Wednesday, 29 April 2009


This weeding malarkey is hard work! Just look at what I'm having to dig out. I believe that they are tree saplings, maybe Ash, and it really is hard work. There's loads of them and they have got really strong roots. Along with these I've also got couch grass on the allotment, and there's mint which is all over the place, so I'm sure that I've got lots of hard work ahead of me.

The kids have been given their own little plot and they have worked really hard to get it weeded by themselves. My son has planted some carrots - Early Nantes and my daughter has planted beetroot - Boltardy. Both of these seeds came from the 'Dig-In' campaign which is being advertised on Gardener's World and CBeebies. They're also going to have a go at growing some gourds. They've got the swan and snake varieties. I know you can't eat them, but if it keeps them interested that's all that matters. Does anyone know if gourds are better left to trail on the ground or trained to climb?

It has rained really hard the last couple of days so I haven't been to the lottie yet this week. The next trip up there will see my peas planted and also the remaining strawberries which still have to go in. I bought some netting from Lidl at the weekend so this will be used to cover the strawberries so that the birds don't get the fruit.

My parsnips have chitted well using the damp kitchen roll method and these have now been planted up into toilet roll inners. I've put some more seed to chit as I want to have plenty growing. My daughter absolutely loves parsnips and I don't think she would forgive me if I didn't grow enough!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Good Harvest To Come?

This picture is of my blueberry plant. I bought one bush in 2007 but it was only a young plant and I didn't get any berries off it last year. Blueberries like to be planted in ericaceous compost as they like the soil to be on the acid side. You can get self-fertile bushes, however, you still get a better crop if two or more bushes are planted in close proximity. I bought a second, more mature plant last year and now both of the bushes are getting ready to produce their deep blue berries. I'm hoping to get a good harvest from both of the plants this year which will please my children immensely. The question is, will I get any?

It's been a gorgeous week here in West Yorkshire and I've got lots done. Today I have been giving the garden an overhaul, repotting Fuchsia's and Hosta's and top dressing and feeding other plants.

Our pet rabbits, Monty and Sammy, have moved house from the patio up onto the grass. During the drier months they have access to their runs on the grass directly from their hutches. During the winter months we move them down onto the patio as the grass seems to get so waterlogged. On drier days we do still let them have a run round on the grass, which they love.

My winter hanging baskets have now been cleared out and are all ready to be planted up with summer bedding. They won't be hung outside though until all risk of frost has gone.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A Good Idea?

This is a picture of an old bath which was left on my allotment when we took it over. I've been pondering with the idea of using this to grow carrots in. I thought if I stood it on bricks to raise it a little it would be high enough for the carrot root fly to miss. Apparently the carrot root fly can only fly to heights of around 18 inch, therefore, I wouldn't have to use fleece. Also, carrots like to grow in soil which is free draining and they certainly don't like soil with stones in which cause them to fork, so by using the bath I would be able to give them exactly what they like. I'm still mulling over the idea, so I might sow direct into the ground this year and see how they do, but if I don't get a good crop I might go with this idea next year.

I was at the allotment until 9pm last night. It was such a lovely evening and after being at work yesterday it was nice to get out into the fresh air. I got some more digging and weeding done, and I got some of my strawberry plants into their new bed. The strawberry bed still isn't completely finished so I planted as many as I could, but I've still got more to go in once I've done some more weeding and digging.

I'm hoping to get my peas in soon. I have started them off in toilet roll inners in the greenhouse and they have germinated and grown well. I have already prepared their bed so they're now ready to go in as soon as they're hardened off properly.

Although there's still loads to do at the allotment it's really exciting that things are now getting planted. I'm really pleased that I've chosen to define seperate beds as it seems less daunting somehow. I'm getting a sense of achievement each time a particular bed has been weeded and dug and is ready for it's occupants. I've made a decision that I want raised beds made out of wood, but that will have to wait for now. I think that the way that I have started off the allotment with seperate beds will make this easier though when the time comes.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wildlife Border

Over Easter I sourced the plants for my new border. My small pond which only measures 84cm X 64cm is also in this border, and I wanted to choose plants which will attract beneficial insects into the garden.

All the plants which I bought are only small specimens but hopefully they will fill out. I'm particulary happy with my Dicentra Spectabilis - Bleeding Heart, which I have wanted for a while now, and which is pictured. The other plants which I chose are Leucanthemum Vulgare - Oxeye Daisy, Tanacetum Vulgare - Tansy, Myosotis Arvensis - Field Forget Me Not, Fritillaria Meleagris - Fritillary, Salvia Officinalis - Sage, Geranium Pratense - Meadow Cranesbill, Silene Vulgaris - Bladder Campion, Primula Vulgaris - Primrose, Cheiranthus Cheiri - Wild Wallflower, Hyacinthoides non scripta - Bluebell, Allium Schoenoprasum - Chives, Lavandula Angustifolia - Lavender 'Munstead', Silene Alba - White Campion, Inula Helenium - Elecampane, Centaurea Cyanus - Cornflower, Aquilegia Vulgaris - Columbine, Oenothera Glazioviana - Evening Primrose, and Wild Strawberry. Phew! I still have some bare patches but I want to see how these grow before I go filling the spaces completely.

This weekend I have sown more seeds, including Dwarf French Beans - Safari, Squash - Sunburst, Courgette - Green Bush, and Heliotrope - Marine. The Heliotrope seeds were kindly sent to me by Georgie and should hopefully attract more butterflies into the garden. If you haven't already checked out Georgie's blog I would urge you to do so. She packs so much into her 'Little London Garden'. You can find the link to her blog on the right.

It has been a lovely day here today but unfortunately I was in work all day. I'm hoping that the weather stays nice this coming week so that I can get more done on the allotment.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Potatoes Are In

I finally managed to get the potatoes planted on Saturday. Having only grown potatoes in containers previously, it will be interesting to see the difference with allotment grown ones.

We've now got five beds totally dug over. Half way down the plot where the water butts have been placed is slightly raised. This area is absolutely covered in grass and a drainage channel has been dug out along each side. Getting rid of all the grass and weeds here is going to be challenging to say the least, so we have decided to leave this part of the allotment for now and concentrate on the rest of it first. We plan to get round to doing something with this when time isn't so critical. At the moment we are putting all our efforts into other areas so that we can get everything which is growing at home planted.

One of the things which concerned me when I took on the allotment is the fact that there is no water on the site. The previous plot holder kindly left four water butts on the plot, but the water in them is murky to say the least, so we got the kids emptying one of them into the brook which runs along the side of the site, and took it home to give it a good wash out. When we took it back our next plot holder kindly allowed us to fill it from his outside tap with a hose. He's very lucky in that his house is directly behind his plot. He's got a gate from his garden which leads to his allotment.

I'm now half way through weeding the bed where my strawberries are going to go. They were delivered at the back end of last year so I potted them up and they've been in the greenhouse over winter. I've now moved them outdoors, however, some of them are already in flower and I don't know whether I should move them to the allotment or leave them in their containers for this year. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Wildlife Pond

We had a lovely day out on Good Friday looking for plants for my new wildlife pond.

We looked online and found a nursery in Brough, which is in East Yorkshire, called Mires Beck Nursery which specialises in wild flowers so we headed there. Unfortunately, this nursery was closed. It's also closed on Monday. What? The busiest gardening weekend of the year and they are closed on both bank holidays!

Driving through Brough we saw a sign for a water gardening specialist so we decided to call there. It had a great selection of plants and we came away with everything we wanted. The plants we chose are Typha Minima - Mini Bulrush, Mimulus Luteus - Monkey Musk, Caltha Palustris - Marsh Marigold and Oenanthe Japonica Flamingo - Variegated Water Celery.

We also called in at a garden centre called Yorkshire Garden Centre where we bought lots of wild flowers for the rest of the border, more on this later. This garden centre was excellent. The staff were knowledgable and only too happy to help, everything was laid out in order and most important the plants were well looked after. I hate garden centres where the plants have been pushed on a shelf in no apparent order, forgotten about and looking much worse for wear.

I think the shingle which we have added to the rim of the pond sets it off well.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Work Begins

Work has begun at the allotment. The photo shows that there is alot left to do, but since taking the picture there are now two beds properly dug over and another two nearly there.

The bed sizes are 9.5 foot X 4 foot. This size should give me plenty of planting space and also allow for two rows of potatoes in each bed, speaking of which, I am hoping to get my potatoes planted within the next week. I have got Charlotte and Kestrel which are second earlies and also Rooster and Maris Peer which are main crop.

Going to the allotment is a family event at present. My hubby is extremely keen to get the beds dug over (perhaps to avoid my nagging), but apart from weekends doesn't have alot of time in the week. He has been going down for an hour on an evening after work, but he insists that he doesn't like gardening. I think that he's having a change of heart and is secretly enjoying himself. My children are also enthusiastic, but being 14 and 10 and knowing how kids of this age soon tire with things, I'm wondering how long that enthusiasm will last. We'll see!

I've been like a woman possessed at home planting lots of things ready to take to the plot as the beds are dug. I've planted Pea - Early Onward, Leek - Carlton, Cabbage - Tundra, Cauliflower - All The Year Round, Brussels Sprout - Evesham Special, and Calabrese - Sakura, among other things.

I have always kept records when I plant anything and this seems extra important at the moment as I'm really guessing at quantities. I will be able to update my notes later in the season when I find out if more or less should have been sown and implement this next year.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Busy Time At Home

Yes, I know I should be spending every waking minute trying to get the allotment into some sort of shape, but the truth is that my garden has been sadly neglected of late so I spent all day yesterday doing things which should already have been done.

My greenhouse has now been cleared of fleece which has been protecting my overwintered plants. It is still on stand by though so that I can throw it back over the pots if a frosty night is forcast.

The picture is of my mother's day present from my two children, a four tier plastic greenhouse, which I have placed inside the cold greenhouse to give extra protection to my bedding plants. They have been in the house on window sills until yesterday, but I am running out of room so I am taking my chances and moving them outside.

My cold greenhouse is only 4 foot by 6 foot and has been full to bursting with my overwintered plants as well as over 30 strawberry plants which were ordered at the back end of last year. I potted them up into pots and kept them in the greenhouse over winter as I didn't want to risk the frost getting to them outside. I moved them out of the greenhouse yesterday, however, because they have been cosseted some of them are now in flower. I have got Alice, Elsanta and Honeoye.

After sorting out the greenhouse I potted on my Peppers - Summer Salad, Aubergine - Black Beauty and Micro Tomato, and also pricked out some French Marigold - Naughty Marietta.

I am also creating a new wildlife border incorporating a small pond, so hubby got the pond fixed into place. I am still researching which flowers to plant both in the border and in the pond so more on this later.

Now that I've made some headway in the garden I will be able to focus my efforts on the allotment for a while so I hope the weather holds up this coming week.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

It All Begins Here

This is the first entry on my blog. I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog as I have just taken on an allotment, so this will chart my progress.

My name has been on the allotment waiting list for 20 months and on the 21st March 2009 I was finally handed the key. My name had been on the list for four possible sites and I had originally wanted one of the other three, but after taking a look at this site I decided to take it.

My allotment is on a small site with only five other plots. Although it isn't totally overgrown, there is plenty of weeding, clearing and digging to do. The previous plot holder has very kindly left me a wheelbarrow, two compost bins and four water butts which will come in very handy indeed as there is no water supply on the site.

I hope that you will follow my allotment progress with me through this blog.
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