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...........

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Potato Day Prep

It’s the Potato Day at Ryton on Sunday, & this year they have very helpfully published the list of varieties that will be for sale along with their properties, so I’ve printed this off to have a browse through & to select my two varieties of earlies, second earlies & maincrops.

Deciding in advance means that I can by-pass the bun fight & get straight on to picking what I want.

This has two distinct advantages – the first being that it always seems to be about -6 degrees in the marquee, & the second is that as soon as I have the potatoes under my belt, I can whizz off to the other most excellent attraction of the day – the seed swap.

I always have plenty of bean & pea seeds that I have grown that I can pop into envelopes to take along to contribute, & this year I’m taking eight or nine envelopes of five different types of beans, & I reckon that entitles me to my choice of half a dozen packets to bring home.

An excellent arrangement!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Parsnips & Potatoes

The weather yesterday not being (a) raining or (b) Siberian freezing cold, I went to the Hill to see how the plot was getting on, & to dig a couple of parsnips for tea.

A mooch round revealed that the early rhubarb crown is showing pink buds, & the garlic just beginning to sprout, but despite the temperature being 4 or 5 degrees, the ground was still frozen down a few inches.

It took a bit of brute strength with the fork to expose a couple of lovely parsnip which I whipped out in short order.

As you’d expect, there were very few people trying to dig their plots – if the frost doesn’t defeat the digger, the wet soil sticking to the spade will – however, Potager Chrissie was back & forth to the muck skip with a wheelbarrow taking manure up to her beds.

It was lovely to see her & we wished each other a happy New Year & chatted for a while. We talked about potato varieties, & I offered to get her some potato seed from Ryton next week when I go for the Potato Day.

Chrissie went off with a couple of parsnips too, & after I dug over one of the small fruit beds (into which I will plant the ordered asparagus crowns), I decided that I was doing more harm than good, & called it a day.

The days are getting the tiniest bit longer, now, & just to show that Spring is round the corner, the onions & a lonely leek have sprouted in their pots at home.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Long Winter!

So it has been the coldest December on record, and January has hardly warmed the cockles of the heart yet - although we have actually seen the sun today – all day. Mind you, it has still been pretty raw out.

I wanted to make the most of the break in the depressingly dank grey weather, so I started by giving the grapevine in the courtyard a severe prune. Every year its triffid like growth gets wildly out of hand, so hopefully this will make it rather less unruly come the summer.

It wasn’t until I’d filled a green bag with twiggy offcuts that it occurred to me to wonder whether my enthusiastic pruning might affect the number of bunches of grapes this year – by which time it was rather too late.

Over a cup of coffee to thaw out a bit, I thought about going to the Hill & weighed up what is on the List (dig parsnip, manure new potato bed at some point, I suppose, but there’s no rush) against the chill in the air & decided that I really didn’t fancy it – & that a six mile round trip’s worth of petrol really couldn’t be justified for a single parsnip.

Instead, I got my January seeds envelope out & sowed a pot of each of LEEK (saved), ONION (long red Florence) & LETTUCE (hsl stoke), which will go on the cold windowsill then out to the mini greenhouse when they are up.

It might be the New Year, but there’s still a great deal of bleak midwinter about!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A New Growing Year Ahead

Although the weather was no less grey today than previous days - & only about 2 degrees - I dragged myself away from the cosy fire and went to the Hill to see how the winter is treating the allotment.

After the very cold temperatures & a few inches of snow lying for a couple of weeks, the plot is now very wet indeed - I went to dig up a parsnip & ended up with half the soil in the bed adhered to the spade. Nice looking parsnip, though.

The only other item on my List was to pop some bits & pieces from home into the compost bins - cut offs from the Christmas tree, & some indoor plants that had seen better days.

Back at home I spent a merry hour going through my embarrassingly large stash of seeds & sorted them into the relevant month for sowing, & also put all the beans (now hard & dry) into storage jars.

I thought about sowing some onion & leeks seeds, but truth be told, I couldn't be bothered leaving the warmth of the fire again to go & get the frozen compost out of the garage - it'll surely wait.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Grey Days

It finally started to thaw on the-day-after-Boxing-Day, & the snow slowly melted off the verges by midweek. It has, of course, been remarkably wet & grey & gloomy since.

I have failed – again – at growing Brussels sprouts or carrots for the Christmas meal, however the home grown potatoes & parsnips were delicious.

Assuming that the murk lifts even slightly, I will go to the Hill tomorrow - if only to check that it is still there. With such miserable weather I have not been remotely interested in trudging round the plot during the Christmas break.

I might dig a parsnip, but that’s about it – although there will be some more muck to spread on this year’s potato beds, & some lime to apply to this year’s bean beds, there really is no rush at all.

New Year’s resolutions? The normal gubbins about being more organised, I guess – and to space stuff out more in order to grow sufficient-and-a-bit, and not unfeasibly large quantities of some stuff e.g. courgettes.

We shall see how we get on with that!
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