PlotDaze

An inner city allotment


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Final Flowers

After spending the day at the allotment, I suddenly came down with an attack of the blues. I couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. There are a lot of perennials on the plot. Loads in fact. I can’t be with out colour whether it’s from dahlias or salvias I have to see colour among the fruit and veg.

We had let a lot of the flowers go on for a lot longer than usual, and now with the first frosts knocking at the shed door I knew I had to put them to bed. I had dug up the dahlias – Yankee Doodle Dandy – which were grown from seed and had happily tempted the allotment bees all summer, brushed off the soil to let them dry. I trimmed down the various salvias, the air was scented with the blackcurranty aroma for ages and covered them with a mulch to offer some protection. The blackened Tithonia and Zinnias were lifted and taken to the compost heap. I mentally made a note to grow more of them next year, their tropical colouring had been as sunny as the summer had been.

The Rudbekia – Black-Eyed Susans and the giant Marmalades were looking a little bedraggled, so they were for the chop. We have an open plot, that can be savaged by strong winds, I was surprised they had lasted this long. I looked forward to the time next year when I would be carrying armfuls of them home to fill the vases.

So I got on with the bulb planting. I had already filled some pots with dwarf narcissus and tulips of various varieties, but the flower I am most looking forward to seeing is the bronze iris. I must have planted over thirty bulbs and my back was hurting the next day, but it’ll be worth it next June when there’s a new blaze of colour on the plot. A good contrast to all the aliums out there.

 The flowers that did not get mulched were placed in a bucket and brought home, ready to be put into vases. The final flowers from the allotment for 2018. No wonder I felt a bit down. They looked so beautiful – different varieties and colours and scent, that I think they can stay together in the bucket! Roll on 2019.

D.C.

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October 2018

One of our favourite months on the allotment. Bright sunshine, crisp cold mornings and lots of birds waiting for the feeders to be topped up. We’ve done a bit of D.I.Y. on the plot this month. Moving things about, building ramshackle raised beds, it’s been hard work but great.

Firstly, we began putting the dahlias to bed, these were the last of the … lost the name tag, but they’ve been a great bloomer all summer. The colour is amazing.  We spent a good couple of hours digging up all the tubers and drying them off, unfortunately we haven’t got a ‘Dahlia cupboard’ like a certain TV gardener, so some newspapers and large pots have to do for cover.

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Coffee Time.

We had to move one of the apple trees from the orchard. It had almost toppled over in the last strong winds we had, and was getting shaded by the other trees. The apples are delicious from it. We had moved the rhubarb bed, so decided to give it a new home there. It promptly decided to immediately shed it’s leaves. Hope we haven’t done more harm than good.

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Fingers crossed!

We needed somewhere to park our roses. We’ve been given a few, and bought a couple, each one means something to us. So we decided to build a raised bed from all the old bits of wood on the allotment. It was a spare bit of space, that had previously been used for growing peas in containers. As well as the roses we’ll be putting a lot of various herbs in there so it’s not just for decoration, but we can’t wait to see the flowers next year.

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Has since been creosoted!

This month has passed so quickly. Winding the allotment down seems to have produced more work. Looking forward to November. Happy Plotting!

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September 2018

Here we are in autumn. It’s come around so fast, maybe it was because of the very hot summer, but the days have flown. We’re glad really, sometimes it can be a bit exhausting. So we have begun putting some of the beds to sleep. We’ve dug them over and covered them with a tarp, leaving the flower beds either side. Don’t know when to lift the dahlia tubers, should be soon though, it’s getting cold at nighttime.

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Still lots of colour.

We cleared the smaller beds at the far end of the plot, and left it uncovered. We’re going to grow green manure (mustard) in them. We’ve never done that before. Some of the fellow plotters don’t really like it, but we’ve heard a lot of good reports, so we’ll give it a try. The soil could do with it. There’s been no horse muck delivery this summer for us to dig in, and we’ve got a lack of leaf mold, so we need to get some nutrients back in to the ground.

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Looking a bit bleak …

Always a bit sad when we clear out the greenhouse. There was a still a small haul of peppers to be had. The chilli peppers are drying out nicely. The aubergines weren’t up to much, don’t think we’ll be growing as many (3) as we did this year.

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Not massive, but tasty!

It’s been a nice September, very quiet at the allotments. Lots of seed catalogues popping through the letter box, and you know what that means … planning for next year!!

Happy plotting!


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August 2018

August has been a little bit disappointing weather-wise, compared to the heatwave of July. Everything just becomes that little bit ‘messy’ at the allotment. The sweet peas have quickly ‘gone over’, the leaves attacked by powdery mildew – not enough watering in the heat, the same with the courgettes although they just keep on producing … and producing. The spuds have been plentiful and lovely. We’ve still got one tub to tip out. The sweetcorn has been great. It was slow to germinate and we kept it under the large net cages we have, until they were poking their way out. They deterred the greedy squirrel that likes to hang around.

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Eaten within seconds of this photo being taken!

The orchard is producing fruit, which feels a bit early but … very few pears though. We’ve got loads of plums which either get jammed or scoffed. Other plot holders have had their plum trees die off this year, just hope it’s not some sort of disease. Ours are doing well though.

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Love the plummy colour!

It seems like this season has flown. It’s been so short, the ‘beast from the east’ seen to that. We’re trying to keep things ticking over for as long as possible.  The flowers have done well for the variety of colour and we’ve saved a lot of seed for next year. Tithonia and the Zinnias have been extra special.

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Sunflowers, Verbena,Tithonia, Lychnis,Zinnia,Bells of Ireland, Delphinium.

Autumn is coming, the sun seems to have set on another busy season. Here’s hoping we have an Indian Summer.

Happy plotting!


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July 2018

The weather has broken for a bit, but that has not stopped a hose pipe ban being enforced from the forth of August in our area. Should be fun, queuing up at the taps, but thankfully there has been quite a bit of rain in the last few days so the water butts have filled nicely.

At this time of year the plot always looks a bit chaotic and messy which we quite like but already we’re thinking about next year and how we can improve the soil in the beds. We’ve been collecting seaweed on our beach and coastal visits, letting it soak to get ready to dig in the soil. The water stinks … I mean STINKS after wards but it makes great fertilizer for crops. We’ve also been digging in rhubarb leaves, anything to get some air into the soil, some of the beds just seems a bit compacted and tired.

We grown some Zinnias from seed called ‘Molotov Mix’ and they are gorgeous. They have repeatedly flowered, in some very zesty colours.

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We will grow these again!

Sadly they got attacked by the dreaded black fly, which we tried to kill mainly by scraping them off and spraying as a last resort.

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PESTS!!!

The beans are plentiful this year even though we grew half the amount of what we usually do, and they suffered from pigeons and ‘the beast from the east’! The courgettes are in full glut. Who isn’t sick of them yet?

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Lovin’ the borlotti

Thought we’d show you a picture of a rose we bought called ‘Rock n’ Roll’. It’s so pretty and is scented which we wanted for the new rose bed we’re building. It sounds very grand but it in the far end of the allotment that’s next to the orchard. It’s a forgotten area really, but we love roses so why not?

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Rock n’ Roll

And to finish, here’s a photo of some of the fruits we’re picking and smoothying and freezing and scoffing. The blackberries are from a bush that grows wild behind the shed so we’ve adopted it.

Happy plotting everyone!

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June 2018

IT’S SUNNY! Proper sunny. Hot. Heatwave. Fantastic! At last, and everything is blooming at the allotment. June is one of our favourite months, the colour kicks in and the evenings are long and made for pottering about while the birds are singing. OK, enough of the romanticism.

We have only planted half the number of beans we usually do. There are some still in the freezer from last year ! We planted more borlotti beans and they are bushing up nicely. The bean tent still looks sparse though.

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No more plastic netting!

Today we released the sweetcorn, it was under house arrest beneath a large netted framework to protect it from the neighbourhood squirrel. He likes to sharpen his front teeth on the stalks and decimates them while he performs his dental work. It all looks good apart from one which has reached about half a foot and then just refused to grow. Maybe it will have a growth spurt now it’s free.

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Must do some weeding …

Most of the celery rotted, but we managed to save five bunches. We put them in the salad bed in deep holes. It’s right in front of the greenhouse and much easier to water. It’s doing well, just wish there was more of it!

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Just watered.

The lettuce in the salad bed is Romaine. We only grew one variety this year, usually we grow Little Gems and some Cos, but only the Romaine seedlings did well. It’s next to the mixed variety baby beetroot. They’re coming up tomorrow. Poking up in between them are some pickling onions fighting for space.

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Never enough greenery.

We have a spare corner at the far end of the plot. It gets a fair amount of sun, although it can be shaded from the orchard for the early part of the day. It’s where we have been growing roses in large pots, so as a winter project we’ve decided to convert it into a small raised rose garden. We have even been looking at obelisks to grow a climber up! This is a rose we picked up last year just for the colour, unfortunately it’s not scented, but it looks great.

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Would love a vase full of these.

As the song goes, ‘Always wear sunscreen’. Happy Plotting!


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RHS Chatsworth 2018

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Chatsworth House and Cosmos. EVERYONE took this photo!

Last Friday (8th) we visited RHS Chatsworth. We went last year and enjoyed it so much that as soon as the tickets went on sale we bought them for this. There were no traffic difficulties, lots of attendants all very polite and helpful and the doors were already opened when we arrived at about 9.30.

The walk toward the bridges that take you too the heart of the show was breathtaking. Thousands of cosmos (in pots! A handy hint we’ll be nicking!) lined up in front of the mansion house to gave an initial wallop of colour and drama. So many people stopped to admire it and take pics.

Unfortunately the flower bridge was not included this year, but the sculptures along the river side were just as interesting.

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Giant gold buttercup anyone?

The inflatable Great Conservatory was adorned with a display of orchids, designed by Jonathan Moseley. It was colourful and a magnet for the visitors. Even if you’re not a particular fan of orchids you had to admire the scale of the display.

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 The dome of the Great Conservatory.

We were trying to be restrained when visiting the floral marquees. ‘We’ll have a look around before we buy anything …’ This lasted for about five minutes. We bought plants. Nuff said. It was a huge sweety shop of plants! There was something for everyone. We’re saving up for next year. One display literally stopped us – a huge pyramid of various lillies, the scent was heady.

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Someone invent Smellovision!

There were many more places to sit this year, more places to eat or bring your own picnics. It was very dog friendly, but I did see a one getting a bit shakey in the packed Floral Marquee, maybe best avoid those places if you bring your pooch. Common sense eh?

There was copious entertainment in the theatre and educational sessions for those who were interested or who could get a seat. At one rainy point in the day were took shelter in the theatre and were joined by a couple of stilt walkers who wore flowery outfits and were happy to pose for photos, which everyone took advantage of (sadly not us – too slow!)

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Couldn’t resist giant Alliums (Schubertii) in a mop bucket.

It was a pleasant day; no mud, no queues for the toilets, no stress. We had our picnic lunch sitting by the car in the beautiful surroundings of Chatsworth. There was a joy in watching plantaholics like ourselves trying to cram their purchases into their cars. One woman threatened to leave her mother behind so she could squeeze the huge fronds of a delphinium into her car ( a mini !). The mother was not best pleased.

It was a great day. Cheers Chatsworth!