Bleak Mid-Winter

Misty

We may have just hit the point of mid winter but it wasn’t all that bleak down the allotment today, jolly misty, a bit chilly, but not bleak at all. In fact it was quite a joy to be down on the site, the old apple trees are looking particularly sculptural and most plot holders have been involved in a flurry of tidying, the plots look great. Even mine seems to have adopted a sense of the seasonal spirit, I should have taken some mulled wine and chestnuts to roast over a little blaze of bindweed roots.

When I first took on the plot, one of my more experienced neighbours told me that most of the site remains free of frost year round but that they occasionaly get a freak frost that passes through a handful of plots in a diagonal band. My plot is definitely within Jack Frost’s dropzone, he scatters the ice through my plot like rivulets. In some areas I had to jump on the fork to crack through the frozen tilth but then a foot to the side I found myself squelching in a soggy patch. Probably not ideal digging weather but Good Friday falls early this year and I need to crack on if I want enough clear space for my spuds to be in for March.

Swift

I laid out my seed potatoes for chitting in the shed. I was a bit concerned that it may be a bit cold for them in there as I always used to do them on my window ledges but I think they should be ok in these polystyrene seed trays.

They look pretty toasty to me but they aren’t the only cosy veg on the plot. Check out the new pea seedlings, doesn’t it look appealing in there?

Cosy pea

Shakti planted those peas for me on the 14th November alongside a double row of aquadulce. The broad beans are only just showing signs of awakening and have been pretty tardy in comparison to the peas. It would be cruel to compare them to their older brothers which were planted two weeks earlier and are now almost pushing through the top of the fleece enclosure. It will be interesting to see if the head start makes much difference to the bean cropping.

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View on the Inside

Well there was no eviction notice tacked to the front of the shed so I may start to relax now. Mind you it was so windy today that any notice would have blown away, I was surprised the shed hadn’t taken off in fact.

Check out the laminate flooring!

Shed Wide View

Spartan Apple Tree

Despite the horrendous weather (Dad take note – your weather forecasting is not to be trusted), I enjoyed a little pottering on the plot. I managed to plant out the new Spartan apple tree, sort the compost and do a bit of hoeing between the onions and garlic.

Of course more time was spent inside the shed, looking out and pondering on the intricacies of life. I need a chair now and perhaps a kettle, you need to be comfortable to ensure high quality philosophising.

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All Quiet on the Allotment Front

Well it hasn’t been all that quiet it’s just been so stressful recently that I’ve kind of gone into blogging hibernation.

I mentioned in my last post that I had been offered a super shed for use on the plot and I’d roped in the help of my mum, dad and brother to help erect it, after I’d dismantled it and delivered it to the plot.

So, full of excitement and enthusiasm I set too on the shed, whipping out screws and nails, or at least I would have done if I hadn’t shredded every screw I touched. The flippin things wouldn’t budge and faced with the enormity of my task I sat down in a little sulky heap and tried to remove all shed dreams from my memory banks.

Shed Foundations

Following a call to the family, I discovered that there are many people way more talented than me on the DIY front. It seems my brother knows special tricks for the removal of stubborn screws and the shed dream was back on. With excitement creeping back, I booked the van (after checking it would take an 8x6ft shed) and then headed to the plot to prepare the site.

Seems a little strange to prepare the soil for planting a shed but I was worried about it becoming a safe haven for bindweed if I left any roots. Now I risk the shed sinking instead but the ricketier it looks, the safer it will be.

Early last Saturday morning the 4 of us headed to my friends to start ripping the shed apart. What a job that was. After getting all the screws undone but before pushing the shed apart like a pack of cards, the question was asked – “should we not just put it back together and leave it well alone?” Clearly there was an inkling of the trouble ahead.

We continued and after about 4 hours had the shed piled up in a heap ready for me to go and fetch the van, parked about 8 miles away in central London. I was a little concerned when I saw the van, VW Transporters aren’t that big really, but I had asked the question and was told it would fit so I drove it back.

So much for asking questions and really I suppose you shouldn’t trust anyone to do trigonometric calculations when you are quite capable of doing them yourself and discovering that the doors are more than a foot too short! Curses! Where do you get a whopping great van without notice at 4pm on a Saturday. No where is the answer.

We carried the shed back into my friends garden. I went back to drop the useless van off and spent the rest of the evening trying to get my dad and brother drunk on vintage port so that they weren’t too concerned about all the wasted effort.

Next morning I managed to hire a massive hi-top transit van and we were back on the job by 9am. Vintage port gives the sort of headache that doesn’t welcome early mornings and hard labour. Still, the shed fitted like a dream and we were off to cause havoc at the allotment site.

Sunday morning is no time for trying to squeeze the biggest damn vehicle ever down the middle of the site. I must have disturbed just about every plot holder there and anxiety levels were sky high. We unloaded it pretty quickly though and I skulked off to dispose of the van. By the time I was back it seemed the shed was almost up! And I promise I didn’t take my time, I was only gone for about 15 mins. My brother is clearly an ace at construction.

Shed Erectors 1

I didn’t really do a lot, I just looked on with gradually declining anxiety and fetched screws. When I finally got to look inside I discovered that my dad and brother had knocked up some fantastic staging and laid a laminate floor! This is definitely going to be a home from home.

With the shed up my brother had to shoot off home (and I didn’t even give him any lunch). My mum and I set too with the organising, finding special spots to hang the tools and finishing off the shelving. As if they hadn’t all done enough by this point they started digging over some of the areas I’ve missed, planting bulbs around the pond and constructing a permanent bench. I had to drag them away eventually so we could get some dinner.
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It’s almost a wonderful end to the weekend except for the fact that I seem to have broken some allomenting by-law. The shed is apparently too big for the site. Quite a bit too big. Now I’m living in fear of being issued an eviction notice and having to go through the whole sorry process again. If push comes to shove I may take a chain saw to either end and make it smaller that way, but it would be a terrible shame.

So at the moment I am keeping a low profile, I need to go up to the plot to plant an apple tree and empty my overflowing compost bucket so I think now would be a fine time – tis absolutely belting it down. I bet I won’t see a single soul there. I’ll be able to plant my tree and sit in my dry shed admiring the view and waiting for the bulbs to poke through.

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