PlotDaze

An inner city allotment


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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!


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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!