Our New Allotment Trolley

For a while now we have been struggling with moving stuff between the house and the allotment, whether it be seedlings that I have started off at home or larger items like slabs or fence posts.

In my wisdom I bought a fiat 500c, just after we took on the allotment, not a great choice! Despite having a larger car (hubbies) it’s not always around to go ‘allotment shopping’, so these days, whatever I can I order online and have it delivered to the house. The problem had become getting it from the house to the allotment. Only a ten minute walk but it can feel like hours when you’re carrying something heavy!

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Those that know me will also remember that I’m somewhat of an Amazon addict. So this was my first (and only) port of call in looking for a solution.  It was here that I spotted this fantastic garden trolley made by Draper, sold on Amazon and dispatched by Richard Dyer.

I wasn’t disappointed, fast delivery and after a little fiddling with the locking bolts to get the thing together, it works a dream, super sturdy and easy to manoeuvre and can manage weights of up to 200kg!

I now finally feel I can give my car a proper clean and spare it from have grubby allotment tools etc.

All is well again!

You can buy the trolley here.

Sarah

Patching Up the Greenhouses

Up until recently we had a couple of those mini plastic greenhouses on the drive. Unfortunately they succumbed to the high winds of the winter and we found them battered, ripped and thrown across the ground.

I decided rather than put them straight into the bin and in the true spirit of allotmenteering, I’d take them to the plot and see if I could find a use for them. Despite having cheap and easily ripped covers, the frames and shelves are quite hardy.


Using four of the tree stakes that we had left over from the fencing I have managed to secure them in one place by wedging them in between the stakes. It was also a really windy day today so I got to see how effective this method of securing them was (so far so good). Now this isn’t the best for access to anything inside the greenhouses but it gets them into action.

Using a piece of Perspex that I managed to come by, off an allotment neighbour, wedged in front of the greenhouses, I managed to replace the torn to bits doors.

Now this isn’t pretty and it is a bit of a faff to get in and out of them, but it does give me some protected seed space back, for free, and that can only be a good thing!!

Sarah

Attempting a Spot of Fencing!

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A half term and bar a few colds we are all well, a rare occurrence indeed! My allotment ‘to do’ list (for which I have been using both Wunderlist and my Bullet Journal ) has been growing by the day, seeds have been arriving through the front door and we hadn’t, until this week, got off our bottoms.

So much to do but hubby’s getting a little frustrated with the amount of stuff I have in the garage awaiting it’s final home at the allotment, so I thought we’d start with the fencing and get some of those larger items shifted!

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Having cleared away a large section of the old chicken wire fence (that I have yet to decide what to do with – I’ll find something!) I set about putting my new heavy duty fence post rammer in to action! I had toyed with possibly not using one of these but the posts went in so easily that I’m please that I did. I must admit though that our fence ‘posts’ were actually tree stakes but they are plenty hardy enough for our lightweight fencing, which is more of a barrier and deterrent to entry rather than secure fencing and a lot cheaper too when covering such a large area.

I had also ordered some fencing nails but along with some wire, I think they have been eaten by the garage monster, they will no doubt turn up when the fencing is complete. Being the inpatient creature that I am I set to work with the wire fence and the staple gun, which surprisingly gave a really secure attachment, I may go over with the fencing nails when I find them but I think it will be ok without.

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I have to say that I’m really pleased with how it’s gone so far! I’m about half way and that only took around an hour or so. I’m really looking forward to getting the rest done for the complete look!

I’ll no doubt share some pictures of continued work in progress and when I’ve finished. Follow on instagram and facebook @diggingtheearth.

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A Brand New Year at the Allotment!

Happy New Year!

After a really difficult 2016, unfortunately our time at the allotment tapered off in the last quarter of the year and boy did I miss the place. Now here we are, a brand new year and a fresh start, I’ve been doing a spot of allotment shopping and I can’t wait to get cracking!


Initial plans are to replace the makeshift fencing that we made when we first got hold of the plot with something a little more permanent. I’ve bought some green coated wire fencing and plenty of posts.


Plans also involve all of the winter digging, chicken poop spreading and covering the beds to hopefully warm them up so that they’re all prepped and good to go as soon as spring arrives.


In order to get myself through the cold days, I’ve invested in a small camping stove for the shed, just to warm the place through and get some coffee on or maybe some soup. Little touches that just make me more likely to head up to the plot on days when I might otherwise have been put off.

All in all, there’s plenty to be getting on with!

Sarah x

Making a new strawberry patch…

Now that the strawberries have well and truly “gone over” I decided to tidy up the patch by cutting back all of this years foliage, along the way I gathered up the multitude of runners that had developed. Most of them had rooted within the straw of the bed and were easy enough to put to one side.

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With the current patch tidy, and a mass of healthy runners, a new patch was in order! We didn’t manage to completely fill the plot this year (although we did come close) so I felt we were able to allow another bed for our fave fruit!

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After weeding the bed that I had in mind, armed with a board to stand on and a little trowel I popped in quite a few rows of little plants.

img_0031After gaining a little more experience in this allotment business we have learnt to not necessarily try to grow everything but to focus more on the foods that we really enjoy. We’re also beginning to get a feel for the kind of yield we can expect.

As I have said from the moment we began though, we’ll just get stuck in and learn as we go!

Sarah X

The Raspberry Glut

It’s blissful to be back on the plot again, and I’m beginning to understand the “gluts” that people have spoken about. Our first year “in production” gave us some fruit and veg which I was thrilled with but definitely not more than we could cope with.

I am noticing though, that our raspberries are very productive this year, I can clear the bushes one day, go back the next and there are another few punnets ready again…fabulous stuff!!

We’re very keen on the nutri-bullet in our house, so the main thing for us is to get them washed and into the freezer ready for those winter smoothies and a taste of late summer! Maybe it’s me but I have noticed that when pulled off the plant, the fruit turns very quickly and we often see it go to waste, I think in snipping the fruit off though (like dead heading) it does last a little longer. I’ve also read that a white vinegar bath can help preserve fruit naturally.

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People complain that shop bought fruit goes off quickly, when that happens to me, it’s a reassuring sign that not too many nasties have been sprayed on it!

Now that we’ve got the plot in ‘proper’ production my thoughts are turning to other ways of using our berries…flavoured vodka, cakes, puddings, jams and ice-creams maybe?! We will certainly continue in our organic ways and work out how to speed up our storage process!

Sarah x

 

Back to the plot and we were in for a shock!

We’ve had a glorious six weeks of summer holiday off including a perfect week in beautiful Crete. Here we got to sample authentic foods and relax in true Med style.

Back to the plot and we were in for a shock! It’d been a couple of weeks since we visited and things have gone a little mad! In short there’s stacks to be getting on with, mainly weeding and tidying but lots of harvesting too!

We’ve brought home plenty of runner beans, an amusing amount of courgettes, cucumbers a pumpkin, raspberries, lettuce and cabbage.

Now to work on the prep, food will either be cooked with this week or stored in the chest freezer. All good stuff!

Sarah X

A Busy Little Plot!

The plot has been fantastically busy of late and we are taking home lots of fresh fruit and veg! Such a great feeling after so much work! There’s even been enough to share with friends. I thought I’d give you a little update of how things are going!

Firstly, like most other gardeners we have been tackling the weeds and lots of them, I don’t think this has been helped though by our decision to use horse manure, we now have lots and lots of grass in big clumps that constantly need trimming and turning over. In some places this is fine, as it serves to create grassy areas where we want them but in others, it’s a nightmare. I will be using other means of soil improvement in the future.

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The Fruit Cage
Around the fruit cage we threw down some poppy seeds which have given a good show but they are now going over, the bees seemed to love them at their peak though. In the fruit cage the gooseberry bush is looking healthy, no fruit yet though. The new redcurrant and blueberry buses that we planted are looking strong and much bigger, I’m hoping they will fruit next year. There’s quite a bit of open ground in the fruit cage, where I am allowing the grass to grow around the bushes, I’m keeping this down by strimming.

The Rhubarb Patch
Now, I have been told that I probably have too many rhubarb plants and I must admit, we haven’t gone short! It is something that seems to be gratefully received by friends, so until I feel that I need the additional space, I’ll let the current plants do their thing. Around the rhubarb we managed to squeeze an early row of crimson flowering broad beans, but I did make the mistake of not giving them enough support and they did get rather battered by winds earlier in the season. Along side the rhubarb we also managed a couple of teepee structures, one for runner beans and one for kelvedon wonder peas, both of which are producing aplenty! We also have two rows of red onions in that are too, which we are now taking as required.

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The Herb Patch
The herbs are one of the few things that we haven’t moved around since the first layout of the plot. We find that it’s working well having the herb garden next to the entrance to the plot, for those days when you just want to dash and grab for tea! So far we have rosemary, thyme, peppermint, marjoram, sage, a gorgeous lemon balm (great for tea), oregano and curry leaf. I’m also going to move the bay tree up into this area, when I take the peas out.

Potatoes
To the right of the entrance, up until last week we had our early potatoes which we are now eating. There are also two other locations on the plot which have a healthy show of spuds, we haven’t touched these yet though. Next year this funny shaped bed will be our cut flower area I think (I have been know to change my mind though!).

The Children’s Plots
I have been amazed at how well the kids have responded to having a little piece of ground of their own. Their plots have been entirely planted and maintained by themselves, giving them a huge sense of pride in their areas and a grin from ear to ear when anything actually produces food! All they were given were a few seeds or young plants and some basic instructions as to what that plant would need and away they went! I will be moving them onto another area in the spring to ensure good rotation.

Mixed Veg Areas
We have probably been a little unconventional in our layout, in that much of our plot is a mish mash! Down the right hand side we now have shallots, radish (not doing to well), corn on the cob, beetroot, dwarf runner beans and broccoli. These are all youngish plants that I’m not quite sure if they will produce much at this time of year, but it’s worth giving it a go! To the left we have celery, more peas, kale, tomatoes, courgettes and leeks and potatoes.

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Brassicas
I’m really pleased to say that this year we are having much more luck with our cabbages, in that we have cabbages! Edible cabbages! We also have some healthy looking romanesco, cauliflower, sprouts and more broccoli.

Salad
This has been an ongoing thing for us, we are slowly improving with our succession growing and have had some really tasty lettuce and spring onions. We have unfortunately had an entire batch of baby gem wiped out by slugs, so armed with ‘slug gone’ are giving them another go. In the communal greenhouse, we have some slow to get going toms, but are now looking great and will hopefully ripen before then end of the season. We also have toms on the plot that are looking good too. I really must label things with a little more detail now that we are getting into it though as I really can’t remember what varieties we are growing. There are clearly differences, but I labelled them all ‘toms’!

Fruit
Aside from the fruit cage bushes we are also growing summer and autumn raspberries and strawberries. The strawberry runners are working themselves into a row of peas so that’s top of my to-do list to pot some of those runners and get rid of the unwanted ones, seems a shame but there’s so many it’s difficult to keep them all. I may add in strawberry plants in between my raspberry canes though.

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The Wildlife Area
I think this little spot deserves a post of it’s own, but in short, I couldn’t be happier with the way it has turned out, poppy’s, nasturtiums, cornflowers, lots of wildflowers and weeds have completely brought the area to life. We have been rewarded with little frogs and many different mini beasts, I’m hoping this little corner will give great balance to our plot naturally (I hope the frogs eat the slugs!).

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The Shed
Since taking on the plot I have been desperate for a shed! Finally we got there, after a day of flatpack hell, I now have a little spot to shelter from the rain, grab a brew and change my wellies. It’s made a big difference in our ability to ‘pop in’ to the allotment rather than hauling lots of stuff with us each time. The shed warming party went down a treat too! Next on my shopping list is a greenhouse, maybe in the sales…we’ll see!

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There’s lots of other little growing nooks that we have created including out teepee grow house but I’ll cover some more in another post. Well done and thank you if you have read down this far! I’d love to hear how you are getting on too!

Sarah x

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Popping in the Celery

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I was lucky enough this week to be given some lovely healthy little celery seedlings. It’s such a lovely community at the allotment, everyone swapping and eager to share their ‘babies’!

Now I have to say that I’m not sure of the variety of celery that we were given but I am told that it’s self blanching, so basically it’s not going to need ‘earthing up’.

I have found that we are getting short on space at the plot, which I can hardly believe after the way I was so initially daunted by the size of the area, so I’ve created a block of celery, rather than a row and although I suspect the seedings may be a little close together but I will see how they get on.

celery-692867_1280I also thought this would be a great little spot for them as they like moisture rich soil and this bed has recently been mulched with horse manure (which I rotovated in the week before).

I will see how it comes on, we’re happy to partake in a little trial and error!

Sarah,
Gardener & Blogger, Digging the Earth

 

 

Straw for the strawberry beds

After relocating the strawberry bed late last year, I’m pleased to see that the new runners are now great little plants and all is looking well!

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We now have quite a few flowers on the plants and in anticipation of some fruit I decided to pick up some straw to go around them.

As you may of seen from my instagram feed, I initially laid and pegged down a sheet of heavy duty membrane, which I then cut holes and planted the strawberry plants through.

I have now spread straw all around the area to stop the berries lying on the membrane and going rotten quickly. Although from what I can remember from last year, I’ll need to be pretty snappy about picking the fruit anyway!

Now the decision of whether to “straw” the pathways, I just love the look!

Sarah :O)

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