A Room of One’s Own

20121103-203537.jpgI’ve always considered the allotment shed to be a home from home but the recent crop failings and resultant low morale has led it to be more of an irregular holiday home and our lack of attentiveness became apparent today.

Opening the shed I discovered my boots had been used as a rubbish receptacle, I tried blaming Lynn but further inspection revealed the worrying signs that squatters had moved in – the Rich Tea biscuits had been half inched, the coffee whitener nibbled and a row of unappealing black deposits lined up on the supplies shelf.

It appears that a mouse has declared my boot a room of his own.

20121103-203626.jpgI’m quite impressed with his interior design. A veritable cornucopia was packed deep into the toe recess, including two real ale bottle tops and a large handful of plum stones.

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A Stormy Kind of Calm

A post storm reccy revealed that the wind had completely denuded the shed of its patchy roofing felt. With only 15 mins allocated for the plot visit there was never going to be time enough for a full repair job.

Shed Roof Repair

A shed related edginess cast it’s shadow over our corner of the site as a slight “tension” emerged between the lazy starter-leaver (me) and the task focused completer-finisher (Lynn). I was of the view that without a hammer, a ladder, the time, the inclination or the right clothes, we should put the soon to be rotten shed roof to the back of our minds and continue with Plan A, returning to the shed problem next week.

Lynn isn’t built out of the same “sit down and ponder over a cup of tea” mould as me and it was clear that we were going to have to get this job done pronto or suffer the consequences.

Plans were hastily rearranged and after a quick retreat for tools (and a flask of tea) we were back and ready for action.

I tucked myself well away from the stressy end of the plot and dealt with the rubbish pile while Lynn got up close and personal with the shed.

The rubbish pile was the main reason for our planned quick visit, most of it had already gone – thanks to the committee ladies who had been helping us to dispose of all the crud. All that remained was for me to bag up the few remaining bits of polythene and carpet and evict a few squatters. Seven mice and a toad ran clear of the carpet (at least the mice ran, the toad just looked aghast and covered up his private parts).

We’ll have to add “Build Wildlife Haven” to our construction to do list now.

We left the plot with a new air of satisfied calm – the shed roof was repaired before the rains returned and the shed interior began to take shape as the “Room of One’s Own Mug” returns to it’s rightful centre stage spot in the prized construction.


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Shed to Sedan Chair Makeover

Lynn’s words rang clear in my ears as she dropped me and her Dad off at the plot to get a head start with the shed: “Don’t let him turn it into a ridiculous Sedan Chair!”

When we first signed up for the plot, the good ladies of the committee informed us that we wouldn’t be able to install a shed until we had proved ourselves for a full year. That and the absence of running water almost amounted to a deal breaker but I was keen to start the plot transfer before the growing season kicked in and hoped we might be able to broker a shed deal in the New Year.

Last week we were rather overjoyed when a steady stream of committee members paid a visit and then offered us first dibs on an abandoned shed. It proved to be a rather smashing shed, probably a 7′ x 5′, half painted and yet completely draft proofed with expanding foam.

Roll on this weekend and the perfectly planned visit from Reg, shed builder extraordinaire, aka Lynn’s Dad.

Sedan Chair

I’ve done shed transplanting before and found it to be extremely stressful, so to be fair, if Reg were to come up with a suggestion that even hinted at making life easier, regardless of the comedy factor, I was going to jump at it.

And so it was when Lynn arrived back. Reg had constructed a sedan chair par excellence. Having unscrewed the floor all we had to do was enter the shed, close the doors, take the strain and walk it straight off it’s foundations along the road and onto our plot.

Weekend 4

There were a good few people on the site that Friday morning but I have to give them credit, not one single digger looked up to gaze at the apparition of a walking shed. Maybe these things are commonplace in Norbury.

It was a heavy job and my forearms are still screaming but it was the most satisfactory construction project I’ve been involved with to date. In 3 hours only we had shifted the shed, mounted it on a level surface of bricks and pavers and completed the painting job.

Herb Path

Three cheers for Reg who came up with the bright idea and managed to sell it to a pair of doubting Thomases who ended up being extremely grateful for a job well done.

There was enough time left over for the more usual allotment chores such as digging, paving, planting and muck spreading. I’ve just set out a few herb plants between these paving slabs to provide an aromatic division between the beds and Lynn has prepared the holes ready for the fruit trees that we can shift across next week.

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Blunt Trauma


I rounded the corner whistling away to a tune on the iPod and came face to face with this scene of blunt trauma nastiness.

Blasted vandals.

Not worth getting upset about it though and as my trangia and ‘room of one’s own’ mug were still intact, I managed to start the whistling again.

I ignored the DIY implications of the damage and got on with the digging. I had spud planting on my mind and didn’t want to put it off while the clouds were threatening to turn soggy.


I’m pretty pleased by the results, I’ve pulled my hamstrings and twisted my back but there isn’t much that surpasses the satisfaction of a freshly turned plot and a neatly stacked heap of hot horse manure.

While still ignoring the shed I thought I’d whizz around and complete many an outstanding task.

My second double row of Broad Beans went in, Bunyards Exhibition next to autumns sowing of Aquadulce. I’m pretty sure that I was close to cropping my beans this time last year but I suppose it has been a harsher winter.


I got a load shallots through the post yesterday, another forgotton and impulsive purchase from last year.

I noticed on the invoice that I have another two bags of onion sets due to arrive in the near future as well. Having only just got over the planting of the 5000 I’m not exactly looking forward to this delivery. I need to be a little more sedate with my purchases, at this rate I’ll only be cropping onions and spuds.

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Month in Pictures – December

Month in Pictures - December 2008 

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.

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Cold Birthday Drinks

Shed Beer Fridge

I was intrigued yesterday to see a recipe for a shed beer fridge in Allotment Growing Diary Plus, and as it’s my birthday today I thought it was a fine excuse for enjoying cold beer on the plot.

The idea is that the terracotta pot cools following evaporation of the absorbed water.

It certainly seemed to work, within an hour the pot was very cool but I made the mistake of starting with warm beer. I was too impatient to wait for the full process had to make do with coolish, luke warm beer.

I’ve left a couple of beers in there and topped the tray up before I left so we’ll see how long it works for. Maybe there will be an icy beer waiting for me after work tomorrow.

And here’s a gratuitous flower picture. I’m so happy with these dahlias, I grew them from seed and never imagined they’d be so successful.


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Plain Shed, Colourful Bike

Thanks for all the graffiti advice in the comments to the last post.

I took the train to the plot at the weekend and discovered that every single flat surface (mostly sheds) facing the platform had been scrawled over with the silver spray paint. It looked a bit grim and so I decided that the shed should be re-painted. It will probably take a few coats as the spray paint is heavy duty stuff, but as I had to go out and buy a new tub of paint, I have plenty to go around.

They can come back as often as they like now, I’ll be ready for em.
Shed & Bike

They didn’t cause any more damage by the way – all my crops were left intact which is a blessing.

Borlotta and Runner Beans

I picked up my new Brompton from the fantastic Wizz Bike this evening and went straight to the plot to photograph the new machine in amongst the potatoes.
The foliage just sets the colours off!

I was surprised to find that the beans are ready to start cropping, I had a trangia full of Borlotta and runner beans for my tea, shamefully mixed with a packet of curry flavoured supernoodles.

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Potato Tasting

I’ve given up on my first earlies for now, the slugs had their wicked way with the foliage and as a result hindered the tuber growth to pea sized proportions.

All the other spuds appear to be getting back handers of performance enhancing drugs though so today I decided to start whipping them out.

Spud Tasting

I dug two plants, one Maris Peer and another Kerr’s Pink. Both were pretty productive although the Kerr’s pink had loads of tiny little spuds with loads more room to expand. I’m going to be over run with these things in a few weeks so its a good plan to start on them early.

I took them straight from the ground to the trangia so I could carry out an immediate taste comparison. I don’t have any salt in the plot but I do have mint and the result was perfect.

Kerr’s Pink are supposed to be very floury but as an early spud, boiled young, they held together very well and were delicious. Boiled up like this they will encourage me to head to the plot for my dinner more often. Not very varied perhaps but I finished them off with strawberries and raspberries, delicious.

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