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Tomatoes and coffee

Had a nice relaxed morning on the allotment today with my eldest boy Reggie. He is currently off school with a broken arm so I thought he could come and find bugs and help me putting out some slug and snail deterrent that I’m trying. He wanted to do a video so he could explain to everyone what we were up to.


The tomatoes also went in to the new tyre beds today. I was a bit worried that having 3 in each tyre would be too much. So I asked the question in an allotment group that I’m a member of on facebook. The response was 50/50, but as I have 6 more plants at home in large individual pots that will most certainly yeald fruit, I thought I’d take a chance. Lets wait and see what happens.

I’ll leave you with another short video of everything we got up to today.

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Planting Out

Away from the allotment, things are getting exciting at home in my little greenhouse. This is where the magic happens. Everything that ends up on the allotment, begins life in this little 3 tiered, pop up greenhouse.

Because space for seedlings and potting out is very limited, everything I grow is meticulously planned to make the most of the available space. 
The next things to leave the safety of the greenhouse and go into raised beds on the allotment, are my grand marmande tomatoes. All I need to do is clear the rest of the area on the allotment so I can get them in the raised beds. They should have probably gone out weeks ago, but I just hadn’t got round to preparing the raised beds until now.

Once I have cleared the area for the tomatoes and moved the raised beds, I should then have a good space for my galia melons. I have grown far too many but have a number of friends that would like to take some on. I’m also making my own 2 metre wide polytunnel for those, using some polythene donated by a friend that woks for a plastics company. So that was very kind of him and will prove very useful.

I’m in two minds about the spaghetti squash that I’m growing as I have already dug a bed thatch had intended to transfer them too. But have seen on YouTube that people seem to be climbing them. I have a criss cross wire fence at the back of the plot that I guess I could grow them up. This wouod free up a lot of space for other veg. I have 3 of those to plant out as a trial as I’ve not grown them before.

I’m a bit worried about my peas as I may have sown them a little late. They are now starting to come through, but I really need them to hurry up and grow a few inches so I can get them in the ground soon. The support and netting is already built on the allotment. So hopefully I can get them in the ground before its too late.

I always like to finish on a positive. I have lots of mixed lettuce leaves growing in the garden as, despite my belly, weceat a lot of salad. Tonight I cooked fajitas and there is just nothing better than having some crisp, fresh lettuce with them that you have ground yourself.

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The Raised Beds

So, as I’ve mentioned before, one end of my allotment, where the fruit bushes are, Is heavily overgrown with grass and weeds. As is the other end where the raised beds are. I’ve been spending a lot of time on preparing the central part of the plot so I can get veg in the ground. But the time has come to clear the rest of the plot before the weeds get too out of hand with all this rain and sun we’ve been getting.

I’ve decided the best way to tackle a big job is to just do a little at a time so I can see the progress. So I started on the easier end of the plot. It might not look like there is much to do here but I’m no spring chicken and I’m not as fit as I used to be. So for me, clearing something like this is backbreaking work.

The wood for the raised beds is rotten, so I’ve decided on a different type of raised bed. I’ve picked up 3 tractor tyres from our good friends that have a farm. I filled them with soil and arranged them together in a triangular shape, closer to the perimeter so that I have space for a bed for the kids to grow stuff, or for my galia melons to go.

I think its looking a hell of a lot better. So after 2 days in blazing heat and one broken toe later. I’m off home for pizza and a cold beer.

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Tomatoes

I have two different varieties of tomato this year. Gardeners Delight and Grand Marmande. They are doing well but have outgrown their three inch pots so I potted them out today and donated a few to my mother in law.

I already have 5 tomato plants in large pots with cane supports in my garden that I planted a little earlier. But I plan to put the rest on the allotment.

I currently have 2 raised beds I would like to put them in. But the wood is completely rotten and has fallen apart. I don’t really want to spend money building new raised beds as the whole point of my allotment is to do everything as free or as cheap as possible. Even my compost bins and water butts are scavenged from skips.

Luckily, we live in the countryside, surrounded by fields and have some good friends that own a nearby farm. They have very kindly offered to donate some old tractor tyres for me to use. They will look awesome with the rest of my tomatoes in. I might even take three so I can put the runners from my strawberry plants at home in them. It’s all quite exciting.

Well. That’s it from me for today, I’m thinking of maybe making some videos of what I get up to on the allotment. But not sure if anyone would really want to watch those haha. I’ll leave you all with a photo of my little helper for today. My youngest boy. He loves helping Daddy.

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Peaceful Evenings 

My favourite time to work on the allotment is definitely in the evening ad I am usually the only person there. I’m not sure why I’m the only one that goes in the evening, but I’m not complaining.

I did plan to do a lot more than just sit and drink coffee though. But I just didn’t have the energy to dig out more of the big weeds from the forgotten corner. So I did a little weeding around the parsnips and sprouts, which reminded me they need thinning out soon. The seedlings are still only and inch or so high and I was struggling to work out what were weeds. I don’t think I pulled any crops out by mistake though.

I also managed to plant to plant out my onions. Although the soil in the seed tray was extremely soggy. I was unaware that I had overwatered them as they looked healthy. Fingers crossed they are happy in the ground.

The last thing on my ‘lazy’ to do list was to finish my pea support. It’s not the prettiest, most sturdy or professional thing I’ve ever built. But it will work well enough for the bargain price of £1.75 that I paid for all the bits to build it.

Next  if job on my list this week is to get some hired help to assist me in clearing the last corner of the plot. I will be so happy once that is done.

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Falling behind

Despite the fact that I am getting lots done with regard to all the veg, I feel like I am falling behind with things like weeds on the plot. I’m spending so much time concentrating on the areas that are ready for planting that I am neglecting the areas that aren’t. I still have a quarter of the plot that I have not found the time to tackle yet and it’s now covered in 4 feet tall weeds. I just feel like I’ve made things very difficult for myself now.

So what do I do next? I’ve got fruit bushes I can no longer see at one end of the plot and 2 raised beds I can’t get to at the other end. I really need to take control of these areas very soon as I need to utilise them once the seedlings in my greenhouse are ready. 

I don’t think my back will be able to handle the amount of effort required to dig out all of the weeds, but if I spray the weeds, depending on what I use, it could be 6 months before I can plant any veg in those areas.

I think what I need are some helping hands. I thought I could do it on my own, but I’m running out of time so I’ll be asking any friends and family if the can spend a few hours on the allotment with me to get the last sections ready.

I’ll keep you all updated on the progress of this soon.

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Busy morning

After 2 days of solid rain, I headed down to the allotment this morning to see how everything was. It’s fair to say it was pretty wet and sticky, but the weeds had not grown as much as I thought they might have. A quick hoe and I was back on track.

Despite the sticky, muddy surface, I have jobs to do. Lots of them. So I began to dig a 2sqm bed in preparation for planting out 4 spaghetti squash. “What on earth are they”, I hear you ask. Well, they are for the kids really. Basically a butternut squash, but when baked, you can pull the flesh away using a fork and it looks like spaghetti. My kids love their veg, and it always helps when you make it fun.

Next on the list was to dig a bed for my onions, which now have their third leaf. Ive heard if you are growing them in seed trays to plant out, you should always wait for the third leaf to ensure they are strong enough to cope. It’s all trial and error, so let’s see what happens. It’s my first year growing everything from seed so I’m sure it will be a good learning curve.

Next on the allotment agenda. Dig a bed for my peas and build a cheap and easy frame for them. Well you can’t get much cheaper than  £1.75. All from Wilkinsons. I got a pack of 10 canes for 75p and a 4m x 1.7m pea net for £1. The bed is now dug and the structure is up. Once the peas are ready to plant out, I’ll fix the net to it.

It’s finally starting to look like an allotment now. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get it from a meadow of tall grass to a functioning allotment with veg growing on it.

Now I just need to clear the last quarter of the plot and get my potatoes in. There are gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrant, and red currents hiding amongst the tall grass that I need to get to. Any volunteers? 😃