Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Monday, September 10, 2018


Well, I've done really well this summer keeping on top of allotment produce by picking everything really small, giving stuff to everyone I know, freezing the runner beans, and - let's face it - eating an awful lot of french beans and courgettes.

But I am now just a bit overwhelmed!  This haul is from today's visit to the Hill, and one picking session last week, and doesn't include the three baby courgette I had for tea tonight.

In other news, I am gradually working my way down the side beds - re-staking and digging them over.  Three of these down, two tricky ones to go.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Autumn Round the Corner

After the  excitement of the Annual Show, I happened to have a few days away, so on my first visit back to the Hill this evening I find half a dozen huge courgettes - which I ditched (have had enough years of varying success with courgette soup/shredded courgette in the freezer/free for all courgettes for the neighbours) - and picked five baby ones to use.

I had a 'cuckoo in the nest' bean which has turned out to be a purple climber - and how prolific is this one plant!  Can also see the beans against the green foliage, which makes them easier to pick; and they are utterly stringless when cooked, even if a bit big. Fortuitous sowing error.

I picked a carrier bag of runners and french beans - some of the runners too big to use, but most OK. I find that runners freeze brilliantly (french beans not so much), so when I got back tonight I've had a string/slice/chop session.

I had a good weeding session, and note the brassicas all looking fab.  It's still warm enough in the evenings for a t shirt, although it is noticeable how the nights are drawing in.

Retired to the club house at 8.30pm at dusk for the customary quick beer - and I caught the start of tonight's entertainment - a performer doing 'songs from the movies' - ah, those Summer Nights.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Annual Show 2018

Plenty of fun at the Annual Show, as ever. 

Great quality in all the veg classes, despite difficult growing conditions this year, and it is always good to celebrate the season with the other growers.

This year, the only veg prize for me was in the odd shaped veg category for a little french bean, but I was very happy with a first prize for my fruit cake - it was worth having a second attempt after all!

Nothing for my biscuits, but a third for my Plum and Apple chutney. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Annual Show Prep

It's Annual Show time again, so went to the Hill yesterday to pick everything in sight, then spent last night sorting through French and runner beans, rhubarb and courgettes. 

Biscuits and cake are made, the chutney is potted up, and I have a funny little bean to enter in the 'odd veg' category. 

The sun is shining, and it promises to be a lovely day.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Great Job and an Inadequate Job

After some much needed rain this weekend, I went to the Hill this evening to keep on top of picking the courgettes, have an eye out for possible entries in next week's Annual Show; and to make a start on re-staking the asparagus bed, and reclaiming it from the dandelions which seem to have taken up residence.

But the first job was to sort out the netting cage over the first brassica bed - the whole caboodle has slid sideways - shown here.  I knew at the time that I build it that it lacked integrity, and my temporary 'mast' has worked for a week or two to keep it upright, it needs a more permanent solution. 

I knocked in a vertical stake at each end, and screwed each of these through into the cross piece, and instantly it is more robust.  Brilliant.

Getting the asparagus bed cleared required some caution - I can't just fork all the dandelions out as I'd be digging up the asparagus crowns too, so it was a case of wriggling the fork about to loosen the soil, and try to pull the dandelions out. 

With inch thick, foot long roots, many of which I snapped - most of the dandelions will be back, so I've won the battle but not the war. I hope that I haven't done the asparagus too much damage - as it is, I can see about 4 gaps where the crowns are not active/dead, so maybe I should be looking at replacing those.  Annoying not to be able to clear the bed properly.

Whilst clearing the weeds, I got absolutely bitten to bits - and ended up with a forearm swollen to the size of Popeye's - so I called it a day and retreated to the club house for restorative beer before home time.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

In - collect veg - out

A lightning visit to the Hill tonight before a gym class to make sure that I am on top of courgette production.  I cut five lovely small ones; then picked a handful of runners, and the same of climbing french beans.

It's like shoplifting in the greengrocers.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Bit of a Bodge

When we had that small amount of rain a couple of weekends ago, it was accompanied by some blustery winds, and both of my hooped netting cages suffered. The first one - a bit of a makeshift affair anyway - didn't surprise me, but the more robust of the two also lurched to one side.

After having a look at how others constructed their hoop cages, I see that I am missing a vertical from each end, so it was an easy fix on the second cage - a couple of long stakes hammered in and a couple of screws into the bracing bar. Brilliant.

The more rickety of the two may need further thought - it certainly looks a bit squashed at the mo.

I also wanted to finish staking the first of the fruit beds tonight - I think this is my third go at it.  A new lump hammer should have made light work of the stakes, but I got them in to the ground by about a foot when they seem to hit a solid layer.

I poured water into the holes to soften the ground to no real avail, and then cheated by cutting a couple of the stakes down a few inches.  Screwed them to the bed sides, and that was that.

Pick half a dozen courgettes - getting a tiny bit big for comfort - a punnet of runners and the same again of climbing french beans. Picked some tomatoes when I got home too, and had about the freshest tea ever.
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