Tag Archives: Visitors

The Social Side

In the last year and a bit, we’ve had a few visitors to our allotment. Visiting family and friends, who would come by to “see what it’s all about.” Kind compliments have always been given and they’ve even assisted with some weeding. Given that we don’t have a garden, only three little window boxes on our Juliet balcony, we’ve always wanted the allotment act as leisure space, as well as a “working garden.”

Lindsey enjoying the sun.

Lindsey enjoying the sun.

When we started re-organising the plot back in November 2011, we marked out a small lawn area next to the herb beds. Scott did the Man Thing; levelling, adding top dress and seeding the area. Over a year on, it’s now a great patch to stretch out on after a hard morning of weeding. A lovely charcoal BBQ was donated to us earlier this year and last weekend we finally got it fired up.

FIRE.

FIRE.

We gathered with our friends; Lindsey, Dan and Jen for a slap up meal in 30C weather. We stayed for several hours and were all lovely and pink by the end of the day. Our next allotment purchase will likely be one of those cheap pop-up marquees from Argos.  Still not quite prepared for this proper summer weather!

Jen & Dan say hi!

Jen & Dan say hi!

Still, despite the heat, we managed to pack two bottles of chilled Prosecco with us. Made even more delicious by the addition of strawberries and raspberries picked right there and then. Here’s hoping the weather keeps up and we can do it again this weekend. It’s a whole other aspect of the allotment to enjoy, the joy of sharing it with people.

Prosecco and Strawberries anyone?

Prosecco and Strawberries anyone?

Reaping the Rewards

Well, it’s been a brief hiatus recently. I have been to the plot fairly regularly  but not doing masses of work there, just harvesting really. It’s great, it must be what it’s like for those celebrity chefs that “grow their own” veg. Sadly, the reality is that I did all the work myself, not the hired help of my imagination.

Basket of goodies.

I certainly haven’t been the only one enjoying the bounty of our hard work. My parents came over for three weeks in September and it was a joy to cook for them using the produce from the plot. The oven roasted potatoes cooked with duck fat, sea salt and fresh rosemary was a big hit. Sweet carrots, steamed with a pat of butter and a touch of ginger were also appreciated…

I think the best reward from the plot yet has been taking my parents there and seeing them enjoy the allotment as much as I have over the last year. My dad loved taking photos of all the birds found on the allotment site, while my mum got stuck in, helping me weed and harvest. I dearly wish they could come there with me every week, it was tough seeing them fly back to Canada.

Proud parents.

With the recent wet weather, I got slightly panicky and we dug up the last of the potatoes and the remaining summer carrots. Four carrier bags worth of potatoes will be keeping us and several friends well fed for the next little while. However, it’s been our outstanding carrot crop that has been making me puff with pride this year. We have gotten our fair share of Rude Willy Carrots, but also some fantastic beauties. Silly willies or not, they all have tasted amazing, a sweetness I’ve never tasted in a shop-bought carrot.

Beaut!

The first frosts have yet to set in, so there’s plenty more harvesting to do. The last of the squashes and courgettes have yet to be collected. As the cold weather really sets in, there’s plenty still to do. With no hired help (sigh) the final clean up will need to be done and there’s still garlic to go in yet. Before we really start into that though, we’ll munch another sweet carrot and take a moment to saviour the joy of our hard work and the rewards it has brought.

Crazy for carrots!

Life on the Allotment

While we do get our fair share of human visitors, it’s the non-human visitors I get really excited about. Whenever I’m there enjoying some peace and quiet on my own, I’m never really alone.

I often lose time watching the bees, following the beetles scuttling across the beds or trying to identify all the different birds I see. Even yesterday, I had to pause with the watering to scoop out a frog that had gotten trapped in the water cistern. As it hopped off into the tall grass, I realised I should have re-homed it under the comfrey patch, where there’s millions of slugs hiding.

Speaking of slugs, fifteen minutes of hand picking though the ornamental beds yielded nearly a half bucket of slugs…yum. Also, I never realised how much noise is emitted from a bucket of slugs. Lots of popping, slopping and the occasional plop.

Bucket O’Slugs

So far my favourite visitor has been our own Allotment Fox. Obviously very young, a year at most, it was often spotted trotting though the plots, following along as I pushed my wheelbarrow up to the  green waste bins. Recently, I was working away when I saw it standing only a few meters away from me. I then noticed that most of its tail was missing and it looked like it was a very recent injury. I could tell it was in pain and worried that it had/could become severely infected. Yesterday, I found out the RSPCA had managed to trap it and I hope it got some basic veterinary care before being released. I was sorry to hear they had been asked to relocate it, I do miss the foxy company, even if it did pee on my fleece tunnels…

Allotment Fox

There are things other than slugs and foxes of course, even rumours of badgers, but in the meantime here’s a sampling of all the life that can be found on the allotment.

(Another fantastic video from Scott)

Running Between the Rain

Oh goodness, this weather has just been, well, depressing. Along with numerous setbacks recently, either seedlings dying on me, weeds getting the better of me, everything has been just poo. It has been the first time I’ve really had doubts about this allotment lark. Thank goodness for other blogs and Twitter, I’m relieved to read I’m far from alone. At least I know it’s not entirely due to me being utterly useless…

Sadly the cucumbers, chillies, most of the squash seedlings and virtually all the tomatoes are gone. Yes, the wet weather didn’t help, but I mostly blame myself for these losses. My vague attempt at hardening off by leaving the kitchen window open day/night was clearly not enough. Also, my lack of protection when the weather turned for the worse didn’t help. I clearly need to invest in making cloches and mini-polytunnels. I also found myself browsing cold frame kits on eBay, though I’m a bit unsure where we’d put it…

Dead cucumber.

Our War on Weeds has finally been making progress. Armed with shears, forks and a grim determination, things are looking much tidier. Paths, ornamental beds and fruit cage are looking much better. We’re slowly getting the mounded beds cleared out and sown with seeds. Carrots, kale, cabbage, sprouting broccoli and pak choi are finally in the ground. I also finally remembered to mark the seed rows with string so I can find them later when the weeds make their inevitable come back!

Clearing beds

Sowing seed

Another setback, mainly due to a lack of weeding, has been the demise of our herb seedlings. Germination has been pretty disappointing anyway and the disappearance of the few seedlings I had, I just decided to clear out the bed and start again. If the seeds fail again, I think I may just resort to ordering plant plugs and going that route instead.

Round 2 of the Herb Bed

I bought a few more seeds and have more ordered, but today while the sun was shining, we headed down to do yet more weeding. My cousin Robert is visiting from Toronto and expressed great enthusiasm to go and visit the allotment. I took him for a quick tour and I wanted to do a quick weed through while we were there. Before I knew it, he’d nabbed some gloves from the shed and was helping weed the potatoes! Being a gardener himself, he was compelled to help with the weeding. Too bad he lives 3500 miles away…

Robert helping out

Robert’s encouragement and enthusiasm has given me a great push forward, which I dearly needed. So while the weather is better for now, I’m hoping to get back on track. Even when it turns back to rain, Wednesday apparently, I’ll continue to run out there and weed between the rain drops.