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, August 20, 2018

Annual Show 2018

Plenty of fun at the Annual Show, as ever. 

Great quality in all the veg classes, despite difficult growing conditions this year, and it is always good to celebrate the season with the other growers.

This year, the only veg prize for me was in the odd shaped veg category for a little french bean, but I was very happy with a first prize for my fruit cake - it was worth having a second attempt after all!

Nothing for my biscuits, but a third for my Plum and Apple chutney. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Annual Show Prep

It's Annual Show time again, so went to the Hill yesterday to pick everything in sight, then spent last night sorting through French and runner beans, rhubarb and courgettes. 

Biscuits and cake are made, the chutney is potted up, and I have a funny little bean to enter in the 'odd veg' category. 

The sun is shining, and it promises to be a lovely day.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Great Job and an Inadequate Job

After some much needed rain this weekend, I went to the Hill this evening to keep on top of picking the courgettes, have an eye out for possible entries in next week's Annual Show; and to make a start on re-staking the asparagus bed, and reclaiming it from the dandelions which seem to have taken up residence.

But the first job was to sort out the netting cage over the first brassica bed - the whole caboodle has slid sideways - shown here.  I knew at the time that I build it that it lacked integrity, and my temporary 'mast' has worked for a week or two to keep it upright, it needs a more permanent solution. 

I knocked in a vertical stake at each end, and screwed each of these through into the cross piece, and instantly it is more robust.  Brilliant.

Getting the asparagus bed cleared required some caution - I can't just fork all the dandelions out as I'd be digging up the asparagus crowns too, so it was a case of wriggling the fork about to loosen the soil, and try to pull the dandelions out. 

With inch thick, foot long roots, many of which I snapped - most of the dandelions will be back, so I've won the battle but not the war. I hope that I haven't done the asparagus too much damage - as it is, I can see about 4 gaps where the crowns are not active/dead, so maybe I should be looking at replacing those.  Annoying not to be able to clear the bed properly.

Whilst clearing the weeds, I got absolutely bitten to bits - and ended up with a forearm swollen to the size of Popeye's - so I called it a day and retreated to the club house for restorative beer before home time.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

In - collect veg - out

A lightning visit to the Hill tonight before a gym class to make sure that I am on top of courgette production.  I cut five lovely small ones; then picked a handful of runners, and the same of climbing french beans.

It's like shoplifting in the greengrocers.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Bit of a Bodge

When we had that small amount of rain a couple of weekends ago, it was accompanied by some blustery winds, and both of my hooped netting cages suffered. The first one - a bit of a makeshift affair anyway - didn't surprise me, but the more robust of the two also lurched to one side.

After having a look at how others constructed their hoop cages, I see that I am missing a vertical from each end, so it was an easy fix on the second cage - a couple of long stakes hammered in and a couple of screws into the bracing bar. Brilliant.

The more rickety of the two may need further thought - it certainly looks a bit squashed at the mo.

I also wanted to finish staking the first of the fruit beds tonight - I think this is my third go at it.  A new lump hammer should have made light work of the stakes, but I got them in to the ground by about a foot when they seem to hit a solid layer.

I poured water into the holes to soften the ground to no real avail, and then cheated by cutting a couple of the stakes down a few inches.  Screwed them to the bed sides, and that was that.

Pick half a dozen courgettes - getting a tiny bit big for comfort - a punnet of runners and the same again of climbing french beans. Picked some tomatoes when I got home too, and had about the freshest tea ever.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Some Progress

I went to the Hill yesterday with a view to finish re-staking and digging over the first of the fruit beds at the side. 

First step was to fork over the bed - firstly to get the weeds out the bed, as the comfrey in this bed has grown rampant and spread to the paths round, and beyond; second, the ground is rock hard as it is so dry, and this area has not been worked, and I hope to loosen the soil to make it a bit easier to knock the stakes in.

The comfrey needs replanting in a tub to contain it - a brilliant idea which unfortunately, I only came up with this morning, but I suspect that even after my efforts with the fork, it will grow back, and I'll do the replanting job then.

The second step was to knock the stakes in - but they were still almost impossible to drive home - I made progress for a while before the lump hammer broke with the top flying off the handle.  Don't know my own strength - ha ha.

Picked a few baby courgettes, a portion of runner beans, and retired to the club house for a quick beer before home time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Hard Going

I couldn't get to the Hill until nearly 8.30pm last night and was limited to how much I could get done - it is noticeable that there is not quite so much day length now. 

I'd aimed to restake and dig over the first of the fruit beds down the side of the plot ('before' pic here), but it was clear from trying to knock the first of the stakes in that this would not be as easy as for the main beds - these side beds are more permanent in terms of planting and so the soil is pretty solid as they haven't been turned over much.

I switched tack and made a start on forking over and clearing the bed of an offspring of the Bramble Intent on World Domination, a sickly blueberry bush which has yielded about 3 blueberries in 8 years, and some unruly comfrey. 

This was also hard going, and I ran out of light before finishing the job, so that's where to start next time round.

Picked half a dozen small courgette - keeping on top of these so far this year - and few runner beans before heading home.
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