Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catching up on Plot 13

Although we have been to the allotment over the last couple of weeks, I have not had time to update the blog. So here is a rather large, picture intensive, run down of what has been going on.

A couple of weeks ago we arrived at the allotment to find that the brambles at the back of our shed had been cut down:

It seems that the likely culprit is the council as the brambles disappearance has coincided with other allotmenteers being sent warnings about their allotments. We just find it annoying as they weren't in anyone else's way, enclosed our shed area, and offered potential of blackberries next year. Unfortunately they don't seem to put the same gusto into providing my flat with a recycling box, the topic of at least a million pleading emails to the council....but this is not the place for such discussions...

The allotment has also seen the sudden, and now regular, appearance of a cat:

Whilst this may not be worthy of note to most, it needs to be mentioned in advance to explain what is likely to be a slowing down in the work-rate. Whilst Emma has spent the last 6 years stating that she doesn't like cats, the weekly appearance of the cat is always met with the laying down of her tools, and comments such as "oh David look", "awww, isn't he sweet", etc, whilst she does nothing until he strolls off again. It wouldn't be so bad, but he is always back five minutes later and it all starts again!

At the moment most of the work on the allotment is digging the ground over, especially those areas where nothing grew this year and have just become covered in weeds. However, the Jerusalem artichokes are continuing to grow, and have now got flowers on top:

And we have just planted some Brussels Sprouts:

We also scattered some grass seeds a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to create a more defined path between some flowers and one of the vegetable patches, and that seems to have made a bit of a showing:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Veg World

After what has been a fairly disappointing harvest of crops this year we are starting to prepare for next year. They were still a few bits to dig up however, and yesterday we got a few potatoes, some stumpy carrots, a few onions, and some parsnips that turned out to be extremely tasty.

All that we really have left in the ground now are the Jerusalem artichokes, and a little prod with the fork yesterday seems to suggest that they are not quite ready yet.

There is still plenty to do though, and today will be filled with planting some flower bulbs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beautiful beetroot sandwiches on the allotment

When we first took on the allotment we thought that there would be plenty of occassions when we could spend our weekends there enjoying the weather, the view, and whatever book we were reading at the time; just doing a bit of light weeding and watering. Unfortunately the allotment has rarely managed to get to the 'bit of light weeding and watering' stage, and on those occassions it has, the weather is either rubbish, or we have had something else that needs to be done.

However, we just got to spend a very enjoyable day at the allotment. Enjoying the weather, not killing ourselves to do anything specific, or having to rush off anywhere else...and the highlight was the opportunity to have some of Emma's freshly pickled beetroot:

Everyone should have an allotment on days like this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beans, beans and beets

As it was a nice sunny day, and the majority of my work at the moment consists of reading numerous books and journal articles, I decided to do my reading in the shade of the shed on the allotment! With my new top-of-the-range phone I have a personal office wherever I go...I must have the best job in the world.

Whilst there I collected some more beans (both dwarf and broad) and some beetroot, which we have plans to pickle this weekend:

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The allotment has been very hard work this year, and with very little reward besides some rather nice broad beans...and the fault is being placed very firmly on the bizarre weather. Nonetheless we have continued to toil away, only to find today that our shed has been broken into!!!

...Obviously at the point the photo has been taken I have removed the lock with the piece of wood hanging off it.

Whilst there was nothing of value, annoyingly the only thing that they took was the hammer....the one I need to fix the lock that they had broken....bastards.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Catching up on the allotment

With the PhD thesis refusing to be finished Emma has been doing sterling work on the allotment...although in truth she hasn't liked spending too long up there without me. This blog includes a number of photos that she has taken over the last couple of months that I have been too lazy/busy to blog about.

The loganberry bush is growing well, and since this photo was taken (8th May) there has even been the appearance of a couple of berries!

..and the broad beans which showed no sign of beans in this photo (28th May) have since become over-burdened!

The beginning of June also saw exciting growth in both the Jerusalem Artichokes....

...and the parsnips, carrots, beetroot.

Unfortunately the lack of my influence on the allotment was beginning to tell at this point:

We have spent the last couple of days working hard on clearing some of these weeds, and underneath there are lots of Emma's flowers:

We even got as far as planting some spring onions:

Although the spring onions should have been in by the end of June, we are hoping they won't notice the difference.

....and now I am up to date and exhausted from such a long (and probably rather boring) blog.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Perfect rows of onions on our anniversary!!!!

After weeks of anxious waiting the Jerusalem artichokes finally arrived, and 7am yesterday morning we headed off to the allotment, cleared the designated area, and put them in 18 inches apart and 5 inches deep. Like many people we had never seen a Jerusalem artichoke before they arrived, but rather than taking a photograph and using this as an opportunity to educate the public...we just planted them and took a picture of the newly watered patch:

Other parts of the allotment continue to flourish, with this week's highlight being the perfect rows of onions:

Today also marks the one year anniversary of us having an allotment! Whilst it was a big job at the start, and there have been depressing moments, overall its definitely been a pleasure.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lots of life on a packed allotment!

It's always exciting when there is lots of life above ground rather than just taking photographs of rectangles of earth with bits of string stretched out over the top. The broad beans are looking extremely healthy:

And the mini-apple-tree is already sprouting leaves:

As well as getting to enjoy the signs of life, we have also been continuing to plant more things. Today saw the addition of two sorts of lettuce and some cabbages. We are running out of room on the brassica section of the allotment, and may have to plant our courgettes amongst the legumes...although how the beans will react is anybody's guess.

Between stretching her toes and demanding I put more effort into the digging Emma has drawn up a plan of the allotment that shows how much we have planted so far(click on the picture to enlarge).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yet more beans and berries!

We have just spent an extremely productive morning at the allotment planting some berry bushes that arrived in the post yesterday, and some dwarf beans that Emma bought during the week. We would have planted some lettuces, but Emma 'forgot' to buy those...which is quite surprising as we had a big conversation about them last week...namely how I wanted lettuces and she didn't!

These berry bushes seem to have a bit more life in them, than the blueberry bush which seems to be playing hard to get, and the olive tree which seems to be wilting in the hot British weather.

We have tried a new design with our canes for the dwarf beans this year:

Which turned out to be an extremely user-friendly way of doing it, and we will probably do the same thing for any future beans (unless they have fallen over by next week).

Monday, April 09, 2007

Pea shoots and tuberons!

The first signs of life are now appearing on the allotment from the seeds we planted a couple of weeks ago, most noticeably with the peas:

With such encouragement we soon got down to sowing the parsnips, carrots and beetroot.

nb. Whilst the term 'tuberons' should be used to refer to the tuberosus family of root vegetables (e.g., potatoes and the missing Jerusalem artichoke) I have used it here in the incorrect sense to bolster its self-image on Google...ONLY 199 hits!!!!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Chitting and lots of brassicas

Whilst the whereabouts of the missing Jerusalem artichokes is still a mystery the morning was started by a delivery of potatoes of the melody variety. These are now chitting away in an old egg box:

According to the instructional leaflet they need to be left for about six weeks before they can be planted!

We did however spend a produtive morning planting some other delights, most noticeably the brassicas: broccoli, calabrese, Brussels sprouts[1], and spinich:

As well as another half row of peas.

[1]Whilst the Wikipedia recognises the common usage of 'Brussel sprouts' the Oxford English Dictionary will brook no such behaviour...unfortunately 'Brussels sprouts' doesn't flow so easily, so I shall now live in fear of their regular appearance in conversations!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Apples and Sunflowers

Unfortunately as the nice weather approaches there is hardly time to make a blog entry between trips to the allotment as we seem to be there so regularly!

Just yesterday we were planting a mini apple tree:

This is one of those occasions that you curse the demise of the hyphen. Will it be mini-apples or regular sized apples on a mini apple-tree? Time will probably just tell that our apple tree doesn't like to produce apples of any description!

We also planted some sunflowers next to the shed:

You can't help but feel positive about sunflowers...thanks to the encouragement of Blue Peter everyone has managed to grow at least one sunflower!

First thing tomorrow morning we plan to be there once again, planting some healthy greens and another half row of peas. Although the big question still remains:
"Where are our Jerusalem artichokes???"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Onions, garlic, and some flowers

There are a million and one things to do on the allotment at the moment, but somehow it always takes longer than we expect. Nonetheless we managed to plant our onions and the garlic...even though Mr Fothergill's garlic was decidedly dodgey...we may be looking elsewhere for our seeds next year!

And most importantly...from Emma's point of view anyway...she sowed some pretty little flowers....oooh!

(Nb. all exciting things are happening underground at the moment so it's a fairly generic photo).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

No more letters from the council...yet....

The deadline for us to have cleared the allotment of weeds passed on Monday, and as yet there have been no more nasty letters threatening us with eviction. This is probably due to all the planting we did at the end of last week.

(It has taken until now to make a blog posting due to the silly old PhD write-up getting in the way)

We have planted:
A gooseberry bush

A blueberry bush:

An olive tree:

And some broad beans and some peas:

The huge metal poles for the broad beans have been selected in the recycling spirit of allotmenteers...they were found amongst the rubbish that was left on the allotment. Unfortunately they are about 10 foot long, so had to dig a hole about 4 foot deep so they wouldn't fall on anybody's head.

After planting the olive tree we did wonder why we had planted it in a pot rather than straight into the ground....especially as it looks such a small pot in the photo...but the packaging said it was an option, and I can assure all worried readers that the pot is much larger than it looks in the photo!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

All Dug Over!!!

There were times when we thought it would never be finished, but at last the allotment is all dug over!!

Obviously such an event deserves more than a mere picture in the we have VIDEO!!!! YEY!!!!

It's only a short video, but it allows you to appreciate the amount of work we have done over the last couple of weekends...and also answers the question I am constantly being asked:
"David, where are you going to put your brassicas???"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Improvisation is the allotment watchword!

Another exhausting day at the allotment, but whilst there was plenty of digging and clearing, the highlight was the resurrection of the third composter...the amputee we thought would never compost again!

Whilst its new access-hatch (the head of a spade we dug-up) is not quite as neatly fitting as the original that went missing in the dreadful storms of 2006, it'll do for now.

Tomorrow morning we are hoping to finally finish digging over the whole allotment...but there again that's what we thought about last Sunday and again today!

What weeds?

A letter arrived from the council at the end of February:

The highlights of which include
"plot...neglected...clear...of weeds...[or]...notice to quit"!!
In fairness the plot is looking a bit run-down:

But in our defence, we have been waiting for the onset of spring before digging it all over and planting lots of exciting bits and pieces!
Anyway, last week we dug up over half the allotment ready for planting (unfortunately I am not allowed to be a full-time gentleman gardener/blogger until my PhD is finished, so this is the first opportunity I have had to make a posting).

There is still lots to do before the March 25th deadline, but there have been definate inroads made; and yesterday saw a lunchtime trip to Woolworths result in lots of bargain seeds and plants ready for planting, so we are looking forward to another hard-working weekend...just as soon as I finish this entry...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Not all sheds are made of such stern stuff

After visiting the allotment to drop off some bits and pieces in the composter, we realise how lucky we were when our shed blew over. Today we saw sheds that had received much worse treatment: one had had it's roof blown off; one had fallen over on its side (in a similar manner to ours); and one looked as though it had started to blow over, and then just crumpled into pieces!

The crumpled shed just goes to emphasise how well built our shed is...maybe it is time for me give up on the PhD and take up my true calling as a carpenter.

Unfortunately this blog entry is devoid of pictures as Emma forgot the camera...but maybe it is for the best as it would be a bit ghoulish to have photos of other people's sheds in pieces.