Allotments in the Snow

Snow fell on Bedfordshire today, it doesn’t snow very often here but when it does it usually settles. I couldn’t resist getting the camera out and visiting the allotment.

Snow makes everything look so fresh and bright, it makes my shed look yellow rather than cream!

The air was fresh and invigorating, and it was eerily quiet at the allotment today but I rather liked it.

Poor old frozen scarecrow

I love wandering around allotments looking at other plots, not just on my site but others too. Each plot is different in its own way and I love that, from the slightly ramshackle to the neat and tidy magazine-worthy, I find all allotments equally beautiful and inspiring. Today in the snow the plots all looked exactly the same, each one a blank canvas and magical.

I took my dog along with me for the walk, she’s 11.5 years old and starting to slow down a bit now but she had such fun racing around the community orchard, I don’t let her off lead while we walk around the allotments, not that the other plot holders mind.

After taking in the peace and serenity I made my way home, with a rather tired dog!

Christmas 2020

The year of the pandemic, 2020 has been extraordinary and devastating to many. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson made an announcement on the 19th December that changed Christmas plans for millions, yet again infection numbers are on the rise but this time due to a new strain of the virus. Oh dear. From the 20th December Bedfordshire moves into Tier 4 along with London, the South East and East of England regions. Basically we’re in lockdown again.

My allotment has been a real tonic to me this year and yet again it will be a safe place to temporarily forget the madness if I feel the urge, even if I don’t actually do any gardening just being there is enough.

The all important allotment kettle for those chilly days and evenings on the plot. Anyone for tea?

As for my Christmas, well it will obviously be small and quiet which is ok but I will miss seeing family. I’ve been good this year so hopefully Santa will leave a gardening book under the tree for me (and a new pair of wellies please if you’re reading this, Santa!). I will use some of my free time to check through my seed stash and order anything I may need, and probably things I don’t.

Whatever tier you happen to be in, stay safe and enjoy Christmas as best you can x

December on the Allotment

I spent a couple of hours at my allotment today which was absolute bliss in the sunshine. I managed to get quite a bit done, partly because I was the only one there (no chit chatting) and the weather was mild and pleasant which stopped me tucking myself up in the shed with a hot cup of tea. Well I did have one, it would be rude not to.

I finally took the carrot fly barrier down, I’ve been meaning to for a while now but you know how it goes, time just runs away and all that. There’s still plenty of carrots in the ground, maincrop Autumn King overwinters very well on my plot with minimal slug damage so I try to keep some back as long as I dare and hope some will make it for Christmas dinner, which by the looks of things is going to plan. The slugs have been very polite this year.

The cosmos is finished now after a couple of hard frosts, I’m sure the seeds have already dropped to bring more lovely blooms next year so I pulled the dead plants up, gave them a shake for good measure and chopped them up in the compost bins using some hand shears.

Another job I’ve been meaning to do is move the gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes over to my raised bed allotment (Plot 11w), the reason for this is to make life a little easier with regards to weeding. Bindweed is a nightmare on Plot 5, particularly where the fruit bushes are at the moment, also an annoying creeping weed (Creeping Charlie I think) from the lawn/car track running alongside the plot grows through the boundary fence. Both weeds strangle the fruit bushes because I cannot get in to weed them properly, well not without losing an eye which is not a good swap for happy berry bushes in my opinion.

The gooseberries were moved to their new position today, I was careful not to transport any bindweed roots or creeping weed with them.

The light was fading fast by the time I’d finished moving the gooseberries, the blackcurrants will have to be moved another day.

September on the Allotment

After weeks of hearing the call of autumn suddenly summer is back with a bang. The beginning of the week was sweltering hot and the only shade my plot offers is in the shed! This is where I go to hide on super hot days, in winter I can be found slurping soup.

allotment blogger

The allotment is looking a bit ‘crispy’ in places where things are starting die back, powdery mildew has reared its ugly head on the courgette plants (usual for the time of year) while winter squash are starting to brown on the leaves. I’ve grown some monster butternuts this year, absolutely huge. I got the seed from Mr Fothergill’s and the variety is Sweetmax which is also good for exhibition. I gave a couple of plants to my dad for his allotment and he grew some impressive butternuts too. I guess there will be lots of soup for the shed this winter.

I had a bash at growing celeriac for the first time this year. I started them off early March, the seed is super tiny which is amazing considering how big they eventually become. They can take a few weeks to germinate so patience is needed. I planted the young plants out after harvesting my garlic, adding compost beforehand to give the planting area a boost of nutrients. I had such a laugh recently with a plot neighbour about these curious looking veg, he asked me about them and then couldn’t pronounce the word celeriac, saying something similar to ‘cellick’ over and over again with a puzzled look on his face. It was very funny at the time!

I’ve mentioned it many times before, I know, but I do love growing pumpkins and winter squash. They are hands down my favourite crops to grow. The pumpkin patch is a sea of green leaves all summer long which is nothing exciting to look at, but come September when we tip toe into autumn something amazing happens. The dying leaves reveal beautiful glowing fruits of many colours; some are orange as we know them to be and others are green, blue/grey or even white. There are warty ones or striped, long or round, some are huge and some are so small they sit on the palm of your hand. I love them all and will never tire of growing them.

The carrots have done me proud again this year, variety Autumn King my old favourite. I forgot to thin them out again though so they’re not as big as they usually are this time of year but that doesn’t make any difference to the taste, they’re small but still carroty. Ha ha!

After a shaky start the runner beans are flowering like mad and producing. I planted out hardened off young bean plants at the end of May as I usually do but they really struggled to get going due to the weather at the time which was rather warm and probably lack of water. I tried sowing seed direct around each hazel pole late June which worked really well, I thought the mice would get the seed but luckily they left mine alone. I did the same for the Borlotti beans which also struggled to get going earlier on in the year, they too responded well to direct sowing. I’ve never had problems growing beans before so this was a new learning curve for me. In a funny sort of way this has worked out better because I didn’t have a glut of runners to contend with at the height of summer and my bean plants are stronger than they usually are. I’ve always worried about sowing beans direct but I think I’ll try it again next year.

The Borlotti beans are beginning to dry out on the plants now, you can tell when the drying process begins by the pod colour which changes from shocking pink to deep purple. I will begin picking the dry pods once the leaves start dying back and allow them to continue to dry at home in the greenhouse before podding and storing.

The weather is set to remain dry and begin cooling off as the week progresses. I have allotment plans for the weekend which involves working on plot 11w and I’ve even managed to rope in some help to put the raised beds together! I can’t wait to get started on the transformation.

Paths and Plans

There have been some changes on the allotments since my last blog post which I’m shocked to see was in April, I knew I had neglected the blog but didn’t realise for just how long! Sorry about that. Anyway, back to allotment stuff…..

I sourced some locally grown lawn turf in May and plot 5 now has lovely grass paths! I love the look of grass paths on allotments, the colour is very calming and the clippings are great for composting. I certainly don’t miss how the paths used to be, muddy and slippery in winter and full of weeds the rest of the year. My second plot is in the exciting planning stage now and I’ve decided on a different look for plot 11w, I’m going to build raised beds and put wood chip on the paths. It’s taken a long time to get to this point and now I can finally start imagining what it will look like. My fruit bushes from plot 5 and a rhubarb crown gifted to me will be moved onto the plot in autumn. Here’s a quick reminder of how plot 11w used to look before I took it on: new allotment And this is how it looks now: planning a allotment Good progress has been made with clearing the ground and levelling, I have measured and marked out where the raised beds will go with string and canes, this is a great way to test your allotment layout before committing to anything. I can easily manoeuvre a wheel barrow around the plot and access the beds from all sides for weeding and planting. IMG_1949 (1) The pallet compost bins have been in place on the far end of the plot since spring (as you can probably guess from the random daffodil!), originally there were 3 but recently I managed to squeeze in one more to the end of the row. You can never have enough compost bins and they’re going to be a great asset to both of my allotment plots. My bins are fixed together with wood screws and baler twine holds the fronts on (not pictured) which makes it much easier to remove the front pallet to gain access to turn the heaps. So as you can see I have been a busy bee on the allotments!