It’s been a while…

Back in July…

It’s been so long since I’ve posted and the allotment has changed a bit since my last post! All seemed to be going well, with the exception of the usual war against the weeds. Then Ashley and I spent a week travelling through Devon and up to Hereford in a friends camper van and, of course, upon our return we were met with overgrown weeds, a tangled mess of rogue tomato plants/lettuce/anything else that happened to be in that bed, salad and radishes that had bolted, our fruit cage and sunflowers that had been totally destroyed by the wind! To be honest, the state of the allotment got us down a bit and we felt it was a bit past saving/getting anything useful from it this year. However, 2 trips that were solely focused on getting the paths and weeds cleared have made it all seem a bit brighter. Our main problem seemed to be that the weeds would grow up the fencing that we had put in and we struggled to keep seeds from that spreading across the allotment. Also, as it was an unused field before we started using it, the dock and nettles were very persistent across the entire plot. So using some blue carpet that we had obtained, we spent a good number of hours cutting it to fit and covering all pathways and surrounding areas bordering our plot. We had to dig up the fencing (as we’d buried it to stop the rabbits getting in) and laid the carpet underneath that too. Now we’ve done that, everything else seems more manageable and even though we’re behind with planting it feels like we might get some produce this year.

We had planted a small bed of potatoes, but they have all been hit by blight so had to be dug up a bit early. The potatoes we did get look great, there’s just not very many and I had hoped to keep them in the ground until I needed them.

On the good side, our peas are coming on well and we’ve had a few picking from them with more to come, the rhubarb is ENORMOUS, the onions look like they’re coming on well and the runner and dwarf french beans have plenty of flowers on. I’ve had an endless supply of sweet pea flowers to pick for the house and there have been plenty of fruits on the raspberries – although of course the birds are getting them all since the fruit cage was destroyed by bad weather! I don’t mind sharing with the birds…this year!


Well, I haven’t done a very good job of updating this blog and an even worse job of looking after the allotment this year!

I was talked into going to go back to work full time at the beginning of August (I’ve worked part time for several years now) and that unfortunately left very little time for the allotment (or anything else really!). Full time soon turned into 60-80 hours a week at work and any time off left me completely unmotivated to do much. So by mid September I had made the decision to go back to my part time hours and at the beginning of October, I breathed a huge sigh of relief!

allotment harvestDuring July and the beginning of August, we were harvesting fairly reasonable amounts of peas and runner beans, rhubarb and were hopeful for many other crops. Unfortunately, disaster struck and on one of our sporadic visits to the allotment we were met with our runner bean supports all toppled over, squash plants (that we hadn’t planted – must have not rotten down properly in the compost!) smothering seedlings and other plants, garlic destroyed by rust and everything generally in a very sorry state. We decided there and then to harvest everything we could at that point (a reasonable amount of runner beans, a few small carrots, some beetroot and one lonely little fennel bulb that had survived the smothering by squash plant!) and mulch most of the beds with fresh horse manure then cover with some black plastic we had. We left the onions growing a little longer and a couple of kale plants that were doing well, plus a squash plant and what I thought was a courgette plant that hadn’t produced anything so far.

In September, we harvested the onions which were wonderful specimens! We intended to head back again soon to clear and mulch the remainder of the beds but, of course, that ended up being several weeks later! The weeds certainly took advantage of this and when we returned in October were faced with what seemed like a monumental task! Just 2 visits of a couple of hours each put the weeds in their place! We were able to harvest several squash that had done well left completely on their own and 3 superb pumpkins that had grown on what I thought was a courgette plant! We dug up all of the Jerusalem artichoke (later finding out that they are best stored in the ground – still, we wanted every bed as clear as possible) and cut back the raspberries and blackcurrants. We have left one bed ‘open’ with the kale growing and will hopefully plant some broad beans in it soon.

manure on bedsallotment mulch and clear up for winter


I’m hopeful that we will be more committed to the allotment over winter and next year – It’s totally our fault that things haven’t gone so well this year, allotments take a lot of time and work and we just haven’t been going regularly enough.



Another wet weekend…

After some lovely weather this week, this weekend is predictably dreary! So today was an ideal day for some baking and jam making.

As you can see, the cake isn’t lasting long! My excuse is that it’ll be much better fresh!

During the week, I pulled some fairly sizeable stalks of rhubarb and have been wanting to try some rhubarb and ginger jam from a preserves book I got for my birthday last year. It seems to have set, but I think I may have burnt it a little. We haven’t tried it yet, so I’m just hoping it doesn’t taste too bad!


I’m so pleased that I managed to get to the allotment during the week when the sun was shining. I managed to weed most of the beds – the ‘crop’ of fat hen that self seeds all across our plot have sprung up in the warmer weather.
As you can see, there was a fair covering of weeds before I started.  I planted some runner beans and sweet peas, cleared the kale and cabbage that hadn’t done very well and had gone to seed, and removed the netting that was protecting the kale etc from the pigeons and used it to cover the frame over the raspberries. I also sowed some carrot, beetroot, pak choi and fennel seeds. Ashley and I tried bulb fennel for the first time last year and really liked it so I’m pretty keen to try and grow it myself. I was enormously happy to see the potatoes, onions and garlic finally showing.

There’s still plenty of weeding, clearing, planting and covering to do. At home, the cauliflower seedlings are doing well and some of the sunflowers are really coming on. Unfortunately, most of my tomato seedlings have died off (I have no idea why!) and a lot of other things seem to really be struggling. It’s quite depressing seeing all my seedlings suffer and die when I’ve spent so many weeks tending to them daily. I’m really hoping to start seeing some good progress soon! And I mustn’t give up – I’m terrible for giving up when I’m not seeing the results that I want.

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

Sunshine and Flowers

It has been a beautiful day here in Cornwall! The sun has shone all day and you could almost imagine that summer might be drawing near… if it weren’t for that chilly wind that just will not desist! Ashley and I started our day in the front garden; Ashley potting on his beloved Foxglove plants and myself clearing debris from plant pots and checking my seedlings.

Ashley reminded me this morning that we used to take many photographs, almost daily, with our DSLR camera, but these days photo’s often get taken on mobile phones which then stay there and don’t get viewed as part of our photo collection. Today, we have both picked up the ‘proper’ camera again and have thoroughly enjoyed it! Cameras on phones are so good these days, but there’s a depth of field and quality that you get with a DSLR that just isn’t the same on a mobile phone. And of course, you can change settings, use specific ‘modes’ or go completely manual with a DSLR camera. I hope that we continue to use the camera more again and develop (ha! I’m so funny!) our photography skills.

Saturday 30th April 20161The sun was bringing out the vibrant colours in the garden today. It’s been such a pleasure to sit out and enjoy the garden.

I should be able to fill more of the garden with flowers soon, as there are now no chickens to destroy everything. That’s right, Blue and Penny have gone to their new home to enjoy an endless supply of fresh grass and bugs, make new friends (hopefully) and maybe even meet a man! We have been a little undecided about getting rid of them this week as we do enjoy their daily goings on and adore the fresh eggs. But ultimately, it just didn’t sit well with us that they didn’t have free space to roam and were, at times, clearly bored. So off they’ve gone! We hope to buy fresh eggs from the friends that have taken the girls and we know that they will be well looked after there.

After dropping the chickens off at their new abode, we headed to the allotment this afternoon. I FINALLY planted some onions and garlic, we did some weeding and tidying. The potatoes aren’t showing yet (I was quite late getting those in too), but the rhubarb is romping away! Saturday 30th April 20162It was much later than we had planned when we got to the allotment, so we didn’t get as much done as we’d hoped.  I did manage to get a few snaps of the rhubarb in all it’s glory – I hadn’t noticed the pink edges to the leaves before. That’s something I really love about taking photo’s; noticing the details and seeing things from a new perspective. Tomorrow we will head back and get some carrot seeds in, amongst others, do some more weeding and clear away the brassica’s that aren’t being productive any more. I also plan to sow some poppy and other flower seeds.

I now have to go and supervise Ashley – he has grand plans of a rather large shed going where the chickens used to be in the garden! Without intervention, I fear I will end up with more shed than garden!

Thanks for visiting! Hope you all see some sunshine this bank holiday weekend!

Seeds and seedlings

This week, I find myself without a car as it died a death on Monday! It has been particularly frustrating as there are jobs to be done at the allotment (aren’t there always?!) and buses/walking isn’t an option around here. Our small covered planter that is being used as a ‘greenhouse’ at the moment is bursting at the seams, as are the kitchen windowsill and dining table! I can’t wait to get things planted out but they aren’t really big enough and even if they were, it just feels too cold at the moment (even in Cornwall, which is supposed to be mild!).

Our 'greenhouse'

starting seeds


Our 'Greenhouse'








We don’t have a covered area outside for planting and sitting outside today would have meant dodging several hail storms and generally being very cold, so I turned my living room floor into a planting area today with the help of a dust sheet! It worked very well and once I was done planting, I simply scooped up the sheet and shook it off outside. Today I separated and potted up some Rudbeckia (Marmalade) seedlings – When I originally sowed the seeds, I put quite a lot into a small pot. I don’t think I was expecting many to germinate for some reason, but they all have! I have also potted on some Pea (Hurst Green Shaft) and a few various sunflower seedlings. I have sown some seeds too: Cosmos – Seashells Mixed, Leek – Northern Lights, Pepper – Cayenne, Sunflower – Vanilla Ice. I’m really rather excited at sowing the Leek seeds.  I’ve been looking forward to it since seeing a picture in a gardening magazine and deciding that I needed to grow this variety – I’m sure it isn’t normal to get this excited about leeks!

The allotment will have to wait until the weekend – here’s hoping that the weather picks up!

Thanks for reading, have a great day!



April update

  In the absence of a greenhouse or poly tunnel at the moment, my kitchen is turning out to be a reasonable substitute. The windowsill is full of tomato, herb and scabious seedlings whilst the dining table is the current home of the spinach, Dahlia, leeks and some peas and sunflowers. I spent yesterday afternoon potting on the Dahlia, pea, sweet pea and tomato (black opal) seedlings. The temperature outside has really dropped again in the last 2 days so I’m grateful of Ashley’s homemade cover for my seedlings. I’m desperately hoping that this isn’t going to be another cool, damp summer…

Last week, I spent an afternoon at a garden centre with my Grandma and bought some plant packs. They were being sold off for £3 for a pack of 6 plants – 50p each, I can’t resist that! I don’t even know what all the plants are, I just know I like them! After potting them up and organising my ‘verticle grower’ (Ashley made it for me a few years ago from scrap pieces of wood – a bit cheaper than the £100+ being asked in the shops!) so it looked pretty, Penny discovered that she could climb it to eat the pretty pansy’s and other flowers…. I wasn’t happy. And of course, once she started, nothing we did to try and deter her would work. So the chickens have temporarily lost access to that part of the garden whilst we work on a solution. Unfortunately, the solution so far seems to be getting rid of the chickens. We have been considering this for quite some time now; as I’ve said before, we often feel that we don’t give the chickens enough room and it’s not a stimulating enough environment for them. Friends of ours (who give us the land for our allotment) have kindly said that they  can take them in, they have lots of chickens already and have plenty of space for them. 

5 Things I’ve learned…

The first year on our allotment and chicken keeping has taught us many things, here are 5 that spring to mind:



You can’t plant leeks too deeply…  I thought I had planted last years plenty deep enough, but there’s not much white ‘stem’ on them and the exposed tops have really suffered over winter. If they were deeper, they would have been more protected – simple!

Nothing is safe from the chickens!



Nothing is safe from the chickens…  Chickens will eat, peck at, scratch up anything within their reach. And if it’s not in their reach, they will climb on and knock over things until they get there!


swiss chard


We don’t really like Swiss chard that much…  Or broad beans… or courgettes. They’re all easy to grow, so you feel ‘successful’ at gardening. But we just don’t use them and an awful lot goes to waste.


damaged brocolli


It’s worth protecting crops from the very start… This is an obvious one, but it’s easy to underestimate the damage rabbits, pigeons, blackbirds and those pesky cabbage whites (or rather their offspring) can do to freshly planted peas, just ripe fruits or brassicas that look like they’re doing really well. It’s so disheartening to lose crops like that. So cover early and properly!


BBQ on the allotment



Sometimes, just being there is enough…  An allotment on a sunny day is a wonderful place. And sometimes, even if there’s things to do, you just want to be there and sit quietly. I’d often wondered at people who go to their allotments and just sit – I always thought, what’s the point? Now I know!

Vertical potatoes

A week ago, Ashley and I were at the allotment debating what to do with a box of chitted second early potatoes that hadn’t been planted. We had intended to have more beds put in sooner and so the potatoes should have been growing away by now. As we don’t have any room in the beds we have, I suggested trying to grow them vertically. We didn’t have much to hand but I spotted a small wooden frame that Ashley had built as part of a dust bath for the chickens that they no longer need. We cleared a small patch of ground near the polytunnel and put some cardboard down to suppress the weeds, filled the frame with compost and rotted manure and stuck the potatoes in!potato boxI have no idea whether this is enough for the potatoes or if it’s too late for them to be going in, but we will see what happens! Now we just have to find some more scraps of wood (shouldn’t be too hard at all) and make some more ‘boxes’ the same size to build up and up as the potatoes grow. with each box added, we will cover the plants with more rotted manure, compost and woodchip. This is the same box after 1 week:

potatoes The potatoes are showing through so at least they’re growing! That’s a job for Ashley sorted for the weekend whilst I’m at work; box building!