National Stationery Week – Make a Note Day

Did you know that today is not only the start of National Stationery Week, but is also Make A Note day? I set out with good intentions each year to write a note in an allotment diary, so I know what was planted when, and how each plant fared on the plot… but I never manage to complete an entire year’s worth of entries – it always fizzles out in May (or sometimes before)!

This year, a friend surprised me with a fancy hand-made allotment journal, and I’m determined to keep it updated all year long. She made sure I had plenty of pages, and the ring binding means I can swap pages around to give myself more space for the summer months when there should be more to write about – there’s no excuse to not fill in as much detail as possible.

I haven’t (yet) managed to draw out an accurate plan of the entire allotment plot. The sides taper in towards the base of the plot, so it’s not something that is easily drawn out on the computer, and requires slightly more accurate measuring than just pacing it out like I did previously. I do have some plans of small sections though, and those will be drawn onto grid paper in the journal, so I have an idea of the dimensions of each bed.

Part of the failure of my previous diary attempts was the lack of bulletpoint references for each month. Trying to check when something was planted, required skimming through pages to find a slight mention of the right seeds. The advantage of a journal like this, is the calendar page at the beginning of each month, for a quick-check reference to what we did when. Each month also has a handy tab on the side, so it’s simple to find the right section.

But a journal is no good on its own – you need a comfortable pen to use in it. And true to form, I can’t just decide on one favourite pen… I actually have three! Eventually I’m aiming on the pens having different coloured ink in each, but at the moment both Parkers are using blue ink cartridges.

  1. First up we have a fine-nib Lamy All-Star in Black Purple with black ink, with a handy way of checking how much ink is left without having to unscrew the pen.
  2. next is an old favourite which recently went back to Parker to have the standard medium nib swapped for a fine nib – a 2006 Parker IM (also known as Parker Profile, Vector mkII, or Parker XL!) in Amaranth Purple, with blue ink. The assistant in the stationery shop claimed he didn’t recognise this pen when I took it in to buy a fine nib, but to my amazement Parker was willing and able to to exchange the nib for free (even though it was obviously older than the 28 day limit for their Nib Exchange Programme).
  3. and last but not least, a new Parker Jotter with a fine nib courtesy of the Parker Nib Exchange at my local stationery shop. This one will eventually have purple ink once I can track it down – so far I’ve only been able to find it online!

Parker nibs are slightly wider than Lamy, so the fine Parker is verging on medium when comparing the two… but the medium Parker was so thick and heavy it just reminded me of my school handwriting – my style has developed a lot since then!

So for all those allotmenteers and gardeners out there, if you don’t already keep a good old-fashioned style journal, maybe National Stationery Week is a good excuse to get yourself a new notebook, turn off the computer, and start writing!


National Stationery Week
#natstatweek
#writingmatters

Six on Saturday – April 7th

What’s that strange glowing blob in the sky? And more to the point, why is the sky blue instead of that murky grey colour? It must mean the sunshine is out, so we could finally get some more work done on the allotment! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

 

  1.  Several weeks ago, I ordered a new raised bed – I thought the plastic corners would help make it more sturdy. After a couple of phone calls to chase the company, it finally arrived this week, so I was looking forward to getting it all set up on the allotment. There was a slight problem though… the plastic corners were all smashed to pieces.So we’ve now arranged to take this piece of rubbish back to the store for a refund, and I’m still needing to find a decent, sturdy metre-square raised bed! Anyone got any suggestions, given that my DIY skills are lacking at being able to make my own?
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  2. I finally got around to weeding the second strawberry raised bed yesterday. It looks like the March snow killed off a few of the strawberry plants in this bed as well as the main one (no photos until I get a replacement frame for that!), so either I will use some of the spare strawberry plants from the garden or I might actually be reckless and buy some fresh plants to fill the gaps. Anyone have a favourite variety they would recommend? (My original 9 plants came from a newspaper promotion and I haven’t a clue what variety they are!)
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    The strawberry plants on the right are the Just Add Cream ones, and I planted out four Snow White on the left of that raised bed yesterday – they look absolutely minuscule, but these are the biggest four so far!

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  3. According to my half-written allotment diary from last year, we were already picking rhubarb by this point. It’s way too small to pick right now, but it’s all growing really well so hopefully it won’t be long before Rhubarb Crumble season starts!

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  4. No photo of the main potato patch, but this is the overflow patch! I have read that you can put black polythene down on the soil surface to save the need for earthing up the potatoes, so if I can find some I might give that a go once these sprout through the soil.

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  5. The peas were looking a lot healthier than the spring onions, and I decided it was time they were planted out. The label on the pot just said “plant out as soon as possible” which was really informative! I’m hoping that the way I put the netting in a zigzag will mean it’s not too challenging to pick the peas (assuming they grow!).

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  6. And finally, I have no idea whether it was a deer, badger, the wind, or just the cabbages wanting to escape, but I think we need to work on replacing the fleece covers!

Here’s hoping for some more dry weather, so the plants can recover from all that cold and snow last month.  Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – March 24th

The weather improved after the snowy Sunday, which meant we had a chance to finally get some work done on the allotment. So here’s my Six on Saturday with no snow in sight!

  1.  First up are the Broad Beans…. earlier in the week we had none, now we have 9! Just a few (!) more needed for 100% success rate, but hopefully the warmer weather will encourage them to get growing.
    ….on the allotment, the ones I planted under fleece last year are looking great!
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  2. A quick chitting update on the potatoes – the first earlies are still looking like they’re hardly doing anything (egg box to the top left in particular), while the second earlies look almost ready to plant out!

    I put my weather station sensor on the rack next to the spuds to see what the temperature was – it’s been about 6C during the cold snap this week, but on Thursday was more like 13C. Hopefully that extra warmth will encourage those first earlies to get a move on!
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  3. On to the strawberries now, and the ones that were partly covered with snow from earlier in the month. These are white-fruiting strawberries, and most look like they have fresh growth – next month they’ll be planted out in the raised bed (once I’ve laced some twine through the net to close up the holes – these nets rip far too easily!).

    And the new addition (last year) on the allotment, pink-flowered “Just Add Cream” which is actually looking better than some of my older ‘regular’ strawberry plants!
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  4. I thought I’d better plant out those new Spring Onions from last week (the packaging says “plant out as soon as possible”), so I spent a while carefully separating each plant. Not only did it fill my newest half-sized raised bed (avoiding where I planted the chives of course), but I had three left over, which went into the raised bed with the Just Add Cream strawberries.

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  5. I dug up the oldest lavender plants, and tried digging over the soil in preparation for the pea plants. About 3 inches below the surface, I kept hitting stones so I think this bit is in need of a thick layer of fresh compost before anything gets planted in it.

    The two pots house two mint plants – the one on the left was so compacted, I couldn’t loosen any of the soil to try and get the weeds out.
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  6. And finally, a “mystery compost plant”…. yes, you read that right. I needed to get some compost out of the bin and discovered a lot of these little plants growing in the top. But I haven’t a clue what they are!
    We did bin these, as we didn’t want to find it was a weed we didn’t want to keep, but does anyone have any idea what they could be? I think there’s possibly more growing in the compost bin still!

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – March 17th

So much for it getting closer to spring – they forecast snow for tomorrow, and we’ve already had some snowfall this morning (although it did melt as it hit the ground). Nevertheless it’s still Saturday, so here’s my plan(t)s for the allotment, plus a rogue 6th picture for my Six on Saturday.

  1. I’d been toying with the idea of digging up some of the older lavender plants on the allotment for a while. They haven’t been looking at their best for a while, and ended up as a mostly tangled knot of dead-looking wood. So here’s the first replacement plant for that bit…. Lemon Thyme. According to the plant label it grows to 45cm tall, so if it doesn’t look like it’ll work to replace the lavender, it might end up near the rhubarb to act as a bit of ground cover.

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  2. This Oregano is also destined to replace the lavender. I’ve never actually used any of the herbs I grow in cookery – maybe this year it’s a good reason to find out how to use them, and what they would go best with!
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  3. There’s also some (even older!) lavender behind the seat on the allotment, and that part of the plot tends to get overlooked most years. As an experiment, I bought these Hurst Green Shaft peas to plant there instead, to see if that works out any better.
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  4. Last year I bought some White Lisbon spring onions, planted them in the raised bed, and they all got nobbled by something (slugs and snails maybe?)…. it shouldn’t have been the deer unless they managed to press down on the netting to make the onion tips poke through! But this year I’m determined to try them again, so this is a strip of spring onions from Homebase, which will be going into the newest raised bed with the chives (suitably spaced, so I don’t get in a muddle with what green growth is what!).
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  5. Each year I think “I’ll grow sweet peas from seed next year” and I never do…. and this year is no exception! It’s earlier in the year than I’ve bought the plants before, but I was just attracted to the name and colour of this variety.
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  6. Ok, I admit my 6th photo isn’t actually one in my garden at the moment. I spotted this Nolina Beaucarnea in Homebase yesterday, but there were no instructions on how to care for it. Rather than buy it then discover that it’s too picky to be a success, I thought I’d just take a photo, research it, then head back next week to buy it!
    Apparently it’s a Ponytail Palm (also known as Elephant’s Foot), and the bulb-like bit at the base actually stores water. It’s slow growing, but looking at photos of mature plants, I think it would fit well with my quirky houseplants, so we’re planning a return visit to the store soon in order to get one!

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!