Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Some husbands say it with flowers, but mine chose a scarecrow and I couldn't be more delighted.

I had noticed a scarecrow on another plot and said to Steve that I'd love to have one, a; to keep the pigeons off my cabbages, and b; just for the fun of it.
Although the image of a lone scarecrow in a field is quite macabre, I am thinking of the very scary film Jeepers Creepers, and even though I loved the books I never cared for the TV adaption of Worzel Gummidge, I prefer the more positive image of the Scarecrow portrayed in the Wizard of Oz.

I had forgotten the conversation about the Murmet (Devon word for Scarecrow), so when Steve told me to close my eyes and took me outside to reveal my Birthday present you can imagine my surprise when I saw a six foot straw man standing in the drive, I was so thrilled I couldn’t wait to place him on our allotment.  

So on Sunday, my birthday we took him to his new home, dug a post in to the ground and attached him to it, and yes we have named him, he is called Mellors, in keeping, I thought with the gardening theme, although his duties will less onerous !

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Frogs and Ponds.

Whilst turning our compost we disturbed a frog from it's hiding place, it leaped into the next door allotment which gave our neighbour Mike a start as he wary of frogs, but happened to mention that our plot once had a pond.

My husband Steve, loves a pond and although we have one in the garden I knew what he was thinking. I stole his thunder “ we will have to have a pond now then” I said.

There is mint bed on our plot which we have decided to leave, the small area in front of it seemed an ideal place for our pond, we marked out the shape and I left Steve to do the digging.

By the time he had finished digging the pond hole it had tripled in size, “it's too big” . Steve was adamant that it has to be large so it doesn’t go murky. I disagree. Negotiations are intense and carry on late into the night .(not really). They last 10 minutes and an agreement is reached.

We make it a little smaller.

Hole dug, we lined it with some old carpet and then using the black plastic that I salvaged from my mothers replacement windows, we folded the sheet into four and lay it in the hole. The levels looked pretty good but you can only really tell when you fill it with water.

Hose pipes are forbidden, so armed with only watering cans filling the pond took some time.
We had scavenged bits of wood and slate to hopefully make the pond as naturalistic as possible.

Now all we need now are frogs.  

If you build it, they will come.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A few days in Devon and a flurry of planting.

I was seriously considering planting green manure as we have a lot of exposed earth, but whilst visiting my Mother in Devon last week I went to her local nursery and noticed Dwarf green curled Borecole and Black Tuscany Kale.

I have never eaten either,the only criterea that interests me is "can I plant it now?".

The answer being yes, I selected what I thought to be the healthiest specimens, this takes some considerable time and is always a bit like 'Sophies Choice' for me as I feel guilt for the rejected ones.
So as me and the chosen ones wended our merry way back to Suffolk, I was already planning a trip out to the Risby Farm Shop, a fantastic Nursery and Farm Shop just off the A14, it did not disappoint I left there with 12 Brussel Sprout plants (Wellington) 12 'Caulies' and 12 Lettuce (winter density) each at £1.50.


We also built a cage ( I use the term loosely) using plumbing tubes and netting, built optimistically high.

Our allotment is finally looking looking like a proper allotment.
I'm loving the time spent out doors and the sky tonight was beautiful.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Putting down roots.

Isn't it amazing how fast things grow.   I can remember growing a bean in a jam jar on pink blotting paper at primary school and seeing it grow, and it is still with a childlike amazement that I watch our vegetables take shape.

On our 'big planting day' we also planted spinach and beetroot seeds, and in no time at all they were poking their little heads above the parapet,  and after a couple more of days watering and sun, we have healthy and robust plants with only a few gaps.



The 'long stemmed' Greyhound cabbages kindly given to me by the local nursery, look amazing, and are really starting to grow apace, which is heartening as they were meant for the compost.

The Winter cabbage is also doing well, and I must admit that I quite like the effect when watering of the little white fly nymphs floating about. I know this is the wrong thing to say as they are, apparently, bad for cabbages.  

We have lost some of the Leeks, but have acquired some new healthier seedlings which are now happily growing alongside, the original brood.  
And now like every good gardener I long for rain.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Planting. Part II.

On a recent trip to our local nursery whilst buying garden plants, I mentioned to the owner that we had taken an allotment, on hearing this she scurried to an area of the greenhouse obviously designated for unwanted, dying or dead plants, and brought back two trays of cabbages although green, they had bolted ( they are the variety called Greyhound so this seemed appropriate) and had a 17 centimetre stem on them, there were also 2 marrow plants completely pot bound but they deserved a chance and they were free.

I know it's not the 'done thing' but I so want to get started, that I succumbed and went to Homebase and bought Leeks and Cabbages, January King, I also bought seeds (must be patient) Beetroot and Spinach.

Oh the excitement of planting our first veggies, that's the easy bit,we then have to erect a anti-pigeon device, i.e. netting and sticks.

We opted for what seems the most popular Leek planting method which is, not to be too technical, but making a hole with a dibber twirling in your Leek seedling and filling in the hole with water, this will allow your Leek stems to be long and white.  The white part is where the stem is blanched underground hidden from sunlight.

I have to be honest I don't hold out much hope for the Leeks, but fingers crossed.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Planting. Don't stand so close to me.

I couldn't wait to start planting the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to grow Gooseberries
Fiona http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/ mentioned that she had seen bare-root plants at Homebase, I am impatient though and can't wait, so I want to buy large establish plants, which I found during a trip to Didlington Nursery,  I chose a green fruit gooseberry, Leveller, and a red dessert gooseberry Whinham's Industry. I also opted for a Jostaberry bush, a cross between a Blackcurrent and a Gooseberry.

We had de-weeded and, prepared the designated area by digging in plenty of manure, and having planted our fruit bushes we stood back and admired our work and felt quite proud.

As we stood there in the afterglow of our achievement Fred, the holder of a much admired allotment approached and said “ you've planted them too close “ He is right of course, I hadn’t read the label.

We will leave the Gooseberry plants where they are,  move the Jostaberry and remove the supports.    
It's all a learning curve. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Compost Compost Compost.

Clearing our plot wasn't actually the first thing we did to our allotment. Creating a compost area was. Allotment folk are keen to give advice and all of it is happily received by us, we were advised to make a compost heap so this is just what we did.

It was a very sensible decision, because of course we had to have somewhere to put all the weeds once we had pulled them.
There are plenty of pallets on site and an old corrugated iron roof came in very handy, and in no time we had it built, and in next to no time we had it filled.

I know compost is not an exact science but there should be the right balance, and a very rough guide is to use 50/50 greens to brown.

Young tender green weeds will decompose quickly and are good activators getting the compost off to a fast start, but without older tougher cuttings they will rot to a smelly mess.

Older and tough plant material does not decay as fast and will add body to the compost.
The slowest matter to decay are the woody items so you should chop or shred them first if you can.

This will be a slight problem for us as for the most part our compost comprises of young tender weeds, with no brown matter, so I am actually contemplating bringing some compost from my garden, which consists of woody cuttings, dry leaves and chicken manure and is decomposing nicely. This may give our allotment heap the body and structure it needs.