Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Didn't go to the plot today as it was rainy most of the time when I could have gone, but I did get the guttering for the back roof of the polytunnel....and if it isn't too windy tomorrow I'll put it up.

I also got some sunflower seeds for the garden.....I'm really looking forward to seeing their cheerful faces later this year. I don't think there is any point trying them on the plot as the wind would probably knock them over.

We had to go for a hospital appt this morning for hubby's hip. He is now on the waiting list for his second hip replacement.....probably September or October. He has a massive ear op scheduled for April 24th as not a good year for him.

Tomorrow promises to be here's hoping.....!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hours at the plot.....18 1/2. I went this evening to do a couple of rows of weeding across the plot. Thank goodness the evenings are drawing out. It's just past 7 pm now and getting I've given up.

I met a lady up there who has just taken over the derelict plot next to her very tidy one. Apparently the former plottees live in Spain! They haven't done anything on it for 3 years and the weeds are becoming a nuisance to the neighbouring plots. She's got a bit to do to make it as tidy as hers!
This afternoon was spent in the polytunnel potting on some tomato plants, petunias and cauliflowers. (The starter plants I bought are really much to wee to put in the garden yet. The six that I put out last week have really suffered.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AT LAST I've been and planted stuff today. The top 3 feet is now planted with a row (almost) of shallots (Red Sun). Also a row and a half of Onion Stuttgart Giant, and a row and a half of Onion Sturon. I've grown Sturon before, very successfully.

I didn't add any manure or fertiliser to this bit as it seems to have been "fallow" for a couple of years.

The next row is Early Potato, Premiere....just 10 planted. The rest of the row and the next two rows are Lady Christl. I have another row of Lady Christl to plant but need to dig a bit more first.

With each spud I put in a couple of handfuls of a purchased blended manure with a sprinkle of calcified seaweed....hopefully that will mean a good crop.

I met a man from 3 allotments along who has had his plots for more than 50 years. He is still battling with mare's tails even after all that time. Fortunately I haven't seen any sign of it on my plot.

He was telling me that the allotments were started after the Great War! Just hearing him use that expression puts him into context!!!! He also said that all plots are now let for this year; so if it wasn't for my friends needing a hand I'd still be waiting!

I had a heavy day today...planned because it was supposed to rain all day. So....what happened.....the sun shone all day! Mind you it was very windy, so I wouldn't have enjoyed that at the plot. I didn't even get out to fix the greenhouse gutter because it was far too windy for that. It will be a wrestle to do it properly, so I could do without the wind that day!
Anyway, tomorow is supposed to be fine, with less wind, so I have planned to put in the spuds (earlies) and the onion sets and the shallots. I have bought a bag of blended manure to plant the spuds with, as well as some seaweed meal. These should give them a good start this year. By next I'll have some good compost to use for them.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Well....the wind this morning has done for the gutter on my greenhouse!!!!'s been up a year through much worse! So, not only do I need to get some for the back of the tunnel, but I need to re-do the front as well! It won't be today as it's ferociously windy out there at the moment!

Well.....another day of no show at the plot. This morning I couldn't go, and then when I could this afternoon it poured and poured. So I cut my losses and did my patchwork instead...actually applique.
The weather forecast for the rest of the week here gives rain most days. Next Sunday I have visitors for 4 days, so when I'll be able to get the spuds and onions in is anyone's guess!
It was too miserable to do anything in the garden or even the greenhouse too. I don't want to start any more seeds etc until it warms up a bit in the tunnel...we need some sun for that....and I have to go to B&Q before I do something about the gutter and water butt situation. I tried to order a butt on-line from Southern Water as they do a good offer if you are in their area...but the website was playing up, so I couldn't get one. I'll try again tomorrow.
I am so glad that the clocks have changed at last...maybe I could use some early evening spots now for my plot!!!
I have consoled myself with not being able to go today by watching my "The Allotment" DVD...brilliant!
Did anyone see that Brick Lane programme last night about the Bangladeshi family? The spurned wife had an allotment!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's really pouring with rain now, and no chance of going to the plot. I am disappointed as I had really wanted to use this afternoon to start the spud planting, put in the onion sets, and for DH to do the compost heap. And looking at the weather forecast it doesn't look as though I'll get there in the next few days either. We could have done with this rain before now....not this week when I need to be planting.

Yesterday they announced a hosepipe ban here on the Isle of I'm glad I've only planned spuds and onions at the plot. I think I can get away with not watering them.....! I'll be able to do a carry a can job on them, but no more than that. Oh...I fogot the squashes.....well a watering can will do the job with them too! I'll make sure to half bury a bottle with them to water through.
Whereas here at home I have all the water butts to keep me supplied. So all the water hungry things will be ok here. Perhaps Monday would be well spent rigging up the guttering on the back of the greenhouse, and getting another water butt for the front of the house. And I'm seriously tempted to get some other butts so that I can add a series to the ones that already take the water from the back roof.

I am also using the afternoon to plan my planting in the deep beds at home....a difficult job taking companion planting and crop rotation into consideration.

Gotta walk the rain-hating dogs at some point too!!!!!

Hours on plot so far...15. That includes 1 1/2 hours today. I paced out what I have done and compared it with what is left and have done 1/3 of my bit. I am very pleased with that and feel reassured that I have not taken on more than I can manage. Next year should be a breeze if I keep what I've done in order.

I noticed, glancing up the paths either side of the plot, that the paths are very wide, and that my digging edge is a bit snaky. So....when I have done my next stint, I am going to endeavour to straighten the edges, and to dig a slight bit further into the path. At the moment there are some tiles which a previous plotter has put as edging, that need taking out, the edge trimmed, then putting back in place. As they only stretch part of the way down the plot I might take them up altogether and just edge the plot by going deep along the grass edge and throwing the soil across the beds. I hope this wouldn't mean the path would collapse. I suppose I could test a bit first.

My seeds from Sarah Raven came this morning. These are....
Courgette Tomboncino
Courgette Soleil
Squash Pink Banana
Squash Blue Ballet, and
Calendula officinalisIndian Prince...or Pot Marigold.

We eat a lot of courgettes, so I know I haven't "over bought"! I hope we enjoy them; I'm looking forward to eating them. We especially like them sliced into rounds, some of the water squeezed out of them by putting them on kitchen paper, another sheet over the top, get your rolling pin and push the end into each slice. Then fry them in a non-stick pan using a very little olive oil, or an olive oil spray, salt them a little, and you have courgette chips. Delicious, low calorie and VERY moreish!

I bought some other varieties the other week...Italian....these are
Courgette Lungo Blanco...and
Courgette Rugosa Friulana.
I'll probably end up supplying the whole street....!

I intend to start only two seeds of each variety, with the intention of only using one plant of each. I don't really have room for more than that...they being so space greedy! Hopefully the seeds will be good for a few years. I have always managed to use old courgette and squash seeds for some years before...hopefully I will this time too. I have started keeping my seeds in the fridge....hope they'll be ok!

Time to start dinner....we do have courgettes tonight....from Tesco. Can't wait for mine. I've started a seed off so I can have some in the greenhouse bed (I'm sure wittered on about this yesterday!)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spent the day on gardening one way and another. A visit to the garden centre for more jiffy 7's, and some sweet pea seeds (and lots of other impulse buys!), then an hour in the back garden sowing some seeds for cutting flowers, and planting some cauliflower starter plants. I've put perforated plastic over them as I haven't properly hardened them off.....although the thermometer in the tunnel shows that the temp has been down to zero a couple of times possibly they have hardened themselves.
The bed I planted up today was very dry. I watered it a lot with a can, but I am hoping the rain which is now falling (thankfully) will do a more thorough job of it. The perforated plastic is supported on stakes and build-a-balls so the rain will drip through quite least it can't run off.

Then I sowed the sweet peas in jiffy 7's and put them in the propagator indoors, also one courgette seed...a Jemmer, for putting into the greenhouse beds for some early results. The sweet peas will be put to grow up with the runner beans. I did that last year and enjoyed the pairing. It meant that the sweet peas got picked a lot, which they need to continue flowering, rather than being forgotten.

Then I went to the plot for an hour and a half....again the only person there....and it was beautiful there this afternoon. I didn't get warm enough to take off my coat as it was rather windy, but I wasn't cold. I have now done the bit for the early now we need to go and get the manure to plant them in. I was going to get DH to rotavate it in, but I think it might be better to do a trench and lay the muck along that and then put the spuds in that, then bury them. If anyone has a better suggestion I'm all ears!!!!

I hope we get a good downpour, as although I do need to carry on digging at the allotment, it was getting harder by the day to dig the soil there. This rain should soften it somewhat.

The plotholder next to mine has put in two rows of spuds....a sign that I should be doing mine. Looks like we'll do it permitting.

My throat came to nothing....probably because of the massive doses of Vitamin C I took to stave it off......!

In Tesco's this morning I found a splendid cooking magazine....Country Kitchen. It is full of ideas for using up garden produce. For example there are 11 recipes using lavender this month. And a couple of pages on growing cauliflowers. An article by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (or as my DH calls him....Hugh Fearlessly Eats-it-all!) about how to make wild dandelion and burdock, and nettle beer! All in all it is a very good read....learn more about the magazine at

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The headache has turned into a sore DH said no "plotting" again today. But I've made the most of the time to tidy the polytunnel, move the strawberries in there to edge the beds, and clear the spaces at the back of the beds for the tomatoes and cucumbers and melons. I grew the tomatoes in a block last year and couldn't really look after them this year they are going to be along the "walls" with the beds in front being used for peppers, aubergines, etc.
I also sorted out the irrigation system in there. I have rigged up drip hoses on the beds which are fed by a hose from the waterbuts. I have 4 buts. One on the polytunnel which I use for the watering cans, two on the back of the house which I'll use to irrigate the polytunnel beds, and one small one which will be set up shortly to catch some of the rainwater from the front roof. All homes on the Isle of Wight are on water meters, so even if hosepipes are banned I wouldn't have been using tap water in the garden anyway....unless we had a drought. Hopefully I can use it wisely and not run out this summer.
The polytunnel didn't come with gutters, but I bought some from B&Q and stuck them onto the tunnel with greenhouse repair tape, and they work a treat.
I also spent an hour sorting out the soil in the deep bed that we have built for runner beans. The soil was moved from another part of the garden, actually from where I used to have the compost "Daleks", and is beautiful. Hopefully it will have enough goodness in it this year not to have to add any manure. I am going to put a drip hose through that bed too as it is along the run of the hose from the buts to the greenhouse. I have sited the bed along in front of the polytunnel hoping that the beans will help to shade it in the summer, and that they will screen it a bit from the house as it is rather large and dominating!

(Photo should be here! Can anyone tell me how to load photos where I want them to go? Thanks)

Here is a photo of the back garden taken from the bedroom window. I have edited it so that you only see the veg bit. The flower bit can't be seen from that window.
As you can see I have a fence to paint, and the remains of some flower beds to sort out over on the left. There is a large hibiscus which we have been unable to move! We will enjoy it this year, and endeavour to take cuttings from it, then it'll have to go. I also have to prune the plum, and finish taking up some paving where a pond used to be (I think).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Today I feel really rough....a very thick head and a very stiff neck. I know it's not the digging because DH has it too, and he hasn't done any! It is also bitterly cold, so I'm letting today go as far as the plot is concerned. Instead, I've done a bit of pricking out....cucumbers and peppers...and some seed sowing....aubergines. These are all on the sunroom windowsill (north facing so they wont fry!) .

The polytunnel is not the place for very tender seedlings just yet. I do have a polythene covered four-tier mini-greenhouse in the tunnel, and the temperature in there goes up to as much as 30, but it also drops to near freezing....! So I am only using it as shelves at the moment. I ought to use a heater in it at night, but it is a distance from the house and I don't like trailing electric wires across the garden....Freddy the whippet chews through them!

Although the day is wasted as far as the plot is concerned I am at least catching up with reading up about how to do the no-dig method of clearing new ground. I am going to run out of digging time soon, as the spuds should all be going in in the next few weeks. So, a non-dig method for the mainsrop and the pumpkin and courgettes makes sense. I have some very good old (1980's and 1990's) books from the early days of the organic and no-dig self composting movement.
These are.....
"Beds. Labour-saving, space-saving, more productive gardening". by Pauline Pears (HDRA) 1992
"Veganic Gardening.The alternative system for healthier crops". by Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien. Thorsons 1986
"Organic No-Dig, No-Weed Gardening. A Revolutionary Method for Easy Gardening". by Raymond Poincelot Thorsons 1986
"Companion Planting. Successful Gardening the Organic Way". by Gertrud Franck. Thorsons 1983
"Lasagne Gardening". by Patricia Lanza . Rodale 1998
These are all well thumbed, underlined, smeared with mud....etc and I wouldn't part with any of them.....all are a very good read!
I've also got all Bob Flowerdew's books....he knows his stuff.....although I can't seem to do raised beds like his with no "walls". Mine in the back garden have planks.....making the beds 9 inches deep. This cuts out a lot of bending for me. I know the wood wont last forever, but we will just renew it when the time comes.

Here is a picture of the view from the shed on my plot. The bit of dark soil against the RH edge of the picture is the bit I've been digging. The bit on the RH side that is nearer to the camera is the bit my friends are retaining for their use.

Here is a picture of my dug bit after I'd done an hour and a half this afternoon. I have now done 11 feet of the twelve that I need for my first earlies.

I took more pictures but every time I load one it goes to the top of the post and I have to do the narrative all over again! time I'll load them them in reverse order then do the narrative.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I was far too tired to post yesterday's doings on the plot. I did another two hours. It was really beautiful up there.....just me and the sun and the birds. I was surprised that no-one else was there...I thought Sunday afternoon would be a popular time for allotmenteering.
Anyway, responding to a comment to an earlier post pointing out that I should really do more photos.....I heartily agree....I bought a camara case this morning for my old digital camera (the Canon being far too precious to take up there) and so I will get some more photos today. The old camera has only 2m pixels but the size photo we can load on here makes it seem enough.

I'm off now to do an hour and a half of digging/weeding on the plot....then back to take the dog to the vets for her slimming club appointment!!!! She is almost finished with the dieting....I think the nurse will say she should go on to maintenance from today.....she'll be glad!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Today was still cold, but I did manage to get to the allotment for my hoped for hour and a half. I dug two more widths....until I could bend no more. The wind was from the NE but as the slope is south facing it mostly went overhead. The plots at the top, on the level, wee getting the full force....glad mine isn't up there.

Apparently the wind to dread is a strong SW one. That rips out the bean rows in moments. As I'm only going to do roots up there it wont be a problem for me. My back garden is more sheltered and the beans and other top grown stuff will be grown here. I'm not sure what that means for crop rotation....I'll have to plan carefully. This year most of the plot will be potatoes and carrots....but I also intend to do a pumpkin and some courgettes. They are low growing so shouldn't be bothered by wind.

DH moved some old timber pieces up there too. He intends to make a double bay compost heap with them.

I had a natter with next-plot-but-one. An elderly gentleman who has had his plot 20 years. He was a mine of info on such things as the wind, and where to get free manure....!

I seem to be getting slower at the digging....but the other allotmenteer said I was doing exactly the right thing by cleaning the ground thoroughly. His plot was immaculate...not a weed in sight. He dug it in the autumn, left it all winter, and is just turning it over a bit now. He doesn't even have to push the spade in with his just slices through like a knife in butter....!

Friday, March 17, 2006

I didn't entirely waste the day gardenwise. I really wanted to be outside, and the garden is more sheltered than the allotment so I decided to get on with cleaning up the new deep beds at home. I finished one completely, and have another almost there. Then two more to titivate a bit and the bean trench....and then we'll be up and running.
Apart from that I have caught up indoors so tomorrow afternoon, if sunny, I'll be digging my plot!

This afternoon was set aside for the plot, but it seemed very windy and cold so I thought I'd check before going. If we can hear the sea.....and we can today, very means it is a N wind. I walked the dogs through the allotments and met one of the plot holders leaving. She said she was freezing. No-one else was there. So...I decided to leave it today.
At the garden centre this morning I bought 12 small cauliflower plants. Hope to do well with them. They are destined for the garden rather than the plot.
The seeds in my windowsill propagator are coming up nicely. Basil and tagetes are really doing well and others are just peeping through. These are for companion planting in the polytunnel.....with the tomatoes.
The cucumber seeds I planted are also showing. Petita is my preferred cucumber. I sowed 3 seeds and all three have germinated. Petita are small cucumbers...about 6" long. Just enough for a meal for two of us. They will go into the deep beds in the polytunnel here at home.
I also got some aubergine seeds.....first time of trying them for me. (To be honest it is actually the second time. The first time I planted some free seeds from a magazine...they grew...into peppers!!!)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Today is MUCH too cold to go to the plot and dig! It's bad enough having to walk the dogs in this wind......they're whippets and HATE the wind. Here is a picture of them.......! The blonde (yes he is dumb!) is Freddy, and the "blue" is Lulu!
I am consoling myself for not going by organising my seeds into a proper filing system, and putting them into a large plastic container to put in the fridge (as suggested by Sarah Raven in my new book.) looks like it'll be tomorrow before I get to my plot again.
Meantime, for anyone who is interested...and who has Google earth....the co-ordinates of the plot I'm helping with are....50deg 43'07N...1deg06'53 W. I have the lower 2/3 of the plot.From the air it looks like the plot on the right is "pinching"inches from our plot!!!!!

I have been exploring the blog set up details, and have found that I can accept comments from I have altered it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Did an hour and a half digging this afternoon. I am definitely slowing up, but still enjoying it enormously.
It was so warm I took off my anorak...then my fleece... and ended up in a short sleeved blouse. The sun was out, and there was a wretched plane doing loop the loop over our heads. What is it about sunshine that makes those people think we want to hear their noisy planes for hour after hour. Why can't they do it over the sea? It would be safer for them if anything went wrong too!
The soil was crumbling beautifully, and most of the weeds slipped out!
I haven't looked into the greenhouse yet as I was out all morning, then at the plot, now I must walk the dogs....then make dinner. So it will be tomorrow before I get round to spending time in there!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back from Kent this afternoon. Too late to go to the plot, but will definitely go tomorrow afternoon.
I managed to get the Sarah Raven book of veg gardening at Waterstone's at Bluewater....for £10!!! It is an amazing book....and I'll be doing lots of what she suggests. It tends towards the ornamental style of veg well as being very practical. I'll be able to follow the ornamental suggestions here at home, and the practical stuff at the allotment.
At Wisley I got a wonderful hoe, the "Winged Weeder" by Burgon and Ball. It has a tiny triangular head, very sharp, with a very long handle. I also got a new trowel....stainless steel. I'll use that one at home and take the old one to the plot.
I also got some interesting packets of seeds. Some red brussels sprouts...Red Delicious; some Tomatillo, "De Milpa Purple"; and some seeds to grow Caper Plants. I love tuna with mayonnaise and capers so I'll be able to have a home supply....if they germinate! They require rather a rigmarole of soaking and freezing and soaking we'll see!
The BBC weather site gives quite sunny days til the weekend so I'll have lots of chances to get digging!!!
Off to bed to read Sarah Raven!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another two hours put in this afternoon....Sunday. It was very cold and blowy, but I soon got warm. Thankfully it was dry! There was only one other person obviously everyone else had more sense than to be digging on a cold Sunday afternoon!
I'm definitely slowing up, but it's got to be done...and I'm sure I'll get over the backache hump if keep doing it little bit by little bit. The soil was not so sticky as yesterday....and on the whole I'm pleased with my progress.
Won't be back there now until Wednesday....I'll miss it!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Today I did another couple of hours digging. It was a bit sticky, but I've done some useful clearing. It came out sunny whilst I was there, I hadn't expected it too so it was a bonus.
DH tried to sort our the compost heap....he has great plans for an old pallet we have here at home.
I met the man who has the next plot along....James. He seems very nice.
He has already put his spuds I must get a move on!

Here and there

Friday, March 10th, 2006

It did rain a bit this morning so I concentrated on the polytunnel and the veg garden at home instead. Then I was pleased that the sun came out so I could go to the plot to start the digging.
The soil is wonderful. I only need to single dig it and remove the weeds and it will soon be done. I did about 2'6" in 1 1/2 hours; not brilliant but I'm quite pleased with the progress. Tomorrow I'll go again and do another 2'6"...that'll be almost half of the patch for the first earlies.
I was rained off for about 10 be honest it was hail, followed by rain. But the rest of the time was sunny. I sheltered in the shed which is on the plot....they have given me a key to use, which is very generous and trusting of them. I'm so grateful that there is shelter for when it rains, it means I don't have to run back to the car.....which is quite a way away.
In the polytunnel I have started seeds for mint, parsley, basil (in the propagator), sweetcorn, peppers, parsnips, cucumbers and melons (in the propagator), marigolds, summer savoury (to put out next to the broad beans to deter pests) and leeks.
In the veg garden at home I have prepared four of the deep beds ready for planting up soon. One of the other beds already has garlic and onion sets in, and the calendula and strawberries which edge them are doing fine.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

First Visit

I have been on the list for a half allotment for some time now....presently at 12th. Some friends are finding theirs too big for them and offered me half to use while I am waiting. I was thrilled!
I have a veg garden at home.....8 deep beds 9' x 3'6" and a bean trench 13'x2'.....also a polytunnel 15'x10'. So, as you can see, I'm rather spoilt! However the soil at home is not thrilling, and I really have no room for roots. So, I'm going to put spuds and hopefully carrots in the allotment and hope I can keep on top of them with a couple of visits a week after the initial digging process is done.
I initially thought I'd apply for a half plot as I thought that would be enough, as there are only two of us....but the more I read other blogs I realise that I will probably outgrow the half plot quite soon. So I'm not going to remove my name from the list. By the time I get to the top I'll have got the half plot, and my new veg garden, up and running and will need more space. Also, I want to be at the top of the list so that if my friends decide to give up their plot in the future I can inherit the whole plot. There is a nice shed already on it, and it is next to the tap and the main path (which is wide enough for a car!)
I have some potatoes chitting in the tunnel whilst I get the first bit dug. I need to do 12' for the first earlies, then a further 9' for the second earlies, then I'll do the cardboard and manure and black plastic method (shown on the Allotment DVD) for the maincrop.. The rest of the space (if there is any) will be for some short rows of carrots, and a pumpkin!!! I've always wanted to try growing one and never had the room.
Tomorrow (Friday) has been promising to be fine all week, but the BBC weather site has now changed its mind and given rain instead.....! So tomorrow will be another day that I can't start. I'll use the time in the polytunnel instead, and get the house up straight so that I can take the next opportunity that presents itself to go up and start digging. Early next week I'll be away, so I may be delayed until Wednesday next before starting......hopefully not!
I hope to post about my visits to my plot each time I a diary, and for me to be able to look back in the future to see how far I've come. If others visit and read and comment...that is good and welcome.