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!!!

Friday, 20 February 2009

What is an allotment?

Originally posted on my craft blog: Saturday, 30 June 2007

(This is what it looks like after strimming)

This post is really for Thimbleanna in reply to the questions she asked after my last one:
"Your allotment looks like fun. I've seen allotments, but don't know, really how they work as we don't have them here. Do you purchase the land or rent it? And how do you eat there -- set up a campfire or something to cook the meal? Does the little building contain "kitchen" types of things so that you can cook? Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home? Hope I'm not being too nosy -- just love learning what goes on in other parts of the world! ;-) "

So No.1
- Do you purchase the land or rent it?
Well, we rent it from the local council for £25 plus £11 for water per year (Some allotments charge even less). The allotment seems huge to us as it is about 28' x 90' (although that is not a precise figure - I can't quite remember what it is!).

The one we rent is about 2 miles from our house - there is one nearer but it has a long waiting list and you are not allowed any sheds or greenhouses on it which would make it much less fun for the children. I decided on impulse last June to go to this allotment and ask if they had any spare plots. They looked at me and said no - the only ones left were in such a bad state I wouldn't even want to consider them and they didn't want to walk me all the way over to them (there are over 300 on the site) as they knew I would say no when I saw it. So, being me, I asked if I could look anyway so I fetched the family from the car and we followed their directions into the middle of the site. We wandered up and down the paths looking at various derelict plots until we found one we quite liked and to their amazement signed for it there and then. This is what it looked like at the beginning

It was the two youngest children's birthday party that afternoon (I think we were actually on our way to it when I stopped at the allotments!) and I told my friend Alison what we had done so she decided to sign up for the one next to me. After that another 4 people directly and indirectly connected with us signed up for the plots on our block. So having told me I wouldn't want to bother with an allotment the committee were amazed to have 6 derelict plots taken over in a very short space of time (followed by many more over the last year)

No. 2 - How do you eat there?
We have a little camping stove that we cook and boil the kettle for tea on. We also take up picnics and sometimes portable barbecues and we have been known to toast marshmallows over raging bonfires and Alison has even wrapped potatoes in foil and placed them in the bonfire at the beginning so that we can rake them out once it has burnt down - yum.

No.3 - Does the little building have "kitchen" types of things
I'm really using this question as an excuse to show off : the little building Anna is referring to is actually the children's shed and was found by our very kind allotment neighbours Anne and Pete and built for us as a surprise when we were first starting out.

Earlier this year, with the help of Anne and Pete again and the lovely Ron, I managed to restore the other "shed" type building on our plot.
To the left is what it looked like last year and to the right is how it looks now. You can see the difference in the weather as well as both shots were taken at the same time of year! I am really proud of this shed although I wouldn't have managed it at all without all the help from the others - DIY is not a strong point of mine. I love my shed and I particularly love playing at tidying it- not at all like real housework!

Finally, "Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home?"
Well, my big sister Ally's response to this question was to say "Of course it's not normal! Only my mad little sister would do something that silly!" But here is my chance to tell her she is WRONG! Ha Ha!!! (only joking Al) Yes, the majority of crops are taken home (and then often distributed amongst friends and family as you always grow more than you need), but quite a few of the allotmenteers that I know love to be able to dig their potatoes and wash and cook them straight away - and as for freshly podded peas, delicious peppery salad leaves and just picked raspberries and strawberries - why would you want to wait to eat them?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

2006 - The first year at the allotment

No words with this one - just a collection of my favourite photos from the first year at the allotment - click on it if you want a closer look.

Lucy x

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

17th February 2009

Ok, rather than boring all my crafty friends with stuff about the allotment I decided to set up a special "Allotment Blog" so I can keep my own record of what I do there this year.

In case anyone comes for a visit this is what it looked like when I first took it on in May 2006

I finally made it up to the allotment today after months and months of avoiding it - partly due to the new job that started in October, partly because I get caught up with sewing, partly because of the people repeatedly breaking into the shed and partly because it is just such hard work.

This is the sight that greeted us this morning - lots of overgrown mess, but also lots of lovely leeks ready to harvest and eat and purple sprouting broccoli and brussels sprouts showing some good signs of growth.

We ate our lunch almost as soon as we arrived and then Jane and I got busy tidying up while the children played happily.

Once the bamboo wigwams and trellises were dismantled and all the dead bean and pea plants cleared away along with any other dead patches of grass etc, it all looked much better - although the "after" photos don't really do it justice.

We had a bonfire - which we ended up transferring to a half-barrel donated by one of the other allotment chaps, and I think I have been bitten by the gardening bug again! I'm planning on buying some compost tomorrow and getting the first set of seeds sown - exciting!!!

Next time I go there I really need to get on with digging out all the weeds - a HUGE job!!!

The one really annoying thing today was that the ratbags who broke into our shed at Christmas stole my smelly rigger boots so I had to garden in my crocs!

Why on earth would anyone want my boots?

They are scruffy, and smelly and only about a size 7 (or maybe 8 because they are too big for me)

They left all my tools and my wheelbarrow AND my coat - so why did they take my boots????

Because of them, I managed to burn a hole in my sock as I was moving the fire to the barrel and an ember dropped through a hole in my crocs (which really aren't the best footware for an allotment) I was aware of a slight sensation in my toe and then I thought ooooh, ooooooooh, ow, Ow, OWWWWW!!!! Fortunately it didn't do any proper damage and just gave me a shock - but if those swines hadn't nicked my boots I wouldn't have a hole in my sock and a burn on my toe!