Category Archives: allotment

Continuing with change and progress

June 2010

June 2010

This week I gave notice on my allotment plots.

I think it is time to move on from them for a few different reasons; life is still busy especially with starting a new job. I now have a better grasp of living in a two person household and the much smaller mountains of food that so few people get through and mostly it seems a little be of a waste of resources to pay rent and travel for my allotment plots when I have a large enough garden that is just a step outside my door in the mornings and is included in the rent for my house; I think the money saved will be much better off going into my ‘hobbit-hole’ fund.

It will also relieve me of the stress, restraints and compromise of working in a communal area which although has its upside seems to be getting more in the way of me succeeding at how I would like to grow food than helping me too at the moment.

July 2010

July 2010

What little bits I have grown this year are mostly in my garden at home so it will just be a case of collecting my things from my plots before handing them back for someone else to take on.

In some ways it feels like I am yet again starting from square one but I have been making plans for my garden since I moved and this will free me up to go forward with them and I have already put my first raised bed in with a spare hour I had one evening.


Dandelions reach up for the last of the evening sun as they close - 22nd April 2012

Dandelions reach up for the last of the evening sun as they close – 22nd April 2012

Last year was most definitely one of massive change for me; I moved house, my dad spent months seriously ill mostly in hospital and then died, I was made redundant for the third time from a job I loved and at a time when unemployment for people my age was rising each month and the relationship I had been in all of my adult life ended.

All of these things have completely changed the shape of my life forever and will carry on doing so for years to come I would imagine but it has also been the kick-up-the-bum I needed for me to take stock and decide what is most important to myself and what it is I really want from my life; a little hillside with my very own ‘hobbit hole’.

 This want is something that has been forming for years now but something over the last year has just clicked and made me realise I can make it real  and not just have it as an “if only…In a prefect world” dream.

Summer blooms - 20th August 2011

Summer blooms – 20th August 2011

I am a strong person and one of the things that makes me strong is the connection to the land I have. I feel most alive when I am out in *it*, cleaning out goat sheds, sowing seeds and watching the sky change. It is what I know and understand and when I am away from it I feel trapped and boxed in…

Willow capkins - 21st April 2010

Willow capkins – 21st April 2010

After my last redundancy I made some bad choices; I was so concerned with having a job I didn’t really consider the reason for working and told myself I could make it work. I was wrong and as a result the job/s I have had since November really haven’t been working, most weeks I worked six days a week and my only day off a week was as a result of me putting my foot down and even then that was often pushed with requests to work an extra shift; I am so much more than my job. I know it is possibly a thought that never even crossed others minds but I am a good carer*  because of the me that I am away from work and working six days a week for not enough money doesn’t leave much room for this.

However this has hopefully now changed and a few weeks ago I started a new job which will hopefully give me some sort of balance between work and home life as well as enough income, and so long as I am careful some left over to put into savings towards my hillside. It does of course come with its down sides; a week on week off rota so I shall be away every other week but hopefully these weeks can be used to learn the skills I am going to need e.g. green building and living off grid and maybe even extra time to blog and share what I learn.

Round house - 24th October 2010

Round house – 24th October 2010

Lots of things are going to have to change; the way I garden and allotment, the animals I keep… Thankfully I have my mother and sister who are happy to look after what I already have whilst I am away but thoughts of more chickens or some quail will need to go on hold for the forseeable future. I am going to need to learn and apply more permaculture methods to growing and storing food and I have questions about what to do about seed sowing next spring if I am going to be away. Growing in pots isn’t going to work as well as it did last year but it is all do able and feels like I might just be moving forward at long last.

*and this isn’t just me being big-headed about myself it is what I have been told by both my employers and something I believe when I have seen the way some others work

Trundling along

This was begun a week or so ago, just after the sun had burned the frost of my hill and before yet another day of going to work… (I also knew where my camera was at the time but don’t now so now photos I’m afraid)

Things seem to be back to a ‘stand still holding your breath’ stage at the moment and even though little in roads in the right direction are being made I hate the waiting for the return of ‘normal’, whatever that maybe now. Most of it revolves around work and money, which makes the waiting even more frustrating as it is all waiting on others to take action or make their minds up whilst I am left floating along with the days turning into weeks and my plans having to be made in a months timescale instead of what I’d like… And even some of those have had to be put back.

I hate the control money has on everything and the way it makes me feel when there isn’t enough of it; as though I am in some way an inadequate person and as though there is an extra strain on just getting the day-to-day done. I so truly wish I was in a position to not have such a need but I’m not sure that that could ever be reached, and not without first having enough money to begin with. Money seems to be the line between existing and *living* and I want to live and not just for work as so many others seem to have to.

Any way, I am making small (what feel like tiny just now) inroads and this is what I’m trying to focus on… Grumpy poor-me moan over.

Bella kidded two weeks ago, another little boy. He is sooo tiny up to Dumbledor (that is what Briony’s kid was named) and I can’t believe that there is such a difference in just a month. He is darker in colour but already has patches coming through and is going to be more like his mum and Knightshade in looks. He’s been named Dougal.

Just before the cold weather hit I decided to start sowing, hence why I am sitting here with a windowsill of leggy seedlings, and popped three courgette seeds into a pot with a “three courgettes isn’t much to lose” kind of shrug and added a windowsill growing kit of chillies and a packet of Nasturtium for good measure. I think I really needed to get my hands in some soil and see the tiny shoots of hope that seed sowing brings and so far so good, apart from being a little leggy they are fine and I have added a few pots of sweetpeas to them since and then had a splurge of seed sowing last night and have an assortment of flower seeds lined up to be sown today.

I don’t really have a plan to what I am doing so far, just a vague idea of greatness, but it is making me feel hopeful and as though my life hasn’t just become work and a search for new work.

Fruit harvest

Life is odd at the moment but still carrying on in that relentless way it does. I have tried to write about my dads funeral but don’t have the words to do so…

Fly Ararics which are very pretty but not so useful - 18th September 2011

Fly Ararics which are very pretty but not so useful - 18th September 2011

Fruiting plants haven’t done too badly this year; there seem to be plenty of apples, plums and berries weighing down the branches of trees along the road sides and in the woods and mushrooms are starting to appearing dotted around the forest waste land in the early mornings.

Wall garden; ever-bearing strawberries and 100's and 1000's tomatoes - 18th September 2011

Wall garden; ever-bearing strawberries and 100's and 1000's tomatoes - 18th September 2011

In the garden the tomatoes are starting to ripen, the ever-bearing strawberries are still flower and bearing fruit and french beans are coming in in fits and starts.

Boston squash; possibly from one of the seeds I saved last year - 16th September 2011

Boston squash; possibly from one of the seeds I saved last year - 16th September 2011

At the allotment the squashes are doing well again and I have learnt from last year and harvested the ripe ones to allow the plants to put their energy into the un-ripened and forming fruit.

More potatoes

Sorting and weighing; self-sown potato harvest - 3rd July 2011

Sorting and weighing; self-sown potato harvest - 3rd July 2011

Yesterday I spent the morning manning the allotment which were open to the public as part of the village open gardens. It wasn’t busy, two people drove in, stopped and looked from their car and left without even opening the door, so we managed to get some things done.

Whilst I was doing some smaller jobs my HelpX helper dug up some of the self-sown potatoes and it wasn’t a bad harvest at all – 9.9kgs from only about half of the plants which haven’t even had the time of planting put into them!

Sorted; self-sown potato harvest - 3rd July 2011

Sorted; self-sown potato harvest - 3rd July 2011

Today I sorted them into sizes – Large, medium large, smaller, salad and smallest. There seem to be two different types with some being a little like Charlottes and I’ve no idea about the others. Some have already gone into a potato salad and a few more are in the oven roasting for tonight’s dinner.

I’ve also managed (or between us we have) cleared some of the back garden which I’ve hardly even been in for the last month, prick out 72 loose leaf lettuces, pot on sprout plants (which I hope to sort and grow in the back garden along with other winter veg) and collect and sow some chive seeds.

Not a bad day really.

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

It has been a while since I’ve blogged and it hasn’t been that I haven’t meant to or wanted to; it has been that nothing feels news worthy at the moment.

Everything seems to be plodding along, with lots happening but possibly nothing more than getting through another week.

I have been to the allotment and gardened but everything other than weeds seem to be stood still. I am not sure that my courgette plants have grown at all since putting them in… Is it just me? Do they not like where I’ve planted them, or am I not watering them enough? I am still waiting for my goats to kid, but that is getting less and less likely now. I have made a batch of Elderflower cordial, using Colour It Green’s excellent recipe and am drinking my way through it whilst picking out the best spots for my next pickings and waiting for another dry day to make some more.

I worked far too hard over the May bank holiday, my own fault for wanting to do everything and be everywhere, and now I have a cold. Which I am ignoring in the hope that it will go away whilst my throat slowly becomes rawer and my voice hoarser and the coughing keeps me  awake a little later each night. Maybe I should succumb and allow myself to lay on the sofa for a day but I have too many things to do, and too many things I want to do.

There are only a few weeks of funding for my current work left, I have a job until the end of September but it will never be the same come the end of this month and I am pushing myself to be there everyday until the end; to answer the hard questions that don’t really have an answer, keep my promise that I will be there every week until this date and deal with the upset, of which there has been lots. Over half term we held a celebration event to mark the end of our funding, a conversation happened about photo permissions and I was asked how many of the kids there I knew and could ask for permission after the event and as I looked out across the field I realised I knew most, not quite all but only by one or two, of the 150 kids there in  just one of the parks I visit weekly. Admittedly that is the busiest but that has been build up from not seeing anyone for the first few weeks of us being there; the park is now owned by the kids who live there, even if some of them are only allowed there when me and the other play rangers are there and I don’t want that to stop.

My dad is unwell again; I have almost lost count of the number of times he has been in hospital since Easter but he has certainly spend as much time there as he has at home. There is nothing anyone can really do though other than all pull together and get on with it but it is hard, especially for mother, keeping on top of what is happening with him and questioning everything as some of the treatments and medicine just don’t seem to be the most logical or best course of action, to us any way.

In spite of all this though life doesn’t feel all doom and gloom; just very full!

Mostly of things growing

It feels like I haven’t blogged in a long time but really it is just a week or so. So much is happening at the moment and at the same time nothing at all…

The weather has made it feel like we should be in the depths of summer but really it is still only spring and only just time to sow many things. My patio is filled with trays and pots of differing plants and plantlets at different stages of growth and the heat seems to have had a knock on effect in growth even with the tiny little plants which are watered every other day or some; they have shot up since the recent rain started.

Work at the allotment seems to have been on hold for a while for no really reason but last weekend I finally managed to start making an impact, even though it is only one that I will notice. Still the sea of green that my allotment has turned into has pleased me;

Allotment; before the weekend - 7th May 2011

Allotment; before the weekend - 7th May 2011Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

 Above the allotments on Saturday and then below the allotments on Sunday evening

Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

It is so healthy looking. Ok it looks unloved and unruly and has been making my heart sink a little when I walk in through the gates but if you look probably, and maybe screw your eyes up just enough so as the nettles aren’t instantly identifiable as nettles, it is a little slice of green and lushness in amongst old pasture land. This plot down from mine is a path away and has been vacant and uncared for since the beginning of winter;

Next allotment over (with my potato bed in front)

Next allotment over (with my potato bed in front)

There is such a difference in the two, even covered in weeds there are still pickings to be had on my plots; wild salad leaves and nettles.

Rainbow over stormy skies - 8th May 2011

Rainbow over stormy skies - 8th May 2011

I am pleased with the difference my no-dig system is having too, I can tell the difference between the top layer of soil, which is dark, crumbly and lovely to handle, to that underneath which is clay like and until this weekend one dry lump. Oh, and the worms!! In one of the gardening books mother was given for her birthday there is a soil fertility test; if you have 4 worms in a spades depths of soil then you are working with good stuff, I have loads morn then that!

At home the  back garden defies me. It is in two parts; part a is a dry, dusty and old bonfire heap, part b is covered in brambles, ivy and bind weed. I want to level the bottom part off to have somewhere we can sit out and then have my greenhouse and vegetable beds higher up… It is going to take hard work and some time to get it to that stage. I have bought some chickens home to clear the weeds and they are doing their job ok. If all I get done this year is a few veg beds for winter ‘stuff’ back there I will be happy.

The front garden, which is mostly concerted over, now has a final plan to it for this year since I had an inspired day during the week. I had a sort of idea of what I wanted it to be and had been collecting bits and piece as I saw them, mostly about to be thrown away. Now it is all laided out and just needs to be planted up with the right things on the right day. Hopefully it is going to be beautiful, and I know it is going to be productive.

Plant growing and sowing

What a difference a day makes, I started writing this yesterday and today when I have gone round all my pots again checking that I hadn’t missed anything off there were green shootings in most of the pots of soil from yesterday…

In spite of my best laid plans I have managed to lose track of what I have sown; some of it through my own laziness, “I will write labels later” kind of thing, and some of it because the permanent markers the I bought especially for writing on plant labels fades and washing off.

I have completely lost track of my garlic project and, other than the elephant garlic, have no idea which the other bulbs are and have just put them in so as not to lose the crop whilst trying to piece together what is what out. I’m sure it will still taste good but it would have been interesting to see the results of what did best.

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Still to be sown: Carrots,  

Indoors waiting to appear: Poppies, sweetcorn, runner & bobby beans, courgettes, self-saved squash seed two types little green ones and last years Boston, peas, 100s & 1000s red toms, aubergines, strawberries, a module tray that I think contains some sort of flowers and possibly some sort of Brassica just starting to push up it’s tender green leafs

Soaking seeds - 15 April 2011

Soaking seeds - 15th April 2011

Outdoors waiting to appear: Cauliflowers, red & green Sprouts, Spring Greens, broccli, pansies, peas, parsnips and bush dwarf booby beans

Up, outside and waiting be potted on or planted out:  Spring Greens, Sunflowers, Sweetpeas, leeks, Boston Squash, Patty-Pan Summer squash, Green Bush courgettes, Jack O’ Lanterns pumpkins, beetroot, yellow cherry pear toms, sweet basil, purple sprouting, kale, parsley, chillies and lots of salad

In grown at allotment: Potatoes, garlic, cauliflowers, beetroot

Happy birthday to me

Today is my 25th birthday; I have been on this earth for a quarter century.

May blossom - 26th May 2011

May blossom - 26th May 2011

It’s been a lovely weekend starting on Friday with more seed sowing (peas, beans, toms and the first squash) and then a lovely dinner cooked by lovely friends. Yesterday we started work on my plastic bottle greenhouse, the first two posts are in and ready for the back wall. It is finally becoming really!

Today I booked myself a slow start, mother let my chooks out whilst I spent some time having a shower, a cooked breakfast, including birthday cake and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, and poking at things in my garden where things are taking off fast now. This was followed by a ‘party’ lunch at mothers with jelly and Cornish Clotted cream ice cream then this afternoon we bought a chicken pen back to my house so as I can bring some hens back to clear some ground before planting squashes and rounded the day off with some potato planting and roast potatoes with gravy for dinner.

Allotment and garden – March 2011

I haven’t manage to spend as much time on the allotment or garden as I’d have wanted this month but things have been happening slowly.

There are beetroot, peas and half the potatoes (International Kidney) in at the allotment, and lots of tidying, measuring up and marking out that needs doing.

Allotment; taken from the 'plot' end - 28th March 2011

Allotment; taken from the 'plot' end - 28th March 2011

In my garden I have lavender and strawberries, more strawberries in a strawberry planter, a herb window box with chives, mint and parsley and black currant and raspberries in pots. I need about a day to tackle the back garden and get rid of the brambles and ivy that are covering most of it but I have found a massive rhubarb plant – it’s such a shame I haven’t found a way of cooking rhubarb that I like!

Lots of time has been spent on seed sowing, mostly as it is a ‘gardening’ job I can do indoors after work when it is dark so I have lots of salad, kale, cabbage, sweet-peas, leeks, cauliflowers, purple sprouting and sunflowers (just) popping their heads above the compost and am waiting for dwarf peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, dwarf beans, parsnips, hollyhocks, basil, mint (several kinds) coriander, parsley and spinach to show signs of life.

Today it rained for the first time in a few weeks; the warm weather has been very welcome but a bit of rain with hopefully set everything off growing again and put some shape in this year.