gardening & foraging


Allotment update

The first really nice day on the plot this year. Things are happening, but it’s a lot easier than the previous years because most of the structures are in place. Fruit bushes are starting to push through, as are the weeds. It’s more a case of tidying up, planting seeds, digging over beds ready for seedlings to go into the ground. Going there is more habit now. We’re looking to move house shortly so this year’s efforts are an attempt at low-maintenance growing; we’ll see how that goes. Still, it’s all very peaceful, and one of the few places to get away from distractions (on that note, this is an interesting read).

It’s nice to see some of the surrounding plots get transformed from overgrown messes to productive beds. I was speaking to a Romanian who has done some incredible work on his site – what looked as if a bomb had detonated underneath is now orderly land, with two sheds, and even a bit of a lawn for his children to play on. He has hopes of getting a polytunnel for next year, so that he can grow the crops that he’s more used to growing back in the warmer climate of Romania.


Allotment 2015

This is the first day this year we’ve ventured to the allotment. It’s always the worst day – it’s more about cleaning up from winter than gardening. But it was still satisfying. We managed to prune, compost, and put down plenty of woodchips for the path. That in itself made a huge psychological difference.

So nothing growing yet, but it’s ready to go. And I’d forgotten just how good and real the aches actually feel.


Allotment Updates

Cucumbers, Raspberries, Sweet Peas
I’ve not been down for a couple of weeks, what with Worldcon and being on holiday, so today was pretty much about tidying up – weeding, strimming the grass and so on. Harvested a load of raspberries (these are most of them, but I ate the rest), as well as cucumbers (those weird-looking yellow things) and sweet peas. The next wave of sweetcorn is coming, as is the fennel, and the young leeks are settling in ready for winter. I was amazed to note how tall a couple of the sunflowers had grown.

Whilst there today I realised just how much I had missed it – there’s something reassuring about the slow nature of the allotment – but now it’s all about waiting for autumn, my favourite season.


Allotment Updates

Squash etc
A proper afternoon of graft on the allotment at the weekend, which was much needed. Lots of weeding done, pulled out a sprawling mass of nasturtiums, and harvested a few bits and pieces. One sunflower stands a few inches taller than me at the moment. We also planted out leeks and celeriac for the winter.


Allotment Updates

Squash and courgettes
Artichokes, sunflowers, fennel
A quick visit in the evening, to weed and water everything. Tomatoes are really doing well in the greenhouse. Everything else is busy growing. No pests or diseases right now, and we’ve discovered an apple tree just next to our patch that will drop some fruit over for us. A lovely time of year – if only we had more time to relax and enjoy it!


Allotment Updates

I realise it’s actually been a while since I’ve posted allotment photographs, so here we go. Things are in full swing. The potatoes are roaring away in the centre. Cauliflower, peas and brussels sprouts are under some fairly robust netting. The tomatoes are in the greenhouse – I think we’ve about 20 plants in all, or something stupid like that (I expect a good crop). We’ve actually got a good system where we’ve opened the greenhouse window and the door, but draped netting over it, to allow good airflow.

The only bad news is the onset of allium leaf miner. Not many books even cover this pest, as it’s relatively new to the UK, but suffice to say it has wiped out every onion on the entire allotment site. Some of the chaps are convinced it’s eelworm, as the symptoms are similar, but it isn’t – not if you crack open the onions and see the signs. What it means, though, is that from every year now we’re going to have to grow onions under horticultural fleece, which isn’t the most attractive thing.



So I’ve finally finished building all of the beds, about 14 months after we took on the plot. Here’s how it looked back then, by the way. Currently there are loads of seeds doing what seeds do, fruit bushes developing nicely, potatoes beginning to surface, and onions roaring away (well, where pheasants haven’t rooted them up out of curiousity). It’s been a much more gentle pace to the start of the growing year, so I’ve enjoyed the strike-force of robins that scour the earth for worms, the sparrow-hawk that scour the hedgerows for robins, and the field mouse that scampers along the hedgerow doing who-knows what. And the skylark song filling the air.


Spring on the Allotment

Bath Tub
It’s all go now. Manure has broken down nicely into the soil. I’ve dug over a couple more beds, but the gist of it is, the ground is already much better than at this stage last year. I repaired a broken greenhouse panel, which blew down in the bad weather in February, and we’ve been potting seeds in there. Outside we’ve planted the first phase of carrots – we’re planting in phases so we don’t get gluts – and root parsley. The second photo up above is of the random corner bath, which now contains strawberries at the front and onions planted at the back.

The grassy area behind the shed is in full swing as well, with our two new trees showing life. Last year that was full of glass, which I think came from a former broken greenhouse; and bits of slate which, cleaned, have proven quite useful. This is the thing with some city allotments – it’s not a perfect world, and they’re occasionally used as dumping grounds. People move on from their plot, leaving things in a right state. It’s technically against their contract, but the council tend not to chase the matter up. This is the sad side to allotment sites in Nottingham. Whereas some of the more prestigious sites in the centre of the city get a lot of funding, ours, which lies at the periphery of the city, is rather forgotten about…