Monday, 30 June 2008


Things seem to be moving so fast down at the patch each time I go there it looks so different.

Pak choi seedlings are growing well.

I'm getting a great crop of raspberries. I planted out two courgette plants which surprisingly I got from a small shop in town they look reasonably strong so I'm hopeful for these.

My butternut squash plants are now down to one (of nine) which is very disappointing.

Good news is Owen's sunflower is growing strong and mine, his dad's and Huw's were no shows, so I planted fresh seeds on the quiet. There were little seedlings there on Friday and today they are gone presumed munched. I don't know whether to sneak a couple of seeds in again or just leave it as Owen will be chuffed that his one is winning.

I got my leeks in today and have sown some more chard and beetroot. I also have sown a short row of khol rabi I have never eaten it so have no idea ehat it is like, I bought the seed just because it could go in now.

Sadly I have pulled up all but six of my broad bean plants, the black fly had got so bad the plants were turning brown and dying. I'm going to quickly dig over where they were and pop in some early carrots which should give me a crop of small carrots late in the season

I also noticed something strange about the gooseberry bush, the centre of it seemed to be turning brown. On closer inspection the leaves appeared to be missing and the brown colour was from the branches I looked hard to see what was causing it and it appears to be caterpillars. I think I may be facing a situation where I shouldn't have counted on my gooseberry chutney so early.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Shopping opportunity

Today to cheer myself up a bit I took myself off to a garden centre hoping that they might have some bargains for me. Sadly nothing going cheap. The remaining marrow, courgette and aubergine plant selections were ropey and very expensive, They looked like they needed to be reduced and shifted before they die in situ. I had hoped to get a courgette plant to replace the one that mum gave me which was reduced to slug fodder.

I turned down free tomato plants this year as I thought they would be too much work on the patch. My need to buy some thing today meant that I now have a "big boy" tomato which I put on the patch tonight.

I've sprayed my broad beans with washing up liquid to try to help with the blackfly I'm not sure that this is going to work I may have to give up on them. Which is a shame as they have come so far.

Monday, 23 June 2008


I planted out five butternut squash plants today. They are the surviving five of nine. As a bit of an experiment I made a slight mound on the newly dug earth and covered it with some landscaping fabric which I have pegged down. Through this I have planted the squash plants.Lets see how they grow! Oh yes I liberally sprinkled the edges of the fabric with slug pellets.I also harvested nearly 2lbs of raspberries today so perhaps its eton mess for pudding this week. I might even have to do raspberry jam if they keep on coming.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Sunday outing

Our allotment association had their annual outing today the site was noticeably quiet and the shop was shut (it only opens on a Sunday).

We all went to the patch and for me it was a bit of a mixed blessing, as all but me would rather be somewhere else it felt. I finished the area of digging and weeded around the fruit bushes. Owen helped me sow some pak choi. John elected to do some strimming but he couldn't get the strimmer fired up either (not just my incompetence but its malfunctioning after just a couple of uses how expensive). I feel that I will be reading the manual as bedtime reading tonight hope they have a comprehensive trouble shooting section.

Owen watered my trainers while I was wearing my gardening shoes which was an unexpected bonus for the day. This picture was taken by Owen of me (its rare that I appear in photos) and he just took one shot it seems very well composed for a five year old perhaps he will catch my photography bug.

We had our own outing in the afternoon as a nearby village had an open garden event it was a lovely insight into what can be done with different style gardens although most were classically cottagey which wouldn't work for our place. Owen really loved the ponds he spotted a frog in one of them. It was a little stressful to keep him under control in some of the gardens he seems to have this headstrong independent streak at the moment and just tries to go off and explore on his own.

I read yesterday's Guardian magazine and its uplifting piece on still being able to sow things and having a second chance of getting good produce. Therefore I have bought some kale and rocket seeds to expand what we may have available to eat into the autumn.

Friday, 20 June 2008


I know that all the digging should be over by this time of year, but down at the green patch there is still much digging to be done to create much needed space.

Huw was shattered after rhyme time our regular Friday gig, I was planning an alfresco lunch at the patch but joy of joy he was asleep by the time we had walked there.

I lifted the landscaping fabric and began to dig I had turned over about a third of the area by the time Huw woke for lunch. I gave him some biscuits for pudding to help his teething and to keep him occupied. By the time he had finished them I had managed to cut back the nettles that were leaning over the main site path (want to avoid a letter asking me to sort!). Huw seems happier if I am doing jobs where I'm obviously in his sight. All good things come to an end and he signalled it was time to go, but I'm pleased with what I had done and left the patch very upbeat.

We had raspberry milkshakes this evening - yum yum.

How things can change. I returned this evening to do some quick strimming on the middle of the patch. Could I start the petrol strimmer? No, I gave up after several attempts and began to dig again until I became the evening meal of the midges. Nasty itchy arm time.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


Today I visited the allotment twice and its been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

Huw was not happy that we had visited in the daytime I managed to check around the plot and do a bit of hand weeding. It was very depressing as my courgette has been eaten the mange tout are dying and the dwarf beans are yellowing. My broad beans have extensive black fly. On the plus side my firetongue beans are germinating and my spinach has appeared in a nice neat row. There are some raspberries to be picked.

Most annoyingly my neighbours had chucked their wheel free wheelbarrow onto my plot. I chucked it back. What will be their next move? Have I declared war? I think they think the front part of our plot is abandoned but we have 5 poles not 2.5 poles like them so yes I am growing nettles and waist high grass on the front half of the plot.

I left in a huff with screaming baby accompaniment.

After a few hours of cooling off and rallying my gardening spirit I returned this evening. (No sign of the neighbours thank goodness)

The highlights of a lovely evening at the plot were digging the old failed salad bed ready for my pak choi seeds to go in.

Picking some raspberries our first bit of produce from the green patch

I hope to do a visit tomorrow evening with the strimmer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Allotment ache

I now understand what people mean when they say they are aching to do something. I haven't been to the patch for eight days now and I feel a physical aching to get on with things which is a strange sensation, if I don't go tomorrow I will burst I think.

Why haven't I been? Well its a combination of the weather, when I have had the opportunity it has been raining, and the lurgy. Oh yes my son has brought home the school lurgy although he has not succumbed to it himself. The baby and I have been unwell. I have only just started to eat and drink properly again today and it started on Saturday.

So its the last time I do a to do list and fill the weekend with essential plans, as it tempts the fates!

A small thought is that the ache I feel may not be due to some strong emotional passion for my plot and mother earth etc but the physical remnants of my disease.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Unexpected casualties

I nipped down to the patch this evening just to water and check on yesterday's plantings. The mange tout survived the night, the courgette has been munched heavily so may last just one more night, the sweetcorn may need a little TLC, some of the red cabbage are slowly reviving and the dwarf french beans are looking good.

My neighbour has kindly strimmed our shared path, I must say a big thank you to him as it makes the place better to look at. Sadly two of my gladioli have been caught in the process. I'm glad that I weeded them last week or I might have lost the lot as they were completely invisible in amongst the weeds.

For a change I thought I might list a few jobs for this week and see if that is what I end up doing
  • sow more radish and beetroot
  • clear failed salad bed and sow Pak Choi seed (new acquisition) in there
  • strim path in middle of patch
  • dig an area currently under weed suppressing fabric
  • plant out leeks
  • sow sunflowers and marrow with Owen (a bit late I know)
  • tidy up the piles of weeding debris around the patch
I've also had a little splurge and bought some labels and wax tops for preserving, I plan to make gooseberry chutney, I will be making chutney for the first time ever. I cleared some of the dubious looking jars which were half eaten and ancient at the back of the fridge today and have recycled the glass jars ready, but surprisingly the yield was only three. I will need more if I try to make jam as well. But for now I'm watching the gooseberries to see when they will be ready.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Some night time raspberry spotting

What a lovely day today and I have done a few little gardening jobs.

I cut the grass at home and I took some lavender cuttings from the bush in the front garden (hopefully some new plants for free). If they do manage to grow they will become part of my garden redesign. I fancy a low maintenance lavender and gravel border in the back garden near our new fence.

I went to the allotment at 7:30pm as the heat of the day had disappeared. I virtually had the whole site to myself. I chatted to another plot holder who had seen me struggling to get Huw to sleep at the patch recently, she said she felt for me. Worryingly she had given up her allotment when her children were little babies as it was too difficult to do. With Jane Perrone choosing to give up her plot for the short term perhaps I'm completely mad to think that I can manage my plot, family activity and work when I return soon.

Still the site is beautiful in a ramshackle way and is made more relaxing with the sunset and for now it is good to be there alone with my thoughts.

I managed to get a reasonable bit done. I was able to plant out my 'rescue' manage tout plants (sadly most likely to be slug fodder). I put in a courgette plant donated by my mother. I planted out 3 more sweet corn plants. Its funny that the first nine seeds all germinated I lost one plant to Owen treading on it and one to unknown causes, I decided to sow another nine and only three germinated I did nothing differently and all the seeds were from the same packet but I suppose that is the excitement of gardening. Finally I planted out 10 dwarf bean plants they may be a bit close to the potatoes but that was the only place for them to go. I also watered the red cabbage most of which look a little sad and dilapidated at the moment.

A strange thing about being at the patch so late is that the nocturnal activities of the mollusc wildlife is revealed, hundreds of them crawling out from their hiding places - yuk.

Just as I was about to go I spotted this a nearly ripe raspberry our first. Now the big question is, will I get to eat it or will a bird beat me to it?

Saturday, 7 June 2008


In the corner of my garden is a greenhouse. When we bought our house I was pleased that it had a good greenhouse in the garden, it was fully functioning when we viewed the property. By the time that we moved in panes had been broken by the vendors and golf balls were found inside! The previous owners cats had been using it as a toilet, as well I think.
I was a little disheartened with the house purchase anyway, it was not the sort of house I thought I would live in, but that was the market at the time, so hey ho. My disenchantment with our property has meant I ignored sorting out the greenhouse and it has fallen further into disrepair.(Remember I have said previously that my neighbours would be surprised that I have an interest in gardening.) So more panes have been broken by storms and an elderflower tree weaves its way through its frame.
The greenhouse has stood sadly forgotten and neglected while I had my first baby. But now I need a greenhouse for propagating plants to support the allotment. So many people are desperate for a greenhouse on freecycle I see regular requests, even if it is in this state.
So what should I do? Repair it, or recycle it and not have a greenhouse? Or dare I say it, replace it?
It takes up quite a bit of space in a small garden and is overshadowed by conifers.
I had thought to put a raised bed for salad vegetables/herbs and coldframe in its place. I could move the greenhouse to the allotment or completely get rid of it. Or I could fix it for the short term while I decide what to do with the garden space. I'm not even sure if I know how to fix it.
I keep changing my mind.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Three in a row

Yes I did manage to visit the patch today making it three days in a row. Fridays are a difficult day for allotment visits as I take the baby to rhyme time at the local library (good free entertainment). By the time we have sung our nursery rhymes if the day is sunny it is too uncomfortable for spending the middle of the day at the allotment. Today was overcast so I thought I would take the baby's lunch down to the allotment. I stopped off at the bakery my usual Friday custom on the way out of town (Owen expects an iced bun as a treat).

When I got to the patch Huw was still wide awake so I gave him his lunch straight away. He needed to sleep and grumpily fought it all the way so I ate a chocolate flake cake while I rocked the pushchair. It felt very naughty- what no work done, just surveying the plot, day dreaming about what I want to do and eating a treat. Self indulgent luxury.

I had to resort to pacing across the site like a bored lion before Huw was asleep.

Did I knuckle down to work straight away? Now I was relaxed I indulged myself further with a spot of photography, I shot lots of picture of the plot with the intention of creating a "joiner" as per David Hockney. I hope to put them together using photoshop a little project for me. If I can do it I'll post it on the blog.

Well the cultivation I finally got down to, involved watering my cabbage plants and sorting the raspberries. It is impossible to walk between the raspberry rows currently because new shoots are breaking through the bark path with the weeds and grass. So I did a bit of pruning I hope his does not upset the fruit production. The plants I pruned are lighter in colour and must be side shoots from the canes. I think these might be diverting strength from the main canes. Also looking closely at the cage I need to fix back some of the wire to help support the canes - I've found yet another job to do.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Found the gladioli plants

Visited the patch with the baby in tow again today and he did not wish to sleep at all. Amazingly he seemed relatively happy to sit in his pushchair and listen to me chat and watch me pull the weeds out. I did manage to reclear the area just at the starting corner of the patch where the tulips had been. It was so satisfying. The reason I want this bit to look better than it has done since the weeds exploded onto the scene, is that it is psychologically good to approach the patch and think it looks like it is loved.

This is the area that I did the work on

I will need to do a bit of strimming of the long grass but I have managed to remove plenty on dandelions and docks. The cow parsley is amazingly persistent. Once Cleared I found my gladioli plants which are about eight inches tall now I can't wait for them to flower they have to be one of my favourite plants and remind me of my grandmothers garden. No sign of the five allium bulbs I put in but I didn't have much hope for them anyway as they had been kicking around the house for so long.

The big question is can I make it three days in a row with a visit to the patch

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A row of cabbage

Today I pushed the pushchair to the allotment balanced on the top of it was a pot of young red cabbage plants. It's the best way for cabbage to travel. I crossed my fingers that they didn't drop off in transit. My mum gave me these plants ages ago and I'm only just getting around to planting them out, she will be bound to ask me shortly about how they are doing.

I been experimenting and have found a new route to walk to the allotment and its a lot shorter. I may have lived in the town for several years now but really don't know all the little cut throughs etc. The down side to getting there quicker was that Huw had not nodded off as I had planned. After a lot of initial loud complaint and a push across the allotment site he eventually fell asleep.

I got the cabbage in and a row of spinach seeds sown during his shortish nap. Little by little eh!

I put down some slug pellets so that I don't loose the cabbage plants straight away, I do hate using them but there is little choice at the moment. I might try to source some coffee grounds from the local cafes and try to use them as a slug deterrant (Gardeners World suggestion I think) but it all takes time to do. When I got the tub of slug pellets out of our storage box sat on it was a big fat snail, its like rubbing my nose in it.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Potatoes Spotted

What a great way to start a new week, I don't believe the weather forecast despite a little shower that is happening at 9am. I pack up the baby stuff, some small bits of allotment kit and then I push the pushchair to the attotment. I have a packet of french bean borlotto firetongue burning a hole in my pocket. I managed to put in three short rows of the beans and dig under the wigwam ready for last mange tout (ones I hadn't put out) to go to feed the snails.

It was almost an hour before the baby woke and put an end to my activites.

I spotted poking up from the earth ridges signs that my potatoes are begining to push out to see the world.

My rasberries are starting to produce there fruit (my mum was asking me how they were doing on the phone last night so here is a photo mum to compare with yours. Are the welsh rasberries ahead?)

I had planned to give a patch of
the patch to Owen for his own cultivation when we started the allotment. We have been fighting to clear enough space to plant things in against the encroaching weeds that we haven't got arround to it. I think that this might help to cure his frustration with going to the patch. I have through the joys of freecycle hopefully got some edging, I collect it tomorrow. So I can mark out his part of the patch.

I had been feeling down about the allotment and worried that I won't get all I wanted to done. But then a little thing like getting some edging and putting some seeds in the ground lifts my spirits. It raining now since 3pm and likely to be tomorrow so my spirits could be washed back down into the drain of depression by Wednesday!