Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge

Homegrown salad all summer long, that’s the dream huh? Sadly for me it’s never been a reality no matter how enthusiastic I’ve been in the beginning it just takes a row of pigeon pecked lettuces, slug ravaged seedlings or bolted spinach to break my heart and dwindle my motivation.

Continue reading “Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge”

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The Ups and Downs of Being a Throughly Modern Allotmenteer.

Hello. My name is Emma. I live and work in London. Rent a small one bedroom flat with my boyfriend. Like many people our age we do not own our own home and have no outdoor space. And we are allotment holders.

I’m pretty sure were not alone. Allotments have seen a massive boom in past decade. Everyone wants to grow their own. Waiting lists across the UK are fit to burst. Our site alone has a closed waiting list with a predicted wait of at least 5 years. Things are changing fast. Allotment tending is no longer the preserve of the retired gent. With their rows of leeks and tatties. Much to the initial confusion of the ‘old boys’, younger people are taking over the neglected plots. It’s not easy, many drop out. Those that stick at it, like ourselves are head over hills with allotmenteering.

Working fulltime, weekends and snatched post-work summer evenings are all the quality time we get with our plot. Weather, commuting, transport problems and family commitment all get in the way. On an ideal weekend during the lighter months we put in around 12 hours work down 18a a weekend. Continue reading “The Ups and Downs of Being a Throughly Modern Allotmenteer.”

Sunshine & Showers. Well, Sort of.

In typical British Bank Holiday style this May Bank Holiday has been a bit of damp squib weather wise. Saturday and Sunday cool and showery and today, Monday, warmer but a soggy first half! Despite the weather we got lots done, in-between dashes to the shed to dodge passing showers.

Spent most of the drizzly unpleasant early afternoon in my shed potting on some seedlings peacefully listening to the birdsong. Watching our resident robin hopping around right outside the door! Both the pair come down though Mr Robin is more confident with us than Mrs Robin. She’s far more cautious and skittish. He’s getting quite tame, just as long as we don’t get too close he’s happy for us to work on HIS allotment plot! Continue reading “Sunshine & Showers. Well, Sort of.”

The Curious Incident of a Rat and the Snail in the Nighttime

Call the Allotment police there’s been murder! The victims, the Sunflower seedlings. Murder scene, the cold frame.

Yes last night our sunflower seedlings were brutally murdered in their own beds. The week before Mr Wilson and I had sown our ‘who can grow the tallest sunflower competition 2011’ tucking them up all cosy in the cold frame. Within days they were sprouting away merrily. Each night after work I’d been making my pilgrimage up the plot to check on the seedlings. All was ship-shape and Bristol fashion. Then came the mini heat wave. deciding to prop the cold frame up over night to begin the hardening off process we left for home delirious with exhaustion  after a lovely day working the plot in the April sunshine. That night we slept soundly in our beds blissfully unaware that down 18a foul play was a foot. Continue reading “The Curious Incident of a Rat and the Snail in the Nighttime”

Death and the coldframe

Sad news this week. With all this warm weather we lost all our lovely little seedlings. Gone are our Celeriac, Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Tom Thumb lettuces and Cauliflowers, gone to the big propagator in the sky. Working full-time and keeping an allotment can be testing enough at times but coupled with the unseasonable warm spell and seed sowing logistical issues have spelled disaster down 18a.

Alas back to the germinating drawing board. This time we will give the propagator on the kitchen windowsill another try and use the coldframe for hardening off. Will also try to get hold of some greenhouse shading for future balmy weather ahead.

With these heady highs of 20 celsius or more for April down South it’s easy to forget that it’s snowed before this time of year and least we not forget the late May frost of 2010 that polished off our cherry blossom and frost-bit our emerging potato foliage.

Made a second sowing of Purple & White Sprouting broccoli indoors mid-week and already emerging. Hope springs!

Garlic galore… not much more.

Spring certainly felt like it had sprung down the plot today. The first day in what seems like eons since it felt warm enough to take your coat off. Not quite T-shirt weather but definitely just a cardi day. The spring bulbs we’re in their element, being greeted to the plot by cheery daffodils and little gems of crocuses.

crocus

Had many grand plans for this weekend, sowing seeds a plenty being one of them, yet as often happens a job that I envisaged as just a quick half an hour turned out to take most of the day! That small task was to be the transplanting of our garlic’s from their winter starter homes of modules and pots into the new permanent homes of the Allium bed. This pesky little bed in question has been a right bugger from the word go. In our first year after it almost breaking our backs and hearts we planted a modest but tasty crop of potatoes. But it was by far our most clay-laden and unpleasant bed. Sodden and heavy in the wet and dry and dusty in the heat of summer. So this year we meant business! After much soul-destroying sticky digging and a program of force-feeding with some organic manure from the garden centre. A pricey solution but we figured what we invest now should pay us back in dividends. Continue reading “Garlic galore… not much more.”