A surprising amount of progress this week considering I really haven’t spent much time on the plot, as I’ve been busy sorting out issues around Louis going back to college. His first week back at college and, as ever the process of actually getting him there (via County provided transport) has proved to be unbelievably stressful and has involved numerous, generally wholly unsatisfying phonecalls. Hopefully it’s all sorted now and next week will be plain sailing but, I have to admit my hopes aren’t high.
I must apologise straight away because I’ve spent another week just digging (although, to be fair you are reading an allotment blog so I’m not entirely sure what else you were expecting to be reading about!) I suspect we have a few more weeks of this to come as I edge closer and closer to the dreaded extension area!
I’m so pleased with the progress I’ve made this week. I’ve dug and weeded all the way to Rhubi (with no weird or unexpected finds!) I’ve almost doubled the width of the pepper and brussel sprout beds in 2 weeks. All this digging has actually made it more and more difficult to access the plot. The path I was walking on has now been dug up and is part of the beds, and the area that is going to be the path is covered in squash plants. To clear a path through and prevent myself from tripping over a butternut squash tendril and breaking a bone (you have no idea how likely this is with me) I had to move the squash plants. In the end, it was surprisingly easy. Once I found the stem and worked along it, it was quite straightforward to lift the whole piece and move it. A lot of the stems in the middle of the bed have died so I simply moved the new growth from the outer edges on top of the dead stuff. Maybe not particularly conventional but I can, at least walk down the path now and I have a better idea of what the plot will look like when I’ve finished all the digging.
Michelle was on the allotment when I arrived the other day and she had something for me. She’d been given some clear, corrugated plastic which she was going to put on top of her water butt. She had more than she needed so she let me have enough to cover mine which was really kind of her because up until now I’ve been using a scraggy old bit of plywood which you can see in the photo. This is a temporary (but slightly prettier!) fix until I can replace my current water butt with the one my mum gave me and attach all the relevant pipes. If you’re wondering why water butts need to be covered it’s because mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water and mosquitoes like to bite me (but I don’t like to be bitten by mosquitoes!)
Rhubi has perked up! She’s looking distinctly more upright and healthy.
Random Cafe – the cafe I volunteer with every Saturday celebrated its first birthday this weekend and we celebrated with cake (of course!) I also made some special chick and hippo cupcakes and some pumpkin pies. I kept being asked if I had used pumpkins from the allotment but I had to admit to using a tin of mashed pumpkin (it came in from one of the supermarkets – what could I do?) I didn’t actually try the pumpkin pies but my friend, M. did – he’s American and he said it tasted good so I’m happy with that. The last year has gone so quickly and it’s hard to believe we’ve come so far. We’ve saved over 20 tons of food, catered a wedding, fed hundreds of people and had quite a lot of fun in the process. I’m very proud to be a part of this great project.
I nearly picked a pepper this week (there’s a tongue twister in there somewhere) One of the peppers looks pretty big but I thought I’d leave it a few more days to see if it grows any bigger. We now have 2 orange peppers. The one I nearly picked is still green and showing no signs of changing colour. I haven’t looked into how you grow different coloured peppers – do you grow green peppers from green pepper seeds and red peppers from red pepper seeds? It’s, no doubt a really silly question but I don’t know. I may need to look into this because we all know everybody really prefers the red and orange peppers and only use the green ones because they always chuck at least one green one in the multipack!
Dan has started to clear the shared plot as lots of the plants have definitely reached the end of their growing season. Despite this I managed a fairly decent haul – a Turkshead squash and a marrow from my plot and 2 enormous onions and a courgette from the shared plot. There are still lots of chillis, aubergines, carrots, sweetcorn and parsnips on the shared plot and squashes, carrots and parsnips on my plot yet to harvest. The only problem is they all tend to be ready to pick at the same time. You can totally understand why, in the past we had to come up with lots of different ways to preserve all these fruits and vegetables – it feels like feast or famine sometimes.
Today Louis and I visited a local garden centre after a friend told me they had a 50p sale on seeds. So, after we’d finished on the allotment we drove over there and I picked up around £18 worth of seeds for £5.50! This definitely makes up for missing out on all the reduced priced seeds in Wilkos I keep seeing on Instagram. I picked up onion, brussel sprout, carrot, sweet pepper(red!), spring onion, leek, parsnip and a white flowering borage (because my friend recommended it). I also picked up some ‘Green manure’ which will, according to the packet ‘supress weeds and improve soil structure. Ideal for overwintering to dig in during Spring’. It looks like I just scatter the seeds fairly liberally, leave it to grow over the Winter and then dig it in, in the Spring to improve the soil. I like the idea of this so I’m going to try it. I am fully aware I already have too many seeds and I will, no doubt buy more but I’m told this is what gardeners do so I’m just following the rules!
I had to take the net off the brussel sprouts to finish the digging. While the net was off I weeded around them. I’ve left the net off for the time being – not because of any clever gardening technique but because by the time I’d finished digging and was in a position to replace it I really needed the loo so had to rush home! Hopefully they’ll be ok for a day or 2 until I can make it back down.
Despite not a very promising start, a few hours of hard work has left the plot looking pretty good this week. Although, all this hard work is bringing me ever closer to the dreaded extension area – anyone fancy helping me? I have spare spades and beer!
Here’s how I left the plot today. It still looks a bit of a mess which I’m never happy about but I’ve prepared well over half the ground now which is a great feeling.