An inner city allotment

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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?


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?


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


Would love a vase full of these.

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

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RHS Chatsworth 2018


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.


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.


 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.


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!)


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!

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May 2018


View from the greenhouse door.

This May has been glorious, late to start with the end of spring warmth but it’s caught up. We went on holiday … yes, yes in the busiest month but we needed it, and if you want to see the beautiful colours of wildflowers go to Corfu. It’s beautiful.

So, our plot was left in the extremely capable hands of our allotment neighbours, who have been great at taking care of everything. They’re fab.

Anyway, you go away for a week and it seems everything has just exploded, especially the angelica that we bought as a tiny plant at last years RHS Chatsworth show. It’s now huge, towering over the broad beans and will be moved at the end of the season. It lovely though, the flower heads are amazing. You can see it to the right of the photo, bright green and very tall. The clematis on the metal archway has flowered, the sweet peas and runner beans have shot up and don’t even need tying, they’ve just found their own way on their strings. Maybe it makes them stronger, or we were just lucky with the weather while we’ve been away, but they seem good.

The strawberry bed has almost pushed it’s netting off. Here’s hoping we get a better crop than last year. the plants seemed to have recovered after the move.


Strawbs, some from seed, runner and shop bought. A happy mix.

Just next to the secret garden, (more of that soon) are the raspberries. After a severe chop they have returned with a vengeance. We’ve put green poles in a maze type pattern through them to make a sort of path. Trying to get to the middle of the bed to pick them last year was an almost acrobatic feat, so we put these in so we can at least feel our feet and not topple over sending a freshly picked punnet flying.


Notice how the alliums are everywhere now, like sentry guards.

More stuff has to go in. The Florence fennel is just about ready, the courgettes also. The brassicas and sweetcorn that we put in just before we went away are thriving thanks to our allotment friends, and everything is, as they say blooming! RHS Chatsworth next week. We can’t wait. Happy plotting!

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April 2018

Everything is so late this Spring. It feels like we’re behind with the weather. Lets hope there’ll be a nice sunny September  this year, fingers crossed. This trough of tulips and aliums is usually about to burst open by now. Maybe a few days of sun will cajole them out.


Everyone on the allotment is moaning about their spuds, or lack of them. We grow ours in bags, large blue ones that you buy from a certain Swedish furniture shop, and they’re only just beginning to poke their leaves through the soil top. The early peas have just gone in their trough, they were started in late March. The variety is ‘Boogie’ a little gem of a discovery last year. Great croppers and taste lovely. We’ll start another batch first weekend in May.


Boogie peas!

We’re not growing large (ordinary sized ?) beetroot this year. Last year we direct sown them and the soil just seemed a bit ‘tired’. The beetroot  came out  slightly woody even though they weren’t that big. We’re growing baby beets this year, different varieties, and we’ve started them off in cells. We’re growing them in the salad bed. They can go out next weekend and we’ll sow another batch.

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These cardboard cells always turn moldy so fast.

The greenhouse is crammed with seedlings. As usual we’ve started too much although an accident with the aubergine seed packet means there are about ten plants! No doubt we’ll be giving them away.  The cucumbers have made a slow appearance and the courgettes have just come through. I’d checked the cucumber seeds to see  if they’d rotted but that cold snap really held everything back. Think we’ll go back to using the heated propagator for longer again.


Trying not to use as much plastic.

Finally (hooray) you know when you just see something, as if it’s for the first time, and you swear it wasn’t there an hour ago, well that’s what happened with the blossom on the pear tree. One minute it was in bud, and the next it had exploded with beautiful white flowers!


Looking forward to the pears.

Here’s hoping there won’t be too many frosts to come. Happy plotting!



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March 2018

I’ve heard more than one allotmenteer complain about how far behind they are. I looked at a photo of the allotment this time last year, and we had broad beans in the soil and some spuds in bags. This year I’ve just put the broadies in the cold frame and we’ve planted up one bag of spuds. The weather has been a downer to say the least. However, spring is on the way. It is. No Really…

The optimism of planting seeds always makes for a few happy hours in the greenhouse. We bought some seed compost from a famous DIY store, ( our nearest garden centre is MILES away ) and it was abysmal. Rubbishy clumps of coir and wood that would never have rotted even if it had been composted in Tudor times fell out of the sweaty bag! Anyway, we did our best, sieving it over and over until we could plant some seeds in it.


Lovely spread. Some of the red cabbage already coming through at the bottom of the pic.

We planted up a load of sweet pea seeds, some were coming to the end of their packaging date, while some were bought at RHSChatsworth last year. We bought a variety called, Harlequin which we’ve never grown before, but looked amazing in the huge flower displays. It has a brown/dark burgundy and white flower, we can’t wait to see them.


Mumsie and Tiller Girl – two favourites

Everywhere has been painted, we are definitely getting the onions in this weekend … weather dependant! Happy Easter and Happy Plotting!