Happy bank holiday weekend/Beltane/International Workers’ Day

Three very good reasons to garden and then drink too much.

This weekend I have managed to squeeze in some allotmenting between all the parenting and dog…. ownership.

My fruit cage looked like a dumping ground, basically because I was using it as a dumping ground for all the various allotment crap like extra netting and supports.

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But, I need it now for the billions of strawberry plants that were in my garden. It’s not that I need the space in the garden, it’s more that I need somewhere to grow strawberries where DiggerDog won’t eat them all. Although this is a dog that spent the morning eating sheep shit but turned her nose up at the roast potato she was offered at lunch time. There’s no telling what she will or won’t eat.

Anyway.

The fruit cage got tidied, got some new weed suppressant fabric around the edges and got a new raised-ish bed for my strawberry plants.

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Much better!

The bad news is that I had so many strawberry plants that my spare cock-up bed at the allotment is now completely filled with strawberries.

The good news is we will have shitloads of strawberries.

Also, this has happened in my front garden this weekend:

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Enjoy the long weekend!

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Six

No, I did not forget my challenge, I just didn’t scan it in time.

I’ve decided to make a proper plan of what I’m going to put in the allotment this year, so that later on I can completely ignore it, do something different, panic and then cry.

If you’re expecting something cutesy and artistic then jog on- I’d rather be digging than drawing.

Here it is! Nothing is to scale because I haven’t even measured up there, but basically it’s about right.

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This will be the first year that all of plot 12 is productive (unless you eat couch grass). It’s tempting to grow one of everything but I’ve decided to stick to things we actually like. Next year I will probably just do one lot of potatoes but this year I wanted to break up the ground a little bit on the new part of the plot.

Yes, we like tomatoes. A LOT.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Four

Day Four of my National Gardening Week Challenges and today’s task is to sow something that I’ve never grown before. So here’s my pick:

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Cucamelons!

I’m pretty excited about these, and not just because I think they will go really well in Pimm’s.

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Seeds!

If you don’t know about cucamelons, these little guys are from the cucurbit family. The scientific name is Melothria scabra and they have many other common names including mouse melon and Mexican sour cucumber. The plants are climbers and produce (hopefully) tons of little fruits that look like miniature watermelons. The taste is meant to be somewhere between cucumber and lime, which leaves lots of cocktail possibilities. If I’m lucky and I manage to get a decent crop then I might spend most of August drunk.

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Into my propagator they go.

Job done!

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  ❤

Here are some boring photos of seed trays

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Look! OK, there’s nothing to look at. Never mind.

Yes, I have started sowing seeds. This time of year is testing for gardeners because we’ve spent all winter planning what we’re going to do and we can just TASTE THE SPRING in the air. But patience is a virtue and all that. Sowing too early can result in leggy seedlings and having crammed windowsills because it’s too cold for your plants to go out yet. So HOLD ON. There’s still plenty of time.

I’ve still got plenty of veg to go, but I have started a few things that need a bit more time or that can go out sooner than some of the more delicate plants.

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I swear my window is cleaner than this. Something weird must have happened when I took the photo *cough*

First off was the Astrantia ‘Ruby Cloud’. Still not sure about this one. What I wanted was a red flower for cutting, but in some photos it looks more pink so I may end up giving it all away anyway. That has gone outside in my plastic growhouse. There were a few cells left in the plug tray so I bunged in a few Lavender of the ‘Munstead’ persuasion. These are going up on the allotment to tempt in the pollinators and also I will be cutting some for drying and stuffing into my children’s pillows so they will GO TO SLEEP.

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Not sure if Lobelia seeds or…. dust?

Next, in the propagator went Lobelia seeds (mixed colours). At least I think they did, but they are too small to tell tbh. The Lobelia will be used to spruce up my front doorstep in the summer, along with something else in a pot. I don’t know yet.

Also I got around to sowing my chillies and peppers because Monty said so. The peppers are Cayenne and the peppers are… I dunno, they were free. So I don’t really care what they are. Last summer I had no luck with them at the allotment, but the year before I had a decent crop in my garden. This year they will be back in containers in my garden and hopefully there will be a bit more sun than there was last year.

I chucked some Cosmos ‘Purity’ in the last section of the propagator. I know 2016 is the year of the Cosmos and they are pretty and everything, but I just can’t get excited about them. But these were free so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next up are the sweet peas! I always sow these in spring because I don’t have anywhere to overwinter them (the growhouse has to come down because it is so windy where we are). Also I am not sufficiently bothered about sweet peas to go to the effort of overwintering them. They’re OK, but I don’t get the obsession with them. The varieties are Promise, which I didn’t choose, and Heritage mix, which I didn’t choose. My enthusiasm is so catching, isn’t it?

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Sweet peas- Promise and Heritage

Digger Jr Jr helped by writing labels. Last year I helped her spell them but this year I let her free-style. Can you figure them all out?

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Thanks, Digger Jr Jr

I also took a cutting of this rose. It’s from one of the rescue roses that I picked up at the village carnival last year. There are two pink ones, Gaujard and Prima Ballerina, one white floribunda which is maybe an Iceberg but idk, and one other which didn’t flower so I have no idea. They are all still in pots and I don’t know which is which because I convinced myself that I would be able to remember and of course I bloody can’t. So anyway, I have these cuttings of a rose that I don’t know what it is and I don’t know if it will work, but what the hell. There was a bit sticking up that needed cutting off anyway.
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So anyway, that was my week. I also did a lot of tidying in my garden ready to smarten up some of the borders, but I will save the before photos for when there is an after photo. Otherwise it’s just a photo of a messy, muddy border and that’s even worse than photos of empty-looking seed trays.