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.

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.

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.