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Archive for the ‘Allotment’ Category

This involves trying to scare away our feathered friends with the use of a plastic owl. I’m sure I’ve seen these amongst other wildlife merchandise in my local pound shop, but if you get stuck Gullstop can flog you one. . .

Alternatives are plastic snakes or a good old fashioned Scarecrow. I never thought I would be an advocate for arts and crafts sessions but all in a good cause…

If you combine these visual scarers with reflective items, such as old CDs hanging on string and sticks, and with something noisy, like a wind chime, you may have some luck. Well at least for a while, I guess it depends on how gullible the birds are in your area and whether your fellow allotmenteers can tolerate the clanging of those damned wind chimes!

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Quite simply erect some kinda bird bath.

Whilst flicking through a gardening book I found this interesting tip from Bob Flowerdew, a regular on Radio 4′s Gardeners Question Time and described as Britain’s leading organic gardener. He says that birds aren’t eating your fruit for the food, as they are low in calories. The poor little things are gobbling your fruit for the moisture – they’re thirsty. Therefore put up bird baths, they’ll drink from these and your fruit hopefully won’t get touched, or at least not everything totally stripped.

Sounds crazy I know, actively encouraging birds onto your plot, but maybe worth a shot… Also who am I to argue with Bob Flowerdew!

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Some of you may have read with envious eyes that we were lucky enough to be donated a fruit cage.. We duly constructed the cage, and promised ourselves that when the fruits from our strawberries, raspberries, back-currants, white-currants and gooseberries began to swell, we would put the roof on quick smart. We observed it happening, and confirmed to each other that next time we’d sort it. Yes you’ve guessed it – we didnt and our feathered friends have had a feast once again on our delicious fruit. At least it wasn’t rats or some other ‘uglier’ pest – I like birds a lot and feeding some possibly cancels out the bad karma that my cat may have recently brought on my household….

Meanwhile we are swimming in a sea of broad bean heaven, not only did we plant some might say a ridiculous amount, but the diligent pinching out of the tops of sap drenched new growth has thwarted a major attack from apids.

Our plants look very healthy and not a spray or slug pellet has sneaked onto our plot, despite a savage month of relentless slug offensives on our poor defenceless seedlings. They were tempted away with our slug pubs, but there was a high casualty rate – french beans completely wiped out. This resulted in us having to bring everything on in the green-house – to give them a fighting chance. We hope that now the birds are full of energy from our fruit they might turn their attention to molluscs… We also hope that our allotment neighbour is successful in her quest to build a pond, so that frogs can live nearby and feast on the slimey enemy.

We are eagerly awaiting some pay back from the tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, courgettes, and other goodies that are nestled in out plot, albeit a little bit later than we would have liked. Our plot is looking full again and bursting with colour and flowers. The weeds continue to try and upset us but nothing can dampen our spirits – not even the rain which we are getting in bucketfuls like the rest of the country. When its raining we dont have to tear up and down the plot trying to quench the thirst of our plants.

All is good and its good to be a gardener!

keener

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How nice it it to hear we have been missed. Thank you.

Its been a busy time of late for the both of us, and unfortunately something had to be put to one side. That something sadly being our blog. But rest assured the allotment is still going strong.  We both started the RHS advanced course back in September, we took the first exam in February (soil science and plant propagation)…. It was hard going and seemed to take over our lives for a while. Glad to say we both passed. 3 more to go.  We are now working towards the next , but luckily this one is not so intense as its not theory based, its all on your practical ability.  We have a practical exam in September, so not as much of our time taken up now, so more time to get back to blogging.  Also we both have new jobs, gardening in historic gardens part time, which is a wonderful job and a great opportunity.  We have also set up on our own for 2/3 days a week. It took a while to come up with a name for our venture but after much deliberation we agreed on Gardening Angels.  That too is going well.

Its been hard cramming  everything in over the last few months,  the blog has gone down hill somewhat. The allotment is hanging on in there tho. I manage to squeeze in a couple of hours after work in the week and as much as possible on the weekend.  If you remember at first both keener and I practically lived at the allotment, now we are lucky to fit in a few hours, and boy don’t we know it when we talk to the other plot holders…”ooohh hello we haven’t seen you for a while, everything alright?” or “we don’t see you guys up here much now” I think they consider us part timers now, which we may be, but its all about how much we can get done in the short space of time we have for the allotment. We manage to cram in so much when we are both up there now, we work well as a team. We both spent 7 hours up there saturday tackling the weeds, mowing, re- edging paths, clearing out the shed and greenhouse and generally sprucing the place up a bit.  What a difference a day makes!  

Sunday was spent potting on seedlings, planting more potatoes ( Better late than never)

In our greenhouse we have, marigolds, calendula, chrysanthemum, purple kale, sprouts, broccoli, yellow tomatoes, leeks, spring onions, courgettes, melon, salsify, aubergine and more which right just now I cant remember.

I feel back on track now, and the allotment looks great again.

Top end of plot.

As you can see we have a lot of bare soil, we are lucky to have a free supply of manure, I only wish we had a constant supply of free time to pick the stuff up. We are preparing the soil by adding as much as we can. As we are adding it, its being gratefully and quickly eaten up by our crap soil.  We added tonnes of manure last year, but you wouldn’t think it when you see how bad the soil is when digging.  

Lower half of plot

Our shed…still not finished, still not rain/wind proof but provides us with a nice place to sit and shelter with a magnificent view over our plot with an amazing back drop of Bristol.  We still have out winding paths but they all need covering with wood chippings again. We were given a fruit cage which was great. Its a little old and needed some bodging. It isn’t big enough to cover all or the fruit so we have covered what we can and what is in most need of protection.

In the fruit cage we have cranberry, black currant, white currant, raspberries, yellow raspberries, strawberries and gooseberry.                                                                                                                            Outside the fruit cage we have an apple bush and blueberries and more strawberries.

Half of our herb bed

This is half of our herb bed which contains Rosemary, Lavender, Variegated Sage, Purple Sage, Thyme, Marjoram, Apple Mint, Orange Mint, spearmint, Coriander, Fever few and my favorite Lawn Chamomile which we are training into a small lawn to surround a seating area in the middle of the bed ( raised ugly drain in picture)

Young allotmenteer checking out potatoes for blight.  So far no sign.

We may of gone a little over board with the Broad beans this year….hey anyone got any good Broad bean receipes?

I took these photos yesterday on my phone so they are not the best, nor do they dont show the whole plot and what we have growing. More will be added.  Its raining real bad here today so cant work or go to the allotment.  Im forced to stay in and paint my sons bedroom which is gonna be difficult with a head filled with allotment to do lists.

Thank you for your kind words

Beane

 

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There were several plot holders caressing their soil at the allotments today. Each of us coaxing ourselves out of winter hibernation. There we all were, lifting and chopping our soil, teasing it into an approximation to crumbs ready for the frenzied seed sowing that has started and will continue to pick up pace over the coming month…

But we had a strict plan (for once) that we were gonna stick to – the reward would come at the end of the day when we would sow our broadbeans into the delicious soil that we have been nurturing.

 First off compost duties, Both of our home made pallet compost bins desperately needed an injection of oxygen. So we turned over the compost in the first one and then added the contents of the second on top of the first.  Nestled in there was a rat that had expired whilst dashing up one of the paths on our plot. But enough said about that. All in all a good result a nicely mixed compost bin and an empty bin to fill up again. Only one minor mishap on the way, when keener splashed putrid stagnant water up her trouser leg, so there was a lovely eau de sewer accompanying the rest of the day…

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Next, we cleared all the broken glass from around the green-house. It is now more of an open plan construction, with more glass smashed than there is left in the frame. We are finished with glass – it will be smashing when we get our mitts on some perspex. We’re going to try and get some that is milky white to avoid the plant scorch house situation that occurred at times last summer. Plant torture is not big and is not clever.

We planted some more asparagus into the, well the asparagus bed. Here came the absolute highlight of the day. I opened the box where we had stored our well rotted manure and discovered absolute gold. We jumped around delighted at the lovely black crumbly bread crumbs that had been produced. We both felt that this stuff was more valuable and precious than any diamond ring or necklace or snazzy car. So I filled the planting holes with this life giving substance, before safely nestling the asparagus crowns into their new home.

Finally, we excitedly snuggled the broad bean seeds safely into their spot. Now as we mentioned we are both doing an rhs course, and this involves a practical exam to test out seed sowing skills. So in preparation for this and because we both like the allotment to look attractive, we got out our line so that we could get perfectly straight lines. We felt a little bit silly doing this but nevertheless we persevered as we continue to perfect our art… Four perfectly straight lines of broad beans, mission accomplished. I look forward to these nutty delights as they are definitely one of my favourite allotment foods.

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It wasn’t until we got back to beeners and were tucking into  the shop bought cabbage of our well earned dinner, that we suddenly realised that we’d neglected to harvest any of the veg that we still have growing on the plot – curly kale, parsnip, two leeks, swede, turnip, swiss chard, pak choi and cabbage. DOH!

But we did have the foresight to take a picture in preparation for writing this post. I’m sure you’ll agree that kale sure looks tasty!

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So we announced our grand arrival back into the blogosphere and then it all went quiet again.

That similar feeling of ‘I’m not doing the things that make me happy’ has also been in the allotment arena.

But thats all about to change, sink or swim,- we have a plan..

Each of us has made solitary visits up to the plot to survey the lay of the land. We were pleased with how things were looking. The soil is looking very weathered (at least on the surface). More seed sowing in-situ will be happening this year.

 We have not sown a single bean yet, but its still early and theres a bit of maintenance that we want to carry out first. Like I said we have plan – tomorrow is a big day:

Turning the Compost bin

Looking at soil horizons – to see what’s really going on beneath our feet

Clearing up the smashed glass from our wind tunnel formerly known as a greenhouse

Keener

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As the excitement mounts with spring approaching, we have been thinking about how happy gardening makes us feel. It seems that we’re not the only ones to have noticed this……

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There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Author Unknown

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden. ~John Erskine

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. ~Karel Čapek, The Gardener’s Year, translated by M. and R. Weatherall, 1931

Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed. ~Lewis Gannit

There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder. ~Alfred Austin

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.– Abraham Lincoln

To dig one’s own spade into one’s own earth! Has life anything better to offer than this?– Beverley Nichols

The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world. — Vita Sackville-West

When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the garden– Minnie Aumonier

Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.– Francis Bacon

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. – Ghandi

All my hurts my garden spade can heal.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest” – Douglas Jerrold

“Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than Emperor’s.”– Mary Cantwell

Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise. -Henry Mitchell

Where flowers bloom so does hope. -Lady Bird Johnson

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We have noticed that the favourite past on this blog by far is entitled Naked Gardeners. In the naive hope that people are interested in this subject as a form of personal freedom and liberation, we have scoured the internet to provide you with more information.

May 3 2008 sees the fourth annual ‘World Naked Gardening Day’. The website for the event explains the phenomena:

“Why garden naked? First of all, it’s fun! Second only to swimming, gardening is at the top of the list of family-friendly activities people are most ready to consider doing nude. Moreover, our culture needs to move toward a healthy sense of both body acceptance and our relation to the natural environment. Gardening naked is not only a simple joy, it reminds us–even if only for those few sunkissed minutes–that we can be honest with who we are as humans and as part of this planet.”

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This picture is not of us and our fellow plot holders. It could be though, except for the fact that we’re too shy and I don’t want to see beaners bits and she don’t want to see mine. Also I think the local authorities might frown upon it. So we’re going to stick with water butts. All joking aside, I admire the attitude of the naked gardening movement, freedom and self-expression is always to be applauded.

So for those genuinely interested in taking part, here is a discussion of legal issues relating to being naked in your garden – Naturism and The Law – In Your Garden.

Finally, we just want to say be careful out there – plants that spring to mind are holly, berberis, pyracantha, hawthorn – I suspect a full risk assessment would be needed! Have fun!


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 We have decided to gingerly stick our heads up into the blogosphere again. It’s just that we’ve both been very busy, trying to learn more detail and technicalities about our craft. We have been wading and trudging through the dreaded Royal Horticultural Society 3 course. 

We have always been fans of compost and soil, sniffing and smelling it, as well as growing plants and veg in it. But how little we knew of the bio-chemical wonder-land that is going on beneath our feet.  

Our ears pricked up eagerly one day in class when the tutor described soil that had a blue/grey appearance, calling it gleying. It is due to lack of oxygen and is found in waterlogged soils and this is not good. If you dig down more than a few inches on large parts of our allotment this is exactly what you will find. We originally thought that it was due to a piece of machinery/metal kinda rotting there, we weren’t far off as it is due to iron.

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This photo is not one of ours, because at the moment our allotment is completely saturated and we can’t do anything to the soil in these conditions because we will make it into even more of a sticky, compacted mess. But it shows how yucky and inhospitable a gley soil is to a lot of plants that an allotmenteer wants to grow. Gleying is not uncommon and could be lurking under many an unsuspecting gardeners feet.

We are currently sat twiddling our thumbs dreaming about elaborate drainage systems. Although the fact that our allotment is clay and above a substantial natural spring means that it is gonna be awhile before we get anywhere near a lovely loam on parts of our plot. But as ever we sure are gonna have fun getting oxygen into the soil and more importantly getting it to stay there!

As I write, Beener is excitedly poring over our seeds, putting them into order of month of sowing. The anticipation for spring is mounting and we wait patiently for our soil to dry out so we can get stuck in…..

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Like most of the country we have lost lots of tomatoes this year due to blight.

The done thing to do is burn the effected plants and tomatoes. Its heartbreaking picking hand-fulls of blighted tomatoes and burning them. Surely we can use the manky mushy toms for something.

What about this?………

Now that is much more fun that burning the buggers.

Horticultural therapy at its best!

Beaner

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