Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The raised beds really are weather beaters and having the paths either paved or covered with wood chippings means that harvesting is undertaken without having to change shoes.
The spring onions and carrots sown in late summer are still being harvested, as are leeks, cabbage, brussels sprouts and small amounts of raddish and salad leaves from the tunnel. As the beds are not waterlogged and much warmer than the surrounding soil, I have planted my shallots including Humberstone Banana Shallots for next years seed, hative de niort and golden globe.
Some onion sets (sturon) have also gone in but the bulk will be planted in the next couple of weeks.
A recent addition is a wildlife pond. Some frog and toad spawn will be transfered to it this spring in an attempt to get colonies of frogs and toads established on the plots, thus creating our own organic slug control. I will put some quarry stone about the pond plus a couple of piles of logs as amphibian shelters and an attempt to stop me from falling in it.
See you soon.

We must be mad!

We must be mad but couldnt turn down the opportunity of taking on a third plot. This one is in a bit of a state, but it has two saving graces, its slap bang next door to plot 1 and it has two very productive and very well established plum trees at the back end of the plot. It is worth taking it on just for the plums really but we have another 7 fruit trees ready to plant when this plot is cleared, which will be next Wednesday. The bonfire will be lit, grass strimmed, shed down and hopefully the ploughman will be in on Thursday to turn it over.
As its going to be mostly an orchard, we are not concerned with the weeds too much as it will be covered in membrane and mulched. The front third will be planted but it will be dug over after ploughing to remove what we can weed wise.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where has all of the space gone

Well I suppose it doesnt help if you produce in excess of 600 tomato, pepper, chilli and aubergine plants for one (soon to be two) polytunnels, three greenhouse and friends and allotment neighbours. Invariably I sow too many seeds and can't bear to destroy healthy plants so always end up giving 2-300 plants away.
Thankfully it is mild here so the Humberstone Shallots and onion seedlings are outside for the moment but will be brought into the workshop if a frost is forecast. There are brassica seedlings (cabbage, red cabbage and cauliflower) that will soon go over to the allotment greenhouses freeing up a little space. The cauliflower are an experiment, they are going to be planted about 15" apart in a raised bed with the hope of being able to harvest small curds for use as individual cauliflower cheeses at dinner parties or for suppers and snacks.
Beetroot seeds were sown today in modules (40 to a standard sized tray) ready for planting out at the end of April,. Spring onions were sown the same way, again for planting out in April. No thining of either occurs, they are just pulled when required.
My Rose de Roscoff onions are all sprouting vigourously and these will again be relegated to the allotment cold greenhouses this week. I want these to run to seed as I intend to circulate the seed next year as I did the shallot seed this year, hopefully getting a UK strain going.
Finally I pricked out about 15 "Blaby" tomatoes today, this variety stopped being produced after the war and was grown by a proffessor at Lancaster University. I missed out on seed last year but a fellow allotmenteer "Mick the Beard" had grown them and saved seed, some of which he kindly gave to me. Some of this was further distributed to a grower in Canada and one in Dublin. Apparently its a very tasty tomato, time will tell.

Plot 2

October 2005 saw us taking over a fabulous plot that had been cultivated by a charming old fellow called Ray who was 77 and losing his sight. He along with his brother decided they needed to downsize to 3 plots. He had had the plot for 27 years and the soil is fabulous. We quickly built a homemade polytunnel on the site and planted espalliered and cordon fruit down two sides.
The polytunel proved so successful last year that it is being joined by another home made one this spring. We aim to have it up and running by April. As this plot has no raised beds (primarily because the soil is so good) we can grow crops on this plot that are better grown direct into the ground, things such as parsnips and brussels sprouts.
As an experiment we have also festooned a plum tree that was bought as a Christmas present for Karen in 2005, a tree incidentely that cropped two fruits the year it was planted.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Then and now

Plot 1 Feb 12th 2005 - the day we took it over

Our allotment adventure started in February 2005 when we took on what we know as "Plot 1" but is actually plot 153 at Evington Hilltop allotment Site. The ground was quickly ploughed and rotovated and work commenced on clearing the rubbish from the shed we inherited. We affectionately called this shed the "soweto" shed as this is where it looked like it had been stolen from.

It transpired that the previous plot incumbent was an alcoholic West Indian fellow who spent all day growing runner beans and drinking beer. If we ever dig the beds we are sure to come up with one of his legacies, either a bottle top or a chicken bone. Clearing all of rubbish from the shed and burning what we could took up an entire day.

Very soon the raised beds started to appear, although alot of moving and tinkering of beds has taken place since the first ones were built. One thing we did learn was that it is important to leave enough room between beds to move wheelbarrows and the like through or you end up making lots of work for yourself. I can honestly say that any time spent with a pen and paper is time well spent when planing your allotment layout. If we had done so we would have saved an awful lot of hardwork.
Finally after two years Plot 1 is nearly at a stage where we can just leave it alone and just grow things on it. It now consists of an asparagus bed, The first raised beds
four rows of raspberries, a 25' square fruit cage
39 assorted soft fruit bushes, four beds of strawbwerries holding 120 plants, two greenhouses and 18 raised beds. In addition we can store over 5000 litres of rain water collected directly from the greenhouse and shed roofs.

The greenhouses

Some raised beds

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Welcome to my blog which is mainly a gardening diary, recording the goings on at my three plots at Evington Hilltop Allotment Site.