An inner city allotment

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July 2022

This month’s blog is a little late. Apologies. Blame the heat, which has been fierce here in the north of England, well for a few days anyway. We’re sure normal service will resume, although the rain has been sparse and we’re being told to ‘be careful’ with what we’re doing with water. Try telling that to some of our fellow plot holders who think nothing of leaving a hose running so their dog can play in the water … Back to business.

Our allotment site is surrounded on three sides by houses, and on the forth by a park. Very nice. One of the houses was being gutted and everything from the garden was dumped in the alley way between the allotments and the house … including a bench! Being good allotmenteers who believe in recycling and reusing, we jumped on it immediately, and after Ok-ing it with one of the fellas doing the clearing, we carried it to our plot! All it needed was a good brush down and a coat of paint. We’ve placed it along the shadier side of the plot. It’s very peaceful there and more importantly you can’t be hassled by anyone!!Looks good doesn’t it?

Fruit wise, the peaches were amazing. They fell off the tree. Not being used to growing peaches (we really shouldn’t be growing peaches in the north of England, but that’s global warming for you! ) we dithered a bit about when the best time was to pick them. They told us by falling off the branch. Even though there were only five, they tasted amazing. Sweet and ‘peachy’. Gorgeous!

The pear tree has some great fruit on it. For the first time in years we’re actually getting some pears. All of our trees – three of them – died of a type of fire blight. The leaves just turned black. Many of the plot holders lost trees to this. We bought a couple of new ones and planted them away from the orchard. One has fruited the other hasn’t but it is still alive and very healthy looking, so there is hopes for next year.

The brassicas have been AMAZING! Yes, at last our lovely cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower have not been gorged on by the cabbage butterfly caterpillars! The giant green netting tent has worked and it’s been a lot easier to navigate inside it to pick our produce. We’ve never had such good luck with brassicas before. The freezer is nearly full already with our goodies – not wanting to brag or anything but …have a look at these!

The sweetcorn is coming on. We love the look of it on the plot. It really says ‘summer’. The plastic is still up around the base of it. It seems to help in deterring the squirrel ( our nemesis!!!) from helping itself to the cobs. We’ve had a good crop of spuds this year despite the droughty conditions. These had just been picked and washed. The variety is Charlotte. A few minutes after this photo was taken the majority of them were in a pan, boiled, buttered and eaten. Apologies but we couldn’t help it!

We hope you are all doing OK. especially with the heat. Wear a hat, sun cream and drink lots of water.

Happy plotting!

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June 2022

Hello! We’re halfway through the year … already! The weather here has been glorious although up until about two days ago we had not had nearly enough rain. That has since been remedied. A bit of rain and everything begins to BLOOM. Let’s begin with a couple of pics of some flowers shall we? These are Nemesia – I think the variety is called Mango. It was bought in the Sarah raven summer sale. The Schizanthus or ‘poor man’s orchid’, were free seeds from a magazine.

From something pretty to something that well, isn’t but it is doing its job very well indeed. The brassica tent is protecting the copious amounts we planted – cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage red and heart – from every pest, especially those dreaded white cabbage butterfly that have just decimated our brassica crops before. As you can see they’re doing very well, and for a shorter person ( me! ) I can just about walk around in it with only a small stoop. It’s quite peaceful in there and a good place to hide if you don’t want to talk to people!!!!!

The sweetcorn has come along really well, and is sharing its space with some broad beans – a lot were ruined by black fly, even the ladybirds gave up defending them, and some bush tomatoes. I love this bed. Not only is companion planting a great use of limited space but it looks good.

What’s happening in the green house? Well the cucumbers are doing OK, not fantastic, they seem to have slowed down, but they’re still producing. The sweet peppers ‘Amy’ are flowering, and it looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop. We usually grow the Citrine variety but none of them took this year, but we’re more than happy with ‘Amy’.

To the salad bed. There’s not much going on there actually. We’re that shaded now by the surrounding trees on other plots, everything takes ages to get growing. A couple of our lettuce have been munched by something, so we’ll probably begin a new batch, grow them in pots and put them in a sunnier place. The same with the baby beetroot. The spinach and chard have bolted, but they’ve lasted such a long time.

Fancy some fruit? Righto. Have a look at these peaches!! The tree – kept small – has loved the hot weather we’ve had over the last couple of weeks. I don’t know whether they’ll ripen enough, but it’s been a joy to watch them grow. The grapes are just as abundant, looking forward to picking those. Barbara (vine) seems to have thrived from the severe chop we gave her a few weeks ago. As for the blueberries … they were ripening very nicely … then the birds found them and it was goodbye blueberry. (Sorry June.) Next year they will be going in the fruit cage for protection.

Lastly, here’s just a couple of pleasing pics. A nice tidy row of tomatoes in the poly tunnel – variety is Green Envy, one of the tastiest toms you’ll ever eat – and a beautiful new dahlia we bought this year called ‘Penny Lane.’

We really hope you are doing well. It’s a very stressful time. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty in a bit of soil, and switch off from ‘thinking’. Stay safe.

Happy plotting.

Twitter: @plotdaze @view_from_a_shed

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May 2022

Have a look at these little beauties! These little pickler cucumbers have just sprouted over the last couple of days. We’ve never grown them before and bought the seeds just to have a go. Hopefully they’ll be prolific and after the lovely warm weather we’ve had in May – glorious May! – then we better start saving more jars to store them in! We hope you’ve had some good weather where ever you are.

Lets get started …

Small but mighty!

We’ve gone mad with the brassicas this year. Planted lots of broccoli spears, red cabbage, heart shaped cabbage and All The Year Round cauliflower. Instead of covering them with netting and those bendy blue pipes, we’ve gone crazy and ‘built’ a huge brassica tent. Each year the brassica suffer from the dreaded white cabbage butterfly. It seems that a leaf only has to touch the netting for a few seconds and one lays its eggs on the leaves, resulting in millions of whitefly infesting your greens! This year – we hope – will be different.

A lot of beans have gone in the soil this month. The Greek (butter) beans and the French (violette) were bursting out of the poly tunnel. We set up the cane frames and pidgeon proofed them. We’ve also put in some climbing borlotti, runner bean and dwarf yin yang beans.

We always feel better when the sweetcorn has gone in the ground. It’s an absolute favourite here and very rarely makes it home. We boil and butter it as soon as it’s picked! It’s wedged in behind the broad beans. The plastic around it, is to stop our neighbourhood squirrel who like to scoff it. The plastic stays up, and up to now has done its job well.

On to something more fruity!

We bought a cherry bush to try and block a gap that’s opened up in the orchard when the pear tree died. We didn’t want a cherry tree – we had one on the old plot and very rarly seen a cherry on it, don’t know whether that was due to the birds or some light fingered cherry loving allotmenteers! – they grow too big and the last thing we want to do, is shade any neighbours. So we were recommended a cherry bush. It’s only little at the moment. hopefully it might provide some fruit this year.

The peaches are still with us! We had expected them to wither with the colder weather but no, they are still growing and even though there are only a few, it still proves that the weather is warming up. We should NOT be able to grow these soft fruits outside in northern England, but there you go. Global warming for you.

We also have some blueberries, maybe not enough for a pie but still, when you consider that these little bushes were just ‘sticks’ when we bought them, its progress. Next year I’ll be making pies! ( You’re first on the list June! x )

Lets finish with some flowers. The bronze iris has bloomed and as you can see is reverting back to its purple/ blue heritage. It’s still beautiful though. The white rambler rose, ‘Mystery Wonder’ has begun to flower. It covers the front of the shed now. The blooms don’t last long enough. The geums have just exploded with colour and look even better from a distance, like a painting ( without getting to arty!)

We hope you are doing well, staying healthy and well.

Happy Plotting!


April 2022

Spring has sprung! The weather here at the moment is glorious – sunny and not to windy, could do with a little more rain though, but we don’t want to tempt fate and have a huge storm hit us! The seedlings need potting on or getting in the soil. It’s the busiest time on the plot.

At the beginning of April we planted up some beans – by ‘some’ we mean A LOT! We have a lot of luck growing them, and they’re easy to store for over the autumn and winter. Think we may have gone a little over board though!

The potatoes, which we’re growing in tubs and smaller bags this year – the old blue Ikea bags take too much compost – have begun to poke their heads up above the soil. Seems a bit slow, but at least we can see them.

We had bought two new pear trees a couple of years ago, planted them at the back of the poly-tunnel and crossed our fingers that they did not succumb to the disease that wiped out most of the pear trees on the whole allotment sight. One of them has bloomed! The blossom is lovely and all being well we should get some tasty fruit this season. Unfortunately, the other is much slower to blossom. They’re the same variety and have been fed the same, so it looks like it may be suffering from the same as the other pear trees. Our only plum tree is also suffering from some sort of canker. It was infested with greenfly last summer. We got very little fruit from it. We have given it a drench three times over the months with some magic fruit tree drench we bought from the garden centre, but it hasn’t even blossomed. Poor plum.

The few peas that sprouted have gone into the soil. For the first time we planted some peas from ‘seed’ in with them to try and boost the harvest. They’re wedged in between the garlic rows and the pea sticks have been stuck in for support. The variety is Alderman. Maybe we should have stuck to Boogie, but we couldn’t find them this year.

The mange – tout and sugar-snaps have also gone in the soil and have a nice old bed stead to climb up! We saw it being thrown away in a skip and quickly purloined it! Some spare mange-tout were planted at the end of the garlic bed with some pea sticks. Much pigeon protection was needed!

The strawberry beds were looking a little lacklustre, so in a fit of ‘ let’s do it now, panic!’ we began to sort it out. We removed ALL OF THEM! It seemed to take ages, but we had to. Some had become really woody and needed replacing with some new plants. We added some fertiliser – chicken manure pellets and rotted sea weed – to the fresh compost, and returned the best ones, leaving a little space in the middle for the return of our dahlia. A huge luminous yellow specimen called ‘Trooper Dan’! (He’s still wearing a plastic hat in case of any late frosts …aww)

We hope you are all doing well, and enjoying the peace and relief gardening can bring. If this is your busy time, enjoy it, if not then enjoy the break! Hopefully next month there will be more posts!

Stay safe.

Happy plotting!

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March 2022

Spring is here! Hooray! It’s still cold though, we had frost this morning but the sun is out and ‘the big coat’ is going up in the attic until autumn. We hope you’re doing well. There’s some gruesome events going on in the world, as if a pandemic wasn’t enough, so spending sometime with your hands in the soil can take your mind off things, even for a few minutes. Which is good, right?

So, there have been two lovely happenings which have cheered me this month. The first is, the blossom on the peach tree!! Beautiful, pink blossom just seemed to evolve from nowhere and surprise us about ten days ago. Last year a little baby peach was produced, hopefully we might get more this year. I’ve tried the fertilisation with a small brush thing again, so fingers crossed. I’m a nervous parent, I’m keeping her in the poly-tunnel until the weather warms up a bit more.

Speaking of poly-tunnels … how much of a pain in the back side can they be? They arn’t cheap, they blow away, the cover rips or billows like a lung, they can get too warm, too damp BUT they do provide that bit of extra space and are a lot cheaper than a greenhouse. After the storms of last month, we were happy that we got through, sort of in on piece – and then one of the zips broke on the entrance door … not exactly something to tear your hair out over, but it would mean that we would have to find another way to secure the doorway, mainly from other nosy allotmenteers, thieves, the cold weather etc etc. And a new cover would have cost approx £60 … not happening. So we MADE A DOOR! A real one! One you do not have to roll up and secure and worry about bursting open in the next storm that will come along. It’s not the prettiest of things, but it is a thing of beauty to us – and cheaper than £60! We made it from old scavenged pieces of wood and some leftover plastic. Hardware came to £10.00. Behold!

Back to some gardening. We began sowing some peas and mange-tout this week. We love these and if they make it home when they’re picked, its always a bonus! This is the first year we will be growing sugar snaps also. I know a lot of people have already got their peas in the ground, but that doesn’t work for us. We’ll sow another lot in about four or five weeks.

The winter veg will be coming up soon. The cabbage haven’t really bulked up, but it’s still tasty. The leeks are doing well, as are the onions. We will definitely be growing more veg over the winter again!

The salad bed is looking a bit of a mess. The chard and spinach looked a bit straggly and the garlic from our own saved bulb, is beginning to pick up, but the weather has been more wet and cold than freezing, which is what is needed to get the bulbs to really swell.

The window ledges at home are crammed full of newly planted seed trays. Lots of tomatoes, chillies and aubergines are all vying for space in the sun. However,the winner of this weeks seedling competition goes to … the cucumbers! They are little thugs! A couple of years ago, we didn’t get one viable seedling, this year, including little pickling cucumbers there are about ten. We’ll be over run with them ( hopefully, touch wood etc).

We had a bit of a rubbish time, last year at the allotments, but this year is already feeling a bit different. The only agenda we are interested in, is one that involves growing and having a laugh while doing it. There is so much worse going on in the world isn’t there?

Take care. Stay safe. Happy plotting!

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February 2022

Well, that was a blustery,stormy destructive month wasn’t it? We had to secure the polytunnel down using bricks, metal pegs, planks of wood – even an old beach windbreaker ! – just to protect it from Storm Eunice, Storm Freddie etc etc. Some of the glass greenhouses on the allotment site did not fair so well, and there were quite a few missing panes of glass scattered around the plots. Maybe our usual frosty snowy weather has been replaced by strong winds and storms? It seemed never ending at one point.

Anyway, Spring is coming. While clearing up some debris ( leaves!) from the rear of the plot we were very happy to see the rhubarb we had transplanted there in the late autumn, had begun to make an appearance. Not that we’re big fans , but it’s always nice to give away to those who do like it, and it looks good on the plot!

The bed that contains the fruit bushes was looking a little bleak … but the red current bushes are beginning to bud up, as are the gooseberries. It’ll soon be time to net it from the birds. We’re growing some Tagetes in with them this year. We were told they can help stop some of the pests. If not, it’ll be colourful !

It’s Spud time! We’re ‘chitting’ some Charlottes in the green house, next to the (second ) sowing of broad beans. Sounds fun, but in reality it means we’re just waiting for the pots to sprout a bit before planting. As for the ‘second’ sowing, well the first rotted away … and there doesn’t look like there’s going to be much coming from this lot either! Ah well …

We moved the spinach and chard that we had growing in pots. They weren’t doing much and there was very little growth. We have resettled it in the salad bed, next to the heavily protected garlic ( that squirrel is NOT getting them bulbs !). It looks a bit bedraggled, but hopefully, with Spring around the corner, new growth should be coming.

The spring bulbs – daffs,iris,crocus – are popping up,there’s lots of colour scattered around the plot. It’s always lovely to see something returning that you thought had died. This Dicentra, also known as Bleeding Heart, made a surprise come back.

It’s the little things that bring joy, especially at this rotten time. This month, Plotdaze is actually being written from the plot! It’s COLD! and my fingers and other places, are numb, but it’s good to be outside getting some sunlight and breathing (very ) fresh air. Where ever you are, we hope you are doing OK and keeping well and safe. Happy Plotting!

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January 2022

It’s too late to wish everyone Happy New Year, but we will anyway! We hope you are well and staying safe and all ready for the oncoming growing year.

If you go by the posts on Instagram, lots of growers have already started sowing seeds, which is great if you have a lot of natural daylight or grow lamps and heat pads. If you don’t like us, well …STOP, PUT THE SEED PACKET DOWN. You’ll only be wasting it. Begin sowing in Spring! We even start our chillies, tomatoes and aubergines in Spring and they do fine, unless they face other factors, which seed sown in January would also face, like tomato blight etc

Back to the plot.

Had to re-pot our poor agapanthus. It’s a beautiful cerulean blue called ‘Lily of the Nile’. It had literally exploded from it terracotta pot. They do like to be constricted when grown in a container but this had bust it’s way out to escape. Thought you might like to have a little look at the roots .

Lily of the Nile …asleep for the Winter.

We had bought two tiny, and we mean tiny Blueberry bushes (twigs really!) from The Range. We had re-potted them in some ericaceous compost and put them in the poly tunnel. We sort of forgot about them and expected them to have died. Not So! They’ve just been growing away, happy not to be disturbed. The variety is ‘Goldtraube’.

Blueberry ‘Goldtraube’

Always lovely to see regrowth on a plant. A true indicator that Spring is only a few weeks away. These little pots of Thyme and Mint are alongside the greenhouse and often get by-passed. The mint are apple and a ‘kitchen’ (common). The thymes are a lemon variety. Suddenly, you realise that they’re growing and you should take more notice of them! Like the Blueberries … there’s a theme here. Keep your eyes open! To be fair, we have been a little bit occupied with other things on the plot.

Our plot is situated along the spine path which runs from one side of the allotment site to the other. There is a bit of a drop from the path to our plot, so if anyone was running along it or pushing a heavy wheelbarrow and lost their footing they would fall. So, we have taken action! We decided to install a fence. Not a heavy duty, industrial type one, but rather a shortened barrier that runs alongside the path and our plot. We’ve even made gate posts from an old bed headboard for it . They’re at the far end. A gate is going on in a couple of weeks.

The fence is made out of pieces of trellis we bought from The Yorkshire Trading Co. – really good quality and reasonably priced. It’s sturdy enough to grow plants on while being flexible, so that if someone falls on it, it’ll give way rather than impale them … ! We really like it. A lot of other plot holders are erecting fences around their plots at the moment. Is it to keep them in or keep others out? Who can say? Anyway, we hope you like it. It should look good in Spring/Summer. We’ve already planted next to it – verbena, scabious, and allium bulbs.

It seems we’re always changing things – plant beds, fences, sheds – at the allotment. Change is a good thing right? So long as it’s for the better. Anyway, we hope you are well and staying warm.

Happy Plotting!

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December 2021

Years end. Breath in …. aaaand out. 2022 is almost here. Yes 2022! Already. We can remember the millenium bug! Where does the time go?

We visited the plot this morning, for the last time this year, just to have a look around and check that everything was ok. The weather has been very mild the last couple of days, not like winter at all. Just wet. It was nice to see some colour from this Calendula poking through. The Honeysuckle seems to have recovered from Storm Arwyn (sp!). We had fastened it to makeshift cane wigwams after the archway they were growing on, was destroyed by the winds. They seem to be doing ok. They look like they’re on sentry duty.

The milder weather doesn’t seem to be doing too well for the brassica, three of which have been chomped by something. Hope they enjoyed it. The onions, leeks and garlic are doing well, as is the chard in the black plastic pot.

The herb pot, which had been forgotton about at the far end of the plot is surviving. Usually we lose most of our herbs to frost, but the rosemary, thyme,chives, hyssop and celery top are all ok. It’s nice to still be picking fresh herbs at this time of year.

It’s always heartening when you see new shoots coming through. New beginnings and all that. The broad beans have begun to sprout – only one! – but it’s a start. We’ve planted a lot of spring bulbs over the last few months. These daffs have started to poke their heads above the soil surface. Spring is on the way.

2021 has been a right drag of a year, not just because of the pandemic but – allotmentwise – it’s been one of negativity, rumours and deceit. Thanks to the misuse of social media, we have had a crap year at the allotments. Too many people, with too much time, letting personal agendas get in the way of being decent folk. Hopefully that will all change … hopefully. ANYWAY, we are not negative people, although it seems like we are being at the moment. Apologies.

We hope you are well, staying safe and healthy, getting your boosters and wearing your masks. We’ve been buying seeds already – red cabbage, rainbow beets and more calendula!! The seed catalogues will soon be dropping through the letterbox.

2022 will be better! Happy plotting everyone, and HAPPY NEW YEAR ! XXX

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November 2021

Hello! The frosts have arrived – it’s good for the garlic – and last Sunday we actually had some snow, which is rare here in England. It was nice actually, unlike Storm Arwen which battered us the day before. The winds howled throughout Friday (26th) night. When we visited the allotments to see what damage had been done we think we got off fairly lightly. The poly-tunnel had some damage, as had the protective cover on the greenhouse, the metal arch that the honeysuckle grew over was wrecked! Luckily the honeysuckle was fine – plants always seem to bounce back – but makeshift wigwams have been made to drape it over. Other allotmenters had fared much worse. Roofs gone, smashed glass, one has lost a whole poly-tunnel! Not looking forward to the next storm.

The winter veg bed held out well. The brassica is looking good and we started off some broad bean seeds, a bit late but they should catch up!

We’ve been saving a lot of seed for next years growing season. I had noticed a fellow allotmenteer had been growing a small round orange squash. It looked amazing – he said they tasted ‘nutty’. That’s for us, so we bought one and have saved the seed from it. They were right, it was delicious and a change from butternut squash. We also saved the seed of the Jack o’ Lantern pumpkin we grew this year as well. The variety is called ‘Uchiki Kuri’.

There is still – just about – some flowering colour on the allotment although we think the frosts may have done away with it. This Calendula has flowered literally from the end of May until now. There is also some Osteospurnum in there as well. They are in a little bit of a sheltered spot so maybe that’s why they’ve lasted, but it’s nice to see some colour at this dull time.

Apologies for the shortness of this months post. We hope you are well. It’s the equinox next month, the days will be getting longer again! Hooray! Stay safe.

Happy Plotting!

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October 2021

Happy Hallowe’en Ghouls and Ghosties! We hope you’re doing well, and if you’re still in lock down, you’re in our thoughts. We may be back in lock down again soon, we have a feeling …

So, what did we do with our pumpkins? We carved one, as best we could. It felt a bit weird after babying the thing for so long, to then be chopping away at it. We’re keeping some of it’s ‘brains’ for seed for next year.

We had quite a few butternut squash this year, a variety called ‘Winter Squash.’ We grow the same every year. Not very exciting but it’s reliable and tasty. They last such a long time if kept cool. We took down the bean wig-wam with the dried Greek ( butter bean) and climbing Borlotti beans. They’ve filled a few jars which will be a healthy addition to our soups and stews over the coming winter. They’re well worth growing again.

The garlic has gone in the ground. We’re also putting in some of our own, a broken up clove from our crop this year. We’ve never done that before, we’re growing it in a pot just in case of viruses etc We also started off some over wintering onions to go in the the new Winter veg bed!

The last of the raspberries have been picked and frozen – if not eaten before we got them home – its a champagne variety. They’re very hardy and always reliable, coming back year after year without becoming invasive. We’ve also had a really good harvest from the Chilean Guava plants – or as we’ve recently found out they’re called ‘Strawberry Myrtle’. They are GORGEOUS! Very sweet but not sickening. We don’t know why every one isn’t growing them as an autumnal fruiting shrub.

Finishing off with some flowers – there’s always flowers!!- We thought we would show you these beauties, still blooming away in the greenhouse. They’re a joy, unfortunately we’ve forgot the name!

We hope you’re keeping well, washing your hands and still wearing your masks when you need to. The shorter daylight hours are here in the U.K. but that means we can start looking forward to the oncoming Spring, and if it’s Summer wherever you are, ENJOY IT! Take care. Happy Plotting!

(please excuse the messy green house !)

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