May/June 2021: reality dawns

When we came back from our trip, my seedlings finally arrived. They had been languishing in a delivery depot somewhere for weeks. They were packed in a plastic coffin and it was obvious they had spent too long in it because they were rootbound and trying to burst out of the packaging. Some of the plants actually had broken stems.

To add insult to injury, I’d decided to prepare them at home by giving them a soak before taking them to the allotment. I potted them on for the roots, gave them a good watering and woke the next day to find they had been devoured by snails and slugs. B******s.

I had been expecting some setbacks, but this really got to me and made me question what I was doing (again) trying to run an allotment.

The good news though was that I had some successful growth, I had a pak choi, the carrot tops looked healthy and the leeks were still going strong.

I was also happy to see the Twigs had not shrivelled up and were still alive. No evidence of growth, but still upright, green and alive.

My weeding companion

There was a bit of weeding and watering to be done and the plot looked really nice and tidy. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed weeding and watering. I think it’s because there is an end product for all of your exertion. I was often joined by a pair of blackbirds who turned up to grab worms disturbed by my activity, this was another bonus. It is definitely therapeutic and allows you to empty your mind.

Nevertheless, the itchy feet set in again and we were off for a few days. A second mini heatwave ensued while we were in East Anglia and the pak choi bolted. This was another rookie mistake. These setbacks make me wonder again whether I am on a hiding to nothing. Year 2 of the Pandemic meant that most things seemed less dire than this time last year. The lockdowns were lifted and we were able to do UK trips, so we did while fully observing restrictions that were still in place.

We returned to welcome June with more sunny days, although it didn’t seem as great a summer as 2020, we still enjoyed some fine weather and the plot was looking good. I was and still am always amazed when things are still thriving despite my neglect.

I’m going to carry on while managing my expectations, however, it’s still proving to be a satisfying hobby.

See you next time.

It’s an allotment-let

As of March, I’m an allotmenteer. My very good friends acquired a plot last year at the beginning of lockdown and they have offered me a share of it. I said yes instantly. It was a bit late in the year to get started last year so I didn’t get off the ground straight away but my mates offered again this winter and I decided to go for it.

I have a small patch (hence Allotment-let) I must measure it – which is fine as I want to take it slow and easy. I have to admit that my ulterior motive for doing this was:

a) to get me out of the house, I haven’t needed to ‘shield’ so to speak but not having a reason to go out and not always enjoying it when I did go out meant I needed a strategy to get my Vitamin D.

b) to give me a chance to see my friends occasionally, albeit at a distance.

I’m being very coddled here, my friends have done a lot of the initial preparation – they have dug over the soil and laid manure on the plot so I just have to decide what to plant.

Starting at the beginning of the year seemed logical to me. So I started researching and trying to make a plan for what to do with this ‘Land’!

It’s still a little bit ad hoc though. I did the youtube/blog/social media deep dive and got a bit overwhelmed so rolled back and thought about what I want to grow. I ordered some fruit bushes and some brassica. The fruit arrived first so I planted three blueberries, a blackberry, a cranberry and a goji berry out of curiosity.

So here is my first planting, fingers crossed I am now an allotmenteer.

Let’s see how it grows.

April 2021: spring refused to be sprung

I started then neglected this blog last year now I want to try again with the new season. I thought I would still give you what insights I recorded from last year. Last spring was predictably (it is the UK after all), unpredictable. We had a mini-heatwave, and then the weather persistently refused to emulate the epic levels of the previous year (2020). It seemed to be cold and windy a lot of the time and I expected to find my twigs and seedlings frozen each time I went to the plot.

How the plot looked in April

It was with trepidation that I climbed the hill to the allotment each time but then joy when I found that most of what I had planted was still intact and the view was great as ever.

The fruit bushes or Twigs, as this is what they look like at the time, were still there and looked like they had even grown a little. I hadn’t yet done much reading on their care regime but I didn’t expect fruit the first year. This is my investment in the future of the allotment.

Cold, dark and moody

The plants that I ordered online still hadn’t arrived so I popped over to the conveniently situated garden centre – it’s just across the road from the allotment entrance, handy eh? I bought a few brassicas to plant – one of my treasured memories of my mum was the first time she grew cabbages in our garden. I remember the day when we harvested the first one. Sitting in our garden, she chopped off a huge cabbage and cut into it, slicing it up and giving us pieces of the raw vegetable. We sat there chomping on these bits of cabbage and it was the best thing I had ever tasted – even better than the strawberries we had grown before. This memory is why I’m so determined to grow brassicas.

I also took a leap and selected an aubergine as well. I saw some of these mini growing tunnels and thought I’d try some plants with protection.

My growing map

My planting was still a little random and ad hoc but it’s a learning process. I have tried to approach this in a way that I describe as “positively pessimistic”. I know that this may all come to nothing, I’m prepared for disappointment but also ready to be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s how I left it, still neat and tidy.

Now of course the waiting begins and we will see what I’m rewarded with.

How do you feel when planting, full of hope or cautiously optimistic?

Anticipating everything and anything.

It gets worse before it gets better

Spring Twenty twenty one was slow to get going but eventually, we saw some good weather. I did a bit of pottering about and tidying, still not sure what I was doing and without a plan of action.

The twigs seemed to be in good nick, they were upright and I’m sure getting ever so slightly bigger every time I went there. It was still quite cold and nothing had arrived in the post so I hadn’t planted much still.

My cranberries receiving a visitor

The pandemic had disrupted the supply chain as there were limited staff to prepare and deliver the items in the prompt fashion we had grown accustomed to. As I hadn’t planted any seeds, I was dependent on these plants arriving or I had to keep going to the expensive garden centre; at least they were always open.

I toddled across the road and found some pak choi, carrots and sprouting broccoli seedlings and planted them into the ground. Once again hope set in and I dreamed about eating my veg.

Now came a dilemma and one which is always going to be an issue. We like travelling and by April, Lockdown II restrictions were being eased and although we still couldn’t go abroad, we decided to have a little UK trip, packing my masks along with our regular holiday stuff. We went away for 10 days and there was a mini heatwave while we were away and a few things got a bit shrivelled.

Most of my plants are still there so I remain optimistic. Hopefully, I can nurse everything along.

Let’s see what summer brings.