Welcome to our allotment blog. We've got a plot, now we're trying to figure out what we're doing! So please join us - put the kettle on, sit back, and dream about Living The Good Life...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Seeds of success

Ok, I'm feeling a bit more positive now.

We've ploughed through pages of seed catalogues and made a few selections for the coming year. I say a few - it's totalling up at about £50, so we're going to have to whittle it down a bit! Although I suppose it's still heaps less than you'd spend at a supermarket or farm shop for the same amount of produce we get at the end.

So, we have a list of what we want to grow. Now we just need to check what seeds we have left over from last year, and if they'll still be ok to sow. Anyone know how long mange tout peas will keep? We definitely have left overs of those!

We need to take a trip to the local allotment shop soon to buy our seed potatoes. We won't bother getting Home Guard again as our earlies - they seem to explode if you boil them. One minute they're still hard, but give them another 30 seconds and boom! Potato everywhere! But Picasso worked well as a maincrop, even though they didn't get as large as we were promised.

Might wait 'til pay day until we place that order though... January's a long month, eh?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Roll on spring...

I've lost that New Year Excitement.

Last year the thought of flicking through seed catalogues and planning for the months ahead filled me with glee, but at the moment the thought of trying to decide what to plant where just seems a bit daunting and I've got no enthusiasm for the plot at all. And just putting that in words makes me feel a bit guilty.

According to the BBC news website, today is officially the 'most depressing' day of the year. I think I'm feeling it. Maybe tomorrow will be better and I'll be able to work up more excitement at the thought of having our Very Own Purple Carrots.

Yeay. Purple. Carrots.

You see? Usually purple carrots (and other unusually-coloured veg) bring a smile to my face. But I just feel like I need a BIG helping of sunshine and a couple of days where the ground isn't freezing cold and the wind isn't blowing my hair in my face and I can get some tidying up and organising done.

Maybe that's it. Maybe I need to get myself organised so I know how many left over sugar snap peas we've got left. And whether we need to plant some more onions.

Adam is much more positive. He popped down to the plot on Sunday, and in the space of an hour and a half managed to spread compost over four beds, chat with Phil, accept the offer of some more garlic cloves from Phil, plant the garlic cloves in a couple of rows, chat with Frank (the bossy Italian man who tells us we're always doing everything wrong) pull up some leeks and generally Assess The Plot.

Adam definitely still has New Year Excitement.

Time to make leek and potato soup... that'll cheer me up.

Monday, 12 January 2009

One year and counting

So, one year’s gone since I started this blog. Where has the time gone?

At least as we start 2009 we’re looking at an allotment which is mostly dug over, with decent soil, and some of our beds busy absorbing a scattering of manure to boost their fertility for the months ahead. This time in 2008 about half of the plot was as yet un-dug. We had some weed-suppressing plastic and carpets down, but the ground underneath was still compacted and bindweed-ridden, and giving us menacing looks ever time we went near it with a spade.

This year we still have to tackle the strawberry bed. I started this last January, a whole year ago, but I admit it’s beaten me - it’s the only part of the allotment which is still looking wild and weedy. The rest of the plot at least shows some modicum of control, even if you can see the weeds trying to creep in at the corners while we’re not looking. I think we’ll have to start from scratch and begin a new strawberry patch somewhere else, where it can be Properly Taken In Hand.

So what did we achieve in 2008, apart from digging? We’ve eaten our own veg for most of the year – and given surplus away to friends and family which is a good feeling. Especially when you’ve begun to dread the sight of yet another courgette. We’ve become more aware of what’s in and out of season, and also worked out what we like growing and eating, and what we don’t. Asparagus peas definitely come in the latter category – we won’t be bothering with them this year!

I want to plant a small bed of bulbs for cut flowers – probably alliums and tulips to start with. And speaking of non-edible things, we never got around to planting a honeysuckle to grow up and over the sheds. So that will have to go on our To Do list for 2009, along with mending the water tank and building an outdoor shelter or extension to the shed.

We need to add some raised edges for the beds, to improve the soil quality and help keep out the surrounding weeds and grass. So we need to collect some more pallets to rip apart. We need more manure, too. And to do some investigating into green manure as it seems like a really good idea, just something we’ve never got around to doing.

We’ve also made more friends at the allotment this year which hopefully will mean we’ll be able to do some seed- and plant-swapping come spring. Speaking of seeds, we have to make a visit to the allotment association shop for our potatoes soon, and place our seed order too. I think purple carrots are called for this year...

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cold cold cold

Went to the allotment to have a mooch about and use Adam's new camping stove expresso maker which my sister gave him for his birthday (very good, by the way.)

The ground was frozen solid so my plans for planting some allium bulbs went out the window. Everything had a fine covering of frost and the water butts had a couple of inches of ice.

Might have to wait a while before we can do anything productive on the plot. It's just too cold! But we did pick the two Romanesco cauliflowers - which looked like they were about to go mouldy - and had cauliflower cheese. They looked pretty, but I can't say I was that impressed with the flavour.