Sunday, 26 April 2009

Butley creek

My legs will pay the price tomorrow but after lunch Flo, Nigel and I walked down to Butley Creek and up to the top of Burrow Hill.
Just how beautiful is this?



Progress and paths!

We have made real progress over the weekend. A 20 minute visit yesterday gave me time to take back most of the growth with my newly sharpened shears, and our friend Brian - never to be left alone with a weedy plot and a fork - frantically cleared the area around the rhubarb and beyond, rescuing some alliums (welsh onions?) in the process. I've now got stuff to remember to water!
Today I went down at 8am as I had spotted that there had been a bark chippings delivery and I wasn't sure how long the pile would last. I got the first path lined and bark filled quickly and then went home to cook breakfast for Nigel and his Mum, Flo.
Liz and I then spent another couple of hours at the allotment, she carried on path clearing and I did numerous trips to and from the chippings pile, and by lunchtime we had two finished paths plus one of the beds entirely covered out in black plastic.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Stoof the dog ? - 20.4.2009

Yesterday we had to say "Good bye" to our beloved little dog. He had been our friend and companion for almost nine years. Occasionally bullied by the cats and loved by every one who met him he was a dog of exceptional character.
He had taken us on great journeys during his life with us, and there is now a small yorkshire terrier shaped hole in our lives.
He was a small dog with a big heart (literally as it turned out). He had an amazing sense of humour and gave us unconditional and sometimes undeserved love and devotion.
Nigel and I are in the mercurial spasms of grief - going from laughter to tears in seconds. Trying to remember the walks, the holidays and the people that we shared with him. Sometime soon we'll share those memories but at the moment they feel so precious that we are holding on to them for ourselves.
The house misses him, I think that the cats even miss him and I can truly say that he has changed our lives forever - in his coming, his being with us and his going. We will never forget him.

Snake in the grass

We found a slow worm hiding under a piece of old corrugated metal in one of the beds. I know it's not really a snake, but a leg less lizard - must be the wine! It's been moved to the compost heap now.

Liz (pictured) and I went to the allotment on Sunday and starting work finding and clearing the paths between the beds. We have got three paths clear and have put a temporary covering down of black plastic to be replaced by some better weed suppressant textile at the weekend. We also cleared the area in front of the compost heaps which now gives us much better access. We also hauled out old bits of brick and rubble from the bed, which we've put to good use holding down the path coverings at the moment.
Just to make me feel like there is actually something growing, I rescued some shallots from one of the beds and cleared a small space to put them in!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Thursday, 16 April 2009


I went to the allotment today to drop off some tools and a large quantity of cardboard that was left over from our non-house move (long story!) last year. I put some hooks up in the shed, hung up some trugs and a pair of scissors, and squeezed the padlock onto the shed door, which is just about off its hinges anyway.

I found a couple of rhubarb plants hiding in the couch grass, so unchoked them a bit and will do a better job at the weekend.

There was no one else about at all this afternoon. When I got there a jay was being chased away from a nest by a couple of blackbirds. It was amazingly quiet despite being only about 50m away from a really busy road.

I've started a pile of 'useful stuff' by the shed - bricks and odd bits of rubble to hold down the plastic sheeting, and some wire frames I found stuffed by the compost heaps.

On close examination past custodians of the plot have created five beds about 3m x 1m, edged with old roofing tiles. The neighbouring plot which looks great is laid out in the exactly the same way, so they were obviously a single plot at one time. This gives me a great head start as I can work on one bed at a time whilst leaving the others to rot down. My plan is to dig out as much of the couch grass as possible in bed one, then cover with cardboard, straw and then weed suppressing textile, and plant some maincrop potatoes through the textile. The main job for this year will be to clear the paths and get them up to scratch.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The beginning

My love of growing vegetables started at a young age. My grandparents had a plot of about half an acre, most of it was dedicated to the pigs, chickens and occasional sheep that they kept, but there was a small orchard and large vegetable garden, as well as my Granny's pride and joy - her neatly tended summer bedding beds. The vegetable garden was hidden away behind the large laurel hedge that gave their house its name.
I spent school holidays and long weekends with them and after feeding the chickens and the pigs my favourite pastime was to help Grandad in the garden. I spent hours going to and from the massive zinc water butt with a galvanised steel watering can and was often put to work planting potatoes in deep trenches (always following the line) or earthing up the celery that he loved growing and that always did really well in his sandy Suffolk soil.
Summer tea times always included home grown tomatoes, celery and cucumbers with the thick skin cut off and I always remember the musty smell in the large disused garage that was the apple store. There were wooden benches all the way round on which the apples were laid out. Another of my tasks was to remove any that had started showing signs of rot.
My other Grandfather was also a keen gardener, he had a small but productive vegetable garden at the back of his council house and again I was always a willing helper in the many hours that I spent there.
My Dad still tends his vegetable garden in the same way that his father did, but Mum enjoys her ornamental plants and will pull out the occasional weed but does not realy have a passion for it. I suppose for her being brought up in the countryside with a large plot was something that she wanted to escape from. She enjoys town life much more.
My early 'grower' role models were all male with one notable exception, my Godmother. She still lives in her little cottage just down the road from where my Grandparents lived, she sold off some of the land to a neighbour a few years ago, but still manages a medium size garden and also provides gardening services in the village despite having failing eyesight due to a degenerative condition. She has, I think, the greenest fingers of anyone that I have ever met.
Over the past few years I have helped to move the back garden of my house from being a flat lawn to a thriving growing area attractive to wildlife. We have a great small pond created by my partner who has a love of making ponds. Almost as soon as it was filled newts moved in as though some public announcement was made of its presence. I have five raised beds where I grow a range of veg, a green roofed shed and the heart of my industry, my 8 x 4 greenhouse.
I've now run out of space and had been on the waiting list for the allotments about five minutes walk away for the last 3-4 years until last weekend when I was offered my prized 3.5 rod plot!
It has at least a year's worth of weed growth, the ground is uneven, there seems to be a mass of detritus under the weeds, I have had four discs removed from my spine, have osteo arthritis in my neck, a neurological condition and keloid scarring between my shoulder blades that pulls like fury every time I stretch - but what the hell, I am really excited! Nervous yes, but excited. I am trying to keep calm and realistic, and instead of picturing a thriving green plot, I am trying to keep the vision of a mass of black plastic in my mind. Better people than me have given up by trying to do to much too soon and become frustrated by their lack of progress and losing battle against the weeds.
Onwards though, the campaign starts at the weekend.