The Allotment Wife


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Gooseberry Pruning

I was on my own today at the allotment as K is busy building the stage for the village play which is next week. So I went prepared as last night on Gardener’s World, the great Monty Don told us to prune our gooseberries to get rid of some of the inner twigs so this is what I’ve done. Apparently it helps prevent gooseberry sawfly but we’ll have to see. It’s certainly a task that needs thick gloves as the stems are so prickly.

Gooseberry

Continuing the pruning theme, our oldest rhubarb has got a lot bigger, but there are more flowers on it so I cut those off to encourage stem growth. The leaves are looking good though.

Rhubarb

There is also some new growth in the chrysanthemum and dahlia area, so that’s exciting!

New growth

Not so many flowers to gather this week, though there are more daffodils and tulips to come. Maybe the heat has put them off or something?

Daffodils 1

Daffodils 2

Tulips

Meanwhile, the lilies are getting there, at least in terms of foliage. I’ve not sprayed them yet though but will start when they’re a bit taller:

Lilies

Whilst there, I did a hoe through, particularly in the soft fruit area where the weeds are sneaking up, and also trimmed our plot edges with the shears so it all looks a lot neater.

Here is this week’s harvest of narcissi and tulips:

Harvest

And here are the vases at home – the little narcissi have an amazing scent! Interestingly, last week’s daffodils have all gone, but the tulips from last week are still going strong which is great!

Vase 1

Vase 2

Vase 3

Have a lovely April weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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The Composting Queen

This week, K has mulched the bed with the dahlias in – there’s honestly nothing nicer than a newly mulched flower bed!

mulching

And I am having great fun making new compost from this and last week’s pruning:

compost

It may not look like much now, but in a while it will be worth its weight in gold, I can tell you!

Anyway, I cut back the rest of the chrysanthemums as they’re all over now, and so our only harvest is lettuce, LOL!

harvest

At this rate, we’ll be having lettuce for Christmas lunch too – it’s the healthy option for sure.

Anne Brooke Books

 

 


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Frost devastation

Well, the sharp frosts we’ve had in the mornings this week have certainly ripped through the allotment – no gentle fading into winter here! Here are the poor dahlias:

dahlias

And the marigolds are a goner …

marigolds

As is the Peruvian Ground Apple (Yakon) …

peruvian-ground-apple

Oh dear me! We’ve cut down all the dead things, except the yakon as its harvest is still growing under the soil and we don’t need to dig it up until later. I don’t think the loss of the leaves will do much harm at this stage.

On a happier note, no matter how delicate the lettuce looks, it’s a tough trooper and the frosts mean nothing to it, as you can see!

lettuce

The leeks continue to grow (slowly!) …

leeks

Although maybe the rhubarb isn’t too sure about the weather:

rhubarb

Never mind, you can’t keep a good rhubarb down!

I also planted 100 tulips in a spare bed (where the beetroot used to be – see below) – and this time I’ve gone for the scattergun approach (as beloved of Monty Don) rather than the straight lines I usually favour. It certainly makes planting less dull, and hopeful they’ll be a nice display for the spring:

tulip-planting

Once done, K mulched them and then put netting on top to stop the squirrels digging them all up again. Funny how squirrels go for tulips, but leave daffodils alone. Anyway, we’ve used the old sunflower stems to weigh the netting down and hope that will keep them safe:

tulip-netting

Here is the vegetable harvest, which consists of some good old lettuce and the rest of the beetroot which we can wash, dry and store at home:

vegetable-harvest

Only chrysanthemums to harvest in terms of flowers this week:

flower-harvest

And here they are in the vase:

vase

Have a great week, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books
Lori Olding Children’s Author


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Farewell to Courgettes

The great allotment autumn cull these week. We’ve cut down the courgettes and the asparagus, which really neatens up the plot. Here’s the courgettes before and after – it’s done us proud in terms of cropping so we’ll definitely get the same (El Greco) again. NB Apologies for the quality of some of these pics – my camera phone was having ‘a moment’!

courgette-1

 

courgette-2

I’m sure the courgette skeleton is some kind of alien – or at the very least a baby crocodile! Here’s the asparagus before being cut down too:

asparagus

We chopped up both the courgette and the asparagus for the compost. Chopping the courgette is strangely tuneful as the stems are hollow (weird!) and so start off giving out a bass tone as you begin cutting them, and then end up quite tenor as the stem gets smaller. I’m sure if K and I could make a record of this, it would be a hit, you know!

The lettuce is also doing well and so we harvested some of that to last us through the week:

lettuce

The chrysanthemums and dahlias are also looking amazing and benefitting from the mild weather at the moment. We particularly love that burnt orange colour of some of the chrysanthemums so hope we’re able to get more for next year – this lot were mixed, so no guarantees.

chrysanthemums-1

Here is this week’s harvest, which includes chrysanthemums, dahlias, marigolds, coreopsis, beetroot and lettuce.

harvest

And here are the flowers in their vases at home:

vase-1

vase-2

vase-3

vase-4

vase-5

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Anne Brooke Books

 


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Luscious Lettuce

This week, it’s the turn of the lettuce to shine in Allotment World, and how glorious it’s all looking:

lettuce-1

lettuce-2

I do always feel so pleased when the winter lettuce is in full spate – such a happy plant. Not to say the dahlias aren’t still doing their thing as they most definitely are and there are more buds on the plants to come, hurrah!

dahlias-1

dahlias-2

The chrysanthemums are also really gorgeous right now and the joy is they last so long in the vase – almost two weeks in most cases! Another lovely autumn flower.

chrysanthemums

I also harvested one small courgette, a scattering of beetroot and one or two spare potatoes that were lying around trying to look innocent – ha! It doesn’t work with me, LOL! Added to the harvest were the lettuce, marigolds, dahlias, chrysanthemums and one echinacea that sadly didn’t last the journey, oh well.

harvest-1

harvest-2

Here are the flowers at home:

vase-1

vase-2

vase-3

vase-4

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books

 


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The Day of the Dahlias

It’s astonishing how well the dahlias are now doing, and there are even more buds to come – should the weather be kind.

dahlias-1

dahlias-2

Not only that, but the asters look very pretty too:

asters

However, it’s still definitely autumn so everything is winding down – though I don’t think the courgette has yet got that message as it’s still producing fruits, and I harvested 3 of them today – more to come!

Anyway, I did a hoe round and also cleared the weeds on the paths, while K sorted out compost and tidied round the autumn raspberries bed – which are also on the way out in terms of produce, sadly.

Here is the harvest, which includes, a beetroot, courgettes, autumn raspberries, lettuce, echinacea, marigolds, coreopsis, asters and dahlias.

harvest

Here are the vases at home – I’ve tried to keep to a colour theme this time, and I think it works.

vase-1

vase-2

vase-3

vase-4

vase-5

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books

 


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I Love Manure!

We were lucky enough to have 20 bags of manure delivered directly to our plot this week – courtesy of the lovely P (thank you!) – and K has been getting some of it onto the beds today while I did hoeing and plot tidying elsewhere on site. I really love manure – it makes everything look so rich and lush, and I find the smell weirdly exciting – don’t tell me that’s just me, LOL!

manure-3

manure-1

manure-2

manure-4

How can anyone resist that glorious earthy brown?…

Meanwhile the asters and dahlias continue to do well, and if our luck’s in, we might even get flowers in November – I do hope so.

asters

dahlias

And the chrysanthemums are on their way – I really love this pink flower:

chryanthemums-1

K dug up half the remaining potatoes today so that should keep us going for a while!

potatoes

And the harvest includes autumn raspberries, courgettes (still growing!), beetroot, lettuce, alongside asters, chrysanthemums, one crocosmia, coreopsis, dahlias and marigolds.

harvest

Here are the vases at home:

vase-1

vases-2

vases-3

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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Autumn Flowers and Woodchip Paths

A lovely couple of hours at the allotment in glorious weather this morning – it really makes up for yesterday’s almost permanent rain – though then again the rain means I don’t have to water anything this weekend. Anyway, I did a hoe round, and K has taken some wood chips someone kindly donated to the allotments and put them down on our most weed-filled paths (on top of new black sheeting of course). I think they look lovely and we hope it will keep the weeds down for a while.

woodchip-path

The asters are also looking brilliant. The first one is Harrington’s Pink – and it smells of pineapples so I love it! K isn’t so sure, LOL.

aster-harringtons-pink

I can’t remember what this smaller pink aster is but it’s great as a vase filler:

asters

The dahlias and marigolds are also continuing to do well:

dahlias

marigolds

Plus I’ve finally planted the last tranche of daffodil bulbs so that’s all our early autumn planting done, hurrah! Next stop is the tulips in November, but we’d best buy some of those first.

daffodils

We’re really pleased with the lettuces and have harvested a couple of the bigger green ones too. They should definitely keep us going through the winter.

lettuce-1

lettuce-2

lettuce-3

Meanwhile the Peruvian Ground Apple (AKA Yakon) looks extremely happy at the moment so I hope we’re going to get a good crop from it.

peruvian-ground-apple

Here’s this week’s harvest, which includes autumn raspberries, beetroot, courgettes, lettuce, coreopsis, marigolds, penstemons, asters, dianthus and dahlias:

harvest

And here are the flowers at home. I’m particularly proud of those Harrington’s Pink asters!

vase-1

vase-2

vase-3

vase-4

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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Lettuces and daffodils

Not too much hoeing to do at the allotment today as we’re now into autumn which is lovely news, even though that means no more summer flowers, sob! Still the autumn flowers are doing well. Here are the dahlias, still going strong:

dahlias

And our first chrysanthemum is now in bloom, with more to come:

chrysanthemum

We also have an assortment of flowers coming up, such as dianthus and asters and something else I’m not sure about but it looks as if it will be good, LOL!

allotment-flowers

allotment-shrub

I also planted some more daffodils for spring, but there are more left to plant, so will try to find a space for them next week.

daffodil-bulbs

While we were there, K took down the sweet peas, and I also need to think about removing the gaura and crocosmia at some point – which I hope to find space for in the garden at home – somewhere!

The plot has also gone lettuce-crazy with three separate crops really going for it, hurrah!

lettuce-1

lettuce-2

lettuce-3

Here is this week’s harvest, which includes autumn raspberries (all of which I have just used to make raspberry & chocolate brownies, yum!), courgettes, beetroot, onions, coreopsis, dahlias, asters, echinacea and marigolds.

harvest

We’ve taken a few courgettes, beetroot and onions to the URC this morning as it’s their harvest festival tomorrow. so all in a good cause, hurrah.

Here are the vases at home:

vase-1

vase-2

And tomorrow it’s the allotment working party & bbq, so I hope everyone has a great time at that! K will be going but I’m working at the university tomorrow helping new students arriving on campus – welcome to all! It’s that time of year again – hasn’t it gone quickly …!

Have a great weekend.

Anne Brooke Books

 

 


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Sunflower and Aster Explosion!

Our first sight of the allotment this morning was two of our sunflowers lying collapsed across the path, oh dear me – must have been the storm during the week. Luckily they didn’t cause any damage and they were about due to come out anyway! It’s amazing how tiny a root system sunflowers all have for such a top-heavy flower – it’s a miracle how they stay upright at all …

resting-sunflowers

So we’ve taken the rest of the sunflowers out, and also removed the runner beans.This gave me a chance to get half of our planned daffodils into the empty runner bean bed – I put the new ones in today, but I’ll put the rest of the old ones from last year in next week. The new daffodils are supposed to bloom even earlier than the ones we had last year, so I hope they all do all right.

I’m also totally delighted with the new flowers – Little Carlow asters (they’re blue) – which we planted a few weeks ago just to see how they do. They’re TOTALLY amazing – and look stunning in their vase (see later) so I am so definitely going to get more next year.

little-carlow-asters

The dahlias are still going strong, though the stalks are shorter now so more of a challenge for flower arranging, LOL!

dahlias

The last of the gladioli is a beautiful red one – I’m sad to see them finish and we think we’ll get more of them next year and do more successional planting so they go on later into October, rather than finish now.

last-gladiolus

And the sweet peas are most definitely done! Didn’t get a chance to take them out today, but I’ll try to fit that in next week as I really don’t like them when they get this untidy:

dead-sweet-peas

We’ve also taken out one of the courgette plants, but the other has two large courgettes and two mini ones today, plus five or six still to come, so we’ll give that one a bit longer:

courgettes

Meanwhile, the autumn raspberries are fruiting far more than they did last year – is this possibly because I did what my stepfather told me (very rare, LOL!) and didn’t cut them down last year as you’re supposed to do? It certainly means you get loads more fruit, but not cutting them down might be something we do every 2 years, as this year they’ve got very untidy and are drifting over the path which makes things tricky.

autumn-raspberries

So, here’s our harvest – the courgettes (the mini ones are SO cute and you can even wear them as earrings, LOL!), some autumn raspberries (no time to pick all of them today!), plus the gladiolus, the Little Carlow asters, crocosmia, penstemons, marigolds, dahlias and coreopsis:

harvest

Here are the vases at home – first off, those glorious asters, which I put together with the penstemons, and I think it works very well:

vase-little-carlow-asters-and-penstemons

I kept the dahlias together which I think they like best:

vase-dahlias

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the crocosmia and gladiolus as I don’t really have a vase small enough for them, so made do with a champagne glass:

vase-crocosmia-and-gladiolus

I’m really happy with how the marigolds and coreopsis have gone together though – the yellow and gold are stunning!

vase-coreopsis-and-marigolds-1

vase-coreopsis-and-marigolds-2

Have a super weekend!

Anne Brooke