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...........

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plenty of Peas!

Goodness me it has been HOT the past few days!  Still, with peas and beans bulging at the seams in their pots more than ready to be planting out there was no putting off the sweaty exertions of stringing the final two wigwams.

So I have avoided the heat of the day and spend a relaxed and productive couple of evenings at the Hill with the company of blackbirds and a fearless robin.

I took a deep breath and strung the wigwams and planted one with a tray of sweet peas, and the other with tall peas (ne plus ultra).  If that does not give me enough peas to eat fresh and to freeze and last all year, I do not know what will.

I planted out the rest of the broad beans too, and was thinking how well they were doing when I spotted Carl and Wendy's by-the-gate which are already in flower - early broadies for them!

The next 'big' job was to put the bean canes in a 'V' shape in between the end T pieces that structure I already have fixed in place.  With the supporting wires taut between the T's, all I had to do was push the canes into the ground in the middle, alternating to each side and attaching to the horizontal wire.  So now they are ready to be planted up with climbing beans in the middle, and dwarf beans at the bed edges.

Now I could have spent every waking hour weeding - especially the 'messy' plot edges, and I have taken all the dandelion heads off - but with the compost bin full to overflowing there is no room until I move on the the next strenuous job.  Emptying the other compost bin and revealing all that lovely compost.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Muck, Glorious Muck!

When I arrived at the Hill tonight, I espied bags of horse muck, and did a happy dance.  You see, the muck skip (conveniently right by my plot) has been empty for ages - the stables aren't delivering as many sacks of manure, and the old boys are getting to the deliveries first, leaving not much left for me.

It means that I haven't mucked the two potato beds this year (they will just have to put up with it) and I haven't been addling any muck to my compost bins.

Well, it's too late to muck the potato beds, but the compost bin is now positively overflowing.

Whilst I was sizing up the muck sacks, Richard from three plots down arrived, clearly on his way home from work.  "It's a shame that you are not dressed for muck moving," I said, pointing at the bags.

"We'll see about that!" he said, and not to be defeated by a suit and tie, fetched a pair of gardening gloves and loaded his wheelbarrow with bags to take to his plot in just about the daintiest way possible.  Good for him!

I'd just about filled the compost bin when he came over with a handful of freshly cut asparagus.  "Would you like these?" he asked. "I picked a carrier bagful yesterday, and by the time I come back at the weekend, these will be far to  well grown to eat."  How kind! Clearly I didn't need asking twice.

Off he went and I managed not to get overly sidetracked by the weeds - although I am cringing at the dandelion clocks everywhere I look in the edges and corner - and knuckled down to what I went to do.

So now I have two of the four wigwams stringed (strung?) up and two lots of peas planted out and before I came home, I put in a couple of rows of carrots, parsnip and lettuce.

Then home for a much needed bath.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rain Doesn't Quite Stop Play

It has rained pretty much all day long here, so allotment activities today have taken place indoors and have included repotting the tomatoes...

...and racking the quince, rhubarb and parsnip wines.

Tomorrow's planned trip to the Hill (that's if it ever stops bloody raining) will involve wrapping string round the pea wigwams - the world's most tedious task.

Oh, deep joy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Break!

The plot at the Hill wakes up sometime in the middle of March, but it takes this gardening blogger rather longer to come out of winter hibernation.  In fact, it has take an email from total stranger saying, 'are there any more updates, or have you finished now?' to give me the required boot up the backside.

So, at the end of January I'd frozen my toes off at Ryton at the potato day and had all the spuds out chitting in egg boxes.  And February being February I was not inclined to do very much at all, apart from venture out occasionally to pick delicious sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli.

March was very pleasant - the news full of drought warnings with it being such a dry winter - and I put in a couple of rows of carrots and parsnips, along with planting out the potatoes, and a bag of shallots and a bag of onions.

April, it rained.  And rained.  And just when you thought it could not rain any more - it rained.  In a rare break in the rain, I got busy sowing - four trays of pots of various peas; four trays of pots of various dwarf beans; four trays of various climbing beans; cucumber, courgette and squash; peppers (late, I know) and tomatoes.

I figured that they could get on with sprouting whilst I got away from the rain for a week or so, leaving my neighbour with watering instructions (i.e. don't unless the seedling are keeling over with their tongues hanging out), and ending up frantically texting to ask him to EMPTY THE WATER OUT THE TRAYS as the weather reports were full of the woes of yet more rain into May.  On the plus side, we aren't in a drought situation any more.

Where my plot is at the Hill, I am quite happy with plenty of rain - as long as I am not actually standing out in it - as the soil is quite free draining and the ground will welcome 'a good soak'.  I would mind the rain very much if I was at the bottom of the Hill where John Badger is, as that is where all the rain drains down to, and there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.

Now, the spuds and garlic are all up, the weeds (reasonably) taming along with about a million errant raspberry suckers (which have made a determined bid to escape from the first fruit bed and have plans to rule the world), the brassicas finished and pulled up, the wigwams for the peas put up, and the compost bin is heaped unmanageably high.

The rhubarb being pulled, with sufficient in the freezer for a batch of wine, with plenty more to come.

And the world is still full of good-hearted gardeners, with the kindly Richard from three plots down foisting a great bag of his asparagus on me as I sighed and looked longingly at my young asparagus spears, not to be touched for another twelve months.

The world is a good place!
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