The Allotment Wife

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Cute coat hangers and a bird crisis

The wonderful K has solved the problem of garden pegs (to hold netting down) – the ones we get in garden centres just seem to get tangled in the netting and cause lots of cursing (me) and sighing (him) so he’s made his own by just cutting wire coat hangers in half. They work brilliantly, but we now need more hangers for our clothes, LOL!

Coathanger pegs

This week we’ve planted another bed of Brussels sprouts (using those pegs for the netting) as in my view you can never have too many sprouts.

Brussels sprouts

Speaking of netting, we had a bit of a crisis earlier in the week as a female blackbird found its way into our fruit cage and I couldn’t sort the netting out on my own to let it escape, as the net is laced together at the top. I had to get K to come down and help me get the bird out – which we did in the end – and then we have refitted the net and added lots of soil as a barrier at the bottom to prevent birds getting in again.

Soft fruit cage

The autumn raspberries are doing okay too, and I’m still managing to keep the weeds down in the area, which is good news.

Autumn raspberries 1

The courgette we planted a couple of weeks ago is also doing well, though rather overshadowing the marrow I have probably planted too close to it, oh well. Meanwhile the runner beans are growing apace, and there’s another flush of rhubarb, so I’m making rhubarb and strawberry (from home) crumble today.

CourgetteRunner beansRhubarb

In the wonderful world of flowers, we now have astilbes, a dahlia, lilies, taller sunflowers and more sweet peas.

Astilbe 1 Astilbe 2 Dahlia Lilies 1 Lilies 2 Sunflowers Sweet peas

As a result the vases are looking good, though I have to say the red lilies do NOT travel well and start wilting the absolute second I pick them – which is a shame as they’re very beautiful.

Flowers in vases 1 Flowers in vases 2 Lilies in vase

So here’s this week’s harvest in total, which also includes a geum, sweet williams and our first small potato crop!

Harvest 1 Harvest 2

Have a great Sunday.

Anne Brooke

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Brassica Plans and an Onion Mistake

This week, we’re getting nearer to planting out two new beds of Brussels sprouts, so I have taken out the last of the tulips to clear a second bed and stored them for next year. In the meantime, K has prepared the first bed – cleared last weekend – for the incoming sprouts.

Brassica bed in preparation

We’re also pleased to see that the potatoes are starting to have flowers – which I think means that the actual crop might be ready soon – we live in hope!


On the flower front, I’ve pruned the chrysanthemums and dahlias (dahlia pruning being a tip from Monty Don on last night’s Gardeners’ World) in order to make them bushier rather than too straggly, but I’ve left the ones with buds already on them. Will wait and see results … The cleome are now in bloom too, which is nice.


K has also given the sweetpeas more string to climb up and woven them through so they’re not flopping about quite so much. We’ve also added a lot more to our compost bin, which looks to be coming on nicely now. But I think we have moles next to the raspberry patch – oh the horror! I found three mole hills, which I have kicked away and will hope they get the hint …

Our harvest today was two lettuces, garlic, one onion (mea culpa – I thought it was garlic so had already dug it up by the time K stopped me! Well, they all look similar to me, you know …!), beetroot, lilies, sweet williams and sweetpeas:


So, it should be enough to keep us going for a while. Here are the flowers in vases, which I’ve put throughout the house:

Alliums and sweet peas in vase Lilies and sweet peas in vase Sweet Williams in vase

And tomorrow is my birthday (hurrah!) so I’m planning a day of celebration. Happy weekend to all!

Anne Brooke

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Would love some feedback on garden irrigation.

Gardeners Touch

My garden is large and has a somewhat “unique” shape as sit surrounds a garden shed. It is fenced in and many plants can get crushed when dragging the hose thorughout. I’m trying drip hoses this year because I heard they were better for the mildew problems on the leaves of some plants, but I think the stretch of hose is too long and the pressure not strong enough to reach the final section of hose. I’ve also invested in good tri-pod sprinklers, but that brings me back to the issue with water on the leaves. Standing there for an hour isn’t an option. I’d love to hear about ideas that other gardeners have used.

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A Bigger, Better Tomato Plant

Gardeners Touch

Planting Tomatoes on their sideWith the garden finally planted, and the weeding underway, I finally have time to post about how I’ve been planting my tomato plants the past few years.

I first like to cut off the first few stems from the bottom of the plant.  This is the entire area I will bury, leaving a few top stems peeking through the soil.

Planting Tomatoe Plants with Epsom SaltAfter digging a hole, I place 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt at the bottom of it.  Epsom Salt acts as a natural fertilizer and contains the magnesium; a nutrient that tomatoes, peppers, and roses need in high levels.

Magnesium is often lacking in older soils and some of the deficiency symptoms include:

  • Yellowing of leaves between the veins
  • Leaf curling
  • stunted growth
  • Lack of sweetness

I was noticing some of these with my plants a few years ago and decided to give this a try. I was pretty happy with…

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Valley Adventure – The Stonecrop Gardens

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Gardeners Touch

 Yesterday, we spent a wonderful afternoon in yet another Hudson Valley gem – the Stonecrop Gardens; one of my 2015 Summer Bucket list items – exploring secret gardens.

Stonecrop GardensStonecrop was the home of Anne & Frank Cabot and became a public garden in 1992.  It is located in the Mid-Hudson valley region, in the town of Cold  Spring, NY.  It’s 12 acres comprise of several types of gardens including woodland, water, cliff rock and an English-style flower garden, to name a few.  The history of the garden is quite interesting, so be sure to check out their website.

As we entered the main drive, we were greeted with the most breathtaking view, at its 1,100 foot elevation.

 The garden is also home to The Therapeutic Equestrian Center, which provides therapeutic and recreations riding for physically and developmentally disabled children and adults.

The Therapeutic Equestrian Center at Stonecrop Gardens The Therapeutic Equestrian Center…

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This gallery contains 24 photos

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Queen of the compost

We’re deep in compost-making this week, in those two new compost bins we now have. K has taken out the everlasting spinach and we’ve used this for compost, alongside lots of spare or dead raspberry canes which I have cut up into manageable pieces. Here’s the now empty bed (we plan to use it for Brussels sprouts, along with one of the other beds which currently has old tulips in it):

Empty spinach bed

Spinach is a strange thing – the roots look like they’re weeds, to my mind:


And here’s our lovely compost bin. I suspect all this will be half the volume next week though as you can never fill up a compost bin, so they say!

Compost bin

Our asparagus bed is now enormous and looks like a fairy forest. It’s blocking one of the paths too, but that’s not really an issue – there are plenty of other ways round the plot.


In terms of flowers, we have a blue allium, and the sweet peas are starting to blossom too:

AlliumSweet peas

Back home, the supply of cut flowers, including lilies, sweet williams and the sweet peas continues apace:

Lilies in vase Sweet Williams and sweet peas in vase

Finally, we’ve managed three different harvests this week, which is great news! The first is lilies, sweet williams, and foxgloves (which don’t really last that well in vases, so I’m not sure I’ll plant them next year …):

Harvest 1

The second is rhubarb (for another crumble), beetroot, sweet williams, lilies and foxgloves:

Harvest 2

And the third is sweet peas, sweet williams and lilies:

Harvest 3

How I do love all these cut flowers – it really cheers the house up.

Happy Sunday to you all!

Anne Brooke

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Spring Is For Strawberries

Gardeners Touch

red strawberriesHave you been pickin’ yet?  Strawberries have a short season here in the Hudson Valley, so we’re in the final weeks where you can pick-your-own or find a roadside farmer’s markets to gather these sweet red beauties.  Last year I missed out, so this year my daughter and I, during our birthday week road trip, found a pick-your-own farm to stop at.  So we gathered our containers and headed up the hill to the strawberry patch where an ominous looking sky reminded us to hurry up before we were pounded by rain.  Well, we managed to, collectively, gather about 10 berries before that sky opened up.  We probably would have pressed on had the thunder and lightning that followed, stayed away.  So with sad and wet faces, we ran back down the hill to the market where we gathered berries that were harvested by staff earlier that morning.  Oh well…

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