Tuesday 29 January 2008

Bloomin weather!

I know it's only Tuesday but I still can't help getting excited about the weekend and the prospect of our first serious session at the allotment. So, I sneak a peak at the weather forecast on the BBC web site to be greeted with this...

Talk about 'mixed'... Sun, dark clouds and snow! That's not what I was hoping for at all. Grrrrrrr...

Monday 28 January 2008

Not as quiet as it seems

You'd have thought after the excitement of getting our plot there'd have been a surge of activity, instead it's been a surprisingly quiet week or so. The dark evenings and full time work meant we couldn't get anything done in the week, then we had Melanie's daughter to visit over the weekend and we didn't feel it fair to subject her to a couple of days digging.

We did take a trip down to show her the plot though and discovered a few new goodies at the same time. A more thorough investigation of the netted tunnel revealed it already has a load of what look like fruit bushes in it. They look like they may be in need of a prune and we have no idea what they are, but it’s a start. The mysterious locked wooden box isn’t empty, not sure what’s in there but we had a peak under the corner of the lid and could defiantly see ‘stuff’ which is exciting. There’s also a rhubarb crown and what looks like it may be another fruit bush in one of the corners as well as a rose bush by the blue water butts. It just gets better and better.

There’s been progress behind the scenes too. We've created an allotment plan which, if our calculations prove correct, should mean we have 11 4' x 13' raised beds to work with as well as space for a compost heap, cold frame and, most importantly, a seating area so we can relax and enjoy the view after a hard days graft. Drawing up the plan was an interesting exercise as it forced us to stop and think about what should be grown together and how much space we wanted to use for each family of veg. It turned out that we actually had space for a few more things once it was all down on paper so we've drawn up a little seed wish list and popped it in the car so we can tick things off if we find them cheap somewhere.

Now it's just a case of watching the weather forecasts during the week and hoping that come next weekend the rain holds off and we can spend some proper time on the plot. It'd be nice to get all the beds marked out with string and some of the paths dug in if we're able so fingers crossed the weather doesn't ruin it.

Sunday 20 January 2008


We've got one!

After only about nine months on the waiting list today we took possession of our first ever allotment at a site in the nearby village of Upton St Leonards. Excited? Us? Just a little!

Getting a plot of any kind was always going to be a great day but we think we lucked out more than a little with the one we've ended up on. Not only is it bigger than we were expecting (10.5m x 16m, so that'd be 168 square meters if my maths are correct) but it's been well tended till very recently by an elderly gentleman who's had it for years. It also comes complete with some lovely features including a surrounding fence with gate, a very handy moveable netted frame for covering the brasicas and best of all as you'll see there's a fantastic netted tunnel down one side which all being well we can fill with soft fruit bushes.

All that means no massive clean up operation is needed and if we wanted to we could pretty much hit the ground running. As it is we'll probably divide it up into beds with some paths between them and perhaps put a flower border or something around the edge to encourage nice pest munching insects etc but essentially we're almost ready to go from the off!

Take a look for yourselves...

First up, the view from the top of the site. Not a bad view is it... ;)

Our plot is the first on the left, here is is in all it's glory...

As you can see, the ground it pretty clear bar a light covering of small weeds that should be easy to clear, the water butts will come in handy too!

There's the netted frame that we've inherited, plus another water butt just for good measure.

And finally, here's the netted walk-in tunnel that's probably the highlight (for me anyway), we didn't expect anything like this to be ready built on the plot and it saves us making one so that's got to be good. As you can see on the left there's also what looks like an old storage box too (locked...) and a bit further down are some general bits and bobs including a few lovely discarded windows complete with frames, perfect for making into a cold frame, another unexpected bonus.

All in all we feel very lucky, considering the horror stories you hear about people being faced with mountains of brambles etc when they take on a plot I think it's fair to say we struck gold with ours.

If the weather's ok next weekend we'll spend some time going over it all sorting stuff out and marking out the beds etc, for now we're just going to bask in the excitement.

WooHoo! :)

Friday 11 January 2008

Progress... kind of...

Well, good news of a sort. I emailed the friendly allotment man to ask about the possibility of us getting an allotment before the April renewal period and he replied confirming that we would indeed be plot holders before then and he'll be in touch when he has details.

Of course, that’s still a little vague but it's at least confirmation that we'll be getting one and it should be early enough in the year to give us a full growing season. Just have to sit and wait now...

Jobs for the weekend :
1) Go through seeds and sort out a planting time plan.
2) Inspect the onions and garlic.
3) If the rain stops start digging the new flower border in the front garden.

Thursday 3 January 2008

Happy New Year

So, that's Christmas over for another year. We’ve both eaten and drunk far too much just like you should and the annual post Christmas diets have now been started with admirable enthusiasm. Hope you all had a good one and we wish you a very happy 2008. It's only been a couple of days but already our thoughts have turned from the festivities to the imminent growing season.

Up till now we've been blindly assuming we're going to get at least one of the two allotments we've got our names down for, after all we've been second on one of the waiting lists since last April now so surely at least a couple of people will drop out come renewal time in a few months. However, the reality of entering the New Year still with no guaranteed allotment has now hit home and we've realised the delicacy of the waiting game we're going to have to play. While we have more than enough seeds etc to populate a nicely sized allotment the danger is that we'll start off loads and loads of seeds at home only to find ourselves still allotmentless come planting out time. With seriously limited space in our back garden we'd have to give most of them away which, while not a problem in itself, (it's nice to pass on spares after all) will be disappointing from our point of view.

Part of the problem is the frankly bizarre idea that allotment fees are due in April. This means that new plot holders get their hands on a plot slap bang in the middle of the planting season meaning they have to be able to hit the ground running, clearing space and planting in a mad rush not to waste as much of their first year as possible. It would seem far more sensible to start the annual fee renewal process at the turn of the year, giving new plot holders a couple of months (weather permitting of course) to do the ground work before the need to be seriously planting.

As it is we'll forge ahead with our plans and start planting seeds etc with the assumption we'll have somewhere to put them when the time comes. Otherwise keep an eye out for a load of lovingly grown seedlings looking for homes in a few months...