8. FEBRUARY

The weather isn’t quite sure what to do. First thing in the morning we had frost but the sun was shining. When I went to the allotment this afternoon it felt nice and warm, it was a bit slippery underfoot as all the frozen ground thawed but ideal for work. I went there yesterday for a while, just to dig two holes for  my new fruit trees, so when I got there today I just had to get two stakes and hammer them in the ground and I was ready to continue.

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These two trees are a bit special, they are heritage variety from Botanica plant nursery. Both are cooking apples, one is Norfolk Dumpling and the other is Norfolk Beauty. I thought they deserve the best so I applied some Mycorrhizal (rootgrow granules), I hope they’ll grow well. 

This has completed my little orchard, I will plant  pumpkins and squashes between the trees and on the small piece of land at the front of the plot I shall grow sweetcorn.

2. JANUARY

 Today started as another spring-like day so I was ready nice and early and went to the allotment. The plan was to finish weeding inside the fruit cage and perhaps on the outside as well. It is rather a never ending job. I’m sure I cleared the weeds a few times last year but they were as healthy as before.

I was hoping to finish it all today and I’m pleased to say that I did. The ground didn’t feel too muddy so the weeds came out quite clean. All the same I had about four of the soft garden buckets of them. The main thing is that I managed to finish the job.

I will have to keep an eye on it and stop the weeds from spreading too much.

20. NOVEMBER

I have had my wish – the day started nice and sunny again so straight after breakfast I went down to my allotment. I had a plan but that by itself doesn’t always mean that I will follow it. I usually start one job and from the corner of my eye I see something so I see to that and don’t finish the first task. Not today though.

The large Asian pear didn’t have much fruit this year  but it gave me loads of golden leaves.

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I have made a chicken wire enclosure for making leaf mould so I have swept all the leaves and put them there. It is quite full now but come the spring it will shrink down .

Next on my list of things to do today was to weed the little net cage I made a  number of years ago. My friends were getting rid of their trampoline and offered me the stand. Excellent to make a frame for a net cage. Use the two halves, put some sturdy canes or tubes in the  make it higher, attach some horizontal wood, cover with a green scaffolding netting and a cage is done. Make do and mend – the best way to add structures.

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Some time later it all looks much better. I have just got blackcurrants there, the birds can’t get at them.

 

This was on the list of things to do but I had some time left so I managed to clear the narrow strip of land beside this cage, it will be ready for the sunflowers next year. They can have extra support sitting just beside the cage.

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18. NOVEMBER

What a difference a day makes – it was sunny and quite mild in the morning and I felt much happier straight away. I’m a fair weather person, if I could choose I would ban snow and dark evenings. Never mind, I just have to put up with it, wait for the shortest day and after that all will gradually improve.

I went to the allotment with the idea to finish weeding a reasonable piece of land – that was the orchard. It is right at the end of one of my plots, in front of the shed. I’ve got a good selection of fruit trees – a few figs, a couple of apples, pear and two plums.

We had a very good harvest this year and as I started working there I remembered what my Granddad always said – keep an area the size of the crown of the tree clear of weeds around the trunk. I did that and also decided what I will put in between the trees. I will scatter some summer-flowering plants and beside the net tunnel I will put some wigwams with sweet peas.

The rain was very good for me, the soil was soft but not water-logged, we have very good drainage on the whole site. It also helps to be on a  slight slope.

As I was weeding I also mended the net cage, this is the very first one but it keeps going. It just needed to pull the weeds from the end  of it and fix the pegs again. I’m sure it will last another few years.

I had another surprise plant growing there – the physalis with the blue flowers. I have tried to search for it, all I found was the plants with yellow flowers but not this one. The search continues.

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14. NOVEMBER

It was back to my usual activity on the allotment. The back garden is all sorted out, I have even found out that my favourite pond refurbishment people stock the spare part for the UV filter – we’ll have a day out on Wednesday and combine getting the new part with a lunch in the garden centre’s restaurant.I prefer to go there and get it from them, they’ll explain it for me. 

The weather is still good, I was able to have a good work-out on the allotment and finished one more piece of land, It was quite overgrown but I’m happy with the result.I have even remembered take the before photo

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The soil was very crumbly after all the rain and it was quite an easy job. Because the weather is so mild everything is still growing and flowering. I had some marigolds around the apple trees and they are in full flower. They are staying.

In another place I have got a clump of red campion – that is in flower too, I didn’t know it can flower so late in the year.

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One way I can tell if we’ve had frost is by my nasturtium flowers – they would wilt even after the slightest frost but there is no damage yet.

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There is a mysterious plant growing in one of the net cages. I have no idea what it might be but the fruit is very similar to that of a tomatillo. The fruit is green and very hard and packed with seeds. I had it a few years ago so I presume the seeds survived in the soil somehow.

Usually tomatillo plants have yellow flowers but mine are blue, lovely large flowers. One day I might find out exactly what they are. Needless to say, I didn’t eat the fruit.

6. NOVEMBER

I had a change of scenery during the last few days. We had our usual Johnson get-together in Whitchurch, in Hampshire. The weather was kind to us, from the journey there on Thursday till late on Friday. It was back to rain on Saturday but that didn’t matter, my and Chris’s job was done.

 

This is the usual gathering of the older members of the family and we combine it with some gardening jobs. This time it was tidying the grave of the boys’ Mum. The grave has got some white stone chipping  but the weeds have taken over and the surface is just a sea of green. We decided to leave it and just put a number of pots on top. There are two small roses in the pots and a selection of spring bulbs. We refreshed the soil so I’m hoping for a great show. Chris always gives me some bulbs and they are wonderful. We are in for a treat.

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The headstone is leaning a lot and I’ve written an email to the town council asking for advice where to get help. All the same, it looks much better after the clear up.

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The next job was weeding the front and back of Mike’s garden. Chris did this job in August but because the weather has been so mild the weeds flourished.

 

Between the two of us we filled a wheelie bin with the weeds and the result is very satisfying.

It’ll be very interesting how long it takes before the weeds appear again. We have decided to put a layer of chipped bark or wood chip on these borders to smother the weeds. That’ll be the next job then.

11. OCTOBER

The weather is  kind to me, we had blue skies and sunshine from the first thing in the morning. Of course I had to go and continue my work on the allotment. At first glance it might look like a huge lot of work but I have decided to break it into manageable chunks. That way it is not overwhelming and I’m happy.

 

It looked quite neglected, I couldn’t believe how quickly the weeds colonised the space. I didn’t dig it over, instead I used my azada and that made the task very easy. The soil is good, like most of my plots it has been manured and there are some choice worms there. Happiness is – a lot of worms.

All it took was a couple of hours and then some extra time to clear away the weeds etc, pile it all on the heap in the corner and it was going home time. Another day I will tackle another patch of ground. After all, I’ve got the whole of autumn and winter to get it sorted out.

7. OCTOBER

The tidying of the allotment continues. After the few days of rain it was just the right thing to do. I grew my potatoes on this patch so today was the day to hoe it. I try not to dig too much, I just pull my heavy hoe through the soil, pull out weeds and level it. It works, it is much quicker and not so tiring. This was the ground before I started, I still have some parsnips there.

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A few hours later, a couple of buckets of weeds later and the ground is ready. Whatever weeds might grow again they’ll get picked up easily. The soil is lovely and crumbly – no surprise there, I must’ve put countless sacks of horse much on it over the years.

3. JULY

It was a brighter morning today and the plan was to get to the allotment as soon as I could. A little job was to be done in the back garden – some of the long branches on the mulberry tree have almost broken off so I had to saw them off. That done, I went to my farm. This time I remembered to take a before photo so I  could compare it later. What a difference a couple of hours can make.

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I can’t believe how quickly the weeds can grow, if only everything grew this well. After some hard work the same patch looks quite good and I had a large bucket full of weeds.

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Now the sweetcorn has a bit more room and can grow better.

23. MAY

Work goes on on the allotment, everything is thriving. I have been moving the seedlings from my big greenhouse in the back garden and planting them where I could find some space. Yesterday I have cleared the weeds from my little orchard in front of the shed – yet again! It feels like painting the Forth bridge – I finish the job and could start all over again. I had just enough space to plant my butternut squash seedlings between the trees, also some pale green courgettes and bush courgettes beside my latest apple tree. Saturday morning myself and Dave went to Bedworth to get some more horse muck – you can’t have enough of this stuff – so I was able to put it in every hole I got ready, it is perfectly well rotted down.

I was leaving my plot when I noticed a swarm of bees hanging on my little apple tree. We’ve had a number of them recently and I’m always amazed how beautiful it looks. The bees were just sitting there, all I heard was a quiet humming noise. 

I phoned Wayne but didn’t wait for him, he can get to our site through his little gate and pick them up.