Mud Dwellers to the Rescue!

Plots 4a and 5a are in the process of having a few new ‘installations’ this week….  I’ve decided to test an alternative form of composting – vermicomposting, which is basically composting with worms.

I have two compost bins currently.  The typical Dalek type and my homemade pallet composter. Both are filling up nicely, however I’m going to be waiting a while before I (and the plots) will be able to reap the rewards. Hence the test… worm towers.

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‘Castle Tower’ has been placed near the shallots, in the hope that I’ll actually have a crop this year!

My worm towers are made of a length of pipe with holes drilled in the bottom half which is then buried halfway into the ground. I’ve painted my 1st worm tower – Tiddler A wanted the worms to have a castle to live in 🙂 Scraps of food will be put in the tower, this will then be ‘processed’ by the worms. It’s a win win!  The worms will enjoy an all you can eat ‘buffet’ and my allotment will get an instant boost of nutrients,  eliminating several stages of the composting process.

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Excuse the dodgy artwork…painted with children’s brushes! 

I’m making four towers and I’m intending to strategically place three around the plots.  The fourth one, I’ll test out in one of the raised beds. I’m hoping the ‘towers’ will feed and nurture my plants for me.

Reading up on the ideal ‘mixture’ to tempt the worms it’s clear that there are some definite dos and don’ts…

  1. Do give the worms a little bedding to wriggle into e.g. wet (not dripping but moist) shredded newspaper.  Apparently worms enjoy an environment of 75% water.
  2. Don’t add manure to the bedding. This could result in cooked worms!
  3. Do add something gritty like soil or ground egg shells. This will help the worms grind up the contents of the tower.
  4. Do place the worms in the middle of the ‘tower mixture’ then leave them for a few days.
  5. Do (after about a week) start adding the food scraps.  Soft fruit and veg is best.
  6. Don’t add paper with coloured ink – it’s poisonous to worms!
  7. Do ‘feed’ the worms a little at a time.  Once a week is perfect.

I’m not sure what my allotment neighbours will make of my experiment but I’m hoping my plots will love me!

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Defiance to the Greater World!

Despite an awful weather forecast for this weekend we did it…the spuds are in! Haha to you North wind and rain!

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Tim Teulu (Family Team)

The weather was actually on my side today so my team of ‘Little Helpers’ and I spent a day at Plots 5a and 4a.  The challenge for the team – plant the potatoes, which is always a mammoth task (and tidy up generally).

What did this involve?  “Plain and simple backbreaking digging!”

Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes…

Rocket (1st earlies), Kestrel (2nd earlies), Desiree (main) and Cara (main)

We knew it would be tough work – especially as I’m the only person to have dug  plot 4a  in a number of years.  The previous owners seemed to tickle the surface of the ground, in one or two corners, then let the weeds grow and grow and grow!

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Front bed is also done and full of Cara (main) potatoes

Let’s face it, allotments are hard work however by the end of the day we were tired but chuffed to beans.  The difference our work had made was heart-warming…it would have taken me at least another 2 weeks of hard slog! Thank you ‘Team Family’.

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Apples (Scrumptious) in bud

Although the allotment is a family affair, it is primarily mine.  My favourite time is early evening, after work – a place to escape for a couple of hours of head clearing peace and enjoy the beauty of nature.

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Honeyberries in flower

However, I also enjoy the ‘family pitch’ in days…full of giggles and banter. You know what I mean… Mr D was the only person to come home with a spot of sun burn today –  “From all the sunbathing he did – while we worked!” 😉

 

The Unexpected Gift

Who doesn’t love a ‘gifted plant’? In fact, could you honestly turn down anything garden related?  How many of you have accepted a plant that…well…you’ll have to squeeze into your already planted to the brim garden or allotment?

I confess, I couldn’t but then, ‘I am an addict’.

My addiction to plants and all things gardening is relatively new. In fact, it’s been two to three years since I began growing the odd plant. I am now gripped by the gardening bug and my obsession with plants is slowly taking over my life.

It started innocently enough, with a pot of chrysanthemums and a couple of ‘surplus’ tomato plants from my parents.  I practised my gardening skills in my little Victorian garden, family garden and vegetable garden, experimenting with growing vegetables and fruit in small raised beds, greenhouse and a veg trug.

In January 2015, I felt confident enough to take on an allotment followed by a second plot in May 2015 and now my love of gardening has become all consuming…

I now struggle to resist buying any beautiful new flower (especially if it’s sweetly scented). Now most people would understand the pull of a pretty petal, however I’m the same with my allotment veg!  I love trying to grow something new…Mexican spinach, goji berries, cucamelons, tomatillios, black raspberries, Rosella tomatoes to name but a few!

This year my intention was to keep it simple. Nothing fancy. Back to basics. However, I’ve ‘fallen off the vegetable cart’…but I blame my parents!

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A gift from ‘the parents’…A lemon cucumber.  Who could resist?  Not me for sure and I hate cucumber!!
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Teeny tiny banana shallots. Ok, my planting is a bit haphazard but they will soon grow into little beauties!

‘The banana shallot, or echalion, is a cross between a regular shallot and an onion. It has inherited the best qualities from each side, the larger size of the onion (though it is elongated in shape – hence the name “banana shallot“) and the mildness and sweetness of the shallot.’

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Tutti Frutti Cherry Tomatoes – They’re new…it says so on the label!!
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Tutti Frutti mandarin tomatoes…both plants are ‘silly’ prices but who could resist a tomato with a taste of orange or cherry?  It would be ‘rude’ not to try them at least once!

It doesn’t stop with plants…no, no…I lust after gardening tools too! I put the blame for this one squarely at Monty Don’s door! Planting spades, flat heart shaped trowel, cloches…oh the temptation!

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Tillers…I really needed these, honestly.

 

The cold weather isn’t helping.  I’m itching to start the growing season.  The greenhouse is full of seedlings, some of which I’ve planted under fleece but I want more! I need some warmth to keep my mind from wandering…

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Onions…sturon, centurion and stuttgarter giant.
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Broad beans…hardened off.

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Broad beans and onions transferred to the allotment and snuggled up under fleece.

The ‘addiction’ doesn’t stop with me, I’m sorry to say…Tiddler A can’t resist a bit of muck and the magic of gardening.

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Preparing the pea gutters.
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Good job Tiddler A!

I’m hoarding plants and gardening tools because it cold…that’s it…it will stop when the weather warms, really it will. Unless I’m bought another gardening related gift!

 

Hyacinth Beans … ‘To eat or not to eat?’

I’m growing Hyacinth Beans for the first time after buying a pack of 7 seeds from Sutton Seeds (part of James Wong’s range). The flowers and pods look beautiful and the packet, most definitely states that they are edible, however I’m not convinced.  I’ve been reading far too much information contradicting the back of Mr Wong’s packet …20160409_1546241. Ornamental only

2. Poison!

3.Edible if boiled for 40minutes +

4. Edible if eaten very young

5. Some people may suffer adverse reactions to eating

 … to quote but a few!

I have looked through my library of gardening books and magazines. Nothing.  I even trawled through a variety of internet search engines (usually a font of knowledge) but I still can’t find any ‘solid’ information from a trustworthy source.

I really don’t want to serve up a deadly ‘bean feast’ to my family so perhaps I’ll plant these rather beautiful plants in the flower bed, as a precaution!!20160409_231045

Has anyone else grown these odd but beautiful beans? Have you eaten them?

 

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

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So much to do…but I must remember to have fun along the way!

There’s no better feeling than ticking something off my allotment to-do list. Done. Finished. Completed.

In day to day life, I’m constantly writing lists.  I worry that I’ll forget to do or get something, so I write it down.  If I don’t, my brain gets locked into a ‘list loop’…repeating over and over.  Writing things down stops the jobs from ‘pecking my head’ and helps me keep track of things that could easily disappear when life becomes especially hectic.

Although writing, generally, is a powerful tool which helps me to organise and simplify my thoughts…even when it comes to gardening.

Reminder to myself: I garden because it is enjoyable and relaxing.

However, I often have to remind myself to stop running around like a blue-ar***d fly and flapping about the amount of work the needs to be completed!  I know that, ultimately, doing a little as often as possible, is the best way to work but that’s easier said than done.  I’m trying to focus on the important jobs first, ensuring all the jobs are achievable within my time-frame.

However time is ticking.  The signs of Spring are evident.  Daffodils, primroses and crocuses are flowering.  The growing season has begun and April is always busy month. My window sills and greenhouses are full of seedlings that need to be hardened off and planted out but I still have so many jobs to do on my allotment!

In no particular order, here are my top ten jobs on my ‘To Do List’…Errrrrm, there’s a lot of digging involved!!!

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1. De-clutter the allotment greenhouse ready for tomatoes and put the second cold-frame in place.
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2. Dig the front of plot 4a.
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3. De-weed the top pathway.
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4. Replant the strawberry patch.
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5. Line new planter and plant up with the best of the strawberry plants.
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6. Dig and de-weed the ex-gooseberry bed.

(There was an old gooseberry bush here but it was being strangled by bindweed and suffocated by couch grass.  I dug it up and washed the roots for replanting.)  

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7. Remove grass from currant bushes and replant gooseberry bush next to them.
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8. Dig over flower beds.
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9. Finish digging plot 5a.
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10. Dig over cardoon and comfrey bed.