The Allotment Wife


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The Whole Plot and Nothing but the Plot

Looking back over my last few allotment posts, I don’t think I’ve taken a picture of the plot as a whole, so here’s a wider view of it to give you an idea of the whole thing:

Allotment Raised beds Soft fruit area 1 Soft fruit area 2

As you can see, the soft fruit area is coming along nicely. Turning to the topic of vegetables, we’ve planted the runner beans today – which means that for a short while we have the tallest runner beans on the allotment (gosh!) until other people plant them out of course!

Runner Beans

We’ve also cut the spinach right back (though harvested some first for the week) as a fellow-allotmenteer advised us to do so – as hopefully it means we’ll get lots of new plants sprouting which will be tastier than the old spinach:

Spinach

It gave us a chance to get rid of some of the weeds in that bed as well, though of course they’re bound to come back. Ooh, and we used our spinach yesterday when we had friends round for dinner as we stuffed some chicken pieces with it – and laid some of our asparagus across it too as a garnish (go, us!) – and very tasty it was as well. When I say “we” here, I mean “K”, as he’s much better at cooking main courses than I am. I’m much happier making puddings …

And we’ve harvested our first garlic bulb, hurrah! I’ve chopped it up and added it to today’s chicken joint – the smell was amazing. There’s plenty of garlic left over too, so shall use that during the week – which surely means we will be the smelliest people in the village, ha!

Garlic

Meanwhile, in Flower City, I’ve planted some more dahlias today, and am also very happy that the geum is doing well.

Dahlias Geum

But there’s sad news about the alliums I planted for cut flowers – maybe I should have read the description more thoroughly as they’re now in flower and appear to be only about an inch or two in height! No chance of cut flowers here – though they are pretty – unless I get a job-lot of egg-cups in …

Alliums

Happy Sunday and happy allotmenteering!

Anne Brooke Books

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Daffodils: from earth to vase

A lovely morning spent on the allotment today as we both have a week off work, and the daffodils are now in bloom! Honestly, I was so delighted when I saw them that I could barely speak at all. I’m just so thrilled by it, and how wonderful they look too.

Allotment daffodils 1 Allotment daffodils 2 Allotment daffodils 3Allotment daffodils 4

The bulk of the morning was K putting down some really pretty edging donated to us by our neighbour around the new bed, and I think it looks very effective indeed.

New bed 1 New bed 2 New bed 3

We’ve planted two rows of mixed astilbe at one end so we have good cut flowers for later in the summer. They come in red, pink, lilac and white, so a good combination if everything survives.

Astilbe bed

I also planted 15 freesias, but have saved some for planting later so we can get a spread of cut flowers throughout the season – at least I hope we can! I’ve put them next to the three rows of asiatic lilies which are at the end – only the labels for now though …

Freesia bed

In terms of plants we can actually see (hurrah!), the tulips are growing apace so I’ve rolled back the netting away from the tallest so they don’t get tangled up in it. The Sweet Williams, spinach and winter lettuce are also doing well.

Spinach Sweet Williams Tulips Winter lettuce

K planted a bed of potatoes, and also a bed of onions which I managed to take a shot of before he covered them up, and he then laid sticks across the top to try to dissuade pests as we didn’t want to cut the netting on the tulips. I hope they survive!

Onion bed 1Onion bed 2

Last but by no means least, we have a couple of small rhubarb leaves now, which is grand.

Rhubarb 1

Whilst there, I did a gentle hoe round, but I kept it light as my neck has been giving me grief this week and I don’t want to make it any worse. I didn’t use the hoe around the autumn raspberries though, but just pulled weeds out by hand carefully as I don’t want to hurt the raspberry roots. We also had an excellent piece of advice from a fellow allotmenteer who kindly said that we didn’t need to put a cage round the raspberries as the birds don’t take that many – so we only need to cage round the currants and gooseberries etc which makes the task a lot easier when we do that – so thank you for that!

All in all, a very satisfying allotment session, and I can’t wait to see what’s grown next time we go!

Anne Brooke Books


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Yellow raspberries and wicked squirrels

Yesterday, we bought 5 yellow raspberries (All Gold), and K planted them on the allotment this morning.

Raspberry All Gold 1 Raspberry All Gold 2

The rhubarb is also coming along nicely, and we managed to harvest a very small crop of the world’s tiniest beetroot and some winter lettuce.

Beetroot and winter lettuce Rhubarb

As we’re keen to have an area for sitting in front of the shed, plus another raised bed there, we have marked the paths around the bed so we know what we’re doing a bit more. I think we’ll lay slates on the paths in the end as they’ll be lighter to transport than gravel, but we’ll have to see.

Planned path Planned paths and bed 1 Planned paths and bed 2

We’re thinking of putting wild flowers in that new bed, but no final decision as yet. I’d rather like a block of solid colour as it can look amazing, but we’ll have to see. In the meantime, the narcissi are doing well and look like they might burst into flower any moment now, hurrah!

Narcissi

Sadly, however, the squirrels (wicked squirrels!) have found my lovely tulip bed and dug out the middle of it, sob! Thankfully they’ve left some around the edges, so there’s still hope as we can now see the tips of them. As a result and to discourage further digging, we’ve netted the bed. Next year, we’ll do that when we plant the tulips!

Netted tulip bed Tulip bed 1

Have a great Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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More mulching and a brassica clear-out

I think we’ve done good work on the allotment today. Mulching was our main aim so we’ve put on 5 more bags and done the main chunk of the soft fruit beds, plus around the more mature bushes where the weeds were worst. I think it looks quite respectable now:

Soft fruit bed 1 Soft fruit bed 2 Soft fruit bed 3 Soft fruit bed 4 Soft fruit bed 5

I also did a quick hoe round the rest of the plot and the raised beds, but there wasn’t a lot to do, to be honest. K and I then cleared out the brassica bed, and put the remains of the plants onto the compost heap, so there’s more green stuff on there now which is good. We’ll leave the hoops in the brassica bed for now, as we may as well. Not sure yet what we’re going to replace the brassicas with, but we’ll think of something!

Brassica Bed 1 Brassica Bed 2

Meanwhile, in the raised beds, the narcissi are coming up, though sadly the stocks I planted with them seem to have died a death. No idea why. All the stocks I put in at home have all died too, so I really don’t know what to do about them. Will they come back again? Are they just resting? Who knows … If I don’t see anything else there by February I’ll probably crack and get something else to go in there, but will have to see.

Narcissi 1

However, the sweet williams are going great guns, hurrah! So hope to have lots of lovely flowers to cut from them later on.

Sweet Williams

Finally, today’s harvest of leeks and winter lettuce is small, but perfectly formed. Ideal for Sunday lunch, hurrah!

Leeks and winter lettuce

Anne Brooke Books
Dryathlon 2015: Please give generously to Cancer Research UK during January!


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A Harvest of Leeks

This morning, K and I have continued to mulch the soft fruit area and a couple more of the raised beds, though obviously there’s a lot more mulching to do! The trolley we bought during the week has proved very handy for transporting the compost bags and is foldable so we can keep it in the car easily.

Mulched soft fruit area 1 Mulched soft fruit area 2

Whilst there, we tried to harvest our last carrot but sadly someone else has got there first and it proved full of holes so we composted it instead. However, all was not lost, as we harvested the first of our leeks (hurrah!) and some more of the winter lettuce. The leeks smell amazing.

Leeks Winter lettuce

We’ve also had a rethink about having a greenhouse as it will mean going down to the allotment twice a day during the summer to open and shut the windows and we really don’t have the time – maybe when we retire, eh! Instead, we’ll probably put another raised bed in the space and use it for flowers as it’s in front of our planned seating area. K is also thinking about putting a cage round the whole soft fruit area so we can protect it from the birds, but that needs some more thinking.

And the tulips are poking their heads above the soil for definite now, which is great.

Anne Brooke Books
Dryathlon 2015: Please give generously to Cancer Research UK!


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Manure City

K bought 4 bags of manure yesterday, so we took two of them down to the allotment today (the other 2 are for home, though of course we’ll need loads more!). The big problem was how to transport them from the car, across the playing field/football pitch to the allotments – we used the little trolley for putting our cases on and it worked okay, though it’s not brilliant – the base is too small. We’re going to have to buy a bigger-based one for more stability but I think you can get them fairly cheaply on the Web so that will be our next thing to do.

Anyway, once there, we put one bag on one of our new beds and the other on the corner of the soft fruit area – by the looks of it, we’re going to need about 20 or so more bags, so we’ll certainly be busy over the winter! While there, K turned the compost heap to give stuff more of a chance to break down, and I gave everything a quick hoe, though I was careful around the autumn raspberries as the roots are so shallow.

The exciting news is that the tulips and daffodils I planted for cut flowers for the house are now starting to come up, so I can’t wait to see how they’re going to be. I also harvested the last of the sprouts (half of which were for Sunday lunch today and half of which will be for tomorrow) and some more winter lettuce. I’ve washed that so it will keep for a good few days.

Anne Brooke Books
Dryathlon 2015: Please support Cancer Research UK!


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Preparing for Christmas

K and I spent about an hour on the allotment today – he raked the leaves from the soft fruit area and I tried to hoe everything in sight without damaging anything – it’s particularly exhausting on the soft fruit bed as there are just so many weeds. Still, I think it’s looking a bit better after we had a go at it, and I think most of the autumn raspberry roots are still intact – I hope!

K also completed one of the two raised beds he was working on last week though the second one still needs more soil at some point. Oh and the brassica bed is looking grand – there are going to be loads of sprouts for Christmas so that’s brilliant as I LOVE sprouts and can never have too many. My plan is to go to the allotment on Wednesday as I’m off work now and harvest two of the four sprout plants and one of the cabbages. The sprouts are F1 so we gather they all grow at the same rate – so I’ll need to remember to take the loppers as the stems are quite thick.

Am hugely looking forward to that for sure! In the meantime, I’ve harvested some more of the winter lettuce which should last us a few days, hurrah.

Anne Brooke Books
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Tales from the Typeface: a Secretary’s Life and How to Survive It