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.

13. MAY

Today after breakfast myself and Frank went to Barton Green, a part of Coventry I’ve never been to. All this because I was searching on the internet where I could find some horse muck around Coventry. I used to go to a lovely place just on the edge of town, on the way to Fillongley but they have moved and there are houses being built there. What a waste of a beautiful field! As I was searching a facebook page suddenly appeared, appropriately named Muck and Manure UK. A very nice lady called Maria said I could come over today and that’s exactly what we did. Managed to fill nine large sacks of composted horse manure, ready to be used, all for the princely sum of £1 per sack.

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It is not going to last very long, by the afternoon I have already used one large sack, put it in my little tomato enclosure that I created yesterday.

After this job came my usual one – weeding. I have got an excellent tool for this called Nunki weeder. It is very good, glides through the soil like a knife through butter and a large area is done almost effortlessly in no time at all. Because of the design it doesn’t damage the young plants at all.

The last job on the farm was just to water the greenhouses and go home. Everything looks great, the tomatoes are ready to flower and there will be some pears on my two pear trees.

22. APRIL

Things are working out just fine with my sowing seeds and transplanting into greenhouses on the allotment. It is quite a task filling four greenhouses, deciding what to put where but three of them are done to perfection. Just the latest one remains, that will be done tomorrow I hope. I still have about 24 tomato plants to find a home for but I’m sure it’ll get sorted out.

Today was the second phase, washing little flowerpots and sowing other vegetables – courgettes and sweetcorn. If all the seeds germinate we shall have enough to feed us and the neighbourhood.

One reason why the seeds are germinating so well is the compost I am using – Dalefoot. It is a peat free compost from the Lake district. Far the best I’ve ever used, I pay a bit more but it is well worth it.

11. APRIL

I had a change of scenery this weekend, we went to stay with Mike and Nicky in the Lakes. All my work on the allotment is up to date, so is the greenhouse in the back garden so I  could indulge and work in someone else’s place. I knew Mike wanted to upgrade the path in his front garden using the same slate chippings that we used on the other half of the garden a few years ago. Of course I was ready for this work, I had my wellies, gloves and gardening trousers with me. Fortunately the weather was kind to us. It wasn’t very warm but the sun was shining and as we got down to work it soon warmed us up. The chippings were delivered on Saturday morning and as a first thing we had to remove the old gravel and lining from the path. I did the removing and Mike was loading it in his wheelbarrow and taking it to his back garden where he had a large builders’ sack. In the end we filled it to the brim – but the path was ready.

I gave Mike a roll of lining material that was just enough for this path, we manged to get it down just before lunch. Afternoon was spent pinning it to the wooden side that was making an edge. The following morning it was all hands to the pump again, this time shovelling the slate chipping and spreading it on the new path. I thought we had more than enough but in the end he’ll have to get a few small sacks to top the path so that it is just perfect.

We are delighted with the result, the slate is exactly the same colour as the other side of the garden.

24. MARCH

At last I was able today to do some more work on Irene’s plot. Yesterday I just managed to dig over a small square of land with the idea of planting a little shrub there and some bulbs. I didn’t manage that because I wanted to do a spot of weeding in my orchard. The spot of weeding turned to be a massive action, even though I did this only some weeks ago. Amazing how well  the weeds grow. Anyway, orchard is looking good now so I carried on with the first idea on Irene’s plot – planting a shrub. I decided on sweet box (Sarcococca confusa). I have bought this shrub years ago as I wanted one flowering during the winter months. It didn’t disappoint, the scent is wonderful and fills the whole garden. It produces lots of little black berries and the seeds germinate very quickly. I have collected many seedlings and made a little hedge out of them on the allotment, beside one of my net tunnels. The bushes are growing very well and in the winter the scent is a wonderful boost to the morale. So now there is another one of them in a different part of the allotment, with some bulbs around it. Later on I’d like to scatter some annual flower seeds there as well.

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After this I cleared another small piece of land with a number of gooseberry bushes. It is rather good that Irene managed her plot this way, she had a number of small areas and now we find it quite easy to keep it tidy.

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As I was working there I could hear our resident robin singing nearby. I always talk to him, my friend told me that they can recognise the sound of your voice. He is quite tame now and looks for the worms as I dig. I was hoping to take a photo as he was on the ground but suddenly he landed on top of my hoe and just looked at me.

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15. MARCH

The weather was very good today, just the right temperature for a bit of strenuous digging and potato planting. I didn’t want to plant too many so in the end we have six lines on one plot and two on another one. I think that  should be just about enough, we’ve got some very early potatoes in pots in the back garden as well.

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It was quite a lot to do and I decided to dig all the trenches first. All I had to do then was to sprinkle in some fertiliser – I’m using a mix of chicken manure pellets and fish,  blood and bone. One trench takes 15 potatoes, that gives them enough space to give me some decent sized potatoes. We have a variety from first earlies to main season ones so if all else fails we should have spuds!

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6. MARCH

It was a tidy up morning on the allotment – carefully hoeing between the garlic plants and then getting some remaining leeks out of the ground to take home with more potatoes – the result is slowly cooking now. I like leek and potato soup. There are still a few leeks in the ground but I’m not in any hurry to get them out, they’re not in the way.

My friend Dave gave me some chitted potatoes from his own harvest and I had just enough space to create two rows beside one of my net cages. Hopefully we shall have some nice and tasty early potatoes.

The ground is quite rich there, I had a couple of sacks of the contents of my compost so that should help. It is an encouraging sight to have two lines of newly planted potatoes. I’m going to take it slowly, the soil is still rather cold, no need to hurry with sowing parsnips or carrots, I’d rather wait, they’ll soon catch up, otherwise they could rot in the cold and wet soil.

8. FEBRUARY

I have to make most of this mild weather – today felt like a spring day again. The days are getting longer in the evening so I can do a bit more every day.

I had to finish the clearance of the raspberry patch, it was quite bad so it took a few days of fairly hard work. Amazing how well the weeds survived the winter – shame the pigeons don’t peck them, they prefer my chard!

Unfortunately the last two lines of raspberries were the worst. Not only were they full of creeping buttercups but also some strawberry plants made a comeback. First of all I wasn’t going to do a thorough job on it but then I just couldn’t leave it untidy so I did the usual clearance. It was worth it.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to visit a garden centre not far from from town, Russels in Baginton. I was given some garden vouchers and they accept them. What is even better they stock my favourite peat free compost – Dalefoot – so I can indulge. They also have a very nice cafe so lunch in there will be just the perfect end to the morning.

1. FEBRUARY

Things are looking good, February is here, only 28 days and we’ll be closer to spring. In the meantime the work goes on. I’m glad I started renovating the raspberry patch, it was a great improvement when I finished the other day. Today was the turn of the path. I always lost my nerve when it came to this path and usually just trimmed it somehow but didn’t tackle it properly. Today was different, I thought a drastic action was needed. I decided to get rid of the grass altogether, it was mainly a collection of couch grass and creeping buttercups anyway.

At least this time I remembered  to take the ‘before’ photo to remind myself how bad it was. All that’s left are the weeds in the rows of raspberries and I can take it easy, one or two lines each time I work there.