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.

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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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.

MY ORCHARD

I wasn’t quite sure about dedicating a fairly large part of the plot to the orchard but now I’m sure that it was the right decision. I have a couple of apple trees there, a pear, two plums and figs – one large bush and two small ones. All three are from cuttings. Some time ago I found this out by chance – I was pruning the original large fig tree in my back garden and I put a number of the branches in pots, just in case they might take. They surprised me and grew. I have given away a number of rooted fig cuttings to different people and right now have four more growing in pots in the back garden. The one big advantage is that these cuttings have the embryo figs on already so would be ready to develop them to full size fruit once they start growing. My cuttings fruited even as quite small bushes.

It was the turn of the orchard to be weeded. Not a lot to do there, I had bean structures in between the trees so there weren’t too many weeds.

If I do a section of the plots every time I go to work there I will soon finish it all. There are jobs I’m leaving to the very end, like refreshing the strawberry beds.

JOB IS DONE

My efforts were perfectly timed, the front garden is all but sorted out. There are some little patches that I will return to but all in all I’m happy with the result.

The easiest bit was the tidying up of the paving slabs and re-laying of bricks, just a bit of hard graft. Once this was done I started tackling the weeds. It is amazing how quickly they spread – as if they knew that I took my eye off them. Anyway, I have timed it just so – our garden waste wheelie bins are going to be collected this Friday and I have managed to fill three of them. I’m lucky my friend next door has two so I use those when I need to.

Most of the established plants are doing well, especially the conifer – I brought it here when we first moved in in 1973, it was a tiny seedling from my mother-in-law’s garden. Looking good I’m pleased to say.

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All it needs is from time to time to cut the very top and perhaps trim some of the branches.

The other side of the garden has my favourite tree – the loquat. This is one of a number I managed to grow from seeds. Years ago we went on holidays to Istanbul and had the loquat fruit for desert. It looked and tasted like a very nice crisp apple. The seeds germinated very well and I have another one in the back garden. I have no chance of any fruit on it though, it flowers towards the end of the year and the fruit appears in February. It is a very handsome tree all the same.

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I am using it as a climbing frame for my clematis montana.

There is a bit of colour in the garden, even on a dreary day like today. The hydrangea looks good and the cyclamen in my pot is just coming into flower. A bit of encouragement to continue.

KEEPING FIT

I am sure that I have found the perfect way to keep fit – it works for me, anyway. It means that I have to walk a short distance to our allotment site, about five minutes away, lock the gate after myself and start working. As long as it doesn’t rain too much I can continue. If the soil should be too wet I would choose a different activity from digging.

Today was just ideal – a nice sunny and warm morning – I managed to do what I wanted to during the morning, the next job was left for the afternoon.

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This isn’t actually my plot, it belongs to a guy who isn’t very well so I dug it for him. I had an ulterior motive – I wanted to get rid of all the thistles before they finished flowering so we don’t get the seeds blown all over the site. Job done.

The afternoon session was work on my own plot, it was weeding one of my raspberry patches. I had to borrow a wheelie bin from one of my friends in the street as the ground was full of bindweed and that can’t go on the compost. I finished just in time, there were dark clouds gathering and when I got home it started raining.

WEEDS

I’m sure I worked in my fruit cage a couple of weeks ago, pulling all the weeds out and it looked great. Not so today. It took the whole morning and three full buckets of weeds to bring it to some semblance of normality. No more jungle but I’m sure it won’t take long and I will have to start again.

As I had some empty spaces in the cage – last year’s clear out of old bushes, I planted a few tomato plants there. They are doing very well, seem to be sheltered by the larger bushes.

WEEDS

We had a little drop of rain last night, just enough to soften the surface of the soil. It didn’t penetrate deep at all but was just enough to make the weeding a bit easier. Today was the turn of the brassica cage. I have a number of purple sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi, red cabbages and curly kale there and a lot of weeds. Amazing that they grew so well as  May was extremely dry. It was a job for the whole morning.

A few hours and a stiff back later it looked much better.

It is a pity I can’t make any use of the bucket of weeds…

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And after all the work I sprinkled a good amount of my feeding mix – fish, blood and bone and chicken manure pellets all around the plants. As I am writing this the long-awaited rain came so it should all soak in. Another net cage to weed tomorrow, and another the day after…..

WEEDING

It is well and good to have the rain and heat, everything grows but certain plants grow better than other – like weeds.

It feels like painting the Forth bridge but even they don’t have to do this any more ! I, on the other hand, have to carry on with the weeding. I have finished the onion and garlic beds today – I wonder how long they’ll stay like this.

From this

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to this

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Only time will tell.