An inner city allotment

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June 2017


I know that it’s meant to be summer, but it’s been like winter around here. We heard the wind getting stronger through the night on Monday and our fingers were crossed that we would not have too much damage. We’d been lucky after storm Doris (?) a few months ago and were hoping for the same this time. Hmm. We opened the gates to the allotments yesterday, and broke into a fast walk then sort of a run.

Disaster! The bell tent greenhouse had been devastated! Even though it had been dug into the ground and held down with bricks etc it had been carried away and over. Thing is it had all the tomatoes in it. Various types, some in hanging baskets, flung all over the place.


Before the storm!

So we raced around trying to salvage what we could and we didn’t do too bad. The actual metal poles had snapped! Must have been a strong gust that took it.

We lost a couple of the Beefs and the others are all very bedraggled and bent but hopefully they will recover. Meanwhile the tomatoes are all convalescing in the green house (one that is held together with sheets of plastic and clothes pegs but did not budge !). We would have taken a pic of the disaster scene but we were too busy swearing!


Tomato ER ! Standing room only.

So, here’s hoping the good weather is on it’s way. We’re off to RHS Chatsworth on Friday for the flower show, we’re really looking forward to it and no doubt we’ll come back with more plants … with no where to put them. Happy plotting!

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May 2017

The merry month of May, when it’s crazy in the greenhouse and the hardening off area, (a fancy term for a plastic tent, that will soon become the Aubergine house!) is crammed. The herb ladder is in its new ‘lean too’ place around the back of the shed, it will get a good amount of sunshine there as we’re quite shaded on the main allotment, but it’s great to have some proper fresh herbs again. The sorrel never took off, well I think we got one seedling which is being nursed like an only child, but everything else is going OK.


Nice big crack in the pot of oregano, must change it!

We planted the beans last Sunday; French, green and purple and runner beans from saved seed. All was well until the next day … pigeons! Bl**dy pigeons had decided to snack on them!! Our fault though, we forgot to net them, never having had any trouble with them before. Now they are under a safety cordon of dangly jar lids, old cds, a string grid and netting. Good job there was some spares. Does everyone do this? Grow the spares, just in case? Usually we end up giving them away but we’ll need them this year.


They’ll plug the gaps.

The mangetout have fared much better, maybe the pigeons haven’t got a taste for them. They were planted in a trough over a week ago, and seem to be flourishing. In a way, it was another go at the ‘bean and pea wall’ we tried last year. After seeing a picture on the internet of a spectacular wall of various sweet peas and beans all in various shades of purple we decided to give it a go. We bought some various coloured mange tout in green purple and yellow. It was just that they were all in the same bag!! So the purple wall had some green and yellow in it as well!


Wonder what colour we’ll get this time?


The Purple Pea and Bean wall! ( with added Yellow!!)

The Maypole for the sweet peas has gone up and the varieties we’ve planted are ‘Mumsie’ and ‘Tiller Girls’. We’ve planted more out, ‘Royal Family’, Air Warden’ and ‘Giant Wave’ on a bamboo wigwam next to the Maypole. We became addicted to the scent of the flowers in the house last year, so where there’s some spare space we’re planting sweet peas.


Also now covered in pigeon proof netting!

There’s so much to go out this weekend; the courgettes, borlotti beans in giant pots, lettuce etc. The fennel seedlings are getting stronger and the cauliflower seem to be picking up after a slow start. The squash have finally shown up as well! So, we’ll finish this post with a nice colourful pic of some radish. Nice and colourful, just like the allotment. Happy plotting!


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April 2017 Seedlings

Spring has sprung, although the cold weather today in these northern parts wouldn’t have you reaching for your flip flops. It feels like this week the plot has begun to burst with colour. Daffs, muscari and tulips have all bloomed  and there’s blossom on the fruit trees, the daylight is lasting longer, there are more people at the allotment.

So, everyone is busy, busy,busy in their green houses and window ledges are packed. We used our heated propagator to start off our peppers, aubergines and cucumbers, everything else was planted at the allotment. Our house is so dark, sitting the poor seedlings on our window ledges would be rubbish. We’ve started making the newspaper pots again, we begrudge the prices that garden centres and certain shops have started to charge for those plastic module sets! Here are just a couple of pics of some of the seedlings.


Cabbage, dahlia and in the distance red cabbage and khol rabi

I know the paper pots look a bit manky but they’re better for the environment and cheaper!!


Bit worried about the mottling on the aubergine…


Our plot,coming along nicely.

You can’t see the orchard or most of the onion bed on this but it’s good to have a view of the whole place, and as for that bell tent green house, or as we now call it, ‘The Big Top’, be wary of buying items without a box … or instructions. Happy plotting!

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March 2017

The allotment is on the go. Familiar faces have returned and everyone is busy. But first … we thought we’d show you the repairs we had to do on the greenhouse that resulted from Storm Doris. It’s a very leaky ship this new greenhouse and we’ve been repairing as we go since we moved, but the storm left us with a small flood. Until we can get the glass etc it will have to look like this !!!


Clothes pegs coming in handy!

It looks like it’s had a fright but it works! The problem is at the apex and until we can get  the repairs done properly this will have to do. We’ll replace the pegs though, maybe with clips.

Then we had to save one of the trees in the orchard. It had listed with the wind, so gently we straightened it up and braced it being careful not to rub the bark in case of any disease setting in. The old tea towel came in handy, just hope it stays upright.


Can you spy the rogue gooseberry popping up?

Yesterday, after a week of hardening off, the broadies went in. They’re usually well in the ground by now but with the move, we held off. They’re Sutton, reliable and good croppers. We’d also began some Scorpio. We’ve never grown them before, they’re in the plastic tent, and will go in in a couple of weeks. It’ll be good to compare the two varieties.


Went posh this year with our Poundland cloches. Usually use the top off squash bottles!

A moment of happiness yesterday. Sat in the (dry & warm !!) greenhouse. Radio on low, birdsong everywhere, attempting to get seeds from some cayenne peppers that had dried out.It was great, just what having an allotment is about. Happy plotting.


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February 2017

So, we’ve got the mud sorted, sort off, we’re keeping it at bay with the use of copious amounts of woodchip on the paths and praying that it doesn’t rain too much. Now as we’re turning over the beds we’re tackling, or trying to, the bindweed! We had noticed in the autumn when we taken a look over the allotment, it had spread everywhere.

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Quite like it like this but …

There is nothing for it but to weed it out. We know you can never really get rid of it, and we don’t really like the idea of weedkiller sitting in the soil even though it is too early to use it, but it’s just one of those jobs you hate but has to be done. Wellies on, Forks in, Buckets out.


Just the beginning.

Soon we had as much of it out as we could and we gave the bed a rake over. All we need now is some nice frost to attack it, but we’re sure you can hear the bindweed rumbling underneath, laughing, ‘Do you think we’ve gone … think again!’ and it will erupt overnight .


All done, for now…

So, after near rupturing our knees, ankles back etc we decided to spend some time potting on some purchases. We’d bought four Chocolate Cosmos and a Paeonia, which were only a £1 or £1.50 !! Bargains. Wilkos is great for plants and seeds, some flower packets were 25p!


Happy plotting!

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January 2017

Our first month is nearly done. Yesterday (Sunday) was the first time since taking over that we haven’t come home caked in mud, and throwing our clothes straight into the washing machine. It was nice to just visit the plot, tidy the shed, have a coffee and a chat with our new neighbours and bimble about, as you do, without panicking about getting the allotment ‘ready’.

There’s still a lot to do, we need to tidy up the orchard (yeah we know it’s only a few fruit tree’s but we like to think big!!). The woods rotted around the trees and needs replacing as you can see from this aerial pic ie someone balancing on some fencing to take the pic.


Just see the boat there …


Another angle, without too much wobbling!

You can see the fruit bushes still in their buckets, about to go in. We’re making a taller fruit cage to go over them, a walk in as the knees are not up to much crawling and stooping at the moment. We we’re thinking about keeping the gooseberries separate. There are only two,  both a dark red variety and they do fruit quite a bit, but the thorns are a right (literal) pain to contend with when you’re trying to scramble past them to get to other bushes.

The raspberry canes were cut right down and we’ve leaf mulched them, the rhubarb bed next to them doesn’t look like it’s doing much compared to other one we’ve seen on other plots but we’ve planted three new crowns grown from seed so maybe they will become stronger soon.

So we just need to finish plugging up the leaks in the greenhouse and finish painting the shed then it’s all go with the planting. Can’t wait. And here’s a pic of the new kettle, for any allotmenter you know how important that is especially on freezing days like these! Essential kit.  Happy plotting!20170129_142128.jpg


January 2017. MUD!

So much rain! We wouldn’t mind some frost, would love it actually, but the heavens seemed to have opened over the Christmas and not stopped. The paths are so thick with mud that we have begun to walk on planks. There’s a delivery of wood chip coming soon so we’ll definitely be first in the queue with our wheelbarrow !

We have been fixing some of the beds as best we can. The wood had rotted on a lot of them and a trough that had been leaning against the old bbq area finally bit the dust. We’ve turned the ground into a small bed for our Lychnis,a favourite flower that never disappoints, thrives all season with lots of deadheading, but more importantly is a magnet for the bees.


We’ll have to leave a gap by the brick … another job!

Hopefully in a few months the Lychnis will be like this,


The ramshackle bed in the left hand corner is going to be our new strawberry bed. It’s just screwed together old bits of laminate. The strawberry bed on the old plot was filled with all kinds of compost, manure and coffee grinds to deter the slugs. We even threw in some rotted seaweed. Hopefully we’ll get the same yield from this one. It looks a mess at the moment though. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’ll be different come the spring!

There was a huge over grown tree, brambles and weeds around the back of the shed. After much wrangling we liberated the water butts. The connections need fixing … another job.



So, after a warming Chicken cuppa soup, we decided to get some seeds on the go. We started some Aubergines, which were a huge success last year, and some chillies; the usual Cayenne, Hotscotch, Rosso and the Sweet Peppers of course. were also growing some Sweet Boneta which we grew after receiving them as a freebie from a gardening mag. They were lovely and hopefully they’ll be as good this year.


They’re all warm in the heated propagator now…

The annual meeting went off without any hitches which is always a bonus and lots of nice new people have arrived at the allotments, so it should be a good year. Happy plotting folks!