Tag Archives: allotment site

Seeds of Promise

Late February / early March brings the opportunity to start the growing season – indoors only – my garden is still far too cold and wet!  I did check using the ‘squeeze test’ and, yep, the soil forms a soggy mud ball in my hand!

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I’ve invested in a windowsill propagator so I’m hoping that the seeds will be kept warm and moist – perfect for germination!

I’m only sowing a few to begin with…sweet peas and tomatoes.  Sowing now should allow the plants to reach a decent size before planting out after the last frost, which should be around the end of April in my area of Wales.

  • Sweet Peas ‘Spanish Dancer’ – highly fragranced and an unusual tri-colour plus a packet of mixed tall sweet peas that were free on the front of a gardening magazine 🙂
  • Rosella tomatoes – part of James Wong’s collection (Sutton Seeds).  I grew them last year and I can honestly say that they were the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted!  I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to grow this tasty fruit however because they’re a hybrid. In my experience hybrids tend to be offered by seed growers for a few years, then disappear 😦

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Early sowing of peas, broad beans and runner beans are next on my list but I think that’ll try to wait another week 🙂

 

 

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Growing Medicine for the Mind

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

I love growing flowers on my allotment plot. To me, they look stunning, they attract pollinators and very importantly are they can be used as an environmentally friendly bug barrier!

I’m currently growing perennial flowers such as daffodils, verbena, hydrangeas, lavender and rudbeckia but I also grow a number of annual flowers such nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and marigolds.

This year I’ve decided to dedicate Plot 5A to flowers. So far, I’ve planted 2 beds of bulbs and they’re already up!

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In 2016 I have to admit that I was very disappointed with the results of ‘direct sown’ seeds – they either didn’t germinate or produced 3 inch high plants 😦 so this year I’ll be starting ALL my flowers off in the greenhouse.  I’ve already started stockpiling a few beauties (these will go straight into the ground)…Any tips on growing dahlias will be gratefully received 🙂 Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!

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I’ve managed to gather a few basic planting tips:

  • Don’t rush to plant – dahlias hate cold soil. Wait until all chance of frost is past.
  • Plant in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.
  • Protect from the wind.
  • Soil should be rich and well-drained.
  • You can start tubers indoors.
  • Be cautious with watering – tubers rot easily.
  • You can expect flowers within around 8 weeks of planting, starting in mid-July.

Do you have any tips or advice on growing Dahlias?

On my wanders around gardens in the UK, it’s clear that most kitchen gardens combine flowers and veggies.

These two pictures show the Agatha Christie’s kitchen gardens at Greenway House…

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Love the combined planting!

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I’m aiming to create a mini version of this sweet pea and bean (the beans have been cleared) arch (at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales) over the central pathway on Plot 5A…

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Do you grow flowers on your allotment?  How do you ‘mix them up’? What are you most looking forward to growing in 2017?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Dig. Is it that simple?

My recent injury has left me thinking more seriously about my ‘allotmenteering’ methods.  So far I have stuck to traditional methods and dug my one and a half plots completely by hand, from front to back.  Admittedly, it does take its toll on me physically!

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I dig mainly to control weeds and to restore the soil structure (after trampling) but after several ‘injury months’ away the weeds have already started to grow back!  Very disheartening to say the least 😦

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The raised beds have resisted the weeds much better and are still producing some lovely veggies!

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The Kale is also looking lush…

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Obviously all gardeners dip their toes into the no-dig regime, out of necessity – weeding by hand, shallow hoeing and mulching however there has to be much more to the method!

I may not be able to dig much of the plots this season so  I need some no-dig guidance. I’ve tried searching the web but there’s way too much to sift through!  Can anyone suggest a few no-nonsense sites?  I’d also love a good quality book on the subject…what would you recommend?

 

 

On the mend: One step at a time

At the end of June, I suffered what I thought was a minor garden injury: I fell over the allotment ‘wonky’ path, hurting the side of my foot. It hurt like crazy but I comforted myself with the knowledge that no one had seen me fall!  I limped home, wincing with each step, a 100% sure that it was nothing major.

The next morning my foot was swollen and heavily bruised. I could barely walk. My family tried to persuade me to go to A&E but… ‘no way was I going to waste NHS resources with a bruised foot’ so I plodded on, literally!

Fast forward to the end of September, I was still in a ridiculous amount of pain, my foot had changed shape and I had lost all movement in my toes!  I visited the doctor.  Long story cut short…I had torn the ligaments, chipped bone and fractured my foot!

My foot was placed in a surgical boot (actually 2 boots because I wore one out!)  for 9 weeks.  I’m left with possible nerve damage, post-traumatic arthritis and a programme of physiotherapy 😦

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Apparently…’ Around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004. Some 87,000 people were actually injured while gardening.’

Gardening injuries are terribly common, I know. I’ve had plenty of bruises, cuts and aches but this has stopped me in my tracks. No digging. No clearing. No weeding. Nothing.  Luckily, my injury has fitted nicely into the ‘quieter season’ of gardening.  The weather hasn’t been brilliant either, so the whole allotment site has been generally deserted.

I’m itching to get back to my ‘sanctuary’ plots but this gardening season I’m going to have to plan carefully in order to make things easier for myself.  So far, I have a basic 5 point plan…

  1. Have a kneeler or seat nearby for regular rests.
  2. Get all the tools ready before starting a job.
  3. Look out for adapted equipment…more raised beds, tools with longer handles or lighter weight etc
  4. Invest in a cart or barrow.
  5. Consider a tool belt or work apron to carry ‘bits n bobs’ like secateurs or a knife.

Do you have a tips for a injured allotmenteer?  What about you?  Have you ever come a cropper in the garden?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s beauty in a good day’s work…

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The harvest continues on the plot -carrots, kale, banana shallots, 1 mooli radish (simply for a taste test!) and two parsnips.  I even picked a mini tub of blueberries but they didn’t make it home 🙂

The radish was delicious…hot, hot, hot…so if you prefer a mild tasting radish then avoid moolis! We ate most of today’s harvest for Sunday lunch.  Simply delicious! This is my first year growing and eating kale – not only will I grow again next year but I highly recommend this disease resistant, yummy crop to anyone that hasn’t tried it.  I’ll leave the rest of the parsnips until after the frost.  I’m told that the cold will turn the starches into sugars which will sweeten the parsnips further.

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Kale…simply delicious!

 

I will have to clear the vulnerable crops such as celeriac and carrots soon and put them into store before the air turns too cold!  The cabbage is looking really good though so they can stay put for a little longer.

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Cabbage…a few nibbles but otherwise perfect.

 

The clock is ticking but I still have daylight at the end of the working day (if I’m lucky an hour) to tidy up the plots of any old crops in preparation for next year.

Today was a crisp, sunny day (well mostly) so I had to go for it.   I was lucky to have a little help from the family today too…offers of help are always greatly accepted!

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A bit of fun while tying onions…

 

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Bunches of onions safely stored in the shed

 

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Weed suppressant membrane and bark  has been placed at the foot of the apple trees

 

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The old strawberry bed has finally been removed…just a matter of digging and removing the bindweed roots now.

 

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A few bags of manure have been added to the cleared potato bed.

 

The flowers continue to put on a splendid show on the plots which is always welcome sight!

Great day’s work on the plots with the family.  I hope you are having a great harvest and that your next growing season is a beauty!

Nature begins Autumn’s Canvas

When you feel that first crisp breeze, you know that Summer is gone and Autumn is in the air.  To me, one of the best things about living in Britain is the changing seasons.  Every season has its positives, however, autumn is especially beautiful.  I revel in the colours nature paints the landscape… red, gold, and orange.. enchanting!

The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now.

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign. (Autumn by John Claire)

Autumn is well under way on the plots and there’s plenty of winter digging, mulching and covering yet to be completed, however, time is ticking…the clocks go back an hour at the end of this month so I’m grabbing every second of daylight.  I’ve been nipping to the allotment for an hour after work and working as long as my body allows at weekends in an attempt to ‘get things done’.  As a gardener, I’m conscious that the dark days of winter are around the corner and I need to be ready for the next growing season.

I’m working through the three plots one by one. PLOT 5A is still full of sweetcorn, cabbages, cauliflowers and kale so I’m focussing on PLOT 4A and PLOT 5B first.

PLOT 5B has been a battle against nature. The weeds were cut, burned, chopped, dug, burned again and finally the beds were covered!!

 

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PLOT 5B…Digging and covering well under way

I still have a few sections to tackle but I’m just about winning!!!  I plan to use PLOT 5B as a cut flower plot.  I figure that I have plenty of space, so why not?!

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PLOT 5B…Two bulb beds planted for spring.

On PLOT 4A, I’m removing the large bindweed infested strawberry bed after months of growing new ‘runner’ plants in pots.  The plants will then be placed in a raised bed in the hope that I can protect my precious strawberries from slugs and birds.

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Strawberry bed, almost gone!

I’ve also been busy trying to clear the calf high couch grass that was growing beneath the apple trees. It will be back within the blink of an eye so I’m planning to lay weed-suppressing fabric and cover with bark chippings as soon as possible.  The result is bags and bags of weeds waiting to be taken to our local tip!

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Couch grass keeps taking cover under the fruit trees.