We have had two weeks of glorious sunshine here in Wales…it’s as if the dog star Sirius has positioned himself, in the heavens above my little patch of the world a little earlier than expected.
The risk of frost has well and truly passed, and with longer days there comes more sunshine and time to be pottering around on my allotments. Well I say ‘pottering’… that’s not anywhere near the truth! I was rather late planting this year, after taking on plot 4A. I spent months digging. It’s done. Finally. Everything is more or less planted too!
All I need to do now is a little ‘fine tune weeding’ to completely finish plots 4A and 5A…simple? Mmmmm, no not really! Plot 5B suddenly came up for grabs and I grabbed it! I’m now the proud occupier of plot 5 (whole plot) and plot 4A. I know, I know, I’m a glutton for punishment but I really wanted a ‘Tea Shed’!
Docks, rosebay willow herb, grasses, seeded onions, brassicas and bindweed… a right royal mess!
I want to avoid weedkiller so we’re planning to use a paraffin burner to literally ‘cook’ the weeds to death!
I’m not sure what to do about my lollipop fence now…keep? or remove? or even put in a little gateway?
Oh…and we have our first froglet in our little pond 🙂 Happy Dog Days!
Apparently one third of our natural ponds have disappeared in the last fifty years which has had an enormous impact on wildlife, particularly, frogs, toads and newts. Luckily, amphibians aren’t fussy…they’ll occupy anything from a water-filled bucket, to a fancy-pants wildlife pond! So creating a wildlife pond, no matter how small, is a great way to do your bit for the neighbourhood’s wildlife.
Providing an area to home frogs on the allotment could also help reduce the effects of the predicted invasion of slugs this summer. I need all the help I can get as I’m not using slug pellets… I’m passionate about keeping my plots organic!
Also the Tiddlers A, E and C are fascinated by bugs, worms and mini beasts. In fact Tiddler E and C are totally in love with everything ‘frogs’ (especially poison dart frogs!) so with this in mind I set about creating a frog pond on the plots.
I’m told that it is best to allow animals to arrive at your pond naturally, although I was tempted to deposit some ‘study’ tadpoles to the pond (I’ve resisted). I’ve been assured that frogs will travel over a kilometre to find a new pond, usually within the pond’s first year. In the meantime, I’ll be happy if a dragonfly (or two) or even a few water boatmen drop by.
It’s a Saturday and it hasn’t rained!! Whoo hoo!! Obviously I had to make the most of the opportunity and grab a few hours on the allotments.
Plots 4a and 5a are coping quite well with the appalling winter weather, but the clock is ticking and I need to get the plots ready for the growing season.
Jobs of the day were:
- The 3rd raised large bed needed to be erected and filled.
- Move mini raised bed.
- Put weed suppressant on the paths between the beds.
I have a second mini bed to take up tomorrow (if the weather holds) and I need to buy some bark chippings for the paths.
I must admit that when I took over plot 5A January last year, I was 100% against having raised beds on the plot, even though for some reason, it seems most new gardeners grow their vegetables using raised beds. It’s fashionable at the moment! Gardening magazines and programmes are full of raised bed images (and adverts).
However, I like the look of veggies planted in rows. I love the watching the experienced allotmenteers, use traditional methods to produce plots bursting with tasty goodies. Every possible space is used for growing!
Last year some of my ‘ground grown’ vegetables weren’t entirely successful. Carrots for example…they grew. Yes – but were very misshapen! I tried growing a batch in the mini raised bed and the results were fantastic!! My cauliflowers grew nicely but were nibbled to nothing by tiny slugs! So frustrating!!
For me raised bed gardening seems like another useful trick up my allotmenting sleeve. It would be absurd not to give it a go… I have enough room, with two plots, for the best of both worlds. Who knows, my ‘chosen veggies’ may actually enjoy being snuggled up in a nice warm bed!
We’ve had glorious weekend weather here in Wales which has allowed allotmenteers to get soooooooooooo much work done. The allotment site was a hive of activity and it was lovely to catch up with ‘the neighbours’ 🙂
Plot 5A has been planted up and is ticking away nicely with simple watering and weeding daily plus the occasional feeding.
However I’m a glutton for ‘punishment’ – I’ve taken the over grown ‘hell of a state’ allotment, 4A, next door. I couldn’t resist!!
I really did need more room, honestly! 😉 I’ve been working like mad to try and clear plot 4A and today a group of Super Heroes lent a hand for and hour or so…Superman, Spiderman and the Princess!
Spiderman even checked the quality of the worms 🙂
4A is beginning to look like an allotment instead of a wilderness garden!
Once the weeds have been cleared the digging will begin in earnest…I need to be quick though – I don’t fancy the idea of digging in the summer heat! Think I’m going to need more help from my Super Heroes 🙂
…not one of my virtues.
Working full time means that I’m not able to spend as much time as I would like on my allotments. The plots have become the place to escape from the world and I love it there, as a consequence I have a tendency to ‘overdo things’ a little in a bid to complete ‘my plan’! My enthusiasm gets the better of me and the desire to finish de-weeding ready for planting, I admit, has left me aching all over!! I must learn to pace myself…
I’ve read all about growing a mix of crops to slow down the need for maintenance. The peas, beans, carrots, onions, beetroot, garlic, artichokes…. etc haven’t needed a great deal of fussing, thank goodness, however, the weeding / pest clearing seems to be never ending!
I could ‘cover up’ plot 4A and wait for the weeds to die off but…I want to see my plots finished ready for the summer! ‘Things’ move fast on plots 4A and 5A…I’m an impatient allotmenteer 😉
This weekend I was lucky enough to have tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show (a Christmas present form the children) so spent most of the weekend in the London area. One of the places we visited was RHS Garden Wisley, which contains one of the largest plant collections in the world.
However I’m sure many people have written about the wonders contained in the gardens but I’m focussing on (and stealing) a few details of interest to an allotmenteer.
The first was a blackcurrant bush pruned into a standard – freeing up some all important space underneath for a few pots perhaps!
The next two are simple…pretty planting! Allotments don’t have to be ugly. A little thought to the planting can add interest. How about a multi-coloured lettuce bed?!
A Chive spiral. Why leave it at that? I’m thinking a multi-herb spiral ensuring every space is used.
Plant supports also caught my eye at the gardens… a basic four legged support with a twig spiral.
Pea support…they look fab don’t they?
Look at the detail…so clever!
Another one for peas…
I was keen to find out how the RHS gardeners protected their crops from the ‘Wee Beasties’ too. They protected cabbages by earthing over the mesh!
Stopped ‘net sag’ by stringing up…
This method was used with hoops, wire and wood.
I’m definitely stealing a few of the ideas for my allotment!
Upon checking my seedlings this weekend it became apparent that I could no longer hang on.The beans, peas, cauliflowers and sprouts were literally bursting out of their peat pots. Nature has forced my hand, even the ‘potted on’ seedlings are sprouting roots from their ‘grown up pots‘!
Exciting times! Images of Plot 5A looking beautiful whilst displaying prized fruit and vegetables came to mind. The coloured felt pen drawings of my little allotment were starting to become a reality – it was time to get busy.
Firstly, I planted up the beans and peas thinking ‘well they’ll just have to tough it out’ – ‘it’ being the rather harsh weather conditions! The weather, predominately the wind, is still a little brutal for a young seedling on Plot 5A so a kind allotmenteer offered some ‘mesh protection’ which I gratefully accepted and swaddled the ‘babies.’
The second job was planting the cauliflowers and sprouts however, whilst popping on their collars, I noticed the tell-tale marks of wood pigeons lunching on my mini cabbages…two cabbages stripped down to their stalks! The giant fleece tunnel was quickly pressed into action until an alternative ‘cover’ can be found. The birds have noticed Plot 5A….
… time to put up the fruit cage. I’m not losing my fruit to our ‘peckish’ feathered friends!
At the end of January, when I first picked up the keys to Plot 5A, I remember a neighbouring allotmenteer telling me that he had lost 60% of his crops during his first year at the site to birds, slugs and bugs. 60%!!
Net, mesh, fleece…not quite the look I had in mind but I’m determined to take home more than 40% of the crops that I’ve sown and grown!