Saturday, 25 December 2010

Nadolig Llawen

It is here the much anticipated day. No allotment parsnips as frozen solid in the ground. I did brave the snow to reach my Brussels at the allotment, but they are a little damaged by the weather. Never mind there is always next year.

Merry Xmas everybody enjoy the festivities.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Increased costs and less service

I know that it is the theme of the moment with all the cut backs etc. I just didn't expect to be experiencing this trend with regard to my allotment.

Firstly there is the increased costs, imagine my surprise when we got the free paper this week. Right on the front page was this article. It does seem like a huge increase but I have paid £10 a year up until now, and I think that £52 isn't too bad. as long as it doesn't keep on increasing at this rate each year.

Secondly, my digging service has been greatly reduced, it has always been sporadic, but now it is unlikely to be any good for the foreseeable future. Somebody managed to get himself some unexpected surgery and digging is banned for a bit.

Might need to have a new year digging party at the lotty and twist a few of the invitees arms.

Things are well behind at the plot for me as the cold snap has put a end to some of my allocated lotty time. Roll on new year hopefully things will be better then

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bonfire weekend

I really did plan to burn that heap of garden rubbish down at the plot. I thought that it would be the one time of year when no one would complain about a bonfire. I thought that it would be fun for Owen and I to have the fire around dusk on Friday afternoon after school. I wouldn't want to be down there too late as there is no lighting it might be dangerous walking back across the site.

Everything was put on hold by the rain. That heap is not even dry enough today.

I think I knew it wouldn't be the bonfire evening I planned as my search for medium oatmeal to make parkin had failed, so baking was off. Still we did see great fireworks on the Thursday night which was a lovely unseasonably warm dry November night.

I finally crawled to the allotment today, I have cleared a large enough patch to sow the broad beans next week and plant the winter onions that I still haven't remembered to sort yet. Its not too late for the onions is it?

One good job I did manage to to do was take down the bean poles, and I'm drying out these to save the seeds. Perhaps next week I'll get to light the bonfire.

Monday, 18 October 2010

As the growing season ends

I am currently being out witted by weeds. There invasion is relentless suffocating my late crops of spinach and chard.

I planted a late crop of peas. I selected a variety called blauwschokker which are meant to be tall and highly productive. They have beautiful dark purple pods and brilliant flowers that look good enough to cut and put into a vase.

Looking at them at the at the allotment they are definitely tall, taller than I anticipated. the row looks slumped upon the pea sticks I had prepared for them. They are in bloom and a handful of pods have started to form. I fear though they are just a couple of weeks to late for a harvest. The cold nights predicted for this week will probably put an end to anything bountiful but at least they are currently beautiful.

(PS excuse the picture it is from my mobile phone)

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Questions and Lists

I paid the allotment association fees today. Whilst I was in the hut I asked a question that I had not fully expected to come tipping out of my mouth. How easy is it to down size to a half plot? As I heard the words I was already asking myself - why are you saying this.

Much to my surprise they said it could be done but then spent most of the time talking me out of the idea. These are the guys that watch my efforts at the plot and when they do their inspections, they send me untidy allotment letters. Their tune was so much more supportive than I expected.

I admit as I reflect now writing this post, I did manage to go most of the growing season without a letter. So that is an improvement on last year.

Inevitably that means I have drawn up another to do list and top of that list is to sort out the strawberry runners, I hope to do it in an evening this week ever ambitious me!
I hope that means my mojo is back.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Its because....

I've been spending some time with these two that the weeds have grown at my allotment

Wet warm weather makes things look worse than they really are, green patch has not galloped out of control I have been doing things. So I am not grateful for the letter about the allotment. But I am truly grateful to have had a great summer with these two.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A plan to forage foiled

Just before my few days away in Wales, I had tested the ripeness of some green plums. They were not my plums they technically were unowned. They grow on the railway side of the fence which runs parallel to the main path that goes along the edge of my allotment. I felt that I could justify taking them when I returned from my mini break.

This is what greeted me when I went to the patch this week. I wonder if anyone actually had any of the plums. You think I would learn not to anticipate harvesting anything by now with this gardening game.

Friday, 13 August 2010

When the weather is against you

What a week, I'm not working this week, supposed to be off on a sort of staycation with the kids. The rain has made that a little bit miserable, we were going to try and get a night away near the coast or something, but not now with this weather.

We have had a couple of dashes to the allotment picking courgettes and beans and that is it. I thought that we might do more. I have tried to clear the area in the garden for my raised beds (a little sale bargain) but the heaviest of today's showers have beaten me back indoors.

So in the quieter gaps this week I have pushed on with doing Gina's sketch book fun. I am really enjoying it as I have not drawn for yonks let alone put paint on to paper. I don't know where its going to take me and I don't care I am just going with it. Although I do feel a little nervous showing you all.

My linguine drawings

This year I have had a little thing going on with 'love in the mist' for me it grows weed like in my front garden so I have easy access. I have photographed it at all stages of growth (I may post more about that at another time). So now its very current for a drawing subject with its beautiful and abundant seed heads.

The bit that suprised me the most with how much I liked the effects was with tracing around parts of my sketches now I need to think what I can do with them.

Thank you Gina, I hope there is more experiments to come.

Monday, 9 August 2010

gone to seed

Some of the garlic that I had put on the drying rack, 'solent wight' has gone to seed.

The seed heads are so beautiful that they warrant a little bit of photographic attention. I think the fact that they have gone to seed means that the garlic will be inedible. Reading around it is not recommended to plant these seeds, just to grow garlic from cloves. I am tempted to experiment. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Open day 2010

My experience of allotment open days has been mixed. I've had the shame of being fenced off with some other plot holders in my first year. To the fun of feeling part of the site and joining the activities last year. This year Owen wanted to enter the best scarecrow competition, the theme was superheros, our attempts were as your can see are very basic. Inevitably a last minute construction. I think he looks like a wrestler. There were only a few other scarecrows but they looked like hot competition, no expense spared on their outfits. I have no idea how the judging went but it was fun to do. I hope for Owens sake we get some feedback as his hope was high.

I bought some plants from the stall and bunged them straight in at the plot: a '9 star perennial', 'cavelo nero' and 'romanesco'

Friday, 23 July 2010


As we start the school summer holidays I know that I need to keep on top of things at the allotment, it is so easy to take your eye off the ball.

My plans for the next week or so (more like so) are as follows:-

dig the patch where the broad beans have been
plant leeks and savoy cabbage out
sow spring cabbage
sow some 'last chance' seeds for late crops
get some edging for the herb bed
deal with the strawberry runners
get Owens patch dug
finally put together the play house
weed around the artichokes
cut back the area for next years planting of soft fruit
harvest onions
look for some bargain plants to put out for a final flourish

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Quiet yet busy

I have been very quiet on here recently but I have been very busy doing lots of things.

The end of the school year is approaching and there have been lots of things to attend or do at Owens school. As well as the panic of planning how to manage the holidays.

The allotment is chugging along. It needs a little bit doing to keep on track I need to plant out some more stuff and sow some seeds for late crops. It is currently a bit of a dust bowl we have had no significant rain for weeks. As soon as school breaks up we are going to have to think about making a superhero scarecrow if we are to enter the allotment site competition. Any useful suggestions for the scarecrow are gratefully received.

One of the things that has been keeping me busy was preparing for my exhibition, the opening night was last Monday. I have never done such a thing before and the mixture of nerves and excitement was exhausting. I am glad that I have dipped my toe into the exhibition water as it will open new doors. A lot of people came along to support me and I want to say a big 'thank you' to them all.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Huw gets hands on

The last few family visits to the allotment Huw has been able to get hands on with gardening activities. He is always keen to use the watering can at home, he may even be showing more interest than his brother did at his age. Over the weekend he helped me plant some cauliflowers and he did it with such care. His brother had a pang of jealousy and joined us with the planting. Then the boys picked the broad beans with there dad.
It was our calmest visit to the plot yet, I hope this continues.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Purple podded peas

It feels odd to be blogging about purple podded peas when there is an excellent blog by that name. Earlier this year I won one of Celia's giveaways, when I was picked by out by the chickens. As well as some beautiful cards there were seeds in the package, I have sown the salford black beans and purple podded peas. The beans are doing well at the allotment (after a late start with the frost). The peas I popped into the garden where I could keep an eye on them from the patio window. I am so glad that I placed them there it may not be the best growing spot but I have been able to watch them grow and change every day and I cannot full comprehend how quickly this happens. Last weekend when I met Celia during her open studio event, they had just started to flower that I dare not mention it in case I jinxed them. Within the week they have begun to develop pods right in front of my eyes.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Filled a pot

A spur of the moment idea about the fact that alpines or succulents might brighten up a dark corner of the garden occurred to me. Before I knew it I had bought some red succulents. I had some green ones that I had transplanted from some of a plants offshoots last year. These had been festering in their pots waiting to find a home. When I thought about how I was going to arrange them and in what. I remembered the old strawberry planter I obtained on freecycle ages ago. It has never quite made it as a strawberry planter, it just waited empty but for a little gritty soil, but it might be good for this purpose. Just 10 minutes later and I had this - I'm quite pleased with it and can't wait to see what it looks like when the planted get fully established

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Foxton Open Gardens

I just love having a good nose around other peoples gardens. Real gardens not concept gardens created for Chelsea etc. Foxton is a small vibrant village not far from where I live. It is obviously filled with a variety of excellent gardeners with a wide range of styles. Once a year they open up their gardens for a Sunday afternoon. This year there were 16 possible places to visit. The village bustled with viewers. I managed to visit five of the gardens in about 2 hours, everybody was so chatty and friendly it was not possible to go any faster.

If I ever have tea lights and can sit out at dusk in the garden this is the holder that I want them to twinkle from,do you know where can I find one?

I love the use of mirrors in the garden, it fills small compartments of the garden with light and s
pace. And they are great for a confusing photograph like the first one below.

Do you have an old garden bench I can use to display some terracotta pots on? It is so simple an idea that is beautiful and as the plants grow and trail further, its full beauty can only be anticipated. This garden backed onto open fields.

So you have guessed it I have full on garden envy, I'm very green but that is not in my fingers. I'm looking forward to next year's visits and will be making plans for my garden.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


I've never grown gerkins before. I planted 4 seeds as I felt that that would be enough. All germinated. I lost two plants with the cold snap and the march of the slugs into my growhouse.

The two remaining little plantlings have been separated. One has been sent to the allotment, the other remains in a pot at home (where I can keep a closer eye on it). It is not an experiment but I am interested in which one will fair better.

I think that they need to grow up a frame so the picture show the constructions that I am using. I will try to feed them at the same time. Let's see what happens.....

Friday, 21 May 2010

Panel of images

Last night I put these four images into a panel competition at my photo club I thought I would share them with you! They were mid range in the scoring the judge said a lot about how I had arranged them and mounted them for the competition. I don't think he liked the subject matter much.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Finally some gardening help?

This morning out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving in the grow house. I grabbed a point and press camera and stood still and sure enough she came back. I have to say her behaviour is completely bonkers, she was removing chunks of compost with out a care for the plants. I'm assuming its crazed nest building but it really is the sort of help that I could do without.

You can see Mrs Blackbird can't you?

Sunday, 9 May 2010


Where do I begin, I'm not even strictly talking about the gardening me, overall I fear that I have lost my mojo at the moment. I blame it on election stalemate, cold weather and general irritations. Shockingly it means that I feel little like gardening or photography. Feel free to give me a little kick up the backside!
Something is not quite right I bought a 'women's' magazine (the first in about a year) it is still in the wrapper. What is going on!
I have a strong itch to make or create something but that means I have to leave the sofa in the evenings so I'm always thinking I'll do it tomorrow. I'll just plan it in my head for now.
Do you have any recipes for motivation?
I need to do some photography editing as I want to put a panel of images together for a club competition. All flower still life shots like above if I don't get a move on I'll miss the boat. Help!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Under the influence of Alys

At the moment I am really enjoying watching the edible garden, Alys has a thrifty and loose style to what she does that is just so infectious. Each week I wish my urban garden was as beautiful and productive as hers has been in the show. Tonight she made a plea for planting more flowers in the garden and not just edible flowers. I think that next year I might have to plan some loose planting areas in my garden. This year I am still contemplating trying to put in some raised beds, but the expense is putting me off. For now I have planted my salad leaves in a wooden wine box in the style of Alys Fowler. The box has been lovingly coated with danish oil and planted up with some of my dig in seeds. Now lets see how long this cut and come again salad will feed me. My second wooden box will be sown with rocket when I get around to it, I might just chuck in a couple of nasturtiums for beauty.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

just waiting

At a time when every one is cracking on with activity down at the allotment I have found myself very short of time. I have snatched very quick visits to the patch and just some little jobs have been completed. The weeds are overtaking springing from no where. I might be completely over run by the weedy enemy soon. You would need a very careful and keen eye to see the subtle changes I have made to the patch.

Hence I think I know what will becoming next, I'm just waiting for one of those little letters.

Just look closely when you do the inspections you judges of cultivation, notice that I have put the spuds in this week and risked planting out some of the beans. Think back to what my plot looked like last year, it is better this year, but will you be able to see it?

The chance to strim the paths and burn the bonfire, would make such a difference fingers crossed I will get to do it soon.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Wish I was as leggy as some of my plants, I'd be over six foot tall.

This is the trouble with planting seeds too early and neglecting them slightly as they gallop away on the window sill. These squash plants should have been potted on before we went away for a few days, I returned to some very droopy and unhappy plants. Still I moved them on into bigger pots and out into the grow house. I planted them deeper into the soil hoping that like tomato plants they will develop more supportive roots from the base of the stems. They will need more support because they are so leggy. Hope they don't snap in the wind.

In the picture is my new found potting tray I didn't think it was going to be as useful as it is, I use it often on the table indoors it reduces the mess and means I can get on with things whenever I need to. A portable potting table.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

If ever your in wales....

I visit St Fagans many times through out the year when I pop back home to Wales. There are lots of things to see there, so each visit can be different. I never feel the need to spend all day there to get my monies worth as it is free, just need to pay about £3 for parking. That is value for money.

At the beginning of this week I went for a visit, we had lovely warm spring sunshine. We headed up towards the castle (its more of a house so little boys my have different expectations from the day) and its formal gardens first. It looks so different in each of the seasons. The late spring blooming means that wood anemones and daffodils carpet the ground, the trees are cracking into bloom and catkins are all fluffy. It is truly beautiful.

The magnolia tree is one of the biggest I've seen.

The kids ran around exploring the gardens, the grandparents soaked up the soft sun and us the parents felt relaxed. I love spring

Monday, 5 April 2010

Thank you, purple podded peas

Last week I was a lucky winner. After making a comment on purple podded peas, my name was chosen by a living version of ERNIE - a chicken. No ordinary chicken but one of Celia's under gardeners who perform many tasks in the garden as well as the selection of winners. You can see the selection process here.

It was so exciting when the package arrived. It contained some beautiful cards with pictures of heritage vegetables, some hen hanging decorations with bells, a 'flower loomed' flower on a gift card and some seeds.

The seeds include some purple podded peas. I will be sowing them straight away.

I'm thinking of hanging a hen over my desk at work, it will be a motivator to not linger too long at work but leave on time and get out into the garden. I'm also about to look at e-bay for a flower loom as I want to transport myself back to my eight year old creative self, as I had so forgotten this until Celia's recent post.

Celia is so kind, as there wasn't just this bundle of goodies but a little note which gave the location of where Celia and Cliff often spot lots of hares when on their walks. I'll be planning a trip over in that direction soon I think.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I am aware that a lot of people have posted about how to compost. For me though, it has never been about getting the right mix of browns and greens. I have two darlek style composters down at the allotment and they have been, with a little bit of coaxing, producing some reasonable compost. Where I have been going wrong is with the actual potential quantity and the transportation of scraps to the allotment. What I'm saying is I could have produced much, much more. If only........ now here is the confession, if only it didn't rot in the corner of the kitchen while waiting for transportation to the allotment. I often collect stuff and think I'll pop down with that after the school run tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes it often just doesn't happen. A smelly bucket just becomes too much to cope with so I then I just chuck it in the brown bin for the council.

So meet my solution, my new composter neatly installed in an overgrown part of my garden. I won't be wasting so much good compostable waste now. A few small steps from the back door and hey presto. I just need to restart my supply of chicken poo from the neighbours. Happy composting ahead of me, I think.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

peas and freecycle

What a day, I spent a good couple of hours weeding around the onions and sowing peas. I think that these were two things from my to do list.

I also spent about an hour and a half moving a playhouse from a nearby freecycler to the patch. Thank you Emma. They had taken the playhouse apart and all but two bits I could squeeze into
the back of my little Clio. The other two bits I decided to carry over to the allotments which was just over five minutes walk away. I had put out a wanted post on freecycle for a playhouse but was not hopeful of it yielding anything. The reason I wanted it was to entertain Huw as he can no longer be pushchair bound when we are down the patch. Not sure if it is going to work, we will see.

So after ticking off two jobs I have a new one to add to the list - assemble the playhouse.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The serious to do list

  • chop back the wild patch
  • dig area for peas, put in pea sticks and sow peas
  • hoe around garlic
  • burn the bonfire
  • cut the grass
  • make a bean trench
  • weed behind the strawberries and sow mexican hats
  • weed around the base of the raspberries
  • sow a row of carrots and kohl rabi
  • make a bean trench

Sunday, 21 March 2010


I know that it is spring. Everyone is sowing seeds and tending their new precious plants through the initial few weeks. So why am I talking about harvesting? Have I lost it completely?

Well last year when I sowed and tended to my brussel sprout seedlings and my celeriac I had great expectations of the food that I would be eating. Today I finally dug out both of these crops ( need the ground back). Oh and the size of the bounty can only leave you reeling with total admiration for my efforts. I knew it would be bad. In fact had left them in the ground with some blind hope that even through the winter they would show some change or some improvement. It was not to be.

I have harvested a handful of sprouts from stalks that would barely make a suitable walking stick for a cat.

I have produced celeriac the size of a golf ball.

Does all this disappointment put me off? Not a bit I have already sown some brussel sprout seeds. And yes I will sow celeriac again; it will be the third year of trying but imagine what it will taste like when I finally get there. That is the great thing about gardening every year you can start again, as this year will be different. Grow well little seeds enjoy the grow house.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Today was the day that I chose to plant my spur of the moment purchase. as with all of these sorts of purchases I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. Thankfully, a call out to the gardening tweeters on twitter led to some good advice accompanied with links to many useful web pages.

I had no idea that it spreads like wild fire, so have chosen to contain it in a large flowerpot (the advice says bucket but its often what you have to hand). I sunk the flower pot to 30cm deep and laid the root at 45 degrees with a little compost. Then I covered it over, now its just time that will reveal all.