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, September 06, 2009

Advice Shop!

Today's aim was to take down the sweetpeas & the last pea frame. I also thought about taking the summer bedding from the front of the plot, replacing it with the winter flowering pansies bought yesterday & replanting the tulip & daffodil bulbs at the same time.

However, looking at the front of the plot, it seems a shame to whip the flowers out while some of them are still going strong. The calendula are well past their best, but the antirrhinum & nasturtium as still looking good along with a mystery plant with purple foliage & blue lantern flowers.

I took the last pea frame down & then fixed the bed end in properly - since shortening the bed the other week, I hadn't got round to screwing the end plank in.

As I was putting the last screws in, Paul (at the front by the gate) came across & said, "Can I pick your brains?"
"Well, of course," I replied taking a couple of screws out my mouth and putting down the cordless, "how can I help?"
"It's this winter digging - do you do it in autumn, or wait till the new year?"
"Given then you'll be digging the plot over in early spring anyway, I stick a huge layer of manure on the top in the autumn, & then turn it in about February."

It was only after he'd gone that I realised that I hadn't asked him about where his roots were going to be next year, & not to manure that area - otherwise he'll have forked parsnips & carrots, so that wasn't the best of advice, really, was it?

Next past the plot was Jane from the bottom, and I asked her how her & Pete were getting on. "Well, we've nearly cleared the plot - it's felt so much like hard work!" she grinned.
"It's tough to take on a plot in late summer with not a lot to show for it until well into Spring the next year, isn't it?" I sympathised, "but Homebase are selling trays of brassica seedlings for £1.99, so you could at least get something in the ground."

No sooner had she gone than Julie (2nd best plot) walked down, and said "Can I pick your brains?" Well, I'm feeling like a gardening guru now - if Julie's asking me for advice! "I've got barlotti beans with the pods quite big & going red - when can I pick them? I need the space for the spring cabbages."

I told her about shelling out the immature beans & freezing them if she didn't want to leave the pods to fully mature & the beans to dry, & she said, "well, I didn't know that!" & "would you like a few spare spring cabbage?" & as now had a gap where the pea frame was, I most certainly did, thank you very much.

Julie also asked if I'd like to cut some dahlias too, so once the spring cabbage were planted out and the bed snugly netted over, I went and cut these vibrant blooms & headed home.


  1. Can I also pick your brains, Hazel?! When you put down the layer of manure do you use fresh or well-rotted manure? I know manure is supposed to be rotted, but if it's going on empty beds for the winter, is it okay to use fresh?

  2. I reckon that if you have fresh manure available now, you can either stack it up in a corner (where it will rot down quickly), or spread it in a good fat layer about a foot deep over next year's potato beds (i.e. this years roots, in my rotation plan) where it will rot down less quickly.

    However, whilst it is taking longer to rot down, the worms are incorporating it into the bed, and the manure is surpressing the weeds - and if you can do it at this time of year, it's still got maybe 6 months to rot down before you're planting spuds.

    The only fly in the ointment is that part of the roots bed still has parsnips in, so for that reason I'd still have a pile of manure to rot down in a corner to put on the parsnip area once these are lifted in about Jan/Feb.

    There are many ways to garden, but that seems to suit my patch. The wise old owl Mrs Flummery at Veg Heaven may be along later to contradict as necessary!

  3. Old Mrs Flummer here (Cheeky young Madame!) I'd tend to pile it myself. It rots quicker in a heap. That reminds me, with my new allotment (full plot) to take over soon I'll have the job of moving my heap. It had a few barrow loads of fresh cow manure last spring so that should be 'ripe' for spreading now!

  4. Y'see that's gardeners for you - can't agree if there's an 'r' in the month - and too busy to do so the rest of the time!

    Nature's pretty forgiving, and it's the plants' job to grow anyway!


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