Saturday, 31 May 2008

An evening alone

None of the men in my household looked very keen to visit the patch today, there were mutterings about doing it but no action. So at 4pm I announced that I was leaving and would be back in time for the bedtime routine. It was great to be there in the softening sun of the late afternoon, alone accept for all the other allotmenteers each in frenzied activity on there plots.

All I did was therapeutic weeding and the slugs and snails that were hiding beneath these weeds explain a lot about my munched plants. Even a sturdy broad bean plant had been chomped in half through the stalk since my last visit. So weeding is probably a job well done. Nowhere to hide now.

In terms of jobs to do, I do need to get more into the ground as Hugn FW pointed out this week you have to sow stuff if you want to grow stuff, so I need to get on with it and not worry about it.

I have some mange tout to replace the previous lost peas (x2) I will put them out in the next few days but I feel I'm sending them to their death with our slug and snail population. As you can see from the picture, when a hung my hat on the sad pealess wigwam I could see how hard core my snails are - they have shinned their way to the top.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Owen and his bucket full of snails

My idealistic and relaxing visit to the plot today was to have both boys engaging with mother nature and the great outdoors. Reality is that it just turned into the usual chaotic event accompanied by plenty of screaming. It's not as if I go along without any planning. Today I thought we could walk to the patch giving Huw the chance to nod off in the push chair so that I can get on with things when at the patch. Owen was to take his scooter to make the walk more fun. We could spend about an hour there and come back for a slightly later lunch. Nevertheless I went armed with baby food, crisps and drinks for both.

As soon as we hit the allotment site Huw awoke from his slumber. Perhaps he has allotment aversion syndrome. I knew that the game was up at this point but pressed on across the site with both boys.

I gave Owen one of his sand buckets and asked him to collect snails and to see what he could find, he is quite keen on this job. At this point he announces that he needs a wee ( I let him use the back of the patch he likes to mark his territory regularly!). The next bombshell is that he needs to poo. I know this is just a tactic to get us to leave, so distract him with the crisps. Meanwhile baby Huw is reaching a crescendo in crying and the biscuit he is chewing is not pacifying him (teething eh, an irritable phase !?!).

At this point in time all I have in my hands is a hoe I start thinking that perhaps I should impale myself upon it. So today I have managed to loosen and chop some of the new weed growth near my recent plantings it doesn't really add up to anything that puts a dent into the long list of things that need doing.

Yes I call it quits (random thoughts of returning later alone are emerging) and we leave.

What of the snails? I here you say. Owen did collect quite a few. Then he released them at the back of the patch, so they'll be back!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


After a woefully wet bank holiday weekend I thought I would never get a chance to tame the jungle growing down at the patch. Gardening depression was setting in. More of this wet and warm weather means the weeds will grow exponentially, soon I will be able to climb them and look down on the whole site. So a welcome gap in the downpours today meant strim, strim and strim again. Got to get on with things when I can this week as it's half term and Owens allotment enthusiasm seems to be conditional on getting gifts for being good. A mothers dilemma should I exploit this?

The petrol strimmer is mighty scary to use, I am by no means a small woman but I feel that the strimmer may be a bit big for me. I think it might be because John chose it and choosing a boy's toy is what men do best. Lots of research on the internet, working out what you can get for your money, bigger and better spec becomes ever attractive. Its an escalator ride that I would not have joined just give me something simple and utilitarian. Still it does the job and more, also I now understand the causes of vibration white finger
that miners get after just 40 mins of strimming.



Hopefully the work I have done today on the shared paths will please my neighbours when they arrive at their plots. Fingers crossed that I haven't accidentally strimmed any of their plants.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


I didn't manage to get down to the patch last night and it was my fault as I didn't feel very good. So tonight I made an effort to go between the kids dinner and bedtime. In the almost an hour I had, I did some much needed weeding. I hand weeded round the beetroot, I'm disappointed because there are so few plants that have actually survived. Why is it that the ones which have survived do so in clumps, clumps that will need to be thinned? I will have to check the seed packet and see if there is time to sow some more. I don't have a good record with using fresh beetroot when I buy it. I like the idea of it but not the mess. I would love to eat it grated in salads. My rationale for growing more of it seems to be that I will be more likely to use it when it is me that has put in the effort to grow it.

My young blueberry plants were being strangled by weeds so I have also freed them up a bit and reduced their competition for light etc.

There has been a lot of sudden activity in the back half plot next to us and tonight I met some of my new neighbours, they have had the plot for about a week and are really cracking on and clearing it I fear they may put us to shame quite quickly. I hope I didn't sound too despondent when I talked to them about our plot but the cow parsley, nettle and couch grass jungle makes it look like we let the plot go uncared for. This obviously is not true, it is a patch that is liked (sometimes loved) it just needs a little make over.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The peas have had it

I visited the plot this morning again with Huw, it was not a roaring sucess as he did not wish to be there after about 40 mins. It was also very depressing as the wild is taking over. The couch grass seems to be at waist height in parts that we haven't tried to cultivate.
I managed to dig over a square of about 2 foot. I began hand weeding between the beetroot but will have to go back and finish it. Can I squeeze a visit in tonight?

Sadly I do not think I will have any peas this year they look totally wrecked. Looking around the site there was a lot of frost/cold damage last night, peoples potatoes and dwarf bean as are all wilted and blackened. So I'm glad in part that I am running so late with my endeavours (my dwarf beans are still on my window sill).

The scarecrow is not weathering well, it has lost one of its button eyes It took me a little while to find it. I need to stick it back on without Owen knowing - another job for a lone evening visit.

I had tried to sow some sucession salad leaves and radish what did emerge seems to have been eaten rapidly by the slugs and crowded out by weeds. I have bought a black trough for the back garden and will give it a go at home which may be handy for consumption at least. It would be nice to get the garden into production as well.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


Finally got my potatoes into the ground tonight. Hoorah! These quick evening visits to the patch are productive for me at the moment. Perhaps because I have to be focused on one task and cannot just do this bit of weeding or fix this or that which normally distracts me.

On returning home I panicked - perhaps these potatoes of mine have been chitting for so long they will be green and toxic. So a quick look at the RHS website gives some reassurance it says that when the weather is bad you can chit into May so it should be OK.

Its slightly funny that I have just got my potatoes in the ground but as I walk across the site on my way home I can see massive potato plants on most of the plots. Perhaps I should rename the blog to the "Tardy Gardener".

Excitingly fruit has started to form on our gooseberry bush, I have completely ignored the bush ever since we got the plot but it appears to thrive on neglect. It is a little unkempt so will definitely need to be pruned back over the winter.

Next task is to get petrol and fire up the strimmer to chop back the grass nettles and cow parsley or we will never see the potatoes when they emerge into the weedy jungle.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


I finally put the petrol strimmer together today.

It went from this

to this. All under the help and supervison of my now most definately crawling and always inquisitive assistant.

It took all day to get it assembled but watch out weeds here I come.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Lizard evening

Tonight was the first time ever that I have visited the plot alone. The site was very quite, the day was cooling off and the light was lovely and soft which I must remember for future photography opportunities. Being at the plot at this time was a strange and productive experience. I now understand that it maybe possible to care for an allotment in small regular bursts. In 45 minutes I watered the recent plantings ( one sweetcorn is definately squashed flat), popped the extra home sown broad beans in and dug a quick trench ready for the still yet unplanted potatoes (maybe this is the week hey). Now I can't blame the kids for the rather wonky planting and curving trench it was all my own work.

I think I might be able to do a quick evening visit possibly a couple of times in a week. As it fits with the kids to feed them tea and leave them with with John for entertainment and be back in time to feed and put the baby to bed. Now will John like this plan? How should I sell it to him?

Tonight in a quiet moment that I stole to gaze around the patch I noticed a recently shed skin of a lizard discarded on the landscaping fabric (typical I forgot my camera tonight so sorry no pictures!). I'm amazed by how delicate and shiney it was and imagine the newly emerged lizard drying in the warm sunshine. Go little lizard eat our snails.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Hot hot heat

What a weekend, not just the fantastic weather but all the things we have tried to cram in. Saturday was the most hectic - the large hospital near us had an open day with great activities for Owen. He is interested in surgeons (or sturgents as he calls them) So he got to get up close to an operating theatre and its equipment and all the green drapes and gowns. He was also quite fascinated with a baby doll in an incubator. You may know how hot hospitals get and with hundreds of people milling around it was really cooking, we left to go to a village market on the way back home. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon wandering around stalls plus drinking tea/beer and eating cake in the refreshment tent. I make a couple of plant purchases for the patch some chives and an artichoke (it looked very different from the ones I'm growing from seed which is a little concerning).

With my new purchases on board I was keen to visit the
patch and thought to try it as the heat of the day goes off so after the kids had had their tea we headed to the patch at about 6pm. Huw did go to sleep for about 50 mins, exhausted from his busy schedule, this gave the rest of us chance to get on with a few things. John learnt how to use a hoe and took revenge on the weeds for making our patch look so untidy.

I did some planting with my helper, the produce from the market, some replacement peas plants and a slightly risky group of sweetcorn. One of the sweetcorn was trodden on by my helper ( the photo reveals its rather odd angle) . I'm thinking of creating a league table of his plant destruction. Peas are on top at the moment and he is oblivious to the emotional upset it causes. Still he will learn when he manages to sucessfully grow stuff by giving them lots of care.

Today I was tied up with
attending a birthday party and my plans to visit the allotment in the evening again were foiled through falling asleep with the baby late afternoon. He did manage to get me up at 5 to 5am so no wonder. Still I've cut the grass and sown some rescue sweetcorn as the current plants probably won't survive. A job that I was pleased to get done was to pot on my butternut squash seedlings I'm nuturing these in hope of a good crop.

Oh yes I do keep looking at the box the strimmer is in a think about assembling it - what is so scary about it? I need to get on and chop back my weeds. May try to go to the patch early tomorrow before things get hot it will be a good experiment to find an acceptable time for Huw Lets hope he dosen't wake too early though.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

What happened?

Today was the most disheartening visit I have had so far to my green patch. Yeah its green, green with weeds. In the space of a week and a half, which began with rain and ended with warmth the cow parsley is now approximately at waist height. Where I have sowed seeds new little weeds are growing. The paths are completely overgrown and the patch which was starting to look like it was being tamed now looks totally dishevelled. Was there a weed rave over the bank holiday weekend?

I had already sown some more broad beans at home as I feared the ones on the plot were not going to emerge, amazingly all of them are now out. So today I hoed around them as they were choked with weeds. That bit of the patch has been returned to order but little else looked good when I left.

Huw had no intention of letting me spend too long at the patch, his sleep patterns are such that he might nap in the morning but its a lot shorter than it used to be. If he dosen't nap then he will nap after lunch often for a bit longer, I'm rather disinclined to be at the patch at this time because it its too hot and sunny for hard work (and I have some hard graft to do). The thought of going at the end of the afternoon with both boys is a little scary as after school grumpiness is very variable although Huw might enjoy it. Maybe I'll have to do picnic teas in order to get enough work done.

I did manage to sow some rainbow chard today I ignored Huw's howling for a few moments to ensure that they were watered. It seems like I got so little done. I keep sowing seeds at home purple sprouting broccoli and brussel sprouts yesterday I'm a little concerned that I will never get them into the ground att he patch looking at my work rate

So now a job I can no longer put off is to work out how my petrol strimmer (last November's birthday present) works and I can then trim the paths back. I'm a little scared at the thought of this the manual is massive and there is a lot of bits in a box at the moment.

A small conciliation today was that I took a few moments to absorb the beauty of the lilac in the garden nearby that has burst into flower so suddenly. My gladiolis look like they are making their way through all of a sudden too. It is a marvel how quickly plants grow.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Pinhole - the results

These are some pinhole images of the allotment site. I am reasonably pleased with the results and will probably give it another go in the future. There are some marks on the images from a dirty scanner bed which is a little irritating.
I uploaded a picture of Huw to the worldwide pinhole day site

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Long weekend

The problem with a long weekend is that it can interfere with the allotment work especially when a massive get together is planned for family and friends. My allotment guilt is great at the moment. The one day I had a little time aside for work last week once the poor weather had passed, was immediately eradicated with a phone call from the school and the need to care for a injured son with a egg sized lump on the top of his head. After an intial feeling sorry for himself irritatingly he was playing football in the garden for most of the afternoon - luckily theres no lasting effects.

We had a great weekend away but I returned to some rather unhappy looking brussel sprout seedlings so winter nosh is not going to as good as it could be. It might be a little late to re sow more seeds.

On the plus side seeing my mum meant I got a consignment of young plants (see photo of them on the dining room table). She has been doing the allotment thing for years so is a source of information and potential produce. The best of the batch are some red cabbage - yum. She also included some delph
ilims. Now I may be foolish and a novice in the allotment thing but I am sure that you can't eat them. Still maybe our patch has the chance of being the prettiest my neighbour will think I'm nuts because he only grows things that can be eaten!

I have a feeling that this week coming up is going to be the key week and the weather is going to be good. I must remember to send my son to school in crash helmet.