Making more beds

It was now time to start digging at the front of the plot, there are two large beds in front of the section that I completed first.

Again these beds were filled with couch grass and also had the old fencing laid across, which the weeds were growing through, so first things first these had to be moved off. I then did my usual dig and remove the weeds and grass to reveal the lovely soil beneath.

when I finished digging the beds over and removing the weeds, I decided to tuck them up for winter as I didn’t need to use them yet. So I have covered them up to prevent weeds growing until I need the beds again.

Before and progress so far, what a difference!

I also managed to net the fruit cage, in here is planted a standard red gooseberry bush, a Myrtle bush, a honey berry bush and three blackcurrants.

I also added the usual Angela touch, with some of my crocheted bunting (it wouldn’t be an Angela plot without it!)

The resident robin dropped by to check out any worms that were being dug up, each time I go to the plot he gets closer and closer to me. I am also pleased that the shallots I planted have started to show.

As the Yuletide season is upon us, I will leave you with some pictures of my Christmas decorations and tiddly Christmas tree.
Toodle pip


The digging continues

Things are really starting to come together on the plot now, I have managed to get get a few more beds dug and planted. In these, so far I have planted garlic, elephant garlic and shallots.

the next part to tackle was the strip of bed alongside the path, this was filled with couch grass, so it took me a while to dig it all out and sift the roots, but now it is looking lovely and clean and is now a viable bed, which next year I hope to plant my beans and munchkin pumpkins, I had great success with both of these over the arches on my last plot so I hoping for more of the same on this new plot.

The next bed to tackle, would be what I am calling my apothecary bed. This is where I am wanting to grow herbs and flowers to make into teas and balms, such as chamomile, calendula, echinacea. I have some herbs at home in pots, waiting to go into this bed, lemon thyme, stevia, peppermint and spearmint. The mints will be planted in large pots on this bed, not in the ground as mint can be a bit of a thug and I don’t want it to take over the whole bed.

Again, this bed was filled with couch grass and there was a path running alongside which had been completely covered with weeds. But after a day of digging and sifting I finally uncovered the glorious soil.

I am so happy with this and can’t wait to get it planted up. I have some saffron crocus bulbs to pop in at the end of the bed and I am planning on planting tulips and daffodils along the long edge nearest the wood chip path to creat a visual barrier between the beds and in the summer, I will try and grow some sunflowers there too.

Whilst I was digging, Mr Robin paid me a visit and watched keenly as I dug up his dinner, he is such a cheeky chappie.

Each time I visit my new plot, I am surprised with more and more goodies I am finding, I was amazed to find this chap blooming in November. I think it is possibly a dahlia, I am not 100% sure, but how beautiful and what a lovely discovery. I have a suspicion that when spring and summer roll around again I will be discovering more lovely flowery surprises, which is no bad thing in my book.

I shall leave you today with something, not from my plot, but from the lawn in work, this beautiful mushroom. I love how it appears to be dripping black ink. It’s like a Goth fairy house!
Toodle pip!

Sign of the times

The hard work has been continuing on my new plot, the good news is that I have managed to finish the first six beds and have been able to plant them up, I have winter cabbage, leeks, Cavelo Nero Kale and Swiss chard.
I managed to get all of the dreaded plastic up from this entire section, I then laid cardboard on the paths and topped off with wood chip. On the beds themselves I made netted covers from blue water pipe and scaffold netting.

The progress of this first section

The next section I tackled was part of the back section, again I laid the trusty cardboard with a layer of wood chip.

In the fruit cage, I have planted some blackcurrants, and I have also planted something a little more unusual a honey berry, which produces elongated blue fruits and a Chilean guava, which produces small round red berries which are supposed to have a sweet sherbety taste. I thought I would have a go at growing something which was not readily available in the shops, we will see how I get on with them.
The next step will be to attach the netting to the cage.

I have also made the number sign for my plot, as it didn’t have one. For this I purchased two flat wood blanks in the shape of an apple and a pumpkin, painted them and added the numbers, before sealing them with varnish, ready for attaching to the gate, and hey presto, my plot has it’s name.

Carrying on with the homemade theme, Ali, the lady who had the plot before me had a flag on a flagpole, so I decided to make a flag to adorn the flagpole. I bought a plain flag and used fabric paint to decorate it, we will see how it holds up to the weather.

Silly, but I like it!

So there we have it, the progress made so far and some decorative touches. I will leave you with some action shots of Ruby as we all know she is the one who does all the work on the allotment!

Toodle pip for now

Welcome back to the jungle

Well goodness me, it is a long time since I last posted. The world pretty much stood still for a while as we were all confined to our homes. Allotment visits were allowed during lockdown but I was working from home so still only managed to get down of a weekend.

I didn’t have a huge amount of luck with my crops, as almost everything I planted, was decimated by hungry wildlife, courgettes, gone! Sweet corn, gone! The munchkin pumpkins I had so much success with last year, I think you get the idea.

I was however ok with my peas, I was able to get a good few harvests from those and they were delicious, so sweet! My shallots did well also and I was able to get a good harvest of those.

But, I also have some other news. Back to the title of this post, I now have a new plot, I swapped my half plot with a lovely lady called Ali, the paperwork was completed at the beginning of this week and I am now the proud tenant of a full plot.

It is very large, and there is lots of work to do on it, but it has huge potential. The photos below, show only a portion of the plot, as it actually extends beyond the greenhouse!

Ali, the lady I swapped with, very kindly cut down the weeds at the front for me before the big move. And Jan, the site secretary, enlisted the help of Brushcutter Dave and tackled the back section, which was six foot high with brambles and nettles.

I started bringing my things down from the old plot on Saturday with the help of Mr Inker, which gave me the opportunity to have a good old mooch at what was there.

I have a good size shed, a greenhouse, a patio, a cold frame, a huge water tank at the back of the shed, a pond, two massive clumps of rhubarb and a vast amount of strawberries.

First things first, I needed to make a plan. Unfortunately, the whole front of the plot is covered in clear plastic under about six inches of soil, even under the raised beds. The thought of removing it was daunting to say the least, so my plan of action is to tackle one bed at time, so I have somewhere to get planting and then when they are done I will do the paths bit by bit so that I am not overwhelmed.

I made a start on the first bed today, I took out some of the soil at the end of the bed and cut and peeled away the plastic, removing weed roots as I went, I then popped some cardboard down and moved soil from the next part to cover the gap, again removing weed roots as I went, I continued in this fashion until I reached the end of the bed and finally tipped in the first lot of soil I had removed.

So there we have it, exciting news. Ruby loves the new plot, there was lots of new sniffs for her to explore and I leave you with a bonus photo of Ruby having a shampoo and set after working hard on the allotment.

until next time, toddle pip.

Muck Glorious Muck

You know you are an allotmenteer, when you get incredibly excited by a delivery of manure.
I got a call from Jan, my allotment secretary saying there had been a delivery of manure and did I want some?……, yes please!
With some trepidation, I took Ruby to the plot with me. I had visions of her rolling around in the pile and coming home smelling of Eau de poo, but she was incredibly well behaved, after a couple of cursory sniffs, she left it alone.

I was able to give two of the beds a lovely thick mulch of this glorious stuff.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find no damage at all to the plot, as the UK has recently been battered by two storms, Storm Ciara followed a week later by Storm Dennis, I was thoroughly expecting to find my arches had been blown away, but no, there they were still standing proud!

I was also thrilled to see signs of life bursting through, the broad beans, garlic, elephant garlic and shallots I had planted earlier in the winter were doing splendidly.

The various bulbs I have planted around the plot were also bursting into life and it won’t be long before I have another dazzling display of tulips and daffodils and I can’t wait.

Everything is also springing to life in the teeny tiny garden at Sleepy Cottage.

until next time, Toodle pip

Dirty rotten scoundrels

Some bad news to start the blog with…… plot was broken into, they ripped the front of my shed off and chopped a hole to get in. Unluckily for them, there was a big board in the way so although they were able to get in, they couldn’t get anything out, so they didn’t manage to steal any of my tools, just created a massive headache for me as I and to tidy up the mess they left and Mr Inker fixed the shed for me.

they also trampled on my sweetcorn, so I had to rescue as many cobs as I could and then clear the rest of the destroyed plants from the bed. On a side note, the sweetcorn was delicious.

Now, back to the pretty stuff.
One of my allotment neighbours gave me some dinner plate dahlias that he had picked. They were spectacular and as big as my head!
This is what I love about my site, everyone is so friendly, always there with a helping hand, the offer of a cuppa and always sharing spare seeds, plants or veg.

I also managed to harvest some goodies. I picked some apples and blackberries, more on them later, some borlotti beans, leeks, french beans and the first of my munchkin pumpkins, I am so looking forward to trying this.

With the apples and blackberries, I decided to make some simple tarts.
I started by chopping the apples into small chunks and tossing them in cornflour, I popped them in a pan with the blackberries and some sugar and bubbled it all up until the blackberries oozed their delicious juice, the apples became soft and the juice became thick and syrupy.

Now, don’t tell anyone but I cheated on this next bit and used ready made puff pastry. I cut it into rectangles, scored lightly around the edges to create frames, and pricked the middles with a fork.

I then piled the apple blackberry mixture into the middles, trying desperately to avoid the edges, I was mostly successful……well, vaguely successful. Brushed the edges with beaten egg and popped them in the oven, gas mark 6 for about 15 minutes until the edges had risen and were golden brown.

I served them with extra thick cream, they may not be the prettiest looking things and I am certainly no Delia, but by golly they were yummy and went down well with everyone.

So, there we go. We may have started off on a sombre note, but cake really does make everything better, add a nice cup of tea to that and the world really is tickety boo!

Toodle pip for now.

The growing season begins

I have planted out most of the things I have planned to grow this year, a few bits are still being nurtured in the greenhouse at home such as some of the munchkin pumpkins that were planted later.

Some things are thriving and some seem to be struggling a bit, but as this is my first growing season as a beginner allotmenteer, I’m not going to worry if things fail, it will be a learning curve for me.

When I see pictures of my plot of when I first got the keys compared to how it looks now, I can really see just how far I have actually come with it. On those days when I think it looks messy because a whole host of new marestail or bindweed has sprung up, or another of my plants has been munched; I look at the comparison photos and I don’t feel quite so bad.

One of the things I love about my plot is that is such a peaceful place to be. My plot is at the top of the lane, away from the road and backing on to the woods, so all you can hear is birdsong. I have a little regular visitor in a robin, who comes to see me every time I am at the plot, he watches carefully to see whether I put some seed on the feeders or whether I will be doing any digging to expose some nice juicy fat worms for his dinner, he really is adorable. There is also a Buzzard who lives on Bidston Hill and I watch it flying over the plot, it really is a magnificent sight to see. I also encountered a frog when trying to sort the weeds at the back of the plot, he was a cute little fellow.

Sometimes, I just like to bask in the sun and do a spot of crochet and not worry about the weeds.

Before I say toodle pip once more I will leave you with some more pictures of the flowers and wildlife that inhabit 38B.

The fruit cage arises

Just in front of the compost bin I made, there was a large space. It was just filled with couch grass and surrounded by small trees that had been planted before I arrived. Mostly Hazel I think, but I discovered a cherry tree and an apple too (wahoo!).

I decided this would be an ideal space for fruit, so I duly cleared it bit by bit and planted raspberries (Yellow and red Autumn fruiting), blackcurrants and yellow and red gooseberries.

Now all these delicious fruits will be just too tempting for the birds and I want to be able to eat what I grow. A friend of Mr Inker said he would build me a fruit cage to protect the precious berries. so one weekend he came along and set to work.

Doesn’t it look amazing? All I need to do now it cover it with net and we’re good to go!

I have been busy myself with lots of planting, and of course weeding. The site is unfortunately riddled with marestail, so it is a constant battle with it as this stuff has been around since prehistoric times.

In my perennial bed, I have planted Babington leeks, Perennial leeks and perennial nine star broccoli. Now it is called broccoli but it is a sort of cross between a cauliflower and a sprouting broccoli in the fact that it produces a small head of cauliflower and numerous smaller florets. Let’s see how I get on with this.

I also planted out lots of other goodies that had been nurtured in my small half greenhouse at home.

Alongside the middle arch I planted some climbing French beans and some borlotti beans. The maypole, I planted with sugar snap peas, which will hopefully scramble up and create a green wigwam.

It was also a momentous occasion for me as I made my first harvest. I was able to pick some of the broad beans that had overwintered and a couple of leeks, the leeks were only small but delicious nonetheless.

Before I say toodle pip, I will leave you with a bee bum.

Grapple me grapenuts, it’s compost corner

Things were starting to come together on the plot now, the beds in the main part of the plot were now dug out. I had erected arches at the end of each of the paths with idea to grow climbing plants up them such as peas and beans, I also wanted to give munchkin pumpkins a try so I will let them clamber up one of the arches too.

Ruby checking the arches are straight

Mr Inker had put in the scaffolding planks for me, and as we had just had a delivery of woodchip I was able to finish my paths. The difference it made was unbelievable, It was starting to look like a proper allotment, it was also starting to look like I knew what I was doing!

I felt now that I could start looking at working on other parts of the plot. In the front corner was a large dilapidated compost heap that took up just too much room and I had an idea for that space, as a result I decided to relocate the compost to the back of the plot out of the way. I had acquired some pallets from the chap who had the plot over the lane from mine and also from work, so used these to create a compost bin with 2 bays so that I could turn compost from one bay to the other.

The beginnings of the new compost bays

Now it was onto the daunting task of tackling the old scrappy compost bay. It was completely overgrown with a selection of the most perennial of weeds, so yet again it was dig, dig dig.

Now bear with me here, because in my head this was going to be a flower garden. In the spirit of allotmenting, I had utilised an old zinc trough that had previously been full of rubbish, filled it with soil and had planted tulips, daffodils, crocus and ranunculus. In the middle of this space, I envisioned a patch of grass and a flower bed that undulated around it, filled with a variety of beautiful colourful flowers.

I made a friend whilst removing the old compost bay

After a good few weeks, numerous nettle stings, broken nails, countless scratches and sore muscles i finally had the bare bones of the cottage garden I wanted to create, and was able to plant some bulbs.

The cottage garden has the Ruby seal of approval

Now we are into the full throws of Spring, this little patch has really come to life, there is still tonnes to do but I am so pleased with the progress so far.

Dig for Victory

The next stage of the transformation of the plot was a whole lot of digging. Mr Inker had already made a start for me at the side of the shed, so our next job was to dig out the paths I had marked out. Baring in mind that the Summer of 2018 was on par with the Summer of 1976, this was no mean feat.

Ruby inspecting our workmanship

my plan was that these beds would be edged with scaffolding boards and the paths would be covered with woodchip as we have that delivered to the site, but I knew it would be a while before that happened.

We started to dig the beds over, the plot was covered in a lot of couch grass so we had to make sure we got the roots out as we were digging.

Ruby working hard again……she just never stops!

Everything was starting to come together now and i could see my vision on what the plot should look like come to life.

I also had a sign made for the gate of my plot, it had now arrived in the post so I popped it up on the gate.

I now felt that my plot was officially named!

Next stop was doing something with the shed. I knew I wanted somewhere nice and cosy to sit to shelter from the sun during the long hot summers of years to come………..who was I kidding, it was to shelter from the rain we would undoubtedly have.

The shed was a typical allotment shed, made from bits and pieces that had been gathered, unfortunately most of it was made from chipboard, hence why it was covered in roof felting, not very attractive but serviceable for now.

I started with the inside by painting it in a light colour to brighten it up; it already had a table in there, which I was able to put my camping stove and kettle on for those all important cups of tea that I would inevitably quaff on a regular basis. I brought a little cabinet to store the cups and other bits and bobs out of the way and started to put up little metal signs and other decorative items to really girlify it.

I now had somewhere nice and dry to sit when the winter started to set in, totally unnecessary, but it would be a place I would enjoy being in.