Stolen Time

Allotment Shambles

The weekend forecast is pretty dismal again so when I woke this morning to glorious sunshine I thought it was too good to waste and quickly swapped my annual leave arrangements. By 9am I was out on the riverbank, squeezing in another neglected pastime by running to the plot.

Typically, when I arrived the sunshine had disappeared behind a grey cloud but although it was pelting it down about 10 yards to the left of me, I seemed to be able to get on with my digging untouched. Commuters were huddled under brollies on the station platform and probably thought I was nuts not to take shelter but even as the rain cloud moved over and started its symphony on the pond surface, I was left in a little dry patch. Then the sun came out again and I had to strip down to a t-shirt it was so glorious.

New Path and Spuds

I’ve been trying to get onto the plot for days now and in fact the whole month of March has been pretty much a wash out. As a result I was like a wound up spring suddenly released to cause productive mayhem.

All the spuds are in now and I finished off by laying the paving slabs I acquired from freecycle.

Early Spring Progress

The site skip is almost always overflowing with junk but just to make this day extra perfect it was empty – at least it was when I arrived. Skip space is a highly valued commodity and keen not to miss out I finished my morning jog with an interval session. For non-runners this effectively means sprints followed by slow recovery runs. I ran too and fro my plot grabbing the filled sacks of bindweed roots, it was like a rather muddy supermarket sweep. So now the sacks have gone and the huge mountain of perennial weeds sitting slap bang in the middle of my courgette spot have been disposed of.

In the end I didn’t go and kidnap any frogs from the local ponds. I read on an amphibian wildlife site that frogs are currently under threat from a virus that is spreading across the country – red leg virus, and the sharing of spawn is only exacerbating the spread. I just have to sit tight and hope that news of the delightful residence spreads fast. I did however, transfer some wildlife from the water butt adjacent to the pond. It was absolutely teeming with tiny water boatman and I thought they’d be much safer in the pond – less risk of them being tipped onto my tomatoes to dry out slowly in the sun.

I’m happy again now and can go back to work replenished if a little shattered.

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Paths and Peaches

Great weekend, the sort that requires another weekend to recover from though.

Avalon Pride 4

The widely forecast snow didn’t rear its head in London, in fact Saturday was a gloriously sunny day. I was free in the afternoon so headed off to the plot with my newly delivered peach tree. I bought this from Blackmoor Nurseries and the variety, Avalon Pride, is apparently resistant to leaf curl. If I can plant it against a SW-erly wall I should be rewarded with juicy fruit some years hence.

My shed is approximately SW facing, if you are a glass half full person, so I’ve decided to train it as a fan underneath the bird box. This required some brave and ruthless pruning. The stump you see in the photo is the result of two days of nervous nibbling with the secateurs. It seems such a tragic waste to hack off hard grown branches, especially when the tree cost £25, I’ve already relegated about £10 quids worth to the incinerator.

Today wasn’t such a great day, cold and flippin windy but I managed to get quite a lot done. You’ve got to love sheds, regardless of how bitter the day is, you’ve always got a little retreat. A perfect home from home. Everyone should have a strategically placed shed with a supply of tea bags and digestive biscuits, it’s practically a human rights issue.

So I started with a bit of digging – I still haven’t cleared that peculiar ridge of bindweed and couch grass roots that I mentioned a few weeks back, and then I chose to start building a path.

Allotment path.

At the moment I seem to be wandering haphazardly across the plot, compacting the area I’ve already dug, so I need to add some order. I nicked the bricks from another pre-existing but almost buried path and will need to go on a hunt for suitable hardcore material before I can organise the whole plot properly.

Sweet pea rolls

After a couple of hours hard labour, it was back into the shed to start the sweet pea seeds off in the toilet rolls I’ve been collecting for months.

I don’t get a huge amount of light through the glazed windows, so I hope they don’t get too straggly before it is safe enough to send them outside to face the big bad world.

I’m using one of my old coke bottles as toilet roll specific watering device. It was a heck of a lot harder to construct than you’d imagine – I knocked a nail through the lid after a couple of severe bashes with the hammer but I had one hell of a job removing it again. The plastic on those lids must be about an inch thick!

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