Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Plot 378


Welcome to plot 378. That's the Shard in the distance, and the Gherkin. Just out of frame to the right is Canary Wharf and the Dome. Oh yes. We have an allotment with a view. Mr McDonald is pretty much exploding with delight. We've been on the waiting list for about four years and thought it would be another four before we got one, but a phone call over the weekend brought us the good news.
Dolores, who owned the plot before, has left us a bright blue shed with a veranda and net curtains. Yep, all my dreams have come true. The kids have already made quite a realistic scarecrow for it - well realistic if you are about 3 foot tall and believe goblins exist. We have plans to grow potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes . . . This is definitely instead of the third child.
Do you have an allotment? Do you grow your own? Any tips gratefully received! What should we be doing at this time of year?

14 comments:

  1. I do not have an allotment, since our local council informed me that there is a 40 year (!) waiting list. I'm on it somewhere, slowly creeping my way up past dead people and people who long ago emigrated to Australia. Any decade now it will be mine, all mine.
    Happy gardening though. My advice - forget potatoes and onions which are cheap to buy, and use it for things like soft fruit, more 'exotic' veg and salad stuff that costs a packet in the supermarket. Things like strawbs and blackcurrants are a doddle, even here in the rain-sodden windswept northlands. Also, plant fewer courgettes than you think you ought to or you'll end up with 56 tonnes of them, just as you are about to go off on holiday, and will therefore return to 566 tons of marrows (bleurch).

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    1. Such good advice about the courgettes. I don't even like them much. Potatoes are meant to be good to break up the soil, and I'd like to try growing "heritage" varieties. And yes, you're right about the onions, but when they go to seed they are things of beauty, like alliums but wilder. Watch this space...

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  2. I don't have an allotment but I do have a parched garden in the south of France. I have tried to grow stuff, I really have, but either I go on holiday for two weeks when everything is coming up for perfect ripeness (tomatoes) or the bugs get them, or they don't even make it above ground.

    I have a raspberry bush that gives me an average of 6 berries and strawberry plants I forget to check so the fruit rots. On the other hand, my bay bush thrives as do my sage and rosemary bushes. But any fool can grow them (if I can). Thyme dies on me for some reason.

    Good luck with gardening. I find it a struggle!

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    1. Yes, my track record isn't great. One year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes and then blight wiped them out in a couple of days. We had an asparagus plant which gave us one spear every 3 days or so...we used to fight for it!

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  3. I don't have an allotment but I do have just under 5 acres of wild Welsh hillside that we have just moved onto that I will be setting up for growing veggies and fruit all over again. We moved from 4.5 acres with an allotment sized Veggie Patch and before that 10.5 acres with a large Kitchen Garden set up behind the house, also allotment sized ... I guess I have always subconsciously wanted an allotment!!

    This time of year it's all about planning and preparation. You still have some time to get some Garlic in if you're desperate to plant something. But plan out what will go where, what seeds you need to buy and look for what plants have been left behind on the allotment and learn about them, there's virtually always something there, whether you can see it now or not!

    And how lovely that you have been left a usable shed, I hope the plot has been a well tended and loved one.

    See if you can spare a corner or strip each for your children, no matter how young they are to have their own little patch to tend will make visits to the allotment a lot more enjoyable for you all (and mini tools are SO cute).

    Good luck with it, exciting foodie and family times ahead :-)

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    1. Thank you! Great advice! Garlic will go in this weekend, on the basis of it. Son #1 desperate to plant something, so that's perfect. And yes, we'll definitely give them both strips. There is an apple tree and another tree which we can't figure out yet, the summer holds lots of surprises!

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  4. there is an huge waiting list with my local council and been waiting 7 years! Like breakfast lady said, no obvious veg maybe purple carrots, soft fruit, beetroot, celeriac, or rhubarb.

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    1. Oh yes! Purple carrots! Brilliant idea. LOVE rhubarb and you can't pick it for the first 3 years, so need to get it in soon. There are some beautiful red leaves in at the moment which we are hoping are beetroot.

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  5. I have had an allotment for a year - I love it but am rubbish! I've blogged a bit about it here - http://justcallmebarbara.blogspot.com. My favourite allotment blog is http://notjustgreenfingers.wordpress.com - tons and tons of information with lists of what to do each month. Good luck and enjoy!

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    1. That's so helpful, thank you! Will start scouring blogs.
      x

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  6. Congratulations! With that view I would sow the whole lot in grass seed, then set up some deckchairs. Keep a store of that lovely gin in your shed and you'll be the envy of all your fellow allotmenteers!

    Seriously, I'm not the best person to ask for advice, but in my limited experience the things to do are: use lots of mulch (pea straw is my favourite) to nourish the soil and minimise weeding; plant more than you think you'll need of everything (yes, even zucchini, because plants die and get eaten and it's heartbreaking); and remember that you're doing it for fun! Oh and scatter lots of wildflower seeds in early spring - we've done this to make a wildflower meadow and it a) looks gorgeous and b) is very bee-friendly, which is crucially important. Good luck!

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    1. Brilliant ideas! I have a whole load of wildflower seeds just waiting to be sown. Can you imagine the red poppies against the blue shed? Sigh. And the only livestock you can have on the allotment is bees...

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    2. Yes, the "doing it for fun" bit is important! I see it as exercise, getting out in the fresh air, something to do with the children - any food is a bonus! Helps with the disappointment when things don't go/grow according to plan.

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  7. Claire - how exciting! what good news! I'm very jealous. I love the idea of taking my kids to an allotment and it just being somewhre for them to play/potter/hangout (although the way my five year old is at the moment, he'd probably decide he hated it and refuse to go). Is it close to your home? I've always been concerned that having an allotment would be a commitment and I'd feel guilty if I didn't go all the time, and to be honest, my tiny garden keeps me busy. I've just planted out some raspberry canes. Hope you're well xxx

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