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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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!

Looking at Rubbish a Little Differently!

Shortly after taking on the allotment, just over a year ago, I have more and more been learning to look at rubbish a little differently!

Just recently I have been making use, as I’m sure many do, of yogurt pots and food trays, everything suddenly seems to be a vessel for sowing seeds when you look at it with allotmenteering eyes!

I am particularly pleased with the tray that some cup cakes came in (pictured), as it has a lid it makes a fantastic little propagator for seeds!

Also, we have some old plastic storage tubs…turned upside down for instant cold frames/cloches. I’m sure it’s an old one but plastic bottles make brilliant cloches for individual little plants too! We also plan to make a pond from an old plastic dog bed.

Some parts of an old canvas wardrobe were recently “reshaped” and covered with adhesive plastic (carpet covering) and bubble wrap to create a make-shift cold frame.

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Hubby has very kindly requested that some waste wood from work be taken for our allotment (they were happy to oblige). Lots of companies pay for disposal of wood / pallets / cardboard etc… and would be happy for you to take some, always worth asking!

“One man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure”

There’s lots of inspiration about, I love this facebook group… “rubbish made useful for gardens allotments”. It’s pretty fun to get the kids joining in on repurposing items that are ready for the bin, they have some brilliantly creative ideas!

Nick Bakers Worm World / Worm Farm

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I thought it would be a great idea to ask Father Christmas to bring my little man a one of these fantastic sets to create his very own worm habitat! 

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It’s all very good telling the kids what a great invaluable job all of the worms in the soil but nothing quite gets the message across like seeing it in action.

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We had our Worm World set up in just about half an hour and hope to make some interesting observations over the coming weeks!

You can find out about this set and others here, including a video of Nick Baker showing you how to set up the Worm World.

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

 

 

Soaking the Sweet Peas for Germination

Last year at the allotment there were so many plot holders with such gorgeous sweet peas growing that this year I was determined not to miss out.

  

We have a few spots planned at the allotment for adding in some canes for the sweet peas. I was also planning on having some at home this year, near our driveway gates so that we can sample that gorgeous scent every time we arrive home. Not to mention the display of colour that they give!

  
Earlier in the week I began by “nicking” the hard cases of the seeds in order to allow moisture to penetrate more easily. Today with the kids eager to get started we put them to soak in some tepid water. As advised on the packet, germination will take place around 20 degrees centigrade, we will then grow them on at about 8-10 degrees centigrade.

I’ll let you know how we get on with them!

  
 

  
 

 

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