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...........

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Always Have 'a Plan'

Despite a full evening at the Hill, because I have a number of current goals in mind (clear, re-stake and dig over bed8; weed, lay weed suppressant and woodchip the paths; water; pick stuff), I ended up tonight not finishing any of them, really.

It's still very dry indeed - although on my way back from running last night, I did get caught in a shower - enough to wet tarmac, not to water the crops - but enough to bring the weeds on.

I weeded two of the paths ready for laying weed suppressant, then bit the bullet and cleared bed8 of the 7' tall gone-to-seed parsnips and leeks. At least I can see where the bed edges should lie now, and the re-staking and final forking over is now an easier job for later in the week.

Those lavender bushes at the front of the plot - straggly and woody as they are - have been brilliant for bees, and although I have half a dozen new neat plants at home ready to replace these two, I'll wait until the bees are done.

I picked raspberries (going off now), french beans (in full production), the first of the runners, a few courgettes, and even a few first early potatoes.  Five nice sized spuds from four plants is hardly a great yield, but maybe better than expected given the weather.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Just for Posterity

I nipped up to the Hill tonight to water those sad parched plants.  A rare hot sunny Summer has been a delight for so many reasons, but for anything needing a bit of moisture (e.g. anything green, or anyone who runs), it's been a bit of a challenge.

Another rarity is the England footy team doing a bit well in - well - anything, so I was keen to go mad along with the rest of the country and get back in time to see how they got on the world cup semi-final (spoiler alert: er - not well). 

But I was at the Hill long enough to take this 'before' pic of the next path for de-weeding, fabric suppressing and chipping.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Paths Next

I am putting off tackling bed8 in terms of re-staking and getting it ready for planing, by using the excuse that the bees love the parsnip flowers.  Well, they did, but they are setting seed now (which I don't need) so there is no excuse not to crack on.

That aside, I decided to spend my time at the Hill last night on re-weeding the path between bed1 and bed2, putting down weed suppressant then chippings.  Weeding paths is - again - like repainting the Forth road bridge, so an evening spent on solving the problem if not for good, then for the next two or three years is a good thing to do.

Hardly a great amount achieved given the time there, but I did chat to Paul J and Eric as they came by, which is part of the fun.

Finished off by picking rasps, french beans and the first of the courgettes.

PS wonder why I never remember to take 'before' pics - it would be very impressive!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Forward Thinking

After tea round at mum's for half an hour - which somehow turned into nearly three - I didn't get to the Hill to finish off laying my weed suppressant and bark chippings until 9pm when it was nearly dusk. 

Still, five dustbin-fuls of chippings from the plentiful pile just a couple of plots down and I finished the job.  I think that the plan will be to do the same weed suppressant/ chippings exercise on all the paths - the weeds are rampant, again.

Once I've working down to bed8, I can then re-stake, and dig over, evicting the flowering leeks and parsnip.  I have brassica to plant out, and new supplies of blue pipe to make a netting enclosure.

Thinking slightly further ahead, I will be digging up my poor dried up first early spuds shortly, and have nothing ready to go in the bed; although a rifle through the seed stocks the other day revealed plenty of those seed tapes. 

I have had what you might call limited success with these (i.e. none), but if I have a bed doing nothing, they might as well go in (despite suitability or otherwise of time of year or crop 'family'). 

Picked a punnet of raspberries in the gloom, then had a celebratory beer at the club house - gotta love Summer.

A New Space

At the top end of the plot, the 20' by 10' area (where I spent a lot of time and effort earlier in the year getting shot of the bramble Intent On World Domination) is what you might call 'fallow'.  i.e. cleared, mostly.

I've spend some time keeping the area weed free, but it is a bit like painting the Forth Road Bridge - a never ending task.

So today, I gave the area a final fork/weed; then a good hoeing to level, then started to lay weed suppressant and chippings on the area.  It will afford a great view from the bench, and leave the area for future considered use.

Fruit trees perhaps?

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Distraction Therapy

After a lighting trip to the Hill last night to pick french beans and raspberries; and to make a rushed and inadequate job of the watering, I got home in time to watch the England match on TV.

Whilst waiting for the boys to come up with the goods and beat Columbia (on penalties), I potted on the late sown tomatoes.

I don't mind if the plants don't have enough of the growing season left for the tomatoes to ripen - on the contrary, green tomatoes are just the thing for making chutney.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Thinking On Your Feet

I went to the Hill yesterday to plant out some brassicas.  Nice easy job - the bed is prepared and the plants are in individual pots, ready to go.

Of course, if you just plant out brassicas and leave it like that, they will last about 3 minutes before the combination of butterflies and pigeons do for them, so they need some sort of frame and netting.

I'd thought ahead, and had a blue pipe/wooden brace combo mapped out in my head.  This was nearly the world's best idea, but turns out to have an inherent weakness of design; and will thus need adjustment - or possibly total rebuild.  In the meantime, the whole caboodle is propped up with an impromptu - and somewhat oversized - upright. 

Fortunately, the netting is big enough to still fit over, and my brassicas - barring structure collapse - are snug and safe.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Dry June

We've had virtually no rain at all in June, and it has been hot and sunny.  Not that I mean to be disparaging about Summer, but it does mean that the beds need watering for the veg to flourish.

It's only a couple of miles or so the the Hill, so with no plans to do any planting out until tomorrow, I made the most of the cool of the evening and ran a roundabout route through Sutton Park to Jane's for refreshing tea and chat; then onwards, round the corner to the plot.

I ate about 2lb of raspberries in between filling watering cans; then romped a more direct route home, downhill all the way.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bringing home the goods!

I managed get to the Hill for an hour this evening before the England match.

I finished digging over bed7 then did the dalek dance with the compost dalek on bed8, emptying it, and moving it to it's new home at the far end of bed7.   Another bed finished and ready for planting - and I have brassicas in pots ready to plant out; a job for the weekend.

I now have a stock of punnets in the car, so it was easy to harvest some of the Japanese leaves from the plants in the courgette bed - a cloud of whitefly flew up from each small plant - some tiny french beans (the vegetable equivalent of veal), and also some raspberries and a few redcurrant.

I blanched the Japanese leaves for a minute to take the bitterness out of them, and also the French beans; then made them into a salad for tea with some lettuce seedlings growing at home.

I offset the healthy salad with a piece of key lime pie I made the other day - but at least got another of my five a day when I topped it with the soft fruit.

I'd call that a win.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Bit More Done

I nipped to the Hill on the way home from an after-work meeting today to carry on with repairing the beds.

I finished staking bed7, and forked over half of it before it was time to come home.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Pause in Bed Repairs

The climbing beans are looking a bit pale and peaky, so I went to the store shed and bought some fish blood and bone to hoe in.  I bought enough for all the other beds too, but for today, I just applied it to the bean bed, and the courgette bed too. 

That's all I had time for before the England match; so I came home to watch the footie - and took the opportunity to pot on the brassicas and some late sown tomatoes whilst it was on.

I should have paid a bit more attention to what I was doing as although the kale is quite distinctive, I cannot tell the cabbage and the cauliflower apart - so the planting out is going to be a bit random!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Shaping up

Today's hour or so at the plot was a bit aimless in that I didn't fancy the slog of bed restaking; which leaves me with weeding as an activity - along with watering as it has been so dry.

However, I did bring down some 'catch up' climbing French beans to plant out, some runner bean seeds to bodge in by the stakes with the existing plants, so I did that too.

I also remembered some punnets for raspberries and picked a heap of those to bring home, for once.

I also forked and re-weeded half of the area in front of the bench where the Bramble Intent On World Domination was - although a better use of my time would be to put down weed suppressant (which I have to hand) at least until I decide what I will do with that area.  It's on the list to do after this second fork-over.

Then, because it's good to stand back every now and again and look at what you've Mother Nature has achieved at the plot, I noted that the main crop potatoes are going mad; there will be French beans very soon, and the parsnip flowers are magnificent.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Little by Little

A snatched hour at the plot this evening and I started on straightening bed7.  I wasn't much in the mood for banging in stakes though, so once I had the line I left it at that for next time.

The photo also shows how much there is to do with bed8 - by the time I get to it, the parsnips will have finished flowering and I can hoick them out with a clear conscience over the bees, which love them.  I won't muck about waiting for the seed head to mature to save the seed with parsnip seeds about 19p a ton, so I'll use the space for something else instead.

I weeded some of the frontage - a waste of time really just taking the tops off, but it keeps things in check until I get round to doing it properly.  I ended up at the raspberries, and ate more straight off the plants - still have no punnets in the car in which to bring them home!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Continuing Bed Repair

I've re-staked, dug over and planted up six of the main beds - this latest one now planted out with leeks - and I have just two to go before the plot is in reasonable order. 

I say that, but then the side beds (rasps, currants, asparagus and nursery beds) will need the same treatment, then the front of the plot; and finally, the paths need re-laying with weed suppressant, and covering with wood chippings.

So just as well that I've had reward this year already from plenty of rhubarb; and tonight, the first of the raspberries.  No pics of the rasps as they were carried home via my mouth.

Note to self: put containers for rasps in car - there is a limit to the amount of soft fruit that one can gorge on the spot.

Catching up on the Plot - June 2018

Repairing the raised beds - bed4

Repairing the raised beds - bed5

 Repairing the raised beds - bed6

Catching up on the Plot - May 2018

Repairing the raised beds - bed3

Friday, June 15, 2018

Catching up on the Plot - April 2018

The bramble Intent on World Domination is beaten.....

and repairing the raised beds - bed1

 repairing the the raised beds - bed2

Catching up on the Plot - February 2018

Tackling the bramble Intent on World Domination...pt4

Catching up on the Plot - January 2018

Tackling the bramble Intent on World Domination...pt3

Catching up on the Plot - December 2017

Tackling the bramble Intent on World Domination...pt2

Catching up on the Plot - November 2017

Tackling the bramble Intent on World Domination...pt1

Catching up on the Plot - October 2017

Brassicas safe from the caterpillars and pigeons...

Catching up on the Plot - August 2017

Choosing Show entries...

Catching up on the Plot - July 2017

 Produce ....

Catching up on the Plot - June 2017

In pictures...

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