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

 

 

The Allotment in Spring Time! 

A frosty morning in Derbyshire

It’s been a busy time of things here! This spring is the first that I’ve actually been able to get some seeds started ready for the allotment and we’re all finding it very exciting!

Our first spring on the plot was a little less organised, not for lack of hard work, but we just didn’t have enough ground dug to think about much else. This time last year was all about the clearing!

I’m really pleased to say that at this current point in time we are pretty much in top of things! There’s still so much that I’d like to do with the space and obviously get lots of food growing but that feeling of being completely overwhelmed has begun to subside. With my experience gained last year  I now realise that just a couple of weeks of neglect and the weeds will be back in charge so I’m doing my very best not to let that happen!

The past month or so we have managed to get a good amount of seeds started, flowers and veg. I’m going to experiment with getting some started early in our little greenhouses and starting others a little later straight outside. We’ll see!

We’ve managed to start shaping our wildlife area too, this is going to be a fun project that the kids are really enthusiastic about!

I had managed to clear much of my  compost heap, using much of the fab stuff that came from it to shape the area where the pond will be. That was until the very spot was filled with a trailer load off free horse muck! Too good an offer to be fussy about my freshly cleared ground!

I’m not sure if the muck has rotted down enough to use straight where I’m growing but I have plenty of areas that would welcome a good layer of muck mulch, which can be dug in later in the year!

I mentioned to my husband when I wondered how things had changed in life that I was so excited at the prospect of a truckload of free poo!

Making Seed Tape for the Allotment

After completing my allotment plan I have a weird desire for it all to actually be as neat as the drawing! One of the ways that really help to organise space and get those seeds in exactly where you want them is seed tape.

You can buy seed tape ready made, you just have to plant it, but it does work out quite expensive and that certainly doesn’t appeal!

After much googling, there’s a few methods to make your own tape and in our case, make use of the many seeds that we have without purchasing more! This is the method that I used to make my parsnip seed tape…

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I gathered up..

  • A loo roll
  • Scissors
  • Paint Brushes
  • Small pot
  • My seeds
  • Old tweezers
  • Rulers
  • Pen

I then made a mixture of 50/50 (ish) flour and water in the pot and cut the loo roll into lengths 4 sheets long (your choice) and halved them length ways.

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Laying out a number of the pieces of toilet rolls at a time can speed up the process, like a little production line!

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Continue by using the paintbrush to pop a blob of the flour mixture where you want the seeds to go, on the lower half of each strip, at the correct growing distance apart for whatever seeds you are using.

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Using another brush or the tweezers, gently drop the seeds into each droplet of mixture. I used one seed at each interval, but with something smaller like carrot seeds you may want to cover your back for non-germination with a couple. Personally though, I’m not keen on thinning out at all so will take my chances.

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Row by row, I then added a little extra mixture in between the seeds and folded the strips over to create the tape. I then left them to dry completely before labelling & storing them in an A4 pocket folder ready for spring.

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I’m really hoping that I get a good rate of germination from the tapes that I make!

Sarah x

 

 

Our Allotment Plan 2016

I’ve had lots of fun over the past couple of months creating my plan for our dream allotment and here it is!

There’s no hard and fast rules about sticking to this but I’m happy to have a great guide in my pocket of how I saw things fitting in at the beginning of the year.

We’ll also be dotting in little homes for wildlife along our way too!

I look forward to taking photos throughout the year and let you know how we get on with each area.

Sarah x

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January Missions 2016 & Planning

One of my main goals for our growing season ahead is to become more organised so that we become really efficient and produce a better crop.

I’ll be carefully planning my jobs for each month and as I love technology so much (comes with the day job!) I’ll be using it wherever I can to better organise myself.

Starting with my seeds, I have sorted them into “sowing order” and popped them in a photo album. I’ll do a separate post on this.

Here are some great planners that I have found of help when creating my tasks for each month…

Fruit & Veg

Annuals

Half hardy and Greenhouse Perennials

Hardy Perennials

Below is a screenshot of the app (wunderlist) I’m using to create my monthly to-do lists. Everything that I add into the app this year can be ticked off as I complete each item and all are set on yearly repeat, so planning should become less time consuming as the years pass.

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A screenshot from Wunderlist

We still have so much to learn so please do let us know what you’re up to this month!

Sarah x

Back to it…Weeding the Leeks!

First day back at the allotment this year and what a sorry sight it was too! Little and often is going to be the way forward for us this year, so I set an hour aside for some tidying up!

We really haven’t got a lot up there that could have been damaged by the storms but there was netting and fleece that had ripped away and making the place look untidy, this I tackled first.

Then, a job that I had been meaning to do for a while, weeding in between the leeks, a little tedious but necessary non the less! Hope fully I will be able to keep the competition at bay for these little ones hand have a big fat crop come the autumn!

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The onions (next to the leeks) will also need doing soon too. Although they aren’t too bad at the moment.

I was pleased to noticed the emergence of the elephant garlic!

With the 20 minutes that I had left I managed to winter dig quite a good stretch of another bed, but as you’ll see from the picture, I still have lots left to do!

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Always plenty to be getting on with any time of year, I’m now going to check the weather forecast and plan when my next stint is going to be!

Sowing Broad Beans in Autumn

When flicking through my gardening books, wondering what else I could get into the ground at this time of year, I’ve noticed broad beans (fava) mentioned a few times. I thought I’d give it a go with a pack of 20 Aquadulce, suitable for Autumn to Spring sowing. Purchased from Amazon.co.uk.

In still having a decent sized bed available after digging over the strawberry patch and sowing the Arctic King Lettuce. I gave the ground a final rake and removed any weeds that were trying to re-establish themselves.

I decided that I would try to plan ahead with some weed prevention measured and covered the patch of soil I was planting with a fabric weed proof membrane, happily pegged down by my little man.

We then pierced the membrane with the our dibber and popped the beans in about 8 inches apart, 2 inches deep in staggered rows and watered. After sowing, placing a fleece over the top to discourage birds and provide a little frost protection.

I’ve really no idea if these will work but there’s really not a lot lost in trying, so why not? In asking about on the allotment, putting them in seemed to be generally discouraged, we shall see. Live and learn.

I’ll also shortly be sowing some crimson flowered broad beans in pots and overwintering them in our little plastic greenhouses. If both methods fail we’ll be starting again in the spring!

I’ll be sure to report back if they are a success though!

Elephant Garlic

Today we decided to get our elephant garlic in!

For one of our cloves (purchased from The Range) we thought we’d make use of this tyre. Using it to create a corner to our pathway, and of course we’d know where the garlic was!

The kids were chuffed to take responsibility for planting these!

Apparently the need little or no attention now, so just need to keep on top of the weeding.