Allotment Adventures: Winter Work

Winter on the plot is the time for working on the things you don’t get around to in the spring and summer. There isn’t a lot growing (we have kale, chard, leeks and overwintering broad beans and cauliflowers) but there is always work to do.This year most of that work is at the back on the new half. In December we demolished a shed, had a massive bonfire, dug up the loganberries and taken the frame holding them up down, we had already created a compost and a work area but over the last couple of weeks, we’ve moved the pallets up to the back to be used for storage and demarcation of the area.We’ve also built our first bed, and have the wood for the next one! It will look much better when it has soil and plants in it but I’m still really happy with it. We will have to dig over and weed the area the second bed is going on. I know that we could just cover with cardboard and top up with compost but the weeds at the back of the plot are many and mostly couch grass and it’s been walked on loads as we’ve cleared the shed and moved things around. So I’m going to dig it over and do an initial weed with Ma following behind and that should sort the worst of it!We also tidied the shed, because a tidy shed keeps Ma happy!Shifting everything to the back of the plot gives us a clear space to the side of the shed. My eventual goal is still to make a sitting area and to put up some guttering and have a water butt but that may be next winter’s work! Right now, the shed needs a paint but all of our energy is going to setting up beds on the new half.In terms of growing, the chard didn’t do well this year and Ma and I have made the decision to pull it up and something got into the broad beans and had a feast, some plants are still standing so I’m going to re sow in the gaps and net them to keep out the critters!

The leeks are also having a poor year, part of that is because I got them in much later than I should have but it’s also been so wet! We dug a bed up and we’ll leave the others in and see if spring helps them grow any bigger. Fortunately, the kale has been amazing and we have loads. I took down a couple of the plants this weekend and put the languishing purple sprouting in the gaps. If they give us anything it will be a miracle but they’d only have gone on the compost if I hadn’t put them!

The January work list looks like this:

  • Paint the shed
  • Dig over and weed the area the second squash bed is going.
  • Build the second squash bed
  • Cut the blue pipe to the right size
  • Sow some more broad beans and cover the bed with netting
  • Pull up the chard and cover that bed
  • Use the various collected bricks around the plot to mark out the space where my bulbs are next to the herb bed.
  • Learn about transplanting roses
  • Order and install the first three long beds next to the fruit beds
  • Move the boysenberry
  • Split the autumn raspberry bed into two.
  • Sow sweet peas

In February’s list looks a lot better

  • Sow leeks
  • Move the roses at the back of the plot to somewhere else
  • Split and trim the verbena bonariensis
  • Trim the rosemary
  • Sow the first batch of peas
  • Weed everything!
  • Order and install 4 square beds
  • Assess the rest of the space

I’m sure we’ll be good to go in spring, I’ll always find something else that needs changing, fixing or improving, provided it’s not raining, winter is the perfect time to do it…


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Monday Miscellany: Back to Work

Hello and Happy Monday!

I didn’t really mean to take a break but I just didn’t have anything to post about. It was December, I was busy and I didn’t have any head space for here. Work is busy, which is great but I have a limited capacity for words during winter anyway and I found that I had used them all up by the time I got home. I stopped work on Christmas Eve and didn’t go back until the 3rd and even that was working from home. So I had an actual rest, which has been lovely, today is a shock to the system but I find I don’t mind the idea of the office right now, although I’m still not happy about the dark mornings. However, let’s see how I feel at the end of today!

So let’s catch up.

  • Just before Christmas, my great uncle John died. Ma and I did go to the funeral just before Christmas and it’s strange to see so many of my Mum’s family in one place.
  • Christmas was lovely but everyone was sick. I had re-occurence of fever and a vomiting on Christmas Eve, that was horrible but over by Christmas Day. It’s so weird, I wake up shivering and feverish and sometimes throw up, it feels like flu but then I’m fine and I was ok but my brother said he knew I wasn’t well because I had half a glass of wine and told him to drink the rest! Ma was also in pain, this time tooth infection related and Laura had a cold and J had a viral infection. So I was not at all out of place sitting on the sofa in my ‘jamas!
  • Despite this, the tree went up and we still managed to have a lovely time.
  • We also went to see my Aunt Jude over the break and got updated on all the family gossip.
  • I had an eye check and have been informed that the age of varifocals is upon me. Well for glasses anyway, apparently varifocal contacts (which do exist) don’t correct astigmatism. To add to that delightful news (which I knew it was coming but I’m still not thrilled about) since my last check up, the sight in my right eye has got quite a bit worse (from -4.5 to -5.25). So that was a good start to the New Year!
  • We did some good work on the plot and the new half is beginning to take shape
  • I saw Christelle and Mike and left broken by too much good red wine

Plans for this week are to finish putting the flat back together post Christmas, adjust back to office hours so lots of early nights, get some exercise, eat well and book a smear test!

As usual, it’s all go around here!

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The Night Before Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and as is tradition, you should play this before bedtime!

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Sunday Music: Here Comes Chanukah – Neil Diamond

Today is the first day of Chanukah, so this feels appropriate

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Friday Links: The people have spoken….the bastards

Well here we are. It’s not a happy Friday.

I haven’t felt this awful about an election since 1992. 45-ish% of the country think that an adulterous liar and his 59 page manifesto is fit to lead the country and the other 45-ish % couldn’t get their shit together to oppose it.

Neil Kinnock gave a speech in 1985 and it holds up pretty well for today I think…

But I would also add my favourite Clem Attlee quote. I feel like we lost the fight today…

Here are some other links:

The silent “sixth” sense

Why do I have to break an embargo in order to expose press lies about Labour?

This election has missed the chance to try to solve Britain’s broken housing system

Homelessness is a national disgrace. Let’s make Britain humane again


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Allotment Adventures: Skips and Bonfires

We did it. We had lots of help but we pulled down Joe’s shed and helped fill a skip with the rubbish. On Sunday there was a big big bonfire.We also got some other work done. We covered four beds for the winter, moved two gooseberry bushes, dug up the loganberries and pulled down the frame. The plot feels like a whole plot again.

It was a lot of work, now the shed is down and all sorts of rubbish disposed of (or collected by Simon for display) we have measured in from the outer fence and have a lot of space that I’m not really going to use as allotment. The current plan is to plant blackthorn and put up bird boxes and leave it for the wildlife.We were going to try and save the loganberries but they were old and in rough shape so up they came and down came the rusting metal frame. We’ve left one frame up right at the back of the plot, which in a change of plan, will support the boysenberry. All the advice I’ve had about the boysenberry is that it needs room and the width of the allotment, and I really don’t want to cut the plot in half again so it’s going at the back with the roses and the mint. At the back, is the ‘work area’ and eventually a temporary greenhouse and the compost area.There were two gooseberry bushes on the new half which I moved. I really wasn’t sure how best to do this, so I cut the bushes back, dug them up as best I could and plonked them in the new bed. The soil in that bed is pretty good and later when we get some, I’ll cover that bed with woodchip, which my soft fruit really seems to love. I don’t expect much from them this year, but assuming they live, they should do well the year after, which is when I’ll move (finally) the ones on my plot. They won’t move far, just away from the edge of the plot and into the bed right next to them. And then hopefully in four years time, we’ll have four fully productive gooseberry bushes that we can effectively cage to say nothing of the extra rhubarb plants, I want to put in the vacant gooseberry space! Allotmenting is a long game..We cut back the autumn raspberries, and when I move the boysenberry to the back of the plot, I’m going to move some of those into the spare bed. The three planned fruit beds will be ordered in January, so I need to think about whats going in there, I might wait for the spring when Wilko and Morrisons start selling fruit plants and see what they have! Before that I need to sort out my two planned flower beds either side of the new raised beds. I’ve got one planted up with flower bulbs that were given to me but there is already a rose and lemon balm on the other side so I may just leave it and sow some annuals there in spring or plant some herbs I don’t have, part of me still wants a camomile lawn but that might never happen!In short, the plot feels like we have a plan and it’ll be sorted very soon, but there is lots of work still to do to have the new half ready for spring…

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Monday Miscellany: Birthdays

Happy Monday! Because I missed Friday Links las week they’re below.

Other things last week, Ma had a birthday and we (me, Ma, Ben and Lu went to Hawksmoor for lunch which was lovely!) We cleared the allotment, had a haircut and saw Knives Out. It was busy, I had a very early night last night.

Plans for this week are catch up on work, go to the library and I’m babysitting the boys on Friday!

And here’s the links I would have posted on Monday!

Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face ‘abortion murder’ charges. As this isn’t actually possible, if the bill passes, doctors won’t intervene because they’ll be charged with murder, therefore women will die. Which I think might be the point.

In this climate, how does Boris Johnson not melt with shame? Because he’s Flashman..

There’s already a class war – and it’s the Conservatives who are waging it.

London Bridge attack: police and public were heroic, says mayor. A lot has been said about this but one of those hero’s was a Polish immigrant and the terrorist wasn’t a Londoner. I talk a lot about being a Londoner but the truth is, if you love it and you embrace it’s values, London is yours, no matter where you’re from….

Caught in the crush: are our galleries now hopelessly overcrowded?

DJ Mark Radcliffe gets commemorative bench after cancer recovery

Dr Martens: are things going wrong with the UK’s beloved brand?

Labour’s ‘red wall’ is looking shaky. But the problems started decades ago

‘This election is not going to plan.’ The Lib Dems feel the big squeeze

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