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...........

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The start of a Vintage year...?

We’re getting just a tiny glimpse of the evenings being slightly lighter now even if it’s generally remained wet and cold, but I made good use of a dry spell over at the Hill last weekend.

I noticed that the green manure that I supposedly dug in at the end of December really wasn’t dug in very well – i.e. lots of green manure pointing upwards & growing, as opposed to buried & breaking down – so I had another go at that, & I’m MUCH happier with the result. Of course, this makes the second lot that I dug in look pretty rubbish by comparison, but that’s a job for another day.

Whilst in the mood for digging, I turned my attention to half of plot C (old roots bed). I finally gave up on & got shot of the rest of the carrot-fly-eaten CARROTS, dug up the SALSIFY, CELERY & BEETROOT all of which I bought home, thus clearing the whole area – just leaving (guess!) parsnips in the other half of plot C. By emptying half a dozen bags of strawy manure & roughly spreading it with the fork, I now have the bed ready for the potatoes.

I also dug up the last three leeks – leaving just one magnificent one to go to seed & flower so I should hopefully be able to save the seed from that.

With all that satisfying digging out of the way, there was no putting off the job of pruning the fruit bushes any longer. The currant bushes were easy – they’ve all grown wonderfully from the little sticks that they were this time last year, & I do hope that they will give lots of lovely fruit this summer! All they needed was the odd ‘crossed over’ branch snipped out in order to maintain what the books call ‘an open goblet shape’.

The gooseberry bushes were a different story – thorns on thorns which my gloves were just not up to keeping off. The plan was to thin out the bushes, snip off anything weedy looking or just in the wrong place & reduce them slightly. Half an hour & a good deal of bad language later, the job was done & the prunings snipped up & put in the compost bin.

I came home & made the beetroot into chutney, & set about making some of the parsnips into wine. It was a complete palaver scraping & chopping up the parsnips, then boiling them till tender, draining THEN boiling up again with sugar, & once it had all cooled down, I put in the yeast, nutrient, anti-starch enzyme & let it sit in a bucket for ten days stirring each day. The wine is now up in a demijohn in a cool room (16ºC) & will be for 6 months.

Of course, this left me with a whacking great pan of cooked parsnip, so I added some milk & liquidised it, & I now have some rather thick & concentrated soup in the freezer. Now I’ve got the knack of knocking up a batch of wine, I think I’ll make another lot, but this time with the celery.

The broad beans sown at the start of January are all up & looking sturdy so I’ve put them in the new mini greenhouse with a view to planting them out next weekend, & having given up on the ONION (ailsa craig) as a bad lot, I’ve sown ONION (Brunswick) instead – & after 10 days, they are putting in an appearance too.

I opened the packet of BROAD BEANS (crimson flowered) & was delighted to find not only more seeds in the packet than expected, but also the seeds are all a lovely green rather than brown as I thought they would be & I’ve sown all those too.

And I haven’t been to the Hill this weekend as I have been ‘otherwise engaged’ – suffice to say I’ve had a couple of excellent days – & I’ll tell all next time…


  1. Hmmmm I'd never even thought about making my own wine before... you've got me thinking now, perhaps I'll have to look into that for this year!

    Lovely blog by the way! :)

  2. Thank you!

    I hadn't thought about wine either until I needed 'something' to do with all those parsnips!

    It's a bit of a long term project in that I'll be drumming my fingers for best part of twelve months before getting to actually TASTE any of it! I just hope that it's ok - what if I don't like it...?


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