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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today I went and photographed some overgrown plots at the allotments. This was with a view to using the photos as evidence for a nagging the council session.
I found at least three that haven't been done at all this year. One was a real rubbish tip, with so much plastic things, like composters, tarpaulins etc. on it that it would take weeks to clear it. However....tempting though it is it is right next to a tall building and a large tree which cut off the sun til after lunch. I think it would be disheartening having that plot! So I will just phone in a gentle nag without being specific, as I wouldn't want to be only offered that one!

I still have plenty to do at home anyway. I spent this afternoon clearing some huge tired shrubs from where I want the last of my 8'x3'6" beds....making up the eight. I have a load of weeding and levelling to do before it is ready for the bed edges to be put in place. Then I have plenty of soil to fill it as the bed has rather risen up the fence and has begun to rot it so needs moving away from the base. It will take a while to get the roots out anyway.

I also weeded the square foot beds which still have some salads, chard, spinach, carrots, fennel, beetroot, leeks, etc in them. I staked the Brussels in the brassica bed. I chopped up a mountain of self sown nasturtiums which were still flowering but in my way, and then weeded out the beds they were in. The mustard green manure crop also came up and I have now prepared the bed for the shallots. These were intended for the plot but I'm not going to put them in now as I'm not sure what is going on up there.
I have a mountain of shredding to do tomorrow, but that is good because I use the shredded bark and twigs as pathway material between the deep beds.

I almost forgot to say that I decided it was time to dig up the sweet potatoes in the deep bed. I was surprised to find a goodish crop under the five slips I planted. The ones I planted in the pots were really disappointing, so I was worried as to what I'd find in the soil. I think I'll put the potted ones into the tunnel for the winter and see if they produce any tubers next year (I replanted the plants when I found them barren).

In the bed I cleared I also found some small courgettes...the last of the season.....not bad eh? Courgettes from outside on the 8th November. The plant still had good leaves on too. They would have succumbed later this week though as I believe we are due for a cold snap. I use the info on this site when planning my gardening. I like the way they predict likely soil temperatures. They even tailor the info to your own postcode.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Well.....strange goings on at the plot!
I walked the dogs through the allotments this afternoon as usual and found the plot holder (as you know I have been "allowed" to use an unused bit of someone elses rights!!!!!!) installing another friend on the plot. She was giving away a third of what I'd been cultivating this year....including the bit with my huge pile of manure on! So I now have to move that promptish or it'll be dug in somewhere else! We came to an agreement about the "boundary", but I was a bit unsettled to say the leat.
This leads me to believe that the plot will actually never become mine after all. I had understood that if they gave up the plot I would get first call on it (if I was at the top of the waiting list) but obviously that wouldn't be the case now. So I phoned the council and found that I am now at no.4 on the waiting list. Hooray! It would seem then that early next year I might get a plot of my own.
So....having discussed this with DH I have decided to cease developing this plot any further, and to only tend the brassicas that are growing up there until they are finished. Then if I am allotted my own plot next spring I'll move the manure when I cultivate that plot. DH has said he'll buy me a shed too!
I really could do with spending the time on the veg garden at home between now and then, so I am glad to have found this out now rather than later!
So........this blog will be about my plot at home for a while. Watch this space for another allotment! Meanwhile I have a load of shallot sets on order which were destined for the plot.....five packs of them (DH is partial to pickled shallots). They will have to go in the garden plot I'd better dig the green manure crop into one of the green-manured beds pronto!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Yesterday I planted my garlic in one of the deep beds in the back garden. At the other end of the bed is a whole packet of broad bean seeds....Aquadulce Claudia. And between the two is a row of Winter Density Lettuce. I also did two rows of the WD Lettuce in the polytunnel. Hopefully some will come up and we can have free salad all winter. I hate buying it as it as so expensive....particularly the bags of washed stuff...and quite honestly there is rarely nothing available in the garden for a salad of some sort.

This morning I am took advantage of the beautiful dry weather to paint the fence around the Kitchen Garden. I used "Wheelbarrow" from the National Trust Outdoor range. I have had the tins for ages and it was about time I did the job. It is not quite finished but after 1 and a 1/2 tins I am knackered.

I am currently reading a present I awarded myself. It is "Allotted Time: Twelve Months, Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea" by Robin Shelton. I have only read chapter 1 so far but it promises to be a good read.

I got a bargain at Bluewater last week. A copy of Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden for £9.75. I am determined to have a better cutting garden next year. This year I just sowed a packet of mixed flower seeds "for cutting" and was a bit disappointed with the results. Now I have inspiration for the cold days ahead and when I need a break from my winter hobby.....quilting....I will study up on how to grow a cutting garden.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I have been trying my new battery powered strimmer on the grass paths between the plots. I'd love to report that I have trimmed them all beautifully....but it isn't that good a result. I have done about a sixth of what needs doing. That took 15 minutes which was all the power pack did on its first go. I am hoping the battery gets better with subsequent charges.

So....all in wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping. But it wasn't as bad as I'd feared it might be.

Whilst we have had visitors it hasn't been possible to get to the plot to finish my Autumn tidy up. But I have been a bit busy in the kitchen garden in snatched moments. Today I cleared one bed completely of all the residue from sweetcorn and courgettes and squashes this summer, and weeded it thoroughly. This bed will be sown with garlic, onion sets and broad beans for the spring in the next few days.

I went to the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm this morning with my guests and got 5 seed garlic bulbs. They were £1.50 each or 5 for £6. I used their bulbs last year for my stunning garlic crop, and am anxious for similar success next year. Last year I bought one of their special gardener's packs of a head of each of the varieties they sell. Unfortunately the dog got hold of them and wrecked the bags they were in as well as eating half of the bulbs so I have no idea which variety was which, so have no idea which was the most successful. So I chose Albigensian Wight as I was seduced by the blurb! Apparently this is a soft necked, large, juicy, early white garlic, suitable for autumn planting, which will be ready in June. It is the garlic of the heretic Cathars from the Languedoc. It has touches of purple on the skin.
To find out more about The Garlic Farm visit their website at

Whilst my German friends were here they helped me to sort out some big jobs in the kitchen garden. There was a big hibiscus bush and some other shrubs right where I want one of the two raised beds still to be built. We chopped it down and pulled out the root. They helped fix the shredder, then we shredded the lot and laid the shreddings on the paths between the raised beds. I now have a tidy spot for the new long bed. We just have to get the planks and build it now.

I am delighted to report that each day I can pick a super salad-leaves salad from my back garden and polytunnel. It consists of cut and come again lettuce, rocket, mizuna, baby spinach, baby chard, beetroot leaves, basil, fennel, dill, mint leaves, parsley, parcell, nasturtium flowers and leaves and lambs lettuce. I still have cucumbers and peppers. Very satisfactory!!
I am also harvesting chard, red and yellow; beetroot; carrots; spinach; spring onions and leeks. The Brussels sprouts and broccoli are not ready yet but coming. The cabbages at the allotment are growing fast on the south facing slope.

Now that our visitors are over til the end of the month I can get back to the plot and continue the tidy up. I have a lot of work re-siting the compost heaps and then laying out the future no-dig beds. The manure needs carting to the new beds and spreading (although I am not convinced that that is a good idea unless I cover the whole lot afterwards with plastic to stop the rain leaching out all the goodness). And I need to transfer the rhubarb to another spot.

I also need to get some more salads started in the tunnel for winter use. I have ordered some Winter lettuce seeds from the Organic Gardening catalogue...together with the Bio-dynamic Gardening Calendar for 2007. I am hoping to use their dates for planting next year and get even better results than I did this year.

I hope to be a more faithful blogger now that DH is recovered from his op and is doing half of the dog walking again, and now that the summer influx of visitors has abated.