Browsing Posts tagged digging

Thankfully quiet! 17/04/13

But the few of us who turned up certainly got stuck in, and we’ve got loads out of the way so that when the ‘part-timers’ come on Saturday afternoon, they can plant away to their hearts’ content.  Of course, what they never see is all the back-breaking work that goes in beforehand, but who am I to complain?  I can still remember when I first came down to LEAF, and for months, I did none of this hard work.  Payback time, methinks.Nearly done!

Today, Gary and Shaun carried on filling our two new raised beds with soil.  The bottom of these beds has got a load of pretty awful stuff in that certainly isn’t good enough to grow vegetables in, and as you get higher, the soil gets progressively better.

We think that you should feed the soil, rather than just feed the plants.  Okay, if you’re only using, say, a grow bag for a summer to grow tomatoes in, then yes, you should feed the tomatoes as much as you can, but when you’re consciously trying to improve the soil year-on-year, then you feed the soil, and that in turn takes care of the plants in it.

I made a brief survey of the plots after Matt noticed that some git has stolen a load of polycarbonate sheeting we had propped up quite close by the beehives.  Further inspection revealed that we’d also lost a couple of rhubarb crowns too from the entrance.

Well, all we can say is that we hope you treat them well, and that you remember that you stole them from LEAF.  The silly thing is that if someone had actually asked us, we probably would have said ‘Yes!’, anyway.

On my travels, I couldn’t help but notice that all the daffodils on the banking have suddenly decided to come into bloom.Daffodils!  This is pretty amazing, because last Saturday, these were all only budding.  I’d thought they were at least a week away from flowering.

Elsewhere on our Plots, there were signs of Pam and Jon’s handiwork of a few weeks ago when they went mad planting bulbs.

To the right here are some of the crocii that Pam planted after Jon had gone.

These little beauties are at the ends of the beds running down the left of that last photo -near the bushy chives.

A quick close up reveals just how tender and fragile these things really are, and on a less windy day, our bees will love them.Newly-planted crocii

Our friend from further down the site, Gerry, called by today, and on hearing of our losses to thieves, he said he’d keep a watchful eye out for ‘unknowns’ on the site.

Matt also came down briefly before a trip to the doctor’s, but before he left, he was advising Gary and Shaun on all manner of things we should do with the end of the bed that Gary and others ‘unearthed’ a couple of weeks ago.  It all sounds exciting stuff, and I’m sure Gary will surpass himself!

Meanwhile, I was busy finishing off the bed I’d been working at on Saturday.  Yes, I’d ‘roughly’ dug it all over, but it needed neatening up.

And even more dock plants taking out.  I swear they weren’t in the bed when I’d left it on Saturday, but today, here they were.

It’s funny, but I always imagine dock plants to have an Austrian accent, if they could speak.

“There you go, you little swine!” you exclaim as you pull it out, triumphantly.

“I’ll be back!” comes the reply.Cleared bed

And so, here is that bed to the left here.  Almost good enough to sleep on.  Okay, not as finely raked as Diane would have done it, but when you consider it was me that did this, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Lets hope Carol is when she comes on Saturday to plant in it!

Matt and Sara made afternoon tea, so we all briefly adjourned to the shed to discuss the day, but on my way back, I couldn’t help but notice a bed very close to the one I’d just finished.  This had been half-completed by someone a couple of weeks ago, and as I had all the tools down there, I thought I’d give it a quick going over on my return.Lamb's Lettuce.

As you can probably see, it was covered in low-lying weed -this time ‘lamb’s lettuce’.  Apparently, you can eat this stuff, but like the chard (shudder), I really don’t fancy trying it.

So, fortified with the tea, I went back with a kneeler and hand-fork, and went over it to get every last trace of this stuff out.

Yes, it might be edible, and yes, the little blue flowers it grows are quite beautiful, but unless you get it before the flowers start to wilt and the tiny seeds start to blow around, you can guarantee that the following year, you’re going to have lamb’s lettuce everywhere!

A bed of onions up towards the path up to the gate has got this stuff in, and because the onions were planted while this stuff was dormant, no-one knew it was there.  Guess who’ll be on his hands and knees again, ‘micro-weeding’ this stuff out from between young onions?Lamb's lettuce OUT!

Here you can see the bed as I left it tonight.  No lamb’s lettuce, and certainly no dock plants!

This bed, like the others already done, can be planted up very soon.

All too soon it was gone five o’clock, and time for us to pack up and go, but not before we’d had a last look round for left-out tools and other detritus.

On Saturday, I’ll remember to charge the camera and get some shots of Gary and Shaun’s superb work up on the top Plot in the long bed that used to be full of strawberries.  In a few weeks, this will be full to bursting with Gary’s beans, and we really can’t wait for that!

Hopefully more tales from The Plots tomorrow evening!

Phew! 13/04/13

That’s about the only thing I can say about today.

Loads of volunteers -even given the lousy weather, loads of visitors, and surprisingly, given all the visitors, loads was achieved!

I arrived well before ten to get stuff ready, but mainly to get the first pot of tea on.  I’d run out of tea bags at home, so unsurprisingly, I was pretty desperate!

I’d just got our friend Kelly the Kettle merrily brewing, when we had our first couple of visitors -Julie and her brother, Mick.  We stood chatting up by the top gate until Jon arrived and could let them in -my gate key doesn’t work!

Of course, our Honorary Vice ChairCat, Mitzi was soon on hand to welcome the pair of them, and luckily, they both love cats, so little Mitzi was in her element, bless.

New volunteer, Shaun, arrived pretty soon afterwards, and he quickly changed into his boots and sawed up the masses of holly Ian (no relation) and I had feverishly cut down last Sunday.  The larger branches are now just the right size to feed into the pizza oven, while all the smaller stuff has been safely carted down the the fire pit on the Children’s Plot.  We’ll burn this as soon as we can.  Yes, holly looks great, but that’s at Christmas, and those sharp prickles play havoc with wheelbarrow tires!

Julie and Mick stayed for nearly an hour, as more and more volunteers arrived and got on with their tasks for the day, and were pretty impressed as I showed them around.  They’d been past many times in cars or on buses, but never actually seen The Plots ‘up close’, and were particularly impressed with our bees.  This was just as well, because the weather this morning was pretty warm, so there were loads of them out, bringing in nectar and pollen.

As they were leaving, Jon said that he was leaving early this afternoon, and did we want to inspect the hives and possibly feed them?  Obviously, that was a ‘Yes!’

Our two remaining hives looked in pretty good shape.  The centre one had taken all its feed, and on inspecting the small ‘nuc’, we decided to feed that some syrup as well, as per Charles’ instructions.  Charles will be making a couple of visits this week, hopefully with a couple of new queens, and I’ll remember to charge the camera so I can take plenty of shots.  (Like a chimp, I’d forgotten it today.  Sorry!)

Pretty soon, Sara arrived, then it was time for lunch.  I’d been up to the local supermarket on my way over, and had loads of bread and cheese for everyone to share, of course over a couple of cups of tea, and we were discussing what needed planting in the greenhouse. Sara very kindly volunteered for this job, and we now have an entire packet of broccoli, and entire packet of white cabbage, and four trays of Savoy cabbage, all happily planted and watered in.

In a few weeks, if the weather continues to improve, we should have literally hundreds of seedlings in there, so we’ll have to have the beds ready for them all to go in!

Meanwhile, Gary and new volunteer, Shaun, were busy with the long bed by the metal shed I mentioned a few posts ago.  This is very slow work due to all the bindweed and other perennial weed in there, but they made steady progress.

I tackled a bed on the Children’s Plot, as Carol is thinking we should get some of the many pot-bound herbs in there.  We’ll see, but either way, it certainly needed weeding, and I have the nettle stings to prove it.  I also had to fight a load of dock plants with their massive tap roots, but since working on Area 34 last year, this was familiar work to me.

I was only a few minutes into my weeding when our favourite welder, who lives nearby, came down.  He brought his sister and brother-in-law, so I had to show them round, and as his sister and her husband are keen bee-keepers, they were very interested in our bees and the trauma we had a few days ago losing that hive.  They themselves have thirteen hives, but have lost seven of them over winter, so as I previously said, we’ve been pretty lucky this year only losing the one!

Matt popped in today, but he had stuff to do on his own plot, so didn’t spend much time with us.  Gerry, likewise had stuff to do -he didn’t even stop for a cup of tea!

All too soon, it was gone five o’clock, but luckily I’d finished the bed on the Children’s Plot, so we wearily packed up and made for home.  Not before I’d finished the last of the washing up and tidied up the top shed, though.

Depending on the weather tomorrow, I may just pop over to see how things are, but officially, I’m now ‘off-duty’ while next Wednesday.

Well, I say ‘officially’, but in actual fact, I’ll hopefully be seeing Diane on Monday, and any spare time in between, I’ll be working on iButtons and electric bikes.

So, Dear Reader, I’ll leave you for now, tired, but happy!

(P.S.  The other day I was browsing eBay (as you do), and came across ‘Hive Tools’.  A hive tool is a strip of stainless steel you use to crack open a beehive when you need to inspect.  Hives tend to get clogged with propolis, which is tremendously sticky.  Of course, I ordered one -I still can’t find the ‘official’ LEAF hive tool, so I intend to get mine stamped with at least my initials in it -just so we know whose is whose.  Of course, after getting a hive tool, I’ll need a bee-keeper’s smock.  Then a smoker.  Then a ‘nuc’.  Then my own bees.  It’s only a matter of time…)

Well, it may look like our site has been run over repeatedly by a mechanical digger, especially the top Plots, but that’s just Gary.  He’s our very own ‘JCB’, and today he carried on with more clearing and weeding, and now, from the road, the site is starting to look a little more loved.Cleared!

It’s funny, but we’ve had loads of comments, both from passers-by, and from other allotment holders who really can’t believe the difference we’ve made just since the start of the year.

Yes, it may look like it’s all just ‘scorched earth’ at the moment, but in a few weeks when all we’ve planted starts to show itself, we’re hoping it will all be a complete riot of colour and shape.

What you can’t really see from that last photo is the immense difference that taking down the jasmine has made.No jasmine!

Here you can see the remains of it from a different angle, looking out onto the main entrance path.

Just a few days ago, this was all totally overgrown, with a couple of dead roses, a huge bramble, and all other kinds of detritus that was choking the life out of everything.

Now, thanks to Gary, this area in a few days will be ready to plant proper rose bushes, and we may have a small jasmine as well for the scent.  It won’t, however, be allowed to completely swamp everything around.

So today has been fairly quiet down our Plots.  Still, this is not really surprising given the weather being like the middle of January, but those who did turn up to work were rewarded by a hot lunch in the shed (soup), the inevitable Plot Tea, and Classic FM in the background.  I still have to shake my head at just how this has all turned round so quickly, and it’s a big ‘Thank You’ to all the volunteers who got stuck in and made it so.

Of course, no day at The Plots would be complete without a visit from our Honorary Vice ChairCat, Mitzi-Moos.Vice ChairCat, Mitzi

This was her last Thursday -we certainly had no sunshine today!

Today, after being fed, she spent most of the day either watching (…and directing us…) at work, or catching some sleep in ‘her’ greenhouse.  Bless!

…Anyway, there’ll be more ‘Tales From The Plots’ very soon.

No rain! 07/03/13

The BBC weathermen got it wrong today.  No rain, and certainly not as cold as had been forecast.

Still, with the kind of activities happening today, no-one got a chance to get cold!Gary's digging

To the right here is the bed I mentioned last post that Gary has been working on.  You may think that it’s only a bed, and therefore not all that special, but before Gary took to it, it was an utter mess!

Of course, there was masses of bindweed in it, and this was all horribly intertwined with the inevitable strawberries, but there were also some rather sick-looking chives that looked liked they’d seen better days.

Yes, this bed really was in a state, but as you can now see, it’s all been so skilfully cleared.

Over the coming days, Gary will be weeding the paths around this, so we can actually get to it easily, then in a few months, Gary had the idea of planting runner beans here.

Putting this to ‘The Collective’ (…”Resistance is futile*…), we all agree that this would be a great place for the beans.  It’ll be near our bees, and also we think the flowers will be beautiful when they come out.Parsnips

To the left here is the bed that Jon whacked the parsnips in the other day.

Yes, it just looks like a ‘blank’ bed, but in a few weeks time, it’ll all spring to life as the temperature rises and the seeds get the idea to grow.

That small pile of woodchip in front is the pile that Jordan moved over from the pile of wood chippings the other week.  This will all get spread around as more paths and walkways are finished off.Berry bushes

To the right is the bed that Jon planted the other day with the various berries.

Again, this bed was choked full of strawberries, bindweed and goodness knows what else, and I think it was Gary who worked his magic on it, before Jon finally neatened it up before planting.

These bushes will thicken out considerably in the coming months, so much so that it may almost be like a mini hedge.  Difficult to believe, so we’ll take Jon’s word for it!

After making tea this morning, I put yet another coat of ‘One Coat’ on the two new beds, while Ian (no relation) planted some strawberry plants in the end of the bed nearest the shed.New strawberries!

Jon gave us these plants some time ago, and they’d been sat near the kitchen in a tray, getting sadder and sadder as the days went past.

Now Jon assures me that these things don’t try to spread anything like as badly as the old strawberries, but even so, Ian has put this extra piece of wood in the bed just to make sure.

Any infringement will be met by the ultimate force:  Shears!

In the top shed, Graham was having fun with a Calor gas stove we found as we cleared it all out, and we can now say that should it get really cold and miserable, we can always shelter in there, safe from the rain.

Matt was also busy in the top shed today, moving the huge noticeboard to the end wall, then putting the first of many shelves up in there.

NO!  These will not just be ‘dumping grounds’ for everything we can’t be bothered to put away!

I’ll get some photos of this on Saturday.

…And speaking of which, Matt has taken away the large cooking pot, promising to bring something hot (…and of course, delicious!..) on Saturday for our lunch.

That just leaves me to get the bread, then!

Speak to you Saturday!


*Sorry, but I haven’t got a ‘Star Trek’ quote in for months.

A slight change of plan. 27/02/13

I said last post that we’d be getting on with the second new bed today, but due to a mix-up (…mea culpa…), we didn’t have the stobs for the corners or side panels in time, but I’m assured they will arrive tomorrow.

So instead, while Ian planted a whole bed of two different types of onions, I got on with giving the bed we’d finished last time its first coat of ‘One Coat*‘ paint.Before painting

As you can see from the photo to the right here, even though all the boards are basically sound, they certainly looked a little on the scabby side.

I found the tins of paint and paintbrushes, and was very soon happily painting away.  I always find that using this paint is very ‘therapeutic’.  It’s water-based, completely non-toxic, and dead good fun to slap on.

The results, while not quite good enough for, say, the Sistine Chapel, are quite good enough for the folks (…and cat…) here at LEAF.Not quite the Sistine Chapel.

Of course, one of my first jobs was making the tea, and once again, the Kelly Kettle came into its own, and I can thankfully say that despite having three cups each, we didn’t have to resort to using the expensive gas hob.Tea's up!

Now we’re starting to get familiar with its little ‘foibles’, we find that setting and successfully lighting it is getting easier and easier.

While I was happily painting, Ian (no relation) was busy on a new bed Gary and I had sorted out on the Therapy Plot, planting two different types of onions.  They’d been sat in bags, quietly going rotten for months, but Ian picked out the best ones and planted them.  Okay, some might not come up, but no worries;  -we can always plant something in their place.  We all agree that the main thing is to get stuff planted!

Jon soon arrived, and he dug over and pre-prepared a bed that will hopefully have parsnips in in the not too distant future.Pre-Prepared for Parsnips

This digging may look ‘rough’, but that’s exactly the way it’s meant to look.  We are no doubt due more than a couple more early morning frosts before Spring finally arrives, so digging this way will help the soil break down naturally.

I couldn’t help noticing that this, along with quite a few other beds, needs re-painting at some point in the near future.  Maybe a Saturday job for someone?

So once again, a quiet day down our Plots, but we still got loads done -probably because there were so few interruptions from visitors!

Tomorrow, the weather looks set to be even nicer than today.  The BBC weather service reckon the Sheffield 5 will have virtually unbroken sunshine all day.

We say:  Bring it on!

*Advertised as ‘One Coat’, we find this paint only gets to the right thickness and finish after five, possibly six coats, but there you go.  It’s fun to put on, though!

…is definitely crawling into the shower when you get home, battered, bruised, muddy and so, so coooold!

We didn’t have many volunteers today, what with the weather being so freezing and the frequent snow showers that had been forecast, but the few of us who did tip up certainly made up for the lack of man-power by working hard enough for many.

Today’s main job was the finishing of the first raised bed on the top Plot.  This would be edged with the scaffolding planks that Diane bought many months ago, and for the first time, we decided to build it three planks high.P1010086

On Thursday, we’d cut the planks, but couldn’t seem to get them to fit properly until one of us had a brain-wave.  We’d build the sides up first, then join them with the middles.

But first, we had to dig out most of the soil from inside that we’d mistakenly put there on Thursday.

This only took about a half an hour, and was absolutely back-breaking work, but we didn’t mind as it kept us warm!

With the excess soil out of the way, we took long ‘stobs’ for the corners and laid them underneath the ends of the planks which had been taken out and laid up neatly.

Then, using some nails that Gary happened to have, we nailed the stobs to each end.

Then it was a simple job to gently lift the boards, now joined together at their ends with stobs, get it all correctly positioned, then hammer the stobs into position.

The photo up to the right shows the first side piece in place, and you can see that we are in the middle of hammering the ready-cut ends into position.  With both ends nailed on, we could then make sure it was all square, then simply do the trick with the two stobs and three lengths of planking for the other side.

The result?P1010101

Okay, this is after we’d refilled it with soil, but as you can see, all the ends now match up perfectly

The only slight area of concern is that there are only single outer stobs holding the sides in, and we figure that within a few months, these will start to bow out alarmingly.

Well they won’t, because before then, we’ll put extra supports down the sides and also on the bottom end.

Oh, and it will also need three or four coats of our special non-toxic green paint, but if there are Plot Kids around next weekend, I’m sure they’d love to finish it all off.

Oh, and a Very Special Thanks to Sara today!

She brought down a pan’s worth of beef stew (…with absolutely no horse shoes in!..), and we all mightily enjoyed this!

On such a cold day, it was perfect for keeping us warm and providing ‘fuel’ to keep us going!

And I mustn’t forget to mention Pam.  While we were whacking great lumps of wood about, then shifting tonnes of earth, she was very patiently weeding out the top bed up by the path on the same Plot, and as we left tonight, she was still hard at it, finishing off planting more onions, carefully watched-over by Gary, who’d stayed to see to Jon’s chickens.  Thank you, Pam!

So, all in all, a fairly quiet day, but we had already agreed on what we needed to do, and we did it.

(…Of course, along with feeding Mitzi-Moos and drinking loads of tea from our new Kelly Kettle!..)

Next time?  Ha!  Another three planks high bed of course, right next to this one!

Re-making the beds. 21/02/13

“Go and make your bed!”  Possibly the kind of thing you’d tell a teenager, but this was just what we were doing yesterday.

Again, the weather, while not actually snowing, was pretty cold, and again, if you stopped for more than a couple of seconds, you could feel yourself ‘setting’.

I arrived first, and wasted no time in getting the kettle on, obviously fed the cat, then surveyed what needed doing.

Primarily, this was the other long bed on the top Plot, then we had to make new sides for the new beds just below.P1010079

Here is a shot of Ian working on the side while Graham and Jon stand keeping a careful eye on matters.

Meanwhile, Gary was hard at work on that long bed.

Previously, this has had the dreaded strawberries in and not much else.P1010077

Well, this weekend, we plan to plant a load of fruit bushes in a similar manner to Jon & Pam’s work the other week on the top-most bed.  There’ll be no sides on this bed, so it’ll be set at exactly path height.  This is to discourage slugs and other would-be fruit predators.

On Saturday, I’ll get some more shots of this as it takes shape, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’ll look good when it’s done.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…P1010084

…And the first of the two beds was taking shape.

We’ve decided that this bed and the one behind it should be three scaffolding planks high.  This will be for our less able volunteers who want to garden, but don’t want to be bending right over to do so.  When more soil is added in a few days time, you’ll see that these will be the perfect height.

Anyway, this Saturday with hopefully more volunteers, we can crack on and get things moving.

More then!

Those were the words of the penultimate sentence of my last entry.

Despite the wall-to-wall sunshine today, it was really, really cold.  If you stopped for more than a couple of minutes, you could feel it seeping into your bones.

So the answer was to not stop.

And we didn’t!

Today, we were blessed with many willing volunteers, and we certainly made good use of the time.  Unfortunately, these posts are kind of limited to 1000 words (…unless I hack it, and to be honest, I haven’t got the strength tonight.), so there’s no way I can put everything that happened in so short a space.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

But I’ll just highlight some of the wonderful things that have happened today…

Firstly, and most importantly it was the banking just down from the main road that needed finishing off.  We’ve been kindly awarded some money if we could get this done by the end of January.

So, we’re two days late.The New Path

Here is a shot of that path we were working on last Thursday, and you can now see that we’ve finished laying the ‘foundation’ for this path, and Gary and Tom had just finished laying a layer of the ubiquitous woodchip over the top. We fully realise that this path will ‘sink’ as the privet and other cuttings rot down beneath, but we’ve got loads of spare soil to whack on as it does. Then we can add another fine layer of woodchip over the top as we have here, and as you can see, it makes a very serviceable path. Again, Derek, Gary and I lopped more branches from the overhanging trees and bushes so the pathway is now clear of obstruction.

Also in this area, as part of the grant, we’ve been working on the surrounding paths and beds.More pathway laid

If you do a 180 degree from that last shot, you’ll see the shot on the left here.  Up until a few minutes previously, this was a mud-bath as we’d been literally running along and up it with fully-laden wheelbarrows (…I told you we had to keep warm!), but Gary and Tom worked their woodchip-magic, and you can appreciate the result.

We’d also been busy further along and down by the compost bins.  Here, Barry had very artistically laid a load of woodchip that was set aside nearby for this very purpose.Woodchip around the compost bins

Elsewhere, and Sara, Pam and Carol were having fun with the 45 million Plot Kids that made an appearance.  Actually, I’m exaggerating here.  It was more like only 10-or so, but if felt like much more. Plot Kids have this great way of seeming to be everywhere, all at the same time.

After a very swift lunch (…did I mention just how bitingly cold it was?..), Carol had brought a treasure hunt to keep the kids busy for an hour while Jon and I fed the bees.

“What are you up to?” asked one of the little girls.

“Feeding the bees!” I replied.


“Well, we’ve got some really tiny little spoons, so Jon and I will sit there for a few minutes, and as each one comes out, we’ll give it a quick spoonful of this sugar syrup we’ve been warming especially for them before it flies away.”

“Cooo!” she said…

In reality, we checked our two remaining hives to see just where we would put the slightly-warmed sugar syrup, went and got it, and by the time we came back to put the feeders on, there were quite a few crawling around beneath where we put them.  So all’s well with the bees.

In laying that new path above the banking, we’ve used quite a lot of privet cuttings and other partially-rotted muck that was sat all around the site.  In particular, there were various piles around in a ‘dead space’ that we’d been meaning to put raised beds on this season. I don’t have the photos of it, but I can now definitively say that this area by the bottom of the entrance path is now much clearer, so in a few weeks, Gary and the rest of us can work our magic and build raised beds using the scaffolding boards we bought last season, then fill them from the remainder of the earth that has been on ‘The Mound’ that had virtually nothing in it last season.

All exciting stuff, and I’ll be sure to keep you, Dear Reader, fully up to date with developments and progress.

Today, we were all done and put away by an astonishing 4.50pm, just as the sun was starting to dip below the horizon.

We like this.  Do the work, clear away, then home for tea.

But not before finally feeding Mitzi for the night.


Women everywhere!Girlies everywhere.

(…And before all you lads get excited, I’m talking bees here, boys.  Sorry…)

Yesterday afternoon saw the arrival of Charles, our new head beekeeper and three hives, and up to the right here was how they looked this afternoon.  Marvellous!

As I was saying the other day, we’ve been way too long without them, and its good to see them back.  Even though today, with it being so cold and generally miserable there weren’t many braving the weather, it was great to be able to sit on the ‘Chatting With Bees Bench’ that Ian (no relation) and I built all that time ago and see some out and about.

Tomorrow the weather is set to be sunnier, so when I’m over there, I’ll get some shots of them coming and going.

Today was a day off digging!

The area for one of the new potato beds.Here’s a shot of one of the two areas that we (…well, Gary, Shaun, Derek and Patrick, mainly…) dug over before we started.

Under that pile of soil was a carpet, so we had to weed the soil, move it up to the Orchard Plot in wheelbarrows, then remove the carpet from underneath.

When that was done to our satisfaction, the lads (…minus me -I was down on my own plot…) then dug it all over and extended the bed to include the one that you can see with the bread crates on.

In doing so, we’ve ‘gained’ a path to plant in, and tomorrow I’ll have a load of bedding plants for down the side of the hedge I’ve nearly finished on my own plot.  In return, LEAF will be gaining a couple of jasmine plants that Ian potted on a couple of weeks ago from down on my plot.

These two beds -there’s another by the fence at the other end of the plot- will be potato beds, and in the coming days, we’ll be whacking loads and loads of seed potatoes in.  You can never have too many potatoes, especially at the rate we get through them when we have a fire!

Our friend, the robin.Mitzi, our Plot Cat was elsewhere this morning, so our friend the robin came to help us.

Well, he didn’t help as such, but he certainly got more than enough grubs to feed his no-doubt growing family.

In this shot to the right here, I hardly needed the zoom on my camera on at all -he’s getting so tame he comes right up to us.  And when he wasn’t with us, we could hear him calling from the nearby trees: “Hurry up and get me some lunch!” he seemed to be saying!

It was far too cold to be sat around drinking tea and chatting over lunch, so after a quick bite to eat, I went down to my own plot to…

…Carry on cutting the hedge!

While I was there, I just had to take some photos in the greenhouse.

My, how stuff is shooting up!Beans, jumping for the sky!

At the back here are some of Matt’s ‘Assorted Runner Beans’, and in the foreground are some of the broad beans that Ian planted a short while ago.

In the brown tray you can just see the edge of to the left here are some white cabbages that we’ll pop out in a few weeks time.

Of course, we’ve got some organic slug pellets and of course, we’ll have some proper netting up to stop those greedy pigeons.

On the other work bench in my greenhouse, Ian had started off some leeks, and here they are to the right.Leeks and ...something?

The long, thin things are obviously the leeks, but there appears to be something else in there with them.

There’s too many of the same thing for them to be merely weeds, and when I showed this to Ian he admitted that he may have planted something else in there as well and then completely forgotten what he planted.  I guess it’ll be exciting trying to work out what they may be!

Anyway, I’d better get off.  Hopefully more tomorrow…

Shorts and sun hats, anyone?

Ah, not today, Ref!

Today was much colder than of late, and as the day wore on, the wind picked up.  By the time Ian and I left for the afternoon, it was gusting quite badly.  Any thoughts of just sitting drinking tea were straight out of the window.

Unfortunately, I had a major disk crash this morning so was a little late, but Ian, being the ‘early bird’ had already planted loads of stuff in pots and trays in the larger greenhouse.Dwarf French beans.  Soon!

He also directly planted three rows of dwarf French beans (…see photo…), then a little later planted some dwarf French purple beans at the other side of the patio.

After the obligatory (…quick!..) cup of tea, Ian started working round the bay tree between the two greenhouses, taking out the surface weeds, then literally fighting with the humungous dock roots.  Of course, he won, but sometimes it was a pretty close thing!

Purple Swarf French Beans.  Soon!To the left here is the area he put three rows of the purple dwarf French beans in, then covered it with a screen we had ‘spare’ from the smaller greenhouse.

We figure the Old Man used these in high summer to keep the greenhouses aired but used them to stop the greedy pigeons from going in the greenhouses for ‘lunch’.

Of course, when these beans are large enough to be of no interest to the birds, we’ll take it off and store it.

And I carried on with the hedge-lopping…

I swear, when I close my eyes, all I can see are the great gnarled and twisted branches of privet.

Still, because it was that much cooler today, we got quite a lot done:  We weren’t standing around chatting, but had to keep warm with physical activity!Going, going, going...

And to the right here is my effort for the day.

Yes, I know it looks no different to the last shot in the last post, but believe me when I say I cut another six feet of it today.


Lunchtime, Ian cooked a couple of pork steaks on our rocket stove, and these wrapped in breadcakes, washed down with ‘Area 34 Tea’ really were just what was needed.

The weather forecast for tomorrow has been changing quite a bit over the last few days.  A while ago, it was saying that tomorrow it would rain cats and dogs.

Checking this morning, they’re saying it’ll rain all day, but only cats and dogs in the afternoon.

This could well mean that I get a ‘day off’ to nurse my aching back and dab the scratches and cuts all up my arms.

Oh, and see if I can breathe some life into this computer…


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