The Allotment Wife


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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

 

 


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It’s (nearly) Showtime!

There are five days to go (not that we’re counting …) to the big Allotment Show which takes place this coming Friday, so the allotment folks are becoming quietly focused. Or it’s contained panic – but it comes to the same thing, LOL!

As a result, we haven’t taken any flowers for the house today – except for a few sweet peas – as I’m keen to put some flowers into the show so want to see how everything is doing Thursday night. However, I have cut down half of the gaura as they’re starting to be a bit of a nuisance even though the bees love them. They’re trailing through the dahlias so I can’t see what’s going on, and likewise on the other side with the chrysanthemums. NB: Sad to say the chrysanthemums are behind so there won’t be any from us at the show this year. Back to the gaura – I don’t think I’ll grow these again, as though they look nice in vases for about 1 or 2 days, they then kind of explode and the pesky petals and seeds get EVERYWHERE – I’m forever cleaning them up, so it’s really not worth it! I could replant them in the garden but we already have some and there isn’t really any room for more – so it’s the garden waste container for them, I’m afraid.

Gaura

Flowers I do have my eye on for possible show entries are the sunflowers (which came Second in the blooms section last year – in case you’d forgotten!!), the echinacea, the dahlias, the gladioli (if there are any left by then!) and the marigolds:

Sunflowers

Echinacea

Dahlias

Gladioli

Marigolds

I will have to do something creative with oasis this year, as that’s what other people did last time – I was the only one who just plonked them in water, LOL! Shows what I know, eh – absolutely nothing!

Turning to veggie city, the courgettes have morphed into marrows again and are going full-tilt for world domination, go them:

Courgettes to Marrows

Courgette to Marrow family

However, they’re not as rampant as those runner beans – so if it comes to a dust-up between the marrow/courgettes and the beans, my money’s on the beans, every time … I only harvested a few runner beans today – enough for lunch and a couple of other meals this week for sure! – as we’re hoping to enter some of them in the veggie categories at the show, as well as the longest runner bean category.

K. has also dug up the potatoes, but sadly there are no super-large ones this year, probably due to blight, but we might see if we can find three roughly of the same shape and size for Friday. Oh, and the lettuce looks amazing – can’t wait to try some when the leaves are a bit larger! We also planted some new lettuce seeds and sweet william seeds in our spare bed to get another flower/salad crop going. It’s great to have new things at this time of year.

Lettuce

Anyway, here’s the harvest from today (not including the courgettes). I added the autumn raspberries to our apple crumble and very tasty they are too!

Harvest 1

And here are some sweet peas (mostly the perennial ones from home, with some allotment ones – the last of the crop, alas!):

Vase

Have a super Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books

 


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Gladioli Gold

This week, the gladioli just keep on flowering and do look stunning in vases so I’m definitely going to get more of the same next year. I’ve recently discovered the trick of snipping the last few flowers off at the top when I pick them (as they won’t come out anyway) and that definitely makes them last longer and helps the rest of the buds come into bloom too.

Talking of buds, now that the dahlias have recovered from the dreaded blackfly, I can pick a harvest of them twice a week and still have huge numbers of buds remaining, waiting to come into bloom:

Dahlia buds

Meanwhile the autumn raspberries are doing well, and we are beginning to get the beginning of a small harvest, even though it’s not ‘officially’ autumn yet – though actually there’s a change in the weather that is definitely autumnal to my mind, plus we had the first of the large autumn spiders (yuk!) in the house this week so that doesn’t look good for the rest of the spider season, oh dear me …

Autumn raspberries

And the runner beans continue to do their thing in great abundance – we have now filled the freezer with them to see us over the winter, and there’s no sign of them stopping yet! Maybe we’ll try to enter the longest runner bean competition in the Allotment Show next month and see how we do, LOL!

Runner beans

Anyway, here are the two harvests of this week, which include courgettes, runner beans, autumn raspberries, gladioli, gaura, penstemons, sweet peas (now reaching the end of their season, alas …), crocosmia, coreopsis, dahlias, marigolds, geums and echinacea.

Harvest veg & fruit

Harvest 1

Harvest 2

Here are the flowers at home in their vases:

Vases 1

Vase 2

Vase 3

Vase 4

Vase 5

Vase 6

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books