Browsing Posts tagged digging

More and more…

…Hedge cutting!

As I arrive this morning, this greeted me:-Overgrown hedges!

It felt like I’ve spent the last lifetime cutting this hedge.  Just when I thought I was making some progress, I’d look over my right shoulder and see it all laughing at me.  I swear this hedge has got longer, thicker and higher in the time I’ve spent cutting it.

Meanwhile, Ian was working down towards the ‘new’ (…i.e. ‘re-discovered’…) patio area, valiantly digging and weeding.

To the left here you can make out the area he was working on just to the left of the greenhouse.More digging.  More weeding..  Somewhere under all that lot was a patio.  And beds to plant stuff in!

Still, it didn’t really seem like work today.  Working in the sun was glorious!  Of course, I kept pretty much covered up, even though there were no small children or animals around, but when I did take my top off, I could feel that ‘burning’ sensation within a few minutes.


At lunchtime, I went up to the shops for a couple of fishcake butties, and on my return, Ian had cracked open his cool back which was full of…

…A six-pack of BEER!Beer for lunch!

To the right you can see our ‘table’ just as we’d finished lunch.  Six empty bottles of your finest imported ‘Beck’s’.

But Hang On!  You shout.  You’re a ‘dry’ project!

Yes, Dear Reader.  You’re quite correct.  We are a ‘dry’ project.

But today, we weren’t at LEAF!

Yes, yes, yes.  I know.  Nit-picking.

Alcohol-free beer!But hang on.

If you check out this photo to the left -you’ll see it’s just a cut-out and blow-up of the one up to the right, highlighting the actual bottles themselves.

Click on the image.

What do you see written beneath the word ‘Blue’?

Aaaaah.  The  penny drops.   ‘Beck’s’ ‘Blue’ is alcohol-free beer.

And very pleasant it was too.  A bargain from Tesco’s up the road for less than £3.00.  Even better because Ian had bought it last night and it had spent the night in his fridge, and he’d brought it in his ‘ice-bag’ this morning.

So, we happily carried on this afternoon.  Weeding and hedge cutting.Our new 'patio area'.  Still, the results when we left for the evening were pretty pleasing.

To the right here you can see our newly-reclaimed patio area, with our table and chairs already in position.

Direct and unhindered sunshine!

After I’d taken this shot, I swiveled round about 90 degrees clockwise, and was met with this:-Look!  No hedge!

No hedge!  I’d finished that side!

It took me the whole of the day from both sides of it, but it’s finally down to a much more manageable height.  From now on, it should only need a gentle trim every few weeks.  Thankfully!

Oh, and just before we shut up the greenhouse for the afternoon, I couldn’t help but get this shot:-92 degrees and rising...

No, this photo hasn’t been ‘doctored’.  Despite the fact that both the door was open and we have that broken window at the other end and Ian ‘watered’ the floor to try to cool it, it was still over 90 degrees.  No wonder the old fella who loved this land so much had painted the window glass with white emulsion!

Ian is putting in a full day tomorrow, but I have business down in Sunny Hillsborough early in the morning.  I may get up before lunch.

Then afterwards, it’ll be time for a trit-trot up the lane to see how we can help out at LEAF for the afternoon.

More fun.  In the sun.

We like.

A little ‘off course’.

Today, Ian and I were going to get a full day’s ‘Plotting’ in.  A good half day up at LEAF, then the rest of the time down on my Plot.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work like that.  Ian had to wait in for the third time for the ‘man from the electric board’ to come and fit him a new meter, and I, well…  Lets just say I was, er, ‘indisposed’.  Lets just say that I thanked goodness I had plenty of toilet roll in…

SO, we were a little late kicking off, and unfortunately, LEAF was without us for the time we’d planned.  Still, on our frequent trips up there, it looked like we weren’t really needed.  Loads of jobs to do, but there were loads of people to do them!  We’ll be back tomorrow for a ‘Sunday Sesh’, so I promise to get some shots and whack them up here when I get back.Ian's work towards the patio.

To the right here you can see Ian’s work to the left of the new walking boards we had to lay.  Even though this area doesn’t look like much, when you compare it with the photos from just a few days ago, you’ll see that now there are no dock plants, and you’ll just have to take our word for it when we say that the bindweed has gone.

Of course, we’ll have left loads in -that’s part of the fun- but what is left will certainly have a headache and will think twice about choking all our fruit and vegetables to death.

During his work, Ian very carefully lifted a clematis that was completely surrounded by blackberry vines, thistles and good-old bindweed roots.

He very skillfully lifted it with a huge bundle of roots, then very gingerly picked the roots apart to leave a nice, big clump of clematis roots.  He then transplanted it equally carefully (…of course, talking to it all the time!..) up to a spot near the potato bed.  I’ll get a shot or two of it tomorrow.

Oh, and on Diane’s advice gave it gallons of water.  It will need watering just about every day for a week or so to minimise it’s disruption and to make it feel at home, watching over the potatoes.

Meanwhile, I was hard at it, cutting back the hedge by the small greenhouse.The big hedge starts to get a haircut.  Click on the photo to the left to see some of my hard work.

And what hard work it really was!

I was using Diane’s extendable loppers -after I’d repaired them.  These really don’t mess about when it comes to cutting through branches up to 2″ thick.

The only problem was that it was so slow.  I’d cut a branch off, then have to pull it clear of the hedge and lay it down on the path before I could cut another.  All I can say is that these ‘Big Boys’ Toys’ really do give you an upper body workout.  Who needs a gym?!Look behind the greenhouse...

If you check out the photo to the right here, if you look behind the greenhouse, you’ll see a large bush / small tree.

I mentioned this the other day and said I’d find out what it is and post details of it.

Well, today I found out from the ‘Encyclopedia Florae Dianicus’ (…Work that out!..) that its actually a ‘berberis’.

Berberis is full flower.These ‘Bad Boys’ have gorgeous little orange/yellow flowers, but the reason they are ‘bad’ is that their thorns are really, really sharp.  You only need catch one slightly, and it’ll put a huge rip your T-shirt or jeans.  As its covering an otherwise bare bit of hedge by the greenhouse, it should deter all but the most determined -or terminally stupid- unwanted guests.

So tomorrow will be much the same as today, but longer.

The clocks go forward tomorrow morning (…Yay!  BRING IT ON!..), and we want an early start.  Both Ian and myself are ‘Early Risers’, preferring to get stuff done before the shine has worn off the day.

Then, if its anything like as hot as the weathermen say it will be, well, it could be home for an early bath and little ‘Siesta’ during the heat of the afternoon…

Then again, there’s just so much to be done, I doubt it!

There was ‘More tomorrow…’

But nothing really worth writing home about, or with the dull, overcast weather for much of the day, much to take photos of.

So, you’ll just have to imagine the good progress Ian and myself have made up towards the Holy Grail of the small greenhouse and the alleged ‘Patio Area’.

Ian has expertly given the jasmine a haircut and found a couple of other shrubs that needed some drastic TLC.

I carried on digging and weeding, this time fighting valiantly with the huge blackberry bramble that threatens to overtake and swamp the small greenhouse.

Luckily, I’ll have my good friend ‘Domestos’ at hand tomorrow as we make a final assault.

Of course, with the patio cleared and habitable, all we’ll have to decide is quite where will be the best positions for our padded sun loungers and large umbrella for this summer!  (…Not!..)

Joking aside, what we will have to decide pretty soon is what we’re going to put where in the latest clear area.

We’re thinking brassicas and legumes, but as with anything to do with allotments, this could change at a moment’s notice.

Great fun, though!

Tomorrow, we plan to put in at least half a day up at LEAF, then it’ll be back to my plot for more…


Its all happening on Plot 34.

Ian and I got down to my plot just before lunch today after a fun morning up at LEAF building ‘houses for bees’.Its a PEAR tree?!  Right?

Today’s task would be: More digging!

Before we could even think about doing that, though, we had to have a ‘little wander round’ to see if there were any signs of emergent life.

And I’m very pleased to announce that there were!  It seemed like all about us, life was bursting to get out of the soil!

Our first onion making it's dash for the sky!To the left here you can see the first onion, making it’s ‘bid for the sky’ as the first shoots spring up.  I swear this wasn’t like that just the other day.

Elsewhere, other plants were taking advantage of the warm spring sunshine, and the new rhubarb (…Thanks Jon!..) has wasted no time in sprouting, either.Rhubar, rhubarb!

To the right here you can see one of the two new crowns, and I can’t help thinking of Matt’s superb rhubarb and whatever pies from last summer.  Who knows, I may be inspired this year to have a go and make a pie or crumble to bring down myself one Saturday for all our LEAF volunteers.

If I am inspired, then I’ll be sure to get loads of pictures as I completely trash my kitchen in the process!

In most of the corners of the big onion bed we have roses that both Ian and I have pruned.  Well, Ian has pruned most of them, and I’ve hacked one to bits.  I thought when I’d done this ‘rough pruning’ that I’d surely killed the rose, but today there were new shoots on it.New growth from my 'hacked up' rose bush.

Here it is to the left, and you can clearly see the new red shoots beginning to form.  Amazing that even I can hack at something like the complete amateur I am and it still has a go at recovering.

Also showing this morning were the first signs of life from the first bed I cleared and planted up.  I have a couple of photos, but as I can’t remember what went where without looking at the ‘map’, I’ll leave them for another day…

So today, we carried on clearing the bed I’m been telling you about, and we certainly made good progress.  Despite the dock plants, bindweed, dandelions and couch grass seemingly ganging up on us by insisting on growing all together at the same time completely intertwined, we’ve managed to clear right back to the small greenhouse.Part way through today's clearing.

To the right here is Ian in front of the yellow ‘folly’ left by the previous tenant.  Getting rid of this would be a major headache because there was a well-established jasmine plant right in front, growing through some plastic netting in both directions!

Folly?  What folly?!This shot to the left shows the area after we’d carefully cut the jasmine free and gently lifted the rotted wooden posts, yellow gas pipe and other detritus out of the way.

Particularly satisfying was cutting the huge bramble to the right of this structure, directly in front of the little greenhouse.  Even though blackberry stems and roots are fearsomely strong and exceedingly nasty to get caught on, when you show them a pair of sharp secateurs, they’re very easy and oh-so-satisfying to cut through.  Just make sure you’re wearing decent gloves -or even gauntlets.

And long trousers!

All too soon it was home time for the pair of us.  As we can both attest; ‘Hell hath no fury like a hungry cat’!

If the weather behaves itself, there’ll be more tomorrow!




Our new olive tree.

On Tuesday, I said I’d pop into ‘Wilko’s’ in Sunny Hillsborough to get an olive tree and a thermometer.The temperature is a' rising!  Well, I can report success on both fronts!  To the right here is the temperature in our greenhouse at about 1.00 this afternoon.  Not bad to say it’s only the middle of March and there are end pieces of glass that need replacing -so any light breeze blows straight through it.

And so to the olive tree.

We’d seen these in ‘Wilko’s’ the other day, and yesterday morning I went and bought one.

On getting back, I set straight to and dug a suitable hole in which to plant it.  I dug it a little wider than needs be so I could plant more of the freesia that Diane had bought me artfully around the base of the trunk.The hole dug.

To the left here you can see it before I planted.  Yes, I know its not completely round; it will need some neatening in a couple of days time.

And so, having dug the hole, I removed the olive from it’s packaging, and found it tiny!

Any thoughts of possible olives this autumn were soon dashed.  Maybe by 2017 there may be a few!Tiny olive tree!

Still, its the thought that counts, and we’ll have to safely fence it off.  We don’t want this little tree falling victim to our size ten, steel toe-capped gardening boots!

So today, Ian and I concentrated on more digging.  As I mentioned last post, we’re carrying on breaking ground towards the yellow tubing ‘folly’ at the side of the smaller greenhouse that we’ve discovered is actually paved.  Looking over the whole plot -a third of which we estimate is now dug over and planted, we can see that this area we’re digging has the highest density of the dreaded dock plants.  If we can just crack this area, we reckon we’ll have ‘broken the back’ of the serious digging.

Do I hear a cry of; ‘Famous Last Words’ at this point?!

Anyway, before we left for the day, I couldn’t help but notice a few of the tomato seeds I planted some weeks ago are starting to show.Tomato seedlings starting to show.

The one in the centre of this shot is definitely a seedling and the white one that has yet to unfurl towards the top left is one, but the lower left two are probably little weeds.

Still, it shows that the compost is viable and that stuff will grow in it.

More very soon!

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!


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