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, November 27, 2006

Shift Change!

So, it was Jane’s crew's turn on the fork and weed bucket yesterday – and many hands do, indeed, make light work! Although - as I have truly discovered - much forking does make you immobile the following day.

An hour and a half later they have done a sterling job of clearing all the nettles and gone roughly over another third of the plot and make the following observations

  • It is really easy to get really, really muddy
  • Beetroots (half a row in evidence growing among the chickweed) have a great novelty factor. S & E desperate to know how to eat these despite a dark ‘I wouldn’t bother’ from Jane
  • They discover the row of sprouting garlic by accident, and S & E learn a valuable botony lesson in how things grow. After an hour and a half of pulling up chickweed and nettles, this lesson has been learnt to the point of exhaustion
  • Everyone’s really friendly including Reg, and a chap called Lionel. Someone called Brian was our predecessor, but despite both of us being massively curious about him, neither of us can ask anyone about him in case he is dead

Jane's brought her composter down to the plot (perhaps I should bring the wormery?) and has declared her intention to dig a huge bear trap to fill with kitchen waste between now and runner bean planting time. Sounds like hard work to me, but the books do say that this is a Good Thing to Do.

Horrifyingly, she also tells me that she has brought two plastic spinning flowers down from the garden which 'look really pretty'. They sound utterly ghastly, but Jane adds that as they spin, they will act as bird scarers. This does justify their presence. Barely.

The Plan progresses now to:

  • finishing the digging over (by the end of the weekend? ha ha!)
  • marking out out the four areas (with sand?)
  • moving the garlic and replanting in plot B
  • lime plot A
  • manure plot D

...with the logical progression to world domination.

Roll on the weekene!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hi ho!

It's the weekend and I started DIGGING!

I've forked over about a third of the plot in 2 and a half hours, and came home absolutely knackered!

It was a very informative morning, and amongst other things, I have learnt:
  • Reg the adjacent plotholder says that basics are far cheaper at the allotment 'hut' than at the garden centre - glad I didn't buy the lime at Fosters now
  • I've met Fran who is a friend of someone Jane knows at school who apparently wins all the prizes at the annual allotment show. We'll see about that.
  • It's a bit of a rugby scrum for the manure from the skip - although I think that this is replenished regularly
  • Chickweed is easy to pull up. Nettles sting. Gooseberry bushes have thorns.
  • Using a fork for two hours gives you blisters on your hands

With regard to our little plot of land I have found that:

  • We have a run of fruit bushes down the right hand side - at least one of which is a gooseberry bush
  • There are a number of leaf beet plants (about 8) which I now need to look up in a book which bits you eat. The slugs would appear to like the leaves, but the stems look juicy to me
  • We will die of rhubarb overload if we take advantage of all that is on the plot.
  • There are some scrobby whitefly infested brussel sprouts which may come to something
  • There is a row of garlic that has resprouted which Fran says that we should lift, split & replant. We will not be troubled by vampires.

Jane & the tribe on digging duty tomorrow morning - I may creak along to give moral support!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I thought you said GARDEN centre......

Just to keep the enthusiasm up, I went over to Foster’s garden centre this evening – late night opening – where I thought I might buy some garlic bulbs, look at the fruit plant selection and maybe buy some lime (although I thought that I may have some in the garage, so decided not to, in the end)

Not a resounding success – gardening having been seriously demoted in favour of Christmas – no garlic bulbs, plant section closed as it is outside and it is dark, decided against the lime, and they didn’t have any dustbins one of which is on the hit list.

Popped into Homebase – cheapest dustbin £8.99, and no garlic either. Will look at gardening magazine and do mail order and sod the lot of them.

Did have a brainwave on the way home – I have a big rubble bucket in the shed (perfect for weed collection), but didn’t have any lime in there when I checked.

I want to mark the beds too – and thought of using sand, but am not sure, so I’ll think further on this.

Also in the garage I have any number of gardening gloves, a fork, two spades, a hoe and a rake – more that enough to be getting on with.

Roll on the weekend!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Our version of 'The Good Life' starts here!

Welcome to our Allotment!

This blog may be renamed in the coming months as 'A Triumph of Optimism Over Digging', or 'How Mother Earth Provides Despite the Interference of Those Who Think That They Know Best'.

So with a great fanfare & positive frame of mind thinking about all the lovely fresh fruit and veg we will grow, Jane and I are now the proud tenants of a half plot at the Hill Allotments!

Jane checked what the site was like last summer with Paul & the children and gave it the OK and we put our names down in the hope that there would be something become available in October.

We've been lucky with a half plot becoming free, & I've been down today with Jane & co & we've signed up. The half plot is conveniently sited by the green waste skip, & the manure heap and consists of rich dark soil with a jaunty covering of chick weed.

We're full of enthusiasm - we both have a mental image of long summer evenings picking baskets of beans & tomatoes, in clouds of butterflies with the scent of sweet peas and lavender perfuming the warm air.

We are not even put off by the fact that we don't appear to be able to do anything at all except clear chickweed & chit some potatoes between now and next February.....

We are also bouyed up by the fact that the allotments boast a Social Club on site - hurrah! - where we'll be signing up as members (all that cheap beer!)

So we'll be wielding our forks from next weekend, & in the meantime, I'm poring over John Seymour's Self-Sufficiency look at crop rotation plans and working our which bits to lime and why and trying to work out my pentlands from my pink rose firs.................
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