Archive for the ‘Allotment’ Category

Strimming fun

Monday, June 9th, 2008

All our rubbish. The skip was empty when we arrived Mr and Mrs Carrot. We didn't grow these ones unfortunately Our new toys! Strimmer and a hose Before strimming I'm making a dent in the jungle

Lucy having a go Much neater now, still some to strim though Spinach and Mizuna getting massive Preparing the end bed for more potatoes Starting to earth up the Kestrel potatoes

Neatening up before the Picasso potatoes go in Potato fertiliser, applied when earthing up Kestrel potatos all earthed up, Picasso ready to go in Giving the new crops a watering Glass cloches have come off the courgettes now

Our new incinerator! In need of a new coat of paint Sturdy grate inside the incinerator Maker's plaque Incinerator's main door

Air inlet and ash hatch - currently rusted shut It's hungry! Nice sturdy carrying handle Tip top chimney hat Pan inserted into the incinerator

Lid on Disco Squash A nice trough we salvaged from the skip

Vrrrrrrrooom! That’s right, we now have a strimmer! Maybe I’m a bit too excited about it, but I have a soft spot for powerful (30cc, don’t laugh) mechanical toys. We originally went to Focus to get a strimmer and were going to buy a Mcculloch model for £69.99 but luckily they were out of stock, meaning we ended up visiting the Argos next door where we found the same model for £59.99! Not only that, but they were also selling another more powerful model for £47.99, bargin. We got the cheapset model, a Spear and Jackson 30cc petrol strimmer.

It was quite easy to get the strimmer running. It uses a 40:1 mixture of unleaded petrol to 2-stroke oil which are easily measured out using the mixing bottle that the strimmer comes with (it also comes with some 2-stroke oil). After strapping it on nervously, Lucy had the job of pulling the starter cable to get it running. I’m happy to say itgot going without incident and nobody was horribly mamed in the process. I did manage to stall it a few times fairly quickly though. The engine needs to be run at full speed for a few seconds after it’s first started to warm things up.

Once I’d got the hang of things it was pretty easy to chop the jungle of grass back to a decent length. In fact it was quite an enjoyable job and very relaxing, the time really flew by.

Before the strimming adventures we had found out from a nice lady on another plot that we could request a skip from the allotment owners, to be delivered free of charge so that we could get rid of all our remaining junk, which was a nice surprise. A few days after Lucy spoke to the lady that owns/runs, she gave us a call to let us know when the skip would arrive. We were advised to get in early because in the past they’ve been filled up with all sorts of junk, not just allotment waste. It came on a Friday morning, so we both took an early lunchbreak, ditched work and headed down to the allotment to clear all the junk. When we arrived the skip was basically empty apart from a couple of bits of broken glass. The picture above shows what it was like when we’d finished filling it up…It was truly brimmed to the cram.

Another new addition to the plot is our lovely blue incinerator. Lucy had been whiling away the hours with her favourite hobby of looking for free stuff on the Free to Collector section of the Friday Ad website, when she came across the incinerator. It was being given away by a couple that live 10mins away from us, as they’d never found time to use it and it was taking up too much room. The advert had only been put up a few minutes before Lucy saw it, so she phoned up straight away and we offered to take it off their hands. They accepted! As it was too big to fit in Lucy’s car, the couple giving it away kindly offered to deliver it directly to the allotment for a fiver to cover the fuel costs (They had a nice big white van). A day later, a bit of heavy lifting and a short drive find it now in its new home at the back of our plot. We were thinking we might try and use it as an oven/tandoor to do a spot of cooking in…we’ll see how that goes later.

Spring is springing

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Semi-circular salad bed Spinach - Picasso F1 Mizuna Batavia lettuce Batavia lettuce bulking out

Salad and onions Preparing the soil for more salad Salad bed looking healthy Salad! For eating! Mizuna and Baby leaf spinach, with a dressing of blood, sweat and tears

Soon to be fruit Serenaded by our little friend Lone bluebell In amongst the garlic New blossom

A Poundland cloche Happy courgette under glass Courgettes under cover All the courgettes under glass now 6 Red Caulis

Red cauliflowers In their new bed Slug attack! Protecting the cauliflowers from invasion Pasting table in the greenhouse

Keeping the physalis warm Edible Cape Gooseberry Kestral Potato, I think Potatos poking out Aaran Pilot Potatoes

Kestrel Potatoes Onions. Doing well at the front, not at the back Goodies in the cold frame Pretty, but annoying...Pretty annoying Weed control, Owen style

Getting the better of nature's engineering Wings well and truey clipped Dusky digging Burning more scrap Pseudo-moody Lucy - Fire God

It’s been very busy on the plot as everything has been shooting up at an incredible speed. All our salad crops are doing well and even more have gone in. New additions include: 3 Courgette Plants, 6 Red Cauliflowers, Normal white Cauliflower, Beetroot, Kale, Cavelo Nero, Brussel Sprouts and probably a few more (which I shall add later).

After a huge number of Dandelions managd to put up their fluffy seed heads I decided that a good (and fun) way to to get rid of them was with a blowtorch. The idea being that they wouldn’t be able to float all over the plot. It was surprising quick to toast a large number of the heads as they only need a quick pass with the blowtorch before they vaporise in a puff of smoke.

There have been more exciting developments on the plot this weekend, but I’ll detail those (along with eveything else I’ve missed out in this quick update) in another post very soon.

Officially 806

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Removing the old shed sign Carving a recess in the old sign Recess carved for our new number New number glued in place Our plot number finally up on the shed

806, standing proud Tractor ploughing next door Our new salad bed and strawberry patch Salad and onions Brick edged strawberry patch

A carpet of pretty blue flowers Wind had broken the fence I've re-enforced the fence now New buds on the apple trees Old and new working together

Spinach and salad coming up Not much use any more Garlic's getting bushy Ladybird on my leg A surprise opening

Lucy raking in the grass seeds The grass seed's now protected from birds Onions uncovered Re-edging the bed Lucy hard at work as usual

Rusty old tank filled with rubbish Testing for leaks There's one

I finally managed to get the carved sign that I was making finished and back up on the small shed at the front of the plot. I removed the original sign board that was on the shed and carved out a recess into which I glued the smaller green sign that I’d carved out, painted and then varnished. It’s been there for a week now and it holding up relatively well, although there are some streaks in the green paint which suggest I should have been a bit more patient and applied another couple of coats of varnish.

Back to the important stuff now…I’m happy to say that the snow we had a short while back doesn’t seem to have killed off the majority of our salad crops. The spinach, Mizuna and Iceberg lettuce (Or Batavia as it is also known - A horrible set of McDonald’s TV adverts recently used this name to make whatever swill they were peddling sound a bit more credible) all came through the cold well and have sprung to life. Unfortunately the lamb’s lettuce is still nowhere to been seen, so we’ll have to replant that. It was in the same area and planted to the same depth as the other seeds, so I can only assume that Lamb’s lettuce isn’t very hardy.

The fence near the shed had been blown over by strong winds when we arrived, so I rearranged it a bit and then used some of the iron poles we have laying around to pin it securely in place. There was also a lot of weeding to be done, a lot more of that than anything else in fact. The leafy vermin seem to be thriving with the recent spells of warm weather interspersed with showers. Our biggest enemy seems to be Groundsel which is springing up absolutely everywhere on the plot. We’ve tried to make as big a dent as possible on the population before all the plants go to seed (they’re carried on the wind which is why they’re so prolific).

After I’d weeded the paths at the top of the plot Lucy raked over the soil and coved the area with grass seed to try and encourage that to take the place of the more intrusive weeds. We removed the chicken wire cage from over the onions (which are now big enough to fend for themselves) and place it over the newly seeded area to give the grass a chance to get going without becoming bird food. Our biggest issue will be keeping it moist enough to germinate given that the weather’s been on the hot side. We might experiment by covering it with newspaper to stop it drying out in between waterings.

In between weeding and watering I investigated whether our empty water tank would be salvageable with a bit of hole patching. It seems that it won’t. After clearing it out and checking for large holes I took a piece of scrap hose that Old Bob had left us and siphoned some water from the full tank sitting beside it to see where it would leak from. Annoyingly it began to leak even before any water reached the level of the larger holes, meaning that the flaky, rusting interior was hiding smaller and more insidious leaks that would be difficult to find and patch. Let us know if you can think of a good use for the tank, besides being a rather heavy and inefficient sieve.

Exciting things are afoot in the potato patch! That’s right, this weekend saw the emergence of our early potatoes from their cosy beds. Lush green leaves have begun to spring up in pleasing rows along either side of the beds. We planted the rows of Arran Pilot & Kestrel potatoes around 60cm apart (the width of our beds is 1.2 meters) and left around 10 inches between potatoes (I can’t help mixing my metric and imperial, sorry). We’ve read in various books that we should pile the earth up around the shoots as they grow above ground so that only a short section is exposed. This is supposed to increase the number of potatoes per plant (due to more of the plant residing underground) as well as protecting the potatoes from diseases such as blight, to some extent.

Picture extravaganza

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Chitting the potatoes in apple packaging Potatoes chitting away Kestrel earlies Moira digging for victory Free labour

A quick shed break Using our new Hoe New salad beds dug Garlic's doing well Healthy garlic

Elephant garlic Watering in the elephant garlic A new tap! Another gift from the ground Our new onion sets

Onion trench Tobacco tin for spacing the onions Onions all in a row Red Baron onions in Interesting shoot colours

Potatoes coming along well The shoots are getting longer Chicken wire protects the onions from bird attack Onions have begun to sprout Weeding the paths

Interesting moth/butterfly in the greenhouse Preparing trenches for our potatos Potatoes ready to be covered over An onion overview Long violet aubergine seedling

Sweet peppers in the propergator Art or scrap? A figure emerges Ghostly goings on Our small toolshed

806 faintly visible Painting our hand-carved plot number All painted up Time for some weatherproofing First coat of varnish being applied

I promised new pictures, and I think I’ve delivered more than my fair share. As the Brief(ish) update below suggests, quite a bit has happened with the onset of spring, including a surprise bout of snow today! The ground is covered to about 10 Inches deep in places here, but unfortunately we’ve not been able to get down to the allotment to check on the fruits (and veg) of our labour. I’m not too hopeful about our newly planted salad crops surviving the cold…The garlic, potatoes and onions should fair better, with any luck.

Back at home the aubergine plants are doing well in their new individual pots. Most of them suffered a bit of leaf damage before they came out of the propagator when we left them to their own devices for a week and went on holiday. When we got home from our neglectful stint in the sun the aubergines had grown quite vigorously and the large leaves had become covered in condensation. This sitting water seems to have ‘burned’ the leaves somewhat, but at least they didn’t go the opposite way and dry out. I think that would have proved more fatal.

The new residents of the propagator are the sweet peppers I planted a week or so ago. You can see these in one of the pictures above sprouting up quite happily, so I’m quite positive about those giving us a good crop in the future, provided they make the transition to the greenhouse without too much trouble. It’ll be time to pot them on soon enough, then we’ll have to start thinking about what’s next to go into the nice warm propagator for germination.

We measured up the internal dimensions of the greenhouse recently to see if it will accommodate a cheap pasting table. I was going to remove the top surface of the table and then replace it with some cheap wooden batons, spaced a centimetre or so apart. Then I was going to soak the whole thing in wood preserver to give it a slightly longer life. This will give us a nice workspace on one side of the greenhouse, while the other side can be given over to the actual growing of tasty veg.

Our plot’s needed a sign for a while now - one stating the plot number, it’s a requirement of the allotment. It’s taken me a while to get round to it as I’ve had quite a few ideas about how I wanted to do it. One version was going to be etched from copper, another was constructed from brass Meccano gears all linked together and driven by a solar powered motor. Our plot number is 806, meaning that a number of round gears and a small ratchet arm for the top part of the 6 would have worked together quite well. However, even on ebay brass Meccano gears sell for quite a lot of money, so in the end I decided on a simple carving on a scrap piece of wood (as you can see in the pictures above). I printed the numbers out then transferred them to the wood using a pin to pick the outline. I then used a V-Gouge to carve this outline. I’ve now given it a coat of green paint and one of a hard wearing Yacht Varnish. It’ll get another coat and then I’ll fix it to the small shed at the front of our plot. I’m still going to keep an eye out for cheap gears…

Ah yes, the tap! I’ve forgotten to mention it up until now. We went up to the plot one day (I think it was last month) to find 4″x4″ post with a tap fixed to it, driven into the ground next to our compost heap. To our delight the tap worked and now we have an incredibly handy water supply. Although we’re very lucky to now have a tap so close to hand, we’re going to try avoid using it seeing as we have perfectly good rainwater collected in the 2 large old water tanks that Old Bob left us. There is a third tank on the plot but it never fills up due to the rusty holes. I might have a go a patching these up to some degree if possible.

Before we left the plot last time we were there we dug another small triangular bed next to cold frame, this is now the new home for our strawberries. We’ve been growing these at home for a while now with varying success. Our losses to the local wildlife tends to outnumber the amount we actually eat, but I’m sure with some effort we can get the odds back in our favour. This bed is different to all our others so far. We dug in lovely compost from our heap as usual (after removing the crisp packets, which inexplicably, haven’t broken down yet…What was Old Bob thinking?). The difference with this bed is that we went for a classy brick edging! Unfortunately I’ve not got any pictures of that yet, but that’s a treat for the future. The result is quite nice though and we’re now considering the same finish for the opposite bed, which is also triangular and now full of very frosty lettuce thanks to the snow. We’ll need to get hold of some more bricks first though and that’s a whole different matter.

Lastly, I decided to have a bit of a go at chicken wire sculpture given that we have so much of the stuff. I went for the ghostly figure of a monk in robes and I think it came out reasonably well. It sits at the top of our plot looking towards the greenhouse. I’ve been thinking about moving it closer to the bottom of our plot, nearer the main path and then growing a climbing plant up the inside to flesh it out a bit. I think I’ll wait until we’re a bit less busy with the planting first…If that ever happens.

Brief Update

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I’ve been slacking on the updates recently as the allotment workload ramps up so here’s an overview of what’s happened recently (pictures to follow later):

Arran Pilot & Kestrel early potatoes have gone in.

Three onion varieties have been planted, 2 white, 1 red. That’s Stuttgart & Centurion for the white and Red Baron for the red.

A new salad bed has been created and planted with Spinach (Picasso F1) , Mizuna and Lamb’s Lettuce. More will be going in later.

Iceberg lettuce has gone in in another salad bed.

A new brick-edged strawberry bed has been created and planted with strawberries transferred from our garden.

Parsnip seeds have gone into half of one bed (although we have yet to see any signs of life nearly 3 weeks on…).

3 cloves of elephant garlic have been planted in a row next to our other garlic plants (which are doing very well). We’ve yet to see any shoots from them.

At home I’ve just transferred about 10 aubergine plants out of the propagator and into larger pots ready for moving to the greenhouse when it’s warmer. I have 4 different varieties - Ping Tung, Thai Yellow Egg, Long Violet and Pandora Striped Rose. The Long violet all germinated well with the other varieties only producing 1 or 2 viable plants.

After potting on the aubergines I filled the propagator with 3 varieties of sweet pepper - Antohi Romanian (Wide pointed peppers), Golden Bell (Sweet yellow bell peppers) and Friggitello (Long pointed peppers). With any luck I’ll get some good plants from that bunch. I might plant up some hot peppers soon too.

That’s your lot for the time being, I’ll get something better posted in the next week with some pictures included.

Busy busy bees

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Nice bushy plants Lucy washing glass Cleaning the cold frame Replacing the top panels Glass back in...only slightly broken

Compost for the beds The windswept look The growing bonfire heap Really? Re-laying the path

Potatoes ready for action Arran Pilot Potatoes Kestral Potatoes Picasso Potatoes Charlotte Potatoes

Lucy heating her soup Lucy eating her soup Fresh from the thermos Scary black spider Looking out into the cold

Digging out a stubborn elderflower Exposing the roots The evil elderflower finally defeated Burning weeds Nice warm bonfire

Adding more rubbish Mesmerized Keeping the darkness at bay

Lucy and I have been down to the allotment the last couple of weekends. Last weekend we went down on Saturday & Sunday and managed to get quite a lot done. The weekend before that we did some general tidying and put the cold frame back together.

On Saturday we went and picked up the four varieties of potato that we’d ordered last year from the allotment shop. Talking to one of the men working at the shop was slightly worrying. When I told he we had four different types of potato he said “Oooooh…that’s a lot of potatoes you’ve got there” which wasn’t really the response we’d been hoping for. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I ordred them, so I thought it’d be best to spread the risk and order earlies, second-earlies, main crop and salad potatoes - these being Arran Pilot, Kestrel, Picasso and Charlotte, respectively. We need to ‘chit‘ these now, although they seem to have been chitting themselves in the meantime. This basically involves standing the potatoes up in an egg-box or similar with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards and letting stalks grow out to a length of 1 inch or so, then they can be planted.

After picking up our potatoes we were on a mission to clear some of the huge glass stockpiles that Old Bob had lovingly saved for us. We piled the glass up into large green recycling bins and buckets, then rounded up some of the scraggy bits of chicken wire and took it all to the tip. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anywhere to recycle the glass as it was a mix of types so it had to go in with the general waste, which seemed a shame. We didn’t have time to take all the glass on Saturday so we did another run on Sunday too. All in all we took 4 large green recycling bins full to the top with large sheets and a number of buckets chocked with finger-ripping shards. We kept some of the useful sized bits that were in good condition, so we’re not totally glass free, but it still feels good to have got rid of enough glass to build a 1:1 scale replica of The Crystal Palace.

Later in the day we prepared two areas at the top of the plot for growing herbs and salad and Lucy cleared out an area behind the shed that was hiding more junk. We found out from the people on the plot behind that previously it’d been hiding a family of foxes!

Next I started digging out the elderflower plant that was taking advantage of the lovely rich soil in the compost heap. We made 6 litres of elderflower champagne last year, and as nice as it was, having a huge plant sucking up nutrients from our compost wouldn’t be ideal.  If I’ve learnt anything from watching Ray Mears, it’s that digging out plants with complex roots can be best accomplished with a pointy stick. Using a bit of old iron pole I scraped around the base, exposing the roots until they could be cut with a saw. It took a good couple of hours and in the end a bit of brute force broke it free.

One of the other things we got done over the weekend was to level out the paving slabs between the shed and greenhouse. Somehow when we put the slabs back down after levelling the earth underneath, they wouldn’t go back in a straight line, but being tired and cold we decided it was a good enough job and moved onto something a bit warmer - namely burning things.

It was too windy to build a fire out in the open so I made an enclosure out of the scrap corrugated iron we had lying about pinned into place with some of the scrap iron bars we had lying about (it’s still very messy down there). We managed to burn nearly half of the ever growing weed pile before we got too cold and hungry to do any more. After covering it over with another piece of the corrugated iron we left for home….only to return a few hours later so that Lucy could quell the fears she had that we’d burnt the entire allotment to the ground with our slowly smoldering embers. We hadn’t of course and everybody lived happily ever after.

Path building & Compost Clearing

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Winter Sunset Cheeky face! Lucy pondering plans Hairy visitor in the shed So much glass

Glass lurking by the shed Mess behind the shed Yet more glass Just some of our growing glass collection Lunchbreak

Timber from the bushes Laying out timber in preparation Cutting in the cold Laying out the first slats The beginning of the path

Cutting wood for the path Central path Central path coming along well Our first crop! Lovely Garlic One is not amused

Love on the allotment Taking a break Clearing the compost heap Planning the next move The end of the day on the allotment

Mud! So much mud! The soil on the allotment is good quality, but when it’s wet it turns into a thick clay based glue that forms a thick coating on anything that touches it…mainly our shoes. To make things a bit easier I’ve started making a path down the center of our plot using old planks that we’ve pulled out of the weeds. I’m cutting them at an angle and then alternating the side that the plank touches to leave a solid path down the middle, with gaps down the edges (see the photos above). In the gaps we’re going to plant aromatic herbs so that when you walk down the path and brush them you get the nice scents.

Lucy cleared out even more glass from down by the shed. We’ve got quite an enormous pile of it now and we’re not totally sure what to do with it. Not many places seem to take sheet glass for recycling. She also made a start clearing out the old compost heap so that we can rebuild it and fill the raised beds with the material that comes out of it. Annoyingly it seems that Old Bob had left it full of crisp packets, sweet wrappers and carpet off-cuts! In amongst all the junk is some lovely rich, dark soil though, so we’ll forgive him…Well I will, Lucy might not.

A slow winter

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Piles of rubbish That's progress! Saved from the undergrowth Beds all over Slaving away as usual

Lunch in the shed Lucy slurping soup Starting the other side All marked out Nice clouds today

It’s been a slow month down on the allotment, I blame the weather. We managed to get all the beds on the right hand side of the plot dug before it got too rainy, but since then we’ve slacked off a bit. The last time we were down there digging we both had 3 pairs of gloves on…It was painfully chilly.

HIJACK! It’s me! Lucy! mmmm….yummy vegetables I can’t wait…..

I’ve done some tinkering with the radio transmitter/receiver boards (to send data between the allotment and our flat), but not managed to get them working reliably yet. I’ll get some details about them up when I get a chance.

Yesterday we found a good source for old wooden pallets on a industrial estate nearby. We’ve got to do a bit of asking around before we can run off with them, but when we get our grubby mits on some we’ll get the raised beds and compost heap sorted out.

The relative excitement of beds and paths

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Cold frame minus top glass panels Start of the center path Top end now clear Lucy inside the cold frame Cold frame in its new position

Creeping along On the lookout Drip drip Old sign - Kit-Kat maybe? All the rubbish we've cleared

Central path marked out Our central path in the making Main path & the area that'll be beds Marking the path Freshly dug

My trusty fork A fine collection of cans Old Bob's leftovers Sharing the shed with the spiders Making use of the rusty barrow

Time for a sit down Raised beds or shallow graves... Lucy admiring our work Our first crop! The end of a hard day digging

It was a good weekend down on the allotment. Both Lucy and I went down on Saturday and Sunday so we got quite a lot done.

On Saturday Lucy was working until 1PM so I started off by moving the huge pile of junk we’d collected from around the plot to a spot down near the compost heap so that it was out of the way. After that I got on with marking out a central path with pegs and twine. The plot is near-enough 8.6m wide between the paths running down each edge, so I divided that in two and then set a peg 50cm either side of the mid-point to give us a meter wide path running centrally down the plot. After the path was marked with string I dug out the big weeds from the area, raked it down, then stamped and pounded the entire area down using my feet and the flat end of the rake to compact the ground and suppress the weeds.

Next I got on with semi-dismantling the cold frame to make it easier to move when Lucy arrived. The top panels are made of sections of overlapping glass layered in four rows. They were only secured by friction and dirt so it wasn’t too difficult to remove all the panes. I stacked them in four piles, one for each row of glass, with each pile containing the glass stacked in the order it’d come off the cold frame.

I’d arranged a little test of the 3km walkie-talkies with Lucy earlier on so that I could see if they’d allow some sort of radio communication between the house and the allotment. When Lucy got home she sent me a text message to tell me to turn my walkie-talkie on (so we could conserve battery power by not leaving them on the whole morning). As I’d suspected the little radios could not even span the 1km distance from our house to the plot. It might be possible with modified antennas fitted to each transceiver, but that’d only be a last resort test. Hopefully the eBay modules I ordered will perform better.

When Lucy arrived on the allotment we successfully moved the cold frame without breaking anything. It was surprisingly stable even when hoiked up on its side with a lot of the glass removed. We put it down in a spot just in front of the greenhouse facing roughly south. It slopes slightly down from back to front meaning that it should get evenly warm in its new exposed south facing position.

On Sunday we made an even bigger difference to the plot. After reading numerous books on allotment owning we decided that a sensible bed size was 1.2m deep with a 60cm path separating each one. This means you can kneel down and easily reach any point in a bed without having to compact the soil by standing on it. To make the measuring easy we cut 2 lengths of string to 120cm and 60cm respectively, then starting from a spot just in front of the compost heap we measured out beds and paths by each holding a string and alternating position. Due to the junk piles in front of the compost heaps we measured up until we got to a clear spot, which we marked with wooden stakes to denote the start of the beds.

The edges of each bed and path areas in between were all pegged out and using string, zoned off. These string boundaries provided nice clear guides for digging, which is then what we did for a number of hours until we’d done a couple of beds each giving us a total of 4 so far. Just as we were both finishing up on our last beds the Polish guys who seem to have a farming collective on the neighbouring plots decided it’d be fun to get their Rotavator out for a quick 5 minute spin, clearing yards of ground in a matter of minutes…Not that I’m bitter mind. No really, I’m not. It was actually great fun and exercise doing the digging by hand. I think it would have felt like cheating if we’d gone straight in with machines.

Once the beds were finished we got round to putting in our first crops! Yes, exciting stuff. We had 3 bulbs of Germidour garlic to plant. They have a quite attractive purple colouring on the bulbs and smell quite tasty. They went in 10-15cm deep, spaced a similar distance apart. With a bit of luck they’ll repay us for all the hard work of digging their bed. I’d like to put some more garlic in the same bed as they don’t really take up much room and we eat an awful lot of it. One variety that caught my eye was Elephant Garlic. I’ll get some soon as it needs to be planted about now.

Cuts, stings & clearing things

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

The top corner, pre-clearing Clear! Area around the cold frame more clear Lots more broken glass lying around Old bath and more glass in the undergrowth


Some of the things found hiding in the bushes Colman's Mustard The Inventor's Shed

I went down to the allotment on Saturday morning to have a bit more of a tidy up at the back of the plot. The corner was the main focus of my attention, I spent about 3 hours cutting it back in the end, but before I’d started any of that I met one of our neighbours, a nice guy called Andy. He’s only had his plot for a year so it’s all fairly new for him too. It hasn’t stopped him building a great shed though, something I’d like to get round to eventually.

The corner was mostly full of twisted brambles, nettles and other sharp, spikey things. In amongst the organic hazards were a number of man-made dangers, comprising mostly of shards of broken glass. After getting to grips with the brambles, I got one of our many buckets and filled it with the glass bits, removing as much as I could manage from the soil. The majority of the glass was just behind the cold frame, where I assume it was dumped after ‘Old Bob’ had finished replacing a broken pane, or 12.

As with most of the other clearing that we’ve done, part of the work has involved discovering long-lost goodies buried deep in the greenery. From the corner I managed to pull: 2 Wheelbarrows; 1 Small metal bath (with leaky bottom); 1 Large metal bath (Full of water); A flattened, bottomless bin; 2 Watering cans; Last but not least, I found another stash of plate glass wedged behind the apple tree that we have growing in the corner, I’ve yet to fish it out.