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...........

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Day of Light Rain

If you listened very closely yesterday, when we had the first rain for maybe two months, you could hear the ground making the fainted of noises, like a million straws sucking the last of the milkshake from the glass.

It wasn't enough to water much more than the most superficially rooted of crops - although enough to germinate the weed seeds, I'm sure - but what there was was much appreciated.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Reward for a Job Well Done

Didn't get to the Hill until later on this evening, but still reckoned I could finish laying the weed suppressant on the final three paths between the main beds, and cover them with chippings.

I did have time to do this, along with some watering, and dug three first early potato plants which have died off - an unsurprisingly low yield, given the weather.

It was still 28ÂșC, even at dusk, and I could hear the sound of the band playing through the open windows of the clubhouse, so Eric - who had been watering his plot at the bottom of the Hill - and I dodged the entrance fee and the well dressed ladies and gents, and sneaked in for a quick beer.   

Still humming Run Around Sue as I left to come home for late tea and indignant and hungry cats. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Another Step Forward

Had to do a bit of emergency watering as soon as I got to the Hill tonight - those brassicas that I planted out two days ago under the new netting frame were flat and limp on the soil. Uh-oh!  I caught them in time, though, as after a good drenching, by the time I left, they had perked up.

So, still no rain - but it does mean that the pile of wood chippings I'm using to cover the weed suppressant I'm laying on the paths is desiccated and light as a feather, and I can easily fill and carry dustbins full. 

Tonight's job was to do another three paths - which one roll of suppressant covers - and I have three more to do, so a trip to Wilko for supplies tomorrow.  It's looking good, I must say.

Picked a few baby courgettes, and a handful of runner beans for tea tonight - delicious.

Monday, July 23, 2018

That Went Well!

After nipping to the Hill in the morning to catch a committee member to sell me some netting from the storeshed, I returned to the Hill last night to get to grips with the brassica bed construction. 

It turned out to be quite an easy job to measure the spacings for the blue pipe, and attach the wooden top brace.

I planted out the poor pot-bound, aphid-infested cabbage and cauli, watered them in, then threw the netting over.

It looks fabulous, if I say so myself.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Better - but more to be done

I finished digging over bed8 this evening, but wasn't in the mood for the fiddly drilling of the cross beams in order to secure the blue piping for this brassica bed.  No rush to get this done this evening, as I need to buy scaffold netting from the shed before planting out.  A job nearly done nonetheless. 

Just in case I was feeling smug, I still need to lay weed suppressant and chippings on the paths, and I haven't made a start on the wild side of the 'fruit' beds running up the side of the plot. 

Issues to be dealt with there include working out how to weed big rooted weeds out of the asparagus bed without screwing the asparagus; removing Offspring of Bramble Intent on World Domination which still lurks; beating the red and blackcurrant bushes into some sort of shape; and getting shot of the couch grass which troubles the raspberry bed.

And all of this whilst wondering how to deal with the inevitable courgette glut that three plants are about to yield.  Never mind - motown tribute act Mel Day just starting his set at the club house whilst I had a quick beer - left me humming 'my girl' all the way home. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Final Main Bed Refurb

I had a plan tonight - to re-stake bed8 and dig it over; harvest beans/ courgette/ rasps as applicable.  My plan was scuppered a bit as I only had enough stakes at the plot to beef up one side of the bed, and I forgot to take punnets with me for the bounty.

So I made do with what I had, and will finish the the bed at the weekend, and dig over the other half; and will also be able to buy some netting from the shed to cover the blue hoops, and plant out the pot-bound, aphid infested cauli and cabbage which are languishing at home.

Quite a social one tonight - a couple of nearby plotholders where about watering, I saw Alan from the committee who came down for a chat, as well as Margie from the club house walking her lovely dog down the plots.  Especially nice to see Zoe-next-plot - I'm surprised we don't bump into each other more often - we had a catch up as I forked out couch grass, and she ripped out raspberry suckers.  I have her to thank for these pics - my phone battery was flat.

Even more social was popping into the club house for a quick beer afterwards - the ballroom dancers were in tonight, so I was treated to entertainment too. Marvellous.

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.
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