Fully Clothed Gardening

Yesterday was World Naked Gardening Day (yes, it’s definitely a thing!) but I’m sure you will all be relieved to know, I did not participate – I stayed well away from the allotment, and my clothes stayed firmly on! I went to the allotment this morning and am pleased to report, my fellow plot holders clearly felt the same as me and were also fully clothed!

The main news for me this week is, I was given this little beauty!

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It’s a petrol lawnmower and it may have changed my life! My friend, F. messaged me and asked if I’d like it as she was buying a new one. If you remember how long the grass on the paths was, you’ll understand why I jumped at the offer. F. only lives round the corner so I drove round to collect it (sticking to social distancing rules, obviously) I love it! It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it but once I did I was away. The paths went from this:

to this:

It is, by no means perfect, but I can at least now walk along the paths and still be able to see my wellies. The edges need tidying up but I’ve been given another new toy that should help me with those that I will, hopefully, be able to share with you next time. Overall a very satisfying morning at the allotment and, as an added bonus the grass cuttings are great for the compost.

We’ve had a few more seeds germinate which is great news as it means I’ll have something to plant in the next couple of weeks. Still only one pumpkin but what a pumpkin! It just kept growing so quickly I had to put a taller stake in the pot – I didn’t have a stake so I used my initiative and broke a wooden clothes hanger into a useable support. I decided today, it had just become so big it needed to be planted outside properly. Unfortunately, this meant preparing the pumpkin patch, which I still hadn’t done so I headed down to the plot this morning with only one job on my mind.

Fortunately, we’ve had a fair amount of rain over the last few days which made weeding the pumpkin bed so easy. It only took me about an hour to completely transform the bed, ready for the ladder and the solitary pumpkin plant. Very pleased with this.

I’ve decided to try the ladders again this year because I just love how they look. So, the first plant of this growing year has been planted.

I still have lots of seedlings at home on, pretty much every available windowsill. Still only 1 cucumber from the ones I planted at home but lots have popped up from the tray I sowed at the allotment.

The peppers are doing well – going to keep them inside for a little while yet as they don’t like the cold.

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The cauliflowers seem to have come from nowhere. At one point I thought I was only going to have one plant but, all of a sudden loads started popping through the surface and yesterday I had enough I was able to share them with the cafe volunteers and put the rest in the greenhouse.

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We have an allium! It’s one of Louis’ rogue ones that he planted in the onion bed. Still quite small but looking forward to when it really shows us what it can do as they are just beautiful.

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Talking of flowers – the dahlia from last year looks like it will be making another appearance. There are definite new shoots coming through and today Michelle gave me 2 tiny little dahlias she’d grown from seed to go with it. I tried to remember how big the original plant grew last year to leave enough space but, knowing me I will have either wildly over or underestimated and they’ll end up growing on top of each other or look like they’ve taken social distancing to the extreme.

The sweet peas are doing really well on the windowsill at home and will soon be ready to plant out on the plot. I still have the trellis up ready for them and I’ll keep a close eye on them this year to make sure helper no. 2 doesn’t dig them up as weeds!

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As huge amounts of people take up growing their own plants during the lockdown, I am so grateful to have my little allotment. It’s a space we can go to when we feel cooped up in our flat that provides us with fresh air, physical exercise and peace and quiet (as well as food!) My mental health has definitely benefitted from having it, both before and during the lockdown period. Here’s how I left my little calm space this week.

Jobs for next week include weeding the remaining beds and tidying up the edges of the paths with my new toy!

 

 

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

As we enter week 5 of lockdown we have definitely found a routine (of sorts) – Louis’s mainly consists of sleeping and eating with the odd personal training session thrown in, while mine is a mixture of collecting food for the cafe and the food bank, shopping, my daily exercise class, and the allotment. I am still only visiting the allotment about twice a week and Louis generally only sets foot outside the flat at the weekend, either to come to the allotment or walk to the shop. Today marks the end of the Easter holidays and the day, under normal circumstances, Louis would be heading back to college for his final term. I have to be honest and admit we have seriously struggled to do any sort of college work even before the Easter break but, today I’ve convinced Louis to take up an art challenge set by his college tutor. After some careful questioning, I have ascertained it’s ‘Monsters Versus Aliens’ – he is, quite clearly watching far too many DVDs!

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Those of you in the UK will know we have had beautiful sunshine for most of the 4 weeks we’ve not been allowed outside (typical!) I thought it would make it more difficult (all that lovely weather we can’t make the most of) but actually, the few days we’ve had when it’s been overcast I have found harder to cope with. As far as I’m concerned bright sunshine makes everything a little more bearable and, of course, it means we can visit the plot. I’ve managed 3 visits this week and Louis just the one. He spent most of the time in the shed but he did venture out with a spade at one point (it was very fleeting, I didn’t manage to capture it) and he watered a few beds (which I did manage to photograph)

I’ve been busy with all the seeds this week. I re-potted most of the aubergine plants and took them to the cafe to share with the volunteers and the customers. These are all I have left now but as there are 11 seedlings I think I should have enough!

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If you’ve managed to take a walk around your local streets over the last few weeks you can’t fail to have noticed all the rainbows in people’s windows. So, we thought we’d join in. I have a wonderful die cutting machine on which I was able to cut these fab rainbows. I made 4 for us and I sent some to friends. I cut them in sticky vinyl so I could stick them to our windows. I love them and, hopefully people walking past will enjoy them too.

The pumpkin (still only one I’m afraid) is doing brilliantly. So well, in fact, I had to re-pot it this week. I’m going to leave it in the pot on the windowsill at home for a little while yet as I still need to prepare the bed it will go in on the plot. I’ll use the ladders like I did last year although with just one pumpkin plant it’s going to look a bit empty.

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As Louis has been stuck in the flat, I’ve been trying to do things to brighten his days. While searching online for some shampoo bars, I came across these shark bath bombs. Louis absolutely loves sharks but is not the biggest fan of baths so I thought this would be just the thing to convince him to wash! He loved them and had great fun pretending the shark had bitten his arm. They’re from a company I follow on Instagram called Soul and Soap and, not only did Louis have fun with them, they smelt absolutely amazing.

It was lovely to see the pear and apple tree blossoming and the first signs of the fruit starting to appear. There were also plenty of bees buzzing around.

Nothing yet from the organic cucumbers and the yellow courgettes in the shed and still only one cucumber and cauliflower at home.

The sweetpeas and peppers, however, are doing amazingly well. There are too many peppers for me so, like the sunflowers and aubergines, I’ll re-pot them and share them at the cafe. The sweetpeas are all mine though, as I didn’t manage to get any last year (you may remember helper number 2’s over-enthusiastic weeding!) They’re getting pretty tall so I’m not sure how long I can keep them on the windowsill before I’ll have to plant them out and let them grow up the trellis.

Rhubi is still doing well. I left her alone this week so no crumble for us.

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I was surprised to see lots of flowers in the strawberry bed. Not sure why I was surprised as it’s the right time of year for them but I was. The strawberry bed has really spread out – it’s probably twice the size from when I first planted it so I hope that means I can look forward to twice the amount of strawberries!

It was Michelle’s birthday last week so when I met her on the plot on Sunday morning I took a surprise for her. (A socially distanced) Happy Birthday, Michelle!

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In between eating the cakes on Sunday, I also tackled last year’s potato bed. It was covered in weeds and I should have made a start before now as I have another 2 beds to weed and dig over to be ready to plant out. This took me about an hour so I’m hoping the other beds will be as straightforward so I can be ready for all the new plants (mainly aubergines at this point!)

Here’s how I left the plot this week. This week’s jobs are to weed the remaining beds and have a tidy up ready for all the lovely planting although, at this point, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll have to plant!

Ladybirds and Lockdown

We are about to start week 4 of lockdown in the UK and we’ve started to find a rhythm to our weeks. I have my exercise class most mornings at 9 and Louis has his personal training sessions on Monday and Thursday afternoons – all done via video calls and I’m trying to use all the time in between wisely. We’ve been to the allotment a couple of times since my last post, mainly to have a break from being cooped up inside and for some fresh air. I’ve done a bit of weeding and collected some more seeds to plant at home. We also had another cuppa at the table with Michelle. No broken mug for me this time! I ordered a beautiful enamel mug online so even if I drop it (which I will!) it won’t break. Perfect for the allotment.

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Rhubi started bolting! I’ve obviously been neglecting her because by the time I noticed this had happened!

I remember reading about this last year and it’s possibly due to not having enough water which would make sense as it has been pretty dry here over the last few weeks. So, I pulled off the stalks with the potential flowers and gave her a good drink. It’s currently raining, so that should help.

After I’d removed the flowering stalks I harvested some stalks to make a crumble. I added peaches and blackberries to it and we had a lovely pudding which lasted us a few days.

This is how Rhubi looked when I left her yesterday.

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I’ve planted more seeds. I spent some time on the plot planting yellow courgettes and cucumbers. I’ve left them down there as I’m running out of windowsill space at home!

The miniature sunflowers have been growing beautifully. I re-potted them this week and shared them with the volunteers and customers at Random Cafe yesterday. I kept a few for myself which I’ll plant on the plot in a few weeks but, for now they are on my balcony.

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I’ve also planted sweet peas – hopefully they’ll survive Helper No. 2 this year! I planted them a week ago and already they’ve germinated and I can see some growth. These will go by the fence to grow up the trellace when they’re ready. Thank you Michelle for the seeds.

My kitchen has, temporarily turned into my potting shed! This is what it looked like this morning while I was planting some lettuce seeds.

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I still only have one cucumber seedling and one pumpkin, but just look at the pumpkin!

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The aubergine seeds seem to have all germinated at once! They took a while to do anything and I thought they weren’t going to, so I planted a few more and now there are LOADS of them! Hopefully, I’ll be able to share these too because I am definitely not going to have enough room for all these plants on the plot. A job for next week is to re-pot these. These photos were taken a week apart.

The peppers are also doing really well. One, in particular, appears to have had a burst of energy and has outgrown the rest by some distance. Again, there are far too many plants for me to use on the plot so it will be a case of sharing with anyone who wants one.

I’ve seen lots of ladybirds on the plot this week – none of them getting up to any shenanigans this time! I even brought one home with me.

Here’s what the plot looked like when I left it yesterday. Not much happening apart from the grass needing a flippin good cut!

During this time we are immensely grateful to all the keyworkers who are continuing work to keep us safe and carry out essential services. The first photo is a note my mum has on her front door, the second is a poster Louis coloured in and the third is a very unexpected present I received this week (from a key worker).

Thank you xx

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#stayhome #staysafe

I can’t quite believe how much has changed since my last blog post. This global pandemic has had an impact on all our lives in so many ways it’s almost unbelievable. It’s certainly surreal. I’m going to continue to publish these blog posts, partly to keep things as normal as possible for me but also as a way of documenting how this pandemic has affected our lives. I may publish more often than I normally do, I may publish less often, I don’t know yet because I, like all of us can only take this one day at a time.

As per government guidelines I am still able to visit the allotment every day if I wish. However, I genuinely believe just because you can do something does not mean you should, so we have only been on the plot twice since the lockdown. The last day we were there was a beautifully sunny day. Michelle was there as well. Michelle and I usually go for a cuppa after working on our plot but we, obviously can’t do that at the moment so, instead, we had a socially distant cuppa at the allotment table. I even took some homemade cookies. It was so lovely to sit in the sunshine and forget the world for a little bit.

And if you’re wondering why I was drinking from a broken mug – I dropped it on the way to the allotment but it was the only one I had so it was that or nothing!

The wedding in Devon (which feels like such a long time ago!) was beautiful. The hotel was lovely with the most amazing views. We had booked to stay from Monday through to Friday but we ended up heading home on Thursday as by then all the shops were starting to become low on stock and lots had closed.

Also, it was raining!

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I’ve planted lots of seeds at home. My windowsills are now almost completely covered in seedlings – who needs ornaments? So far I’ve planted aubergines, miniature sunflowers (if you’ve never seen these just wait, they’re super cute) peppers (of course) pumpkins, cauliflowers and cucumbers. I love watching them grow and check them each morning to see if any more have appeared.

The cucumbers have only just made an appearance today – well, I say cucumbers, I mean one single, solitary cucumber. I loved growing the cucumbers last year and we eat a lot of cucumbers in my house so I hope some more start to appear soon.

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The aubergines took a while to get going but seem to be making up for their slow start.  We’ve gone from 2 last Thursday to 11 today, nearly a week later.

Peppers are another favourite for us. Like the aubergines, they seem to be making a slow start. One seedling popped through the soil about a week ago and another one appeared this morning. Look closely – you can just see it.

It’s safe to say the miniature sunflowers are doing the best so far. I planted these before we went to Devon. They’re growing so quickly.

21st March was World Down’s Syndrome Day. I normally hold a coffee morning at my house but this year, as it fell on a Saturday we were going to hold it at Random Cafe. Obviously this couldn’t go ahead but it didn’t stop Louis and I rocking our socks!

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This is now the 2nd week of lockdown and so far we have watched a live shark and turtle feeding from Plymouth Aquarium, joined in with a singalong with Electric Umbrella (look them up – they’re amazing!) done a bit of homework (not much!) Louis has had a visit from a shark and a panda, we’ve had personal trainer and exercise classes via video link, I joined in a virtual pub quiz, we had a virtual pub session and I’ve done lots of cooking!

Here’s what the plot looked like when we left it at the weekend.

Our walk to the allotment takes us past our local pub so I’d like to leave you with this photo of the front of the pub. Stay safe x

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Seedlings and Signs of Spring

I haven’t been down to the plot much since my last blog post –  there’s so little to do down there at this time of year. Couple that with all the rain we’ve had so far this year and there’s little point in going down there.

So  I’ve just been going down there to top up the compost bins, and the last couple of times I’ve been able to hang around for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet, and fresh air. If I’m forced to self isolate because of Covid-19 I can see me retreating to my allotment quite a lot – at this time of year there’s never anyone there so I’d be on my own!

I harvested all the leeks last weekend. I hadn’t planned on digging them all up – I only dropped by to take the kitchen scraps but it was a nice day so I decided to have a bit of a potter which turned into digging up all the leeks. I haven’t actually made anything with them yet but they’re all prepared and ready to go when I need them.

As you can see, the spring onions are still in the ground but I’m going to have to dig them up soon too, before they go to seed.

I’ve continued with the DIY at home. This time it was the bathroom. I totally forgot to take any before photographs but the walls were white before I started and now they’re grey. I’m pleased with it.

The main allotment news is, I have (finally) started planting seeds! I know I am miles behind most people but better late than never I guess. So far I’ve planted pumpkins, lettuce, cucumber, pepper and aubergine. I was super excited to see some little seedlings this morning!

And even more excited to see how much they’d grown by this evening! These are miniature sunflowers seeds, given to me by Michelle – thank you Michelle.

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My window sills have now been completely taken over by seeds – which, I believe is the absolute best use for window sills!

I haven’t yet taken my 2 helpers to the plot this year as it’s just been far too wet and miserable (even I’m not that mean to make them work in the rain!) I saw a post on social media this week from our local cake shop – they’d made 150 cupcakes for a local charity event, but due to the Covid-19 scare the event was cancelled. This meant they were left with the 150  cupcakes. They did something really positive – they offered the cakes, via the social media post to anyone who wanted to stop by and collect some, for a donation to the local charity. What a great idea! I popped in with my 2 helpers and picked up these absolutely gorgeous cupcakes.

We’ve had a really mild winter and, because of the lower temperatures a ridiculous amount of rain. So much rain, infact I can’t actually move the water butts as planned because they are all nearly full!

We’re definitely coming out of winter and moving in to spring. The pear and apple trees are starting to blossom, which I absolutely love.  It’s always so lovely to see signs of spring as it means we’re heading towards longer and warmer days.

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I’m very aware I haven’t updated you on Rhubi for a while and I know she has some keen followers. She’s doing very well. You might remember I cut her right back at the end of autumn, as per the instructions in my gardening books. I didn’t cover her this year as it didn’t feel cold enough and, as ever she’s done me proud and made a strong come back.

These photos are a week apart so she’s not doing so bad.

We’re off to a wedding in Devon this week so I won’t be able to make it down to the plot again until next weekend. I’m going to have to leave the seedlings to fend for themselves for a couple of days but I’m sure they’ll be fine.

This is what the plot looked like when I left it today. The grass needs cutting and there are weeds everywhere so lots of work to look forward to!

2nd Anniversary

I know I haven’t written any updates for a while (I think this is the first one this year) but I felt I had to write a quick post today as it’s my 2nd birthday on the allotment. I know! 2 years! It’s hard to believe it was 2 years ago, I was finally able to call plot number 8b mine. Here’s a quick reminder of what it looked like 2 years ago.

I feel I’ve come a long way since I took on my little plot of overgrown weeds and brambles. I’ve certainly learnt lots and managed to grow quite an array of fruits and vegetables including peppers, pumpkins, onions, leeks, strawberries, cucamelons, squashes, courgettes (marrows), spinach, tomatoes and of course rhubarb.

Here’s what it looked like this morning.

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I find the difference in the colour between the photo from 2 years ago and this morning absolutely incredible. 2 years ago I took over an area of brown land covered in rubbish and today I have a wonderfully green allotment plot. I’m pretty proud of that!

This growing season hasn’t really got going yet and all I’ve done so far this year is regularly top up the compost bins with kitchen scraps but I’m looking forward to all the wonderful plants I’m going to grow. As well as the usual – squashes, pumpkins, onions, leeks, strawberries and rhubarb I’d also like to have a go at growing aubergines.

I did visit the plot last week with my sister who was visiting for the weekend. It was a flying visit, mainly so my sister could see what the allotment looks like in real life. I picked some of the spring onions, which I’ve used a few times since in salads. There are still loads left on the plot – I may be sharing these with friends as I’m not sure we’ll be able to eat that many.

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As you can see from the following photo my plans to move the water butts from the back of the shed to the side have, so far come to nothing and the water butts remain resolutely behind the shed! They are, however all steadily filling up with water. Great – lots of water is exactly what I’ll need come the summer… until it dawned on me, I’ll have to empty each of the water butts before I’ll be able to move them to their new positions. This is going to be a lot of work.

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No damage to my plot from Storm Caira over the weekend. The plastic greenhouse had blown over but, to be fair that’s been known to end up on its side in a light breeze so I was pretty lucky it was still on the plot at all, and not relocated to a neighbouring garden. Even my neighbour’s fence that I felt sure would not survive, was standing! The fence had blown down in the previous strong winds and, looking at the way it had been put back up I felt sure it would not be upright when I arrived on the plot this morning. Clearly I shouldn’t judge other people’s fencing skills because it withstood the storm perfectly.

While I’ve not been on the plot Louis and I have been busy at home. We’ve decorated his bedroom. It just needed freshening up really so we changed the flooring, painted a wall (his colour choice!) and bought him a new bed. Thank you Jane from the cafe for the fab new Lion King duvet set!

The days are definitely beginning to lengthen – it was still light at gone 5pm today despite it being rainy and overcast all day. I’ve promised my 2 helpers we’ll be back on the plot in the next couple of weeks – we have seeds to sew and weeds to pull up! I’m really looking forward to another season of growing and spending lots more time outdoors.

Happy Holidays!

Not much happening on the plot at the moment. I’ve continued to pop down to put my kitchen scraps in the compost bins and to check everything’s ok but, apart from that there’s really not much going on.

Michelle and I met on the plot last week and she helped me move the chrysanthemum and strawberry/raspberry plant to make way for the water butts. It was a pretty easy job but it was nice to have help. I’d already cut it back a few weeks ago so it was small enough to not be too awkward to pick up. Michelle helped dig the hole for it in the far corner of the extension and we judged it almost perfectly as it dropped in with very little messing around. Hopefully, it will have enough room where it is now.

I also had to move the strawberry/raspberry plant from the same bed. Having tasted the fruits in the summer and being somewhat disappointed they weren’t more strawberry/raspberry hybrid (they’re just strawberries!) I decided the best thing to do with the plant was to plant it in the strawberry bed. I was going to put it on the edge but there was a convenient sized gap right in the middle so it’s gone in there. Here’s a photo of the strawberry bed with the strawberry/raspberry plant in it but, honestly there’s no way I can point it out to you as it looks exactly the same as all the other strawberry plants. The strawberries have done fantastically well this year. I planted a handful of plants just over a year ago and look at them! They’ve spread over nearly the whole bed. Hoping for lots more strawberries next year.

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And here’s the empty bed ready for the water butts to be put into place. It doesn’t look like it will fit many, does it? But Michelle’s measured it for me and she assures me it’s wide enough for at least 3, maybe 4.

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It’s nearly christmas and I’m almost ready. Unusually for me, I haven’t made any gifts this year, they’ve all been shop bought. The closest I’ve come was the present for my friend’s daughter. I found this doll’s high chair in a charity shop:

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and painted it so it ended up looking like this:

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I’m rather pleased with how it turned out and the little girl I gave it to seemed to like it too, which is the main thing.

I popped to the plot today to take the kitchen scraps for the compost. We’ve had such a lot of rain lately the site was waterlogged in places – not the best way to find out I have a hole in one of my wellies! Luckily it’s the old pair and not the new snow boots. A bit late to ask for a new pair from santa but maybe I’ll be able to find a pair in the January sales!

Rhubi is looking a bit sorry for herself. I cut her right back a couple of weeks ago, as per my gardening books but I’m worried she looks a bit…well, dead. I’ve had a look at the blog post from this time last year and I was worried about Rhubi back then too so it’s clearly the time of year when she looks at her worst!

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Here’s how I left the plot this week.

Happy Christmas!

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Cutting back and Christmas Lights

Still not much to report from the plot – just that time of year I guess. Louis and I have still been busy though.

I popped to the plot this morning. I had some kitchen scraps for the compost bins. I wasn’t expecting to do much else but, as is often the case the gardening just sucks me in and I ended up cutting back the chrysanthemum. Although there were still flowers all over it they were obviously dying back so I decided to take the plunge and start the process of moving it. This is what the chrysanthemum looked like when I arrived:

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Here’s what it looked like by the time I’d finished.

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It felt really drastic and a bit wrong to be honest but I think it was the right thing to do. I thought about digging it up and replanting it in its new spot but I felt it had been through enough today so I left it where it was. I suspect the shock of being hacked back and moved on the same day would have been enough to finish it off!

After I’d finished cutting back the chrysanthemum I had this little visitor.

I’m always happy to see robins and I love that the plucky little things take full advantage of any newly dug or uncovered soil. I also love how brave they are and will happily get really close like this one did today.

Louis celebrated his 19th birthday last weekend. No party this year, just a gathering at the pub after the cafe on Saturday. I had planned on making a birthday cake for him to take to the cafe but I was feeling so rough with a cold, decided against baking. So pleased I didn’t bother baking because look what came into the cafe!

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Yep! 3 Batman cakes! So pleased I was too ill to bake.

 

I no longer buy balloons (single use plastic) but these balloons popped up on a local facebook group on Saturday night. A local lady no longer needed them but, as they were still almost fully inflated, felt they could be passed on rather than going in the bin. I collected them on Sunday morning in time for Louis’ birthday on Monday. The balloons are still inflated a week later so when we decide to take them down, I’ll do the same thing and offer them on to someone else. I’m hoping I’ll be able to track them and see how long they last.

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On Louis’ day off college this week we took a trip in to London. I love London and don’t go in nearly often enough. The main reason for our visit was to see the Carnaby Street christmas lights but also to have a mooch about and see what else might be going on. We found a totally amazing place to have lunch. I thought it was an old cinema, until we went upstairs and found it was actually a working cinema. Such a beautiful building – we’ll definitely be going back.

After lunch we wandered along Piccadilly and found this fantastic gelato shop. Very pleased to find they sell this in Waitrose!

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A little further along Piccadilly is my favourite shop in the world – Fortnum and Mason. They already had their christmas lights up – the outside of the shop had been decorated to look like an advent calendar which just looked amazing. The inside of the building is so beautiful – if you ever have the chance to visit you really should, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Whenever I visit F&M I always treat myself to some chocolates. They have such a huge array of chocolates, part of the treat is the time it takes to choose (and, of course they come in a super cute box!)

The Carnaby Street lights were wonderful! I knew Louis would love them because they were all sea animals – and all made from recycled materials. Fantastic!

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The other thing I did today at the allotment was cut Rhubi back – today was clearly the day for destroying things! I seem to remember doing this last year and it felt like the right thing to do, despite her looking a bit sad by the end.

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This is how I left the plot this week.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds and Star Wars (Star Trek?)

Just one visit to the plot this week – a very pleasant hour this afternoon in the sunshine. I had a box full of kitchen scraps to go in the compost and it was my turn to put the shared bins out for collection in the morning so I headed down at about lunchtime today. It was an unexpectedly sunny day but quite cold. We’ve had the first proper frosts this week (I’ve had to scrape the car a couple of times before heading off to take Louis to college) and quite a bit of rain so the ground was pretty soggy (my new boots aren’t looking quite so new)

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After I’d put the bins out and chucked the kitchen scraps into the compost I had a quick wander round and quickly realised there’s not much to do so I decided to have a look through the seeds I have in the shed with an eye on thinking about what I might grow next year.

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So, it turns out I have quite a few packets of seeds! I have onion, leek, cauliflower, onion,  chard, onion, pepper, pumpkin, onion, carrot, brussel sprout and onion seeds.  Oh – and did I mention I have onion seeds?!  I have no idea what posessed me to buy so many onion seeds but I reckon I could fill my whole plot and overspill in to my neighbour’s plot if I plant them all. Anyway, I organised the seeds into sowing order – most of them can’t be sown outside until January, but that will come round quick enough. There was also a packet of green manure seeds in there but some of you will remember the nightmare that was the green manure bed from last year so they are staying firmly in the shed!

I came across a box of garlic while I was in the shed. I haven’t tried growing garlic yet and I like the idea of producing my own as I use it a fair bit in my cooking and it would be great to use fresh cloves I’ve grown myself. I also remembered the jar of dwarf pumpkin seeds Michelle gave me which I’m looking forward to growing next year alongside the more standard pumpkin varieties.

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I also found this box of funky veg. J. gave me it last year and I didn’t get round to using it. I thought it was just purple carrots in the box but when I looked there were 5 packets of seeds in there for things like yellow courgettes, striped tomatoes, red brussel sprouts and multi coloured chard ( no onions! YAY!) A couple of years ago, the cafe had a donation of purple potatoes (they were a novelty for Halloween) I took a bag but when it came to it I just couldn’t bring myself to eat purple potatoes, it just went against every instinct I have. (I suspect lots of people felt the same hence the amount donated to the cafe!) I’m hoping the fact I’ll have grown these myself will change how I feel about strange coloured vegetables but we’ll see.

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While I was there I spotted lots of activity on the chrysanthemum. 2 butterflies and loads of bees. Not sure what type of butterflies they were but they were beautiful and so lovely to see on the flowers.

Yesterday, Random Cafe catered a local Sci Fi Palooza. No, I didn’t really know what a Palooza was either – turns out it’s a gathering of scifi fans, some of whom come dressed as their favourote scifi character. At one point I found myself serving a cup of tea to a guy in a full Star Trek uniform (I’m actually impressed I was able to identify the costume!) I’m not sure if that means I’ve peaked or hit absolute rock bottom in my life but it was certainly a new experience for me! I’m not a sci fi fan atall (did you guess?) Despite this I found I had Star Wars cookie cutters and some Dalek cake decorations in the cupboard which I used to make these.

I came across this on the plot today. How sad is that? All that’s left of the cucamelons!

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No change on the plot this week and no real plans for the coming week apart from popping down to bring the bins back in.

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London, Leeks and Ladders

Louis’ been off college this week and I was hoping to spend some time on the allotment with him but, as it turned out we didn’t manage even one visit. I spent about an hour there this morning while Louis was still in bed (flippin teenagers!)

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My sister and nephew visited from Leeds at the beginning of the week and we spent a day in London. I grew up in a London borough and even though I still live just a 20 minute train ride away from central London I don’t go in very often but when I do I’m always reminded how much I love it.

After looking round some very weird and hugely expensive clothes shops my nephew insisted we visit we walked to Covent Garden. There is always something going on in Covent Garden – that day there was a sword swallower and a guy with a dancing skeleton puppet.

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We also saw this amazing display of pumpkins. I have never seen such an enormous pumpkin. I have just done an online search (honestly? I wasn’t sure the pumpkin was real because it was so big) and it turns out the giant pumpkin was grown in Hampshire by 2 men who have been growing pumpkins since they were 11 years old. The display is inspired by Cinderella, it took 20 people to manoeuvre the pumpkin in to place and it weighs a tonne. It was on display until today and its seeds are going back to Hampshire to, hopefully produce more huge pumpkins. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say anything about what they’ll do with the flesh – imagine how much soup you can make with a tonne of pumpkin!

On the way home from London we popped in to a charity shop near my mum’s house. My sister and I love a rummage in a charity shop for a bargain and I did quite well in this one thanks to my sister’s eagle eyes. She spotted both this allotment cookery book and a pair of boots which happened to be my size. I’ve only had a quick flick through the cookery book but it looks pretty good. I wore the boots to the plot this morning and they’re perfect. Being snow boots they’re going to keep my feet nice and toasty over the winter months. Michelle pointed out they look far too clean but I don’t think it will take too long before they’re filthy.

It was Halloween this week and although we no longer do the trick or treat thing anymore Louis did enjoy trying on the killer gorilla mask in Morrisons on Wednesday.

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We’ve had a couple of frosts this week so Michelle advised me it was time to cut back the dahlias. It felt quite brutal!

My other (plot) half made an appearance this morning. I very rarely see him in person, I just know he’s been there by the obvious changes on his plot (and the scary birds he leaves in the shed!) so it was nice to catch up. He picked some cauliflower and broccoli and gave it to Michelle and me. So dinner this evening was cauliflower cheese made with allotment cauliflower. It’s the first time I’ve ever made it so I’m well chuffed with myself. Just need to decide what to do with the broccoli.

I decided to harvest a couple of leeks and a spring onion. The spring onion’s nearly as big as the leeks. I’m not sure if this means my leeks are pitifully small or I’ve grown enormous spring onions?!

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The only other job I did on the plot today was move the ladders into the shed and take down the cucumber/cucamelon structure. I really want to be able to use the ladders again next year as I felt they really helped to contain the pumpkin and squash plants and stopped them invading the rest of the plot but I’m worried they’ll be damaged if I leave them out over winter. So, they’re safely tucked away in the shed ready for next spring.

The chrysathemum still looks amazing – huge, but amazing. I’ve decided once it’s finished flowering I’m going to move it to the far corner of what was the pumpkin patch. There really is nowhere else I can think to put it where it won’t be in the way.

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Here’s how I left the plot today. It all looks really empty with the ladders gone and there’s not really very much to do down there for the next few months so I may not be writing the blog quite as regularly as I have been up to now. I will, maybe update every few weeks depending on what’s happening.