Reclaiming the Wilderness

A combination of ill health and pandemic lockdowns (with signage on the allotment gates telling us to “stay home” at one point) meant that my allotment didn’t get much attention over the last year. As a result, there was a lot of wilderness to reclaim in order to get the allotment back up to the standard expected by the council, and (of course) to enable us to get growing again!

While the raised beds are generally “no dig” (with the exception of removing & replacing the soil next time), the rest of the plot gets dug over on a regular basis.

Somewhere amongst the grass, are two raised beds. The one on the left holds my fancy strawberries, and the one on the right used to have about 30 strawberry plants growing in there, but last year I think there were only one or two remaining. The plan is to remove and replace the soil from that raised bed later this year, then plant some fresh strawberry plants and hope they are more succcessful!

The blackberry looks quite happy, even though its ‘feet’ are surrounded by grass. The stems that bore the fruit last year have been cut off, and last year’s new growth will be where this year’s fruit appears. I do still need to get my “gripple hooks” attached to the supports, as the wires and vine eyes I’m using at the moment are pretty loose and impossible to tighten enough.

These are the most established of my three Blackcurrant bushes. I think they could do with some compost, manure or just a good watered feed this year though, as they haven’t had any special attention for a while.

Believe it or not, this is my flower bed. I’ve usually got a wild Teasel growing on the edge of the section, but it looks like it might not have self seeded last year.

The gooseberry was a freebie from a fellow allotment plot holder. I had no idea how to grow a gooseberry plant, so I just put it in the ground and hoped for the best! A little research later (apparently they also don’t like their “feet” surrounded by weeds or grass) and as long as we’re quick enough at picking them before the wildlife get the idea, there’s plenty of tasty gooseberries from this bush.

Behind the chair (which I admit is just a dumping ground for spare pieces of netting / twine – it’s never been sat on!), I’d planted three different types of mint. I’m not sure how many are still there, but there’s a distinctly minty smell around here. so there must be at least one!

It’s never helpful when the grass is as tall as the raspberries. These raspberries were cut to ground level in March (normally we’d cut them back to ground level in October after they’ve finished fruiting), so it’ll be interesting to see how well they fruit this year.

This is my other strawberry raised bed, obviously after we’d had a thorough attempt at weeding. I’m pleasantly surprised how healthy these strawberries are looking, especially when you consider how much grass there was trying to take over.

Nothing much at the moment, but I’m hoping this will be my sprout patch this year.

And just a few Rosemary flowers to finish – I hadn’t realised Rosemary had such pretty looking flowers.

How can it be February 2021 already?

I have no idea how it can be the second month of 2021 already – the last year and a bit seems to just have flown by!

Anyhow, last year was a little strange to say the least, so I will admit I wasn’t able to get any allotmenteering done at all. We kept up the growing of runner beans in the summer along with the fruit and herbs that are permanent allotment residents, but that was about it.

So 2021 is going to be a year of “resetting” – gradually getting things under control, taming the things that should be cut back, feeding the things that are looking a little sad and generally getting the plot back up to speed so that 2022 can be a productive growing year!

Fruit

The fruit will all be in need of attention, from cutting back the strawberries (that can only really happen after fruiting, so that’s a job for this autumn), cutting the raspberries down to ground level (possibly that can still happen up to April, although it depends on what growth there is on each cane), and tying in the blackberry bush (I’ve got a new “Gripple” kit to try out for that, in the hope it will be more successful than vine eyes that didn’t screw completely into the wooden supports!).

The rhubarb however seems to need very little extra attention, and just happily thrives on semi-neglect!

Herbs

The herbs tend to be left alone most of the time, but the fennel probably needs last year’s growth cut down to ground level. I should think the mint has taken over the flower section of the plot by now, seeing as that had already escaped from its pot a few years ago!

Flowers

I will admit my flower patch tends to not get too much attention other than cutting back the dead stalks after flowering. The flowers work well to attract pollinating insects, and also help to conceal the compost bin!

The main thing that remains to be seen though, is how much of this can actually be achieved this year, and what the plot will look like in 11 months’ time…

Not quite on the allotment

Looking back at my last post (November last year), it seems ridiculous what I’d planned for this year:

Maybe next year I will actually be able to get on and work on those things I had planned for this year!

Of course I wasn’t to know that this year would start with health problems meaning I haven’t set foot outside the house since early December. Of course then in late March we had lockdown because of “the virus” as well – we were still allowed to go to the allotment, but even if I was going out, I really wasn’t keen to be around people!

So as last year, all the work on the allotment so far this year has been done by my “allotment helper”. He’s a novice when it comes to the raised beds (that’s usually my domain), but this week we had our first ripe strawberry, so things can’t be too terrible!

A not so filled year of gardening

I set out with great intentions for the allotment this year:

  • work on the allotment once each week
  • get the second raised bed sorted (dug out, soil replaced, replanted)
  • try growing different things this year

…and I actually managed none of that. Various things kept cropping up which has meant I’ve not been able to get the allotment more than a handful of times all year. We did manage to grow runner beans, potatoes and the usual fruit & herbs, but the bulk of the work was done by my ‘garden helper’.

Maybe next year I will actually be able to get on and work on those things I had planned for this year!

Snowy start to February

My original plan was to get to the allotment over the weekend. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, with snow falling from 19:30 on Thursday, through to about eleven Friday morning.

Still, if I couldn’t get to the allotment, at least I could take some photos of the snow in the garden – from indoors of course! Welcome to my Six Snowy Scenes on Saturday!

First up, the snow looks like it’s climbing up the leg of the chair (please excuse the bar across the centre of that photo as that’s a reflection of something indoors):

As usual, the Berberis looks great with a covering of snow. It still seems strange to see flowers on something that has a snowy ‘hat’ though:

The rabbit ornament looks surprisingly happy with his snowy blanket:

I don’t think any birds will want to use the bird bath though – or if they did, there’s a lot of snow to get through first!

With the way the snow was blowing, it stuck to the fence, making a very strange sight:

And finally, I wanted to try and get a photo (or ten) of the snow that was stuck in the spider’s web on the window. Once it stopped waving about in the wind, I finally got the photo I was after:

They’re forecasting warmer weather for Sunday night and all the coming week, so hopefully that means I’ll be able to check up on the allotment (and redo the fleece over the cabbages, as no doubt that will be in pieces after the wind & snow).


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