The Allotment Wife


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Sweet peas and soft fruit

A couple of visits to the allotment this week as it was so hot and we needed to get some watering done. Today, I thought there would be a huge amount of rain but in fact it’s not been like that at all and we’ve even had sun. Surrey must have missed the memo about the storms.

Anyway, the French climbing beans are doing well but of course there’s never as many as I’d like – I’m a real fan.

The second planting of peas we did a few weeks back are also finally starting to grow which is good news – we had been a bit worried about them:

Today, K planted another yakon to keep the first one company:

We’ve decided to buy some little gem lettuce to add into the raised bed above as there’s space – so will sort that out next week. That’s a hearting lettuce so we don’t have to worry about it bolting.

I have also sown some basil seeds and carrot seeds into the space next to the original lilies – they probably won’t do anything but there’s no harm in trying. You can’t see much in the picture but they are definitely there!

In the world of our new fruit cage, we have already found a couple of holes in the roof netting, so K has mended these with string today. We’re not too fussed about it as the roof netting is simply an old one we were using at home – it’s the wall netting that’s new.

We also have our first gladiolus in bloom, hurrah! Such a glorious colour – I’m a real fan of anything orange or red.

Here are our two harvests this week:

Above are lilies, sweet peas, the gladiolus, a Peruvian lily and a few roses.

Today’s harvest has soft fruit! We cropped gooseberries, blueberries (Smoky Blue variety), a few tayberries and one spare blackcurrant. We also have the French beans, the first of the scented lilies – which are amazing – more sweet peas, Peruvian lilies and roses. The house right now smells wonderful!

Here are the vases at home:

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Anne Brooke Books


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Working Hard in the Hot Sun

Yes. Today is the hottest day in the whole world this year apparently. So how better to spend the hours between 11am and 2pm building a fruit cage in an area with NO SHADE!!

We are indeed insane. Still, we remembered to take water – so delightful when the water is hotter than you are when you drink it. Today we have finished the base which we have also been working on throughout the week. K has been putting the wood down and I’ve been building up the ground with mulch as the allotment ground isn’t straight. The result being no gaps at the bottom of the structure.

I also cut strips of ground sheet out to give to K to staple onto the roof cross-pieces so when we put the netting on, it won’t tear. After ten minutes of doing this, I took my scissors, my kneeler and the ground sheet roll to a tiny bit of shade near the hedge as it was just too darn hot in the full sun.

K has also very cleverly built a door which we fitted today.

We’re pretty pleased with it – it opens and closes and everything. Here is a picture of our now protected roof cross-pieces:

In other news, the gladioli now have their first buds on which is fabulous:

And the courgette has a flower:

And in very exciting news, the first climbing French beans have cropped:

Here are pictures of the two harvests we’ve taken during the week:

Above you can see carnations, sweet peas (such long stems!) and lilies.

And today’s harvest (above) is roses, sweet peas, coreopsis, carnations, the last of the mangetouts, the first of the amazing climbing French beans and some blackcurrants – which I’ll make into a crumble with some plums I bought.

Here are the vases at home:

Enjoy this scorching weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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New Rose Garden and the Developing Fruit Cage

Back in the allotment today after a two-week hiatus due to mental health issues. K has been nobly keeping things going and also working on our massive fruit cage, which is coming along amazingly well. He calls it ‘woodhenge’!

As you can see, we have decided to skirt round our rhubarb bed and the door area can be seen next to the rhubarb in the photo immediately above. A work in progress and a major undertaking from my amazing husband, but it will make life so much easier when it’s done.

We have also decided to take the verbascum out – well, it was just becoming a nightmare and to my mind is a terrible flower for cutting – it sheds petals every second or so and it’s a hive of moth caterpillars! Yuck. So I dug those out for the compost heap today and instead – inspired by our trip to Hampton Court Flower Show last week – have planted three scented roses for cutting. We have Desdemona, Lycidas and The Poet’s Wife. We also bought a fourth rose – William & Catherine – but we will plant that at home.

As you can see, the lilies are doing wonderfully:

And the sweetpeas are finally starting to grow:

Another thing that struck us today is that the weeds are just crazily out-of-control. Honestly, this year is the WORST year for weeds both on the allotment and at home that I have ever known. Must be to do with the amount of rain we’ve been having, but it’s just crazy.

Mind you, the rain does mean vegetables are doing well too. The cabbages are beginning to ‘heart up’ which is great news:

And the beetroots are doing okay too:

My favourite of all of them though is the climbing French beans which have already reached the top of their supports:

We have discovered a small wasp nest in the shed which is a real pain – K went back after we’d come home to deal with it, as we certainly don’t want those sort of shed tenants!

Here is another allotment view for you:

You can see that the gladioli at the front are doing well too. Today’s harvest is the lilies, some mangetouts and a decent amount of blackcurrants plus one redcurrant, all alongside my boot, LOL:

Here are the gorgeous lilies at home:

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Anne Brooke Books


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Fruit Cage Plans

We’re planning to put a permanent fruit cage around the whole of our soft fruit area to save having to build it each year which is a real pain. The allotment committee have said yes (thank you!) so we are now starting to build it. Here is the wood which we took a couple of goes to get from the car to the allotment:

Today K put in 4 corner posts so the structure is basically in place (sorry – forgot to take a picture of that!). It’s tough work, but it will be so worth it.

I have also done a huge amount of weeding – as everything is going crazy with the rain we’ve been having. Here are some views across our plot:

The verbascums were knocked flat in the rain so I have tied them up to give light to the other plants around them:

As you can see, the gladioli have not fitted in with our succession planting efforts as they’ve all come up at the same time:

We finally have some lilies!

And Monty Don made me grit my teeth a bit last night on Gardeners’ World when he told us we should be picking our sweet peas regularly. Ha! Not in our case!

Good news on the veggie front though as we have our first small harvest of the mangetouts:

And the French climbing beans are slowly on their way – I do love their dark stems. So elegant.

Here is the harvest of carnations, lilies, asparagus (our last cropping of this one) and some mangetouts:

Here are the vases at home:

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! And happy Fathers Day

Anne Brooke Books


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The kindness of gardeners

I must say once again how kind gardeners are! After my courgette disaster of last week, the lovely Maureen at my church job has donated one of her courgette plants and a cloche into our tender care – thank you, Maureen! Here it is in its new position, and I am praying hard for its survival!

Whilst we were on the allotment this morning, the equally lovely Melissa kindly donated one of her spare rhubarb plants to us as well, so a huge thank you for that too!

We have removed most of the old daffodils and some of the tulips so we have space for other crops. I leave the daffodils at the allotment for planting out for next spring, and I take the tulips home for planting in the garden (and get new tulips for the allotment next year).

So we have planted out our cabbages and netted them to try to ensure survival:

And K also planted some fresh pea seeds so we can get a succession of crops:

Though of course all you can see at the moment is netting! Speaking of which we have netted our gooseberry bush in the soft fruit area now as it has fruit on it and the birds go crazy for them even when they’re not ripe so we are determined to gather as much of the harvest as possible for ourselves:

Our sweet peas are also doing well in their new position on the other side of the shed:

Our verbascums are also out at last – late due to the poor weather in May, but still welcome:

I also planted out a whole lot of sweet williams but for some reason didn’t take a picture of them, so I will try to remember to do that next week!

Here is our harvest of verbascums, asparagus & rhubarb:

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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French Beans and Daffodils

Huge amounts of weeding to do on the allotment this week as we didn’t go last weekend as the weather was so appalling. Actually it wasn’t much better today but we had wellies and raincoats so were just about fine.

While we were away, the asparagus went mad:

And the rhubarb wasn’t that far behind either, which is brilliant news for today’s rhubarb crumble:

The lilies are also coming along nicely:

And the soft fruit bed is looking good too (must be the rain!):

While I was weeding and hoeing like a crazy woman, K got to grips with the long grass around the plot and also set up a climbing frame for the French beans which we planted today. Here you can see them with a rather sad looking courgette which we also added (front of pic):

I have also removed most of the daffodils from one of the beds they’ve been in and plan to tackle the other bed next week, weather permitting. I will store these in the shed and those that survive will be planted again in the autumn:

Here is the harvest – which consists of asparagus, rhubarb and two lone tulips!

Have a great Sunday, everyone, and stay dry!

Anne Brooke Books


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Dahlia and Beetroot planting

Thought we’d add in a few more dahlias to our perennial bed now it’s warm enough so I planted those out today while K was mulching the soft fruit area:

Before you ask, yes, I did remember to take them out of the plastic bags before putting them in, LOL! And speaking of the soft fruit area, here it is looking very green and lush:

We have also put in the beetroot – it’s a golden variety which doesn’t stain, hurrah:

Not many tulips left now but still a nice scattering of colour:

So a small harvest today of tulips, asparagus and a few rhubarb stalks (the latter of which I have added to today’s apple crumble):

Here is the vase at home:

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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Rhubarb Lost and Found

It’s been an icy week at the allotment so the rhubarb is sadly suffering a little though we did manage to harvest a few sticks to add to our crumble today.

Whilst there, I also planted another few rows of gladioli to make the season last later in the summer. I still have one pot of old bulbs, plus a packet of new ones to go.

Our soft fruit area is still doing okay:

And here are the two beds of tulips – this year they’re not as abundant as I would have liked, but they are doing all right:


The lilies are definitely looking good though:

Here is the harvest of tulips, narcissi and 4 spindly rhubarb sticks:


On the walk home, I managed to lose two out of the four rhubarb sticks (the horror!) who made a bid for freedom so I had to run back down the road and find them both, LOL! Husband could then say how there was more rejoicing in Elstead over the two rhubarb sticks that were found than there was over the remaining two who had sensibly stayed in the trug! There ends today’s homily …!

Here are the vases at home:

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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Rhubarb Season

Absolutely thrilled with the rhubarb today, which we have been able to harvest for the first time, yay! Ideal for apple and rhubarb crumble.

We are also very happy with how the soft fruit is growing – all looking healthy.

However, there aren’t as many tulips as last week and some of them are really small so not worth picking for the house – but we did our best.

I’m pleased to say the lilies are on their way as well, which is good news:

So today’s harvest is the rhurbarb (my yearly warning – do NOT under ANY circumstances eat rhubarb leaves as they are VERY poisonous!!), daffodils and tulips:

And here are the vases at home – some of these in the picture are still going strong from last week’s crop!

Enjoy the rest of Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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Easter Tulips

First of all, a very happy Easter day to you all! A lovely sunny day today so naturally we were down at the allotment this morning. And I’m thrilled to say that the first of the decent-sized tulips are here!

Those small red ones are still pretty small, but one of them is just about worth cutting!

I also planted another few rows of gladioli for our succession planting, so that’s another bucket of last year’s bulbs sorted out. Still one more bucket of the old bulbs, plus the new ones we bought to go in.

Meanwhile, the rhubarb is really going for it, but still not quite ready to harvest:

And our haskap berry (edible type of honeysuckle) is in flower though I’m afraid the photo isn’t great:

Anyway, here is the harvest of tulips and narcissi which is just so spring-like! And perfect for Easter Day:

And here are the vases at home:

Happy Easter!

Anne Brooke Books