Browsing Posts published in March, 2012

More sunshine!

Well, it may have been cloudy this morning, but as I was otherwise engaged doing boring stuff, I didn’t notice.

I’d finished on the stroke of lunchtime, so looked out of the window and a huge grin spread across my face.  I’d really meant to do other even more boring stuff this afternoon, but with hardly a cloud in the sky, I just had to put it off.  I quickly got ‘dressed’ in my shorts and an old T-shirt and hot-tailed it over to The Plots.Before...

Diane had spent the morning showing a pre-arranged group of visitors around.  They were really impressed with our Plots; so much so that they bought £20.00 worth of young strawberry plants.  I’m sure Diane didn’t have the heart to warn them that as soon as they put them in the ground and walk away, they’ll spread!  We’ll just have to let them find out for themselves.  Harsh?  Possibly, but fair. (…evil snigger…)

After a brief cup of tea with Diane, Matt, Jon and Gary and I went straight down to my plot to carry on digging.  More bindweed and dock removal!

Above to the right, you can see the final corner before I started.  Don’t be fooled by the seemingly bare earth to the left and in front of the fork and spade.  While it may have looked bare on the surface, underneath, it was riddled with bindweed roots and whopping great, long dock plant roots.

Even though I kept getting pleasantly interrupted by other plot-holders and so forth, I made pretty good progress.After!

To the left here is just before I left about 5.00pm from a different angle.  You can see the area I’ve dug over towards the right of the photo, and notice that the soil still has that ‘freshly turned over’ look.  Towards the back, you can see the hedge that Ian attacked yesterday.  He’s taken a lot of the sideways-growing growth out, but left the stuff that’s growing straight upwards.  Tomorrow afternoon, I may make a start on these while Ian masterfully cuts the cut-offs to be used for pea-sticks in a couple of months time.

Tomorrow, Ian’s coming round to my place for about 9.00am, then we’re having a gentle wander down to sunny Hillsborough -as I said last night- for more gardening and allotment related stuff.

And I’ve just checked the weather for tomorrow.  Cloudy in the morning, but by midday, glorious sunshine.

As I said last post: Bring it on!

Sunshine, anyone? Bring it on!

Today felt like early summer.  Clear blue skies, insects gently buzzing, birds in full-song; the occasional distant, muted growling of a petrol mower, the (thankfully!) distant sounds of children happily playing.A visitor to our plot.

The kind of day you could just sit back, put your cap over your eyes and gently dose in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t on the cards for Ian and myself!

I sauntered down for just after ten this morning, but Ian had been there since just after eight.  And what a difference he’d made!Ian's work, ready for planting.

This is the bed that he’d dug over yesterday, and you can see how he’s gently raked it ready for planting later in the afternoon.

He’d also made a great start on the hedge on the opposite side, but unfortunately, I haven’t got a shot of this!

I started on the bed I’d been digging over yesterday -removing all the bindweed and dock plants while Ian ‘furtled’ the area I had roughly dug over the other day.More digging!  You can see it over to the top of this photo behind the blue nylon rope.

We made good progress this morning, and gratefully stopped for lunch just after 1.00pm.  I’d made a ‘mess’ of pasta, tuna, sweetcorn, olives, petit pois and mayonnaise so we shared this with Diane who’d come down to the LEAF plots to carry on up there.

Matt and Jon had made an appearance (…I’m sure they can smell the LEAF kettle!), so while we ate lunch and drank tea, we each talked of what we were doing and what we’d got planned for the afternoon.

All too soon, lunchtime was over and myself and Ian wandered down to my plot carrying two types of white onions that Diane had going spare so Ian wasted no time in planting them in the bed he’d ‘prepped up’ early this morning.Now with added onions!

Here you can see it after the onions have been planted, and notice the blue ‘walking board’ which spreads the weight around so as not to squash the newly dug earth.  In total, Ian planted well over a hundred today, so when you add these to the fifty or so I planted the other day, I think we’ll be pretty set for onions in a few months time!

As the sun was out and it was so warm, I took my T-shirt off (…As I said: No children or small animals to frighten…), and tonight when I got in the shower, I noticed my shoulders and legs had certainly caught the sun;- they’re certainly tender enough!

Was today a ‘taste of things to come’ with the weather this summer?  We hope so!Just before we left this evening.

To the right here, you can see my plot just before we left tonight.  Possibly not the best shot in the world, but you can clearly see where we’ve been digging today.  This next week, we plan to finish this area off, then dig some deep trenches, then plant loads of potatoes.

Tuesday, we plan to have a trit-trot down to ‘Wilkinsons’ down in sunny Hillsborough.  There’s a few bits and bobs we need, and they should certainly have them.

I’m thinking we’ll be like a couple of kids in a candy store!

Much more very soon.


Yet more docks and more bindweed.

To get away from all the new volunteers and general chaos up at The LEAF Plots (…but a good kind of chaos!..), myself and Ian (no relation) bid a hasty retreat down to my plot yesterday.  We’d have only got in the way, and poor Diane was so busy with them, we thought we’d keep our heads down.

So the task was yet more digging and ‘prepping up’ of my plot.

To this end, Ian finished off the digging he’d started a couple of weeks agoIan prepping up the ground..  You can see him to the right here giving the ground a final light dig.  The ground on this side of the path only needed a light skimming of the top weeds and grass off then a gentle spade’s depth of digging, and after a light raking today, it’ll be ready to put white onions, garlic and whatever else we can think of in to it.

The ground on the other side of the path was a different matter, however!

I’d copped for this, so I carried on digging out seemingly miles and miles of bindweed root and of course the massive dock plants.More digging.

Here you can see ‘my’ patch about half way through the day, and in truth, it was such hard going, I didn’t make as much progress as I’d have liked.

STILL, I have all of today free, and last night, on checking the weather forecast for today, it showed wall-to-wall sunshine.

And when I got up this morning: wall-to-wall sunshine!

On with the shorts (…its okay, there’ll be no children or small animals about…), on with the T-shirt and off we go again!

Now with a nearly straight tree!

I arrived a little late this morning, just in time in fact for a very quick cuppa before I headed down to my Plot.  Yes, I know Thursday is meant to be a LEAF day, but Diane had quite a few volunteers already today, so I figured I wouldn’t be missed.Nearly straight apple.  Or pear...

As soon as I got down to my Plot, I set straight to work.  First on the agenda was straightening up the tree.  As some point in it’s short life, this tree has taken some major force -so much so that it was growing at quite an angle.  Well, not for much longer!

I very carefully tied one end of a suitable length of blue rope around the trunk.  If you’re sharp-eyed, you’ll see the polythene sack that I’ve folded up to stop the rope chafing the delicate bark.  Then, I whacked a stake I’d found up on The LEAF Plots into the ground nearby in the direction of where I needed to pull the tree.  I then gave a gentle pull on the rope, and tied it around the stake, then went back to the tree and wound the rest of the rope carefully around it.

The result you can see here on the right.  Yes, I know it’s not fully straight, but tomorrow I’ll get it absolutely vertical using a plumb line.

Buoyed by my success, I then went on to plant a fair number of red onions that Diane had spare.  She’d got them for someone else, but they hadn’t been to collect them.Red onions planted.

To the left here, you can see them after planting.  Not much to see at the moment, but give these little beauties a few weeks, and they’ll be showing nicely.

Also, you can see the blue board I was using to walk on.  Ian (no relation) has ‘skimmed’ that whole area to get all the grass and surface weed off the top.  Tomorrow, I plan to dig this area properly then plant loads and loads of garlic in part of this bed.  I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much garlic.  Okay, you don’t have many close friends, but its good for your blood.  Its also great as a totally organic flea treatment for cats!  I give my cat Alfie a treatment of ground-up garlic on the base of his tail every month or so.  He regularly cleans himself, licking off the garlic which then gets into his bloodstream.  Fleas hate garlic!

Okay, Alfie hasn’t got many mates either -apart from Big Orange (…who incidentally is crawling with them!..)- but he’s pretty cool about it.

After I’d planted all my red onions, I carried on with the digging.More digging.

To the right here, you can see the area that I dug today.  Still with the blue lines around it is the area I dug the other day, so I carried on digging to the side of that area, then kind of got carried away with the ‘spot-weeding’ of yet more dock plants.Dock roots.

To the left here is one of the smaller roots I pulled out last Saturday.  Today’s roots were about the same size, but there were some massive great, long ones.  A plot-holder up the lane has told me of the ultimate dock-killer.  Apparently, you buy a bottle of household bleach.  Then you find your dock plants, chop them off at soil level then pour a drop (no more!) of bleach onto the exposed root-top.  Leave it a few days, then simply dig it out.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ll see what Diane says about the use of bleach.  Maybe using such a tiny amount will be okay?

Anyway, once again, the weather looks reasonable for tomorrow, and I’ll be right over to my plot after a little business in town.

More digging.

More weeding.

…More planting!

More digging and planting.

As today was a ‘LEAF Day’, I only achieved a couple of hours down on my plot, but I made them count.

In the morning, there was a ‘seed swap’ up at the trading hut, and even though I was late, I still managed to pick up quite a few different types of seeds for Not A Big Lot Of Money (…i.e. ‘Completely Free’…).Seeds planted!

I got quite a few packets of flowers -mainly because they’re meant to be ‘Bee Friendly’, and with LEAF’s new hives arriving in just a few weeks time (…Eeek!..), I want to make my plot as attractive as possible for them.  Yes, now I’ve been on Jez’s excellent bee training courses, my complete phobia about bees has thankfully vanished like the morning mist, and I find myself loving the gentle drone of ‘the girls’ out and about their business.

I also got a packet of fairly hot chili seeds, some of Matt’s runner beans, some lettuce seeds and some of Jon’s tomatillo seeds.

If I get chance, I’ll pop down one night this week after work and get these tomatillos planted.  As my main greenhouse is a) HUGE and b) south facing, I’m hoping for a bumper crop this year.

Safely under glass.To the left here, if you look carefully, you can see two seeds trays at the back with just the one under glass at the front.  Last week, I’d planted some ‘Money Maker’ tomatoes as my first ‘proper’ planting in my greenhouse, then today I whacked in a few lettuce and a tray of chilies.

Also today, I did a little more digging, this time in the bed just in front of the greenhouse.  I’ve no pictures of it, but you’ll have to take my word for it that there was loads of couch grass where I was digging.  It didn’t help that there were roots from the tree that’s in the corner of this bed, so dodging those while digging out the root systems from the grass was, er, challenging.

When I’d cleared enough of an area, I planted some iris bulbs that should be up within a few weeks.  Beautiful colours, and hopefully the bees will love these too.

All too soon, I had to go back up to LEAF as I was on fire duty today.  Roast spuds, soup, Plot Tea and loads of good chats from friends old and new.

More soon!


Volunteers everywhere! 03/03/12

Today was mad, but great fun!

Like most Saturdays, it started off kind of quietly (…well, apart from last Saturday…), but more and more people just kept arriving and starting work!

This morning, the allotment society hosted a seed swap, and many fellow plot-holders arrived to swap seeds, drink gallons of tea and of course, gossip.  Now I’m a Plot Holder, I’m quickly realising that apart from growing stuff on their plots, tenants love a good gossip.Sawing on the sawhorse.

Thankfully, most of it was good gossip!

Meanwhile, Diane had set me to sawing wood, and this was easily achieved with the new sawhorse that Derek had so skillfully made a few weeks ago.  Not having to bend right over to saw and hold the piece of wood still with a boot certainly made the job a whole lot easier than it used to be!

I’d filled quite a few wooden crates with pieces of wood the correct length for the wooden fruit crates we use, and it will mean that next time I fire up the pizza oven, I won’t have to saw up wood as I go.  Who knows, if the weather continues to improve as it has done recently, we may be firing it up pretty soon.  Maybe we’ll have the two extra layers of clay on the oven by then?

After a while, Kyle came up to relieve me from looking out for volunteers arriving, and I went down to the trading hut and looked what was on offer.

Answer: Quite a lot!  See today’s blog entry under ‘Area 34′ -my plot- for details of what I got and what I did with some of them.

After a hasty lunch, I went down to my plot, but about 3.30pm, I came back up and lit the fire.

Today was a roast spud day!

I only did four tins of spuds today, and there was just enough to go round.  Many more hungry volunteers than normal!

With the potatoes, Diane had brought in some ‘Covent Garden’ ‘posh’ soup, and to be honest, for the extra money it would have cost (Diane picked it up cheap!), we didn’t think it was worth the extra.  Maybe we’ve all been spoiled by the taste of proper vegetables as they should be from our Plots?!

Anyway, all too soon the day was over, and I dragged myself back home, happy in the knowledge that I could almost hear a hot shower calling me, and I swear my boots ‘hissed’ as I finally unlaced them and let my tired feet out!

More soon!


…Don’t talk to me about dock plants!

Yes, they may be excellent against nettle stings, but they are utter swines to get out of the ground!  With root systems that seem to go on for ever, these beasts are evil!

Well, I’m sure they’re not evil per se, but trying to get them out without breaking the roots -and therefore having ‘Docks: The Next Generation’ to deal with is not for the fainthearted.

Diane was running a little late this morning -she had to go and pick a visitor up from Sheffield station, so I duly opened up and of course put the kettle on.Ex-strawberry bed.

As I waited for it to boil, I ‘had a little wander’ around the LEAF Plots, as I’m wont to do.  To the right here you can see that bed I nearly did myself a mischief over trying to get the stubborn ash sapling out.  I think it looks really good now Diane has ‘properly’ (…i.e. neatly..) finished it off, apart from a collection of sorry-looking strawberries that seem to have survived the onslaught of the other day.  If you look closely, you’ll see they are surrounded by sticks pointing up out of the ground.  Well, I don’t know who put them there (…but I can guess!..), but I’m sorry to say that merely putting sticks round them won’t stop them spreading, seemingly within days!  I tell you Dear Reader, if NASA took just a couple of these and had put them on the lander that’s on its ways to Mars as we speak, within a fortnight of it touching down, you’d have continent-sized strawberry beds.  On Mars.

Anyway, I digress.

Of course, the HVC (Honorary Vice-ChairCat) Mitzi arrived pretty soon after I’d arrived.  Of course, feeding her took absolute priority over everything else -even making the tea!Mitzi.

After she’d eaten, she kindly agreed to be my photographic model until Diane arrived.  If you click this image, you’ll get a larger one.  The full-sized one is available on request!  (She’s put a paw on the ‘Model Release Form’.)

Diane and her visitor arrived just as we’d finished our fun, so I quickly excused myself and went down to my plot.  Yes, it would have been great to sit for two or three hours chatting, but I didn’t want to get cold, and anyway, I had digging to do!The dock wilderness.

Now, I was going to repair the greenhouse door further while Ian (no relation) carried on with his digging, but as he couldn’t come today, I thought I’d keep properly warm and take some of these dock plants out.

To the right of this photo, you can see the area that Ian had started, but in the foreground, you can see ‘Dock City’.

I marked out a ‘box’ with the blue rope I found in the greenhouse, and you can see it here on the left.Lines marked out.

Again, the width was exactly the length of the old spade I rescued from the greenhouse.

Why did I mark it out? You shout.

Well, a bit of psychology here.  If I just started digging, with no end-marker in sight, it would very quickly overwhelm me, and I’d get very disheartened.  By marking out this ‘box’, I’d set myself today’s target, and at a glance, I could see how I was doing.  Maybe odd, but it certainly works for me!

I did this bed in three main stages.  The first stage was merely slicing off the top weed and grass with a sharp spade.  Of course, this also took the tops of the docks off, but I wasn’t worried.  I then went over the whole bed with a large fork, watching out for the mighty dock roots.Docks?  None here, sir!

The final stage was another forking, but this time, I paid much more attention to just what I was digging up.  Along with the dock roots, there was a fair amount of buttercup and the dreaded bindweed, and this all had to come out.

To the right here you can see this ‘bed’ just before I quit for the afternoon.

Diane had come down to help, and was busily ‘spot-weeding’ yet more docks from the right of this shot.

Tomorrow afternoon -after the ‘LEAF Morning’ and before the ‘LEAF Evening Fire’, I’ll carry on and hopefully get another ‘bed’ done where Diane has been today.

I also want to do some more planting.  Methinks onions and garlic on the other side of the path I cleared last week.

After all: You can never have too many onions or too much garlic.


I know I’ve been a little quiet of late, you’ll have to excuse me, but this is just to tell of whats been happening, and whats hopefully going to happen tomorrow.

Yes, I know, Friday isn’t normally a ‘Plot Day’ -for LEAF that is- but tomorrow myself and Ian (no relation) will hopefully be down on my plot from about 10.00am.

Ian will hopefully carry on with his excellent digging (…he’s much better than me at it!..), meanwhile, I’ll be doing more work on the greenhouse door -making it a little more secure.

If I have time, I’ll re-hang the door to the shed -the bottom hinge has come away, and I fear it may need some more wood in the door frame to mount the hinge on.linux on my new server in the kitchen.

Other good news is that I’ve got my camera fixed!

To the right here is the first shot I took with it on it’s return.  Yes, I know the shot isn’t Plot related!

Instead its the new Linux machine in my kitchen as I work on it to, soon to become a DHCP server, firewall and file store.

Gobbledygook?  Yep.  Me too.

Anyway, you can be sure there’ll be loads of photos taken tomorrow, and as soon as I’ve had a shower on my return, I’ll blog them with a few words in between.

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