Move & Tidy

The tomatoes are dying back. I had left them in hope that they may recover, but it was not to be. I removed the smaller green undamaged tomatoes before I started to cut them back.

We decided to completely move the herb garden. The pumpkins were blocking the light for the first row of herbs, thus slowly killing them. The herbs have been moved to the front of the allotment and have been planted up in an old tire Thomas found at the side of the road.

The shed is finally finished. The front panels have been painted and replaced and the window box has been erected. Thomas made this from scratch with some old pallet wood. He chose the most sturdy looking pallet and broke it apart. I picked up a big tub of grey paint from a car boot sale the other week for just £5, absolute bargain! I wanted the details of the shed to really pop out and I thought if it was all painted purple, it would be too much.

The pallet bin is now complete and has been moved into position. If you remember my earlier posts, the pallet bin was originally going to be at the front, but we have now moved it to be beside the shed. Thomas has done a great job on both the window box and the pallet bin. The front part will be for compost and the back will be for other items we find on the allotment; stones, glass, sticks and such forth.

We have been trying to tidy the ground behind the shed and fence. Unfortunately there is no break in the fence, so we can never get behind the fence to fully clear it. There are a lot of nettles and ivy behind the fence, I have pulled up what I can but these weeds will be a recurring problem.

I purchased a little ladybird house. It had been reduced and I thought it was an interesting item, we talk about bees a lot but the ladybirds are just as important! I painted it grey to match the rest of the details.

The courgettes are still plentiful and we have harvested our first potatoes! I can confirm they are delicious. Homegrown is best!

Trial & Error

This past week has seen the removal of our leafy greens, as stated in my last post. When they were pulled up, it was evident that the plants had suffered root shock. The ones that hadn’t, were eaten by caterpillars. This plot is now clear, apart from the courgettes. I will probably leave the plot clear until we plant the winter lettuce.

Our rhubarb is also not doing well. Something appears to be eating away the leaves. The rhubarb was on a different part of our allotment and was undamaged at the time. We didn’t intend to move it but it was trodden on when our neighbour cut down their artichoke, so we decided it was for the best. In the beginning, the rhubarb was absolutely fine. I didn’t expect much growth from it this year anyway, so I was surprised to see it do so well – up until recently. After researching, I think this part of the allotment may have some pests; Potato Stem Borer or the Rhubarb Curculio Beetle. Our potatoes aren’t too far from the rhubarb, so it would make sense if it was the former. I have trimmed off the growth and placed pots over them for now. I will move the roots next month; it is best to move rhubarb in spring or autumn.

To continue on this theme of failures, our tomatoes have started to die. I certainly expected some failures in my first year, but I was surprised that the tomatoes have started to die back. They had been doing so well up until this week, when I started to find green tomatoes turning brown. The plants are starting to turn brown too. This has happened due to our lack of research. Tomatoes can thrive in most soil types – apart from heavy clay. This is the exact type of soil we have. A lesson learnt, we will not make the same mistake next year. I am unsure what we will do next year; either plant them in pots of compost, or add garden lime to the soil. Hopefully I can save some of the tomatoes, it doesn’t seem to have affected all of the crop. As the plants are now damaged, I will pick off the larger green tomatoes and either make a chutney from them or leave them to ripen on a windowsill. I can’t deny that I am disappointed, but it is all part of the learning process.

On a more positive note, our pumpkins have gone crazy! I haven’t grown pumpkins in years and had actually forgotten just how big they get. I have definitely planted them too close together, but they don’t seem to mind! They are creeping over into the herb garden though, so I will plant them over two plots next year and away from the herbs! I have noticed four little pumpkins growing and I imagine there will be more, they will be perfect for the upcoming soup season!

The pumpkins have already grown over the path between the herbs and the pumpkin plot.

We harvest crops most days, we have an abundance of courgettes and blackberries! I’m starting to run out of ideas as to what to do with them; jams, cakes and crumbles… can you tell we have a sweet tooth? We have harvested almost all of our Cos lettuce, there’s just three left. We have planted some more which should come up in a few weeks. The lemon cucumbers were actually left on the excess produce table – you can help yourself to anything that is left on there. The elderberries will also be ready to pick soon, I will probably make cordials and jam with these.

Courgette, cucumber, lemon cucumbers, parsley, Cos lettuce, tarragon and blackberries.

Until next week!

Two Months Already?

The last two months have flown by! But there is certainly a lot still to be done. Also, it is National Allotment week. So, Happy National Allotment week! What have you been doing on your plot this week?

Our plot of tomatoes had become unruly, it has been quite windy in England over the last week so we have had to take some extra precautions. Our plants have become quite heavy with side shoots poking out here, there and everywhere. We tied up the heaviest parts and then tied the supporting sticks to one another for extra support.

I cut off the smaller side shoots and planted them to see how well they would take. They all rooted, so I moved the shoots into another plot. More tomato plants for no extra cost! I doubt these will get to the same size as the other plot of tomatoes, but they have already started to produce fruits.

The bean archway also managed to survive the winds of this past week. Thomas tied up each side so that it wouldn’t flap around in the wind. It worked a treat, but the archway has started to sag because the beans are becoming too heavy for the poles we used. A rookie mistake we have learnt from.

We have four cucumbers that are almost ready to pick! They’ve done so well, I wish we had another plant. The cucumber, along with the tomato plants were given to us when we first got the allotment.

I’ve sorted the plethora of seeds we were given into order of month to plant. I now know what we do and do not have,so it made it much easier when I was buying seeds earlier this week. I went to a garden centre on Monday and they had a massive half price sale on all of their seeds! They actually ended up working out at about 75% off instead of 50%, which is a bargain. I may have to purchase a few more. I tried to pick unusual varieties of vegetables we wanted to grow next year. There were some seeds that I couldn’t find there, such as; lemon cucumber, purple carrots, red brussel sprouts and purple broccoli. I think I will probably have to buy most heirloom seeds from specialists online.

I also found a few other plants in the sale to fill up our bee friendly border. I picked up two large purple salvias and some pansies. Most of the pansies ended up in a hanging basket as I thought they were better suited there, they also add a nice pop of colour against the purple shed.

Unfortunately, most of our leafy greens have failed. The only thing that did well was the lettuce. The kale, broccoli and cabbages have all failed. I think they may have gone into root shock. These were also kindly given to us when we first got the allotment, but they have barely grown since we planted them. We have been prepared for some plants to fail, but it is still sad that they didn’t survive. These will be ripped up and more lettuce will be planted.

Here’s to the next month on our allotment!

Growth

After a little break in Yorkshire, we came back to an explosion of growth! We hadn’t even been gone a week. We are now starting to harvest the lettuce and courgettes, the potatoes are flowering so they will be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks and the beans have grown so much that the tepees have now been extended into an archway. We also have a plethora of blackberries, some of which have already been made into an apple and blackberry crumble. The rest will probably become jams.

The shed has finally been painted! It has needed two coats to cover the red it was previously painted but it has come out better than expected. In the end we chose Cuprinol Shades: Summer Damson. To prepare the shed we quickly sanded over any rough parts of the shed and brushed it over with a hard fibre brush to remove any dirt, we also did the latter between coats.

Thomas built a workbench to fit inside of the shed with a second level for drawers. It is made out of pallet wood and re-purposed shelves. It has been stained as well, just to marry it all together. There is enough space for 7-8 boxes on the second level, as well as plenty of storage space underneath. He’s done an amazing job – a new career path perhaps?

My Grandad also made a little potting table for me, isn’t it great? The top can be removed so it is easier to move around. This will be used outside, but I am not sure if it will be permanently fixed to the outer wall.

Thomas also turned the wall into a fixture for our tools. He made a wooden trough to store the tools in (which also covers some of the rotten wood) and then fixed a few brackets on the wall to keep the tools in place. It certainly keeps the shed a lot tidier!

I have started to dig the other side, after weeks of it being on the “To Do” list. No carrots for us this year, but I am determined to get some beetroot in! I’m not sure what will be planted in the other plots, it will probably end up being potatoes, lettuce and tomato plants just to get the ground ready for next year.

A New Addition

We finally have our shed! It was kindly gifted to us. Now we have to decide on a colour… purple, or purple?

Unfortunately the orientation of the base slabs had to be changed due to the proportions of the shed, but this was a relatively quick job as the ground was already flat.

The base of the shed had been damaged over the years and some of the edges had rotted. We decided that it was best to treat the wood, as this hadn’t been done by the previous owner. I took some pallet wood and nailed it underneath to strengthen the rotten ends.

I was actually away visiting a friend at the weekend so I wasn’t there whilst the shed was being built. It took two days to move the panels and build the shed. The edging panels around the roof have also rotted, so those will be replaced. Apart from that the shed itself is in great condition, a good find! Hopefully we can paint the shed next week.

As frustrating as it has been, not planting up the right side was a blessing when moving the shed. We needed a place to rest the panels, which could have resulted in squashed crops if we had powered ahead! Now that the shed is up, we have been able to store our tools, move the spare pallets and just generally tidy the allotment. Fingers crossed we can finally finish the right side!

I have planted some pumpkins in the plot in front of the herb garden and hope to plant some seeds in the other plots. If all else fails we can at least get the ground ready for next year. Some more tomatoes and strawberries have been planted as well.

The first blackberries are starting to ripen! A little earlier than I expected but I hope for a long crop of them. I have also discovered that we have a little gooseberry bush! It has been hiding under the elder tree. There are just two lonely berries on it and unfortunately the base of the bush is behind the fence so it cannot be moved. There is a lot of new growth on it so hopefully I can take some cuttings from it.

We have kept the back of the left side somewhat wild looking. The plot in front will be a wild flower garden so they will work perfectly together. The elder and the brambles are somewhat intertwined with one another but I don’t mind that. The ivy does need to be removed but that has also become intertwined with the elder due to lack of care from previous tenants, so that may be a little more difficult to remove but I am always up for a challenge!