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

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!

My Indoor Allotment Jobs

We finally have our first snow of the year today here in Derbyshire! Although this is all very exciting for the kids, it did mean that our planned Sunday morning at the allotment went out of the window so to speak!

I’ve put together a little list of things to do that we can be getting on with for the allotment, but not whilst at the allotment…

  • Organise Seeds
    (I use a photo album and arrange seeds into monthly sowing order)
  • Browse catalogues and order seeds
  • Visit garden centres to buy seeds and supplies
  • Sow seeds
  • Make seed tape
  • Take some time to read our ever growing collection of gardening & allotment books
  • Take some inspiration from some of the many fantastic gardening blogs
  • Create you perfect allotment mood board on Pinterest
  • Draw up an allotment plan
  • Create an Amazon allotment wish list
  • Start an allotment Journal / Diary
  • Start your own allotment blog

As I have said before, I’m always gobsmacked when I hear people say “there’s nothing to do this time of year”.

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!

Merry Christmas Fellow Allotmenteers!

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Just a quick post to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! I can’t quite believe that this is now our second Christmas as plot holders or quite how proud I am of eating some of our own produce on Christmas Day!

Well done to everyone tucking into their homegrown loveliness! Enjoy your time off, it’s going to be all hands on deck before we know it, that’s if it’s not already.

Sarah x

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December Missions!

I’m afraid that I didn’t get to the allotment half as much as I had hoped in November so that leaves me a few jobs still to do but I guess there’s always something to be done at the lottie!

Here’s my December tasks..

  • Sort out all of my seeds and get anything started that can be under cover
  • There will always always be plenty of digging and weeding
  • Just like the digging there’s always something that can be tidied
  • Check on the arctic king lettuce
  • Check on the broad beans, stake if needed
  • Harvest some sprouts and cabbage
  • Finish off my plan for next year

Such a hectic time of year but rather than a chore I tend to see the allotment as an escape. I hope the weather is kind for a while during December.

Thoughts are with those that are suffering from the floods.

Sarah x

Pruning the Gooseberry Bush

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A very lovely lottie neighbour of ours gave us our first gooseberry bush this time last year. It did really rather well over the summer producing more fruit than I was expecting.  I have recently moved the plant down to the bottom of the plot nearby the redcurrant, so that they can both share the fruit cage (when I build/buy one).

It was beginning to look a little scruffy and in need of pruning. I have generally given it a good tidy up, taking any dead wood out and removing any branches that are close to the ground. From reading up on how to do the job I have also taken some of the branches from the centre out in order to aid good airflow throughout the bush and reduce the chance of disease.

Hopefully the ‘trim’ will have done it good and we’ll have a good crop next year!