It's been a tough old week on many levels. Gardening at work has been tricky to say the least, because of the cold weather and things freezing up. Amanda has been continuing her studies, and has just taken her second practical exam in advanced councelling and passed....Yay! Another one next week and so her coursework is taking up most waking hours.
For my own part the icy spell has brought with it spontaneous days off for me, and so as Amanda is buried in her books for most of the time, I have spent a few hours before we got snowed in, down at our allotment. As you can see, things are picking up...............
...........in my dreams! Ours is below, and no, nothing much has changed. I have managed to spray the whole lot with weed killer in readiness for clearing the site and putting a rotavator through it at some point. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in the weedkiller is glyphosate, and so needs the green stuff to be growing a little, but alas, there isn't much chance of that with the cold spell just moved in. The leafy stuff in the foreground are I think brussels sprouts, on the patch in front of ours and belong to someone else. The shed is now emptied of all the rubbish that was in it and shall be home to 3/4 ton of excess lawn fertiliser for the winter months. I've also managed to clear the site of a massive amount of old wood, slabs, plastic bags and old pots.
A few things remain from the previous keepers. A row of about twenty raspberries, that we will get rid of and replant with newer varieties that we are familier with. A couple of nice rose bushes of which one shall remain to keep continuity of stewardship, and two dwarf apple trees. One of these has badly diseased parts, but this one is quite healthy and so is going to be moved to a more suitable place other than slap bang in the middle of the plot. Not sure what the fruits are like but shall give it a chance anyway.
This is one of the roses. It doesn't look much in the photo, but is very healthy and has loads of tiny hips in clusters that would appear to be from small pink and single flowers. When it flowers properly next year I should be able to identify it a bit better, but for now it gets a reprieve.
One thing that is common on an allotment is a vegetable glut with certain varieties, and allotmenteers tend to share excess produce with one another. I was happily clearing away when I was interrupted by Josephine with some spare cabbages for me to take home. I gladly accepted, put them to one side and continued working as she went back to her own plot. They are a tough lot as I was wrapped up in winter clothes, and yet she didn't even have a scarf on!
Each plot seems to be different in some way, but the most common factor would appear to be the need for a shed. Used for various purposes from keeping tools in to storing beer in (yep!....one has a beer cooler and wine rack!). I shall take you on a short tour of the various things to see, but let's start with this little beauty.
Fitted inside with a comfortable armchair, radio, cooker, and yes, the obligatory packs of plant seeds, tools and books. As you can see, it even has a wheelbarrow/ wood store and a compost store.
This is a view across half of the allotments. As the ground is unworkable at the moment, most of my time is spent walking around and just observing stuff in general. There is an old male fox who lives here and spent time with me on my first visit, sniffing and checking out the changes that I was making. The last time I saw him was late one afternoon, it was bitterly cold, but he was curled up in the open and fast asleep, and had to be woken for the gift of a pork pie that I had brought for him. I think we shall be good friends as time goes by.
Birds are always a problem when growing fruit, and in particular raspberries. All manner of different methods are used to deter them, the most common being to cover the canes with mesh in some way, some pleasing to the eye, and as above some that are not.
The construction above and below is on a plot that actually belongs to a gardening company a bit larger than mine, believe it or not. The growing area that is not visible has a gigantic pile of leaf debris on it, ready for digging in at some point. This building however is a bit of a mystery. The inner structure comprised mostly of rigid plastic sheets and kitchen worktops, all covered by polystyrene fish transporting cases roped to the outside. Don't get me wrong, I am not a snob, but this just isn't right! I think a psychiatrist may be needed for them.
A few plots are quite obviously tended by allotment pros, such as this one. All very well dug over and neat, in readiness for some tasty treats. The owners of these sort of plots shall be the type that I target for advice I think.
More netting over raspberry canes. It would appear that raspberries are the 'in thing' on allotments, not that Amanda will mind.
Of course, not all techniques involves digging over the open ground. Another way is to create raised beds for growing, and thus making it easier to control the soil type and content. However, I don't think that these people have made the best use of space available.
Someone has been very industrious indeed with this anti-bird construction to protect their fruit.
These photos were taken about four days ago, and now all is covered under a blanket of snow. I hope you will all find my allotment journey and tales interesting. It is certainly a whole new and totally unfamiliar area of the plant world that I have never ventured into before, and am totally clueless about. I am now armed with a brand new copy of the RHS Allotment Handbook, cafetiere at the ready, and winter days-off to come, and so with a bit of luck we may get the odd parsnip or two next year.