Allotment

My Sweet Little Allotment

Have I mentioned I love my allotment and how happy I am lately? Even flying visits to water leave me feeling immensely proud, happy and relieved. I got my new plot in March this year, just 2 months after having a full hysterectomy so I reckon I’ve every reason to feel mighty chuffed with myself. This place is my little haven, just as my old plot was (I reluctantly gave it up due to the stupid disease I was suffering with). I knew I had a long road ahead of me to get well and difficult decisions to make along the way, but now I feel as if I’ve come full circle and I’m back to my old self, full of excitement and eager to get stuck in. Of course, I’m careful not to overdo it (I’m still healing after all). I grab endless opportunities to rest and sit inside my little shed, sipping tea whilst looking out across the allotments is pure relaxation.

allotment, cream shed, vintage

On one of my more energetic days last week I cleared and dug over another bed opposite the patch of rhubarb, both beds are roughly the same width and length. I don’t have any solid plans to plant in this bed at the moment (but that could change, I’m thinking gloriosa daisies for autumn colour), I’m concentrating on marking the structure of the plot and improving the heavy clay soil. I didn’t expect to get this far with my plot so everything that has been planted is a bonus, I’m not expecting great things it’s just nice to see something growing, but if I do harvest something it will be even sweeter.

allotment shed, cream shed

Zinnia in the old trough are growing really well and flower buds are beginning to swell. I really hope this trough does well, it would be lovely to see it full of colourful summer flowers. I popped a couple of nasturtium in as well, you know, just to be sure!

galvanised trough, bunting

It hasn’t rained properly for many weeks now so I’m watering frequently during the evenings. My vintage watering can developed a very slight leak recently but that’s to be expected considering the age, it’s still usable though and I love it. I often wonder how many gardeners it served before me.

watering can, vintage, allotment

The sweetcorn plants are putting on a growth spurt now, they’re loving the heat. I put some bunting up around the plot to frighten pigeons away, I doubt it works but it looks pretty.

allotment, sweet corn, sweetcorn, bunting, growing, grow your own

Yesterday I planted lavender next to the shed, as it grows it will overhang the path just in front of the wooden gate (on the to do list), releasing calming scent whenever I walk past.

Allotment

More Planting on the Allotment

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and very hot, I decided to finish painting inside the shed during the hottest part of the day to avoid getting sunburn and I’m relieved to say it’s finished, hurrah! (well, just the door to do at some point!). It’s taken a while but I’m really happy with how it looks. I popped back to the plot after dinner as the sun was setting, it was much cooler and a better time to plant the borlotti beans up the hazel wigwam and get some sweetcorn in the ground.

It was getting late and I was starting to ache a bit so I didn’t get everything finished, I made my way home happy but tired. I popped back to the allotment today with our daughter (her day off work) to finish planting sweetcorn, the weather has cooled today which is much better for planting.

I took a sneaky photo of our daughter, hope she doesn’t find out….

The plot is starting to really take shape now as you can see in the photo below, the blue areas are waiting to be cleared and dug over to make more beds.

My shed is my favourite place to be, being slightly elevated I can look out over the whole allotment site and soak in the atmosphere. It makes me realise how much I missed this place and I can see my previous plot from here too.

After a bit of weeding and watering we made our way home for a cup of tea and a natter.

 

Allotment

Beautiful Evenings on the Allotment

The weather at the moment is glorious. Blue cloudless sky and warm sunny evenings spent on the allotment is a tonic, the stresses of everyday life melt away the moment I step through the gate. I absolutely love it here and I’m just so happy to have the chance to work another plot after reluctantly giving my old plot up a few years ago.

allotment shed

The sunny stuff is set to stick around for a while and I’m not going to waste a moment of it. While it may be too hot to dig for lengthy periods of time and unworked ground is like concrete anyway, it is however perfect weather for painting. And that’s what I’ve started to do inside the shed.

Using the same colour as the outside it’s starting to look really fresh and bright compared to before. I still have a fair bit to do and more coats should finish it off nicely, then the bunting can go back up. The shelf unit from eBay needs a lick of paint too, then I can fill it with bits and bobs.

I’ll post some photos once it’s finished.

Allotment

Allotment Shed

The new shed has been in place on plot 33 for a number of weeks, I’ve even managed to paint it a lovely shade of cream thanks to the warm dry weather that’s been hanging around. The paint of choice is Country Cream from the Garden Shades range by Cuprinol. The shed needs another coat at least and there are a couple of tricky spots to do that I can’t reach without a ladder.

I’m really pleased with how it looks with the little window curtains.

I plan to paint the inside too and then add bits and pieces I have collected including a bargain shelf unit I got from eBay for £5. I couldn’t resist adding some bunting inside for now, it looks so pretty don’t you think?

It’s not all been about beautifying the shed, I have put in some hard graft on the allotment too with help from Rich to get some beds ready for planting. But first I need to put up some temporary wire fencing using hook stakes to keep rabbits and deer out.

I’m very impressed with my inherited patch of rhubarb! Plenty of pies, jams and crumble on the menu I feel, perhaps a gin tipple too, you know, for medicinal purposes and all that ;)

allotment

Plot 33 has changed so much since I got it in March, I really enjoy the visits there. At the moment I’m digging a small flower patch next to the shed, with plenty of annual flowers coming along in the greenhouse at home it’s sure to be full of colour very soon.

Allotment

Allotment Snooping In The Snow

Winter is not letting go just yet with more snow falling over the weekend. Nicknamed ‘Mini Beast from the East’ I’d say a tame little pussy cat rocked up to Bedfordshire (at the moment anyway, fingers crossed). Nevertheless, the ground is frozen solid once again and that means no veg garden or allotment tinkering. Humph!

This latest dusting of snow didn’t stop me from my usual trot to the allotments to snoop look at the plots and soak up inspiration. It never ceases to amaze me how allotment folk utilise items that others would simply throw out with the rubbish, we’re a frugal bunch and I love that. Something else I love about allotment life is the humble shed. Ramshackle, brand new, plain or unusual. I don’t know why I adore them like I do.

The sheds on the allotments are actually pretty tidy, being a new allotment site most of the sheds were bought new rather than being inherited down through the years, they haven’t had the time needed to become significantly weather-beaten or patched up. I’m still window shopping and deciding which shed will work best for me and my new plot, as well as planning the plot layout on paper. Very exciting!

Plot 33, bedraggled and shivering in the snow….

But I have plans, with sprinkles of love and bunting.

Allotment

Back To The Magical World Of Allotments

After giving up my allotment a couple of years ago I began to regret my decision. I miss the allotment site and the charm and character of the sheds dotted around, even the sound of trains whizzing along the track I found strangely soothing. I miss the general chit-chat weather grumbles, and being around people who, like me, have a deep need for being at one with the seasons and growing food from a slice of land. There’s just something about allotments, once you have the bug it never really leaves you.

I’m currently re-building stamina with regular walks around the village after having major surgery in January, more often than not I made my way to the allotments to soak in the serenity. I found myself enquiring and much to my delight a couple of plots were indeed available. A particular plot caught my eye and I accepted the challenge once more.

My new allotment looks daunting but in reality it’s not that bad. The plot boundary ends at the blue tarp, just before the grass path in front of my neighbour who keeps a beautifully tended plot. Plot 33 is a quirky and unloved little plot with a curved boundary at the top, in a lovely position adjacent to the community orchard. The shed that once stood has gone but the slab base still remains, currently hidden underneath a pile of old wood. I find myself day dreaming about how my new allotment shed will look in situ as well as paint colours and bunting. Ooh shed shopping!

Previous shed base
Community orchard entrance
Lovely view from my plot

I’ve inherited four tired-looking rhubarb crowns with my new allotment, I’m not sure of variety but they look like they could have red stalks. I’ll give them a good mulch and let them do their thing this year, then I can see how they perform. Dividing will help regain vigour but that’s a job I cannot do right now so it’ll have to wait until the end of the year. It appears they may have flowered last summer judging by the decaying matter around them.

There’s a plastic raised bed thingy of strawberries, a couple of gooseberry bushes and a patch of rampant raspberries of which I’m guessing are summer fruiting, I’m not entirely sure. With this in mind I think I will skip pruning this year and watch how they grow and when they fruit. Weeding and mulching a must!

Patch of raspberries

My new plot is smaller by comparison but I still have to take it easy. I certainly won’t be digging anytime soon for obvious reasons plus I’m a big fan of the no dig method which is probably the route I will take.

Plot 33 and I will slowly recover, together.

Allotment

Wordless Wednesday

pretty allotment
Ah! The wonderful long hot summer of 2014
Allotment

October Allotment Photos

allotment

I spent a lovely afternoon at the allotment yesterday. A dull and chilly day but I didn’t feel the chill working on the plot. It was a day of weeding, harvesting (carrots, potatoes and a few pumpkins) and generally mooching around in the shed, tidying up and sipping hot tea.

allotment, allotment shed, pretty allotment

allotment flowers, blue allotment shed

We’re almost half way into October and the plot still offers plenty of Cosmos for wildlife and picking, the flowers just keep going and going until a hard frost arrives.

allotment, raised beds

I have a couple of rows of potatoes still to lift and I’ll get that done before the ground freezes.

harvest potatoes

I’m very pleased with my carrots, they’re a lovely size with straight roots and the best I’ve ever grown. Putting rabbit fencing around the plot certainly helped matters. As much as I enjoy the comedy value of pulling misshapen carrots (you do get some strange and wonderful shapes), I was determined to grow some decent carrots this year. And I did, yay!

sunflower seedhead

Sunflowers hang their heads, ripe with seeds, I’ll cut the heads soon and lay them flat for birds to help themselves.

pumpkin october 14 0945 BLOG

This lovely pumpkin will be used for carving at the end of the month for Halloween! I finished painting the inside of the shed door before I left for home, I’m so pleased with the colour, it looks stunning against the colour of the Cosmos and pumpkins don’t you think? I’ve decided to paint the inside of my shed ‘Country Cream'(Cuprinol) and add a few finishing touches, some of which I sourced from artisans including lovely bunting which I just can’t wait to put up. I just need the paint and away I go!

Allotment

Shed Painting

shed paint

I painted the allotment shed today. I fancied a change of colour.

The new paint is called Mediterranean Glaze by Cuprinol, I’ve admired this colour for a long while now and got the exact shade I wanted mixed in-store for me at our local Homebase. I’m really happy with the result, it’s just how I pictured it in my head and my shed will be a fantastic backdrop against spring and summer flowers next year. My creative and design juices are flowing with colour combinations whirling around in my head, one plant I must have growing near the shed next year is Salvia, for slender spires of intense violet-blue flowers. I grow Salvia in old wooden wine crates topped with pea shingle at home, which looks fantastic on the patio.

The weather turned out lovely after a frosty start to the morning, last night was cold and typical of October weather, we’ve been a bit spoilt with unseasonably mild weather for so long.

aqua shed

My shed is now ready for autumn and winter with its bright aqua armour. Because my shed is blue underneath, it’ll look interesting when the paint starts to weather.

Allotment · Pests & Diseases

Gertcha Rabbits!

allotment wire fence

Our allotment site is fenced with chicken wire to prevent rabbits from entering from the railway and fields beyond. As predicted, rabbits are finding ways to get in, along with deer. It was soon obvious that all the plots would benefit from being fenced too, around half of the plots are now protected but those that aren’t are having problems with crops being eaten, including ours.

blue allotment shed

Last year the little fuzzy butts ate all the carrot tops (then dug some of them, up scattering them everywhere), dug a whacking great hole in the potato bed and pooped all over the plot. This year, rabbits or deer munched garlic tops down to the stalks and damaged fruit bushes. I’m all for wildlife but enough is enough!

allotment photo

Last weekend Rich and I put a fence around our plot using chicken wire and wooden posts, stapling the wire onto the edges of the raised beds and paths to stop anything from digging under. I’ve visited our plot everyday this week and cannot see any further damage. We covered the garlic over with wire frames about a month ago and it’s recovering nicely now. The funny thing is, I thought I’d hate having a fence around the plot, in actual fact I quite like it. It makes the plot feel more like our little place, without losing the feel of community gardening or shutting our neighbours out. And our crops are a little bit harder to get at.

Allotment · Wildlife

Mason Bees Nesting in the Bug Box

bug box on allotment shed

We have some exciting news to share! Mason bees (Osmia rufa) are making nests inside the bamboo cane bug box, sited on the allotment shed. Mason bees are solitary and do not form colonies or produce honey. The Mason bee gets it name due to using mud in building nest compartments, rather like a stone mason constructing a house. After mating, males die and females begin collecting pollen and nectar to build nests. After laying her eggs (males at the front and females at the back), the female seals the entrance to the tubular nest using mud. Mason bees may nest inside reeds or holes in wood made by wood-boring insects, some British species make their nests in empty snail shells. Luckily for us, 3-4 females have chosen to use our bug box.

If you look closely, you may just be able to see the mud-sealed entrance to one of the nests
If you look closely, you may be able to see a nest being built with mud. The tubes being used are yet to be sealed with a ‘mud plug’ which indicates a completed nest.

mason bee

The bug box is in full sun, sited approximately 5′ 8″ high, this is the first time the box has been used by bees. The bees were very calm considering we were about, using the shed and nearby area as we usually would. Mason bees are usually non-aggressive and will only sting if they are really threatened, ie being held between fingers. They would much rather get on with the job of building a nest rather than defending it.

allotment

We’re thrilled to be able to watch the bees, they’re brilliant little pollinators and very welcome on our plot. Plot 4 is certainly living up to its name – The Little Haven.

Allotment

Allotment Shed Makeover

blue allotment shed

Choosing to ignore mixed and confusing weather reports (along with a threatening sky on and off since the weekend), I decided to give our allotment shed a much-needed lick of paint. If you already follow me on Pinterest you will notice I have a ‘thing’ for blue sheds.

allotment shed

Naturally, blue was the colour I had in mind, although I did toy with the idea of painting our shed seagrass green. I finally settled on a shade of baby blue and now the shed is cheery and a welcoming sight.

The little bird box had a makeover too!
The little bird box had a makeover too!

The colour will also be a gorgeous backdrop for annuals that I love to grow in the raised bed surrounding the shed, such as shades of pink Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix’ and Sarah Raven’s ‘Bright Lights’ (deep orange and tangerine blooms, new for me this year). Sunflowers will dazzle against the baby blue (although I’m hoping at least one becomes a true giant and exceeds the shed height) and the fuzzy purple haze of perennial Verbena bonariensis will be even more striking. Foxgloves are almost ready to burst into flower and Lupins are not far behind.

Foxglove grown from seed, almost ready to flower
Foxglove grown from seed, almost ready to flower

Potatoes are growing and require ‘earthing up’ frequently, so far (touch wood) we’ve managed to keep the burrowing bunny out of the potato bed by laying a sheet of wire mesh on the area of interest, weighted down by bricks, although this will need to be removed very soon. Strawberries are looking promising with lovely large flowers, blackcurrants and redcurrants are swelling nicely.

allotment strawberry bed

strawberry flowers in May

blackcurrants

The rhubarb patch is looking incredible this year, we only planted it last year and it’s already trebled in size.

allotment rhubarb

I’ve put a lot of hours in at the allotment since the weekend, I’m delighted with how neat and tidy the plot is looking.

allotment

A few days ago we managed to source more free wood, this means we can get on and work the unused part of the plot this year. All of our raised beds are made using wood no longer needed by a shed company located next to the allotment site, they’re delighted when the allotment holders come along and take the wood away, putting it to good use. I’m looking forward to seeing the plot change again soon, not only from our input but with summer on the way too.