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I have been positively woeful in keeping up this blog, and if you’re suspecting that the attention I’ve been applying here is a reflection of the attention I have been giving to the allotment, you might well be right. But, hey, you’re not my mother, so I won’t go into long explanation as to why. Instead I’ll post some horticulturally-related photos.

These three photos were taken today at one of the gardens taking place in the National Gardens Scheme.

We haven’t been totally neglectful of our plot and a few weeks ago we put up some guttering on our shed.

We haven’t yet connected it to a water butt, which of course is the whole point, so that’s definitely the next job in relation to the shed.

For my birthday, which falls at the end of May, we revisited Standen House, a National Trust property near East Grinstead in W. Sussex. Compared to our last visit, when it was alternately snowing, hailing and sunny, we had very fine weather and Jenny did not fall over once.

Their kitchen garden was looking well-tended.

I’m going to go back often and pretend it’s mine.

Earth Hour

I was reminded by daysgoby. She’s good like that.

Don’t forget your candles.

Getting to Know You

I took advantage of the half-term holiday to get down to the allotment three days in a row. The weather has been lovely, although a little chillier as the week progressed.

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This was taken last Sunday, 17th. Jenny was helping with labelling the beds. Rosie had disappeared down to the lottie shop, helping with pricing up goods and working the till.

We were pleased to spot our first shoots for 2008: our onions.

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It is a nice healthy green, even if it looks a bit yellow here.

I have been trying out the planning tool on GrowVeg.com to draw up a plan for our plot. Yes, I could use a pencil and paper, but what I like about this is the ability to move the shapes round. I did a lot of measuring at the plot over the last week, and it’s amazing how that moving around a space with a tape measure in your hand makes you appreciate the subtleties more. I haven’t worked out a way of displaying the plan here yet, but I’ll share it when I can.

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These little beauties aren’t on our plot, I’m afraid, but as I was having a wander with my new camera I noticed these and had to take a picture, as they looked so cheerful.

More digging was done today, as we’re getting the ground ready for the potatoes. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sowing parsnips, carrots and beetroot as well.

February

I love seed packets. I love the potential of them.

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These are just some of the ones I have at home, purchased last year, but never sown. Julie and I ordered some more through the allotment scheme and were reviewing our planting plans for this season. I drew out a rough plan, and will transfer the information to a previous plan, on which I recorded more precise measurements.

Here is the rough plan:

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As I said, it’s very rough and I made a bit of a mess of the scale and relative positions of things. The bottom left-hand corner is where the shed is, and the round shape next to it is the not-yet purchased water butt. We’re planning to put a raised bed of salad leaves around it and install a seep hose, so that we don’t have to panic about getting down there every day.

The other round shape is the composter, which may not be ideally situated but is central (more central than my slightly skew-whiff plan would have you believe). We keep thinking of other crops we want to grow. Not yet on this plan is space for beetroot, which we enjoyed last year. I was also reminded earlier, when reading Flighty’s Plot, that I would like to get my herb patch underway. Not sure where we’re going to put that. Perhaps I need to think about situating it at home, where it will be it will handy for the kitchen.

Last weekend, Hubby came up to the allotment. He doesn’t often come, as Sunday tends to be the day we go and he’s usually occupied with baseballish type things. It was a good opportunity to chat about our plans and mark him down for a few manly jobs (no gender stereotyping here), such as putting the guttering on the shed and sorting out the shelving inside.

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P.s. Do you like the new livery? I liked the previous template design, but some of the text was difficult to read in that lovely lime-green colour.

New Year

Where does the time go? I had a strange few months in the latter part of the year and several things were neglected, including this blog. Fortunately Julie was able to continue work at the allotment, harvesting the last of the produce – we have only purple sprouting broccoli overwintering – and starting to dig over the ground that had produced all that great food.

The shed is up. Rather irksomely, we managed to break one pane of glass as we moved it up to the site from where it had rested in the car park, so we’ll have to fix that, but otherwise it’s a sturdy enough beast. We intend to get guttering up and a water-butt installed.

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There’s plenty of room inside and it’s nice to be able to stand up straight. I put a shelving unit inside today, and it will get a bit more organised over the next few weeks.

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The weather was beautiful today, sunny and not too cold. Jenny and I did some digging, picking out the weeds along the first row where the potatoes were last year. She was delighted to find some forgotten potatoes as we turned over the soil and designated her wheelbarrow as carrier for them.

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Julie and I sat down at the beginning of October with the King’s seed catalogue that was supplied through the allotment. A bulk order through the allotment committee enables them to get discounted stock for the allotment shop. We were intending to keep our order quite small, but laughed at ourselves as we looked through at our fairly lengthy list of seed packets. I’m making sure I don’t look at any other catalogues. Well, maybe . . .


Return to the land

I’m quite shocked at how long it’s been since I’ve posted. Thanks to many of you who’ve asked how the allotment has been getting on. I’m rather galled that I missed National Allotment week, but I only have myself to blame. I drew up a schedule for the summer holidays to keep the girls amused, but didn’t schedule much allotment time. That combined with the absurd weather (what on earth?) meant that I didn’t get down there very much.

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The allotment, of course has not stopped “alloting”, even if my visits down there have not been very frequent. We’ve been harvesting a lovely selection of crops: broad beans, potatoes, sweetcorn, yellow french beans, beetroot, carrots, courgettes, and giant courgettes (we left them a tad too long!).

This is some of today’s harvest.

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Today, Julie ND’s nephew, Jake, came and helped us make some progress in erecting the shed. I don’t think I recorded here that a friend of Julie’s was getting rid of a shed. Excellent. We organised a man-with-a-van to fetch it one Sunday morning in June, and up til now it has been lying at the side of the carpark at the allotment. The shed’s not up yet, but we have sorted out the base, at least, and the rest of the pieces are on out plot now.

Down House

I’m just back from next door, after sharing some white wine with Julie ND, and chatting about, among other things, my trip on Wednesday to Down House. Down House was the home of Charles Darwin from 1842 to 1882, when he died. The house is beautiful, quite peaceful and maintained by English Heritage in an extremely accessible manner. The garden is restful too, and I was particularly excited to discover a long, walled garden which contained both ornamental and kitchen plants.

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It was here I found help in identifying one of the mysterious plants in the girls’ raised bed. It’s not that we hadn’t labelled our sowings, it’s just I may have been a bit random with the seeds and hence the lines of seeds weren’t very straight. Anyway, the gardeners at Down House had the luxury of more space and it was clear that the plants labelled “parsnips” were these ones:

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From the garden at Down House

Comapre and contrast with:

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From our allotment

I reckon it’s a match and we don’t have to pull those as weeds!

The gardeners were doing well with their magnificent rhubarb plants:

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And I wouldn’t like to stumble into the artichokes without some protection:

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