Thursday, 28 February 2013

A year on plot 114

It's been a year since we took over plot 114!!

I can't believe how fast it has gone but then on the other hand it seems like we have had it forever!!

Do you remember what it looked like on Day 1? It was a mess...

Come May it looked like this...

Late June...

And earlier this week it looked like this...

To celebrate 1 year on plot 114 I went down after work and stayed until sunset at 18:19 - in that time I managed to dig an area about 10ft x 5ft and that has released a little bit of the worry I was feeling earlier this week.

If the pleasant change in the weather extends to tomorrow then I will be there for the first allotment DAY of the year. Happy times!!

Here's to another bountiful year on Plot 114!


Monday, 25 February 2013

Time to kick on...

It's almost March! But where did February go?

Having been in France from the 11th-15th and then bed bound with flu from the 16th until yesterday, this month has completely passed me by. Whilst I lay in bed on Wednesday I was flicking through some gardening magazines only to start panicking by how little I had done in preparing for the new growing season. The only respite was that we only took over the allotment on February 28th last year and it was covered with brambles and couch grass from bottom to top. Despite all of that we still had an amazing year which kept us well fed from on a daily basis from late May until early October! So if I look at it from that perspective then I have such a good head start on last year with 3/4 of the plot dug over and ready to go. I want to get the other 1/4 dug over before I start planting so that I have a blank canvas to start from. That is something I would like to do on Friday - weather permitting of course!!

The plot would definitely benefit from a few days of TLC. Following the shed tipping, every time I visit I seem to find more and more bits of broken plastic pots or newspaper. There is still some stuff which needs clearing and the annual allotment skip can not come soon enough!! I think it normally arrives mid-march but you have to be quick because it fills in a day!!

Despite the little niggly negatives that I am confronted with, there are of course lots of positives too. The extended daylight hours mean I can get up to the plot after work for an hour or so which is of course very welcome, today I managed to clear some weeds from the rhubarb patch and then added a mulch of home made compost around each crown to not only feed them but also keep weeds further at bay. The crowns have burst open and there are lots of mini stalks of rhubarb emerging from the ground. I don't think I will harvest any rhubarb this year, I want the patch to get stronger for future years. Short term loss - long term gain! It is nice to see something actively growing on the plot in addition to the purple sprouting!

I haven't even thought about planting anything out in the ground as of yet. It's still far too wet. I think onion sets would rot and likewise broad beans. I think that when I buy my onion sets this week I will start them off indoors before planting them out when the elements are slightly more favourable.

Another positive thing is that the kitchen table is covered in 'chitting' seed potatoes..

This year I am growing Desiree. Although I did Maris Piper last year and they turned out fantastically well, I wanted to try and be a bit more imaginative and try a new variety for the first time. These potatoes come highly recommended by my Allotment neighbour and when reading about them I was impressed by so,e of tenor properties. I haven't bought my early potatoes yet because I haven't been out and about but I can not forego growing Charlottes like last year, because they were simply magnificent and after all.. Amy insists!! However, I would also like to try another early variety in addition this time!

There is certainly lots to do on the plot. If March lends itself to some warmer weather then I'll be spending every possible minute down the plot trying to make the improvements I want to. It was nice being down there today and just getting my hands dirty!!

Have a good evening,


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Bare root bargains...

On the way to work each day I have to drive past an Aldi supermarket. Although I don't go in there very often I always glance over towards the store entrance because I know in the past that they have sold good value garden equipment and this year I was on the look out for a couple of fruit trees. Well, just as luck would have it, I was going past yesterday and I saw a big box of fruit trees being unloaded from the delivery and I made a mental note to return later.

All day I was wondering which trees I would liek for the allotment. I know that last year they stocked peach, apricot and greengage trees aswell as apple and pear.

I have a perfect spot for the trees which last year was a bit of an overgrown couch grass infested mess. So come 5pm I was straight in to have a look what they have got.

There was so much choice and I almost fainted at the price tag. All bare ruit fruit trees were £3.99 each and they had fruit bushes at 3 for £2.50. So I made my selections and headed for the till point.

My final chocies were:

1 x Conference Pear
1 x Cox Apple
1 x Cherry
6 x Red Gooseberry

I was particularly pleased with the gooseberry bushes. I had been wanting to plant some at the perimiter of the patio to prevent access to the patio from the path for vandals and the like. I had been looking the garden centres last week and they were priced anyway from £6-18 each depending on size. These will do me just nicely..

Like I said earlier, I have a spot marked out for the pear and apple tree. The cherry tree was a bit of an impulse buy and I'm still not sure where that is going to go. I am hoping to turn that weedy patch in to a nice mini orchard come summer. Using a few ideas I have seen in gardening books etc. I am going to dig out as many of the couch grass roots as possible. Plant the trees 1.5 apart and then cover the whole area with compost/well rotted manure and then water well. Following that I will cover the area with non-inked cardboard and then on top of that I will water the cardboard and then add a top dressing of manure. I believe this method is called lasagne gardening and the idea is that it keeps weeds down but improves soil fertility at the same time. We'll wait and see but on paper it does sound like it should work.

The first allotment I had when I was just 14 years old had a massive apple tree in the middle of it and obviously the roots were a slight problem to work around. I don't want to have roots growing all the way through the allotment and I believe these are dwarf root stock anyway. So in order to restrict the roots a bit I am going to copy the idea of a 'fig pit' and put 4 paving slabs in the ground to create a restricted space for the roots to grow in to. The fig pit will stop the roots from spreading underneath the surface close to the ground but will instead force the roots to move downwards before spreading down in a deeper area. Fingers crossed this idea also works, thats what I love about my gardening. Just experimenting to see what works well and what doesn't. It means that your gardening methods are changing all of the time and that of course means it can be very fun!

If you are interested in getting some of these fruit trees then get down there soon because I remember they sold out of the more exciting varieties last time and all that was left was Royal Gala apples.

We are in Paris next week from Monday to Friday so there will be no time for planting these just yet but judging by the care label as long as the roots are kept frost free then the trees can be planted a little later in the season. So I will have something to look forward to when we are back. The shed also needs painting too. The growing season is coming that is for sure...

Thanks for reading as always,


Monday, 4 February 2013


I am a bit tired of the overuse of the 'dig for victory' motto. It appears on cups, cushions, tea towels you name it in most modern garden centres but it is nice to have a feel of victory in your gardening at times.

Since it was tipped over last year you may remember that my shed and its contents have been piled up and covered in tarpaulin through the winter. But today was the day it returned to its standing glory.

The sense of achievement is phenomenal and it sure does feel good to have got rid of the blighty pile from the corner of the plot. To make it more stable we have used a tonne of screws to screw it to the base and we have put slabs around the edge to make it more difficult to repeat again. We have also reduced the size of the patio to make way for some prickly gooseberry bushes to make access to the plot for intruders a lot more difficulty. Oh and a lick of paint certainly won't go a miss either!

That's it from me today. I do have more to share with you but I have a busy evening ahead which includes making up a cabinet, oh joy!

Thank you as always for reading. It feels great to restore some normality and direction to plot 114.