National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Three

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Yeah. Messy.

I am actually sticking at a thing! Today is day three and my challenge was to do a bit of tidying up in the garden.

My shady corner near the pond had a lot of dead stuff hanging around- fallen leaves from the fatsia, last year’s flower stalks from the astilbes, dead fern fronds and various other crap. But in only 5 minutes I managed to make it look loads better. I also pulled out a bit of the yellow loosestrife because it was going the wrong way.

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If only tidying up my house was this easy.

It’s amazing what difference you can make in just a few minutes. If you don’t feel like you have time to do a whole garden then try splitting it into 5 minutes here and there, even while you’re having a cuppa you can get stuff done.

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I should probably be embarrassed about this or something, but you know what… sometimes my garden looks like shit. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a good gardener. Sometimes life gets on top of you.

I also have this tiny bed which I’ve always neglected a bit because it’s not very big, it’s lower than the lawn so grass keeps creeping into it, and I never know what to put in there. BUT I have plans for it this year, including brick edging to keep the grass in check a bit more. So I forked it over and pulled out the grass, a load of mammoth aquilegias (which I am starting to regard as WEEDS because they are all a minging colour and come up in the wrong place), and an alchemilla from Hades.

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Getting there!

TADA! Looks better, dunnit. And it only took 20 mins.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Two

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Got everything I need right here.

It’s day two of my NGW mini-challenges and today I sat down with actual real life pencil and paper and tried to figure out how to complete my herb garden. I’m not an artist (I did art GCSE but only because I didn’t want to do PE), but fuck it, I’m not going to let that stop me. At least this way I can get a few things on paper before I start digging.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done anything major to my herb garden, and with the strawberries moving up to the allotment (DiggerDog would just eat them) and the new brick edging going in, now is the perfect time to spruce it up a bit (no actual spruce involved).

The main problem is that while the raised part had been designed with herbs in mind, the lower part is solid, soggy clay- not ideal for most of the usual culinary herbs.

So I had to think differently… I decided to go with some traditional medicinal herbs that have beautiful flowers, and that are already growing in my garden. This means that there shouldn’t be any problems with plants not liking my soil and it will be CHEAP, which is my favourite kind of gardening.

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I did zero measuring. If you can read my handwriting then you are doing better than my GCSE English teacher.

*drumroll* Here it is! My plan. The parts in black are what is already there. The red things are things that are going in this year. The cucamelons I am growing from seed. They will climb up the pergola leg (those square bits). The chamomile I will grow from seed again, as I did a few years ago with pretty good results. Everything else I can just move in from various parts of the garden.

It’s going to look awesome! Or maybe rubbish. Time will tell. If it doesn’t work then there’s always next year!

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day One

OK, I totally cheated on this one because I knew I was going to gardening club to hear a talk from another gardener. So it was an easy challenge.

This month we had a talk from a local woman, Pam, who ran a nursery with her husband for ‘a lot’ of years (maybe 30+?). So I learnt a bit about the industry, which was all new to me. Doing things on a huge scale takes a hell of a lot more organisation than pottering about in my own garden. It’s not something I think I’ll ever be able to do but it was pretty mindblowing hearing about it all. It’s made me appreciate a bit more all the work that goes into those bedding plants you can buy by the bucket load- not just the growing but the breeding and developing new varieties.

Today is day two of the challenge and I’m going to catch up! This afternoon I’ll be planning an extension to my herb garden. Stayed tuned for the results of my research and crappy drawings of how it might look.

How did everyone else’s day one challenge go?

It’s National Gardening Week! Seven days, seven challenges

This week is National Gardening Week (no, it is not every week) and I’ve decided to set myself a series of mini challenges and projects because I feel like I should add to my bulging to-do list that makes me panic just to think about it. WHY NOT.

So, here are my seven mini-challenges for the week. If you’d like to join in then please do! Add a link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll edit it into this post. That’s how these blogging events work, right? Something like that.

DAY 1: Learn from another gardener. Either talk to another gardener and get some tips, or read a blog or book written by a gardener (famous ones count). Even the most experienced gardeners still have things to learn!
DAY 2: Plan a project. Get your pencils and paper out and throw together some ideas. Or you can use one of those computery design thingies (real life technical term). This can be a plan for something you’re doing this year or just an idea you have. Think small or big, it can be a container or a Capability Brown-style epic.
DAY 3: Tidy up in the garden. A good tidy up can make a world of difference. Re-edge the lawn, sweep the patio, pull some weeds, trim back any dead growth from last year. Doesn’t that look better already?
DAY 4: Sow something new. Something you have never done before! It’s always exciting to see new seedlings, but even more so when it’s something new to you.
DAY 5: Start a photo diary of your garden. Take some photos of your garden. The whole lot, or just one specific area. Then take another in midsummer, another in autumn and one in winter. You might see a way to make improvements or add colour at different times of year. Or you could just enjoy the changes in your garden.
DAY 6: Make plans to grow something useful. This could be fruit, veg or herbs (culinary or medicinal). It’s still early to sow some veg seeds but there are a few you could do, and there are lots of soft fruit bushes and herbs already in the shops. Share your plans for a more productive garden!
DAY 7: Sow or plant something for wildlife. Something that bees or butterflies will love, a tree for the birds to hide in, a shrub with berries that will provide winter food, a pond plant to provide hiding spaces for frogs- lots of possibilities!

For each day, write a blog post sharing photos, ideas and tips. Or you could do it all in one go at the end, whichever is easiest. Ready? Go!

How to turn a shit day into a good one

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Job’s a good un!

I was in an OK mood when I got up this morning. The sun was shining and even though DiggerDog was being a bit of an idiot (puppy adolescence), we had a nice walk in the woods where all the bluebells are coming out.

Then I read an article about education which brought back a lot of BAD memories about school. I did not get on well at secondary school. The very short version is that I wasn’t able to work as hard as they wanted me to and after my GCSEs they *cough* suggested I continue my education elsewhere.

So I ended up in this maudlin mood wondering what would have happened if I’d known back then that I was autistic (I KNOW, I AM GETTING TO THE POTATO PART, JUST WAIT). I’d been told that I wouldn’t achieve much because of my bad attitude. I’ve had a string of jobs that I’ve either quit or been fired from after only a few weeks. 85% of autistic adults are not in full time employment, which is a bloody awful statistic but at least I feel less alone.

My shitty mood wasn’t going anywhere, so I grabbed my new sharp pointy patio de-weeding tool and got cracking getting rid of all the grass growing in my patio while I muttered about people that done me wrong 20 years ago.

And the next thing you know, my patio is looking pretty tidy. I did something!

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I didn’t do a ‘before’ photo because I don’t often take photos of my patio looking like shit.

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I’d forgotten where the edging was tbh.

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Much more betterer!

Then I started eyeing up the brick edging. It’s still not finished because I have to sort out the fruit cage so I can move all the strawberries, but I did a bit more and finished off the step up to the patio. Winning!

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It will look better with plants. Most things do.

There was still time left, so I took my second earlies up to the allotment and got them in. Now I’ve got two lots of potatoes and half of the new part of plot 12 is looking like it’s not abandoned. Go me!

I felt so much better after all that. I might not have achieved much in life in the way my school expected me to, but I can grow plants like a badass.

So, I can’t bury my past but I can bury potatoes.

What is achievement anyway?

Things are happening at plot 12

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Yeah, it was a bit rainy over the weekend.

Did you enjoy Easter long weekend? Easter weekend is traditionally the first big gardening weekend of the year- early potatoes go in, everyone heads to the garden centre to buy bedding plants, and things start to spring into life.

Easter was a bit early this year, but the weather is pretty good so I headed up to plot 12 to get my first earlies in. This year I’m growing Pentland Javelin, as recommended by another allotmenteer. They are meant to have good pest resistance and I’ve got plenty of those. My spuds are going on the newest part of plot 12, which has not been worked for at least 3 years. I’ve got my work cut out! The new part of the plot has been covered over the winter and fortunately I’ve not encountered much apart from couch grass, which is a pain in the arse to dig out but at least it’s dig-outable.

So in went the Pentland Javelins.

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I love this time of year- months of this sort of thing to come WOOHOO!

 

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Job’s a good un!

I also chucked some soil improver into one of the raised beds and planted my onion sets. These are Red Baron, which I had a pretty good crop from last year. I’ve got loads left over so they will be donated to a friend who is just starting out with her first allotment.

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Netted to stop the sodding pigeons pulling them all up. They don’t even eat them. They are such bastards.

 

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I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is an asparagus bed.

One of the bonuses on the new part of plot 12 is asparagus! I’m a big fan of eating it so having some freebie asparagus is brilliant. They don’t like to be moved so I’m having to weed carefully around them. There’s also a fair bit of rhubarb coming up next to them. I don’t really like it but I’m sure I’ll be able to make chutney or something out of it. Or just give it away.

I’m preparing a bed for my second earlies, which are Kestrel. These will prob go in sometime next weekend. I also shifted the weed suppressing fabric around to cover the paths between the raised beds so it’s all looking a lot less abandoned than it was.

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It will look even more betterer when I blag some free wood chippings to go on the paths.

I’ve had a productive couple of weekends up there but there is still LOADS to do. I need to remind myself that I don’t need to make it look perfect this year. Let me remind you what it looked like 2 years ago:

30/07/14: Plot 12b, our newly acquired allotment.

30/07/14: Plot 12b.

And I have used no weedkillers or rotavator. So I’m doing a pretty fricking awesome job. *high fives self*

Mr The Digger is a manly, manly man

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Mr The Digger flexing his muscles.

I am blessed with neither patience nor excellent fine motor skills (I can convincingly play a bass guitar. Shoelace-tying can sometimes take a few goes). Plot 12 was in dire need of some raised beds and any attempt to do so myself would either end in me accidentally nailing my hand to a plank, or losing my rag and throwing the plank across the allotments harpooning an innocent old man in a hat. Or possibly both, resulting in me attending A&E with my hand nailed to a plank embedded in the chest of a dead innocent old man in a hat. IT WOULD NOT END WELL is my basic point.

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I has raised beds!

So Mr The Digger offered to build them, and he has done a brilliant job (I am not just saying this because he is an all-round ace bloke).

Having raised beds means:

    • Grass less likely to creep into the veg patches
    • I can put down wood chippings on the paths so no more mowing
    • The beds will warm up quicker
    • The soil will be better than the crappy solid clay that is currently there
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Shit, I need to tidy up now.

So yay! Very pleased with my new raised beds. Thank you, Mr The Digger  ❤