PlotDaze

An inner city allotment


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September 2020 – Lock down days

Well, we thought we wouldn’t have to carry on with the ‘Lock down Days’ in our title. Unfortunately, where we live has been put into a regional lock down, but the way things are progressing it won’t be long before a full lock down is in place – too many ‘Lock downs, apologies. We hope we’re wrong … lets get back to the allotment!

Apples! We have five apple trees on the allotment. They were there when we took over the plot. This year’s harvest has been particularly abundant. The variety in the picture are so sweet and crisp. We wish we knew the name but there was no tag on the tree. We’re thinking of buying an apple press for the rest, it’s a shame if they were going to go to waste. We give bowls of them away.

They’re not the prettiest, but they are tasty.

Leeks!!! Ours were doing so well. ‘We’ve cracked it!’ we thought. It was the first time we had grown them since we were on our old plot and they had turned out more like fat spring onions that made you feel a bit ill when you ate them! These were great, we were proud and made the fatal mistake of taking the netting off them, because they were poking through it and frankly we didn’t think it would matter. Below is the result of that…

This was how we found them!

We were assured that we could still eat the white part, so we cleaned them up, chopped them and froze them. They smelled amazing. Shame about what happened, someone said it was leek moth? Rust? Any ideas welcome.

Squashes! Well, we usually have loads of them. We’re eating them into the next season. However not this year. The pic shows it all. A few little butternuts was all we could produce. We grew them across old metal fencing this year. Next year we’ll let them trail along the ground like we’ve always done. If it ain’t broke …

Tennis ball size!

Berries! We’ve done so well with these (apart from black/red currents which is strange – a lot of the other allotmenteers had rubbish current harvests too.) The autumn raspberries seemed to take a little while to get going but they’re here! It’s a fight to get to the blackberries before the birds – we always leave half for them anyway. Maybe it was the double dose of potash in Spring that gave them an extra boost this year?

love these colours!

So another season comes to an end. It was a good summer, a long one it seemed, but at least we had some outside space to enjoy. We know a lot of people do not have that and we appreciate how lucky we are. It seems we’ll be spending more time than usual here in Autumn and Winter if full lock down returns. Not complaining. Time to get the fire pit going.

Take care.Take vitamin D. Wear your mask.

Happy plotting!


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August 2020 Lock down days

Hello, we hope you are well and wearing your masks when you should be!

The weather hasn’t been too hot and for the last few mornings there has been just a little hint of autumn chill in the air. The plot looks messy as it always does in August with lots of jobs that need doing.

I spent at least two hours yesterday dismantling the bean canes. The Greek Gigantes had pretty much taken over. Some of the canes had snapped under the weight! There were a few Runner beans and some French, but the Gigantes were the winner. The Borlotti beans were grown in pots this year. We got a much better crop than when we’ve grown them in the soil, needed a lot of watering though!

The squash ( butternuts) are very slow to get going. We’ve been draping them over some bent metal mesh to keep any fruit off the soil to stop rot. We were hoping it would be covered by now…

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Not even covering it!!

The sweetcorn is going great and will be soon be ready to pick. Can’t wait to get the pan on to boil. Eating fresh sweetcorn has to be one of the primary perks of an allotment! They were started late this year, middle of May I think. Not bad.

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Please excuse the waving flag.

There’s been an abundance of wildlife this August. Beautiful butterflies, frogs – lots of them – popping up in cool places, wedged under pots or hiding in the strawberry beds – and we had a visit from a kestrel! I wish we could have got a better photo of it, but we had to move quickly to get a pic. We don’t know how long it had been sat there watching us, but it was amazing to see. It stayed for a while and then flew off – obviously had somewhere better to be.

Not looking forward to ‘Spider’ September though!

We hope you are well, and enjoying the summer while it lasts. Happy plotting!


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July 2020 (Lockdown days)

Well, I was going to get rid of the ‘Lockdown days‘ tag, but a lot of the north of England has been re-immersed lockdown, so it stays for now. We hope you are all well and remembering to wash your hands, people seem to be forgetting.

For us, the weather in July has been a bit blah. A lot of rain with some sunny days. Right now it is sweltering. In the greenhouse there have been some disasters. All of the cucumbers died, all four, one after another. They literally just withered away. It has to have been a virus. There was a lot of fruit on them as well. We got rid and burned the plants. Better luck next year.

The chillies are doing well, as are the aubergines. The actual plants look awful. There has been some greenfly attacks and speckled leaves, but there has been a copious amount of fruit from them. We’ll definitely be growing the slimmer variety again. I’m going to try and save some seed from one of them. They taste great in a curry!

 

The fruit trees have been producing really well, even the apple tree we moved last year has fruited, not too much, but enough. We had given all of the trees a potash feed in spring, and some seaweed feed every now and again. It seems to have worked!

 

The sweet pea trough has been a success … sort off. The half that gets the most sun has been prolific. I have to stand on a stool to pick the flowers as they stretch across the roof of the green house. We didn’t think the other half would be so bad though. It’s not in direct shade, just less sunny! We’re going to do this again next year. It’s been great walking onto the plot through the scent of the sweet peas. The variety ‘Mumsie’ and ‘Tiller Girls’ have been particularly good.

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We’ve been bringing a lot of flowers home. We’ve run out of vases sometimes. Here’s just a couple of pics. Some are of the darker variety dahlias – think they’re ‘Eveline’ and ‘Edinburgh’ – and some of the more colourful flowers from the plot.

 

Stay safe everyone. Happy Plotting!

 


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June 2020 ( Lockdown days)

We’re in a self imposed lock down here. We’re keeping our 2m distance and wearing our masks and gloves when we go out and about, so even though a lot of people seem to have relaxed with the PPE, its it’s still lock down on Plotdaze, and probably will be for a long time.

June has been a bit of a washout. It has RAINED! There’s been no need to get the hosepipes out, the water butts have been full. Which is all good for the plants of course. There’s nothing like arriving at the allotment after a rainfall. Everything just seems to bloom after it’s had a drink.

We waited until the sweetcorn was bigger than usual to go in the soil. We put some protective plastic around it to stop it getting battered by the wind, and to stop our little squirrel friend from attacking it ! There were three spares which we squashed into a gap next to the broad beans and rhubarb. The caging is also to stop those little furry paws…

 

The chillis are looking a bit sparse. Think we over watered them, but hopefully the sun will bring the heat and they’ll perk up. There are cayenne, poblano and long sweet peppers. Maybe feeding them twice a week is too much?

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Please excuse the floating teacups!

We have been getting to the plot very early lately (sometimes 5.30am!!). It’s the best time of the day. The birds are singing and the sun is just coming up. The brassicas are doing really well,up to now – we forgot to lime the soil! So here’s hoping the dreaded clubroot doesn’t make an appearance. We haven’t lost any plants – kohl rabbi, green heart and red cabbage and cauliflower –  and we have some spares we can squeeze in soon somewhere.

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Brassica netted from the dread white cabbage butterfly. Dawn.

The salad bed in front of the greenhouse had gone crazy. We were given some bok-choy, which unfortunately bolted as soon as it went in the soil. Both varieties of lettuce – Little Gem and Romaine- are doing well, as are the spring onions. Here’s an early morning view from the greenhouse door. You can just see the dahlias and the bean canes.

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Everything looks a bit wild!

Here’s hoping for some better weather in July. We hope you are keeping well.

Stay Safe!

Happy plotting!


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May 2020 (Lockdown days)

Hello, we hope you are all staying safe and alert …

There was a cold snap a couple of nights ago. We had checked the weather forecasts and heeded the warnings of frost pockets in the North of England. The horticultural fleece was dragged back out of the shed. Unfortunately, we were still stung! Not as badly as some of the plots but enough. The courgettes, even though cloched under plastic domes, fared worse. Each one has some new growth on it so hopefully they may make a come back. Two of the pots of new potatoes did not do to well. On the photograph it looks like we left them uncovered, but we did fleece them, not that it did much good. Some of the dahlia’s succumbed also.

Other plot holders lost their runner beans, spuds and a whole bed of sweetcorn. The frost had no mercy!

The vine, which we thought was dead a few months ago, has begun to sprout grapes! We were not expecting anything for the first couple of years, but it was a pleasant surprise to see this baby bunch. Maybe it’s because the vine is planted into the soil where an old chicken run used to be? The ground must be nutritionally rich enough for it and the poly-tunnel does get very warm.

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Don’t think we’ll be making any wine this year!

It’s always lovely to begin harvesting your crops however small they are. In the salad bed there was enough spinach to half fill an old colander, which was good enough for us. The lettuce – Little Gem and Romaine – need thinning out. The radishes are doing really well, as they do, but unfortunately the spring onions have barely sprouted. Maybe we need that hot weather back??

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small beginnings..

Stay safe everyone and Happy Plotting!


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May 2020 (Lockdown days)

May already! Every one keeps saying that.  The weather is lovely at the moment, sunny and warmish, but we could do with a little more rain. The days are getting longer and we’ve been staying at the allotment as late as possible after work commitments.

There is a tumbledown wooden trough behind the green house, which we keep meaning to fix. One day we’ll turn up and it will have collapsed. Since we took over the plot we have just kept planting in it, with no plan at all. We have bunged in some tulip and allium bulbs, some lavender and anagalis cuttings, even a primula is in there somewhere.  It’s amazing how lovely it is though. Random planting that has resulted in vivid colour and interest.

The aubergines had to be potted on. They sprouted up overnight. We’ve only grown three, one ‘Violetta’ and two ‘Mix’ – who knows what will crop there. They’re in the their ‘forever’ home now, the green house, and seem to be getting bigger every time we return.

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We also began potting on some of the tomatoes. Each variety is a different size! Among them is ‘Black Opel’, ‘Green Envy’ ( a favourite), ‘Golden Sunrise’ and ‘San Marzano’. We weren’t planning on growing a lot this year, but somehow we’ve ended up with eleven plants!

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Always nice to see the flowers on the broad beans (The Sutton … I think!). We check them for black fly as we pass. The flowers seemed to have just appeared. I thought they were early but I have to keep reminding myself, ‘IT’S MAY!’

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We hope everyone is ok and staying safe. Enjoy the weather wherever you are. Meanwhile here is a pic of more surpise colour. These violas were left to go to seed last year, in a hanging basket.They’ve returned with a vengence!

Happy plotting.

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April 2020 (Lockdown days)

After the anger in our last post we thought it best to stay off the blog for a while!! The felt- tip sign has been replaced by a nicer one, politely asking that patrons refrain from walking on other peoples plots, respect the social distancing rule and #savethenhs. After the deaths and hospitalisation of so many over the last few weeks, the people who seemed to think the distancing rules were just paranoia are now, funnily enough, quiet.

Back to gardening. It’s been such a sunny and dry month. The water butts have nearly ran dry. After sowing them quite late, the courgettes (bush) have been planted out, under cloches, just in case of any late frosts. The cloches will be coming off this weekend. They’ve grown so quickly, they’re wearing them like hats.

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This was about 10 days ago.

The bean wigwams have gone up. We had sown only 4 seeds from the Greek beans (Butter beans) that we had purchased from Real Seeds. It took a while for them to germinate, so we sowed ( is that the right word??) another two, just in case. Three of the original poked their way through the compost and began growing. ‘Lovely’, we thought. We put our seedlings in the polytunnel to bring them along. We could not get to the plot for a couple of days … and they had certainly sprouted!

 

We had to get them in the soil, as they were bursting out of their pots. We put plastic around the bottom of the bean canes because the winds can be so fierce, it just decimates them, and it stops the pigeons having a nibble of the leaves. The other Greek beans have begun sprouting. We know what we’ll be eating all winter!

We thought we would show you where we have been hiding during the lockdown, when we weren’t working. It’s our secret garden in the orchard ( sounds much grander than what it actually is) has been a haven. We’re quiet secluded in there, we can read a book or listen to music or birdsong. It just nice to have some outdoor space to relax in and we know how very lucky we are. Next to the garden is the rose bed and the ‘construction’ which really is a recycled shed, next to it. Everything is coming into the bloom. The blossom on the trees has been amazing, lets hope this years roses are too.

We hope you are keeping well and staying safe. Happy Plotting. xx

 


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April 2020 (Lockdown days)

April Fools day today. Not many jokes being played. Anyway … after a couple of run ins with plot holders who don’t respect the distancing rules flying about, one of us made a sign that went up in the green house a few days ago.  Needless to say when we arrived yesterday certain plot holders fell silent. Hmmm. We were about as popular as a fart in an astronaut’s suit! Someone said, loud enough for us to hear,

‘I see the corona-virus paranoia is spreading …’

Certain allotmenters think they have the right to just walk into you green house or allow their dogs or kids to run around your plot. It’s a pain in the backside without the social distancing, now it’s a definite ‘NO’!

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The secretary approved!

Mini rant over. The plum tree has just blossomed, it felt like overnight. we should have pruned it in the Autumn but never got around to it. It’s huge now, let’s hope it produces loads of fruit.

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It’s taking over!

We planted up the last of the flower seeds for this year. Some Ammi ‘Visnaga’ and Ammi ‘Majus’ – both were purchased from Higgledy Garden. We’ve bought seeds from them before and they’ve always been great.  We also planted some Anagallis – a beautiful blue flower, that should be more popular than what they are.

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We hope you are all OK. Hopefully the weather should begin to get a bit warmer and the days longer. Happy Plotting.


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March 2020 (Lockdown Days)

A quarter of the year has almost passed. What a year this is turning out to be?

The weather has turned a little colder, we had to put our wooly gloves back on. Everything is being ‘wiped’ when we arrive at the allotment, from the locks, keys, taps and shed handles. Nothing escapes uncleaned. Hopefully our visits will continue for the rest of the lockdown.

The raspberry bed is looking a little sparse at the moment. We have turned over one corner to some plants we bought last Summer – Chilliean guava.  We had kept them in pots until they were larger and sturdier and made sure to take some cuttings. We had seen them mentioned on a TV programme. They seem to be easy to grow, have a rich scent and the berries, a sweet flavour, so we thought we would give them a go. We’ll let you know how they progress.

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They’ve got their own little corner. Sorry you can’t see them clearer.

Here’s a link to an article about them.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/13/how-grow-cook-chilean-guava

 

One of the jobs we usually put off is preparing our dahlia tubers to go back in the ground. When we dig them up, they get some of the soil cleaned off and wrapped in newspaper to dry off then left in the greenhouse or shed for the Winter. This year, we unwrapped them like Christmas presents. A couple had rotted, but most of them were OK.  One of them –  Edinburgh – a gorgeous purple and white flower, had decided it was time to start getting ready for Spring. The shoots were great to see. Nature powers on.

We brushed the dirt of them, checked them for any rot, or dried out tubers and put them in pots with some fresh compost in readiness to go in the soil in a few weeks.

We hope you are all well, and welcome to our new followers, it’s very nice to meet you. Happy Plotting!


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March 2020 (Lockdown days)

Taking our daily exercise at the allotment has proven to be a joy, even if you can’t have a natter with anyone unless you shout!

The weather has been glorious, warmish and sunny. It’s such a shame that we have to be on lock down at this time, but needs must if it’s to save lives – really wish EVERYONE would think the same but there you go. Anyway …

We ordered some perennial plug plants from the weekly mag Amateur Gardener – It’s a great magazine, and usually comes with free seeds. You only had to pay for postage, which was about £3. The plants were dispatched from Thompson & Morgan. They were little babies! They arrived through the letterbox in a flat envelope type concoction. ‘What do you want for £3?’ I hear you cry. We plotted them on in some modules and they have all taken. We can’t wait to get them in the soil. They included Echinacea, Aquilegia, Verbena and Coreopsis.

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The rose bed, is beginning to come to life. We think we may have pruned just a little too hard. Hopefully they’ll come back fighting.

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Looking forward to the blooms.

As you can observe, we’ve built a shed, or as we fondly call it ‘The Construction‘, next to it. It was a green house, a plastic one. It used to get full sun and was great for growing our aubergines and herbs in, until we arrived one day last summer to find it had been ‘shaded’. We couldn’t grow anything in it, so we thought about buying a shed. Fate shined down upon us, unlike the sun which could not reach that part of the allotment. A new allotmenter had decided to buy a new shed and had dismantled his old one, leaving the bits in a huge bonfire type pile. We always support recycling, and bit by bit we used the discarded wood to build a shed. OK, so it has no roof yet and a door is still to be fixed. It’s a work in progress, and we love it. In fact it was from our old plot, so in a way it’s followed us! And it has only cost us about £10 for nails. We looked for the solution rather than let the problem win. ( That was a bit profound for us, but you know what we mean.) We’re thinking about having an official opening for our ‘Bus Stop’, when it’s completed …

The sweet peas have gone a little straggly, some never struck at all. We had to start some more last week. We’re not setting up the May Pole this year. We’re growing them up the side of the green house in a narrow, but deep, trough we’ve added. Hopefully they should be OK as it gets full sun for most of the day.IMG_20200324_112954

We thought we would show you where we have our tea, coffee and snacks (mostly chocolate based!) It was never this tidy, and had become just a place to store compost and empty pots. We cleared it up a couple of weeks ago and painted the fence. It’s quite a little hide away.

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Have to watch out for the birds over head !!

We hope whoever reads this is doing OK. We hope you are getting outside, while keeping your distance. Remember to wash your hands and keep on keeping on. Happy Plotting.