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...........

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jack Frost is here again...

Gosh it has been cold! I bet we’ve had 10 straight nights of frost, & good heavy frosts at that – a couple of nights down to -5 or -6 degrees, but with really bright sunny days.

This means that I’m rather glad that I only have robust seedlings in the mini greenhouse – the broad beans, onions, shallot sets & brassicas are all pretty hardy, & don’t seem to have come to any harm, & the forecast is for warmer weather after tonight (down to -3).

I’m glad that I covered the broad beans at the Hill with fleece – they looked well snug yesterday – mind you, the 4 or 5 left over plants left to their own devices in pots by the compost heap look pretty good too.

With the weather so cold, I thought that I’d better leave planting out the crimson flowered broad beans for another week – they are not particularly billed as a hardy variety, & I’d hate to lose them to frost – so my visit to the Hill on Saturday was confined to finishing the shed, & some digging.

The soil is finally drying out – it’s much less claggy on the spade, & a few weed seedlings are about, so it won’t be long until sowing time is upon us! I marked out plot A with a centre path – I’d rough dug it after taking down the beans in November (leaving in the nitrogen fixing roots) – & now have two dug over narrow beds. Then I picked PAK CHOI, KALE (alice), a SWEDE (best of all) & a TURNIP (snowball) for dinner & turned my attention to the toolshed.

Once the roof & doors were fixed to my liking, it just needed a coat of preservative. Fortunately I had about a third of a can left over from painting the fence at home which has been sitting out by the bench at home for the last few months, but I soon realised that I had no means at the Hill of opening the can. I saw Dahlia David & his wife down at the bottom of the Hill at their plot, so I took the can down to see if he could help.

After a great deal of huffing & puffing (not to mention a nasty gash on his hand) David had the lid off – hurrah! – & revealed the can to be three quarters full. I carefully walked back to the toolshed, gave the can a stir, then got painting. Eventually it dawned on me that the reason that the can was so full – & the preservative so ‘thin’ – was that the rainwater must have leaked into the can. At this rate, it will take about 8 coats to give the toolshed even a nominal coating of preservative!

Back home on the sowing front, I put 4 peas in each of 30 pots which are just starting to germinate – & sowed a few seeds each of SPINACH (Samish f1), SPRING ONION (Ishikura), TURNIP (snowball), ONION (Brunswick) & SWISS CHARD (bright lights) all in pots upstairs. The CABBAGE (red sprouting) are all up & the pots moved to the mini greenhouse.

And the wine making? Well, the celery wine has now virtually stopped ‘working’ in the demijohn, but is still rather emulsion-like in appearance – which I guess that will clear in due course.

With regard to the parsnip wine, I racked it off into another demijohn (making sure I kept a little aside for SG testing & tasting, of course!) – the upshot of which is that I have some very personable chardonnay style vanillary wine which has an alcohol content of nearly 16%! Wow! It will now mature in the demijohn for another 3 or 4 months before being bottled & put aside until about Christmas when I hope it will have mellowed into something really rather good!


  1. The parsnip wine sounds rather good!

    I planted a couple of crimson broadies on New Years Day and they've surrvived the frosts so far (unheated g/h) so they may not be *that* tender.

  2. there's gonna be another cold snap around the end of february/beginning of march if the weather forecasts are correct.. you may want to watch out for that!!

    wine looks good though!!

  3. Thanks for taking the time to post, both.

    I'm probably being a bit over-protective of my crimson flowered broadies as they weren't exactly easy to get hold of (and they are SO lovely!)

    Even if we do get another cold spell, hopefully it won't be as cold as the sustained nights of -5 or -6 degrees!

    It's amazing how quickly the temperature rises in the mini greehouse in the mornings with a bit of sun - I think I'll need to be a bit wary of that in due course...


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