The Allotment Wife


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Tulips Encore

Just back from a glorious holiday in Amsterdam and on the Rhine and I now have total tulip mania. However, by the looks of our allotment after a week of being away, I really didn’t need to go to Amsterdam to find the tulips!

Not only that but I think we have a couple of gladioli shoots on the way up – the ones that K planted a few weeks ago:

Gladioli

You have to look very closely to see them though! I also think that we might have a dahlia on the way though it will be very early if it’s true …

Dahlia

Meanwhile, the lilies I’d forgotten I’d left in their bed are doing well, and we have one of our sweet williams almost in bloom too:

However, the main focus of our visit (apart from catching up with the weeding, lol) was planting the first of our sweet peas next to the shed. Here they are in situ:

Sweet peas

The soft fruit area is doing well too, and we’re particularly pleased with the gooseberry:

The spinach is also growing fast, as is the rhubarb:

And, finally, the asparagus is now definitely on the way, though still small.

Asparagus

So, today’s harvest was the tulips, a few stray narcissi, leeks and the spinach:

Harvest

And here are the tulips in their vases at home – I’m very pleased with them indeed, especially the red ones!

 

 


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Tulips in Bloom

The allotment was a riot of spring flowers today, including daffodils, narcissi and the first of the glorious tulips!

Also, last year, I thought I took the lilies out but obviously I didn’t, as here they are in force:

Lillies

The asparagus is also getting larger, so we harvested it for tomorrow’s lunch:

Asparagus

And the rhubarb is coming along:

Rhubarb

We did our usual hoe-round today, and K also trimmed the plot edges, so it looks very smart indeed. And we pruned one of the autumn raspberries that is not yet in leaf to give it some encouragement. Our harvest included the flowers, the asparagus, leeks and some spinach:

Harvest

And at home the vases look amazing and the smell of the narcissi is once again out of this world. I love spring!

 

Have a great weekend!

Anne Brooke Books


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Carrot Fly Chaos and Runner Bean Delight

Oh dear me, I fear the dreaded carrot fly has laid waste to our carefully tended crop of carrots, alas and alack. K brought back some carrots last week and they are poor stunted little things, though still quite tasty. We’ll gather the rest of the crop at some stage and see what can be made of them. It’s such a nuisance that you can’t tell when the carrot fly has visited as the foliage still looks fine. If we try for carrots again, then we’ll have to put some fleece round them as a barrier as the carrot fly can’t fly more than a couple of feet above the ground – so that might work.

In terms of other vegetables, there are exciting developments with the runner beans, which now have actual beans on them – though too small to harvest yet.

Runner beans 1 Runner beans 2

The courgette is also growing apace, so I’ve moved the marrow further away – I hope it survives the trip. This leaves the courgette still fairly near the coreopsis, but that might be okay. Its leaves have patches of white on them, but I don’t really know if that’s a bad or a good thing – will have to look this up at some point. We also have an unknown squash growing through our potato patch, so will wait with interest to see what it turns into!

Courgette Unknown squash

Turning to flowers, the cerinthe is coming along, and the coreopsis is totally abundant, hurrah:

Cerinthe Coreopsis

We also have a couple of dahlias, freesias and the red geum (Mrs Bradshaw) – though some of the dahlias are crawling with black flies so I have sprayed them to within an inch of their lives and will hope for the best.

Dahlia 1 Freesias Geums

The last of the lilies are looking good, the penstemon is coming along, and the sweet peas we abandoned near the compost are refusing to be lost (hurrah!) and are doing their own thing entirely, so we’re letting them do it … Good for them is what I say!

Lilies 1 Penstemon Sweet peas 1

So, this week I’ve been clever and brought my trug from home for the harvest, which has been: sweet peas, lilies, cornflowers, coreopsis, freesias, a dahlia and a few sweet williams (not so many of those now). I also took some of the spinach seedlings (at least I think that’s what they are …) from what is now the brassica bed and have potted them up, as you can see. It appears to be the case that everlasting spinach never ever dies, LOL … The veggie harvest is beetroot (including our golden beetroot), potatoes and the biggest lettuce in history. That should do us for the week then.

Harvest 1 Harvest 2 Harvest 3

At home, I’ve allocated the flowers to vases in the best way I could think of, and the house looks lovely with them in it.

Vase 1 Vase 3 Vases 2

Have a lovely weekend!

Anne Brooke Books


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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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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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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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An asparagus miracle

Great excitement on the allotment this week as finally (finally!!) the asparagus is starting to grow!

Asparagus

You can just about see the little stems poking their heads above the ground – honestly, I got really choked up when I saw them. I love asparagus, so maybe there’ll be a crop after all. Anyway, the allotment itself is looking grand in the sunshine:

Allotment

And the astilbe, lilies, sweet williams and tulips are looking gorgeous:

Astilbe Lilies Sweet Williams Tulips 6

The tulips have now been harvested and put in vases at home. I do so love having flowers in the house, and it’s even more special when I’ve grown them myself:

Tulips in vase 1 Tulips in vase 2

On the veggie front, K has put up some bean poles, and planted some carrots and lettuce (as well as more potatoes):

Bean poles Carrots Lettuce

Meanwhile, the onions, rhubarb and spinach are looking good:

Onions Rhubarb 2 Spinach

As usual, I did a hoe round, and hand-weeded the soft fruit area, while K watered everything as the soil is rather dry at the moment. I also planted some dahlias I discovered when I was clearing out the kitchen – we’d completely forgotten we had them so that was a nice surprise!

Anne Brooke Books