Every May since 2006 a group of guerilla gardeners in Brussels declared the 1st of May, International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day. A day for everyone everywhere with a cheeky guerilla gardening streak to spread our gardening love beyond our plots, windowsills, gardens (if your lucky!), to plant sunflowers seed in our communities in the hope that they will bring beauty and smile to peoples faces in our neighbourhoods
“With your half of the ransom
You bought some sweet, sweet, sweet
And gave them to the night”
Sunflower by Low
It’s hard to think that this time last week temperatures were soaring in a mini heatwave. Ice lollies and barbecues and long sunny days. In true British style this bank holiday the rain has set in today (saturday 25th) with temperatures dropping to miserable below averages. Today down the plot with all the drizzle, huddling in the shed between the heavy showers and enormous rumbles of thunder got me day dreaming about sunnier times.
One thing I’ve really missed this year are our giant sunflowers. This year all our sunflower seeds and seedlings we’re all either eaten by mice or felled by munching molluscs during the rainy early summer. Last summers sunflowers were giants! The tallest reaching almost 10 feet. I spent many an hour admiring their cheery blooms, watching the bees walking around their centres. Happy days. Continue reading “Sweet Sweet Sweet Sunflowers: Memories of Sunny Days”
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.”
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”
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!
Now that the first official day of Spring has been and gone, the temperatures rising, the birds are singing and the dastardly weeds are rearing their heads again. Down the allotment everything is waking up and stretching free of the earth stirred by lengthening days.
After what seems like weeks, no months of overcast cloudy non-weather this weekend was glorious! The sun shone brightly the breeze was gentle and soothing. Perfect if only all allotment days where like this.
The spring bulbs are still blooming away merrily. The crocuses keep popping up here there and everywhere. Surprising me how so many managed to evade those pesky little squirrels who seem to be able to smell a freshly planted crocus bulb at 50 paces. Continue reading “Make me feel like Spring has sprung”