Sunday, 27 April 2008


Today I went to the patch with a totally different intention, not to cultivate but to photograph because today is world pinhole day. People are encouraged to take pinhole images and upload them to the world pinhole website (there were already images from New Zealand and Australia on the site before I even took my images today). Undeterred I thought I would give it a go and if the pictures are any good I will put them on my blog as they will be of the allotment site. The thing is you can't see exactly what you are taking shots of as the viewfinder does not work as there is no lens. It can be very hit and miss, so I'm not promising anything good. I've tried shots of my flowering tulips and views across the site. The camera pinhole lens I made myself and is held together with good old gaffer tape, see the picture. The exposure times were guessed and I used a stop watch to time them.The film just needs to be developed, old technology hmmmph, its not as instant as digital.

Once I had finished the picture taking I did do a bit of weed clearing as I was waiting for Owen and his dad to return from a taster session at the leisure center open day.

Back to proper gardening next week as those potatoes must be in by the end of the week!

Friday, 25 April 2008


I know that a lot of people describe the time they spend at their allotments as peaceful and calm and being at one with nature etc etc. Today I thought that I would be accompanied while doing the dreadful digging with the sounds from my mothers day present (Yes, it has taken me that long to get round to using it!) a wind up radio. I have to say that the sound from it is quite good although I might need to wind it a bit more than I did to get it to run for a long session. The volume drops off if it needs winding in my experience. Anyway boys it was a great present and I'm sure that it will get lots of use.

Despite the radio our allotment is a very quite place, but every so often the supposed silence is broken not by the gentle bubbling sound of the people in their nearby gardens but by the thundering of a train down the track. I swear today that the drivers were on a serious mission to make up time, they thundered through faster and louder than I have ever known. Today I noticed that the trains were definately more frequent and I can't believe that they would have improved the time table.

The consequence of the trains rampaging past was that they woke the sleeping baby who had only been asleep for about 45mins. Once awake I knew there would be no going back, so I fed Huw lunch and had a think about how to manage him. As you know I find working on the plot whilst child entertaining very frustrating and have not had to worry about it with the younger son before. Normally after an intitial protest in the pram Huw sleeps through everything (even the trains) and gives me a couple of hours to work in, for he knows that down at the allotment nobody can hear you scream. I always take him to the plot when I know he is tired. So things are changing.

Huw got his first nappy change down at the patch today on t
he weed suppressing fabric, I then let him sit on a blanket and the thought struck me that he will be crawling properly in a few weeks. He is already far more advanced at his proto-crawling than I had hoped he would be at this stage. So I need to find some method of containing him so that he can play while I work. I would love to hear other peoples approaches to gardening with a baby and how to keep them safe and happy while you work

Anyway I got about a good hour and a bit of digging and weeding done. It's disheartening that where we have already dug the weeds are comming up so rapidly so I will need to hoe these in the next few visits to keep things under control. I am pleased to finally see my broad beans coming up,I thought they hadn't made it. Shamefully I've still to get my potatoes in to the ground - It has to be done now over the next week or else. Looking at other peoples blogs at the moment we all seem to be in a bit of a guilty and active phase. Rewardingly my tulips are flowering which makes walking up to the plot feel quite good at the moment.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Son's Schedules

Sometimes you know that you are on to a loser when the day starts in certain ways and especially on a Monday morning. A grizzly baby is not likely to want to visit the patch for a long stint of work. I thought I'd got his pattern sorted so that I could juggle my garden and photography activities and then he throws me wobbler and I now will have to rethink my strategies. This morning by the time he settled it was too close to the time that I need to pick up the older son from school to make any meaningful progress. Annoyingly I'd left the border fork in the storage box at the weekend so I couldn't even tinker with the front garden.

Not to be completly defeated I checked over my new purchases from the weekend, I bought some young chinese cabbage and pak choi plants only three of each but thought I would try them to see how they do at the patch. I am now the proud owner of a tent like cold frame which I am going to install at the patch for propogating the competition marrows and hardening off other some of my window sill seedlings. It appears that I'm planning to get much more serious than I thought I would for growing the marrows.

I love the plant labels that are featured on 'My Tiny Plot' a designer touch for the allotment, so much so that when I happened upon some wooden plant labels in Sainsburys on Saturday I had to have them. I thought I also could make some snazzy labels of my own, if only for the show marrows! So it's time to get painting.

Well today I planted some broad beans in pots at home, as the ones I planted a while ago at the allotment haven't appeared hopefully at least I will have some replacements or at best a sucession crop. I also re sowed celeriac after the accident. My new seeds for sowing today were sweetcorn and dwarf beans.

On top of this I took some photographs of the fluffy pink cherry blossom in the garden today which I will upload to the photostream soon. So, it has to be said that the day wasn't a complete loss and the weather looks ok for most of the week so I should get something done soon.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Cement Mixer

No, don't panic we haven't turned the plot into a hideous patio. Owen has just moved his (formally his fathers) Tonka cement mixer down to the plot. He excitedly pushed it all the way across the site. He filled it's mixer with dandelion heads that he picked for me, the challenge I set him was that he wouldn't be able to pick enough to fill it. Today was just so cold grey and miserable that even with the cement mixer for company Owen got fed up very quickly. John & I managed to dig some more and made enough progress to move another piece of the landscaping fabric to another part of the plot.

I've come up with the plan of not digging the section that we plant the butternut squash in, I thought that I would just dig a hole about a foot across for each of the plants (about 9 of them currently) leaving the space in between undug. I would then cover the area with a thin layer of organic mulch, then plant the squash through the landscaping fabric. It should prevent them from drying out and supress the weeds in theory. Will this work? I have to be pragmatic now as we are not going to be able to dig as much area as we need in the time we have got.

Slight disaster this evening I managed to knock the celeriac seeds off the window sill, I will have to sow some more in the next day or so. Also plan to start off my dwarf beans in the next few days.

Oh, and the answer to my last post and the weed question is Cow Parsley, I think.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Is it cowslip?

Now I don't know about you but my plant identification lacks something - basic knowledge. I've been pulling out these 'carotty' weeds for ages and they are growing like wildfire, some are now about a foot tall. Over the last few days they have begun to flower white (see the photo a bit blurry as it was windy), is it cowslip. If not what is the best way for finding out?

In my last post I said about not seeing next door plot holder but today I met 16B it seems its his daughter in law that has been helping him with the work. In fact what I thought was all his plot is not as he only has a half plot and the other half is probably vacant and getting weedier by the day. He also told me about some of the things that were discussed at the last association meeting it seems that quite a few of the plots will be lost with the planned underpass, its a shame for people at the other end of the site.

It was lovely and satisfying that our neighbour commented how pleased he has been on seeing the progress we are making on our plot. It is funny that he suggested that my husband had made a good go of the digging, I restrained myself from misusing the fork I was holding and bit my tongue to be neighbourly. For it is my work mainly, although John will be more than happy to take the kudos! Still it makes me swell with pride to know that the allotment is looking OK.

Monday, 14 April 2008

April showers

Well I did manage to do what I set out to do today - I dug, I finished the section John started yesterday. It took a while as the heavens opened twice. I sheltered under a tree and watched hail stones bounce off next doors rhubarb leaves I also heard thunder rumbling in the distance. The baby slept in the pushchair unaware of the weather. It was amazing to watch the steam rise off the black landscaping fabric after each down pour. The earth smelled good as I dug it the rain seemed to release it's aroma.

Anyway when I got to the plot today our scarecrow was at a jaunty angle so my first job was to straighten him. Some animal had left muddy footprints on our landscaping fabric, my fears of the deadly dog return! It's sad to say that the 'surviving' peas/mange tout are well and truely dead probably from injuries sustained in the bike attack.

There is not a lot happening on our neighbours plots at the moment which is a little concerning. 16D put up a lovely shed several weeks ago now and there was talk of visiting for a cup of tea but I've not seen them since. 16B has started to clear a little strip of land but I've never seen them on any of my visits. It's funny because I thought that this time of year would be when I was most likely to see the other allotmenteers.

I did do some planting today. I found five forgotten allium bulbs which I bought in the autumn for the garden, but today I thought I'd put them in the allotment as I'm not expecting much from them now. My garden is not really sorted I'm in the process of planning what to do in it as it doesn't really work as it is and it hasn't been touched for years. (To be honest my neighbours would be shocked to know I have an allotment and interest in gardening). If anything grows from these bulbs it will be a pretty bonus.

Additional news is I have read the rules for the marrowthon, which says that the marrows must be germinated and grown on your plot. How will they know if they are sown on the plot? The variety is 'long green bush' (I''ve added a web page link on marrows to the blog which I found as part of my research yummy recipes too.) The upshot of it all is that I think we need to make a little 'marrow house' on the allotment for them to germinate in. Time to scavenge some glass etc

Sunday, 13 April 2008


We got to the plot early enough to go to the allotment shop. We now have the seeds for the marrowthon, Owen was too scared to ask the 'blokes' what the prize was so mum had to. Pleasingly the prize has a trophy attached to it, which I know once we start the growing will be dreamt about by Owen in much the same way as he dreams of football trophies. So let the competition begin! I'll read the rules tonight.

The main area of our plot we planned to use this year is becoming rock hard and solid with weeds its very difficult to dig now. We bought some heavy duty ground cover for part of this our original planned digging area and put it down today. So instead we have now raised some of the fabric and mulch we put down in the autumn and John dug this today until the hail started. The mulching seems to have worked reasonably well and we found some potatoes (planted by the previous plot holder) still in the ground. The soil in this bit seems good. I plan to go back tomorrow and finish the section.

When the heavens opened with hailstones it should be noted that those who do not digg enough are pelted by ice as a punishment. Let that be a warning to the lazy one with the yellow spade. The little prince that sleeps in the red pushchair while all around work was woken by the stinging stones and his indignant bawling really meant it was time to go.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

double digging

I thought that buying a bright yellow child's spade would be all the incentive to make Owen dig. Today all he wanted to do was winge and wee on the patch. Every other boy I know would given the chance dig a big hole to Australia and allow me to dig properly. Not Owen, he needed regular feeding (he checked the picnic before we left and calculated and his quota) plus needed constant entertaining. So progress was slow. It's not that he didn't like the spade it's just too hard to dig.
All I can say to this is yes it is hard work.
I am now thinking that I will never create enough space to put all my seedlings in.
The potatoes are still not in, I must be the last allotmenteer at the site to get them in.
Still tomorrow is another day, and I'm taking John allong so that we can split the child entertainment.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


I'm holding off planting or sowing into the ground at the moment as there are some deep frosts happening this week according to the bbc weather. Still I have had some activity as I've transplanted some of my recently emerged seedings into cells to grow bigger on the window sill and I've sown some celeriac - a sort of unplanned additional purchase. My son's sunflowers have sprouted into rapid action on the downstairs window sill, in less than a week they have appeared. He was waiting to see which one of the four seeds would emerge first, we might have to label them in some way so he can see which one is the best throughout their growth, especially once they get transfered to the patch.

Our allotment association are having a marrowthon this year (saw the poster on the noticeboard today) and we can get the seeds and entry forms this weekend, the big question is should I get competetive? Not with the rest of the plot holders, but with my son. It might be more fun if we both take part so that we have an intraplot competition.

I've developed a freecycle habit recently and watch the advertising board for useful things (especially gardening stuff). If you don't know about freecycle check it out, I like the principles behind it and have cycled on a few things that were now unwanted by us. This week I was lucky enough (after one false start with a different person's offer) to acquire three wooden pallets. A big thank you to Damien! We collected them and then delivered them to the allotment today. They were quite heavy so it was a two peron job. Now I just need to convert them into a big composting bin at the back of the patch. Hope that it is going to be a small /easy project, but I'm not sure about how to put them together - so it's time to have a snoop at the other plots wooden compost bins.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Too much thinking

Cold rain interrupted the plans to visit the allotment today. So rather than just get on with other things I made time to mull over what we have done and this thinking about the patch has been supported by reading the free supplement with the Guardian. I now am concerned that the mix in my compost is wrong far too much wet stuff so roll on smelly slime. Perhaps I shouldn't have let Owen pee in the composter when he needed to go whilst working at the patch, it will have just accelerated the slime problem. I've also placed a row of onions next to where I have sown some broad beans and apparently these are not good companion plants a point I never considered when I started stuffing them into the earth. So now I'm anticipating nothing growing. Should I buy the observer tomorrow and see if part two depresses me further about my efforts so far.

Watching gardeners world (on demand TV) this evening didn't lighten my mood much either as they didn't show their allotment we have to wait to next week as part of their big tease.

A good point is I think I may have located some pallets for the allotment but the freecycler has not got back to me about collection yet (I'd like to get them tomorrow). So it seems I feel a bit frustrated all round.

Still one new bit of thinking for me, is to research some ways of encouraging slug eating toads to the patch, I need to put this on my to do list.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


The most long awaited day came today for the patch - installation of a scarecrow. Owen has been anticipating the final assembly for weeks. We had the head done but we needed to create a body and yesterday we stuffed some old clothes with straw. This morning we just had to attach the bits to the stake. (Owen felt that the cross linked our scarecrow to the easter story and he wandered around the house with it pretenting to be Jesus for a while - I blame the school!)

The first picture shows the scarecrow waiting in the kitchen to go this morning and the second picture shows the scarecrow in pride of place this afternoon. It looked crazy as it travelled in the front of the clio to the allotments. Yes, it does have a name but it is a random combination of 'bugs' and 'scott' so we will wait and see what emerges over the next few days.

As well as putting the scarecrow in place I managed to sow a row of beetroot. Also put the shallots in which I now have read are rather late (ho hum) no choice today was when I could do it!

Good news my 'freecyled' artichokes are starting to germinate on the windowsill, two strong looking seedlings are showing through.