Community Allotmenting – War or Peace?

One of the plots adjacent to mine is run on a community basis and I find it fascinating to see how well it flourishes. I would expect utter chaos but it’s a very well ordered plot. I haven’t spotted a Gantt chart pinned up on the shed wall with tasks and timelines allocated to individuals and I’ve never seen them huddled round a cuppa holding secretive planning meetings.

Last weekend though, G wandered over to my plot with a half eaten tuber in her hand. She was digging over an empty bed and unearthed what she thought was a Jerusalem artichoke, after rubbing it on her trousers she popped it in her mouth and gnawed off half it. It’s at that point she discovered it wasn’t actually edible so wandered over to seek my help in its identification. Turns out she was trying to enjoy M’s Dahlia collection.

She quickly went back and reburied the tuber and patted down the evidence of the freshly turned over soil but I have an inkling that she’ll be caught out when M gets back from his holidays.

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As you know my parents visited a fortnight ago, after tea on Sunday, Dad and I cycled over to the lotty to see what we could achieve in the last remaining hour of daylight. Working in the same tiny section of the plot (a 4m row), we set off almost shoulder to shoulder, planting our respective crops. Dad stuck in a load of sweetcorn seeds and I popped in 3 tomato plants and just in front of these went the 3 heritage potatoes that we’d saved from lunch (prior to cooking of course).

I marked the spuds with 3 quite impressive hillocks but yesterday while I was down there, I could find no sign of my potato mounds. Instead though, I found a scattering of swede seedlings. Under interrogation my Dad admitted to seeing the potato hillocks but assumed they were just evidence of poor cultivation. He had flattened them out and sown his seed on top!

Dad's Cauliflower

I will forgive him this once as he also put in a row of carrots and these have actually germinated, which is great news as my most expensive carrot in the world appears to have disappeared.

While on the subject of my Dad, I have to sneak in a photo of his rather substantial cauliflower. He dug this up before he came down and it fed 4 of us for 3 days.

That is my kind of vegetable, so I’ve been quick to gets some seeds in.

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Carrot Torment

I’m on the edge with my carrots. Three squandered seed packs later, I’m wondering whether to just walk away and forget that the sweet, orange roots ever existed in my life.

A trip to Petersham Nursery on Sunday gave me another option:

Extortionate Carrot

Now 50p may seem a little steep for an individual carrot, even in a pretty coir pot, but my multiple seed pack scattering has generated just one single germinated frond. If I can nurture that single beauty through the inevitable carrot fly onslaught, one day soon I will get to eat a £6 carrot, maybe the most expensive carrot in the world.

Incidentally the nursery had a whole line of individual potted crops, folk were carrying them away by the wicker trug load, presumably to stock their pretty little potagers.

Turnip anyone?

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Wot no Grandkids?

My parents arrived today, searching for grandkids as predicted.

Finding the flat childless, they were persuaded to walk along to the allotment in search of productivity. There I handed them a fork each and set them off at either end of the row of manky cabbages in a horticultural dig out. Mum won of course, by virtue of both reaching the middle first and rooting out the biggest pile of couch grass and bindweed.

By means of a reward I brewed them a cuppa char each, after all they had just driven all the way from Yorkshire and ought to be able to multi-task while watering the spuds.

Multi-tasking

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Revision Excuses

Shed Camo

I’m supposed to be at home revising for my exams, now a mere 2 weeks away, so of course the shed absolutely had to be painted today.

When that was finished I planted the beans outside, resulting in more teeth sucking from the old timers who absolutely refuse to gamble on the last frost date (more crossing of fingers on my plot).

Then the tomatoes, peppers and aubergines got cosy in the geometric grow bag arrangement.

Geometric Tomatoes

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Month in Pictures – April

Month in Pictures - April

Progress report for April

What a crazy month its been, at the beginning I was so worried about the broad beans that I resorted to exhaling over them in an attempt to thaw the snow cover and by the end of the month I was blistering in the sun.

I’ve planted out loads of the over zealous seedlings from the front room nursery and so yet again I am watching the weather with crossed fingers. Surely we can’t have a frost in May? I have the feeling that April is the pivotal month in the gardening calendar, we are so vulnerable and yet the temptation to get a head start with the tender crops is almost irresistible.

Here’s a quick spin around the plot (as at 27th April 2007) so I can compare progress this time next year.

Spud Hillocks

Starting next to the shed we have the spud bed, most of these have peaked through the surface but I am still able to keep on top of the earthing up process.

Spin to the right and you get the fruit area – strawberries, rhubarb, gooseberries and blackcurrant.

Strawberry Puddles

Then the second sowing of peas are coming though.

Pea Wave

Early Cloches

These are the cabbages I planted way back in week 1, I’m not terribly impressed with them. The blue ones are incredibly strong and need boiling for about a week before you can serve them. Some are riddled with white fly and most have juicy slugs living in the cosy hearts. I imagine I will compost these soon.

Next to them I have a few onions left but I’ll have eaten them all in a couple more weeks. As they go I am planting parsnips and carrots in their place, not having much success with either of these though, the carrots won’t germinate and something is eating my parsnips.

Beans, Garlic, Onions.

Here are the broad beans I’ve been so protective over. They seem to have survived although Ive probably lost some flowers and therefore productivity with the snow but I’ve eaten all the tips so far and started on the small pods.

Next to these we have the garlic – 2 forgotten varieties and the 2 overwintering onions.

Chard and Beans

I’m happy with this section.

Under the cloche are the ruby chard plants which are beautiful and tasty and productive which makes them number on my list. Next to it are my second sowing of broad beans, also now in pod.

Peas and Holes

Right at the bottom of the plot I have the first sowing of peas with a backdrop of pear and plum trees and a selection of holes awaiting my squash plants.

New Bed

On the other half of the plot we have the pond, a predominantly empty bed with sowings of french bean, kohl rabi and turnips.

Under the cloche are transplants of greyhound cabbage, they are pathetically small though.

Finally we have the bed with the 99p cloches. I’ve mostly got salad crops in here – mustard, rocket, radish, lettuce etc.

Salad Crops

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