Saturday, 21 September 2013

What do grasshoppers do over the winter?

I think about a lot of random things when I am pottering at the allotment. Today I realised that I didn't know what grasshoppers do over the winter, do they hibernate? I came home and found out. Sadly all the little fellas that hop out of my way as I pull up weeds and clear old plants will die. They rely on their eggs hatching next year to keep the population going.

I have been working very slowly and steadily at the plot to keep it in order. I hope the plot inspectors will notice my efforts. I have see crazy internet weather scares of snow in October and here I was, hoping for an Indian summer. What ever is thrown at us I am hoping to get some onions, garlic and broad beans in over the next month. I think I might be able to achieve this.

My gladioli plants have only just decided to flower but they do give a little end of summer cheer. I also think my wallflowers have germinated which will be great for next year as they are flame red.

I have planted some sativus crocus today I think they are the ones that produce saffron but will have to wait till next autumn to know.

As for the grasshopper photo I am quite pleased with it as was taken with my mobile phone just a few weeks ago. It is a bit of a sport now for me trying to capture insect photos on the phone. Ever since we did a bit of a butterfly hunt in the borders of the walled gardens at Wimpole Hall in the height of summer. I can recommend it, the kids got some great shots (not that they have their own mobile phones yet)

Sunday, 19 May 2013


OK, I haven't been to the plot since before the last bank holiday. So the weeds have sprung into action they are now capable of swishing around my armpits.

I managed to get some help from OH to strim with the petrol strimmer the one I have trouble with. Interestingly he has splurged some of his cash on a rechargeable strimmer which he feels I might be able to use more easily. Is he trying to get out of doing the strimming long term I ask myself. Still never look a gift horse and all that.
The other gift horse is that my bonfire (nearly as tall as me) has disappeared from the plot no sign of it being burnt. So a bit of a mystery and I am not complaining.

This week the boys and I are going to make a scarecrow for the allotment association competition. It is the open day at the end of the week and I hope to spruce the plot a little bit too.

My peas have begun to grow and I sowed the next succession of seeds today looking forward to eating some peas soon.

After three hours at the plot today I broke off to go to Pryors Woods in Stevenage to catch the bluebells before they disappear. There was an extensive carpet of them, so beautiful.

Sunday, 21 April 2013


I have not blogged much about the allotment this year. I feel like I am going to jinx it. Today was a landmark moment for the year we planted out our first plants, red cabbages. I had a little helper who was very good.
Slow progress is being made but I am scared that the weeds are likely to romp away any moment now and how will I keep up then? What looks like it is improving could be lost very quickly.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

goodly spring of flowers

It was fitting that on the first day of spring I was going to a Cambridge Science Festival event  titled 'a goodly spring of flowers'. The event allowed us to have a peak at some of the oldest books in Cambridge University Library. I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew there would be some botanical illustrations and that it would be interesting.

Liam had selected the books for us to view and guided us through them with an extremely informative talk.

The 15th century herbals we so fascinating you could smell their age just oozing from the pages. The thoughts about who may have owned them and how expensive they were to have in your possession at the time (and now!!) made you think about who had had their hands on the pages. (Only Liam was allowed to touch them this evening with his clean hands). As for the contents of the books, the medical advice within gave insight into thoughts about life at the time. They also hinted at travels and life beyond English shores. How they came into the University collection was as interesting as any other part of their history. 

The books we saw spanned the ages to the 17th century and the development of ideas and classification of plants. How the books were printed and the way that they were bound was a surprise. I had not realised that books were bought unbound sometimes and bound at later dates, they could be bought in parts or rebound later with extra pages so each copy could have a very different individual history.

What I liked the most was the character that the owners added to their books with notes and annotation the best of which was a drawing of a foetus next to herbal treatments for helping in pregnancy.

Incase you want more information about the science festival and its varied programme 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Spring is it?

I'm feeling the change the excitement of the possibilities that spring brings. The weekend has been definitely warmer, but we are not out of wintry bit yet, we will dip back into the cold days I am sure. However the glimpses of sun have been glorious. 

I would have love to have posted a spring photo of what I saw in the sunshine this morning. Silhouetted against the voile drapes of the living room  were the branches of the shrubbery and a long tailed tit perched within them. I have never known them come up so close to the house before. Despite quietly and swiftly reaching for the camera it flew off before I could press the shutter

Managed to get a bit of digging done at the allotment this afternoon. I want to crack on with the sowing but I still have a long way to go with the digging.

A windowsill of seeds are emerging into seedlings, oh the possibilities.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Gift horse

There is a lot of talk about horses at the moment. I have to say I am so fed up of the poor food production standards I really don't believe that there is enough control in factories currently. I had a vege ready meal recently with a hard piece of something in it, I was told by the company that it was tested and is 'mineral clippings', frankly it had the shape and size of a mouse vertebrae. I drew my own conclusions. 

However I digress the gift horse that I have received that I dare not even look in its direction is one of clearance of the wild patch on the allotment. I have no chainsaw abilities but someone has done it!

I had done some digging in January and received for my industry a dirty allotment letter the first of the year I think. So I diligently went to the allotment today to put some work in so that I can plant some broad beans soon. When I arrived at the plot I was completely bemused. My two darlek compost bins were no where to be seen and it did not look like my patch. There was a large bonfire ready to  go on the one half of the plot composed of ivy and tree trunk etc. The ivy and tree trunk that used to embellish to the edge of the plot.

I panicked, does my plot have new efficient owners. I have paid my rent (for the year). It is my neighbours that have given up. I have not been evicted as far as I am aware. My tool store is still there. I am now confused, so use my phone to call the chair of the allotment association. He seem a little bewildered too, I state my position, he tells me my darleks are safe. He knows where they are and he has put them there for safety. That he thought that the plot was vacant and the council had told them to remove the tree bit. I informed him how pleased I was and that I hadn't expected that to be done for me. I can tell that he might not be too happy to realise that I am still about and intending to cultivate my plot this year.

However he says he will be burning the bonfire tomorrow. I cheerfully say that I will pop down to speak to him in the morning in person and reclaim my darleks.. I am secretly dancing inside that bit of the plot could now be controlled with a bit of luck. I am dreading tomorrow as I suspect there has been some awful confusion with the council and the plots and who has left but that is not my fault. I hope that they haven't got some one lined up someone for my plot or that they are going to to reallocate some of my plot to the neighbours one which is vacant. So keep your fingers crossed for me. I am hoping it is a wonderful gift horse, and I am off to ensure that I have lottery tickets as my luck seems to be in.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Shall I ?

It really has been an odd time for me recently with many changes. For the first time I have seriously contemplated giving up the allotment as I had totally lost heart during 2012. When the idea entered my head it didn't feel as bad as I thought it would. The annual rent is due and I have to make a decision. Yesterday I visited the plot and thought I hard, I knew deep down that I couldn't give up just yet. So I will pay the rent and continue some how.

It means I have  to have a plan. Its going to be dig dig dig, no potatoes this year as I never get these in on time and it always seems to hold me up playing catch up. Also the sight of them over chitting on the window sill makes me so guilty every time I pass. So this year I will just concentrate on onions, peas, parsnips beans and squashes.  Revitalising the raspberry canes and strawberry beds. Might plant lots of flowers for cutting too.

If this doesn't work I will see if I can change to a half size plot next year.

We went on a family walk after my visit to the plot, muddy is not the word.  So I am a little concerned about how easy the digging is going to be.