight away' or in the next week or so as there is still some digging to do before we can make a start.
We also will be watching what is happening on other patches for ideas etc.