PlotDaze

An inner city allotment


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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!


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May 2020 (Lockdown days)

May already! Every one keeps saying that.  The weather is lovely at the moment, sunny and warmish, but we could do with a little more rain. The days are getting longer and we’ve been staying at the allotment as late as possible after work commitments.

There is a tumbledown wooden trough behind the green house, which we keep meaning to fix. One day we’ll turn up and it will have collapsed. Since we took over the plot we have just kept planting in it, with no plan at all. We have bunged in some tulip and allium bulbs, some lavender and anagalis cuttings, even a primula is in there somewhere.  It’s amazing how lovely it is though. Random planting that has resulted in vivid colour and interest.

The aubergines had to be potted on. They sprouted up overnight. We’ve only grown three, one ‘Violetta’ and two ‘Mix’ – who knows what will crop there. They’re in the their ‘forever’ home now, the green house, and seem to be getting bigger every time we return.

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We also began potting on some of the tomatoes. Each variety is a different size! Among them is ‘Black Opel’, ‘Green Envy’ ( a favourite), ‘Golden Sunrise’ and ‘San Marzano’. We weren’t planning on growing a lot this year, but somehow we’ve ended up with eleven plants!

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Always nice to see the flowers on the broad beans (The Sutton … I think!). We check them for black fly as we pass. The flowers seemed to have just appeared. I thought they were early but I have to keep reminding myself, ‘IT’S MAY!’

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We hope everyone is ok and staying safe. Enjoy the weather wherever you are. Meanwhile here is a pic of more surpise colour. These violas were left to go to seed last year, in a hanging basket.They’ve returned with a vengence!

Happy plotting.

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April 2020 (Lockdown days)

After the anger in our last post we thought it best to stay off the blog for a while!! The felt- tip sign has been replaced by a nicer one, politely asking that patrons refrain from walking on other peoples plots, respect the social distancing rule and #savethenhs. After the deaths and hospitalisation of so many over the last few weeks, the people who seemed to think the distancing rules were just paranoia are now, funnily enough, quiet.

Back to gardening. It’s been such a sunny and dry month. The water butts have nearly ran dry. After sowing them quite late, the courgettes (bush) have been planted out, under cloches, just in case of any late frosts. The cloches will be coming off this weekend. They’ve grown so quickly, they’re wearing them like hats.

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This was about 10 days ago.

The bean wigwams have gone up. We had sown only 4 seeds from the Greek beans (Butter beans) that we had purchased from Real Seeds. It took a while for them to germinate, so we sowed ( is that the right word??) another two, just in case. Three of the original poked their way through the compost and began growing. ‘Lovely’, we thought. We put our seedlings in the polytunnel to bring them along. We could not get to the plot for a couple of days … and they had certainly sprouted!

 

We had to get them in the soil, as they were bursting out of their pots. We put plastic around the bottom of the bean canes because the winds can be so fierce, it just decimates them, and it stops the pigeons having a nibble of the leaves. The other Greek beans have begun sprouting. We know what we’ll be eating all winter!

We thought we would show you where we have been hiding during the lockdown, when we weren’t working. It’s our secret garden in the orchard ( sounds much grander than what it actually is) has been a haven. We’re quiet secluded in there, we can read a book or listen to music or birdsong. It just nice to have some outdoor space to relax in and we know how very lucky we are. Next to the garden is the rose bed and the ‘construction’ which really is a recycled shed, next to it. Everything is coming into the bloom. The blossom on the trees has been amazing, lets hope this years roses are too.

We hope you are keeping well and staying safe. Happy Plotting. xx

 


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April 2020 (Lockdown days)

April Fools day today. Not many jokes being played. Anyway … after a couple of run ins with plot holders who don’t respect the distancing rules flying about, one of us made a sign that went up in the green house a few days ago.  Needless to say when we arrived yesterday certain plot holders fell silent. Hmmm. We were about as popular as a fart in an astronaut’s suit! Someone said, loud enough for us to hear,

‘I see the corona-virus paranoia is spreading …’

Certain allotmenters think they have the right to just walk into you green house or allow their dogs or kids to run around your plot. It’s a pain in the backside without the social distancing, now it’s a definite ‘NO’!

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The secretary approved!

Mini rant over. The plum tree has just blossomed, it felt like overnight. we should have pruned it in the Autumn but never got around to it. It’s huge now, let’s hope it produces loads of fruit.

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It’s taking over!

We planted up the last of the flower seeds for this year. Some Ammi ‘Visnaga’ and Ammi ‘Majus’ – both were purchased from Higgledy Garden. We’ve bought seeds from them before and they’ve always been great.  We also planted some Anagallis – a beautiful blue flower, that should be more popular than what they are.

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We hope you are all OK. Hopefully the weather should begin to get a bit warmer and the days longer. Happy Plotting.


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March 2020 (Lockdown Days)

A quarter of the year has almost passed. What a year this is turning out to be?

The weather has turned a little colder, we had to put our wooly gloves back on. Everything is being ‘wiped’ when we arrive at the allotment, from the locks, keys, taps and shed handles. Nothing escapes uncleaned. Hopefully our visits will continue for the rest of the lockdown.

The raspberry bed is looking a little sparse at the moment. We have turned over one corner to some plants we bought last Summer – Chilliean guava.  We had kept them in pots until they were larger and sturdier and made sure to take some cuttings. We had seen them mentioned on a TV programme. They seem to be easy to grow, have a rich scent and the berries, a sweet flavour, so we thought we would give them a go. We’ll let you know how they progress.

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They’ve got their own little corner. Sorry you can’t see them clearer.

Here’s a link to an article about them.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/13/how-grow-cook-chilean-guava

 

One of the jobs we usually put off is preparing our dahlia tubers to go back in the ground. When we dig them up, they get some of the soil cleaned off and wrapped in newspaper to dry off then left in the greenhouse or shed for the Winter. This year, we unwrapped them like Christmas presents. A couple had rotted, but most of them were OK.  One of them –  Edinburgh – a gorgeous purple and white flower, had decided it was time to start getting ready for Spring. The shoots were great to see. Nature powers on.

We brushed the dirt of them, checked them for any rot, or dried out tubers and put them in pots with some fresh compost in readiness to go in the soil in a few weeks.

We hope you are all well, and welcome to our new followers, it’s very nice to meet you. Happy Plotting!


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March 2020 (Lockdown days)

Taking our daily exercise at the allotment has proven to be a joy, even if you can’t have a natter with anyone unless you shout!

The weather has been glorious, warmish and sunny. It’s such a shame that we have to be on lock down at this time, but needs must if it’s to save lives – really wish EVERYONE would think the same but there you go. Anyway …

We ordered some perennial plug plants from the weekly mag Amateur Gardener – It’s a great magazine, and usually comes with free seeds. You only had to pay for postage, which was about £3. The plants were dispatched from Thompson & Morgan. They were little babies! They arrived through the letterbox in a flat envelope type concoction. ‘What do you want for £3?’ I hear you cry. We plotted them on in some modules and they have all taken. We can’t wait to get them in the soil. They included Echinacea, Aquilegia, Verbena and Coreopsis.

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The rose bed, is beginning to come to life. We think we may have pruned just a little too hard. Hopefully they’ll come back fighting.

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Looking forward to the blooms.

As you can observe, we’ve built a shed, or as we fondly call it ‘The Construction‘, next to it. It was a green house, a plastic one. It used to get full sun and was great for growing our aubergines and herbs in, until we arrived one day last summer to find it had been ‘shaded’. We couldn’t grow anything in it, so we thought about buying a shed. Fate shined down upon us, unlike the sun which could not reach that part of the allotment. A new allotmenter had decided to buy a new shed and had dismantled his old one, leaving the bits in a huge bonfire type pile. We always support recycling, and bit by bit we used the discarded wood to build a shed. OK, so it has no roof yet and a door is still to be fixed. It’s a work in progress, and we love it. In fact it was from our old plot, so in a way it’s followed us! And it has only cost us about £10 for nails. We looked for the solution rather than let the problem win. ( That was a bit profound for us, but you know what we mean.) We’re thinking about having an official opening for our ‘Bus Stop’, when it’s completed …

The sweet peas have gone a little straggly, some never struck at all. We had to start some more last week. We’re not setting up the May Pole this year. We’re growing them up the side of the green house in a narrow, but deep, trough we’ve added. Hopefully they should be OK as it gets full sun for most of the day.IMG_20200324_112954

We thought we would show you where we have our tea, coffee and snacks (mostly chocolate based!) It was never this tidy, and had become just a place to store compost and empty pots. We cleared it up a couple of weeks ago and painted the fence. It’s quite a little hide away.

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Have to watch out for the birds over head !!

We hope whoever reads this is doing OK. We hope you are getting outside, while keeping your distance. Remember to wash your hands and keep on keeping on. Happy Plotting.


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March 2020

Hello everyone.

We hope you are well. We hope you are coping with the present circumstances, and if you are not, that’s OK. We’re allowed to freak out. We’re allowed to have a meltdown, but lets be kind to each other while we do it. And sensible. And a responsible person. Cliche time … there is light at the end of the tunnel, just keep looking at it, squint if you must and eventually it will get closer, and brighter.

We visited our allotment on Saturday (21st) and Sunday (22nd). The weather was beautiful. Sunny, fresh, typical Spring. Ideal plot days. We had a feeling that the lock down measures would be strengthened,  especially after the idiots who flaunted the ‘self isolation’ measures, so we decided to get stuff in the soil just in case we could not get to the allotments to water etc.

The onions were busting out of the modules so we got them in the soil and protected them them against our friends the pigeons and Mr Squirrel. It’s just some red and white ones, no special variety. We still have some from last year that have dried nicely.

You can see the cloches/netting on the right. The plots looking good isn’t it? Anyway …

The broad beans had to go in, they were huge. We’ve only grown three this year, usually we grow loads of them, but after a bit of a rubbish 2019, we’ve cut down. They’re cloched against the frosts, and have moved in next to the rhubarb. The variety is ‘The Sutton’, a reliable one for us.

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Those plastic cloches are a good few years old. Look a bit weird, but they do the job.

As you can see from the photo above, the boat has bloomed with the most lovely flowers, most of which I have lost the names of! There are quite a few hyacinth, crocus and  loads of muscari. We had to patch the boat up, the soil had burst through a rotted side plank. Certain allotmenters thought it funny to keep cracking the same joke about the boat sinking … it was funny the first time but after about the tenth, we had to grit our teeth. She needs painting and her flags and bunting attaching, but she still looks good. She is always covered in ‘Painted lady’ butterflies every summer – do they make colonies?

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As we left on Sunday evening, we thought that it may be the last time for a while before we were allowed to return. We felt a bit sad. When the PM explained in his speech that evening that we could go outside for exercise we felt a bit more optimistic, then when the National Allotment Association confirmed that we could go to the allotment there was a bit of air punching.

We’ll be putting up a lot more posts over the next few days, boring on about what we’ve done, while we can. Being allowed outside could be stopped, hopefully not. We hope this little blog offers a slight relief from the uncertain and stressful time we’re going through.

So … wash your hands, use a handkerchief and stay 2 metres away from other people. Keep safe where ever you are.  Happy plotting xx


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January 2020

Happy New Year!! Yes, we know it’s too late to say that but we have. Hope your year has got off to a good start anyway.

This month we planted some Sweet Peas. We know some of you have started them off months ago but we prefer to do the flower planting from now onward. We’ve cut right down on the number we’ve planted. Previous years we’ve become greedy, it’s a favourite cut flower, but we grow too many and they just go wild. Also for two years on the run, they’ve been devoured by aphids, so we thought, if we grow fewer plants we can look after them better … bet we still plant a few more though.

The Real Seeds packets are just too pretty not to show. (We’re not sponsored to say that.) We wanted to grow Greek Gigantes beans last year but were having difficulties finding the seed, until we saw them on this site. We couldn’t resist buying some more seeds as well, we’re addicts! The site shows how to collect seed from your veg and flowers, openly encouraging you to save cash as well as seed swap.  Please have a look.

The onion sets are in their modules !! Hooray! The growing season has begun when the onions are in and the broad beans are ready to be hardened off before planting.

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Red & White. Don’t know whether to bother with shallots this year…

We’ve been manuring the perennial flowers, trowelling in some muck for a bit of nutrition. Along the far edge of the plot we have some Sedum. Literally you can cut a piece off and push it in the soil and it will grow. It was lovely to see it beginning to sprout already. It’s a good cut flower and the butterflies love it.

If you saw last months post we were scoffing mince pies and hot chocolate. This month we’re on the herbal tea, trying to ‘get fit’. Hopefully being on the allotment will help, better than any gym!  Happy Plotting!


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December 2019

It’s the end of the year, and I’m staring at bright sun.  Hate to say it … it’s quite warm.

For Christmas we decided to decorate the shed and greenhouse. Fuelled on hot chocolate, mince pies and er … more chocolate, we got to work.

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None of your 5 a day here. 

The only thing was, when the lights came on at dusk the plot looked more like something from a halloween movie. We enjoyed doing it anyway and the lights will be moved to the orchard in the spring.

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Happy Christmas …?

It was a quiet year for us at the allotments. We had a lot of distractions including bereavement. It felt like there was never enough time to spend there, but we must be grateful for what we had. A lot of people are waiting for an allotment on waiting lists that never seem to shrink, or would like some outdoor space of their own however small. We know how lucky we are.

Anyway, we thought we would end this years Plotdaze with a bit of poetry. We went to an exhibition at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool this August.  Poet, Dr Pauline Rowe captures a moment at the allotments so well. I promptly took a picture and thought I would share. I hope she doesn’t mind.

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‘Two forks, two spoons …’

Best wishes for 2020. SPRING IS COMING! Happy Plotting!

 


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October 2019

Happy Hallowe’en every body!

We put the dahlias to bed this week, good job, because the next day there was a frost. They have been a joy this season, loads of colour for such a long time, although there was a surprise dahlia that I didn’t even know was in the bed, and only flowered toward the end of summer. It was a beautiful white cactus type with pink tips on the petals. Wish we had had more of them. The pic below shows the last of the flowers cut on Sunday  ( 27th). The little cat planter was bought from the Cats Protection site if you would like to purchase similar.  https://www.catsprotectionshop.co.uk/

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Love a bit of colour on the mantel.

We have planted some bulbs, well a lot really! All the usuals – daffs, hyacinth, tulips – only this season we are taking precautions! It’s squirrel wars for us after last year when our nemesis devoured nearly all our crocus and iris corms. As you can see we’ve began netting everything, buried all bulbs deeply and thanks to a tip from Gardeners World scattered some chilli flakes on the surface, although we began to feel a bit sorry for the little furry fella by then. Apart from round the clock surveillance it’s the best we can do.

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Belt and braces.

We purchased a vine. Never having grown grapes before, we have been seeking out information from the internet and various books. NO ONE AGREES ON HOW TO GROW THEM!! Some said plant in the soil in October, some said Spring etc etc. They did all agree on very gravelly soil. We had to re-pot it, so we did with loads of gravel and crock, and have placed it in a sunny area of the plot. We’re going to wait until the Spring to plant it out properly. (please excuse the rubbish pic)

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We’ve called her Barbara (Geddit?)

The last of the Summer colour has nearly faded. Some rudbekias and asters are still blooming. We emptied a grow-bag of spuds this week, not expecting much, but got loads! Next month we’ll be prepping for next year. Here’s a pic of the last of the colour. Happy Plotting!

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https://www.catsprotectionshop.co.uk/