The Allotment Wife


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Bursting with growth

The allotment is really leaping into summer now. A couple of visits this week, including this morning, and the mangetouts are now so tall that K had to build a tepee for them to scramble up.

Mangetouts

We’ve had a nice harvest from them as well, which is quite a challenge to find as the green of the bean blends in so well with those leaves! Honestly, you can be staring a mangetout in the face and just not see it. I now understand why people prefer purple beans – much easier to harvest!

K prepared the one-and-a-half beds we’re allocated for Brussels sprouts and put up the netting supports. We’ll probably add the netting and the sprouts themselves next weekend.

And the beetroots are continuing to do well, hurrah!

Beetroot

While K set up the tepee and the sprouts support, I trimmed the edges of our plot with the shears. It’s a strangely satisfying task, I must say, and I’m happy with the result:

It certainly makes everything look a lot tidier.

There’s good news on the lilies too which are now starting to bloom – here you can see the progress from Thursday to today:

Plus we have our first sweetpea, though they’re not doing as well as last year – perhaps because they’re in shade near the shed? Though that didn’t seem to bother them last summer and these are the same type too.

Sweetpea

It’s really the same story with the asparagus which hasn’t cropped so well this year. I think it’s because we didn’t mulch them very much (if at all) so next year we must make sure to do that, as I absolutely love asparagus in season.

There are no complaints with the sweet williams though, which are as amazing as ever, and look really incredible in vases – as well as lasting as cut flowers for a very long time (see later vase pics!):

Sweet Williams

This week’s two harvests have included the sweet williams, forget-me-nots, cosmos, geums, lilies, foxgloves, rhubarb, mangetouts, asparagus, and the rest of the old leeks (too tough to eat now, so they’ll do as compost) which have been removed for the Brussels sprouts.

Here are the vases at home:

Have a great weekend!

Anne Brooke Books


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A Second Spring?

Post the Allotment Show, we’ve done a good tidy round and weeding on the allotment today. The sunflowers are still looking happy and – amazingly! – we have a foxglove in bloom. Hmm, must be really confused then!

Foxglove in bloom Sunflower

Whilst there, I planted some more foxgloves in the space where the scabious used to be as it wasn’t doing very much. I’m hoping these foxgloves will be ready for spring, but who knows!

Foxgloves

K also moves some perpetual spinach from the brassica bed and gave it its own kingdom where the potatoes were:

Perpetual spinach

Meanwhile, the autumn raspberries are doing wonderfully and they now have orange berries, gosh! How many of those we’ll lose to the birds has yet to be seen though …

Autumn raspberries 1 Autumn raspberries 2

Today, K dug the rest of the onions up, and we harvested runner beans, one small courgette, dahlias, sweet peas (though they’re almost over now), cosmos, cornflowers, coreopsis, geums, and that one foxglove:

Harvest Onion harvest

Here are the flowers at home:

Vases

Happy Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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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:

Spinach

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.

Asparagus

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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The Allotment Working Party & BBQ

This Sunday, we’ve had the allotment working party and BBQ which has been hard work and great fun, all wrapped up together. We’ve thoroughly tided the plots and surrounding areas, and it’s looking good. K helped with the digging at various areas, and I tided round the perimeter and sorted some of the weeds out. Then it was time to party, hurrah! Great burgers, a fabulous cinnamon cake and wonderful company, so a pretty perfect day, all in all.

BBQ 1 BBQ2

Just after the party, we found out (thank you, HP!) that there were some plants going spare from one of the plot, so we grabbed a marrow and a courgette, and I have high hopes for these:

Marrow and courgette

During the week, we’ve also worked pretty hard too. K put up the fruit cage round the blackcurrants and redcurrants – though we’re leaving the autumn raspberries to fend for themselves, as the area is really too big. Here is the beginning of the cage, and its final state too:

Fruit cage beginnings Fruit cage

The rhubarb is back in full force (pun not deliberate!) and I have made a rhubarb crumble, and also a rhubarb and orange cake, which is really delicious, I must say – though tricky to cut as it’s quite moist.

RhubarbRhubarb and orange cake

I’ve also taken out some of the tulips for storing, and added in cosmos and asters for cutting, plus something else with a strange name that I can’t remember(!):

Cosmos, asters etc

There have also been a couple of harvests this week. The first is leeks, rhubarb and sweet williams:

Harvest 1

And the second harvest (today) is sweet williams, foxgloves, lilies, beetroot and one sweet pea (hurrah!):

Harvest 2

Here is the sweet pea in situ, and I’m thrilled they’ve started to flower so soon:

Sweetpeas

As a result of all these flowers, I’ve made up two vases this week, plus a number of bowls with flower heads of sweet williams and alliums. The first vase is sweet williams, foxgloves and one (ah bless!) geum:

Foxgloves, sweet williams and geum

And the second flower harvest is sweet williams and lilies:

Sweet williams and lilies

It’s been funny this week as someone on Facebook queried the fact that I was transporting foxgloves from the allotment to home, and of course they’re poisonous. I handle with care, naturally, but I’ve not noticed any increased heart rate or any other problems at all. However, in view of the fact that in the garden at home we grow monkshood and ricinus (the poisonous Castor Oil Plant), a few foxgloves here or there are probably not going to add any more danger to our gardening lives!

Happy Sunday, all!

Anne Brooke


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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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Unexpected tulips and allotment peace

Didn’t spend that long on the allotment today as there’s not a great deal to do at the moment. K and I cleared out the odd weed here and there, and I hoed over the soft fruit area as best I could. Today’s harvest was more of that glorious winter lettuce – which lasted all week from last Sunday when I picked some before and was as crisp as the end as it was at the beginning. Thank goodness for air-tight containers, eh! And we’ve also harvested the last of the carrots. Honestly, since growing carrots on the allotment, it’s the only time I’ve really enjoyed them, I can tell you – the joy of growing veggies for oneself, I think.

Unexpected news however – one of two of the tulips I planted a couple of weeks ago have started showing their shoots, oo-err, missus! I suspect they’re in for a shock once the winter really sets in but, as K says, they’re fairly hardy so should be okay. Heck, at least I know I’ve not killed them, yet …

I’ve also cut down the last of the coreopsis – not sure if it comes back next year or not, so have left it in for now. You never know. And I’ve also removed the last of the foxglove flowers as they’re really not going to do anything now. Hopefully they’ll give us a spring display however. Oh, and K cut a couple of blackcurrant stems and has now planted them in the veggie patch at home, hurrah.

The other great joy of the allotment is, I’ve found, simply being there and pottering around. It’s just so relaxing, and I don’t really have a great deal of opportunity to have any relaxing moments elsewhere, so I am seriously appreciating it.

Anne Brooke Books


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The Whole Allotment and Nothing but The Allotment!

Great news today! The other half of the allotment is ours as of this weekend, so we are hugely excited! This means that, as well as having the raised beds, we now also have a shed, space for another raised bed (and perhaps also a greenhouse depending on what the Allotment Committee might think), and a glorious display of fruit bushes.

In the fruit area, there are at the moment a lot of raspberries, some currants and also rhubarb, so that’s wonderful. Plus there’s space to add more fruit once we decide what we like. Today we were there for a couple of hours or so – in the unexpected sunshine too! I did the hoeing and also cleared out about a quarter of the fruit bush area, while K put new windows in the shed as both of them were broken. We’ll need to add more insulation to the shed too, and get a couple of chairs and maybe a small table where we can sit and survey the land, so the winter is going to be hard work but lots of fun, I can see.

No more foxgloves today, but I did plant the rest of the tulips which I remembered to bring from the car this time (hurrah!) so we’ll hopefully have a lot of spring cutting flowers to look forward to next year.

Here are the pictures of our new expanded allotment:

Fruit bushes 1 Fruit bushes 2 Raised beds 1 Shed 1 Shed 2

Anne Brooke Books
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK