SALVAGE/RECYCLING

Quite a lot of houses in the neighbourhood are in process of being either renovated or, more the pity, turned into houses of multiple occupancy, eg. student accommodation. That means the workmen are removing a lot of fitted cupboards and such like and this is where I come in. My motto – if you don’t ask you don’t get – works every time. Rather than putting the planks etc in the skip, the builders usually keep it to one side for me and I take it to the allotment.

All this will be used in renovating the paths – not all of them, some are fine with grass surface but some are too narrow or uneven to maintain well. Having the wood chip on will keep them tidy and mud free.

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Waste not, want not!

PATIENCE

I have a number of compost heaps on the allotment – and as I have three plots I have one at the end of each plot. So far I have turned two of these into new growing areas, because the soil there was just amazing, after 10 years in one case and about five in the other.

The latest project started yesterday when I uncovered the last heap – it was covered with an old carpet, just to stop nettles and suchlike growing on top. I was amazed – after five years the whole lot turned into a large pile of crumbly brown soil.

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As it is right at the end of the plot, behind the raspberry patch, that was the easiest solution – use the new soil as a mulch because this patch hasn’t been fertilised recently.

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I have cut them down and started emptying the heap. It was quite easy because when I constructed it I knew I would have to do this one day so I made my life easier. It worked. Surrounding wood taken off and a barrow after barrow was spread on the raspberries. Haven’t finished as yet – rain stopped play. Everything rotted down very well, all I found were some bindweed roots occasionally.

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All the same, I managed to start a bit of rebuilding, I needed to tidy it and also to widen the little path. There is a bit more to do with the last pile of compost, that one will stay as it is for quite a while, there is too much wood on top for it to be useful. But the side will need to be straightened.

Another day then.

JOB FINISHED

Today was another lovely day, there was work to be done so I had an early start.Yesterday I managed to pollard the ancient willow – well, three of the stumps and there were another three waiting. Also I had a very useful find in the very back of the plot where it just looked like another compost heap. The two guys who had the plot before me were equally untidy and instead of taking their plastic pots and bits of netting home to throw away they just dumped it there and covered with soil. Amongst all this lot I discovered a ladder – one of the old-fashioned ones, a wooden one and that came very handy yesterday and especially today. I was able to climb high up and trim one more of the stumps and then Frank came to help and finished it all.

Not only the tree is done but also I gained another growing area. There was so much good soil along the fence that I took a number of wheelbarrows off and put in on another part of the plot where the soil is a bit heavy. This has left a nice border, one end has got a palette to keep the soil in and along the path is a low fence. I shall grow squashes and a pumpkin there next year, they’ll have enough room to run.

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I shall dig it over to find more rubbish and some unwanted nettle roots but otherwise it is ready.

MAINTENANCE

Yesterday and today was maintenance time – trimming the back hedge. Amazing what can be done with just one bow saw and long-handled clippers!

I have so much more light on the plot now. It is the ideal time to do this job now as we’re ready to have a huge bonfire. Some of the cut branches fell between the fence and the hedge, an ideal habitat for the hedgehogs!

ANOTHER PATH

This time I’m working on renovating a path between one of my plots and my neighbour’s plot. Dave hammered in some sturdy supports along the whole length of the path on his side – because our site is sloping down, there is a deep step between my plot and his. This path was always a bit problematic but I think we’ve sorted it out now. Dave has got some soil from his back garden at the back of his property so we’ve been taking it in wheelbarrows to the allotment. Fortunately he lives very near but all the same, it is quite tiring.

This will make our lives much easier from now.

AT LAST

The back hedge was half done yesterday – our two workers had to stop because our hedge is beside a road leading from a primary school, health and safety and all that.

I went for a walk after lunch today and there they were, finishing the job, sweeping and making everything neat.

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Wayne Allen and his mate did a fantastic job! The hedge has never looked better and thanks to their effort we have a nice mountain of wood chip and I have already used some.

I’ve got a few more paths waiting for the same treatment.

My work will resume tomorrow, the weather forecast is good.

MORE WORK

The weather was very kind to me today, you could be forgiven to think the spring is here. Yesterday was storm Eric, I had an enforced day in and did some housework, curtain washing etc so I was more than ready for some grubbing in the soil today.

My friend gave me a standard gooseberry, a red one but I wasn’t able to plant it till now – first the ground was frozen solid then it poured down.

I made up for lost time today though. Morning was planting time, the gooseberry is in the fruit cage and the afternoon session was dedicated to weeding the cage, the surround and clearing a neglected path right at the end of one plot, behind a net cage. As we are going to have the rest of our hedge cut next week we shall gain a lot of wood chip and I shall put it on that path. It had grass but it was also full of weeds like creeping buttercup so I have cleared it and will put the wood chip there. It’ll be so much easier.

WINTER ACTIVITIES…

…are very useful. Apart from a few parsnips still in the ground all my digging is done. It is maintenance time now. The second greenhouse is done, beds are ready to start growing so now I have to get down to repairs etc.

This path was always to be the next one to sort out. It is between two of my plots so it is important that I can walk there without being afraid that I’ll slip.

I had some more pieces of wood left (most likely salvaged from someone’s demolition of a bed), they were just the right size to support the edges and the rest was easy. We’re in the process of having the trees at the back of the site, outside the new-ish fence trimmed to the height of the fence and at the same time we have the wood chip deposited in the top corner of the site, on an unused plot. A win – win solution.

KEEPING AN ALLOTMENT

I have been working on my plot about nine years – how does the time fly!!. I’m sure that I have mentioned my granddad many times here and I will do so again. As I was growing up I always went to his garden – we didn’t call it anything else because that’s exactly what it was. It was a large area on the outskirts of our town and he certainly was a dedicated gardener because he was working full-time and to get there he had to catch two buses.

When I started gardening on my plot I was still working and I clearly remember the struggle at times when I came home and had to get out again to do some gardening. For people who have a job I totally sympathise when they let the whole thing slip…..

Now I’m a lady of leisure I can spend all my free time on my ‘farm’ – and I do! It is not an easy task, the weeds grow ever so well and as soon as I think I’ve finished the weeding I can start all over again.

There are many theories regarding digging – no-dig gardening seems gaining popularity. I’m not sure about that – the piece of land I was working on today is so overgrown that it has to be done the hard way.

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It is very satisfactory to see a nice patch of freshly dug ground.

This is also the time to patch things and maintain existing ones. We have decided to dismantle our office and change it back into a spare bedroom. I enjoyed reducing the desk and filing cabinet into pieces of wood. I knew it’ll be used on the allotment…

The smaller pieces were used to build a holding wall on the side of a path, that enabled me to repair that path and make it easier to walk.

The large pieces are holding in a fast growing compost heap – result of the digging of the neglected plot.