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, January 27, 2013

Ryton Potato Day & Seed Swap

It's been pretty seriously snowy for a week now (for us notoriously lily-livered urban Brits, 8" IS seriously snowy!) which means that the car has stayed in the garage, and I have invested nine quid in a pair of wellington boots.  They have been brilliant, and I have intrepidly stomped my way round the borough with total confidence.

The snow means that there was no trip to the Hill last Sunday - my outdoor activities confined to wrestling the composting daleks down the drive to tuck them out the way by the garage.

Yesterday, most of the snow thawed, then overnight the temperatures rose and I woke this morning to a snow-free world with the sun shining.  Fab!  That meant that the 30 mile trip to Ryton Organic Gardens for the potato day and seed swap was most definitely ON!

There are three great things about Ryton - the seed swap, the gardens themselves and the potato marquee.

I love the seed swap, and filled a shoebox to take with seeds collated into labeled envelopes.  I've been quite restrained in my swaps, and have just bought home a heritage variety of each of leeks, lettuce, peas, beans and tomatoes.  They hadn't any parsnip seed (the one thing that I really am short of), but bought a pack in the shop before I left.

The gardens are fabulous - signs tell you about each section/garden and what it contains and why.  January is not the best time to visit, of course, if you want to see much in way of growing action, but the structure and layout is superb.

There was a display of different types of composters, and a bevy of composting experts to explain the difference and get you on the right composting track.  One garden demonstrates the staggering difference in yield of a potato crop depending on whether the ground has been treated with compost, manure or leaf mould.  If ever I think, 'I can't be bothered dressing this bed, the soil's pretty good anyway', I shall think of the Ryton garden and do it anyway!

And of course, the main reason for going was for the potato marquee to buy my seed potatoes for this year. I'd done my homework and had a bag ready for each of my choices (and how many I wanted of each) which made going round the alphabetically ordered potato bins then paying for what I'd got very efficient indeed (if I say so myself).

All I have to do now is scavenge some more egg boxes and they can all merrily chit away for a month or so - before you know it, Spring will be upon us and it'll be time to get them in the ground! Hurrah!


  1. Lucky, lucky you being so close to Ryton.

    1. Life's a trade - no seaside within half a day's drive; but Ryton metaphorically on the doorstep. :-)

  2. PS: which potato bed produced the most and what's the difference between compost and manure ... do they mean fresh manure that's not yet rotted down into compost?

    1. Darn - had I known that there would be questions, I would have taken more notice!

      When I get an idle moment, I'll check which was which - but the gist was that putting *any* sort of soil enricher on your beds makes a terrific difference - almost double the yield of potatoes in the trial (I think) in one instance.


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