It is week three and we are powering ahead! The left side is now almost completely planted up. Plot one and two are potatoes, plot three is garlic, onion, celeriac and cos lettuce, plot four is a mixture of leafy greens and plot five is strawberries and rhubarb; but we still have a few strawberries to plant.
The paving slabs for the path and the base of the non-existent shed have also been laid, but I can’t take credit for that. It is relatively straight but does follow the contours of the plot in some places, no complaints here though. The ground at the back [under the shed slabs] is poor quality and was a nightmare to prepare for the slab laying, so the layout has worked well for us.
We have now started preparing the right side of the allotment. Plots 11 and 12 have now been turned over, they just need to be raked and marked off. We aren’t 100% sure what we will be planting as of yet, but I know beetroot and carrot will be planted in one of them, probably plot 12.
I have already begun planting in plot A and C, these will be planted with pollinator friendly flowers to encourage the bees. They will spread out over time but I hope to put some wildflowers in with them next year.
The herb garden is well under way. So far we have four thyme varieties, three mint varieties, regular and garlic chive, tarragon, sage, rosemary, parsley and a curry plant. There are a couple of others we would like but are yet to find.
We have so much thyme on our hands. Initially we only had two, but were given another variety, then I came across a variety I remembered from my childhood. I thought I was going mad until I found it at a garden centre as no one could remember this bush; the variety is Golden Thyme. It has a bushy texture with a wonderful citrus smell. It took me back in… thyme.
Believe it or not, we have only had the allotment two weeks but we are powering ahead. The rain certainly hasn’t stopped us. This weekend we concentrated on turning over the soil on the right side of the allotment.
Unfortunately, the patch of soil is a little lower quality in comparison to the left due to being overrun with various weeds. The ivy and bineweed have been quite a challenge for us. Some of the bineweed roots have been almost 3ft deep! A lot of the roots are stuck behind the fence and we are unable to reach them so I imagine that this is be a recurring problem.
You may have noticed that the monster artichoke has gone! We believe that the next door neighbour cut it down, but that’s okay. We weren’t really sure about keeping it and it was planted by him, so it has saved us a job. There was a rhubarb plant hiding under the artichoke and unfortunately did get stood on when it was cut down. We had to move it earlier than we had planned, but we didn’t have much choice due to the damage that had happened to it. Usually, you would move rhubarb in early spring or autumn. We have decided to turn plot six into a fruit plot, the rhubarb will sit with wild strawberries.
After turning the top right patch of soil over several times, we have finally started planting the herb garden. Even still the roots just kept on popping up! We have sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, peppermint and tarragon so far.
After planting the herb garden, we started laying out the position for the potatoes. Using a dibber and a trusty old set of sticks and string did the trick. Potatoes need to be planted about 3 inches/8cm deep.
It is great to see how it is all coming together in such a short space of time. We have started to position the path, although the ground will need to be levelled before we fix it in place.
We have changed the layout of the allotment slightly. We decided to put hardy shrubs at the front of the allotment, such as lavender, as they will be better suited to the quality of soil there. The trees have been moved back into the second plot by the path. The soil is much better here and also we realised that trees would obviously outgrow the original plot we had planned for them.
So as somewhat expected I am a little late with the allotment update, but it certainly looks a lot different to how it did last week! The rain has hindered us somewhat, but we have still managed to plough on.
On Saturday we concentrated on removing the patch of weeds on the right side of the allotment. We didn’t realise that the majority of these weeds were so deep rooted. We really didn’t want to use weed killer on our plot unless absolutely unavoidable. With two people on the job it took around three to four hours to complete. Luckily we managed to do it before the rain came… again.
On Sunday we set about turning the left side of the allotment so it can be planted. We are a little late in the season but there are still quite a few things we can grow. Potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, beetroot and kale are just a few of the things that will be planted over the coming weeks.
The plot is 35ft 6 x 34ft. The land has been divided up in what we feel is the best way for our needs. The plots will be 3ft x 12ft, separated by 2ft grass boarders. There will also be a larger plot at the back for flowers and herbs.
Here is a more detailed plan of the allotment. It shouldn’t change too much from this; the only thing that is most likely to vary is the size of the shed and the free space around it.
The allotment has it’s own Instagram page as well! A lot of the pictures on there will not be posted to my blog for the sake of repeating myself. If you are interested please go to Ofett Geard.
Today was our first day on the allotment. We were quite lucky in that we didn’t need to be put on a waiting list, we only signed up yesterday!
We decided that the best way to clear the allotment was in columns, starting from left to right. I concentrated on removing the smaller weeds and stones as well as turning the soil. Thomas dug up the larger rooted plants throughout the left side.
There is still quite a lot to do but I feel we managed to clear a lot in just four hours. We are still working out on a plan of what and where we want to plant things, but one step at a time.
I will probably post an update on here every Sunday with our progress on the allotment. Lets hope the weather is good for us!
Here is a simple recipe for a small batch of mixed jam. This should make two jars or about 700g-750g of jam.
Ingredients: – 200g of strawberries – 200g of raspberries – 200g of granulated sugar – 180g of pectin sugar – 50ml of lemon juice
Equipment: – Two metal pans, one for the jam and one for sterilising the jars – Two jars – A wooden spoon – A slotted spoon – Tongs – A saucer (to test your setting point) – A wooden cutting board – Cellophane – Wax discs
Firstly, put your saucer in the fridge, you will need this later. Wash the berries thoroughly and trim off any stems. Cut the strawberries in half, the raspberries can be left whole.
Place the strawberries in the pan with the granulated sugar, once the strawberries begin to break down add in the pectin sugar and raspberries. You can mash the strawberries if you wish to speed up the process and have a smoother jam. Raspberries also break down a lot quicker, thus needing less time in the pan. Remember to stir your mixture as it breaks down. Once the sugars have dissolved, add in the lemon juice and raise the temperature of your stove to eventually bring to a boiling point. Skim off any scum with the slotted spoon that may be on the surface. It is okay if you cannot remove it all, a little won’t hurt. Boil for around 8-10 minutes.
Take the saucer out of the fridge and dab about a teaspoons worth of jam onto it. Place it back into the fridge and leave for a minute or two. If it crinkles on the saucer when it is touched, it has reached setting point. If not, place your mixture back on the boil for another 2-3 minutes. Add a little more pectin sugar if you feel that your mixture needs it.
Once you have reached setting point, take the mixture off the boil and allow to rest. You can now begin to sterilise your jars. You will need to bring your jars to the boil, making sure they are fully submersed in water. Allow them to boil for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and use the tongs to pick the jars out of the pan and drain the water, place them on side. It would be best to place them on a wooden board to protect your counter from the heat. Do not let the jars cool too much when potting your jam, it is best done when the jars have just come off the boil but do be careful not to burn yourself. This limits the amount of time the jars can come into contact with bacteria.
Pour in your mixture and then place a wax disc on top of it, then cover the top of the jar with cellophane. Screw the lid on and label your jars.