The last dig before New Year

Today is December the 28th 2017 and it is the last time I’ll be down at the allotment this year. Christmas is over, it was a beautiful day outside, people were relaxing at home, I had a spare couple of hours… I haven’t been since October…. What was my excuse not to go?

Getting to the allotment was a little bit difficult because on the way down, crossing over the river, I discovered the road of flooded. The floodplain field was like a lake and the bridge (which is called The Wharf) was under about half a metre of water. As I was trying to reverse back up the road, a tractor and a 4 x 4 just made it through, so there was no chance for me.

When I got to the allotment the place was in a fine state. There were no weeds really, the borders were pretty bad but apart from that everything looked good.

The ground was solid with an inch of frost, so I spent about an hour digging it over hoping that any new frost would return and kill any pests that were hiding underneath the surface. I did the whole of the allotment trying to take stock of what jobs needed to be done next year while I was going.

I think the most work will be to finish the borders of the plot once and for all. Next year I will fix the paths surrounding my plot so they are even and covered in grass (instead of weeds) and board-out the borders so they are square and neat.

That is the plan for 2018.

Late October

It’s amazing to me that the grass needs cutting again already. The clocks have gone back and it’s nearly November. So that was my first job this morning. At 7:45 am, there’s nobody around except for a slight warm breeze, falling leaves, the odd thump of an apple as it falls and some tweeting birds.

I didn’t check the rain forecast this morning before I left home and within 15 minutes of me arriving it is already raining slightly. Luckily it’s only a shower, I can see the end of the band of rain in the distance, so I’m just sheltering in the allotment shed doorway until it passes.

While it rained I stood in the doorway eating an apple straight off the apple tree and then I carried on with some cleaning up.

There was only a few weeds here and there and it wasn’t difficult to pull those out, so I started to straighten up some of the borders which had started to get a little bit treacherous. It wasn’t possible to tell where the grass paths has stopped and the allotment plot started.

This took most of my time and I only got a small corner of the plot finished. At least that tells me what I need to take with me the next time I come down to the allotment. I will gradually work my way around and make sure that the edges of my allotment are going to be much neater next year.

Finally after around 2 hours of working on the plot I pulled up 4 of the last potato plants and took them into the office staff.

On the way home. As I am driving home now I will need to call in at the tip because I have a boots full of old weed suppressant material that has fallen to pieces, and it is too large to fit in our bin at home.

More tidying up

It’s Sunday the 8th of October and apart from a few lines of potatoes that still need digging up the real work today was digging over the plot because it’s nearly time to clean up for winter.

I spent at least three hours digging over the ground and making sure there were no weeds remaining. The last of the King Edward potatoes in a small 2m by 2m square patch of land went directly to the girls in the front office. I am not taking anything home today from my plot, I have given it all away.

However I learnt something today, there are apple trees dotted around the allotment garden and they belong to everybody, even if the apple tree is not on your specific patch. So I collected two carrier bags full of apples for the girls at the front desk.

I took several off one particular tree I had been given a good bit of advice about. The tree on the far side of the allotment, were apparently the juiciest apples in the whole place and only cropped once every two years.

This year the tree is full apples. So I picked about six or seven of those off the top branches using a big stick and I am taking those home for the family.

The weather is really very mild for this time of year. As I am driving home it is a beautiful bright sunny day with fluffy white clouds dotted around the blue sky — really quite a warm afternoon.

I have some work to do in the back garden at home so I will go and do that for the remainder of the day.

Pitch Black at the allotment

I have finally managed to make it down to the allotment and it wasn’t through lack of trying it has just been a very very busy couple of weeks. But tonight Saturday night half an hour before the sunset I managed to make it down to mow the grass and to pull up one line of Desiree potatoes.

The rest of the allotment looked OK… this time of year everything has stopped growing, the potatoes have died back and there are just grey stalks sticking out of the ground. That at least gives me some place to start digging: there are four lines of potatoes left. Each line will be enough for me to carry in one go so there are at least another three trips down to the allotment before I have finished digging up the potatoes.

Warner Brothers are filming

As I enter the allotment through the main gate and walk past the office, the main patch of grass in front of the Abbey building has been taken over by a film crew.

They have converted the front lawn into a film set and parking lot complete with trailers and tents.

Across the road in another field, is the trailer park for the the crew. They have lorries, large lights, security guards everywhere, people directing traffic: the whole place is a film set.

I keep forgetting to ask the office staff what the film is called. It must be a well-known one, because it’s Warner Brothers and it seems to be a very big production.

In the past this location has been used for period dramas and films like Harry Potter and the had been speculation among the allotment holders that they had seen JK Rowling walking around. Although that seems to be just some third hand info.

I will ask them in the office next time I go down to the allotment plot to dig up some more potatoes.

Plenty of beetroot

I also picked some of the beetroot — the larger ones were ready to come out. The orange beetroot went to the girls in the office along with a bag of King Edward potatoes, but I kept the rest of the purple beetroot for myself. They were quite large.

The beetroot were quite late going into the ground this year and I haven’t really taken care of them. Thinning them out didn’t happen and they weren’t growing in a straight line: they were more just randomly put into the ground. This has made a big difference this year, and along with the competitive weeds also fighting next to them, they haven’t grown very big. But they are good enough and I will be making some soup with them this afternoon.

It’s looking a lot better now

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just been to the allotment for about three hours. The time is midday.

I spent the morning cleaning up one of the trees which had fallen down. I cut it up into smaller pieces with a saw and piled the logs to one side. And then it was the onions turn to be cleared up.

Unfortunately even though I had a large sack full of onions, so large that I could hardly lift it all of them, I will be going into the skip with this large bag.

Earlier in the season the onions were doing really well but then they caught blight and I asked the chairman of the allotment if he could spray them. That is probably something I regret now because I don’t know what the product was he used, and in any case I don’t really want to feed them to the little one at home or to eat them myself if I don’t know what has been sprayed on them. I can’t give them away either.

So unfortunately even though they look really good, they are all going to the tip.

The rest of the place looks a lot better now however and it doesn’t look like a jungle anymore. The season is probably finished for growing so I can spend my time clearing the allotment ready for next year.

After several visits to the allotment

I took the day off work today and managed to go down to the allotment in the afternoon for about three hours.

Prior to that over the past week I’ve managed to make it down twice.

The whole place looks a lot better now and I’m not as embarrassed as I was about a week ago — also I have quite a lot to show for clearing up the weeds because underneath the weeds were several lines of potatoes, a line of kohlrabi, beetroot and plenty of onions. All of which seem to have done magnificently.

I spent several evenings this week bagging up the spuds… some were plenty big enough for baking potatoes and the majority good enough for large mash potatoes. The girls in the office did very well this year: they had two bags of potatoes; one of which was my row of spuds that had been sprouting in the cupboard. Out of 10 potatoes, roughly there was about 100 yield.

The line of kohlrabi were fantastic sizes and they went to one of the girls in the office. The last two of the kohlrabi ended up as soup which I made the other night.

The whole place looks much better now and I have probably headed off the risk of getting a nasty letter from the Allotment Association. But more than that I’m not as embarrassed as I was.

Oh dear it’s a Disaster

So it’s now nearing the end of August and I haven’t been to the allotment since the beginning of July

The place is a disaster

Many of the weeds are above waist high and the grass around the edge has overgrown so much I couldn’t tell where the path began and ended

It’s not much of a saving grace, but three out of my four neighbours haven’t touch there allotments either

Tonight I mowed the grass around the edge and it made the place look a little bit neater, but there will be a long way to go before the centre of the allotment is back to normal

Hopefully I will find some time to visit tomorrow. In the past six or seven weeks, two have been away on holiday and another was away with work.

One and a half hours of digging up half a bed of potatoes

The potatoes that I dug up this evening were half of my main crop of King Edward potatoes.

They weren’t very big but the potato plants themselves looks like they had started to die and so I thought it would be best to dig them up. They were just small ones, the biggest I found was just smaller than my fist and the smallest ones were just teeny baby potatoes.

I finished work on time and was at the allotment by 6:30pm. I did about 20 minutes of watering and the time is now 8 o’clock and I am on my way home.

I think that the potatoes have done quite well. I got half a trug full of potatoes, even if they were small. I only dug up half of the main crop there are at least another five of those to come from other lines.

I have given the last half of the main crop of King Edward’s a good watering and soaking tonight and I intend to leave them until they have completely died before digging them up and seeing how far they got. Hopefully they should be a little larger although with the amount of potatoes I have just dug up I will not be short of a few meals and so I will just wait to see how they will come out

The onion’s seem to have recovered –whatever it was the chairman sprayed on my onions has done the trick and it has killed the mildew and blight. They are thriving again. The other parts of the allotment are doing OK. The kohlrabi is coming along nicely and the beetroot are growing quite well. I hope I will visit the allotment again this week to dig up a row of the “first earlies” to see how those potatoes have got on.