Wednesday 20th July 2011

Well there was no fog this morning, but it rained this afternoon, only drizzle mind you, so no sudden sprints to the car in my wellies. I planted out my Borlotti Beans today, I’ve only got 6 ft sticks left, so they had to do. I’m sure the plants won’t mind. I also picked some more Peas, and dug up some more Potatoes. I’m getting some fairly large ones (jacket potato size), which I’m rather please with. The Pumpkins are still growing, and are getting bigger by the day, hopefully I’ll be able to grow my largest yet!

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4 Responses to Wednesday 20th July 2011

  1. TERENCE says:

    Dear Claire, watched your videos a while ago on YOU TUBE. I like the way you explain everything . I finally aquired my allotment last year and am ashamed at the lack of progress. I gave up waiting locally but mine is about 7 miles away I wish it was nearer. I started a garden five years ago at my theatre club and then other members joined in. If there is a patch of grass then sooner or later it disapears (apart from one lawn I have been banned from). It has been funded partly from boot sale & tombola stalls, donations of cuttings, a donate a bulb scheme (and me !) We have no storage so operate from the car boot. It was easier when I had my van as it was more akin to a mobile shed anyway. A tremendous encouragement came from a famous local garden whose head gardener unbeknown to me had been watching our progress and donated to us some beautiful tulip bulbs and a tree. It is so rewarding when people stop, when you are working and say how much they like seeing the flowers. Anyway this brings me back to the allotment. It was like a meadow . It is on a beautiful sight with water ( which automatically fills up, like a cistern) and lockable gates. These plots are unusual as no two are the same size. I would have been better opting for a smaller one but undestimated the work to clear it. It is on a slope . I spent a long time lugging bags of sand and gravel to make a shed base topped with paving slabs as obviously cannot use a concrete base. ( mine is at the furthest point from the car park. I have never atempted anything like this before. I ordered a quality shed from a local firm, excellent delivery service and the lads who erected it complimented me on how level the base was and then told me that normally someone comes out to erect a level wooden base. Never mind, you live and learn. I am determined not to use any chemicals/ weed killers etc. I have gradually forked out beds and made large heaps . A nearby plot holder merely barrows his `rubbish` into the adjacent woods. I have 2 plastic compost bins and my brother in law is going to give me another 4 as he is reducing his gardening activity. I am going to recycle all the `material` taken off the plot by utilising the eventual 6 bins , hoping the heat kills all the wed seeeds if left long enough. All peelings, egg shells and tea/coffee is now saved in the kitchen and taken to the plot. Since I discovered that tea bags contain plastic, they are all being empied first. My failing is I read all the books and by the time I get to my plot forget where to start. I was delighted to see that apart from tomatoes and potatoes the rotation system is not one you advocate. I still think this all stems from the sensible rotation system operated for generations by farmers including leaving one field fallow for a year which has a rejuvenating effect. With the theatre garden it has has evolved with general top dressing, watering and planting where there is a space and as the perenials and shrubs have established themselves to a degree looks after itself. I come back from the allotment dismayed and occasionally think of giving it up especially when I hear of the impossibility for so many people who may never be allocated a plot and I think of surrendering it in favour of someone who deserves it more. What I have decided is to review it again at the end of 2012. All this rotation business drives me mad. My plot was chosen as I thought it would be nice not to have plots all around me, water was at one end and it is lovely hearing the birdsong in the woods behind. However, I never got the nets organised and consequently have not had a single strawberry. I was given the plants and they flowered etc. I have a big problem, the amount of shade. Part of my plot does not get any sun until after midday.
    I have decided that I will gradually go to small raised beds with twisting paths. After all the cottage gardeners/potager owners of old had to utilise every space so probably had minimal weed problems. They used any rotted manure from cattle/horses/their own pig or poultry. No dressing would have been intense as it was possibly in short supply.Pests were kept to a minimum as everything was in effect mixed up together so carrot fly,for example may not have always reached the target. I think allotment problems stem from diehards `aping` farmers by growing everything in straight rows, leaving a lot of exposed soil which then has to be hoed,all of which compacts the soil. Then when the mono crop is cleared it all needs digging. There are inevitably times when the soil is exposed and top soil is eroded. My approach is keep the paths as narrow as possible and keep dressing the top with home made compost etc. Rotation will be `naturalised` eg: harvest the carrots and plant dafodills . I had a misfortune. I purchased a mini greenhouse ,with a plastic cover. I weighed it down at the lowest level with a concrete paving slab. This little project was a disaster, the seed trays dried out too quickly and then a gust of wind blew the whole thing over. I am going to recycle the framework to hold netting. Anyway FOCUS was closing down here so I purchased a heated propogator (half price) and a large quantity of seeds for the future 60% off !. The new tactic is to only start seed off at home. I live in a flat with no garden. This will ensure only small quantities of seeds are started at any one time and will mean successional planting will happen in a natural timescale. I am going to aquire a pond liner and make a small wildlife pond to attract natuaral predators, as the site is adjacent to woods and countryside this should happen easily. Only the other day a female pheasant emerged from the woods. I stood quietly watching it for a while. I am going to screen the plastic bins with tall planting so only I will see them eventually ( yet to decide with what). Not having a garden my plot is already a lovely place to go and I am going to have flowers all around the shed where I sit. I must review all of your videos. This started out as a brief`hello` note! It is not all a disaster, I have some healthly looking carrots. a few broad beans, rhubarb establishing itself despite the recent drought and now rain, Jerusalem artichokes. A few onions which clearly do not like the shade ,and raspberry. redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes which are looking healthy. I also have some potatoes which never seemed to have flowered, a bay tree which has new growth having been moved from a tub where it was `stale`. Also asmall patch of chives and a comfrey plant. As I live at the seaside, I am also going to collect seaweed, soak it to reduce the salt and then use it as a mulch or compost it. I do hope you read this and I would love to read any comments you may have. Best Wishes Terence x

    • Hi Terence,
      Lovely to hear from you. I’m so glad that you’ve finally got an allotment, even though it’s a fair way off. It does take many local Council years to get organised with allotment issues. We’ve finally got ours up to date. I think that they feel that Allotments are quite low on the agenda. We have 1 person to contact directly which is good, so we don’t have to go through the Council and get lost in the system.
      What you have done as part of your Theatre group sounds amazing. It’s surprising what can be accomplished, and who is watching.
      Getting a level base for anything is very hard, so excellent job for getting one done in such a difficult area. The one that is under my greenhouse is brick surround and then in the middle is a dry mixture of 2 parts sand and 1 part cement. It was levelled, then watered with a watering can so it set. We then laid slabs on the top. Much easier than mixing concrete.
      The rotation system is not one I sue, except Tomatoes and Potatoes. It just seems like too much hard work. Any well rotten manure is fantastic, so if you can get any free, just get hold of it. If all you can get is fresh take that, but don’t put it on the bed. Put in a pile and cover with a black plastic sheet for at least 6 months if not longer.
      You sound like to know exactly what you want to achieve which is great. Many people who come on to an allotment have no idea what is involved, but you’ve read books, have a plan, and are doing all the right things. As you live by the coast, yes collect seaweed as it’s a great plant food.
      Wishing you all the very best with your new venture, and if you have any questions just ask.
      Happy growing,


  2. ummSuhayb says:

    My courgettes have grown at an astounding rate, and many have turned into marrows! Have you got any favourite recipes for courgettes/ marrows? It’s a good job my hub likes them, kids aren’t so keen!

    • For lunch I like to fry slices of courgette, onion and garlic together until soft, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Ratatouille is lovely, my kids love that. As for chutney recipes there are loads of them, too many to mention here. So what I would suggest is to either look on-line, or go to the library and get out a book on chutney’s, the DK edition is good. It has loads of picture which is very important.

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