I was hoping for a good day and it turned out even better than yesterday. I went to the allotment soon after 9 in the morning and got digging. Because I was busy with the compost yesterday I only managed to dig a small strip of the last plot. I was hoping that I’d be able to finish it today. This is the plot where I have my latest greenhouse so I knew I could dig only so far. I wanted to leave a meter or two so that I can install the new water butt. 

The first bit of digging was a bit tough, it was the part where I had leeks and a number of sunflowers. Soon after that I was able to use my large hoe (the azada) and that was so much easier. This bit of land had potatoes so as I was harvesting them I already dug it over.

The new greenhouse is very long, they are actually two normal sized greenhouses bolted together in the middle. I have fixed a length of tubing in the guttering of the first one and put a large water butt under it, the second one has to wait because Wayne has to fit some more panes in before I position the other water butt on the corner. It is a different one, on a stand , with a tap. I’m trying to save as much rainwater as I can.



Today was an ideal day for digging. I started on the allotment around 10.30 and as I didn’t have to  cook I took a flask of coffee with me and worked. It was highly enjoyable and it felt almost like a late spring day. I decided to tackle a bigger area and the place to work on today was my large net cage. I had a mix of vegetables there – peas, chard that survived from  last year and a group of yellow pear tomatoes. The tomatoes and peas have finished a while ago but the chard was growing well.


I harvested it with the idea to make our favourite lasagne.

It took quite a while to clear all the old plants and weeds but it was well worth it. The soil is crumbly and rich , I didn’t pull out the chard, it will grow again for another harvest. That’s the beauty of chard, it grows well, doesn’t bolt and after cooking it it doesn’t shrink as much as spinach. The cage is ready for next year, I will have some wigwams for growing peas, amaranth and perhaps some tomato plants.

All this work was made easy thanks to my favourite tool – the azada.

As I was working inside the cage I could hear and see my resident robin getting very agitated because he couldn’t get to the worms. So after I finished inside the cage I cleared the new raspberry patch next to the cage. It is only small but the robin was waiting on top of the fruit cage next to it and when I left he started looking for his worms.

All this work took a good few hours,  I came home after three pm but there was no time to rest, the chard had to be cooked, white sauce made and lasagne assembled. We shall have our favourite for lunch tomorrow.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.



Some years ago – seven to be exact -I was given a super gardening tool for Christmas. An azada   -it looks like a cross between a hoe and a small rake. I have been using it all the time on the allotment and this year it came to its own. As I decided to adopt the ‘no-dig’ policy I use the azada instead. It slices through the soil like a knife through butter.


It looks well used and is as good as it was when I started. I wanted to sort out my last plot – there are some carrots, parsnips and leeks there but most of the ground is empty, the squashes and dwarf beans have been harvested. After working there for a number of years I’m pleased to say that it is reasonably empty of weeds. That’s why I decided to continue with the no-dig policy.


It took just about an hour and half to clear a reasonable part of the plot and the ground is lovely. Not many weeds to speak of and as little effort as possible. I think this is the way to go. I do enjoy digging but this method is much better for the soil.



I have always resisted the gardening gurus’ encouragement to stop digging. My argument was that I have to clear the ground of all the weeds, there was no point in leaving the ground as it was after harvesting whatever I grew there. This year is different. I have harvested my potatoes and to my surprise the ground was almost weed free. All I had to do was to level it with my favourite tool – the azada, it has got a blade on one side and a claw on the other – and the job was done. Then I scattered a mix of chicken poo pellets and fish, blood and bone fertiliser and I’m ready to plant my garlic there. I will use my own garlic, I had a very good harvest so I can spare some.



This afternoon was earmarked for some serious digging in the front garden.

The job started on Sunday, between the showers. There was a large yucca in my front garden, I got it as a small cutting about 20 years ago. It was flowering well but last year it started showing signs that all was not well. In a way I didn’t mind digging it out, it was taking valuable space from my other large specimen there, a loquat. That is grown from a seed – some years ago we went to Istanbul and had loquat fruit in a restaurant. Of course I had to save the seeds and on return home I planted them in a pot and they germinated. I can’t imagine ever having the fruit here but it is a handsome tree.

The roots of the yucca went down for ever but they and the whole trunk were really fibrous, difficult to cut with a saw but much easier to hack with my favourite tool, the azada. Much easier to use than pick axe, much lighter. I have already mentioned it in another post, from January 2015. One of my very favourite Christmas presents.

Now the square of soil is cleared of all weeds, it is ready for new plants. I have decided on Hellebores, they should do well, it is slightly shaded by the hedge, and as they are not tall, they will not compete with the loquat.



My parsnip harvest last year wasn’t bad at all, they kept well in the ground and I pulled the last ones only a few weeks ago. They were also quite large and straight but all the same, I thought I’d experiment a bit.

I am not into growing giant vegetables but I thought I would borrow a bit of the idea behind growing massive parsnips. I didn’t want to have huge barrels of sand and then some tubes in the middle and just having one parsnip there – after all, I just want to grow them to eat!

I’ve acquired some sharp sand and my plot of land where I wanted to sow the parsnip seeds was ready so I made a fairly sizeable furrow with my new azada, filled it with sand, then crumbled some fine soil on top (enough to give the seeds something to germinate in and watered it. I sowed the seeds carefully in and gently covered with a thin layer of soil.

There are four rows with sand and two without, just to see how it will/or will not work. It is worth trying, I don’t mind and perhaps I’ll learn something new. The variety is the same as I had last year – Tender and True and Gladiator – I know they do well in my soil.

Fingers crossed we shall have a good harvest.


One of my many presents I had for Christmas was an amazing tool. Years ago I had a small version of it but by sheer overuse I managed to render it almost useless. The official name is an azada, it’s a double tool, a mix of a garden hoe and a mattock. Basically, a serious piece of kit.

It is all well and good to have modern tools with removable bits here and there but you can’t beat a standard traditional tool which will do exactly what you expect it to do and, with care, will last for years.

I think I’d better take care and live for another 25 years at least to get the most out of this tool and all the other innovations and constructions on the allotment.


I have already treated the handle with some oil and now am just waiting to start using it. It suggests all sorts of uses, from breaking heavy soil to getting a ridge ready for potato planting.

Had a good read on the site from where I got the azada (Get Digging) and by the looks of it they have a good range of different tools, I might think of either adding some or getting a good replacement for a worn-out tool in the future.