Allotment update

undefined This is what I call my allotment, I have previously referred to it as the pub veg plot if you want to look back on previous year’s progress. I am still growing stuff for the pub although only for the pop-up shop and takeaway ready meals at the moment. I am also spending a bit of my own time there to grow things for me. My new, and favourite, project this year has been a cutting garden, which you can see here.

On the left hand side, I have six beds. Two are permanently planted with rhubarb and fruit trees (underplanted with wild garlic) and the others currently have squashes, potatoes, sweetcorn and brassicas, and my cut flowers. And lots of weeds!

Not sure how to caption now WordPress has changed but this is courgette and a giant pumpkin with lots of space to grow.

This is just another view, including the flowers. The nigella have finished but I am using the seedheads and the godetia is just coming out. The cornflowers have just gone on and on.

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On the right hand side, another six beds, this time three with permanent planting. One with herbs, one with newly planted asparagus, established globe artichokes and gooseberry and blueberry bushes and one with strawberries. Considering how I neglected the strawberry bed, it is producing well, plants in their second year now. undefined

In the other beds, I have given up on the broad beans, harvested a few and pulled up plants. The red flowered, spring sown ones never really thrived and covered in rust and black fly, it’s time to go. I have let last years leeks flower, just because I like them, and planted s new crop, sown earlier in the year.

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Also on this side, some later sown salad leaves and spring onions. The peas have been picked and eaten, by us and the pigeons.

Salad seedlings.

Autumn planted onion sets are almost ready to harvest, not very big because of the dry spring, after the wet beginning of the year, and a bit of a lack of time on my part, hence my ongoing weed battle. I have more courgettes and squashes dotted about, first courgette harvested this week.

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July tasks will include weeding and getting to grips with the blog. I also have dahlias to add to the cutting patch. I have learnt a lot about growing flowers so I will try to put it all together in another post. I also have some more beans to squeeze in somewhere.

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May 2020

 

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I can’t believe that it is the end of May already. I don’t know how other people fit in blogging with everything else going on in the garden, there’s still lots of sowing and pricking out to do but here is a quick look at, what has been a very dry May.

The lockdown has gradually been lifted and this weekend has seen lots of people making day trips. You can now visit RHS and National Trust gardens, if you book first. Meanwhile at work and home, the borders are filling up. The tulips have come and gone and the may blossom, hawthorn, has been spectacular.

It has been the month that the roses start performing, filling the gardens with their  beautiful scents and lots of other flowers too, and it’s still exciting waiting to see what is coming out next, year after year.

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Really enjoyed sniffing this lilac!

Mine is always the first peony, left, I am afraid that I don’t know the variety as it came with the garden. There are so many different peonies, from dark red to pure white and from simple flowers to really frothy blooms.

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These white ones are just coming out at the end of May.

Now a bit of real gardening where things go wrong. When I worked at a garden centre, I used to warn people not to plant out bedding too early because there is always a chance of frost until the end of May. This year I didn’t listen to my own advice and we had several frosty nights during one week in mid May. The dahlias suffered and it also caught my beans and squashes in the poly tunnel. Mostly they have  recovered but it has been a bit of a setback.

Apart from looking after the seeds and lots of watering, I  seemed to have pulled forget-me-nots up in all of my gardens throughout the month. Here is a quick before and after. They come up easily so it’s quite a quick fix job.

 

Towards the end of the month, there are bean pods forming on the overwintered broad beans and the climbing French beans are beginning to climb. I have now planted out all the squashes and courgettes.

The lack of rain has meant flower petals, like this poppy, have lasted well and having the family at home during lockdown, and in the garden more seems to have improved the chances of the alliums which usually get eaten by rabbits.  Here’s hoping the dahlias benefit too.

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Just finishing off with this field of daisies in my village.

 

April 2020-Lockdown

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Here we are in week 5 of the lockdown and life is not the same as usual. Following the government guidelines, I clearly can’t do my job from home and as I work on my own in my customers’ gardens I have mostly carried on. I know some people in the garden industry have been forced to give up because they need access through the house and others have received abuse for working when they are not key workers.

20200414_124635 I am feeling so lucky to be living in a friendly village in a rural environment. Sometimes it feels different with no children to get to school and driving along empty roads to work, quite nice actually, and sometimes it’s just the same as I sow seeds, and pull out weeds with just the birds for company.

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At home, with my family it feels normal, then I realise that I can’t  go anywhere. I would like to be able to visit open gardens, bluebell woods and the sea.  I don’t know if it is a coincidence, but since the lockdown began we have nearly endless blue skies and sunshine. This has no doubt helped the fantastic show of blossom this year, hence all the pictures! Apple, cherry and pear so far.

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Lots more cherry blossom pictures to come.

With the endless rain earlier in the year and now the endless sunshine, the weeds are really growing fast now. It is difficult to balance the time spent sowing seeds, planting out (I’ve risked some beans this week) watering and keeping on top of the weeding.

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Beetroot, lettuce, chard and broad, runner and French beans are in the ground, with a few in reserve just in case. I’ve got courgettes, squashes, cosmos and ammi in the polytunnel and dahlia seedlings inside on the windowsill. No show yet for the tomatoes, chillies and giant pumpkins. Maybe I should stop poking them!

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I’m very excited because I have a delivery of compost coming this weekend, so I really must get on with potting up the new dahlias that I ordered this year.

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Enough cherry blossom! This week I have been harvesting herbs and rocket from the garden and purple sprouting broccoli from the allotment.

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It still feels like a strange juxtaposition that that normal life has ground to a halt for us but the plants are still growing, the potatoes are showing today, and the birds are busy feeding the next generation.

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Mr blackbird has been very busy.

We have no idea of and end in sight at the moment so we just have to keep going and keep growing!

Easter 2020

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It is mid April and everything is bursting into life, as it should be, but the reality for us is anything but normal. Across the whole world, countries, including the UK, are in lockdown because of the Covid19 pandemic. With a large percentage of the population confined to home, and a settled spell of fine weather those who are lucky enough to have one have been out in the garden. And I am no exception.

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Looking back, the last blog was March 3rd so I’ll try and catch up a bit. This is Berberis Darwinii looking good in early March.

I have been managing to carry on gardening for most of my customers as I tend to be on my own and away from the houses anyway. Here are the daffodils at one of my larger gardens and a new garden structure which I am rather fond of.

The daffodils were followed by a fantastic show of other bulbs in the grass. Muscari, Anemone blanda, Scilla and Chionodoxa. They always are but that doesn’t stop me being excited and taking photos every year!

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New Acer leaves.

It stayed cold for so long that I managed to hold off sowing seeds until the very end of March and beginning of April. But the weeds started growing so I weeded, gave  the lawn edges their first trim of the year and divided and moved a few perennials.

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and it feels like it has been hot and sunny forever. The tulips are out at the pub which has temporarily morphed into a local shop. I have been sowing seeds in the greenhouse (not mine) to hopefully produce some crops that can be sold to the shop’s customers.

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So far the cumin is doing well!

At home, we have moved the polytunnel  back a bit, here it is before and during the move, and put a replacement cover on because the old one was full of holes. This has created a bigger vegetable patch and honestly I have been sorting through my pots and it looks a lot better than this now.

Inside the polytunnel, I have sown most of my seeds now including the more tender vegetables like tomatoes and squashes and the half hardy annuals such as cosmos and zinnia. Dahlia seeds are inside on the window sill. The sunflowers, sown a week ago, have come up already. As you can see it is also used for storing guinea pig supplies which is not ideal.

Just the rest of the garden to do now before everything needs pricking out!

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This cuckoo flower has sprung up in the lawn, quite a large patch, as if to emphasise how damp it has been, right near to the house.

Tonight it rained, which has filled up the water butt and hopefully gone down into the soil as far as the potatoes. I am so grateful to have my garden and live in such a nice place so staying hasn’t been such a chore and there is still lots more to do to keep me busy.

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March 2020

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Well we made it to March. There has been more wind and rain but the sun has a little warmth in it when it does come out.

With the weeds putting on growth, I’ve suddenly got a slight panic that I won’t be ready in time.  I have started to give the veg beds at the pub a good thick layer of muck but it’s slow progress and I have a way to go.

20200303_152249There is quite a lot of muck still to be moved but I’m weeding as I go so it takes time.

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This is the other side, there are three beds with perennial crops, herbs, artichokes and soft fruit, and strawberries so less soil.

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These are my rows of cut flowers, sown in the autumn and all but 2 varieties doing well.

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The wild garlic is coming up!

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I love the zingy colours of rhubarb. We had the first crumble of the year tonight.

In the greenhouse, the peas that I sowed a couple of weeks ago have started to come up and I have sown a few more seeds. It is much too wet to sow anything  outside at the moment.

 

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In other news, I found my Okatsune secateurs 2 weeks after losing them and my Felcos have returned beautifully refurbished, although I am disappointed my name is no lo get stamped on the metal.

Mid February 2020

Here we are in mid February, after more stormy and wet weather. This week, I couldn’t wait any longer and started sowing seeds for the new season.

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In the trays I have sown peas, for pea shoots and broad beans. There are some autumn sown broad beans which have overwintered outside for an early crop, and these will be the next lot ready to pick.

20200217_095329 In the pots are sweet peas and a selection of herbs. I will sow more later. I am using my customer’s big greenhouse, where already the overwintered salads are doing well.

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I have also been carrying on with the rose pruning.

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Half way through the one in the centre. I have been hampered by only having my 3rd pair of secateurs. I have lost my favourite, Okatsune, and send my seconds, Felco, off for repair. The ground is also very soggy.

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Earlier in the month we did have a warm spell when the bees and hoverflies came out to enjoy the early nectar in the petasites flowers.

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I am getting the allotment under control although there is a lot more work to do. The rhubarb is beginning to grow and the leeks are hanging on in there.

The autumn planted onion sets are doing well and I have planted some fruit bushes, 2 redcurrant and 3 blueberry.

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The snowdrops have been fantastic, see previous post, but are fading now. Lots of prunus blossom beginning to come out and daffodils on their way. Could do with a bit more sunshine though.

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Chippenham Park Gardens – February 8th 2020

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Chippenham Park Gardens is in Cambridgeshire, not far from Newmarket, and shouldn’t be confused with the other Chippenham in Wiltshire! I found it in the RHS The Garden magazine and was delighted to find it was open on my birthday and less than an hour from home. It’s not open all the time so check the website before visiting Here

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It started with a walled kitchen garden, a bit bare in February, but we were able to peek at the pelagoniums overwintering in the greenhouse and admire the brassicas, then out into trees and grass and the snowdrops begin. You can make your own way round the garden, so we started with the fountain garden at the front.

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We meandered past the tennis court to the lake and then over the Japanese bridge into the trees. Here there were lots of snowdrops and they got denser the further we went.

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This area is ‘The Wilderness’ and ‘Snowdrops walks’

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We took lots of photos!

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Walking back to the tearooms we spotted bees in the crocus.

After warming up with lunch we walked along the long border and went through the wall to the Hare Hall gardens.

The leylandii arches from the mound and we enjoyed spinning the seat round to get a panoramic view.

We walked back along ‘Adrians Walk’ which goes round both sides of the top of the lake. It is packed with hellebores and dwarf irises and more bees enjoying the afternoon sun and sweet scents of the  Daphne and Sarcococca.

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I will definitely be back, maybe to see the roses in the summer or the Acer walk in the autumn.

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January – back to work.

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It was hard getting up in the dark to go back to work on Monday morning, after having two weeks off, but these snowdrops were a welcome surprise.

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Also the hellebores were starting to flower. Is it me or is it all a bit early because we have had such a mild winter so far.

In another garden winter aconites and sweet smelling Lonicera fragrantissima living up to it’s name. And rose pruning for me.

Prunus autumalis is a lovely winter flowering cherry with it’s delicate pink blossoms in the middle of winter. Yellow, native hazel catkins are pretty bright too especially when they move in the wind and the powdery pollen wafts out in clouds.

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The first primroses are out!

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Petasites, coltsfoot, the smell is amazing and the flower quite pretty but it spreads uncontrollably and it has  very tough roots. You can see how much there is in the background, this is one small area.

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In this garden, giant molehills!

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Second week, still dark in the mornings although much lighter in the afternoons now. Muck spreading to keep me busy and more snowdrops out.

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New Year Catch Up January 1st 2020

Hello, Happy New Year! It looks like I need a bit of a catch up as I haven’t posted for a while. Writing on my phone proved a bit tricky, I thought that I could write it throughout the month but the photos kept deleting, and it is a very small screen. I’m going to do a quick summary of November and December because I did still take photos.

November

 

November carried on in the same spirit as October being mostly wet and grey. There was a bit of autumn colour creeping in.

I picked the final dahlia flowers and moved the tubers in to the greenhouse to dry off.

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I tried to make leaf raking more interesting.

Seedlings and lettuce plants in the poly tunnel, doing well but needing some attention.

On the 19th November we had a frost and some actual sunshine.

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The broad beans came up.

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It rained again and the river got quite full.

At the end of the month, I saw violets, mahonia and periwinkle flowering in a customers garden.

 

December

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Chicory in the vegetable garden.

I took the family to see the Helmingham Hall illuminated garden trail just up the road. It was fantastic!

Did a massive pond clearing job with a customer and man with a chainsaw.

It got really wet in the gardens but I still managed to harvest parsnip and cabbage.

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Bulbs coming up. These are Leucojum, spring snowflake.

I can to cancel the last day’s work before my Christmas break because the road was flooded.

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Visited the allotment to pick parsley for the stuffing.

 

I had high hopes of getting on in my own garden over the holidays but I have only done a very small amount of potting on in the polytunnel and brought some of the pelagoniums into the house. I haven’t even planted the sack of tulip bu;lbs yet. It is still vey wet underfoot although we have had a few dry days. I have a lot of seeds that I can’t wait to plant and I have flowers to grow for a wedding in the summer which I am most excited about.

 

October Diary 2019

 

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So excited, those hardy annuals which I have sown at the allotment have started to germinate. It looks like there will be a lot of eschschlozia!

 

Also courgettes still going and baby leeks, bought as plants, planted out.

 

Oct 7th

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Lots of rain so far this month and a good crop of parasol mushrooms on the lawn.

Oct 8th

 

 

Customers veg garden mostly clear now and liriope flowering in the borders.

Oct 10th

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In this garden, I have been planting daffodil  bulbs. Much easier than when I started 2 weeks ago because of the rain. You may be spotting a weather related theme here! Anyway, I took this photo as I was planting at the top of the slope and I wanted to check that they could be seen from the patio at the bottom as that is where the house is. It helped me bring them a bit further down.

 

 

Flowering in the front garden, toad lilies and aconitum. And hey look the sun is shining!

 

 

Laybirds in the last of the helianthus and lovely skeletal poppies.

Oct 12th

 

 

Planted winter lettuce in the polytunnel at home and sowed some salad crops, pak choi, chicory, fennel (er, not sure why so much now) and kale. You can also see pelagonium cuttings and sweet William seedlings brought under cover. There are still tomato plants  but I don’t think that they will ripen out here now.

15th Oct

Spindle berries, very exotic looking despite being a native, Euomymus europeaus

 

 

Going back through the borders now for  more thorough cut back and tidy up. Also thinking what can be moved around  while the soil is relatively warm.

I am going to reduce these michaelmas daisies, because they can take over, but they do look good en masse and the bees were very happy to find some late flowers.

 

 

At the allotment, one side nearly done and the other with lots of work still to do.

 

 

Oct 16th

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Nerines where they like it at the base of a sunny wall.

Oct 18th

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More of the same, sunshine and showers.

Oct 22nd

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They took their time but the cosmos are still flowering.

Oct 28

 

 

After rain every day in October finally a few dry ones. Today started with frost but then the sun came out. Time to get rid of all the courgettes and squashes on the allotment.

Oct 31st

 

 

Last day of October and still a bit of colour. Dahlias in one garden and fuchsia in another.

October has been a damp month, not much autumn colour yet. It finishes as always with the woodland group Halloween event, pumpkins and sausages round the fire pit.