Friday, 3 December 2010

The Allotment

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............... 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! 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.


  1. I had an allotment years ago and the best thing about it was all the produce that the 'old buffs' passed on to me, I always came home with more produce than I was growing myself. (I specialised in couch grass !)

  2. Hi Share my Garden,
    My plan is that if I look like I am trying really hard but failing, then people will just give me their fruit and veg.

  3. Dear Gary, As you say, each allotment has a character of its own so I am very intrigued to see how your plot will finally turn out. For my own part, I should concentrate on the shed, or indeed more accurately, the interior of the shed. Any allotment that is worth its salt should have a decent 'Bothy'.

    As for Josephine......what did Amanda have to say about her? Not now, Josephine, perhaps!!! I am pleased to see that she [Josephine] at least was wearing colour co-ordinated bikini bottoms!!

  4. Gary,
    I must first say how much I like your new blog banner picture, and yes I did have a little chuckle in amusement and it does seem quite appropriate for your blog.

    As far as the tour of the allotments, fantastic, how many allotments are there all totaled? And I take it that each one will be as unique as it’s tender. I don’t know if tender is the correct word to use, I think in your post you are calling everyone allotmenteers. And will there be good hearted competition between everyone or do all share a sense of comradely?

    After telling of all the cleaning you had to do I was also wondering, are not those exiting the allotment required to clean up after themselves? Oh just listen to me questions, questions, questions. But I am finding this interesting. - G

  5. Hello Gary, thanks for your visit. I don't think I'm any great expert, so don't hold your breath for tips from me! But I'm looking forward to seeing your gardening escapades. I can't believe that polystyrene construction you posted a photo of.

    I'll check out your Edinburgh visit - it's always fun to see your own city through someone else's eyes.

  6. Hi Edith,
    The shed will indeed be the first thing to get sorted. Even though I am putting my lawn fertiliser there today, for storage over the winter, come February and a couple of comfy chairs will be installed, along with stove etc.

  7. Hi Gary,
    There are around fifty plots of various sizes.
    Allotmenteers are generally very supportive of one another and will gladly exchange information and produce, although with some there certainly is a competitive edge, particularly among those that compete in vegetable shows. As for leaving a plot clean, unfortunately even though they should, they rarely do, and some may have been abandoned several years ago. Luck of the draw how bad the one you get is.

  8. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for dropping by. It looks from your pictures as though you live amongst some of the lovely Edinburgh terraces, which area is it? As for the polystyrene, that is indeed an eyesore to behold!

  9. i no what you mean some people keep every bit of crap they can get there hands on just in cast it comes in handy. most of it never gets used and it just looks a mess on the other hand josephine can grow some good cabbage.

  10. Hi Hort,
    Thanks for the comments. It is unbelievable just how much rubbish some people think may be of use one day. I think the polystyrene is some sort of insulation...we will see!

  11. That was definitely interesting Gary. Especially because we don't have allotments here over the pond. We do have community gardens although I think they're a bit different. Anyway, how big is the typical allotment? Yours looks very big! Good luck with it. I'm sure you'll have some lovely produce soon.

  12. Hi Jean,
    Our allotment plot is half size at about 125 square metres, the largest being about 300. This size will do for now until we get sorted, but no doubt we shall be on the waiting list for a full size one next year. Take care.