Sunday, 17 May 2009

Last week at the allotment

As I said last weekend, I was longing to go straight back up to the allotment on Monday but had other commitments so at 8 o clock in the evening, when they should have been safely tucked up in their beds, this is what the poor little Lockets were doing:

They were rewarded with hot chocolate with squirty cream - and a very nicely dug bed!

And then we raced home in a vain attempt to get them in to bed before 9pm.

I then managed to pop up on Wednesday afternoon after my morning at work and got very sunburnt while planting some beans and sweetcorn.

And now we are completely exhausted after spending most of the weekend on the plot- about 5 hours yesterday and 6 today.

The children now have a pretty little wall basket on their shed and I managed to put some very wonky ones on the "grown up" shed - I wonder how long it will be before someone points out how wonky they are?!

Daisy in particular did a great job digging over and manuring the new bed by the children's shed and we also started to reclaim this bed which has been walked over for the last 7 months

- the children had great fun sawing loads of posts for the raised borders - in fact we couldn't get them to stop and now have rather more posts than we actually need!

And I managed to get this bed dug and manured and planted up with leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and red cabbage.

Time for a nice bath and a glass of wine I reckon!

So here's my usual "leaving the allotment at the end of a long day" shot - I wonder if it's possible to notice any changes over the last few posts?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

9th and 10th May 2009

All last week I was just longing to get to the allotment and planned to go straight there on Saturday morning but then got distracted by dividing Daisy and Fred's bedroom to give them each their own "room".

Then at 3'o clock I got a call from Alison to say she was up there so even though it had started to rain heavily and the wind was blowing wildly I abandoned the rest of the Lockets to the tidying and was up there like a shot!

The rain stopped by the time I got there but the wind was still strong and I came away after two hours with a bright red face from a combination of wind, sun and exertion!

On Sunday we all went up and got there at about 11.

Daisy, Fred and Alison's son agreed to help for a while at a rate of 50p per half hour (!) so we got them clearing the soil from the children's old bit of garden outside their shed.

(August 2008 - how their "garden used to look")

We'd laid carpet and then, using bricks, had built a temporary retaining wall in an L shape which we had then filled with potting compost so they could grow their own plants. But they'd never really been that interested, preferring to play with their friends than garden so I decided to reclaim some of the space for an extra bed which I plan to plant with a mixture of flowers and veg.

It means they have a slightly smaller play area but they tend to be running around from one allotment to the next so I don't think it really matters that much.

I ended up finishing clearing the area because Fred had an accident while playing "blind man's buff" - not a good idea at the allotment as he fell in a huge clump of nettles outside another plot and stung his hands, arms and tummy and got a massive nose bleed too. Mr Locket ended up taking all three children home at about 1.30 but I stayed til about 5.30.

The bed is now ready for digging - which will be a fairly tough job as there are loads of huge grass roots in it :o(

I also dug out the main weeds from the next bed to get it ready for a good digging over so I can plant my sweetcorn and beans there in a couple of weeks.

The other main achievement of the day was the rearrangement of the area outside the main shed - it seems to be an annual May event as I was looking back through old photos and found I had done the same thing at the same time last year!

I have created another mini bed just in front of the shed that I want to fill with sunflowers, sweetpeas and cornflowers.

So this morning I ache all over and am absolutely shattered - but I'd be back up there like a shot if I wasn't committed to something else today.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Fred's Shop

When we first took on the allotment - back in May 2006 - there was lots of "junk" lying about the place which included the top parts of two old plastic barrels.

Fred immediately appropriated these bits of blue plastic finery and announced that they were his shop.

Many happy hours were then spent by this little boy in his new "building".

But over time we forgot about Fred's Shop because it was no longer around.

So can you imagine his glee when 3 years later he found it again!

The only problem is that he's grown rather a lot since then!

But it's still a great place for a quiet read

- especially if you bury your favourite Beast Quest books under a pile of grass and then sit on them!

Have I ever told you how much I love my allotment?

Lucy x

Monday, 27 April 2009

April at the allotment

Ok, so I'm going to apologise straight away because there are going to be waaaaay too many photos in this post - but seeing as it covers the whole of April I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

There are going to be photos of strange children...............

(Fred "colouring in" a brick with a piece of mortar using the shovel/scoop as a visor!)

and exciting pondlife

(we have newts!!!)
And then there will be lots of photos of soil and bits of green stuff with strange people in the background

I really want to keep this blog going as a record of what I plant each year and when but I don't seem to be able to get it typed up in time. I'll just have to try harder! This post is going to be all out of order but will give an idea of what happened in April.

I finally managed to get all my potatoes in to these long beds at the front of the allotment. The International Kidney's went towards the beginning of the month and are beginning to peek through. Then last weekend we got the Pink Fir Apples in along with a couple of rows of Desiree. I've had to fit all the potatoes round some of the crops that are still in, like the rainbow chard and purple sprouting broccoli - but that's fine by me as it will give me space for a bit of variety later.

The garlic, shallots and red onions are also in and starting to grow - they are at the very back of the allotment this year. I'm finding the whole "crop rotation" business a bit tricky to keep up with but I'm basically trying to make sure I don't plant anything in the same place two years running.

A couple of weekends ago, the children and I were up at the allotment and I couldn't decide what I should do so I rang Alison who advised tidying up the strawberry bed.

So I did.

But then I decided that I absolutely HAD to clear the path next to the strawberry bed where the carpeting was sprouting HUGE triffids.

I did a very good job of it too.

And then I collapsed!

(well, the carpet was nice and clean by this point)

The only problem with collapsing when you have small children is that they decided to sit on you.

But I was able to take this "very artistic" photo of my plant pots whilst "reclining"!

Then last weekend we managed to spend both Saturday and Sunday at the allotment and got absolutely loads done and were totally exhausted at the end - although I think that might be why I succumbed so badly to the lurgy that has had me floored all week :o(

As well as planting the main crop potatoes (see above), we also got the children to build a temporary cold frame with my stash of bricks

so that we could transfer the plants from the greenhouse at home to make room for the next batch of sowing.

We then planted out the peas

the "heritage" crimson flowered broad beans which will hopefully look stunning and taste good too

and the sweet peas - which look very fetching with their manky hand made cloches!

I also managed to create another strawberry bed next to my main one - in the foundations of the old greenhouse - and transplanted lots of strawberry runners from my allotment and from Alison's too. I now have 4 separate strawberry beds so will hopefully get even bigger crops than last year!

So we've had a busy but successful time at the Lotamunt

and I finally feel like we might actually be getting somewhere..........

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Starting to grow

The seeds that I sowed a week and a half ago have already sprouted - I find the whole seed-growing business so exciting!

The sweetcorn in the kitchen were the first to pop their heads out

and then the peas and sweetpeas in the greenhouse came out to say hello

I'm hoping to get more seeds sown this weekend - if I ever tear myself away from this computer!

My potatoes are also chitting away happily.

I know experts are divided over whether chitting is really necessary and trials have been done which seem to show that "unchitted" potatoes produce just as large crops, but personally I just love being able to "do something" with my potatoes while I impatiently wait to put them in the ground!

I called in to the allotment on Wednesday afternoon on the way back from work and dug a little more of the first long bed.

It's scary to see how much there is to do!

The other job I tackled was lifting and turning over the carpet on the path between our allotment and Alison's.

It had become well and truly "planted" in with grass roots so pulling it up was like playing tug-of-war with the entire England Rugby team! I was exhausted and close to defeat but finally got it turned over and loads of the clumps of grass pulled out.

You can just about see the difference if you compare this picture with the one below.

and then of course there is the added bonus of my shadow!

Hopefully we will go up some time this weekend - so far today we have just been pootling about at home even though it is a beautiful sunny day.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Even though Daisy very kindly tidied out my greenhouse a couple of weekends ago, even though I had already put the soil in the pots and trays, and even though I had stocked up on new seed packets last month, I still hadn't got round to sowing any seeds.

So after visiting Alison's new greenhouse this afternoon I knew I had to make a special effort to get on with it. But as I explained to Alison, I associated time by myself, sowing seeds in the greenhouse with a nice glass of wine.

As it turns out, my memory must be playing tricks with me because by the time it was appropriate to have a glass of wine it was also pitch black outside! But I decided to go out and sow some seeds anyway (with my glass of wine) because I knew I'd just end up leaving it too late in the season to grow anything.

(those little pots now have pea seeds in and the wine glass is now empty)

I managed to sow about 25 sweetcorn kernels, 20+ peas and a full packet of sweet peas - I just hope they grow!

And so that this is definitely an "allotment" post, I'll leave you with this aerial photo of my plot courtesy of Google Earth.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

What not to wear..............

As I was driving home from my 2 hour stint at work this morning I was debating whether to go home and tidy or go to the allotment and dig. Then the sun came out so the decision was easy.

When I got there I naturally had to sit in the car for 10 minutes to do some knitting before getting on with the real work!

I dug over the first half of the left hand bed at the front of the plot (one of the ones we created last time from the 3 smaller squares) and I learnt an important lesson:

Don't try to dig in an ankle length skirt! It's rather awkward!!!

but then again, I decided not to take Lesley's advice to tuck my skirt in my knickers as I didn't think that would go down to well with the other allotmenteers!!

I harvested a lot of leeks so we will be having some delicious meals for the next week or so (the last ones we had were so tasty)

and some chard.

Then I was really pleasantly surprised because I discovered that I did have some parsnips after all - I had been sure they had all failed.

But do 4 really count as "a crop"? I don't really care, because they smell fabulous and as two are the size of small trees maybe that is a crop! I'm not sure what the "rust" is on the two large ones but I'm sure it will cut off and that the rest will be scrummy.

I also took a bit of a gamble because I moved three purple sprouting broccoli plants because they were where I need to grow my potatoes this year. I hope they survive the trauma!

Now I have an aching back and that particular yawny feeling you get when you've had a good dollop of fresh air - time for a bath I reckon!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


We woke to a lovely sunny day today (although it was quite windy and cold too) so we decided it needed to be an allotment day - and this time I had my digger with me! Mr Locket is quite happy to dig wherever directed although as an archaeologist he wishes I wanted deeper "excavations"!

There is so much to do at the allotment right now and it is fairly overwhelming but I asked my friend Alison's advice as she is a natural gardener (her allotment is next to mine and is stunningly beautiful even when hardly anything is growing). She suggested we dug in the bed of green manure - so we did, and then she suggested that I weeded one raised bed at a time - but, um, I didn't and went off on a whole different tangent and decided to change the layout of the plot instead!

We were originally criticised by some of the traditional allotmenteers for creating the raised bed system on our plot because we were apparently "wasting half the growing space with paths".


But at the time it was the only way we could face tackling the huge and totally derelict space we had taken on - one small bed at a time. We also needed space for the children to be able to walk around without trampling on the crops. So raised beds worked for a few years, and looked very nice too.
(2007 when they were first built)

The downside of this system was that the paths in between got very weedy and with the last two long damp summers the weeds were definitely winning. It was also getting very difficult to get the weeds out that were sending their roots under the edging boards.

So today I decided we should join up each set of three beds at the front of the allotment so they only had paths longitudinally. Which meant that Mr Locket and Fred needed to get busy with the saw......

The beds originally measured 6 foot square but by removing the cross-paths I have probably added another 4 foot to the whole length making each long bed about 22 foot by 6 foot wide.

It will be much easier to dig the weeds out and I now have a larger area in which to grow my crops - it just doesn't look as pretty now!

So it was a good second day at the allotment for 2009 and the children had loads of fun playing with their friends.

P.S. What I forgot to mention was that I nearly didn't achieve anything at the allotment today because the first thing I did was go and check the pond. This was before I changed out of my crocs into my NEW BOOTS(!) and because the ground was quite wet I slipped and fell and nearly landed head first in the pond!!! I only just managed to save myself and my hand went in and so did the lapel of my cardigan! It would not have been a good start to the day if my head had gone in too!!!