The committee ladies accosted us at the gates and threw down an ultimatum. Apparently our plot needed weeding and weeding quick. We had 3 days.
They then told us that we had won the best new comers award – no congratulations implied.
Apparently we were now in the running for best new comers in the whole of Croydon. The committee had seemed slightly pre-occupied by the pan-Croydon allotment competition for a few weeks. A fancy new pergola has been erected by the entrance and bee hives have been introduced into a tiny corner.
Everyone has been instructed to tidy up and now it was our turn. All eyes on our plot.
We thanked them in shame and scooted off to de-weed our flower bed.
In the privacy of our own plot we allowed a little smugness to sneak through. Lynn insisted that it must have been her onions what done it while I maintain that it can only be the peaches of wonder.
Here’s a quick tour of our award winning plot.
Here’s a quick whizz around the plot on a hot day in May.
The peaches are coming on a treat, the spuds bounced back from the frost check, beans are ready for the risotto and the fox is getting cheeky.
We decided to show mercy to our remaining forks by building raised beds in the concrete zone and filling them with the soft crumbly mound of compost piled high in the Clampett’s yard section of the plot.
Lynn spent the best part of two days trying to clear this area of unmentionable cruddiness. Hundreds of decaying carrier bags billowed up like a detritus confetti shower when the grim piles of stained carpet were hauled away.
The strawberries were collected from around the plot, pretty much the only surviving plants from the previous tenant. They are temporarily in situ, awaiting arrival of the fruit trees and weed suppressant fabric when they will go back in for good.
The whole nasty little job brightened our lives somewhat when the second depressing mound was cleared to reveal this stash of treats. We’ve got Victorian edging stones and classy looking paving slabs just waiting to transform our plot into something very special. What a find!
I’ve already gone mad with my seed catalogues and can see my completely frivolous purchase of three assorted crowns of rhubarb sitting quite at home in a geometric bed of terracotta tiles.
I’ve started digging in the second bed and it was considerably easier than expected. It was clumpy clay soil but at least I could get my fork in and out without requiring a trip to Homebase with my receipt.
Two rows of garlic have gone in and maybe the broad beans will join them next week.
The results of 3 weekends labouring are mapped out on the images below, top row showing the view from the bottom of the plot and the bottom row shows the top down view:
We went to examine a vacant plot last week and came away having signed on the dotted line. I see before me a winter of heavy digging in an attempt to tame yet another South West London allotment.
It’s only two years ago that I took over the plot at North Sheen. That plot was in a fair old state but the wonderfully light soil conditions meant that I was able to make impressive improvements day by day. This new plot is based on heavy clay soil so no doubt our rewards will be considerably slower.
It’s quite an exciting time, daunting but full of promise. The fresh start is an ideal time to have a complete re-plan. I’ve listed all the veg that the kids are prepared to eat, added a few of our favourites and armed with a spreadsheet and a measuring tape, I ought to be able to make a highly productive strip. Planning isn’t one of my strong points though, within the space of 5 minutes I managed to order the same seed from two different catalogues – I’ll have to extend the leek bed.
Here are the initial photos from our first visit, it’s a long thin plot of 5 rods. We can’t actually start work before the 1st October, which effectively means that D-Day is set for Saturday. I better book the massage session now.
Most of this months pictures were the result of one weekend’s endeavours.
A two pronged assault during a sunny break in the middle of the month proved to be an excellent opportunity for pulling the plot together.
Weeds were pulled, beans were planted and my resident constructionist re-built last years rather poorly looking greenhouse. The plot looks like a growing environment once again!
Here’s an almost wordless month in pictures update. I’m so far behind that I’m cramming 3 months into one mosaic and as I didn’t seem to make it to the plot much in those first 3 months, there isn’t a lot to say.
Life dried off a little for December and I managed to get down to the plot quite a few times.
The grotty dark nights resulted in a couple of torchlit digging sessions but I also found myself shamed into a day of weeding after passing by on the train and noticing the big blocks off lush green weeds where the onions were supposed to be thriving.
The chard is still dazzling passers by with its jazzy, party coloured, stems. I think the pink is particularly fetching but the orange doesn’t seem to withstand the frost as well as the other shades.
There’s been quite a lot of frost already which has probably sweetened up my swedes and done wonders for the brussels. The bracing wind doesn’t have a lot going for it though, it has shredded my polythene greenhouse and although I’ve patched it up and folded it away in the shed, I don’t hold out much hope for it lasting another season. I hope Wilkinsons survive the economic downturn at least until the summer, so that I can buy another one.
The wind also lifted a big patch of felt off my shed roof but fortunately Lynn is a roofer par excellence and shimmied up on top and sorted the job out with style. Given the number of nails used, there is not a chance that it will be shifting again, it’ll stand up to hurricane Katrina should it need to.