Saturday 26 February 2011

We survived going Underground!!!

Well we are home safe and actually managed to survive the underground!! The journey down wasn't great but the return trip ran nice and smoothly with seat on every train! We actually went to stay with friends in Havant near Portsmouth and we had a lovely time and managed to cram a lot in a few days...of course this resulted in long days, late nights...and occasionally mardy kids...but it was still great!!

The weather stayed nice for us and was actually warmer down south then in the east midlands. I can't wait to visit again...hopefully when the weather is a little warmer so we can enjoy the seas and beaches more...we also would like to go and visit the Isle of Wight next time.

Obviously I didn't get any gardening done whilst I wasn't at home but it was nice to see Laura also growing her own in her small back garden even though she lives in the middle of a town and today when we left her Hubby was actually making her some raised beds to put on the concreted area in their back garden so they will have more room to grow veggies this summer as they aren't allowed to dig up the lawn for beds and also the garden is small so the kids need that little bit of lawn for the trampoline!

I am actually quite jealous that she has already started sowing her seeds with the extra warmth the have at the south end of the UK.

Hayling Island Sea
We had a lovely time at the was cold but I wasn't bothered in my winter coat and wellies...we still hunted for treasures!!

Crab hunting on Hayling Island beach
We were looking for crabs and did manage to find a little hermit crab in a tiny shell but we threw him back into the sea!!

Holding back the sea at Hayling Island
And whilst there my Nephew turned into a God and helped support the love the way this photo turned out and it wasn't even planned!!

We also visited Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Harbour and Clarence Pier whilst we were time we are hoping to go over to the Isle Of Wight.

I didn't see any allotments on our travels of the surrounding areas but spotted a few on the train journey home today. I thought about taking some pictures...but the camera was in the case and my phone has been playing up so I didn't get any...but know that the thought was there and I guess that's what counts!

We arrived home to light shower's but clear patches in the skies...I'm hoping tomorrow will be a warm day so we can release the toads back into the wild for the spring!!

Also I would like to get organized and start some seeds off!!


Wednesday 23 February 2011

Weather watch Wednesday...week 8...23/2/11

Well this is just going to be a quickie post as we are going away today.

The weather has been mainly wet this week and even on those occasional dry days it has been overcast so not much has been done on the allotment over the last few days although I didn't manage to get in the broad beans I purchased to replace those I lost in the cold weather we've had.

Temperatures have been quite low ...between 3 and 5 degrees although today does seem a little warmer...the clouds have managed to keep the frosts at bay!!

So now we are off To Havant to visit friends for a few days...should be nice although their weather is no better than ours...have to admit to being a little apprehensive about using the underground as I never have before...keep your fingers crossed for us!!

Saturday 19 February 2011

Rain, rockery remodeling, Rain, planting on the plot...and RAIN!!

Well it's certainly been a busy couple of days. I have a rockery in my garden which to be honest was just a hideous mess which I was ashamed of and I have wanting to be taking it apart and rebuild it for a while now so i decided that 2010 was definitely the year and I was going to get on and do it. So my plan was to start it on Friday. The Dave paid me a visit and said that he was going to Homebase and didn't I want to take a ride down to pick up some compost. Well because we don't have a car I jumped at the chance and decided that whilst I was there I could pick up some extra plants for the rockery which I was going to re-build.

So off I went....we got the compost and I got some lovely Alpines, primroses and pansies...I picked up enough to put in my strawberry planter as-well as the strawberries had died over the winter and I wasn't overly impressed with the amount I got from the planter so I figured it would make a lovely planter in the garden instead!

Anyway by the time we got back...had a bite to eat it was getting late but I was still intending to do the was a cold damp day but there wasn't any rain. Then I got a phone call from green thumb to say they were going to come and scarify my lawn and so I had to wait a little longer.

As you can imagine it got quite late and I didn't want to start something I couldn't finish so I sorted out the strawberry planter and decided the rockery could wait just one more day!!

strawberry planter
So here is the planter...I forgot to take a before picture so just believe me when I tell you how much better it looks!!

So it was today that was the day to start the rockery...and what a beautiful day for it...not a sun in the sky...and not a dry bit of land in the garden...or the street...or anywhere really. In fact it had rained that much in the night there were huge puddles in the street and it was still pouring outside when I got you can imagine...not the weather I really wanted to see today.

old rockery
This is my hideous rockery which I am ashamed to show you.. :-(

But I was determined not to be I thought...I'll wait a while...the rain has got to at least ease off eventually.....and after a few hours it did. It was actually close to lunch than anything when I started but with the help of my son (no matter how reluctant) we soon got it pulled down and then there was no going back!!

As you can see there are plenty of plants on the top of the rockery and I didn't want to lose these so I dug them out and put them to one side to sort out what I was going to plant after I had finished.
Quite conveniently Dave popped in to let me know some allotment business so he was quickly enlisted to help too. This left my son as errand boy and he took the newly bought compost (of yesterday) up to the allotment for me and became tea boy!!

Well I had a general idea of how I wanted it to look on completion and with a little (OK...sometimes a LOT!) of guidance from Dave i managed to achieve the effect I was after and then got my new plants in...I also sorted out the old plants and split some and replanted them .
The garden was a complete shambles after we had finished and I had to wash all the forks and everything down, as well as six pairs of gardening gloves and the slabs...but I have to say I am soooooooooo pleased with my finished rockery!!

new rockery
Here it is in all it's glory...obviously it will look better as time goes by and the plants fill out...but what a difference!

Then to finish the day off I had quite a few plants which had spread so much I didn't want to put them all back on the rockery so these were sorted and I took them up to the allotment to go around the pond and at a little more greenery and life to it...again they will soon fill out...I also put in some sweet peas seeds.

pond plants
A little bit more greenery round the pond!

So although it was wet, cold, muddy and at times pretty gross I have had an enjoyable day outside..well basically just playing in the mud. I am happy that I am getting all these little bits done before the allotment gets really busy at it means after a busy day on the plot I can sit down in my garden, or round the pond...and be totally happy with things!! I just need to buy a couple of packets of wildflower seeds now for round the pond area and I'm set!

I also picked up some more broad beans yesterday as I lost quite a few plants to the extreme cold over the winter...didn't get those in today though...maybe tomorrow weather permitting....or in a day or two!

So how eventful has your weekend been??
Done anything fun??
I now have to start the ironing....have sympathy for me...sigh...

P.S.....I'm sure you've noticed how careful I was with the got to miss all the mess...but imagine as bad as can be...triple it...and you will have something near the mess I made of my garden!!


Wednesday 16 February 2011

Weather Watch Wednesday...week 7...16/2/11...and a bit of gardening with friends!!

So first the weather.....well the strong winds have stayed away but the winds that have remained have turned from west to east and have brought a chill to the air keeping the temperatures in the single figures over the last week and causing a few light frosts in the evenings.

Rain has been par for the course with showers most days although there has been let up at times and the sun has occasionally shown it's face.

Today was nice and bright for most of the day and we managed to escape the rain that the gathering clouds threatened so I managed to get to my gardening job, had a little company there too...

one robin
First company...resident Robin one...always comes to see me and isn't at all timid and loves to sing me a beautiful song as I unearth bugs for him.

two robin
Then we were joined by his more timid friend/mate...who has shown her face a couple of times but got quite brave today and came quite a bit closer to me.

three robins
And then I was amazed to be joined by a third Robin...(can you spot the three?)...could this be a baby from last year??/ Or someone looking to steal a mate?? I really don't know but the third one was very skittish and kept ruffling his feathers at adorable!!

So there you have it...three friends joined me and kept me company today as the clouds gathered overhead...the air was very damp and it didn't dry the thinnest of washing but it was lovely to get outside!!

Popped up the allotment today just to take up the compost I bought yesterday...will go up at the weekend to start filling the pots.
I'm very eager and as I have a greenhouse this year I really don't mind if it's raining.. :-)


Monday 14 February 2011

Happy Valentines Day!!

So did you all have a nice day this Valentine's??? Did anyone get anything special?? We aren't huge believers in Valentines so you can imagine my surprise and delight when my Hubby walked through the door with a dozen red roses for me...personally I think he is a little mental for paying that price...but it made me smile big time.

dozen roses for valentines day
My roses... :-)

As for the allotment...not much going on there really. I had another delivery of manure yesterday so thought I would get it sorted straight away...I also decided it would be a good idea to extend my manure pile a little for more room...this would require me cutting some wood to hold the board in place.

It was wet, cold and windy. The wood was wet and so was the saw so it kept sticking and being very annoying...not one for much patience I decided after struggling to get half way through cutting it that it would be a good idea to stamp on it to finish it off.

This may have gone better if the wood hadn't been suspended between the raised bed and wasn't so long. Oh don't worry I stamped on it and broke the wood to them required length...but I hit it with such a force that the longer end of the wood shot up and smacked me on the side of the head and face.

I didn't concuss myself and a quick look revealed that no-one else was dumb enough to be up the plot in the poring rain but boy did they miss a good laugh at me beating myself up with bits of wood in the rain...anyway I thought you would all enjoy my little mishap.. maybe you have done something as silly as this in the past....although I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only one!! My Hubby and parents dutifully laughed at the Hubby got a punch for it!!

Still a little tender....having to brush my hair VERY carefully!!

Happy Valentines!!!!!


Saturday 12 February 2011

A little planting on the plot!!

The weather has been changeable today but I managed to get down the allotment between showers and get a little planting done. The earth was VERY wet but this did mean I didn't have to fetch any water.. :-)

pond grasses planted
Firstly a few grasses and a small holly bush around the pond...which by the way I have decided doesn't matter too much if it isn't dead level!!

lingonberry bush
My Lingonberry bushes went in as well...I had a hard job getting hold of these and I have never seen the berries sold in English stores so I can't wait for them to produce some fruit!!


Friday 11 February 2011

2010 Disasters, allotment rents and a Birthday present.

Well I wanted to share with all my readers the prices of our plots...but didn't want a post entirely dedicated to that so will do a disasters post with it to lighten things up a little. I think the 2010 growing disasters is a good place to start...and let me tell you there were quite a few!!

First off...I lost all of my runner beans plants to a late harsh frost which was a bit of a downer for me, however this was remedied by planting more beans but it did mean that my harvest started later than I am used to and I didn't get as many beans as the previous year even though I did have the same amount of plants.

The summer brassicas were just an immense no go...we had such a problem with the flea beetle last year that they totally devastated the summer brassicas and many of the winter ones too. I had no summer brassicas and only had a few winter veggies as I went out and bought some plug plants which I have never before done in my life.

But all this wasn't the biggest disaster of 2010...nope...I think I would have to call the biggest disaster or 2010 my radishes!! Yep, you definitely read it right....radishes which usually grow like weeds and you are trying to force down people throats were a total disaster and totally un-salvageable. I sowed them three times and out of all of those seeds not once did I get to harvest a single radish. I can tell you I am glad this wasn't my first year of growing as I may have given up there and then as I know how easy they are to grow!! The seeds germinated ...then they bolted...then I was left with spindly stems with a flower on the end and nothing under the in the end I gave up but i will grow some more again this year...hopefully it was just the weird weather we had.

Another thing that didn't amount to anything was my celeriac...I had never grown this before and was kindly given some seedlings by an allotment neighbour. This did however mean there were no instructions...but I didn't think that was a problem. However when I had lush leaves at the top and decided to try harvesting i found again there was nothing under the earth. I have since been told that this can often be a common thing with celeriac, also you should pluck some of the top foliage to give the plant extra energy to form the bulb under the ground. I don't feel dis-heartened at all by this and I will certainly try them again this year..I have to admit to never having eaten celeriac and so I am hoping for at least one good one this season!!

The there was the aubergine looked lovely but never fruited...I have since found out that I may have been better off growing in the greenhouse and this is duly noted for this season!

aubergine plant
My Aubergine.

Also didn't have as much success with squash this year, That was my fault though and only down to the way i out my plants in....I know not to make the same mistakes as last year though so things can only get better....well they can't get any worse anyway!!!!

So now to the rent...I actually photographed the paper I received so I wouldn't have to re-type it...I know lazy me...but anything to make life simpler...and besides extra photo is nice no matter how mundane!!

Below you will see that it says I have 1 1/2 plots but that isn't right, they have just never put Kate's name on the books too...I when we first got our plot we were told we had to decide who's name was going to go down...we weren't actually issued half a plot each. Now they are issuing half plots I will talk to Kate and see if she wants it changing!!

allotment rent
So there we have it..Parish council rates have gone up 50% so a full plot has gone from £12 to £18, The association and NAASS prices remain the same. This means that a full plot of 25' by 100' is £24 for the year. does this compare with your prices??? Don't forget to tally into it the amount of land you have too. Obviously plot sizes are rough as I don't think anyone has ever measured them out....just walked along a bit and stuck a marker in the ground......well that's what it seems like to can clearly see in some places the sizes differ!!

bird feeder, plant hanger, weather vane
The Birthday Present.

And finally the birthday present...this isn't my present but one that we (My parents and Hubby) have bought for a friend. I think it is a darling little thing and with the hangers it is a really nice feature. We planted it up and put it in place in her garden today. She is away on holiday until after her birthday so it will be a nice surprise for her when she gets home...unless of course she arrives back at night...then the fact that there is a glow in the middle of her lawn may give her a fright as the lantern on top automatically switches on when it's dark...errmmm...never really thought of that before putting it in place...oh well I'm sure she will love it!!

Hoping to get down the plot tomorrow to get some plants put around the pond...still debating on whether or not I should level it up????? What do you think?


Wednesday 9 February 2011

Weather watch wednesday...week 6....9/2/11

Not much to say on this front today.

The temperature has been unseasonably warm for January and reached double figures most days.

The winds started last Thursday with gusts up to 80mph and didn't leave us again until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday was lovely and sunny if a little frosty throughout the might.

Wednesday...Light rains to start but clearing later and again just reaching 10 degrees in temperature.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

A glorious day on the allotment.

Well I awoke this morning to a much better day...I couldn't see it at that point as it was still very dark but when my Hubby came in form work I asked him what the wind was doing and he simply answered, 'It's gone!'....boy did I love that phrase and it totally lifted my spirits.

I got up and leisurely pottered about doing bits and bobs for an hour or so until the sun rose into a beautiful clear sky, I have some unexpected time off work so then I got on with the cleaning getting done for just past midday so that I could spend a few hours up the plot.

Although we had a light frost in the night the sun was warm and it was lovely to be out in the fresh air. My main plan today was to get the pond area finished but I also knew that there were some water-butts for sale at the allotment so I sought one of those out too as when we put some new fence posts in to stabilize the fence more after the recent winds we found the ground very wet at the back of the shed and this was where the two fence posts had rotted through. We think this is due to the water off the shed roof so have erected some guttering and I wanted to capture the water for the garden. The water butts were £16 so I got one of those but as it is really big and doesn't have a tap system I decided I would use this one on the allotment and take the smaller one from the plot home. I didn't want to waste the water in the butt so I transferred half to the new butt...then moved the original one to put the new one in place. I then realized I was going to have a dilemma when wanting to get the water out...I don't know if I've mentioned it before but I'm kind of short and don't even reach 5' so I then thought it would be a good idea to dig out the earth to lower the new water butt so I would be able to stick my watering can in the top.....two full barrow loads of wet earth later and it was in pace...I then took the remaining water from the older butt and put in the new one...this has half filled the butt so there is plenty of room for more water.

new water butt
Here is my new water butt in place and half full, pipe installed to collect the water from the greenhouse!!

Oh and talking of the greenhouse I should let you know about my glass most people would put it down to the wind but I'm not so sure. The winds were incredibly strong but mainly south westerly over the last week and it was a pane on the north side of the greenhouse which was broken...again you think, 'well maybe something blew into it', but the strange things is the glass wasn't broken near the was up near the cold frame and that's where it was smashed. The bottom pane of glass was laid over the path un-broken...four of the glass clips were near the glass laid on the path...and the other four were inside the greenhouse in one of my seed trays on the top shelf of the staging...oh and three plastic pots which I sow my beans in were gone form the middle of the large seed tray. Now even I think this is a little clever for the winds that we have had and was wondering if someone had been playing games. Anyway the greenhouse is patched up for now and will hopefully be repaired properly at the weekend and a quick rummage in the recycle pot dump replaced the three missing pots.

rhubarbs final resting place
My rhubarb potted up and put in it's final resting place...It was just starting to sprout so I'm hoping I got it moved just in time!

As I went to the allotment to finish my pond area off I had to decide where to put my rhubarb without it getting out of the end I decided on putting it in a pot to keep it under control and situating it near the manure will get plenty of nutrients here and always be out of the way!!

Then I finally got on with the pond area...the two barrow loads of soil I removed for the water butt came in handy for topping up the soil round the pond and now I just have to get some plants sorted and growing round the edges. Dave has offered me some grasses which he has in pots and I am going to sow wild flower seeds to attract all sorts of different wildlife. This is where we are going to let the toads go when the weather gets a little warmer and I am hoping that more will join them and maybe we'll get some frogspawn. I won't be putting any fish in it and it's not a 'real' pond but I wanted a little water feature to attract more wildlife to my plot.

mt little water feature
My pond...which is actually a boat shaped sandpit but I got it for a bargain price at the end of last summer!!

So what do you think?? It isn't anything spectacular but ponds and pond liner were in excess of £50 to buy and I really didn't want to spend that sort of money.....I think once the plants get growing and I get some wildflowers growing behind and trailing down it will be a wonderful place for the wildlife to hang out with me.. :-)

Other wind damage was just a bit of down pipe that came loose and has been wedged back in place ready to be fixed properly at the weekend.

On a sadder note...some people have been having problems with a fox and there I know they want to protect them and everything but I hate the fact that they caught the fox...yes they have lost a few chickens...but the fox was only acting on instinct...maybe they should have reinforced their pens. Well it doesn't really matter as the vixen was caught some time in the last week and although I am grateful they didn't kill her she has been moved far away and I think it is sad that she has been removed from her home territory...she has had a den around here for a few years now and last year I know she was around as I saw her footprints in the snow. All that said though I know that last year she had two cubs and also the year before that so I am hoping that the cubs will be fine and we will probably see the vixen again anyway as she might make her way back to familiar territory.

OK...that's all from me for now...I'm sure my limbs are going to protest tomorrow about all the heavy lifting so I decided it would be a good idea earlier to move all my bedroom furniture to vacuum and dust all the skirtings...that said I think I deserve a sit down and a nice cuppa!!

Hope everyone elses weather has improved too.....oh and please forgive any I think I am too tired to read this back for mistakes.


Saturday 5 February 2011


Well that was the winds of yesterday and last today was spent repairing a fence before it took a nose dive to the floor.

Not exactly fun...especially when concrete three foot thick had to be chiseled through but it is done and secure and the winds have now dropped to a much more humane 40mph.

The wind is my least favourite weather purely because it can be so destructive.

Luckily my allotment has stood firm and suffered no damage although someone's shed has blown over.

Hope you all haven't suffered with the wind.


Friday 4 February 2011

Introducing the allotment.

It occurred to me the other day that I have never really introduced my allotment properly so nobody has any idea of the layout of the plots or the positioning of my plot within the allotments.

Now you have to remember that I am no great shakes as an artist but I can just about manage a few straight lines and I'm great with a marker so this is a bright visual post for you all so that you can really get a feel for my plots.

allotment layout

This is an overall view of the plot though it definitely isn't to plots are the pink areas and the yellow areas are Dave's...I thought I would show you his too as he has featured on my blog.

So this is a basic layout of the plot....I think all the plots are supposed to be the same size but I know that isn't the case though I don't think this is reflected at all in the rent you pay. My plots actually appear to be square but they are rectangular......I'm not going to worry too much about that though as it is just to give you an idea of how the allotments are laid out. I have to admit to cheating just a little on this as I took a photo off the board on the allotments. This means that it started out as black and white so I coloured it also means the other plot holders names are on it too but I won't worry too much about it as you can't see them too clearly and anyway if you visited the plots in person they would be there for you to look at as you wished!!

plot 17Aplot 15B

My plots up close and personal...and very nearly to scale!!

So above is the layout of each of my half the left 17A and to the right 15B....these are very nearly to scale as I went out with a measure and then transferred all this into squared paper using 1 square per foot although the right hand image isn't quite long enough as the paper was a bit too short. Plot 17A measures (approx) 47 ' by 26' and 15 B measures (approx) 51' by 25' at the shortest edge though as you can see it goes off at an angle and at the right hand side edged gains another few feet.
You can click on the images to enlarge them for a clearer picture. Green dots represent fruit trees, red dots represent fruit bushes. Black circles are composters, blue circles are water butts. The brown dotted areas are logs for mushrooms or seats and the brown shaded areas are planters for salad to be grown in.
As you can see there is a pond area on the right hand side and I will fill you more in on this and take some pictures when it's complete.

Journey to the plot
My journey from house to plot.

After I had spent all the time and effort on preparing for this post my most helpful (NOT) Hubby then turns round to me and says...'You could have used google earth!' As you can imagine I was a little miffed but it turns out it wouldn't have been that much good to me as the photo of our area is very old and there are houses and stuff missing and the plots look quite different but I did put the above picture in so you could really appreciate how close my allotment is to home.

This means that as a general average our plot are 100'by25' for a full plot. We have 51 plots available and last year 38 residents...all plots are full but some have multiple plots. This year there will be a few change of residents but only half plots are being issued to new tenants to get the waiting list down which currently stands at 13. I'm not sure how much our plots are going to be this year but will let you know as soon as I have the bill in and then we can all see what we are really getting for our money and how it differs from place to place!

That about sums up this post...I hope you liked my fantastic artwork...and my introduction to our allotments....I had lots of fun doing this so you could all get a better idea for things...I wonder if any of you live so close to your plots...or in the layouts are anything similar??


Wednesday 2 February 2011

Weather watch Wednesday week 5.........2/2/11

Well it's another weather watch day and a new month. It's hard to believe we are in February already....but this is one part of the year I don't mind moving fast. The weather hasn't been too bad over the last week. A couple of light frosts at night have made for some crispy mornings and we have had a few drizzly days but also a couple of bright ones to balance it out. Today has been cloudy and miserable, the thermometer read 9 degrees but with gust of wind up to 50mph it has felt considerably colder.

sky at 5:00pm on 22/11
The sky at 5:00pm.

On the major plus side the days are slowly getting longer and tonight the sun was still would have bee really nice if there hadn't been so much cloud.
I have noticed the mornings getting brighter too and it's all these little things that keep me going.
We still haven't had that amazing cold snap they were predicting but I guess there is still time.....more time for cold and snow before the season is out....come to think of it even when the next season is in!!


Tuesday 1 February 2011

The golden crop of 2010.

Well I have to admit that I intended on doing a run of posts throughout December on my 'growings' of last year but as I didn't get around to it I thought I would do them now...and what better to start with in dreary January than my 'Golden' crop.

Sweetcorn...this was my first year of success and I was highly pleased with myself and the taste...I am hoping for a great crop again this year and I hope to plant more of it too as it didn't last us very long.

Lovely Sweetcorn!!

The plants were strong and stood well to the winds...I got at least two beautifully juicy ears from each plant... :-)

So what do you think was your personal best in 2010??