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.

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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*

Could you grow a pumpkin big enough to live in?

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Thompson & Morgan’s latest project

I feel a bit better about my seed habit now because Thompson & Morgan have just spent £1250 on one seed. It’s not just any seed (I would hope not at that bloody price); it’s from a world record breaking pumpkin grown by Beni Meier in 2014. It weighed in at 2323.7lbs and was pulled by a team of mice with a dog as a footman (no, not really). There are lots of lovely photos of it and more details on the completely bonkers but totally fascinating bigpumpkins.com, which I highly recommend you visit.

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Photo from bigpumpkins.com. And it certainly is one.

The ginormous pumpkin plant needed 150 gallons of fertilised water EVERY DAY to keep up with the growth of the pumpkin. The world record has never been held by a UK pumpkin, but now is your chance! Thompson & Morgan are looking for pumpkin growers who think they have what it takes to grow the world’s biggest pumpkin. Do you want to grow a jack o lantern big enough to scare the shit out of all the neighbourhood kids? Do you have a massive allotment and no desire to grow anything else but one humungous pumpkin? Do you really, really, really like pumpkin pie? Seriously though; this is all about growing BIG, obviously. If you do think you are in with a shot then contact Paul Hansord at Thompson & Morgan to register your interest.

I am tempted. Imagine the looks on everyone’s faces if I turned up at the village show with that.

And sow it begins….

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No mini muffin baking for me until these are in the ground.

Chitting crikey, is it that time of year already?! Yes it is. And so I’ve been making my usual lists, and list of lists, and colour-coded list of subcategories…. and I will probably still run out of space. But I will not be deterred!

The Pentland Javelins (pressie from my ma from her local allotment shop- cheers, mum!) are chitting. I have ordered some Kestrels for my second earlies and some red onion sets (I can’t remember which ones but I’m sure they’ll be labelled when they turn up).

I also got some astrantia seeds to grow for cutting and I’m not sure if I’ll end up regretting it. The instructions are long and complicated-sounding, like sow at the full moon into finely combed soil and then sing to them and shit like that. But I will see how they do.

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I frigging love free stuff.

I also got freebies, yay! These lovely looking cosmos which can go in my front garden, and some tomato seeds which I don’t need but I can take along to my local gardening group seed swap.

So, things are warming up and plans are moving from brain to paper to seed tray! Action stations!

The seed catalogues are here! Sunglasses at the ready

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My dog ate the Unwins catalogue. I wish I was kidding.

Have you been visited by the postie this week? I’ve had catalogues from Suttons, Marshalls and Unwins. I was so excited about getting the Marshalls catalogue my mum thought I was talking about guitars. She is still getting used to me not being a teenager. Get with the programme, mum, I am nearly 35 (shit, really?). Also it reminded me that I do have an allotment that I have not visited in nearly a month despite walking the dog right past it every day. Bugger.

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No, there is nothing wrong with the settings on your monitor. They are really this colour.

Anyway, I flicked through the catalogues and my first reaction to both the Suttons and Unwins ones was MY EYES, MY EYES. I don’t like to be dismissive of different types of gardening and I love a garish public park bedding plant display as much as the next person (probably more?) but it offends my eyeballs to see orange, red, salmon pink and hot pink combined in one bed. OUCH. Less is more when it comes to colour in gardening.

I didn’t really see anything I wanted in the flower seed section of the catalogue and that made me a bit sad. I’m basically a flower hoarder but there’s not much in the way of variety. I know they cater for the majority but how about some more unusual flowers to widen gardeners’ horizons a bit? I did see plenty of plants for pollinators though, so brownie points for that.

Having sat with the catalogues and several cuppas, I don’t think I actually need that much because my seed stash is pretty healthy. I am not bothering with main crop tatties this year although I will grow earlies. And I’ll be growing onions too. And I also think I’ll have a go at spaghetti squash because I’m trying to cut refined carbs (ask me if I’m still doing this after January, hahahahaha).

So my list so far is:

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First earlies- Pentland Javelin. I was recommended these by a fellow allotmenteer as being particularly resistant to eelworm.

 

 

 

kestrel

 

Second earlies- Kestrel. TBH I just read the words ‘slug resistant’ and I was sold.

 

 

 

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Onions- Still debating but I think I’ll go for Marshall’s Red Fen. Partly because they are heat treated so shouldn’t bolt as easily, and partly because there’s a lovely view of the fens from my allotment.

 

 

Now I just need to wait until it’s dried out a bit so that I can get digging.

*waits*

I’m bored.