PlotDaze

An inner city allotment


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April 2021 Lockdown days

We’re still in lockdown in the UK. It’s been a year of it , one lockdown after another, hopefully after May 15th I think, we should be coming out of it. Fingers crossed. The seed planting and potting on has been going happening at a pace on the allotment. The flower seedlings, beans and salad seeds are growing strong. There’s been a problem with the brassica though. They just don’t seem to be thriving, and that’s all of them – broccoli, cabbage,red & green, kale. We’ve even changed the compost we’ve been using and tried feeding some of them with a weak seaweed solution, but they are slowly failing. Maybe they will be better once we get (some of) them in the ground? A few of the other allotmenteers have complained of a similar reaction, and we’ve used different seed compost and seed packets, but the brassica are definitely not strong this season. We may have to buy plug plants, something we’re not keen on doing. Oh, and as for cucumbers, well lets just say we won’t be munching on cucumber sandwiches this summer. Three times I’ve tried to start them off and nothing, even with different seeds and compost. Nada.

The flowers seeds have been great, especially with the varieties we’ve not grown before – zinnias, cosmos, flax, honesty etc have all flown up. We can’t wait to get them in the ground. There is going to be a ton of tomato plants as well this season. We’ve been more selective about the varieties, and not just tried to grow everything that came our way. We have, ‘Green Envy’ (always, a favourite.) ‘Garden Pearl’ ‘ Black Opal’ ‘Tigerella’ ‘Golden Sunrise’ and a mystery tomato – we took the seed from a plum variety that was given to us last year – so we’re calling it ‘Plum Surprise’!

The sweetcorn has taken really well. The kernels from a saved cob from last years crop have also germinated as well as those bought from Unwins Seeds, so we should have a lot of sweetcorn later in the season. I’ve also got some ‘Minipop’ small corn to plant out. Don’t know where we’ll find the space!

It’s great to start getting stuff into the ground – or trough. The mange -tout have gone into their usual place, the trough alongside of the polytunnel. They grow really well there and it easy to stick in some supports when they get bigger. This year we’re growing only a green variety – just called’Mangetout’ – from Thompson&Morgan. The yellow and purple which we usually grow just seemed to be harder and stringy last year. Less crisp than the green.

The peas, a variety called ‘Alderman’ have been great. All of the tray we planted up germinated quickly. They’ve gone into the soil with the garlic and have had to be netted – they’re already growing through that- from the squirrel and pigeons, who will do anything to get at our crops!!!! As you can see from the photo of the salad bed, we cover it with sicks and twigs to try and deter them, which it does some of the time! In the salad bed at the moment are some baby beetroot seedlings, radish, calendula- to try and keep away any aphids- chives, lettuce, spring onion and other seedling will be added soon no doubt.

We really hope you’re doing well, staying safe, washing your hands, wearing masks and socially distancing!!! The longer days are here at last – well in the UK anyway. Please keep positive, even though it’s difficult sometimes. The growing community HAS to stay positive in a way. We’re always planting seeds, seedlings etc in the hope that whatever it is, will GROW. We fight aphids, slugs, snails etc etc etc, fight winds, frost and ice just to get our stuff to thrive. We’re fighters!! Let’s not forget that. End of pep talk. Happy Plotting!


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PLOTDAZE! 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

It was only through seeing today’s news, that we realised that we had had an allotment for ten years! It is the wedding anniversary of Prince William and Catherine – ten happy years, three kids and one huge fallout within the family – good luck to them. It was on that day we got our allotment, all those years ago – we had been watching their wedding on the telly, – when there was a phone call from the then secretary of our allotment site ‘Dave’. There was an allotment free, officially it was classed as a half plot but really it was bigger then that, ‘Would you like to come and have a look?’ We had waited for years on the council allotment waiting list, so the answer was ‘YES!’

And that was it. We were addicted. In all weathers we’ve been there, sometimes we’ve hated it and other times we’ve stayed until it’s been dark. We gardened on the ‘half’ plot for six years, then we were offered the plot we are on now. It had been allowed to become overgrown due to unforeseen circumstances, which we really can’t go into, but all is well now. Anyway, here’s some pics of how it was when we took it. Deep breath.

A bit daunting, I’m sure you agree. Over the time we have been here we have freed the orchard from bindweed and got the boat ship shape. The chicken coop was moved along with the chickens and the green house was tidied and repaired – sort of.

Here’s a few pics of how we have changed it and have it now.

Anyway, it’s been a good ten years full of lots of fresh produce, learning and laughing. During bad times it has been a place to go to forget about any troubles and during the pandemic it has been an oasis. Here’s to another ten years … and more. Happy Plotting!

Twitter: @plotdaze

Instagram: @plot_daze @view_from_a_shed @view_of_a_shed


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March 2021 Lockdown days

Hello! It’s spring! At last! The sun is shining, the breeze has become slightly warmer and in Britain at least, we have gained an extra hour of daylight. We are still in a strict lockdown here until the middle of April, but many have been jabbed with the first vaccine and the second should be following on soon. There seems to be light at the end of this tunnel.

Lets go to the allotment.

We had to put a new cover on the poly-tunnel. The old one was literally crumbling into horrible little plastic pieces. Last summer we actually saw a tomato plant growing through the roof of it. It’s not a job for a windy day – you only have to look on instagram to see photos of the many blown away poly-tunnel covers. We cut the old one off, then maneuvered the new one on the remaining skeleton. The doorway was slightly too short so we had to add a hem from the old one onto it! We thought that it would be the same length, but hey, it was on. It’s been dug into the ground, and staked with wood around the bottom, so even when it billows like a lung in a high wind, it’s not going to move … we hope!

The garlic looks really good. We had a freezing frost, -10 a couple of weeks ago and that seems to have done it some good. We released it from it’s protective cage – that squirrel was not going to munch on it – and it’s perked up even more. We’re planting peas in the middle of the rows. Hopefully they should be good for companion planting. We had started some modules of spinach a while back. It’s been put into a trough to let it spread, as it’s beginning to crop already.

March has always been frenetic with seed planting. This year we have been ‘organised’. With a list and all that! We’ve kept to small modules for the brassica, larger for the beans. Flowers have also been done in the same way, rather than planting whole trays up and having too many seedlings in a few weeks time. New crops for this year are kale, chard, broccoli and turnips. Carrots have been planted in troughs and placed on a ledge by the shed to try and avoid white-fly, who enjoyed themselves last year on our crop. Apparently they cannot fly higher than three feet … we’ll see.

After the hard frost we had not long back we realised we had lost many of the strawberries and had to replant one of the beds. It was looking very sorry for itself so we invested in some new plants and got them in, hopefully in time for some fruit this summer.

It’s been a year since we’ve all been affected by Covid. A horribly long one. We hope you are coping and that you are well. Happy plotting.

(@PlotDaze twitter) ( @plot_daze Instagram)


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February 2021 Lockdown days …still

February has been COLD! We haven’t had a February like this for years. Below zero temps and SNOW. Proper snow! Snow that you can make snowballs with! Winter is here and we’re all surprised by it, but it’s what we need and what we should have anyway.

The plot has just been too cold to do much other than tidy and fix things. The garlic seemed to have suffered in the temperatures but apparently it needs a good cold spell, so we should have a bumper crop come summer. We lost a broad bean and the onions don’t seem to be faring too well. Maybe the Spring will perk our crops up and get them moving.

We’ve never grown ginger before, so we decided to give it a go. We bought a piece ( What is the name for a piece of ginger? A knarl? A hunk?) from Wilko for £2.00. After having a nosy at what others were doing on the instagrams and the twitters, we let it soak overnight then cut it up and planted the pieces on their sides the next day. I don’t hold out much hope. Don’t know why, but fingers crossed.

We were given some leftover potash from a plot neighbour. We don’t usually scatter it this early but we decided to get it on the gooseberries. They were rubbish last year. They were in pots and had become a bit neglected admittedly. We had dug them into the fruit bed to give them a better chance, and now they have had the first feed. ( These photos remind me of a cemetery, sorry folks.) The gooseberries look lethal with their thorns, and they are if you get your hand scratched by them. They’re a dark red variety and not too sour.

We had been given a packet of leek seeds, the variety was Musselborough – hope I’ve spelled that right – and decided to try and grow some. Our onion seed was a no show, so we bought some onion sets instead. The leek seeds have sprouted … a lot of them! Our own fault for starting so many! We may be giving some away to other plot holders later in the season. More have sprouted since the pic was taken.

Spring is on the way!The tulip and daffodil bulbs are pushing their way through the soil. daylight is lasting longer, the temperature will – hopefully- be getting warmer. We’ll be taking the tarpaulins off the beds in the next few days, maybe give them a dig over. Sowing will begin seriously very soon. We don’t like to start too early, the seedlings seem to get a bit leggy. Happily, this all goes to show that SPRING IS ON THE WAY. This Lockdown has been difficult, and continues to be so BUT the longer days are coming everyone, and with that comes the jab and hopefully in the not too distant future … NORMALITY or whatever will pass for that. Keep washing your hands and wearing your masks. Stay safe. Happy plotting x


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January 2021 Lockdown Days …still

Welcome to 2021! It feels too late to wish everyone a happy new year, and everything still sort of feels the same. We have gone into much stricter lockdown measures here. Thank god for the allotment, even though we have not done much planting, the repairs ( why do we always have repairs??? You would think we smashed the place up every summer!) are well under way.

We actually had some snow this month! We don’t get much in England and when we do there is usually a newsflash on the TV, especially if it’s in London – only joking, sort of. The plot looked less drab in the snow. We had a visit from our plot cat, who we have christened Tabs. Very original, we know. She is lovely and follows us around the plot when we work. We think she has a home nearby, but we have made a little place for her in one of the sheds just in case.

We always leave the sedum – it started as one plant!- to die down over the colder months. It’s such a good food supply for the bird/bees, and we suspect has kept the squirrel – our nemesis – away from the sweetcorn we always plant here. It has already began to poke new growth through the soil, so it was time for the oldies to come down.

The original strawberry bed finally gave up! We’ve had to build around it, so now it looks massive, but we couldn’t move the original wood without everything spilling out. A quick paint job and it won’t look so big! Thing is, we really should do the other one so it doesn’t stand out so much! Never mind, we’ll soon be eating our strawbs this summer. Apologies for the shortness of the blog this month, it’s been a bit of a tough one, but stay safe everyone and HAPPY PLOTTING!


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December 2020 Lockdown days

It’s snowed! We don’t get much snow any more – cheers global warming – so when we do, it’s a novelty and everything comes to a stand still. The old boat looked very bedraggled, but the spring bulbs are starting to poke through, as is the garlic. You can just about see it in this pic. The cold is meant to be very good for growing garlic, so hopefully we should get tasty bulbs come summer.

We were going to go through all of the best pictures of this year. A retrospective of the lovely colourful, picturesque ones, but we decided that we need to be looking ahead. The allotment has been a saviour during the pandemic. We realise just how lucky we are to have some outdoor space to retreat to. Even now, in the darkest of days it is somewhere to go, even if it is just to have a cup of tea in the shed and plan what we’re going to grow next year.

Speaking of next year, ( Tomorrow!!) here are some of the seedlings that are doing their best. One of the broad beans – The Sutton- didn’t strike, but at least we have four. The sweet peas seem to be doing well, considering the packets were all nearly or just past their use by date. The cyclamen looks a bit straggly, but they’re clinging on!

We wish you the very best for 2021. Keep washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping your distance until we’re all jabbed. Happy plotting from Plotdaze. x


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November 2020 Lockdown days

The weather has been so miserable. Wet. Remember when autumn was all bracing winds and crisp leaves? Conkers and acorns everywhere.This month has just brought rain and mud. The dark nights seem to come earlier than usual. Maybe it’s just the lockdown making everything seem a little bit more dull?

We’ve been drying out some herbs in the greenhouse. It’s still warmish in there, usually by now it’s baltic. We usually have to take it home to dry out. They’re very aromatic. The greenhouse smells delicious!

We still have thyme and the rosemary has not gone too woody. The chillis have dried out, we’re going to thread some in a garland for the kitchen. Very Christmassy!

The garlic had begun to pop up already. The photograph was taken a couple of weeks ago ( apologies for it not being clearer). It’s grown even more since then. Is this ok? Doesn’t it need really cold weather to bulb up?

As you can see, we’ve had to squirrel proof it!!

The boat has had a clear out. We’ve made a lot of space. It’s looking a little bit sorry for itself, but it will be getting an overhaul! New paint job and a new mast to hang our flags from. The perennials that are left have been in there for a few years and don’t seem to be fading. There are also lots of bulbs – grape hyacinth, dwarf iris, hyacinths and dwarf alliums – they always signify the coming of spring.

On our allotment site is a very old medlar tree. It’s beautiful and usually laden with fruit. It belongs to the site and is between the gate and the remembrance garden. I thought I would pick some to photograph for this blog … there was only one left! The squirrels had got there before me! So here’s the medlar that we managed to save!

We hope you are well, washing your hands and wearing your masks. Please take care of yourselves. Happy plotting.


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October 2020 Lock down days

Happy Hallowe’en everybody!

We have converted a quiet corner of the allotment into a sort of cobwebby, evergreen seating area. It’s right next to the shed and will be the perfect place to sit and drink hot chocolates ( maybe with a brandy in??) during the Autumn / Winter seasons. Seeing as we are heading for another full lock down this may be the only place we get to visit during this time. The climbing roses around the mirror have had a bit of a prune and the honeysuckles – in the poppy planters – have begun to turn a beautiful rich dark green. We going to add some cyclamen and other winter flowering plants. We bought a hellebore, and want to keep it in a pot on display, but some of the allotmenteers said it has to go in the ground. What to do?

Thinking ahead to next year when hopefully everything will be better – fingers crossed and pandemic willing. We’ve planted up some broad beans. A variety called ‘The Sutton’, have been reliable for us when we’ve planted them this early, which we haven’t done for a while. We’ve also started some sweet peas. There were a lot of packets coming to the end of their shelf life, so we planted them all up! If they all strike then great, loads of colour for next year. There’s always hope!

Bulbs! We’ve got loads of them ! We bought some fresh ones – white daffs and lilac tulips – to go in the orchard. Once you start you can’t stop. As you can see from the pic, we take our bulbs out of their pots, brush them down and let them have a rest in a paper bag after they’ve finished blooming. Not very picturesque but it works! The dwarf daffs have not been planted in pots this year, but scattered around the allotment. Just the tulips will be potted up.

Just thought we would show you the celery. As you do. It’s the last of the crop. It was such a pretty colour and despite it’s spindly stalks it made a lovely soup.

We hope you are keeping well and everyone you love or like is in good health. Wash your hands and wear a mask please. Happy plotting.


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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!