May 2001


June 01


Tuesday May 1st

James at work reminded me about allotments, so for once I was in working hours and able to phone the council! Went after work to see the main allotments a few roads along the same ridge the house is on. Quite a lot of plots, some rather more overgrown than others! Eventually had a chat with a couple of blokes and found that the plot adjacent to one of theirs is vacant, the previous occupant having sadly died recently.  So it's not in a terribly bad condition, with two open patches, one with a few bulbs in, and a miniature orchard at one end. Worth the £7.50 a year just for that! Three fruit trees that I noticed (the chap said one was a russet apple) and at least one of the others is also an apple. There's a bit of rhubarb, and several currants or gooseberries, though won't be sure which till stuff grows on them! Apparently the soil is good down to about 12-15", which is a darn sight better than the house. There's also two rose bushes and a forsythia, and the chap thought there were also some pinks.

 Started plotting contents.

010501_tn1 010501_tn2

The allotment when I first saw it. The boundary is where the line of seeding sprouts is.

Wednesday May 2nd

Phoned up the council and asked for the plot.  All the stuff is going to be sent out, but there's no objection to me starting to dig it. Oh good. First thing I can do then is to pull the rhubarb and see who wants it! Then I'm building a wire compost bin, and then I can start weeding and pulling up all the gone-to-seed brassicas. Least they are still there so I can work out a sensible rotation. I have somewhere to grow onions hoorah! will dig up the tulips and daffs to replace elsewhere (under the apples looks good). There's no shed, but that will at least stop it becoming a target for vandals. Not sure about where the water supply is. There are taps from which we are allowed to fill up containers with hosepipes but *not* to actually stand with the pipe and water the whole plot!  Seems fair. I can now hope to grow all sorts of stuff that I don't really have room for at the house. I can grow loads more French beans and Runner beans, though growing the more water hungry runners at home is a better idea, especially as I can use them up the fence! A row or two of French, then. A row or two of onions (sets are still on sale now). Strawberries! And flowers for cutting (but what? Gladioli?) Going to ask folk at work to save lemonade bottles as mini cloches. I may yet get my cabbages, and I could even cheat and get a punnet of baby cauliflowers from the nursery.  Then of course there is broccoli, both sprouting and headed.

 I feel a read of Percy Thrower coming on again…

After work went over again and this time had a good poke around the plants. The pale green things I think are elderly carrots. There are more fruit trees than I'd thought - three in a row up the left, looking uphill, a stepover apple in the centre, and a tiny stunted one that probably needs digging up. There are also two trained (ish) blackberry briars, and a whole load of rhubarb growing higgledypiggledy out of some old dustbins. As for the fruit bushes, a lot of them are already covered in flowers. I suspect that some are goosegogs and some are currants, though not sure if black or red.  There is a space where there was once a compost bin, and will be again. Found a tap too, by the lower gate. Bit of a trek to my plot, but not too bad. I'll get plenty of exercise. I think one thing I'll have to do smartish is weedol the orchard. The wood will protect the trees and bushes, while the weeds should keel over. Then I'll be able to clear it and put them in the compost bins.

Things I need to buy:  a cheapo water butt for filling from standpipe, a folding wheelbarrow, chickenwire (but not at £20 per 10m!!!), strawberries?

Sunday May 6th

Got back from a trip at lunchtime and after having some food went off to the allotment armed with digging gear, a golf brolly and my little green seat. Spent four hours digging the top plot rather than the bottom, as the bottom one had the boundary poles on my side of the last rows of going-to-seed brassicas, which confused me as to whose they were.  Found that what I'd thought were carrots were in fact parsnips (and rather eaten away too) and that there was a patchy line of tiny broad beans flowering away. Also some leeks, though not very big ones. Carried on forking over the plot, then pulled up a load of rhubarb and leeks, and two of the more intact cabbages. 

  Photos across the allotments were fascinating - there is a clear view across to the blue and white painted house  which I can see from my garden! So I really am at the same level of the ridge, though the soil is about a thousand times better (and neutral pH, as I was told, so raspberries will grow).


Looking up from the boundary


First dug patch!


Weeds!  Mostly speedwell, which I used to think was pretty...

Tuesday May 8th

Glorious sunshine. Hope the beans made it to today (they did). Home for quick tea then out again to allotment. Weedol ahoy! Did some of the orchard (having found things to avoid like croci) and all of the bottom plot twice, as the rose blocked first time. Pulled up most of the bolting cabbages, though first pulled off a lot of useable leaves. The other row was sprouts, and in such solid ground I gave up after a couple. Will attack with spade another day. Cut more rhubarb, and later discovered it's not too bad if you put about a ton of sweetener and a dollop of crême-fraîche on! Raked the dug bit but didn't get around to pulling up the parsnips. Measured the plot! 23' x 54' (7.01m x 16.45m, or 115.4m2. Not quite 5 poles. Bit like standing in the middle of the back garden, and it extending another 20'. Compost heap growing rapidly now. Bit like the gooseberries… little fruits merrily swelling up already. The previous tenant liked all the fruit and veg I don't - the sour/bitter ones. Gooseberries, rhubarb, broad beans, brussels sprouts and parsnips. Odd, that. I just hope the apples are sour, ie cookers!

Wednesday May 9th

B&Q at lunch. Managed to get a large £10 water butt with a lid that doesn't like coming off, and hanging basket liners. No wheelbarrows, though, and then when I tried to get some posts for the compost bin they refused to cut the 1.9m pieces in half for some reason. Whinge. Parked back at work and then discovered a skip in front of  it with loads of small bits of wood in. Permission was sought to have a furtle and I now possess two quite decent bits of wood which will do nicely for the first couple of pillars. Will bring a hammer and gloves tomorrow and have another go. With luck I'll be able to make at least one bin in my lunch hours!

Garden Centre on way home and bought some seedling cabbages and caulis to catch up on the growing season, and a load of seeds - spring onions (a catch crop, should grow in 6-8 weeks, so P should be happy) leeks, marrows (in case…) and sprouting broccoli. Also got two bags of onion sets.

Went up to allotment again and found some b*gger has pinched all my decent leeks. The much larger leeks in another allotment were untouched. Dug up all the smaller ones that were left and later replanted them in the veg plot at home. Dug up all the parsnips and dug over where they'd been. Suppose the leekthief did me some kind a favour, as I'd not have moved them otherwise, and now I have almost all of that bed done. Planted the onion sets - 82 all told, of two varieties. Sturon by the broad beans and Turbo. Be interesting to see if they stay there. Watered in and covered over.

Massive thunderstorm plus heavy rain during the night. Good. That will disguise the onion plantings, as it will all be soaked.

Friday May 11th

Home to empty house. Went up to allotment about 8-ish with trepidation but nothing else had been disturbed. The weeds have died nicely, so can get out and dig now, just not this weekend or I'll fry! Cut a bit of rhubarb and pegged it home in time for BBC GW. Not particularly good - just a flower show and nothing practical.

weekend: too hot to do much, so stayed in shade at home and did hanging baskets and pots.

Monday May 14th

B&Q at lunchtime and indulged in a bit of retail therapy. Now own a cheapie wheelbarrow.

Thursday May 17th

Humph. Rain.

Friday, May 18th

Went home via the turf place and got slightly ripped off by the price of the manure. Still, he won't catch me out on that again. Pretty good stuff for all that.

Saturday May 19th

A bit of a hazy start, but warmer than it as been all week and really good digging weather. Went up to the allotment, fork in hand, and dug a chunk of the weedolled bed. I suspect it would have been a bit easier if I hadn't been trying to save all the wonkily-planted potatoes. By the end, I figured that the size of a lot of the seed potatoes (minuscule) meant that they were actually the offspring of the real seed potatoes. So I don't expect them to do an awful lot.  Dug all the way across the border between plots, then set a line of French beans to to mark the edge of my plot. Cleared about a third of the rest of that area, then decided to go home to stop my back going out. Don't really want that in Chelsea week!

Thursday May 24th

Managed to get an hour in the allotment, with Mum and Dad saying they'd supervise. Haha. Mum supervised, Dad couldn't sit still and despite saying he wasn't going to dig, he managed to end up doing some (and bent my poor fork while he was at it).  Have clipped a fair bit of the grass, so the paths are now vaguely visible. The French beans had collapsed in the heat, so will definitely have to plant a load more. The onions are doing fantastically.  Pulled a load of rhubarb and fed a pile of it to Dad in a crumble.


Saturday May 26th

Dug the last bit of the bed, interspersed with cutting more grass. More of the wretched long rooted thing. Almost sure it's a bindweed now. In which case I'll need to burn most of what I've got on the compost heap. Rescued the tulips. Watered the fried beans and onions, though the latter seem to be very happy. Chatted with the chap next to me. Installed water butt, and then filled it manually after having forgotten to put the tap connector for the hose in the car. Was cutting the final bit of grass on the cross path when there was an odd sound followed by the water butt tipping over. Onions very well watered now. Had to refill it again after stabilising it, though did find a four-leaf clover as I carried back the 10th bucketful. Bit late! Gave it to my neighbour for his daughter, then found out by his reaction that he'd never seen one for real! Had another chat to Jim, who offered some canes and presently hardening off runner beans as he's got enough. Very nice of him.

Tuesday May 29th

Dropped in at the allot on way back from Mum and Dad's and tried out my new battery strimmer. Not as good as the mains one, as can be expected, but ok on normal grass. Doesn't like nettles though - they have rather too-thick stems. Water butt still upright and full :-) so used it to fill the old burned watering can (still usable, though not obviously stealable) and water the beans and onions. All the onions are now growing! And there are some broad bean pods that are finger length! Maybe I should put up some netting (as I have some in the shed) and grow peas.

Wednesday May 30th

Got out of work on time and pegged it down to the allot as soon as I'd changed. Still quite hot outside. Raked the second bed flat and then moved to the top bed and planted the cabbages and cauliflowers next to the onions, where there weren't any brassicas last year. Everyone else seems to have netted theirs, so I need to get my netting out of the shed I think and cover them up. I've planted the cabbages too far apart according to the destructions, so I may pop to the garden centre tomorrow and get some more and stick them in between. The caulis really do need to be 60cm apart, but I can stuff catch crops in between while they get to a decent size. The poor beans are still hanging on - oddly enough there are still ten alive out of the 20, and they seem to be picking up. Maybe they'll regrow a bit. Hopefully the new ones will germinate in a week or so. The onions are growing leaves but not as yet getting any bigger bulbs. I guess they have to grow their feeding systems first. Strimmed another lot of grass and cut a few paths through the fruit bushes. Filled the butt up using the hose but ended up regretting it, as it's a pig to wind up without being on a wall. The best thing will be for me to get the outflow to the butt going. I think I'll clamp a short length of the cheap hose on the tap to begin with, so I can fill a watering can with it. Then if the rest of the cheap hose has a connector, I can quickly pop one on the short length when I'm there and walk about with the hose and use gravity. And fill the thing up weekly using a bucket. The exercise won't be bad for me and it's only 10 trips from completely empty! Major work still to do - dig the strip by the path that has got the bulbs etc. in. Then I can put the broccoli there (when I've actually planted it! More modules to be planted…) The bottom bed can have the carrots, runner beans and second lot of French beans. Pity about the wiggly potato line, but that can't be helped. Earthed them up a bit.

Also need to punch a hole in the bottom of the rusty old water thing or siphon it out. Jim said that it was used for bonfires, so maybe I should keep it. Surprise - the top bed is growing tomatoes as weeds! Pulled a couple up and sniffed them to check, so left another few in. Weird!


More weeded earth (and the wiggly potatoes)



June 01



Onions in, cabbages and caulis in :-)


Proud owner of a water butt!