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, July 03, 2011

Just When It Was Going So Well...

Going to the Hill at this time of year consists of a great deal of picking peas, broad beans, sweet peas, mange tout, strawberries, raspberries, garlic, onion & potatoes.

Of course there are also great swathes of annual weed seeds germinating which need whipping out at the first opportunity, & although the raised beds make this a much easier job, it does have to be said that warm weather & showers bring the weeds on like mad.

But otherwise, all is very well with the world, thank you very much.

Except it is not, as I discovered on Wednesday lunchtime when I nipped over to the Hill to pick lunch.

"Tra la la", I sang in the sunshine, with a trug filling with plump, ripe produce, and the bees humming in the flowers, "tra la la".

Then Julie came down to see how I was getting on and to offer me gooseberries.

"Would you like to help yourself?" she asked, "we have done everything that we possibly can with gooseberries and there is still a full bush that we haven't touched yet! I have gooseberries in the freezer, as gooseberry fool, gooseberry chutney, jam - here, have a pot - we've given them to the neighbours & Phil is even making gooseberry wine." Well I don't need asking twice - brilliant!

We were having a look round my plot & comparing notes, when we came to the asparagus bed. Rather than looking suitably impressed with the bed, Julie said, "er, you do know that you have asparagus beetle, don't you...?"


And sure enough, closer inspection revealed plenty of the little beggars - beetles & grubs.

"At least I offered you the gooseberries first," comiserated Julie, "I didn't just come down here as a merchant of doom!".

Well, I guess that I'm grateful that she spotted them for me, & I am now on frequent bug-squashing raids. If I have to wait three years to eat the damn stuff, I'm damned if someone else is going to beat me to it.

I went back to the Hill later in the evening with long sleeves & gloves & picked a carrier bag of Julie's gooseberries - about half the bush - and I've topped and tailed them and frozen enough for a batch of wine (Phil has the best idea there) and a couple of pounds are left over which have just gone next door to my neighbours.

Elizabeth asked a good question in a previous comment when she said, "I planted my leek plants out about 4-5 weeks ago, and thought that was late. I may be wrong, but may be that's the reason your leeks weren't great last year?"

I checked in my copy of J Seymour, who says, "The trick of planting leeks after the spuds have been lifted can only be done if the spuds are early ones. Earlies are being eaten by June so leeks can be transplanted into the ground when it is clear."

So, the theory is ok, but I think that in previous years the pot-sown leeks that I have transplanted have been too small - this year I have planted pots of leeks out (right to left in the pic sown in January, April and May) into the nursery bed, and the earlier sown ones in particular look to be nicely 'pencil thickness' which all the books say is the right size to transplant.

I love leeks in the winter, so I do hope that I've got this one right.


  1. We planted some leeks today which are pencil thickness you have up to the end of July to get 'em in so don't panic

  2. Poor you with the asparagus beetle. It has not been a good day for for the stuff.

    This afternoon I accepted the fact that six out of my 10 plants died during the Ice Age of last winter and I dug the remainder out and freshened up the whole bed with a big barrow of rotted muck. Will let it settle for a few days and then put raspberries in.

  3. Gooseberry wine?! I didn't think of that. Too late for this year as I have already made of all mine into jam.

  4. The leeks are in the nursery bed looking fine, B&P - and now that the first earlies are out the way, I must get them planted out!

    Shame that you lost your asparagus plants, Bilbo - although we did have one heck of a winter, I think that they were in one of the 'colder' beds nearer the hedge? Rasps should do well there - they are very hardy.

    When in doubt, make wine, RT! Although the jam sounds pretty good too. Mind you, in the event of a serious glut, it is worth remembering that you are likely to drink more wine than you are going to eat gooseberry jam (or is that just me?)!


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