Archive | June, 2013

Wardrobe malfunction

20 Jun

OK so it has to be said I do not do skirts or dresses very often. This was made even more apparent this morning when I surfaced wearing an old skirt and my eldest asked if it was a party or a wedding we were going to. Yes radical feminist that I am, my daughter believes skirts and dresses come under a heading of ‘very special occasion only’. On the way to school someone commented I looked too glam to go to the allotment. In my defence it is a very old skirt. Think new look from more than a decade ago, with shabby sequins that has seen a bit of the mud from Glastonbury in it’s hey day and you will have the right kind of skirt in mind.

Anyway I should have taken all this skirt-noticing attention as a sign: there is a reason why people do not garden in skirts.

Firstly it got a bit tangled up in one of my many bits of string and then I, trying to untangle it, tripped over and came within centimetres of cracking my head on the shed door. Amazingly my second reaction after the inevitable that-was-lucky thought was to check if my seventy year old neighbour had seen my misadventure. I think that says something about the British that our first thought on falling is frequently ‘who saw that’.

Once I had recovered my balance I surveyed the plot. It has been nearly a week and things happily were flourishing, not just weeds but plants too.

brilliant brasicas

My purple sprouting broccoli is coming along nicely alongside replacement lettuce and Brussels sprouts.

plant food works

One of the courgette plants is thriving at last, proving plant food works!

Another downside to wearing a skirt was I felt I couldn’t actually do any digging, which on second thoughts might be why my sub conscious led me to wear a skirt today. I did light weeding instead. I cleared the build up in both raised beds and then tackled the kids’ plots. Their plots are a good example of the randomness of life. We used the same seeds, the same compost and the same day to plant a row of radishes, pumpkins, carrots and potatoes. In the eldest’s plot nearly everything has taken. In the youngest’s only the potatoes and one lone pumpkin has so far surfaced.

bs plot

Radishes!

ds plot

                                           No radishes!

I watered everything as well as that seemed a fitting activity to undertake in a skirt. Never mind that less than two hours later it was raining, I applied more plant food now I am convinced it actually does something. A passing neighbour mentioned Monty Donn and cumfrey and buckets and making your own plant food, but for now I’ll stick with the stuff I’ve got.

The rocket was overflowing it’s container and I realised with great joy that I can do a harvest of something I have grown. If ever there was a vegetable to give the beginner gardener a bit of a boost it must be rocket. I’ve done nothing except sprinkle the seeds and apply occasional water and it has rewarded me no end. I also actually like rocket which helps.

fresh rocket rocket and herb gdn

My first proper harvest picked from herb garden!

Aside from nearly giving me a head injury the ill advised gardening skirt also kept drifting south and I kept having to hide behind the shed to hoik it back up. Take it from me – rocket is a gardener’s low maintenance best friend, skirts most definitely are not.

Fruit corner – a brief update

14 Jun

As always when I write a post during the afternoon I don’t have time to do this justice but with a busy weekend of meeting university friends in London and father’s day on Sunday I am unlikely to write anything for another week if I leave it. So here is a brief pictorial update.

I have been digging fruit corner as much as I can. We had visitors last weekend, my sister and her family. My brother-in-law is an expert in many things and this week he was on a quest for slow worms. Slow worms as I soon found out are actually a bit of a misnomer, as they are actually legless lizards. I don’t mean befuddled drunken lizards but literally lizards with no legs.

I had no idea what a slow worm looked like or how you might go about finding them but my brother-in-law managed to track down on a whole family after only being at the allotment thirty minutes. Every time I pass the pallet under which they were nesting my youngest now demands to ‘see the snakes’!

slow worm

A magnificent beastie!

Since then the only other highlight has been rearranging the shed. Now that it has a shelf unit I can actually walk into the shed and pretty much grab whatever it is I need rather than having to take on a forty minute expedition which involved balancing everything precariously on a sack of bark chip.

shed rearranged

I do like a bit of order out of the chaos!

Since that heady half hour of putting things on shelves I have been hard at it, clearing more weeds from fruit corner, levelling, sprinkling manure until voila, today I had a section ready to be grass seeded, only to find my grass seed supplies are running low. It doesn’t matter, I’m getting there and this weekend I am giving my poor little hands a much needed rest.

fruit corner with blue pot  fruit corner ready for grass seeds

Even if you can’t notice the difference, just pretend that you can!

Fruit corner: the big push

6 Jun

Things always pop up to distract from the task in hand, especially when that task is weeding. Fruit corner has long been our main priority, getting it sorted so the kids can have an area where they can roam free. At first I thought I would bark chip the whole lot but then I realised

  1. That’s going to involve an awful lot of very heavy sacks of bark chip.
  2. Which will involve an awful lot of money
  3. And an awful lot of using a wheel barrow which we don’t have
  4. And a packet of grass seed is so much lighter and cheaper.

So grass it shall be. This was months ago but in between there has been herb garden to sort out and then I got a bit fixated with making a path. There are still several paths to dig and membrane over and then if we can be bothered be covered with more bark chip but for the time being at least fruit corner has again become priority number one.

It gets a tad frustrating that I go to the plot day after and day and don’t plant anything, I don’t harvest anything. The closest I get to a pleasurable gardener’s moment is watering. Watering keeps me going , it breaks up the monotony and gives the illusion you are nurturing something. There has been ill advised bouts of watering like when I kept watering my potatoes and encouraged the huge jungle of weeds that now presides over my potato patch. Or the time I kept watering a solitary plant on an upturned pallet and accidentally triggered yet another jungle of weeds beneath it. Like I don’t have enough of the things already to uproot.

A month or so ago me and my youngest sprinkled some grass seeds on the weed free strip in fruit corner and already it’s growing. This has encouraged me to believe even I can cultivate a lawn and so I want to get the rest laid to lawn as they say in gardener’s speak.

fruit corner coming along

Fruit corner complete with weedy bark chip and recently planted grass.

So the arduous task continues interrupted only by a chat with a plot neighbour or a cup of  flask tea. Weeding seems to be the only thing I have a bit of perfectionist zeal for, I get caught up in the underground world of thistle roots, chasing them along, determined to pull out the sometimes two foot roots before I catch myself and think sod it, you can’t get all of them.

Today’s session ended as it frequently does with me covering more of the plot with black covering – this time recycled compost sacks as they are only temporary, to protect a currently weed free area from getting inundated next time I turn my back.

more membrane

More of the black stuff!

I picked some beautiful purple wild flowers and then forgot to bring them home before my final task of checking on my ailing courgettes, healthy seedlings my uncle gave me that now seem on their last legs. I gave them some plant food on Tuesday so I thought I should chart their progress to know whether plant food works or not in the interests of science!

courgettes ailing

Are my courgettes done for?

Tomorrow the kids have an eye appointment which means no school in the morning which in turn means no trip to the allotment for me. I’ll miss being there on such a sunny day but I don’t think I’ll miss the weeding.

Ever changing landscape

2 Jun

It really is obvious how much of a novice gardener I am: I am perpetually surprised by how much things can change, even in a couple of days. I haven’t been to the plot for three days but there are quite a few new things to comment on:

1) We have a junior oak tree growing amongst our garlic and shallots. I don’t have the heart to remove it yet.

oak tree

A young oak tree!

2) My lettuce has been totally obliterated (by slugs, birds, who knows?). I have become very unsentimental. I pulled up the shrivelled remainders and planted new lettuce seeds this afternoon to make myself feel better, like one of those people who instantly buy themselves a new dog as soon as their elderly one dies.

lettuce obliterated

Bye bye lettuce!

3) But for the moment at least the spuds and the rocket is flourishing – I don’t want the slugs to know this of course.

rocket

Hurrah for container grown rocket!

4) As a result of my obliterated lettuce I felt duty bound to protect my oldest child’s strawberry plant against the army of rampaging slugs with my pound shop slug guard, even though I am not convinced of its efficacy.

strawberry slug proofed

My oldest’s strawberry plant, hopefully slug proofed.

5) Even though we thought all the blossom on our apple tree had gone with the wind, literally, it seems we may get an apple this year after all.

apples

Fingers crossed that might be an apple!

6) One of my lovely plot neighbours has given up on the gnarly old bottom end of the site and is in the process of moving her green house and shed up to a better, less weedy plot. I will miss her and her weeding – without her tending her plot next door we two on wifi allotment will be fighting the weeds pretty much single-handedly down our end of the plot – the arse end some might call it, where the newbies get put. I shudder to think it could possibly get harder.

7) Every time I leave my dear plot I glance around not quite sure what it will look like three days later.