Constructions Galore

We’re only getting alternate weekends down on the plot at the moment, so it’s a great blessing when we manage to coincide with the good weather, although after 5 hours of meddling in the mud and sun this Saturday I was fit to drop. Good job we had an extended weekend to recover.

I spent most of those hours pottering in the greenhouse we resurrected on our last visit. It’s just about hanging on in there but looks like a very well worn teddy, complete with stitching and bandages – I don’t think I’ll manage to squeeze another season out of the plastic covering.

Tomato Contraptions

I banked all the sides up (inside and out) with old and new grow bags to try and protect it from the ravages of the wind and then set to, planting 15 assorted tomato plants and experimenting with an array of self-watering gadgetry and fancy supports.

The first watering system I tried out was the “Growtube” but my bottle reservoir just evacuated its contents within the space of about 45 seconds and resulted in most of the contents of the grow bag spewing over the sides. I was reasonably happy with the alternative bottle attachment you can see in the right hand side of this photo. It at least held the water for the 5 hours I was watching it. So long as it hasn’t got a permanent blockage I shall be happy.

Bean Support

While I was sweltering under the polythene, Lynn was out in the open, constructing stuff that actually has some sturdiness about it.

The plot won’t know what hit it.

We now have a bean support system that doesn’t look as though it will crack under the weight of the first two pods, a peculiarly creative broad bean “thingy” and a stretch of wind break that will offer further protection to the rapidly decaying greenhouse.

Cat's Cradle

I’m feeling quite happy with the plot at the moment. We seem to have got on top of the situation and set ourselves up for a good growing season.

The challenge now will be to keep on top of the watering and find enough space, that hasn’t already been colonised by the ubiquitous onion sets, to grow actual food. I’ve got 12 squash seedlings in the greenhouse but have no clue of where to put them, perhaps I need to get myself on the waiting list for a second, dedicated, squash plot.

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Month in Pictures – July

Blimey, July is a busy month.

I’ve been on the plot almost every day and yet don’t seem to have done anything constructive. The time is taken up by watering and picking crops (not that I’m complaining), with precious little time for making any last minute sowings.

Month in Pictures - July 2008

I haven’t had much time for blogging recently so there are a few new photos in the montage.

The greenhouse has worked wonders and I’m now pulling out bucket loads of the most delicious tomatoes, a handful of chillies each week and the promise of some juicy aubergines.

Outside the courgettes have just, in the final days of July, started to put on a little growth spurt and I’m reassured that there will soon be a glut. The cabbages are so tasty but my labeling discipline has been slack and I don’t know what variety they are. The runner beans are cropping so well now that the bean construction is threatening to collapse and I’m delighted to announce the appearance of two micro-caullis.

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Soggy July Evening

It’s been pouring with rain fairly solidly for last 3 days but perversely I had to go down to the plot this evening to do some watering. That’s the trouble of having some crops under cover.


The plot looked satisfyingly lush and the seed heads were majestic.

I left absolutely soaked but satisfied with my first picking of tomatoes and a healthy bag of runner beans.

Rainy July Evening

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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.


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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Going Hungry

Pea Sticks

I gave myself a day off the running so I could enjoy another leisurely session on the plot. I carried on where I left off yesterday and weeded most of the remaining beds. The peas are getting a bit lanky as well so I stuck some titchy sticks in to keep them on the straight and narrow til the weather becomes more stable and I can remove the mesh cover. There were quite a few empty stations where the peas either didn’t germinate or were swiped by meeces so I popped in a few spare seeds, hopefully they’ll come along soon enough and pad out the row.

Before I came down to the allotment this morning, I passed by Shakti’s for breakfast. She posed the question “If we ran out of money tomorrow, what would we live off from your plot?” About 3 months ago she sowed the pea seeds that I supported above and can’t quite believe that we aren’t eating fresh garden peas yet. I don’t thinks she’s altogether too impressed with the DIY food malarkey, life is just a little more instantaneous down at Tescos.

Hardly Self Sufficient

On arrival I surveyed the crops with a hungry mind but was somewhat disillusioned. I think the only currently edible produce is cabbage and some other critter already seems to have eaten way more than I will ever get to enjoy. Don’t these look like a pitiful bunch?

So in answer to the question, I think we would survive for about a week on limp cabbage leaf. Life would then get tough unless I could find an inspiring recipe for roasted bind weed and couch grass roots. I’ve got enough of those to keep us cooking on gas til the peas start cropping!

Todays sowing

More seeds went in today as well, I’ve sown half a row of carrots – early nantes that came free with “Grow It” magazine and a full row of parsnips. Both have gone in the space I cleared yesterday by removing the salad leaves.

I’ve also started a batch of aubergine and tomato seeds in individual modules. My flat is no go zone for anything green, within 24 hrs every living form of plant life collapses in an irradiated heap. Quite concerning but I seem to cope unscathed. Anyway, the seeds need to live somewhere warmer and brighter than the shed, but safer than my flat so I’ve sent them to germinate at Shakti’s house. She accepted them willingly so I’ll see what other delicate little seedlings I can pass into her care. She’ll soon discover the joys of DIY food growing.

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