Tag Archives: spring

it’s feeling a lot like springtime

20 Feb

I may be getting ahead of myself here but over the last weekend the heating has hardly come on, I have uncovered the washing line from it’s winter covering and I have been to a local snowdrop Sunday – which to me always symbolizes that spring is on its merry way.

So today as we walked to the plot on the last day of half day (an extra day tagged on in fact courtesy of an inset day) I felt a spring in my step.

At the weekend I had seen my brother who has also taken on a plot and he asked me how the plot was and I felt slightly shamed and sad – the truth is I haven’t been there for months. I don’t have much time these days and I worried as we talked that I could end up losing the plot if I continue to ignore it.

So returning today was much needed. The kids are now that bit older so they can actually play nicely on a nearby rope swing without a major fall out and I don’t have to keep worrying that they might stagger onto someone’s prize geraniums by mistake. (Disclaimer moment – that has never actually happened but it has been a distinct possibility!)

And I needn’t have worried about the plot – it is ticking over nicely. No sign of the broad beans or garlic I put in months ago but the rest of the plot is under cover, weed resistant and hence very low maintenance. Come spring proper I will only need to peel back the membrane, do a light dig/weed and get planting.

A far cry from all that back breaking toil I did four years ago, but for now the plot is on maintenance mode so I don’t think my fears of losing it will come to pass just yet.

The kids played so nicely I was able to strim all the paths, mow fruit corner and feed and water all the fruit bushes and trees. There isn’t much else to do apart from sort out some rubbish and de-clutter the shed so after an hour or two and a cheeky flask of tea we headed back, happy in the knowledge that spring is just round the corner and with a bit of luck it shouldn’t be two months before our next visit.

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Uncovering strawberry patches

24 Apr

My last two trips to the plot have been all about revealing two wee corners of the plot that are the kids own little growing areas.

In these little patches we started off by growing anything and everything – radishes, potatoes and onions. There were failed attempts at growing carrots. And then my eldest brought home a strawberry plant from school and from that one wee plant a whole strawberry patch has flourished and then (when my youngest got jealous – radishes really don’t compare to strawberries in his book) we transplanted some off shoots from her patch to his.

Now it has to be said I am regretting not putting membrane down to protect the strawberries from being overgrown by weeds. And I was pretty slack all of last year keeping on top of the weeds’ rampant progress. Then last week I noticed I could no longer actually see my daughter’s little plot anymore, it was totally overgrown.

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Blink and you miss it! My eldest’s strawberry patch.

During the Easter holidays when I took the kids down to the plot with me I did suggest they might like to weed their own patches but the novelty wore off after about three minutes and so here I am, this week sorting out non-essential weeding!

My son’s patch came up trumps after about two hours of weeding had ensured two buckets full of weeds were removed.

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My youngest’s strawberry patch uncovered to it’s former glory!

My eldest’s patch was far worse though and today I spent two hours but came away feeling in the battle of weed V woman, today the weeds won. There was a huge clump of grass that I just could not budge. I was tired and in need of a cuppa so I left having covered up the rogue grass clump, deciding perhaps next time I need to come armed with some weed killer to finish the job off.

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Half way there! My eldest’s strawberry patch before the weeds defeated me!

So on this occasion the weeds won the battle but the war is far from over.

One man went to mow….

29 May

Pity the person married to an avid allotment gardener. On one of their rare and precious mid term, mid week days off, when they have a wee break from the grind that is driving down the the M11 to work they will, quite possibly, be asked, very politely of course, to please please assist with the cutting back of fruit corner.

It’s a fact that we had let it grow so high, too high for our little cylinder mower to be able to quell. I had attempted some valiant efforts in cutting it, trimming it and generally trying to tackle the beast. Grass areas had seemed such a good idea last year when we weighed up (literally) the pros and cons of bark chips V grass. Low maintenance bark chip may well have been but how the hell do you shift all the massive sacks of the stuff in the first place. Carrying a small pack of grass seed seemed a better bet last year and you know, it does look good. We have our grassy fruit corner, a place for the kids to play and once the fruit trees grow a bit more there will be shade too.

But first it had to be hacked back. So that is where we headed this morning. The kids safely despatched in some local trampoline day session, we had our one day of freedom and laughed about the fact we were spending some of it at the plot. Arrival was actually closer to midday as we both had late nights last night thanks to a monumental delay on my train service out of London that saw me having to get the tube to Epping and then sharing a cab with three lovely strangers. One of those experiences that make you realise how great trains are when they actually run on time.

So we lingered over tea (me) and coffeee (him) before finally saying, Octonauts style,  OK let’s do this. The arrival of my hubby drew various gardeners towards our plot to say hello as he rarely makes an appearance during the week. Lovely friendly sociable times but also adding to his humiliation of mowing a jungle with a cylinder mower picked up cheap in front of a small crowd. All this aside though, the hubby did a grand job.

fruit corner mowed

I had a less physically gruelling task but not a pleasant one – I was snail and slug destroyer extraordinaire. I scooped up dead ones from beer traps, placed any others I found in said beer traps and, whilst weeding and because I couldn’t be bothered to continually  keep walking over to the beer trap to put more in, I started to impale the ones I found. This might sound grim and rather heartless but the little blighters have started to devour my potato plants. Is nothing sacred? I thought they hated potato plants and that is why they are such a reliable and easy crop to grow.  But I was wrong, hence this is now war!

Finally at around two we realised the kids would soon need picking up and we had promised ourselves a pub lunch so we chucked in the towel for the day. It was hard work but the grass is much shorter, there are a lot less slugs and I picked some of my slug proofed lettuce and had it for supper.

lettuce

I grew that and the slugs didn’t eat it – result!

Easter shenanigans

13 Apr

The plot has been much neglected. I managed to fit in a quick visit before the holidays, before having my youngest at home for three long days prior to the holidays, with an ear infection that left him howling for most of the time.

Luckily I went down the day before that kicked off and planted my trees that had been languishing in the shed for several weeks. Things were looking most spring like and I realised on each fleeting visit I needed to spend a good few hours there if those trees were to get planted.

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Soaking the roots

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The spot where it was to be planted had been covered for a year and hey presto, a wobbly apple tree!

I knew the end result was not the spirit level perfection my partner would’ve gone for but I did it in a third of the time, so really who is to say my shonky ways are not more efficient, unless of course the tree dies then I will rue the day anyone let me loose on tree planting.

Since then what with the ear infection and the Easter holidays, for which we were away last week, I have not ventured there since until today. Basking in glorious sunshine and with the promise of a roast when I returned. First the whole family came along and I had a rare moment of enjoying all our work, the kids were sitting on the lawn I planted last year, it looked all lush and green. Picture perfect, I enjoyed the moment so much I forgot to take a picture.

Once they went back to cook a roast I got down to some real work, still hard if the kids are ever around. We had brought with us stuff grown on the kitchen window sill, my carrots, looking a bit pot bound and weather beaten, didn’t actually get planted, I ran out of time.

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Carrot seedlings

I had time to admire the broad beans, planted way back in October last year, which along with the onions and garlic, have shot up since I was last there.

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Broad beans

And then I was preoccupied with getting my runner beans planted. They had grown so tall that my plan to buy a cute cloche to protect them went out the window as they now stretched to at least 30 cms. I planted them and then tried to erect a small green house frame thing around them, a silly error as one of them ended up getting beheaded as I faffed and struggled in the wind. I was on the verge of giving up and calling the hubby for assistance when a stubborn part of me thought no, I can’t be one of those women who get their hubby to do all the ‘man’s’ work. My son had already horrified me earlier in the day by saying ‘daddy’s stronger than you and you can’t drive’ (both true enough if we mean a brute physical definition of the word strong but I still pointed out there are many different types of strength).

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Frame up

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Cover on!

So I was on a mission! The end result is not a complete disaster and it’s weighed down with six bricks though I don’t fancy it’s chances if the wind picks up to the same degree it did earlier in the year. I felt I had won for today, but maybe I will send the hubby down there at some point with his spirit level and amazing tendency to straighten up my shonky work.

Getting (re)started

4 Mar

So a week or two has passed since I last visited the plot and made my list of things to do. Since then it has vanished from my list of priorities. I was all ready to go for a run today but ended up carrying my kids safety helmets which was enough of an excuse to ditch the run and amble to the plot instead.

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As I arrived in the early morning dazzling sunshine I had mild regret over two things: I didn’t bring my shades and I was wearing my running shoes and not my wellies. Within two minutes of walking to our plot the early morning dew had soaked through my running shoes, giving me damp foot, a condition I was very familiar with before buying my new wellies.

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But it wasn’t all bad. Arriving so early in the morning meant I saw mist steaming up off the plot, it looked alive. Smoking. Despite the neglect and lack of doing much towards my to do list, it’s all still looking in good shape but I do need to get going on the weeding and the grass path making (once again).

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And I need to plant the cheap Aldi trees, one thing we have managed to do in the last month, scared they would sell out for another year and we’d be left doing expensive mail order trees. They are residing in the shed awaiting planting. I marked out where they will go and covered the patches with membrane over a year ago so it shouldn’t be too hard a job to plant them soon. I just need to wear my wellies and commit to spending an hour or two there.

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The other thing I did today, inspired by several friends who have already started growing all their seedlings indoors or under cloches, was start planting indoors ready for April and May. I planted several seedling trays with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. While I was at it I also planted some coriander, tired of paying for it when I could just farm my own again.

getting started

And on many trips to the shed as I potted away I spotted further proof that this is all much needed, albeit brief, allotment attention. Spring is just around the corner.

The unrelenting march of nature

21 Feb

Life gets so busy at times that it’s easy to neglect a wee plot. I have also been feeling ever so slightly smug. When I think back to this time last year and how much digging there was to be done I feel relieved that there isn’t as much to do this year. But this has led to a bit of plot lethargy and as I discovered today I can feel as smug as I want, it won’t keep nature and all her weeds at bay.

I had a rare thing during half term – a day without the kids. My one day of ‘holiday’ was spent mainly in front of my computer lesson planning, catching up with paperwork and also covering my hair with green gloop which smells not dissimilar to some natural matter I might use on the plot. Henna is a real bind to apply, it shows a certain dogged level of commitment to all things organic, when even your hair dye is soil association approved.

At one point during the day I looked at the blue sky and the bright winter sun and reflected on how often I have had to be outside in the rain this week. The one day I have without the kids and it is sunny. Then I realised that doesn’t have to mean I am housebound too. So I indulged myself to a fresh air stroll to the plot.

shed still there

Happily the shed is still standing (again, I know but I have lost count of the windy nights we’ve had since my last visit).

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And the purple sprouting broccoli is coming into it’s own. I picked a small bag’s worth today. The plot has been ticking along on it’s own this last month but I realised as I surveyed my little corner I need to shake off my complacency and do the following tasks very soon:

  1. Get weeding before they take over everything. Oh yes the battle of the weeds commences here!
  2. Buy some cheap fruit tress before it’s too late to plant them. I fancy a plum and an apple tree this year.
  3. Plant out more broad beans, garlic and onions before winter finishes so I have two rounds of crops.
  4. Shake off my winter induced plot denial, it’s nearly March for goodness sake!
  5. Plant some more grass paths in the never ending bid to introduce some order to our unruly plot!

Not a huge to-do-list, I don’t want to overload myself before I have even re-started but one that will keep me busy for now and help me take back control of our plot!