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.
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