Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Bogged down

As it's been so wet we've not managed to get to the allotment for a few days. We had a mountain of wood chippings delivered and have been waiting for the weather to dry up, so we can put membrane down between the raised beds before the wood chips.

As the weather had finally let up, on Sunday we went to the garden centre to pick up some trays of flowers for the flower bed. Monday's plan of attack was getting the flowers in and if the ground wasn't too wet get the membrane down between the beds so we could start moving the mountain of bark chippings.

Seizing our opportunity we were all up, dressed and armed with toast, arrived at the allotment by half 9. Not bad for a bank holiday Monday. :-)

The problem was that when we got to the allotment everything was saturated. Our drainage ditch had overflowed and water was seeping towards the shed and the walkways between most of the raised beds was waterlogged. In a few days our allotment had turned into a bog! :-(

We had yet again put off laying the membrane, we did however manage to get the flower bed planted before the rain came again. Luckily it hit just as we had tidied up. Unfortunately it meant I didn't get a chance to photograph it but I will photograph and post the bed next time we manage to get up there.

Here's hoping for a few dry days so everything can dry out again. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Lost radish

We have a large family so most of our Saturday is spent ferrying children to dancing and activities. Yesterday however I got Mark to drop me up the allotment with our youngest daughter (CP) to get some weeding done.

I focused on a raised bed I had deliberately left for a couple weeks. I had started on it the other day (where I found our first radish) but had not got very far. Weeding one handed isn't easy and progress is tediously slow. Any way in this bed I had planted radish, beetroots and carrots. To keep CP occupied we played a game of hunt the carrot. After half an hour and only finding 3 carrots she gave up and decided that we had other radishes that were ready so decided to pull them out. Like all impatient children she wanted to eat a radish straight away until I reminded her they needed to be washed, finishing with wait until you get home. CP appeared to be content with that answer and decided to get the radishes ready for eating by taking the tops off them.

I decided it was time tidy up and water everything before it got too hot. CP decided to help water the radishes, only she decided to water the radishes she had picked. Next thing I know there's a scream from CP. She had dropped the radishes into the water butt and they had sank straight to the bottom. Guess it will be another couple of weeks before we have radish in our salads.

Lesson learnt this weekend, get the 4 yr old her own watering can and radishes don't float.

Friday, 16 May 2014

15th May

Because of my shoulder injury I have not managed to get up to the allotment everyday, luckily Mark manages to get there more frequently than I do. Yesterday evening was my first visit for a week and what a change! Everything is growing well especially the grass around the beds.

I couldn't resist taking a few pictures so thought I would share some with you.

Strawberries in full bloom and sending out new runners

Onions almost ready

Garlic getting there

Broad beans about 3 inches long

Black currants starting to form
White currants growing nicely

Looks like going to be another bumper crop of plums 

Rhubarb coming well after its move

Our first batch of radishes. Planted in March and subsequently every few weeks after.

Our first veggie off the plot 

The first of many veggies to come. Definitely have a sense of achievement seeing our hard work paying off.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

So far so good

Starting this blog has made us realise what fantastic progress we have made.

Where we started

Where we are today

We've got 5 defined areas. Starting at the front of the plot. There's a flower bed, 2 large planting areas, a section with raised beds and our greenhouse. There's fruit trees and bushes towards the back of the plot.

We've strimmed, dug, weeded rotavated and hoed. We built a greenhouse and cages for the raised beds. Planted onions, garlic and herbs, potatoes, radish, broad beans carrots and beetroots. We've transplanted rhubarb and relocated our strawberry patch.

We have made great progress but there's still a lot more to do. We certainly couldn't have done it without the help from our folks and our 4 kids. Thanks you're the best.

Spring 2014

After a long wet winter, spring finally arrived and with it the next stages of development. We were very lucky to be offered 2 greenhouses for free on Freecycle (recommend Freecycle to everyone great way of recycling unwanted stuff).  My dad and Mark spent a day dismantling them and carefully photographing them so would be easier to assemble in the spring. We agreed a date and enlisted the help of both dads and Jen to get the plot moving.

First stage assembling the greenhouse

Having gained permission to have a greenhouse on the plot we needed to move a raised bed to fit it in. However the broad beans we had planted in the autumn were doing well in this bed and had to be relocated. Luckily they had a successful move and all survived.

You'd think that after spending so long photographing the greenhouses at various different stages whilst dismantling it, it would have been assembled easily. Nope took a whole day with Mark, dad P and Jen working on it.

Mark has also spent hours trying to figure out how the glass fitted on the greenhouse but to no avail. Looking at the pictures, the glass didn't sit on clips but it overlapped. Think might have to admit defeat on with this one and buy new glass.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Autumn 2013

Once we had tamed the plot we decided to experiment with planting seeds in the autumn. We made the mistake of not netting the seeds and the local birds ate most of the seeds. However the ones that survived the birds grew well.

In our last 2 beds we planted onion and garlic sets. They should be ready soon.

We also relocated our strawberry patch to the allotment. It is flourishing now.

Finally we dug over the middle section of the plot . We decided to leave the large section at the front  as the association had dug it and sheeted it in the summer before we took the plot. They very kindly said we keep the sheeting for now but return when finished with it.

Having done what we could for autumn we left the plot to its own devices over winter and kept popping up to check on it from time to time. All the while planning for next phase of development.

The other plan for the winter was to make jam with all the fruit we had picked. 5kgs of blackcurrants  and well over 10kgs of plums.

Nik's Rum Plum jam.

Helpful children

Beginning of last month we put our seeds in the propagator to get them going. I'm currently struggling with a shoulder injury, so enlisted the help of the kids to plant the seeds. They were great help. They filled the pots with soil for me, wrote the tags and planted some of the seeds. They even helped clean up the mess afterwards!

All was going well until the seedlings started to break the surface in this container.

For some reason what was supposed to be purple sprouts one end and rainbow chard at the other turned into purple sprouts one end, rainbow chard the other and sweet peas all over!

It took some very careful sorting and the result is that our kitchen is even more over run by plants than it was before.

Think this weeks focus will have to be finishing off getting the glass in the greenhouse so we can get our kitchen back. Saying that another week or so and this lot can be put in the allotment. :-)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Day 1 Photos

In need of TLC 

Day 1

The first view of our allotment looking front to back.
Amazing what found under the weeds. chairs and a bench.

Photo taken from the back of the plot looking towards the front. Just make out the plums from one of the trees.

There's blackcurrants in here somewhere!

Looking towards the back from the raised beds.

There's more raised beds hidden in the weeds

Looking from the raised beds to the front of the plot.

Plums nearly ready for harvesting.

Getting down to business and clearing the way.

Clearing the rubble

Clearing the way to the shed. All hands on deck.

Petrol strimmer making light work of the weeds.

picking 5 kilos of blackcurrants

The end result of day 1. Much better wouldn't you agree?
A hard days work.

Where to start?

Deciding where to start was the hardest part. Luckily Mark's dad is an old hand and gave a few tips. He also brought his industrial strength petrol strimmer which made light work of the weeds.

We set the girls on picking the black currants while we set to clearing weeds, rubble and rubbish. Within a day the allotment was looking better already and we had 5kg of black currants!

Friday, 9 May 2014


In the past we had some success growing vegetables but living in a typical 1930's terraced house our garden is quite small. We grew tomatoes in grow bags at the edge of the decking, potatoes in a large sack and onions in our flower bed. The children's swing set takes up the rest of the garden.

We saw an advert for allotments in the window at our youngest's preschool and decided to enquire. It took a little time but a couple months later we went to have a look. The plot had been neglected and was heavily overgrown with weeds and grass but there was 3 plum trees, blackcurrant bushes and a pear tree sapling. There were also several large raised beds. We saw the potential and in September 2013 we became the proud owners of plot 45.