Sunday 25 March 2012

Out of Order

Just a small notice to say that we are currently out of order.

Our laptop is broken so it is difficult to make  a post at the moment, but hopefully we'll be able to in the coming days...

We're having so much fun on the allotment and we can't wait to tell you all about it.

We're also missing not being able to read your blogs too!

Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly...

Martin and Amy

Thursday 15 March 2012

Just an hour..

Not long after I made yesterday's blog post I felt very tempted to go and do a bit of work at plot 114. I knew that I had to go up at some point to water all of the seedlings in the mini greenhouse. I decided to do an hour and a bit of solid revision for my exam on Saturday morning, and then I took myself up to the plot to do something nice.

My Grandparents had given me a bag of red onion sets on Tuesday so I thought that I would spend just an hour or so planting out my onions sets. I already had some sets myself for brown onions and the red onion sets I had previously bought had a low count of quality sets, so it was good that I had the new stock to replenish them.

I wasn't going to grow shallots either, but one of the other allotment holders who was there on Monday gave me a bag of shallots that he had left over after planting his. I now had plenty of sets so it was time to get them in the ground..

The onion bed is right next to the patioed area. I am trying a slightly different way of growing them that I thought of myself after reading various methods of growing onions. I planted the onion sets in drills that I simply made from standing on the ground either side of the set. I then sprinkled some growmore in the foot imprinted areas and watered to dissolve the granules. I am then going to top up the foot imprinted areas either side of the drill with multipurpose compost which hopefully will be a good feed for the onions and should make hoeing really, really easy. Only inhereting the allotment in late February we haven't been able to feed the soil as much as we have liked so we are definately playing catch up in that regard,

I have planted the garlic cloves in a drill right at the end of the bed nearest to the compost bin in the hope that there won't be too much of a garlicy scent near to the patio area.

It was nice being there for just an hour and actually being able to get something in the ground. I have spent many whole days (8+hours) on Plot 114 clearing weeds and preparing beds and then thinking I still have so much more work to do which can be a tiny bit de-motivating. So this was a short and sweet change to that pattern. I also managed to get another freebie from another allotment holder, this time in the form of a gooseberry bush! One of my favourite fruits!! I already have 2 other small bushes looking for a spot on the allotment, so I look forward to getting those in the ground at the weekend.

Anyway, seeing as I said there wasn't going to be an allotment update until Sunday night, I didn't do too well did I? Oh well. I had fun and I still found time to revise.

I definately won't be making a blog post now until Sunday. Amy and I are watching 'Oliver' at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Thursday night and then 'Disney on Ice' at the NIA on Friday. Then on Saturday I have the dreaded exam.

Have a good weekend and Happy Birthday Mum!


Wednesday 14 March 2012

Our little friends...

Well plenty of progress is being made on Plot 114. All the beds have been dug over except for the pumpkin bed which is currently covered over with plastic sheeting to keep the weeds down until we are ready to do something with it. We're also still waiting to get a trailer full of well rotted manure on the brassica bed, but hopefully that might come to fruitition this weekend.

Anyway today's not about the plot itself but who we share the plot with. I've made several references in previous blog posts to the feathered friends who have been visiting the plot without fail every single day. There are a trio of robins who will sit on nearby posts, tubtrugs and wheelbarrows and watch as I clear an area or dig over the ground. As soon as  I move away then they are straight in, and let's just say the worms are straight out!

I haven't been able to get any good photos of them as of yet but my brother was down on the allotment on Monday and managed to get a few pictures with his special camera...

Being tied up with coursework deadlines is not as fun as being tied up in twine and brambles so this week there is going to be little progress on the plot, I sure can not wait for the Easter break. I have Sunday off from work so that is going to be a whole day of allotmenteering fun and adventure. Possible time to get the onions in, but I'm still not sure about the first early potatoes. We'll wait and see..

Over at one of my favourite blogs 'Purple Poddes Peas', Magic Cochin (Celia) is celebrating her 5th blogging birthday. She is hosting a live blogging day with regular posts and questions and answers. Make sure you head over there especially for the tour of the vegetable garden this afternoon.

Have a fantastic day whatever you are doing!


Thursday 8 March 2012

Skip to it...

As you may know when we took over the allotment a big chunk of the land about 1/6 of it was covered in carpet and the weeds rather than being surpressed had grown straight through it.

I rang the town council to see if there was somewhere I could dispose of it, however they said they were getting a skip soon and that is all they could say. They told me to put all the rubbish off the plot to one side and then they would ring me when the skip had been delivered.

Well I got a phone call today and they said a skip had been delivered at the other allotment site yesterday and I needed to transfer the rubbish myself.

Well, it's a good job I acted immediately because it seems that all of the other allotment holders had been waiting for the skip to arrive too...

It was certainly releaving to have rid of all the carpet and all of the rotten bamboo canes, plastic bags and rotten timber that had covered the allotment for the past year. The allotment is looking a tidier place today. I just can't wait to get up there and start sorting out that soft fruit bed. That is my task for the day so wish me luck!


Wednesday 7 March 2012

Amy's area..

What a strange day we have had today weather wise. I was up at the allotment at 09.30 this morning and there was a light drizzle, but nowhere near enough to put me off a bit of a digging. Then within half an hour I suppose the inevitable happened and there was a terrible downpour which lasted about 15 minutes, I will be eternally greatful to our shed for providing shelter. The showers were on and off every 15 minutes which is really annoying since it was my day off and my main day this week I  had allocated to spend sorting out the allotment.

Dinner time came and I picked Amy up for lunch at my grandparent's house before returning to the allotment where there was CLEAR BLUE SKIES and SUNSHINE but a horrendous WIND blowing. The weather really was throwing everything at us today. But we did manage to get things done.

I finished off digging the 2 beds on the right hand side and I also spread some homemade compost from home over the bean patch. Amy pottered around in the shed sowing seeds for Kale, Kohl Rabi, Lollo Rosso and a a couple of courgette seeds in the hope of an early crop like last year. Amy also planted some raddish seeds in one of our salad raised beds that I filled with a bag of compost this afternoon.

Anyway, it's time to show you Amy's little area that she wanted..

It's not completly finished but the foundations are there. On Friday evening my Dad came down to the plot and helped me move the slabs in to place. We actually had the chairs out on it earlier but we put them away before I took the pictures. The 2 salad raised beds make the border for the slabs and I think this area will look great in the summer. We are going to get a table and put some pot plants in and around the area to make it a perfect hangout for those sunny summer days. Amy is pleased anyway so that is good!

It's nice to be able to show you another perspective of the allotment from the slabbed area...

You can see the beds on the right hand side which I finished today. One of the beds on the left is covered with cardboard to surpress weeds until we need to plant our potatoes out and the uncovered bed is the bean bed where I spread the compost today. The runner bean trench is also there and is now full of rotted manure, grass clippings, banana skins, apple cores, tea bags, shredded paper etc. A perfect mix for the beans to thrive. Again you can see at the back the tarpaulin covered area for the pumpkins and root beds. The soft fruit bed is being tackled tomorrow if I remember to take my gloves up with me.

It was definately nice to sit back today and reflect on how much we have done already. We can't wait for the seeds to start germinating now...

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday 6 March 2012


I have spent every spare minute of every day at the allotment since last Tuesday when we took over our new allotment, Plot 114.

I have been going to university in the mornings and then getting home for a few hours of digging and on my days off on Wednesday and Friday I was there from the moment I woke up til it was time to go to bed.

We want everything ship shape and ready to start growing in the next couple of weeks.

The next picture shows you what we have done so far. We have dug out the first three beds on the left hand side which will be home this year to our courgettes, potatoes and beans. The courgette and potato beds have been covered with some old carpet and cardboard to surpress weed growth until we are ready to grow. We've also dug a trench in the bean bed for the runners and have put in a load of grass clippings and horse manure in the hope of getting a fantastic harvest.

We've also started the right hand side and cleared the area where the onion bed will be and the area we have designated for a table and charis for Amy to relax on. The seating area will also be great for my grandparents who love visiting the allotment my Grandad was up on the first day we got plot 114. He used to be the chairman of the allotment society in Derby and had 4 plots of his own and managed over 300 for the society. He is a true fountain of knowledge when it comes to allotment gardening.

In the foreground bed you can see the established rosemary bush which I have cleared of weeds and planted two rhubarb crowns on the other side too. Our allotment neighbour, John, gave us a Rhubarb crown as a moving in present which was very kind of him. John has been on the site for a very impressive 31 years and he is full of great advice. My Grandad and John got on very well comparing tips, advice and stories.

Another picture from the other end..

We have started clearing the soft fruit beds. Amongst Raspberries there are Blackberry and Gooseberry bushes and we also discovered a grape vine which is rather exciting. We need to get a frame ready to help support it's growth for the summer. John gave the vine to the last plot holder as their welcome present and it still remains. He says that almost everybody on the site has a grape vine from him and they produce the best British grapes he has ever come across, so fingers crossed.

If you are observant you might also notice that we have brought the mini greenhouse up to the plot from the house. In here we have some brussel sprouts, cauliflower, brocolli and cabbage in seed trays. We also have some lettuce underway ready for our salad raised beds.

Amy has suprisingly been pulling her weight too. She helped to dig one of the beds and she was also excited to sow the seeds. Amy was definately looking forward to sorting out the shed, and hey presto..

We managed to get the table from my grandparents as they conveniently bought a new one a few weeks ago. The table is covered in our potting essentials as well as our seed potatoes, garlic and onions which we will be planting in the next couple of weeks.

We've also been greeted by our little friends every time we have visited. I thought there was two of them but there definately seems to be three. Here is one of them watching over me as  I clear some weeds from the soft fruit beds..

We have done even more than I have outlined in today's post over the last two days, but I've only just got around to uploading this installment, so you'll have to wait to see the rest.

Thanks for reading. I'm just catching up on my blog list, so if I haven't commented on or visited your blog recently then I will be in the coming days.

Have a good day!


Thursday 1 March 2012

Our New Home - Plot 114

If you've been reading our blog over the last few days you will have joined us on the rollercoaster ride we've been on. We had an allotment. We had 2 allotments. Shall we have both. Let's just have one. Which one?

All of those questions and topics have been discussed in the previous blog posts, but today's blog is designed to give you an insight in to our new home.

Why did we choose Plot 114 over Plot 16?

It has the contradicting type of soil. (Retains moisture, but has good drainage) - We felt this was far better than the chalky/dusty soil on Plot 16. I took advice from my Grandad the allotment guru and he said he'd rather have 1 allotment like plot 114 than 10 of the plot 16 because you'll probably grow the same amount of produce with less work. Our winning soil was definately one of the winning factors.

Plot 16 had a massive apple tree as it's only feature. Plot 114 has a shed in mint condition. Inside this shed is tools a wheelbarrow and lots of other nifty neceseties like netting and poles. Outside this shed is a composter and 2 water butts. Where Plot 16 had apples, plot 114 has raspberries. 2 whole rows of the things.

Ok, Plot 16 was closer to the water supply. But Plot 114 isn't too far at all from the site water supply and is definately reachable by a hose. With the two water butts too we should be able to use some of our own water harvest if it ever does rain again this year.

The really cool thing about Plot 114 is I can even park my car right next  to my shed! At Plot 16 you have navigate down a narrow alley in between 2 houses to get there, no good for carrying heavy things. At Plot 114 I can park up and transfer heavy and odd shaped things with ease.

So thanks for reading, here are the photos!

Here is a view from our lovely shed! You can see that it needs a bit of work but it definately has a bit of potential. This place is covered in 'useful junk' such as stakes and small raised beds which would be ideal for sowing salad...

The allotment goes up pretty much all of the way to the shed in the background minus a few ft.

At the end of the allotment there are 2 rows of raspberries and blackberries followed by a strawberry bed. Here is a view from the alternative end...

You can see how the soft fruit area is a bit overgrown and is in desperate need of pruning. You can just about see my car poking out from behind the shed too. (Advice regards pruning and mulching raspberries would be greatly appreciated.)

Walking back down to the shed, we meet these two little fellows who were watching us the whole time...

The pair or Robins did give us a good source of entertainment for a while.

Reaching the shed, it's time for a peak at what is inside...

2 hoes, a spade, fork, 2 rakes and a few planks of wood are on the left hand side as soon as you walk through the door.

Well Plot 114 is certainly going to take some work, but we believe we've made the right choice.

We're now feeling a bit better and can't wait to share our adventures with you. From planting the onion sets in a couple of weeks to harvesting pumpkins in September.

Thanks for visiting us and reading our blog we really appreciate it!

Martin and Amy x