Sunday, 25 March 2012

Allotment Preparation

The working week went well, with the weeks schedule actually being kept up with. What helps of course, is the fact that we still haven't had any rain in the south of the UK for weeks now, and so no impromptu days off. The work still mostly involves mowing and border freshening, but with April almost upon us, lawn feed needs to start going down, and this garden, along with three other similar properties on the same road are first in line.

The week ended with the landscaping job in Sandbanks. The rear garden is now ready for finishing off, but this can't be done until the owners go on holiday soon, for reasons that will become clear when I do a post on the whole re-design of it.


We were by now, both very tired after the weeks work, but the day was far too lovely to just go home at the end of Friday, and so we had a very relaxed 'come down' at the entrance to Poole Harbour. Over the years, we have spent many, many hours here. In the winter, when cold and raining, it's just lovely to sit in the van with a newspaper and cup of tea, whilst watching the world go by. Beautiful sailing boats, cormorants, fishermen, all manner of sights to enjoy.


The weekend was set aside for the allotment. What with the ground preparation having dragged on, things had reached a head, work has kicked in, and so drastic action was needed. I didn't have time to dig the whole thing over, and so hired a local guy called 'Mr Rotovator' to mechanically turn the whole lot for me. At £50 a snip, especially considering the fact that when looking to hire a rotovator and do it myself would have cost £68! A no brainer as far as I'm concerned.

We got up really early on Saturday, so that before we started, we could head over to Boscombe, the town I was born in, and a new little coffee shop that also sells old bit's and pieces. Amanda had spied a beautiful screen that we both thought would screen our lounge window, and so she simply had to buy it, and it works really well. We both hate curtains, and this window really doesn't lend itself to blinds (we think), but it does the trick.

The design is what really caught her eye. Yes, along a gardening theme, it is old and exquisite.

But back to the allotment. I was so glad to get someone else to do the donkey work on this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of a spade or hard work, but things needed to get kick-started. We still had the edges to trench and throw back, as drainage on this part of the site is pretty bad. A heavy clay sub-soil had apparently been deeply dug into by a previous plot owner, and so the going was slow, and breaking the lumps with a spade took ages. A lovely dutch couple at the plot next door gave us a couple of gooseberry bushes, and so along with the rhubarb and redcurrant we transferred here, we have plants, yey! We are down there again today to mark out small access paths, and break the soil down further now that the sun is baking it dry.


But back to yesterday. A trip to the garden centre, and we have seeds, compost, labels and seed trays. Pots we already have in abundance. The table at the end of the garden was made ready, and we started the task of getting the fruit and veg started.


Amanda set about watering the rest of the garden first, whilst I made a start on the seeds.


Runner and Broad beans were first, about sixty of each. It was lovely to leave the machinery of work behind for a day, and get back to real gardening. The feel and smell of damp, fresh soil is quite intoxicating I find.


Most people plant a lot of their seeds directly into the ground, but wherever possible, we prefer to start things off in fresh compost first, so that we can keep a daily check on them more easily. Probably far too labour intensive for some, but something we love to do.

And of course there are plenty of excuses for numerous mugs of tea.

The cats are loving the weather. Hobie, always sociable and in need of human companionship, followed us about wherever we went, and once we had both settled into planting, so he also settled down to a long and dozy nap in the border next to us.
Misty meanwhile, kept vigil at the front of the house, before falling asleep in the large pot. Really nice to know that the guard is vigilant!

The smaller seeds needed the plug trays, and we set up our own little production line, choosing whichever seeds were best for each of us to plant. My hands are fairly hard and chunky after thirty six years of gardening, and after several accidents with hedgetrimmers, a bow saw, knife, and now a sledgehammer, my left hand is pretty much stiff and de-sensitized, and so the really small seeds I have to leave to Amanda, who sets about preparing the plug trays for planting.

I reciprocated by writing some of the plant labels.


It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and by the end all needed to be watered again. While Amanda tackled this, I repotted a load of large Dahlias, some deciduous Azaleas, and a couple of Yuccas. Now we just have to wait, and nurture things as they sprout into life. Really, really excited about this.

Before I leave you all for a while though, a bit of news on the house plant front. This Mimosa pudica, or sensitive plant, was added to the kitchen some months ago. we have never had any luck with these before, but with much more watering than we thought necessary, it is flourishing and has even needed to be re-potted! Add to this our small collection of orchids that have been with us for a long, long time, and one is flowering again....double Yey! And after a bad start last year, we did as you are supposed to do, and didn't move our Easter Cactus at all, and now we have a profusion of bi-colour flowers.....triple Yey!!

We are meeting up with elder daughter and family down at the beach in a moment, then it's the allotment this afternoon after buying some lawn feed for work....more tea I think.

Thanks for passing through.......look after yourselves.


  1. You two have been busy again I see. Love the old folding screen you got together, you can use that anywhere if you tire of it there. I hate curtains too, don't have anyin our home. Amanda sure looks alot better than me in the garden, I wear old tops and baggy pants. Love the pictures of your cat and also like your old gardening straw hat. take care~ Gina

  2. The screen is beautiful. What a great solution.
    Your allotment will be packed with all those veggies. Sounding like a great plan already.
    I like the garden hat!
    Your garden is looking nice. Sounds like a great way to spend the day. Although, I never have taken to hot tea. Ha!
    The mimosa looks great. Do you have photos of the Easter cactus?

  3. Hi Gina,
    Thanks for the kind comments. It never ceases to amaze me how Amanda always stays looking so good after a days gardening. Me, I am a soil troll, and always end up looking like I have been in an oily car accident.

  4. Hi Sherlock,
    The screen is lovely isn't it? And now we don't get sun in our eyes in the lounge. I have had the hat for a few years, and it has a few of my dads old badges from Germany on it. The easter cactus, well, I will try and remember to put a picci on my next post. I was going to this time, but it would have meant moving it.

    1. When do you have time to sleep? We're in the same boat at the allotment, needing to kick start things. Our main problem is the grass - it is rampant and lush, yet strimming it uses up so much time that could be spent digging and sowing.
      Looking at your sun hat and Amanda's tank top it could be high summer rather than March!

  5. Hi Linda,
    Believe it or not, this is the second year of our allotment. The first was spent weed killing and tidying, then leaving it for months and repeating the whole process. Decided to grab it by the throat this year though, so heres praying eh?!