The Allotment Wife


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The first of the summer flowers

Very rainy at the allotment today, but we had our raincoats and hats so kept out the worst of the wet. However, I think I should have worn my wellies, as my old walking shoes don’t keep out the rain, sadly. Today, K sorted out the compost section so the slats are now removed and we can use the bins instead. A lot of what is in the old compost appears to be just soil, so we’ll bring the soil sieve down at our next visit and sort it out. It will be easy enough to put the soil back on the allotment – and certainly easier than the 2 days it took us to de-weed and de-bramble our front garden at home!

Anyway, the exciting thing for me is the allotment flowers are on their way for sure now. Today, we have alliums large and small, foxgloves, geums, lilies and Sweet Williams.

Alliums Foxgloves Geum Lilies Sweet Williams

Meanwhile in the veggie area, the rhubarb is growing back apace, hurrah. I’ve not harvested any today as I want to try to make a rhubarb and orange cake next week so I’m saving it for that.

Rhubarb

We’re still letting the asparagus go to seed now, and so far the carrots are surviving against the dreaded carrot fly (fingers crossed, eh!)…

Asparagus bed Carrots

We’re also very pleased with the lettuce, and in addition the runner beans and sunflowers have put a bit of a spurt on.

Lettuce Runner beans with sunflowers

And the soft fruit area is now a veritable forest of hope – we’ll have to net it pretty dang soon though!

Soft fruit 1 Soft fruit 2

Today there is also exciting (well, sort of!) news as I have planted some chrysanthemums that I’m hoping to display at the allotment show in September, if they’re any good, that is. I’ve never done this sort of thing before but it will be nice to have a go if we can, as we did enjoy last year’s show very much. I foolishly forgot to take a pic of them, but I will try to remember next time.

I’ve also planted cornflowers, a scattering of marigolds (Naughty Marietta – we love that name, but sorry, no pic yet!) and more beetroot (which you can compare with the older beetroot next to it below).

CornflowersBeetroot 2 Beetroot 1

Finally, here is the harvest of small alliums, Sweet Williams, lilies foxgloves, lettuce and beetroot, plus the cut flowers in vases at home:

HarvestCut flowers

Have a great Sunday.

Anne Brooke Books

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Small can be beautiful

A quick hoe round the allotment this morning, plus I sprayed the lilies and put slug pellets down (no organic gardening here – well, I am a farmer’s daughter after all!…) while K  planted up some more beetroot:

Beetroot

We’re growing rather fond of beetroot – so wonderful that you can eat all the plant and nothing’s wasted, hurrah. So we picked a couple of the older beetroots and also some of the lovely geums, and the smaller alliums:

Harvest

I did think the smaller alliums (as in my earlier post) were a mistake, but I thought I’d try floating them in one of our ramekins (look how posh we are – we have ramekins! – not bad for an Essex Gal, eh …) and actually it really works.

Alliums

I’ve put the geums in with some of our chive flowers from the garden and they look pretty good too.

Geums and chives

Here they both are together, to give you a sense of perspective:

Geums, chives and alliums

In other flower news on the allotment, the lilies and sweet williams look like they’re going to bloom fairly soon so I’m looking forward to that. And we are letting the rest of the asparagus go to seed to give it a chance to get sorted for next year – so our asparagus season is now over, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the crop. Also, I think that with a bit of luck and if the wind is in the right direction, we might get a second flush of rhubarb too.

Anne Brooke Books


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A very early potato and a handful of lettuce

Popped down to the allotment after church this morning, and I planted up some cleome, coreopsis and gaura for the cutting garden:

Cleome, coreopsis and gaura

That means I’ve got about 2 or 3 more rows left empty in that bed – which is in front of the shed – so am planning to put more cutting flowers there later on. Yesterday, our show chrysanthemums (gosh!) turned up, so it might well be them. I can never resist a big, blowsy, sock-it-to-em flower.

Meanwhile, K dug out the daffodils to give the potatoes more of a chance to spread out. We washed the best of the bulbs and put them in a bucket to dry off

Daffodil bulbsPotatoes

After that, I’ll store them in the shed ready for planting for next year. I put the ones that didn’t survive on the compost heap. Talking of which, we now have not one but two compost bins at the allotment which we plan to use instead of the fenced off compost area. We think this will be easier to contain and sort out. K had planned to dismantle the fencing today, but we need a different kind of screwdriver, so will have to do this later in the week.

Meanwhile, we have a harvest – of sorts! Whilst digging out the daffodils, K disturbed a very early potato – which we cut in half and shared at lunch today – and added two beetroots and a good handful of lettuce to the collection. We’ve also had the beetroot leaves with lunch and they were delicious – tastier than spinach certainly, and such a pretty colour too with that red stripe to them. We’ll use the actual beetroot and lettuce later in the week, but I have to say the smell of the freshly-cut lettuce is simply amazing! I never really knew lettuce has a smell, but actually it does.

Harvest

Have a great bank holiday.

Anne Brooke Books


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Big beans and geum joy

Much to our amazement, our runner beans – planted just last week – have grown, well gosh! They’re even starting to twist themselves around the poles, which is great.

Runner Beans

And the asparagus plant we’re leaving until next year is going to seed now, which is what is supposed to happen so that’s astonishing too. It’s a lot taller than I thought it would be though. Mind you, I still managed to harvest two asparagus tips, so we’ll have those as a starter tonight.

Asparagus

Nothing much happening in our spinach bed, however, although we’re now thinking of getting rid of half of it (as there are only two of us and there’s a limit to how much spinach two people can eat!) and planting the other half elsewhere. That way, we can use that whole bed for Brussels sprouts – which of course one can never – ever – have too many of …

In Flower News, the geum is now in bloom and is far bigger than the geums we have at home (which are Mrs. Bradshaw and Tangerine Dream, I think) – if only I could remember what type the allotment geum is, I would definitely get it for the geum corner at home. In the meantime, I have cut it for the house as it’s just so beautiful.

Geums

And the Sweet Williams are getting ready to strut their stuff as well, hurrah. Interesting, the astilbe also looks like it might do something soon, but I thought it was supposed to be an autumn plant. Shows what I know, eh – absolutely nothing!

Astilbe Sweet Williams

We’re also carrying on washing the stones our kind allotment neighbours are leaving us (for which thank you!) and putting them across our marked out paths when they’re clean. It’ll take a while, but it’s looking good.

Have a great bank holiday weekend, all!

Anne Brooke Books


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The Whole Plot and Nothing but the Plot

Looking back over my last few allotment posts, I don’t think I’ve taken a picture of the plot as a whole, so here’s a wider view of it to give you an idea of the whole thing:

Allotment Raised beds Soft fruit area 1 Soft fruit area 2

As you can see, the soft fruit area is coming along nicely. Turning to the topic of vegetables, we’ve planted the runner beans today – which means that for a short while we have the tallest runner beans on the allotment (gosh!) until other people plant them out of course!

Runner Beans

We’ve also cut the spinach right back (though harvested some first for the week) as a fellow-allotmenteer advised us to do so – as hopefully it means we’ll get lots of new plants sprouting which will be tastier than the old spinach:

Spinach

It gave us a chance to get rid of some of the weeds in that bed as well, though of course they’re bound to come back. Ooh, and we used our spinach yesterday when we had friends round for dinner as we stuffed some chicken pieces with it – and laid some of our asparagus across it too as a garnish (go, us!) – and very tasty it was as well. When I say “we” here, I mean “K”, as he’s much better at cooking main courses than I am. I’m much happier making puddings …

And we’ve harvested our first garlic bulb, hurrah! I’ve chopped it up and added it to today’s chicken joint – the smell was amazing. There’s plenty of garlic left over too, so shall use that during the week – which surely means we will be the smelliest people in the village, ha!

Garlic

Meanwhile, in Flower City, I’ve planted some more dahlias today, and am also very happy that the geum is doing well.

Dahlias Geum

But there’s sad news about the alliums I planted for cut flowers – maybe I should have read the description more thoroughly as they’re now in flower and appear to be only about an inch or two in height! No chance of cut flowers here – though they are pretty – unless I get a job-lot of egg-cups in …

Alliums

Happy Sunday and happy allotmenteering!

Anne Brooke Books


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More Sweet Peas and an Asparagus Mystery

This week, K and I have tidied up the messy area next to the shed and planted some more sweet peas that we’ve been growing in the little plastic greenhouse at home. We’re really pleased with the result, and think the rest of the area could be given over to a path next to the raised bed and some pots, maybe. Perhaps even some tumbling tomatoes in pots, which might look good.

Sweet peas

The good thing is that I could use some of the stones from this area to lay on one of our strips of lining to form a path, or rather more of a path. Over in the asparagus bed, things are growing well and we’ve harvested more asparagus today, which has been totally delicious. However, we know that there are two new plants in the bed and we’re not supposed to harvest those in the first year – the trouble is we can’t remember which they are so we’re relying on a bit of guesswork and a lot of prayer.

Asparagus

There’s good news about our potatoes as well – post our frost moment, the new earthing-up seems to have done the trick and they’re happily growing back, hurrah.

Potatoes

While K was digging out the bed for the new sweet peas, I spent some time hand-weeding the soft fruit area, and between the paths too, just to keep things vaguely under control. The soft fruit is looking pretty good, so that’s exciting.

Soft fruit 1 Soft fruit 2

Here’s a picture of this week’s harvest (asparagus, rhubarb and spinach):

Harvest

Meanwhile, the rhubarb is truly the gift that just keeps on giving, though it is getting rather chewed up by slugs (or something), no matter how much Slug Doom I scatter over them. However, this week’s crop has done us proud as presents for a friend and a lovely rhubarb and ginger crumble with cream for lunch today, bliss. Plus K made a lovely spinach soup with cream and leeks (shop-bought, oh the horror …) which was totally amazing – definitely must do that again!

Rhubarb

And in the cut flower beds, the astilbe is coming along, the sweet williams are thinking about being in bloom and – best of all – the sunflower seeds (Russian Giant) are starting to sprout, so it really feels as if summer is just around the corner.

Astilbe Sweet Williams

Sunflowers

And I’m happy with how the lilies are – I keep spraying them, so no lily beetle (yikes!) as yet …

Lilies

Have a great Sunday!

Anne Brooke


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Time for Sweet Peas and a Potato Disaster Averted

This week’s main job has been putting in the sweet peas. K created a climbing frame next to the shed for one lot and put the other lot in next to the compost frame so they can climb up there.

Sweet peas 1 Sweet peas 2

Speaking of the compost bin, K also turned it to try to persuade it to break down more but it really needs more green matter, so we will have to try to remember to add the grass from the next lawn mowing to it.

Whilst there, I harvested more rhubarb, which we plan to use for a rhubarb fool and also a crumble, which should keep us going over the weekend.

Rhubarb

Plus I also harvested four asparagus tips (and there’s more to come) plus another armful of spinach, which is going great guns at the moment.

Spinach

And there’s good news about our potatoes – we were very worried that they might have got blight, even though K says it should be too early for that. We were just about to dig them up when the lovely couple in the plot next to us stopped us and said it was frost problems, rather than blight – and the cure is to earth them up and then more shoots can grow through. We were very grateful indeed (thank you, hugely!), and K earthed them up.

Potatoes

Interestingly, the potatoes K planted amongst the tulips haven’t come to any harm at all, so presumably the tulips are providing them with enough shelter from the frost – we must remember this next year!

Potatoes in tulips

In other parts of our plot, the soft fruit is doing very well and it’s starting to get very exciting indeed.

Soft fruit 1 Soft fruit 2

And the beetroot and young alliums are looking hopeful too, though really need to be bigger!

Alliums Beetroot

Plus you get a very special shot of my left foot, you lucky people! Think yourself lucky, as it’s apparently Naked Gardening Day so at least I have clothes on … Have a great and fruitful bank holiday weekend.

Anne Brooke Books